Lawmakers on Capitol Hill should stand to the side and let states lead the way toward a smarter electric grid, says the author of the legislation that Congress passed in 2005 to promote the concept nationally for the first time. Former Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s former Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality for several years before losing a re-election bid in 2010, said during an interview this week that state utility commissions are doing plenty to advance the technology under current federal laws.
The Interior Department’s first competitive lease for offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean will not occur until 2013, an Interior Department official said today at a conference here on offshore wind. The announcement at the American Wind Energy Association event pushes back by two years an original goal of having a competitive sale in the mid-Atlantic by late 2011.
Wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems made its largest Colorado job cut Thursday, laying off about 200 workers at its Windsor blade plant. The cuts represent 29 percent of the plant’s workforce. Vestas also had laid off workers at plants in Brighton and Pueblo.
Environmentalists today ripped the Obama administration’s decision to approve a wind power project in southeast Wyoming, arguing that the massive wind farm is improperly sited and will cause grave harm to golden eagles and greater sage grouse.
Industry and state officials yesterday said they remain optimistic about the future of offshore wind in the United States, despite uncertainty surrounding the extension of key tax incentives and a lack of markets for developers to sell their power. Jim Lanard, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Offshore Wind Development Coalition, told a gathering here of government, industry and environmental officials that he expects significant announcements soon in the windy mid-Atlantic, though he acknowledged progress has been slow.
The Obama administration has issued final approval for the largest wind farm in North America, a move that will allow the nation to meet a goal set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to approve roughly 10,000 megawatts of new renewable energy projects on federal land by 2015. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced at a ceremony in Cheyenne, Wyo., that he has signed a record of decision for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project in southeast Wyoming.
Americans have become more likely to link extreme weather events to climate change, according to a report released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities. Seventy-four percent of Americans said “global warming is affecting weather in the United States,” according to a survey taken in August and September, compared with 69 percent who agreed with that statement in a March survey, the report says.
Europe’s rush for renewable electricity sources to combat climate change has far outpaced the ability of the grid system to carry the new power to where it is needed. The problem is compounded by the fact that most energy policies remain firmly domestic, according to Daniel Dobbeni, head of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, ENTSO-E. And the imbalance is likely to get much worse before it gets any better, he told a recent U.K. National Grid seminar on possible future energy scenario
“We’ve done extremely well,” John Purcell, Leeco’s vice president for wind energy, said in an interview. Leeco is a unit of O’Neal Industries, a metals-service company based in Birmingham, Alabama.
Now a different sort of economic crisis is looming over the industry. A tax credit fueling wind’s growth expires at the end of this year unless Congress votes to extend it. Wind-energy companies get 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour produced, shaving as much as one-third off the costs.
The clean energy sector is closing the gap on fossil fuels, but the wind industry faces significant challenges and could see a free fall in new construction over the next three years, said Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The decline in new wind power generation, he added, is likely to occur regardless of whether Congress extends a production tax credit (PTC) that has been a blessing to the industry.