With the clock ticking loudly on the U.S. wind energy sector’s production tax credit, which is set to expire Dec. 31, another blockbuster deal between two major wind energy firms materialized yesterday, as Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Enel Green Power North America Inc. cemented the terms of a 350-megawatt deal to significantly expand EGP’s wind energy portfolio in the United States. Denmark-based Vestas, whose U.S. operation includes large turbine, blade and tower manufacturing plants in Colorado, said it would supply 75 2 MW turbines to EGP’s $250 million Origin wind farm in Oklahoma, which is set to begin producing power by the end of 2014.
A zero-emissions facility — such as a wind farm, solar facility or nuclear plant — would be eligible for a production credit of $23 per megawatt-hour through the first 10 years of a facility’s life, the same level as the current PTC. Or it could claim a one-time investment credit worth 20 percent of a facility’s costs, compared to the existing 30 percent ITC.
Baucus’ impending exit seems to put the final nail in the comprehensive tax reform coffin, at least for this term. The news broke less than six hours after he unveiled a widely anticipated draft bill to overhaul dozens of incentives for the energy sector. The proposal represented a radical rethinking of the tax code — and perhaps the most ambitious effort to shape energy policy since the failed effort to enact a cap-and-trade law in 2009 and 2010. Baucus envisioned replacing at least 42 existing incentives — some temporary, some permanent — with a trio of tax credits to promote clean electricity, clean transportation fuels and carbon capture and sequestration. The credits would have been allotted based on the greenhouse gas intensity of a given energy source and would be set to phase out when their targeted recipients — utilities, transportation or coal-fired power plants — achieved a 25 percent reduction in their emissions intensity
Daily oil production in North Dakota is nearing the 1 million-barrels-per-day benchmark, and monthly production records don’t last long. And while it’s a long way from here to Williston, N.D., Nebraska businesses from Omaha to Sidney are feeling a ripple effect. “I would say, over the last five years, it’s probably doubled our operation, both by revenue and employees,” said Don Adams, owner of Adams Industries Inc. in Sidney, Neb.
Cape Wind, the proposed $2.6 billion wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts criticized by local residents including the Kennedy family, will qualify for a key federal tax credit that expires at the end of the year, according to its turbine supplier Siemens AG.
More than 1,000 wind power manufacturing employees in Iowa and Kansas received an early Christmas gift yesterday as energy giant Siemens AG announced that its U.S. plants would supply 448 wind turbines to MidAmerican Energy Co. as part of the largest single order for onshore turbines in history. At a ribbon-cutting at Siemens’ Fort Madison, Iowa, turbine blade manufacturing plant, executives from Siemens and MidAmerican, along with local, state and federal officials, marked the largest economic development project in Iowa history, as Des Moines-based MidAmerican embarks on a $1.9 billion expansion of wind power generation across the state.
The Oracle of Omaha is certainly not guilty of a lack of energy in the remaining days of 2013. Warren Buffett grabbed his share of recent headlines when he disclosed a $3.45 billion stake in ExxonMobil. And although this story received large amounts of attention from the media, it’s only fair to acknowledge Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which has also been busy lately.
The decision by Warren Buffett’s utility company to order about $1 billion of wind turbines for projects in Iowa shows how a drop in equipment costs is making renewable energy more competitive with power from fossil fuels. Turbine prices have fallen 26 percent worldwide since the first half of 2009, bringing wind power within 5.5 percent of the cost of electricity from coal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), yesterday announced an order for 1,050 megawatts of Siemens AG (SIE) wind turbines in the industry’s largest order to date for land-based gear.
Alexander and Manchin are among the Senate’s top critics of the wind industry’s prized tax credit. While the $23-per-megawatt-hour PTC also supports geothermal, biomass and other renewable sources, wind is responsible for the lion’s share of its cost, estimated at more than $1 billion per year. Wind is the largest non-hydro renewable electricity provider and was the source of more new installed capacity than any other source last year, surpassing natural gas.
Providing the most prominent acknowledgement to date that comprehensive tax reform may not happen before the 113th Congress adjourns, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus last week told a private meeting of committee members that they likely would have to address a raft of temporary tax breaks in isolation next year, a senior Republican on the panel told Greenwire today. The Montana Democrat’s acknowledgement carries wide implications for wind energy developers, biofuels producers and building efficiency companies that rely on the temporary tax breaks known as extenders.