The United States is experiencing the most widespread drought in more than 50 years, and experts say it is only going to get worse. Record-high temperatures have caused wildfires, depleted municipal water supplies and destroyed crops, and they will likely slow an already struggling economy as food and shipping prices rise.
Only half of the U.S. regions with state renewable energy mandates will meet their 2020 goals for wind, solar and biomass generation, a new assessment by the IHS CERA consulting firm concludes.
This year is expected to produce the peak of renewable power development in the decade, said Sharon Reishus, a CERA senior director and former head of the Maine Public Service Commission. Developers are “madly building” to complete wind projects in case the federal production tax credit is not renewed at year’s end, said Reishus, who spoke at the summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners here.
The federal government is poised to auction to wind farm developers 2,434 square miles of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, which would allow wind farms to sprout 10 miles off the shores of six states, from Massachusetts to Virginia. Extensive efforts are underway to avoid the fiasco of the first proposed offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. That 24-square mile project off the coast of Cape Cod unleashed a fierce, decade-long battle that still lingers in the courts. Although Europe has had offshore wind farms for many years, the United States remains without even one.
Fishermen’s Energy has received the final permit needed to start building an offshore wind farm off the Atlantic City, N.J., coast. The Cape May, N.J.-based company received the permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz is preparing to promote a carbon tax, putting him in the company of a small cluster of Republican statesmen who are embracing efforts to reduce greenhouse gases that their party has rejected. Shultz, who spent nearly seven years in President Reagan’s Cabinet, says a carbon tax that returns its revenue to taxpayers and public programs could eventually be accepted by the Republican Party, despite its current hostile outlook on measures that reduce emissions.
The Senate today sidestepped an opportunity to extend a key wind industry tax break when Democratic leaders declined to schedule a vote on a bipartisan amendment to a small-business tax bill. Supporters saw an amendment offered by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) as an opportunity to demonstrate bipartisan support for extending the wind production tax credit, which expires at the end of this year, because the amendment avoided political controversies that have helped sink earlier efforts to extend the PTC (E&E Daily, July 12).
Top officials at the Department of Energy will hit the road tomorrow to promote tax credits aimed at spurring clean energy manufacturing, biofuels development and the deployment of wind turbines, DOE announced today. Energy Secretary Steven Chu plans to travel to Wisconsin to visit a wind turbine manufacturer and biofuels research center, while Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman will participate in several events in Texas, including a visit to another wind component manufacturer.
A bipartisan pair of senators yesterday offered an amendment to a pending small business tax bill that would provide the Senate its first opportunity this year to vote on a straightforward extension of a key wind energy tax incentive, without delving into politically charged showdowns over unrelated issues such as oil company tax incentives or stimulus-funded renewable energy supports.
A surrogate for GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday that the presumptive nominee wants to end the production tax credit for wind energy projects, but is still deciding how the popular incentive should be phased out. Romney’s stance could be critical for the wind energy industry, which is lobbying hard to maintain the incentive that industry officials call vital to funding new power projects.
Environmentalists are coming down on a proposal to extend permits for the unintentional killing of eagles from five years to 30 years. As public lands are being opened up for renewable energy development, officials are using the unintentional killing permits as a means of setting clear ground rules for wildlife protection as spinning turbine blades at wind farms have killed birds.