Texas has hit a wind power record, the state’s grid manager reported last week. The growth of the wind sector has stalled lately as developers wait to see whether Congress will renew the production tax credits that attract investment in wind energy nationally. Texas is still home to the nation’s largest wind power industry and is a major manufacturer of wind equipment, and supporters are hoping state leaders will encourage Washington to act on the tax credit extensions.
Environmental advocates have expressed frustration with the lack of discussion of climate change in the presidential race this year, a reticence that persisted even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. On Wednesday, in his first post-election news conference, President Obama offered his most extensive remarks on climate change in months. They did not particularly thrill environmentalists.
The push to extend a key wind industry tax break maintains solid bipartisan support in Congress, and a new group launched this week wants to make sure it stays that way. John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (Texas), is leading the new organization, which aims to reinforce the arguments of Republicans who support an extension of the wind production tax credit and to win more GOP lawmakers to the cause.
By 2017, General Motors Co. plans to build as many as 500,000 electric vehicles a year, according to a company executive. GM global product development chief Mary Barra told reporters the company has prioritized producing cars with some form of electrical power. The number it’s shooting for would be equivalent to more than 5 percent of GM’s total global sales last year of about 9 million.
Wind power could supply up to 12 percent of global electricity by 2020 and more than 20 percent by 2030, a new study by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace shows. Wind energy installations totaled 240 gigawatts globally by the end of 2011, and the industry is set to grow by at least another 40 GW this year, the study says. By 2020, under the scenario put forth by the International Energy Agency, total capacity would reach 587 GW, supplying about 6 percent of global electricity.
Google is investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces enough electricity to power 15,000 homes. It’s the California tech giant’s first investment in an Iowa wind generation project. Tuesday’s announcement sparked renewed support from political leaders to fight for extending tax credits for the wind industry, ranging from Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, who called for bipartisan support, to U.S Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ia., who is “encouraged that Google recognizes the pivotal role that wind plays in securing securing energy independence.”
President Obama revealed yesterday that he’s searching for ways to address climate change in his second term by planning meetings with scientists and experts weeks after a re-election campaign in which he said very little about the topic. But when asked directly about taxing carbon, he declined to endorse the idea, which has gained traction among a handful of conservative think tanks and free-market groups as a source of revenue that might help close the deficit.
The fate of a tax credit that advocates say is needed to maintain tens of thousands of wind-energy jobs will be decided during high-stakes, last-minute negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans over fiscal issues, officials said Tuesday. The wind-energy production tax credit is due to expire at the end of the year. Its extension stalled in Congress this summer amid fierce opposition from some conservative House Republicans. The last chance to extend the measure is in the budget deal that will be cut between Obama and Republicans in the lame-duck session of Congress.
The push to extend a key wind industry tax break maintains solid bipartisan support, but several senators see a short-term extension expected to pass before the end of this year as a bridge to phase out the credit over the next three to five years.
The production tax credit for wind energy is scheduled to lapse Dec. 31, although the industry has been aggressively lobbying for an extension and has collected an impressive number of supporters on both sides of the aisle. While the credit’s immediate fate largely depends on the outcome of larger year-end negotiations, several key lawmakers are beginning to look ahead to where the PTC will fit into broader tax reform discussions expected to occupy Congress and the Obama administration next year.
The largest wind farm in Massachusetts will begin operating before the end of the year and will sell power to NStar Inc. The Blue Sky East project is the first of three wind farms in New England that will create enough power for 50,000 homes. It will likely boost economic activity in the rural area and will act as a source of cheaper electricity for NStar’s customers.