The rural Midwest’s prospects as a hub for data centers that store gobs of electronic data and route billions of emails got a jolt this week, as two of the world’s information technology juggernauts announced they would build or expand data center operations in the heart of what many people consider “flyover country.” On Tuesday, social media giant Facebook said it will invest $300 million in the community of Altoona, Iowa, to build its third U.S. data center about 13 miles west of Des Moines, the state capital. Google followed suit with its own announcement that it would sink another $400 million into an existing data center campus at Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb.
A lobbyist for an industry group supporting wind power apologized to a Vermont Senate committee on Wednesday after a witness she brought in called health concerns connected with wind power “hoo-hah,” nonsense and propaganda Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, called the remarks of acoustics expert Geoff Levanthall unhelpful and offered an apology to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee after Leventhall testified at the hearing by phone from England.
A bill that would dramatically raise renewable energy requirements for Colorado’s rural cooperative electric associations has cleared a hurdle in the state House.
A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers today reintroduced a bill to provide parity between clean energy and fossil fuels in accessing a key investment vehicle, setting up the idea for inclusion in a major overhaul of the tax code that is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. But even without comprehensive tax reform, which remains a heavy lift, sponsors say they will push the idea in isolation, pointing to broad support from both sides of the aisle, companies in almost every energy sector and members of the Obama administration.
With uncertainty over federal tax incentives plaguing the wind energy industry through most of 2012, how did the industry fare last year and what are its short-term prospects for growth? During today’s OnPoint, Peter Kelley, vice president for public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, discusses the future of the production tax credit for wind energy and the impact of the uncertainty he says his industry continues to face. He also addresses concerns in Congress that the wind industry is receiving too much federal assistance through duplication of incentives.
“We got rid of the wind production tax credit. I worked really hard on it. We got rid of it for 23 hours,” Pompeo, a vocal critic of the tax credit, said during a POLITICO Pro’s Deep Dive on energy and taxes. “But in the Senate they snuck it in — in the dark of night.”
The state would be poised to gain a $300 million wind farm under a bill given resounding initial approval Wednesday. The measure would provide a sales tax exemption for the purchase of turbines, towers and other wind-farm components — a tax break that nearby states Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma have parlayed into a wind-energy boom.
What are the systemwide impacts of the federal government’s Smart Grid Investment Grant program? During today’s OnPoint, Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary of the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, discusses the reliability improvements associated with the investments. She also addresses some of the challenges associated with smart grid integration and consumer acceptance.
More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply. Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.
As North Carolina works on destroying its Renewable Portfolio Standard – the policy that’s catapulted it to US leadership – Google is showing how important renewables are to economic development there. Google is planning to expand its data center there, bringing its investment to $1.2 billion, and it wants renewable energy to power it.