How dependent is renewable power capacity on policy? During today’s OnPoint, Christi Tezak, managing director of research at ClearView Energy Partners, discusses the changing dynamics of the renewable energy tax policy debate and the impact master limited partnerships could have on clean energy projects. She also explains how U.S. EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for power plants could affect state renewable portfolio standards.
The Interior Department late last week announced it is moving forward on Virginia’s plan to build a 12-megawatt wind project in the Atlantic Ocean after confirming there is no competitive interest in developing the area. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has been cleared to submit a formal proposal to erect two 6 MW research turbines, which would trigger a National Environmental Policy Act review.
Economists and regulators are beginning to see preliminary results from the potential scenarios under future regulations to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s fleet of power plants. In his Climate Action Plan released in June, President Obama directed U.S. EPA to craft a regulation that would set maximum carbon emissions standards from existing power plants by July 2014. EPA will promulgate the rule under Section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to make individual plans to comply with EPA’s requirements.
Conventional wisdom says environmentalism suffered a near-death experience in 2010, when a sweeping climate change bill ran aground in the Democratic-run Senate. But aspiring eulogists for the green movement have gotten ample material in the years before and since that failure. Federal climate legislation is now an all-but-impossible goal. President Obama’s attempt to curb carbon through executive branch power is challenged at every turn by industry opponents and combative Republicans. The healthy decline in U.S. emissions that many greens welcome is in large part due to a natural gas boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing, that fractures the conservation community. Even winning votes for a simple bipartisan energy efficiency bill, for environmentalists, is a slog up Capitol Hill. E&E looks at the U.S. environmental movement as it hits middle age, with an in-depth examination of five groups that are driving the agenda in Congress and throughout the nation.
The wind credit is set to expire at the end of this calendar year, and currently Congress has not committed to extend it. Congress first passed the tax credit, which gives wind producers 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for their first 10 years of operation, in 1992. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Congress has extended the provision five times and has allowed it to sunset on four occasions. This ‘on-again/off-again’ status contributes to a boom-bust cycle of development that plagues the wind industry.” If extended, the tax credit is expected to be worth about $12 billion over the next decade.
The Interior Department announced today that it has finalized a new rule that will allow renewable energy and other projects to obtain permits to injure, kill or disturb bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years, a move that pleases the wind power industry but alarms environmentalists.
Michigan and New York renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are adding jobs and reviving economic growth
The policy known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), whereby retail electricity providers are mandated to meet an increasing share of sales from the competitive procurement of clean and renewable energy is proving successful as a viable framework for deploying a significant amount of renewable generation at the state level. 29 states in total plus Washington, D.C. are successfully deploying RPS policies to obtain homegrown, affordable, clean and renewable energy resources. In the last few weeks, Michigan and New York each completed policy reviews of their respective RPS programs.
In a battle that pits the East Coast against the Midwest over the winds that carry dirty air from coal plants, the governors of eight Northeastern states plan to petition the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to force tighter air pollution regulations on nine Rust Belt and Appalachian states. The East Coast states, including New York and Connecticut, have for more than 15 years been subject to stricter air pollution requirements than many other parts of the country. Their governors have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan, for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and tailpipes — allowing those economies to profit from cheap energy while their belched soot and smog are carried on the prevailing winds that blow across the United States.
Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission warned House members today that energy reserves in the Midwest could be pinched the hardest when new U.S. EPA clean air rules take effect in 2016. FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller (R) told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power that the Midwest’s grid operator anticipates a shortfall in its power reserves in 2016 when EPA’s landmark mercury and air toxics standards take effect.
A trio of House Democrats yesterday introduced legislation to require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.) say the bill would create jobs and promote the growth of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. It would apply the renewable energy standard concept — already in place in 29 states — to the entire country.