In 2001, Jim Gordon, a well-heeled developer of natural gas plants in New England, took up a long-discussed but never-pursued idea that advocates said would usher in a new era of clean energy in America: an ocean-based wind farm off the shores of Cape Cod. The advantages of the site seemed plain: Relentless, hard-driving winds, shallow shoals several miles offshore on which to anchor large turbines, and, perhaps most importantly, a left-leaning population inclined to support what was already viewed at the time as an overdue migration away from dirtier sources of electricity.
How many tourists would travel to Atlantic City to view the nation’s first offshore wind farm? Fishermen’s Energy, which has proposed building five giant turbines about 2.8 miles off the resort city’s beaches, estimates 4.5 million people a year would visit the site, according to a consultant’s report that recommends the state should turn down the project because it is too costly.
Energy and climate are THE challenges of our time – both globally and here in the Pacific Northwest – and no set of challenges will have a greater impact on our nation’s economy, environment and quality of life in coming decades. Indeed, no other issues have bigger implications for the planet and coming generations. The central question is whether we will shape our energy future through intentional policy, investment and development, or whether it will shape us. Answering this question is urgent, because the toll of our fossil fuel dependence is rising fast. We are struggling to make the complicated transition from 20th century energy infrastructure to new business models that can unleash the job-creation potential of low-carbon energy innovation.
As McGinn was acting locally, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber was thinking nationally and globally in a Portland speech to the American Wind Energy Association. “One of the largest concerns I have about coal exports out of the West Coast, in addition to all the environmental implications, is the lack of any larger federal energy policy that speaks to what this means,” said Kitzhaber. “What does it mean for the United States to become a major energy exporting nation? What does it mean in terms of domestic pricing? What does it mean in terms of energy security? And how does that decision, which is being driven only by short-term profit, provide transition for a lower carbon future for the United States?”
Renewable Northwest Project’s Rachel Shimshak says the shutdown of coal plants in the region will provide new opportunities for wind energy. Following industry contractions, a general economic slump, national uncertainty, and a rollback of state tax credits, Oregon could be looking at an uptick in the renewable energy market as a number of utilities around the region look to power down coal plants.
Vestas Wind Systems announced Thursday morning it was reducing its workforce by 10 percent, cutting about 110 jobs at blade factories in Windsor and Brighton, due to uncertainty in the market for wind turbines caused by Congress’s delay last year in extending a Production Tax Credit for the industry. The wind energy PTC was finally extended at the end of last year; but the refusal by Republicans in Congress to allow that extension until after the presidential election because Mitt Romney opposed it has led to a reduction in wind turbine orders.
Vestas Wind Systems — which operates four factories in Colorado employing 1,100 people — is cutting about 110 jobs from its blade factories in Windsor and Brighton.Workers at the factories had been on a reduced 32-hour workweek; with the job cuts, the remaining employees will return to a 40-hour week, Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas said in a statement.The move comes in response to a drop in orders as the federal wind-production-tax credit, a key element in financing wind farms, was renewed in January for just one year, the company said.
The Upper Midwest is the most wind-rich area of the country. But a new report by the Center for Rural Affairs shows that almost none of the current high-voltage transmission lines capable of carrying wind-generated electricity are built here. Johnathan Hladik, an energy advocate with the rural advocacy group, says the quickest way of generating jobs and economic development, along with wind energy, is getting more of those lines built in the Midwest. He says while Iowa is doing better than most Midwest states, there is still a lot of wind energy potential here going untouched.
Wind’s growing role as a U.S. electricity producer is made clear with record-setting performances in three disparate states.
The governor and State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha on Monday urged state lawmakers to hold off on passing new tax exemptions while they work on overhauling the whole tax system. If the Legislature’s Revenue Committee heeds their calls, two bills that would add wind farms to the state’s business tax incentive programs would be sunk.