As uncertainty over the fate of a key wind industry tax break seems likely to persist until at least the end of this year, officials at BP PLC are gaming out four scenarios for how their business will adapt depending on what Congress does, a top official at the company said yesterday.
The British government has approved the construction of two large offshore wind farms off the coast of Norfolk, at a combined cost of nearly $5 billion. The 580-megawatt Race Bank project will be developed by British utility Centrica, and developer Warwick Energy proposed the 560 MW Dudgeon project.
Technological developments that cut the cost of wind turbines while boosting efficiency are driving up the competitiveness of land-based wind power and expanding wind farms across the Northeast, despite ongoing controversy over offshore farms. The cost of electricity, particularly in the Northeast, can be as much as 60 percent higher than the national average.
The door to a pre-November vote on a key wind energy tax credit was thought to have been shut tight by election-year bickering, but President Obama may have reopened it yesterday — if only just a bit, according to a prominent energy analyst. Obama strode into the East Room at midday to intensify the battle around the thornier question of how to address individual income tax rates that are scheduled to rise at the end of this year. The president wants rates for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 to return to 1990s levels and wants to preserve the current rates for everyone else; Republicans are seeking an across-the-board extension of the existing rates, which were established during the George W. Bush administration.
Environmentalists who have studied the Bureau of Land Management’s final analysis of a massive Wyoming wind farm proposal are split over the project’s merits and its potential impacts to greater sage grouse habitat and federally protected golden eagles.
The developer of the US’ biggest wind farm in terms of megawatts, which is due to get even bigger, said Friday it will not pursue expansion into 2013 if the production tax credit is not extended by Congress.
Acciona Windpower’s generator-assembly plant here in the heart of the corn belt is down to its last domestic order as the U.S. wind energy industry faces a sharp slowdown. Demand for the school bus-size pods it assembles to house the guts of a wind turbine is drying up as a key federal tax credit nears expiration. Acciona is now banking on foreign orders to keep the plant going next year, while hoping the credit will be extended.
Initial work will begin tomorrow on a project in Nantucket Sound that aims to become the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. Cape Wind announced today the launch of a multimillion-dollar geotechnical and geophysical survey, the initial phase of its effort to build a 130-turbine project off the coast of Massachusetts. The effort is slated to run through September or October and will include participation from up to 50 scientists, engineers, archaeologists and geologists, the company said.
With his Solyndra investigation winding down, a key House Republican is turning his sights on another controversial renewable energy project in an effort to paint the Obama administration as allowing political support for clean power to trump safety concerns. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) says he wants to know more about the approval of the Cape Wind project, which aims to erect 130 turbines off Massachusetts’ shore in what would be the first such wind farm in federal waters.
The ongoing campaign to extend a tax break vital to the wind industry is experiencing something of an identity crisis. On the one hand, the credit has broad bipartisan support and efforts to extend it have been championed even by some freshman Republican lawmakers swept into office on the tea party-backed wave two years ago. On the other, congressional Democrats and the Obama administration are increasingly pointing to inaction on the credit to attack their political rivals and draw contrasts aimed at highlighting GOP support for the oil industry.