ix weeks after U.S. EPA released its final Clean Power Plan, regulators in Iowa are still analyzing the 1,500-page rule and how it treats the state’s 5,000-plus megawatts of wind generation. Questions about wind, particularly those projects installed prior to 2013, remain a key issue as regulators continue to work through the 1,500-page rule and begin the process of developing a compliance strategy. More than 3,500 MW of wind was installed in the state between 2008 and 2012.
The United States rose to first place in a new international ranking released yesterday of countries most attractive to renewable energy investors, while the United Kingdom dropped out of the top 10. The ranking report published by EY LLP, a global consulting service, cites President Obama’s launch of the Clean Power Plan as boosting investor confidence in the country by sending a “strong message” of a shift to a low-carbon economy. The United States displaced China at the top of EY’s renewable energy country attractiveness index for the first time in a year.
The Interior Department announced today that it completed its environmental review of plans to lease up to 308,000 acres of federal waters off North Carolina for commercial wind farm development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a revised environmental assessment that concluded the leasing plan would have no significant impacts on the ocean or its users. The agency will next decide whether to issue one or more commercial leases within three wind energy areas including a 122,000-acre site about 28 miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk and two additional areas of 52,000 acres and 134,000 acres beginning about 12 miles off Cape Fear.
More than 2,000 organizations signed a letter last week calling on the US Government to extend a variety of expired and expiring tax provisions, including the vaunted PTC. The Production Tax Credit has been integral to the growth of the US wind industry, and as the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) notes, “is a big reason” why the US wind industry is the “most productive in the world with enough wind energy produced annually for 18 million American homes.”
The House Ways and Means Committee passed a tax extenders package yesterday that would permanently extend several expiring tax breaks but did not include renewable energy incentives that have long been unpopular with Republican lawmakers. The committee approved the extension of five expiring tax breaks by voice vote and passed two provisions along party lines that are aimed at reforming President Obama’s signature health care law. The package included a measure known as bonus depreciation that would allow companies to expedite tax write-offs for certain business expenses.
The secretary of Energy also provided a few more details about the second installment of the QER. Moniz said the second QER report would examine the electricity system “end to end,” including valuing services like demand-side programs and distributed generation. They “will certainly be a central piece of that QER,” Moniz said. Other parts of the second report will be an analysis of electricity markets, the electricity-water nexus, and information technology and communication technology, he said.
Standing in front of a large metal framework for what will become the base of a transmission line structure near Clear Lake, 37 miles north of Brookings, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and others applauded the project. They called it a successful example of teamwork between two companies: Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Co. Daugaard also said it could be the first of many energy projects built to utilize the state’s wind power. He called on legislators, landowners and energy companies to clear the way for expansion in the field. “By the time this is done I expect major things to be happening in wind in South Dakota,” Daugaard said, referring to the project.
This Capx 2020 project is billed as a game changer for South Dakota energy. Wind energy production here has been somewhat stalled because we have lacked the type of high voltage energy power lines to move electricty from turbines to the people who need it. “We could become a big producer of wind energy but we gotta be able to move it.” South Dakota Senator John Thune says adding these types of lines puts South Dakota in line to produce more energy which means more jobs. “So having these types of transmission lines built is just absolutely critical.”
But as members of the House debate whether to end the tax credits, the governors of Washington and Iowa have reached out to senators in an effort to undo a proposed funding cut to the Department of Energy’s wind energy research. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad co-signed a letter sent Tuesday to Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., urging them to reconsider cuts to wind energy and research to the tune of $61 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved that cut in May. The governors, who are the the chair and vice chair of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition, wrote that the cut singles out wind energy in an unfair way.
Govs. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. and Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, sent a letter on behalf of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition calling on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to reverse its decision to hamper long-term investment in research advancing American wind power. “The nation’s long-term investment in research conducted by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy programs, National Laboratories, our state universities, and private companies around the nation has helped fuel the extraordinary growth of the nation’s wind energy industry,” the letter states. “As governors, we see the benefits this innovative research has brought to our states, including energy diversification and continual wealth generation in rural America.”