As municipal budgets continue to be cut, some cities around the world are looking to harness wind to power their streetlights. While other cities have opted to use technologies such as light-emitting diodes and smart lighting, wind power — through distributed energy — has been an option that allows municipalities to cut down on fossil fuel usage and get off the traditional grid. The distributed renewable energy market was estimated to be about $70 billion globally last year and is expected to top $150 billion by 2015.
The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition today welcomed Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as the new chairman and vice chairman of the Coalition.
To attract bipartisan support, a proposed federal requirement that utilities use carbon-free energy may need to be packaged with a clause to pre-empt U.S. EPA greenhouse gas rules, key senators said today. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said he would be open to amending his “Clean Energy Standard Act” to include some EPA pre-emption, and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the change would cause her to rethink her current opposition to the proposal. They spoke to E&E after a hearing on the CES bill, where a variety of experts said it would make sense to pre-empt at least some EPA rules if such a standard were in place.
With a bevy of tax provisions — including a wind-energy break — set to expire at year’s end, the House’s top tax writer promised today that all stakeholders would be included as his committee weighs its options. The Ways and Means Committee’s subpanel on temporary tax measures will convene a hearing next month to consider arguments for and against the variety of “tax extenders” that will disappear in January unless Congress intervenes.
A major wind industry tax credit may not be up for a vote in the House before the election, but it is in the “top tier” of credits likely to receive an extension among dozens of temporary breaks slated to expire at the end of this year, a key Republican said yesterday. While the House subpanel tasked with evaluating “tax extenders” is still relatively early in its evaluation of which of the 100-plus expiring credits deserve an extension, the wind industry’s intensive lobbying effort throughout the year for the production tax credit seems to be paying off. “I would say it’s probably on the top tier in terms of what we have heard from both members and private sector,” Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who chairs the Ways and Means subpanel on select revenue measures, told E&E Daily in a brief interview off the House floor yesterday.
The wind-power industry is fully backing voluntary federal guidelines aimed at siting and operating wind farms in ways that minimize impacts to birds, bats and wildlife habitat. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and 40 wind-power companies this week sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledging to adhere to the guidelines, which were developed over a five-year period by a Fish and Wildlife Service advisory committee that included industry officials, conservation leaders, representatives of American Indian tribes, and federal and state regulators.
Nursing a coffee in a café just yards from the Michigan Capitol, Stanley “Skip” Pruss allowed himself to mourn political changes that have slowed state development of wind farms in the Great Lakes. Under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), a clean energy advocate, Michigan made progress with Pruss — then director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth — playing a key role. The Great Lakes Wind Council that he helped set up went as far as to produce draft legislation that would set up a regulatory framework for an offshore wind sector. Now, Pruss is outside looking in.
Two big wind development projects on Appalachian ridges in Bedford and Clearfield counties have been canceled, and fewer new turbines will be spinning across the nation next year due to the possible end of a federal tax credit program that has driven development.
When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said yesterday that he wants a vote before the election aimed at avoiding the “largest tax increase in American history” looming at year’s end, he did not point to wind energy developers who would see higher costs without an extension of their prized temporary tax break.
Nonetheless, backers of the proposal are seeing brighter prospects that companies that rely on the expiring production tax credit, or PTC, may not have to wait until the eleventh hour for a reprieve. Lawmakers and industry lobbyists see a growing interest in the House and Senate tax-writing committees to get a PTC bill to the floor before November, and some point to the uptick in activity from conservative PTC opponents as a sign that the move to extend the credit is gaining some steam.
As Congress considers whether to extend a wind-industry tax break, a key House Republican signaled his willingness yesterday to continue providing the incentive, saying “stability” is key to ensuring a diverse mix of energy resources.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) stopped short of explicitly endorsing an extension to the production tax credit for wind, a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt-hour incentive that’s set to expire at year’s end. But he noted the industry should be part of the “all of the above” energy mix Republicans would like to see.