Despite broad public support and overwhelming support in one branch of the Legislature, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Offshore Wind Energy Act once again died in the Senate on the last day of the legislative calendar. The bill, which would have started a bidding process for developers to build about 200 Megawatts of wind power off of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, failed to come to a vote before the Senate Finance Committee.
White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley described the new agreement between the federal government and five states as an effort to “cut through the red tape” of permitting offshore wind energy projects. Doing so, she said, would allow Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania to begin harvesting some of the estimated 700 gigawatts of electricity bound up in their offshore winds. But what Sutley and her administration colleagues failed to note is that there are varying opinions about the best way to develop wind energy in freshwater environments like the Great Lakes, or even whether such projects should be approved at all.
China, the world’s biggest wind- power market, issued plans that may indicate it will approve fewer of the projects this year than it did in 2011. The National Energy Administration plans to approve 16.76 gigawatts of wind-power projects in 2012, Shi Lishan, deputy director of the administration’s renewable energy division, said by telephone today. That doesn’t include six provinces where extensive capacity has already been built or is planned and where new approvals will be considered separately, Shi said. China approved 26.83 gigawatts of wind farms last year.
North Dakota’s once-booming wind energy sector is waning because of the sluggish economy, continued transmission bottlenecks, and the prospect that federal tax credits will expire at the end of the year. The state, often rated as having the greatest wind potential in the nation, now has about 1,400 megawatts of total wind capacity. Wind power comprises 12 percent of North Dakota’s electricity mix and ranks 11th in the nation for total capacity.
Thousands of Michiganders hold jobs in the wind energy industry; they work for more than 30 companies that make parts for the wind turbines that create clean energy, and they build some of the turbines as well. But wind energy proponents are afraid those jobs will dwindle if the wind energy tax credit is allowed to expire at the end of the year.
The Department of Energy released a new plan today for moving forward on renewable loan guarantees, seven months after the Solyndra bankruptcy pushed the loan program into a political firestorm and slammed the brakes on new commitments.
The statutory deadline for DOE to offer loans under the same Section 1705 program that provided the ill-fated Solyndra loan was Sept. 30, 2011 — just a month removed from the California solar energy company’s bankruptcy announcement.
Located on a 66,000-acre site about 40 miles southwest of Wichita, the wind farm represents a combined investment of more than $800 million and will have the capacity to produce 419 MW of electricity. The electricity produced will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Associated Electric Cooperative and Southwestern Electric Power Company, a unit of American Electric Power. The Flat Ridge 2 project is projected to create some 500 jobs during construction and roughly 30 permanent jobs once the wind farm begins commercial operation. Upon completion, it will be the largest wind project in Kansas.
Six months after the expiration of a federal loan guarantee program that backed $16 billion in loans to solar, wind and geothermal energy projects, the Energy Department has decided to offer a smaller set of similar guarantees by tapping another pot of money appropriated by Congress last year. The department said Thursday that it had sent letters to potentially eligible companies inviting them to apply for the new money.
House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) says the Obama administration’s plan to use power marketing administrations to upgrade the electric grid is flawed and should be halted until Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies before his committee. Hastings asked Chu in a letter today to testify before the House committee April 26 to discuss a memo he issued last month (E&ENews PM, March 16).
A panel of power experts today warned that the East Coast’s most populous state will have to replace 40 percent of its electricity transmission over the next three decades to keep up with regulations and replace aging generation with more diverse supply. Appearing at Columbia University here, the experts said three drivers — power plant age, transmission congestion and new Clean Air Act rules that go into effect in 2015 — will accelerate the Empire State’s need for an unprecedented wave of line construction.