A Department of Energy report out today suggests the wind industry is on an upward trajectory thanks to last year’s brief renewal of a key tax credit — and the likelihood it could continue to thrive thanks to a combination of technological improvements and the effect of U.S. EPA rules on power plant emissions, among other factors. DOE’s annual wind technologies market report predicts capacity will increase at least through 2015 as developers finish projects they started last year to qualify for the production tax credit (PTC), the industry’s primary federal incentive. However, the pace of installations over the next two years is not expected to reach the record set in 2012, and the PTC’s expiration at the end of last year creates significant uncertainty beyond 2016.
Oklahoma is the nation’s fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests. Bob Hamilton, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, has been fighting to block construction of a 68-turbine wind farm.
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order No. 1000 on Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation
FERC had authority under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) to require transmission providers to participate in a regional planning process. The Court held that FERC reasonably concluded that transmission planning affects rates for transmission service and its order therefore was within the scope of Section 206. The Court also rejected assertions that Section 202 of the FPA limits FERC to encouraging voluntary coordination of transmission, stating that Section 202 applies to operational coordination, not pre-operational planning.
In 2014 more states use natural gas as their main fuel for electricity generation compared to 2001, while several fewer states use coal than at the start of the millennium. Hawaii and Massachusetts were the only states in 2001 to get the majority of their electricity from petroleum. While Q1 data for petroleum usage is Hawaii says it is “not meaningful due to large relative standard error,” previous data shows that petroleum is still the most used fuel for electricity there.
An environmental group is criticizing U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway and Randy Neugebauer over the expiration of the Wind Energy Tax Credit, but the two West Texas congressmen say sooner or later wind energy must stand on its own. The Sierra Club in a set of political ads attack Conaway and Neugebauer, saying they’re “doing nothing while Texas wind jobs blow away.” The Sierra Club isn’t alone in touting wind energy’s economic benefits in hopes of getting congressional backing for the credit.
A federal appeals court today upheld a landmark ruling that overhauls the process for upgrading the country’s aging electric grid. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a sweeping win, rejecting the arguments from more than 40 state regulators, utilities, regional transmission organizations and industry groups that challenged the commission’s Order 1000. “We conclude that their contentions are unpersuasive,” the three-judge panel wrote in a 97-page opinion.
Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt. But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that’s a big benefit for farmers. When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.
Climate change is creating all kinds of challenges and opportunities for business. One of the sectors that feels the effects most immediately is agriculture. Already, weather patterns are making it more challenging to raise corn — even in Iowa — in the middle of the Corn Belt.
The country’s top electricity regulator today said that the current process for ensuring the U.S. grid remains reliable as newly proposed carbon rules take effect is working and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn’t need a more active role in advising U.S. EPA.FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur also said the commission, a key agency overseeing the grid and energy markets, may issue a white paper outlining its advisory role as EPA implements its proposed Clean Air Act rule.
In a unanimous vote this week, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council approved construction of a massive wind farm to be sited in a 320,000-acre swath of Carbon County, just south of the towns of Rawlins and Sinclair. Once completed, the Chokecherry & Sierra Madre Wind Project will house 1,000 3-megawatt wind turbines, scattered over a checkerboard of private and federal land. It will be the largest wind farm in the United States.