To every environmentalist who ever bad-mouthed Walmart for its big-box blandness and gigantic impervious parking lots, here’s some news: The retail behemoth is throwing its full economic muscle behind energy sustainability. Local utilities that don’t get on board with Walmart’s green energy programs could be left behind like an old, worn-out shopping center.
RES Americas Inc., a unit of the U.K.’s Renewable Energy Systems Ltd., started construction on a 250-megawatt wind farm in Kansas that’s owned by units of General Electric Co. (GE) and Italian utility Enel SpA. (ENEL) The Buffalo Dunes project southwest of Garden City, Kansas, will use 135 GE wind turbines, Broomfield Colorado-based RES Americas said today in a statement. Southern Co. (SO)’s Alabama Power utility has agreed to buy “most of the electricity” for 20 years, RES said.
General Electric Co. (GE) tied with Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) as the biggest turbine maker with less than 50 megawatts between them, unsettling the Danish maker’s 12-year hold on the title, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.
More than two years after Wisconsin completed a bipartisan process to establish statewide standards for siting wind turbines, development remains sluggish amid continuing political pushback. In 2012, a year that saw a nationwide surge in wind farm installations as developers rushed to beat expiring tax credits, Wisconsin added only 18 megawatts of capacity. By comparison, Michigan and Ohio, with much lower wind potential, had already installed 138 MW and 308 MW in just the first three quarters.
A recent report on duplicative federal programs supporting the wind industry did not reach any conclusion on which, if any, of those programs wasted the government’s money — and more research is needed to answer that question for wind along with numerous other federal programs that support different energy sectors, the author of the report told a House hearing yesterday. The Government Accountability Office last month studied a variety of incentives available to the wind industry and found that some programs overlap, allowing companies to “double dip” and benefit from several programs at once. But the report did not conclude that such overlap was necessarily wasteful.
The Colorado Senate — over the strong objections of rural Republican lawmakers — passed a bill Monday increasing the amount of renewable energy that rural electricity cooperatives must use. The bill, SB-252, requires that 25 percent of the co-ops’ electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, up from the 10 percent standard set in 2007.
John Norris spent more than three decades running high-profile political campaigns in his home state of Iowa — and once ran for Congress himself. But these days, as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, he’s more interested in the wonky world of transmission and pipeline policy than maneuvering tricky political battlefields.
The Collegiate Wind Competition is a forum for undergraduate college students of multiple disciplines to investigate innovative wind energy concepts; gain experience designing, building, and testing a wind turbine to perform according to a customized market data-derived business plan; and increase their knowledge of wind industry barriers. NREL is facilitating the inaugural competition, which will take place in spring 2014.
A coalition of conservative groups is using today’s tax-filing deadline to continue its campaign against a key wind industry tax credit. The American Energy Alliance, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks and other groups sent a letter today to 21 governors whose states do not have renewable portfolio standards to urge them to lobby against an extension of the national wind production tax credit, which expires at the end of this year. The groups argue that the credit amounts to a subsidy for states with renewable energy requirements, paid for by taxpayers in states without such requirements.
Wind and other eligible renewable energy developers will be able to claim the production tax credit as long as they spend at least 5 percent of a project’s costs by the end of this year, the Internal Revenue Service said today in eagerly anticipated guidelines. The document clarifies an expansion of the PTC’s eligibility that Congress enacted in January, as it extended the credit through the end of this year for wind. Rather than needing to have facilities in service before the credit expires, developers have to commence construction by Dec. 31 to claim the 2.3-cents-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy.