A number of renewable energy executives, financiers and advocates are calling for Congress and the Obama administration to open new avenues for investment in renewable energy projects amid continued uncertainty around long-term federal support for the sector. Master limited partnerships (MLPs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) were among the hottest topics yesterday at a daylong conference hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy focused on policies that could aid wind, solar, alternative fuels and other renewable industries.
A bipartisan report out today calling on Congress to allow federal regulators to approve certain high-voltage power lines even if states oppose them has drawn the ire of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. At issue is a report the Bipartisan Policy Center released today, which calls on Congress to enact new, targeted backstop siting authority for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve multistate high-voltage power lines when states fail to do so after a certain amount of time.
Previewing his upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama yesterday urged House Democrats to support energy-efficient programs during the 113th Congress. peaking at the Democrats’ policy retreat less than an hour outside of Washington, D.C., Obama reaffirmed a commitment to pursue an energy agenda during his second term consisting of less drilling for oil while developing more fuel-efficient factories and modes of transportation.
“I’m going to make sure that we’re focused on job creation here in America, and that means that we have an energy agenda that can make us less dependent on foreign oil,” Obama said. Such an “energy strategy,” as he put it, “would maintain our leadership well into the future.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Thursday that he plans to reintroduce a bill that offers tax credits for a limited amount of offshore wind projects. Carper told reporters he did not have a timeline for resubmitting the bill, but said its content would likely mirror the one he co-sponsored last Congress with former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). “We’ve been trying to get that done. As it turns out when [the Congressional Budget Office] prices that — they score that — it’s not cheap. And so pretty high score, hard to get it done,” Carper said during an event hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, D.C.
In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to take on climate change as a priority in his second term. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said at the start of one of the longest passages devoted to a single subject in the speech. But the president did not detail exactly how he intended to act, given the hostility in Congress and industry to taxes on carbon dioxide emissions or any broad-gauged legislative effort to address the problem. Officials said that he would put some flesh on the bones of his promise in his State of the Union address next week and in his budget proposal.
The Interior Department today announced it has identified 23 solar, wind and geothermal power projects that it intends to move through federal permitting this year and next, continuing the Obama administration’s aggressive push to advance renewable energy development on federal land. If all 23 projects are approved by the Bureau of Land Management and built in the next 24 months, the 14 solar, six wind and three geothermal power projects would have the capacity to produce 5,300 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 1.6 million homes.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is positioned to see his plan to build offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean win approval from state lawmakers. But the small-scale project — O’Malley’s third attempt to pass offshore wind legislation — will be able to generate only half the energy of a power plant and has developers casting doubts on the future of the project. Developers say they may not be able to acquire needed financing for the costly project after the legislative process resulted in a reduced project size and a scaled-back subsidy from Maryland households.
Despite a slowdown in growth and investments, China still installed more wind turbines than any other nation last year, according to a report issued today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China installed 15.9 gigawatts of onshore wind turbines in 2012 — equal to more than one-third of all new capacity worldwide, the report says. This was the fourth successive year China has led the field since overtaking the United States in 2009. The United States, which hit a record of adding 13.2 GW last year, installed 14 percent fewer wind turbines than China.
The developer of a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island today announced an agreement with environmentalists to protect the critically endangered north Atlantic right whale. The pact between Deepwater Wind LLC and the Conservation Law Foundation will delay construction of the Block Island Wind Farm by about a month to avoid disturbing the whales, which have been seen feeding in Rhode Island Sound throughout April.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, unveiled a sweeping “energy blueprint” today that could serve as a starting point for a series of smaller, bipartisan energy bills this year. The document, dubbed “Energy 2020,” lays out the senator’s platform, which includes opening more federal land and waters for oil and gas production, curbing carbon emissions, fast-tracking exports of domestic gas, and creating a “trust fund” for clean energy.