If Johann Steinlechner had his way, you wouldn’t see the Coachella Valley’s iconic wind turbines as you drove through the San Gorgonio Pass. The turbines would still be there, generating renewable energy. They’d just be a lot closer to the ground.
The energy storage business is waiting on governments and electric grid regulators — and financiers — to come up with policies that allow it to take part in the nation’s power business alongside renewable generation. California and Hawaii have created a demand for storage companies by revamping their electric grids to run on solar and other alternative sources, Lisa Frantzis, a senior vice president at the trade group Advanced Energy Economy, said during a meeting of the Energy Storage Association here. New York and Massachusetts are working on plans to modernize their electric grids.
Pressure to remain politically neutral has made it difficult for the Energy Information Administration to adapt, making its forecasts increasingly inaccurate, experts say. For example, the EIA said renewable-generated electricity would grow by 0.1% through 2040 yet the use of wind power grew 5% from 2013 to 2014. “It’s affecting us in a very negative way,” said American Wind Energy Association Senior Director of Research Michael Goggin. “There seems to be consistent bias in EIA’s projections against renewable energy, and that’s a different thing from being inaccurate,” he said.
An outdated Air Force radar in Fossil is holding back nearly 4,000 megawatts of proposed wind energy across Eastern Oregon and Washington, according to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. Wyden is now asking top officials at the Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration to replace the system with technology that can overcome interference, or “clutter,” created by turbines.
In a letter sent May 21 to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Wyden said the Fossil radar is increasingly seen as an impediment to local wind energy development, which has grown into a leading source of revenue for many rural communities.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a compromise between the wind energy industry and critics of the state’s green energy mandate. The deal signed Thursday would remove a requirement that renewable resources account for 20 percent of utilities’ capacity to generate electricity by 2020.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the leaders of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, are once again urging Congress to revive the wind production tax credit — and to please do it this time well before December
A federal appeals court yesterday rejected a bid by environmentalists to force regulators to consider the impact of a wind farm’s road over federal lands in California on endangered species. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife contended that the Bureau of Land Management was required to consult the Fish and Wildlife Service before granting a right of way to build a road near Tehachapi in California’s Sierra Nevada. The road connects a 12,000-acre wind farm developed entirely on private land by North Sky River Energy LLC. It links the project to a state highway. Beneath the road are power and fiber-optic cables that connect the power generated from the farm to California’s grid.
Southern Co. Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning made it clear at the company’s annual meeting yesterday that Georgia Power customers will soon be able to go directly to the utility and get solar panels to put on their roof. “Starting July 1, we will now offer distributed generation rooftop solar in Georgia,” Fanning said. Fanning is making good on his word that Atlanta-based Southern is trying to find strategies for customers and tap the rising demand for distributed forms of generation, like solar. His remarks also coincide with the date for a new state law that lets Georgians enter into long-term financing arrangements with independent solar power providers.
California is giving money to residents who get rid of polluting cars and buy ones that use less gasoline or no gasoline at all. The Golden State yesterday launched a pilot program advancing the effort. It’s funded by $4.8 million in proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions. By state law, that money must be used on endeavors that further the goals of climate law A.B. 32. Under the new program, a low-income family could receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car. Residents in areas considered disadvantaged also qualify.
“These tax credits have made possible the robust growth of the American wind industry and thousands of renewable energy jobs in recent years, with substantial economic returns to our states and the nation,” the governors’ letter reads. “But these gains are at risk today because ongoing federal policy uncertainty continues to hamper the further development of the nation’s wind industry.” After adding 23,000 jobs in 2014, American wind power continues to ramp up in 2015, gaining momentum over the first quarter of the year with $23 billion worth of new wind projects under development.