Ken Salazar, the blunt-spoken lawyer and rancher who took over the scandal-ridden Interior Department at the outset of the Obama administration, said Wednesday that he would step down in March to return to his home in Colorado.
Among the “firsts” being tried by the Atlantic Wind Connection, the venture seeking to build an electric transmission line from southern Virginia to northern New Jersey, is negotiating the regulatory system. The problem is that the cable, which would be buried under the seabed, is what grid officials call a “multidriver project,” or a project that is undertaken for more than one reason — something that those officials have little experience with. To be built, the project must win the approval of the regional grid association, the PJM Interconnection. (The letters used to stand for Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland, but the organization now extends into all or part of Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Ohio and Illinois.) And PJM has three different systems for approving lines and apportioning their costs.
A private developer with plans to build a chain of offshore wind farms along the East Coast announced plans today to build its first section of underwater transmission lines off the coast of New Jersey in 2016.
California’s renewable energy mandate has fueled growth of green power so swiftly that utilities here won’t need to buy much more for several years, officials said yesterday. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) all are on track to hit the state’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2020. They’ll reach that target with energy already under contract, creating a bust for developers that were hoping for continued growth, experts said at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) regional summit
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) yesterday reintroduced legislation aimed at eliminating tax credits for energy producers and suggested he could support broadening the scope of his effort to also target other incentives, such as deductions enjoyed by the oil and gas industry, in an effort to attract bipartisan support to eliminate all energy-related favors as part of a broader tax reform push. Pompeo’s bill, H.R. 259, introduced yesterday with 11 Republican co-sponsors, is virtually identical to legislation he introduced in the previous Congress. It would eliminate more than a dozen tax credits, most notably the production tax credit for wind and other renewable sources, as well as credits for biodiesel, alternative fuels and electric cars.
The Treasury Department and IRS are preparing joint guidance to flesh out the implications of a significant tweak to a key renewable energy tax cut that was signed into law this month, an official said yesterday. The timing of the guidance on the new eligibility requirements for the production tax cut remains unclear. Treasury and IRS need to determine how exactly to define when wind and other renewable energy developers can claim the credit after Congress approved a change to its eligibility requirements.
Rep. Paul Tonko of New York will replace Rep. Gene Green of Texas as the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, potentially ushering in a new focus on renewable energy technologies.
Although Green decided to step aside to focus on health issues as a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the conservative oil-patch lawmaker will continue to sit on the Environment and Economy Subcommittee, just not as ranking member. Tonko is an ardent supporter of clean energy power and federal incentives and has crafted legislation to improve gas turbine efficiency, authorize wind energy research and development, encourage combined heat and power, advance fuel cell applications, create tax credits for waste heat recapture and require oil companies drilling on public lands to disclose campaign contributions.
China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is making progress in connecting idled wind farms to the electricity grid, helping to address a roadblock slowing the development of wind power. “The issue is in the process of improvement, given the efforts made by grid companies,” Jiang Liping, vice president of the State Grid Energy Research Institute, said in a phone interview on Jan. 10, without disclosing the connection rate. The adoption of wind power in China has been damped by the electricity grid’s ability to handle the influx of energy, forcing the government to impose stricter approvals on new projects. The rate of wind capacity sitting idle could fall to as low as 10 percent this year, compared with 25 percent at the end of 2011, Jun Ying, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s head of research in China, said by e-mail.
Clean energy investment in the United States fell nearly a third last year compared with 2011, largely driven by uncertainty around the fate of a key tax break, slackening demand from state renewable energy mandates, falling costs for renewable technology and competition from natural gas, according to research released today.
Wind energy in Kansas could be in store for another round of development due to the one-year renewal of a federal tax credit. The Associated Press reports Kansas saw the most wind farm construction of any state last year. But by early fall, projects stalled and workers were laid off because the industry was expecting the tax credit to expire on Jan. 1.