Electric utilities, once happy to provide nonstop power to all of their customers all of the time, are beginning to warm to the idea of socking power away for another day.Thanks to rapid technological advances and market shifts, large utilities like Duke Energy of North Carolina, Consolidated Edison of New York and Southern California Edison are investing tens of millions of dollars in the development and deployment of commercial-scale energy storage facilities. New data released this morning by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association show that U.S. utilities and other firms installed 5.8 megawatts of energy storage in the first quarter of 2015, an 18 percent increase from the same quarter in 2014.
Move over, shale. The sun is now the fastest-growing source of U.S. electricity. Solar power capacity in the U.S. has jumped 20-fold since 2008 as companies including Apple Inc. use it to reduce their carbon footprints. Rooftop panels are sprouting on homes from suburban New York to Phoenix, driven by suppliers such as SolarCity Corp. and NRG Energy Inc.
Two prominent wind energy supporters are reviving the industry’s campaign to renew the federal production tax credit that expired last year. In a letter to top lawmakers in the House and Senate, Govs. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington and Terry Branstad (R) of Iowa, who lead the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, called for a “multi-year” extension of the PTC, which provides wind energy developers with a rebate of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of a wind farm’s existence. The tax credit was briefly renewed and then allowed to expire at the end of 2014.
The chairman and vice chairman of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate leadership today urging Congress to approve a multiyear extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) as soon as possible. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told congressional leaders that the recent Wind Vision report emphasized the importance of near-term policy support to prevent an industry slowdown and the loss of manufacturing to foreign markets. Without policy support, wind deployment will be minimal and the domestic wind manufacturing sector will likely wither.
“This bipartisan letter is a reminder that the nation’s governors are on the front line of the nation’s energy future and have a vital role in planning states’ future,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “They see first-hand how investing in the wind resources in their states benefit local economies and create opportunities for job growth. To them the decision to extend these incentives is more of an economic one than a political one. We look forward to working with all the governors to maximize the benefits of wind power to their states.”
While Republicans in Congress strategize about how to gut carbon regulations for power plants, at least one among them has had some direct exposure to the critical choices states will have to make if U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan moves forward. Rep. Kevin Cramer, 54, was one of North Dakota’s electricity regulators for nine years before being elected to the state’s only House seat. His successors back home will have to help craft plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power sector while keeping electricity affordable and reliable.
There’s no question that when it comes to complying with U.S. EPA’s looming regulations requiring the power sector to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent, cities will need to play a major role. After all, as a recent report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy pointed out, two-thirds of the world’s energy consumption — and three-quarters of its greenhouse gas emissions — occurs in cities or broader urban areas.
Westar Energy said Tuesday it plans to purchase energy from a wind farm to be developed in Pratt County, Kan. The Topeka-based utility said the purchase will boost its renewable energy commitment from all sources to about 1,300 megawatts— the equivalent of the power consumption of about half the homes it serves.
Solar farms are blooming across California’s deserts, wind turbines are climbing the Sierra, photovoltaic roofs are shimmering over suburbs, and Teslas are the Silicon Valley elite’s new ride. A clean energy rush is transforming the Golden State so quickly that nearly a quarter of its electricity now comes from renewable sources, and new facilities, especially solar, are coming online at a rapid rate. Last year, California became the first state to get more than 5 percent of its electricity from the sun.
Governors Urge Congress to Act Quickly to Extend the Renewable Energy Production and Investment Tax Credits
The chairman and vice chairman of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate leadership today urging Congress to approve a multi-year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) as soon as possible. The most recently passed extension expired last year. Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told Congressional leaders that the recent Wind Vision report emphasized the importance of near-term policy support to prevent an industry slow down and the loss of manufacturing to foreign markets.