When Maryland lawmakers return this week to a debate about offshore wind power, talk likely will focus on the minutiae of how much a subsidy for the fledgling industry will cost ratepayers. “I have been working on clean-energy issues for the last 10 years, and I have never seen an issue that mobilizes and captures the imagination of the public as much,” Mike Tidwell, president of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, recently told a gathering of green-energy financiers meeting in the District. “In offshore wind, you’ve got a solution that strikes the average person as sufficient to the scale of the problem. You’ve got something visionary, something large, something that looks and feels like the future.”
Wind energy has long been seen as a tremendous but untapped opportunity to help rural Nebraska communities, ranchers and farmers, who lease out their land for the giant wind turbines. As of January, neighboring Iowa had 4,322 megawatts of wind energy capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association — ranking second nationally, behind only Texas.
A majority of voters in four Midwestern states are willing to pay $6 a month on their electricity bills to help promote clean energy and energy efficiency, according to a telephone poll of 1,600 voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Not long ago, it wasn’t unusual for a hundred or more wind turbines to sprout into the Wyoming sky each year. But while the state’s wind generates a bigger chunk of Wyoming electricity than ever before, the number of built turbines has lagged ever slower behind the number of permits issued by state regulators.
The wind energy industry finds itself in damage-control mode after House and Senate negotiators reached a deal on the payroll tax extension — but failed to include an important tax credit for wind energy. Industry leaders say the production tax credit (PTC) for wind is critical to preserve thousands of jobs and ensure the sector’s growth. Its omission raises the possibility that the robust growth enjoyed by wind power over the past few years might soon shudder to a halt.
Gov. Deval Patrick, who has been trying to strong-arm Nstar into purchasing electricity from his pet energy project Cape Wind, announced today that the utility will buy 27.5 percent of the proposed offshore wind project’s electricity as part of a deal allowing the mega-merger of Nstar and Northeast Utilities.
The wind industry is predicting massive layoffs and stalled or abandoned projects after a deal to renew a tax credit for wind production failed Thursday in Washington. The move is expected to have major ramifications in states such as Illinois, where 13,892 megawatts of wind projects-enough to power 3.3 million homes per year-wait to be connected to the electric grid.
Even as renewables advocates today lamented lawmakers’ move not to use a bipartisan payroll tax deal as a vehicle to extend a much-watched clean power tax credit, they vowed to keep pressing for a reprieve ahead of a year-end expiration date that could trigger layoffs in coming months. The final payroll tax cut deal signed by congressional conferees today, which shifts the rules governing federal employee pension contributions (see related story), didn’t give the production tax credit (PTC) for wind, biomass, solar and other renewable energy sources life beyond this year, despite support from top Senate Democratic negotiator Max Baucus of Montana. The omission emerged as the Obama administration continues to warn of adverse consequences if Congress does not act soon to extend the credit.
As House and Senate negotiators work to nail down a payroll tax cut deal, corporations and interest groups are urging lawmakers to include a key renewable energy tax credit extension in the package.
The wind power industry in this country has grown fast in recent years, but that could come to a screeching halt. The industry depends on a federal subsidy to keep it competitive with other forms of electricity. It’s a tax credit wind farms get for the power they produce. That credit expires at the end of the year, and it’s not clear whether Congress will renew it.