Not long after it became clear that the robust winds that blow down from the Rocky Mountains and across the sea of sagebrush here could produce plenty of profit in a world that wants more renewable energy, some of the more expansive minds in the Wyoming Legislature began entertaining a lofty question: Who owns all of that wind? They concluded, quickly and conveniently, that Wyoming did.
As the largest windfarm in the southeastern United States takes shape near Elizabeth City some people are concerned about plans for a second wind farm with even larger turbines a short distance away near the North Carolina coast. The wind farm under construction will provide power for Amazon data centers in the state of Virginia. But The News and Observer of Raleigh reports opponents backed by law firms in Raleigh and Durham are fighting a second wind farm – the Apex Timbermill Wind project. Some state lawmakers want stricter standards for wind farms.
The Obama Administration is inviting companies to bid for the right to build wind energy turbines off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Interior Department on Friday announced a proposed lease sale for 122,000 acres beginning about 28 miles off Kitty Hawk that includes part of the Outer Continental Shelf. The government has previously announced lease availability for two offshore areas near Wilmington and four areas offshore of South Carolina.
The federal government would have billions more in cash if the oil and gas sector in the United States gave up its tax preferences. That’s according to a new discussion paper published by the Council on Foreign Relations. “The big takeaway here is that we can free up $4 billion a year in the federal budget without doing any appreciable harm to the domestic oil and gas industry,” said author Gilbert Metcalf, a professor of economics at Tufts University.
Americans are “mostly in the dark” about solar power’s costs and options, according to a survey funded by the Department of Energy. The poll of more than 2,000 utility customers found that almost 60 percent of consumers think a typical rooftop solar system covering monthly power usage costs less than $10,000, when some U.S. systems are triple that amount.
“Certainly 2017 will be a difficult year in power plants,” SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said on a conference call Tuesday. “The power plant market is unlikely to improve in America in the next few quarters. It will in time.” The culprit is the federal investment tax credit, which for years has been one of the biggest drivers of the U.S. solar industry. It was scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but got an unexpected five-year extension in December. To qualify, construction must begin before the deadline, so developers need to line up a power-purchase agreement, or PPA, many months before that.
We’re at a time of deeply ambitious plans for clean energy growth. Two of the U.S.’s largest states by population, California and New York, have both mandated that power companies get fully 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030. Only, there’s a problem: Because of the particular nature of clean energy sources like solar and wind, you can’t simply add them to the grid in large volumes and think that’s the end of the story. Rather, because these sources of electricity generation are “intermittent” — solar fluctuates with weather and the daily cycle, wind fluctuates with the wind — there has to be some means of continuing to provide electricity even when they go dark. And the more renewables you have, the bigger this problem can be.
With the exceptional rate of growth seen in solar and wind capacity, a major challenge for the energy industry remains how to integrate renewables into the existing U.S. electric grid and how to modernize how power is generated and delivered to consumers. Leaders in the solar, wind and electric utilities industries spoke about the growth of renewable energy and the impact it has on utilities and the grid at a National Association of State Legislatures conference in Chicago this week.
“Anybody who says to me, ‘Well, you know, we can’t really transition to clean renewable energy,’ I ask them, ‘Have you been to Iowa lately?'” Clinton said. “You already get a third of your electricity from wind, and there is going to be a lot of people who will be helped by the kind of work we are going to do to make sure that clean renewable energy is available around the country.” Clinton went on to tout the state’s 10,000 renewable-energy-related jobs.
Citing the potential to create millions of jobs and drawing contrasts to her Republican opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton today called for making the United States the global leader in clean energy. “Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs and businesses. It’s probably going to be either China, Germany or America. I want it to be us,” Clinton said in an economic address in Warren, Mich.