For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning.The cost of providing electricity from wind andsolar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.
A survey released Wednesday by Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication asked 1,275 adult voters if they would support “strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health,” even if “the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase.” Twenty-three percent responded they would “strongly” support the policy, and 44 percent said they would “somewhat” support it.
NRG, which built a leading electricity business from coal and other conventional power plants, is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, the company said on Thursday. David Crane, the company’s chief executive, made the announcement at a ceremony breaking ground for the company’s new headquarters in Princeton, N.J., conceived as a green-energy showcase that will open in 2016. “The power industry is the biggest part of the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has the potential to be an even bigger part of the solution,” Mr. Crane said in an interview before the announcement.
Wind energy provides a powerful success story. In 2012, wind was our nation’s fastest-growing source of new electrical capacity. Wind power is a clean, renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gases or air pollution and consumes virtually no water. As its share of our nation’s energy mix increases, we’re also protecting our planet.The wind industry currently employs more than 50,000 American workers and produces enough clean energy to power 15 million homes. Wind energy creates good-paying jobs for the workers who build, maintain, and operate wind turbines, and who support operations. A strong domestic wind industry is essential to the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing and good manufacturing jobs.
Grassley said he was encouraged to hear that House and Senate lawmakers are holding informal talks to work out a tax extenders package. The tax code has been expired for 11 months and if lawmakers don’t pass a package by the end of the year to extend tax deductions, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could have to retroactively address the issue if something is passed next year.“Tax season is unpleasant enough without us adding to it,” Grassley said. “It’s now time to get to work and get the extenders bill done.”
While political drama over the Keystone XL pipeline and President Obama’s impending immigration announcement have captured most of the public attention on Capitol Hill since lawmakers returned last week, negotiations are continuing behind the scenes over legislation to keep the government running and renew dozens of lapsed tax incentives for renewable energy and other businesses. Resolution of the tax and spending debates is unlikely until at least next month, but discussions remain ongoing over several areas that sharply divide House and Senate majorities, including renewable energy tax breaks and appropriations riders that would limit U.S. EPA rules.
The company purchased the 165-megawatt facility in Cameron County, Texas, as part of Ikea’s goal to completely offset its energy use with renewables such as wind and solar power by 2020, according to Ikea U.S. acting President Rob Olson. The wind farm will produce enough electricity for 90,000 average homes in the United States.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse today said the Republican takeover of the Senate may actually help pass legislation putting a price on carbon emissions. The Rhode Island Democrat said his new bill to place a $42-per-metric-ton levy on carbon from fossil fuels production and imports may have “significant opportunities” to become law, precisely because Republicans will gain the majority next year.
Hundreds of environmental groups and clean energy firms are urging Congress to renew the production tax credit and other incentives that expired at the end of last year. The letter sent by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and more than 450 other organizations comes amid continuing debate on Capitol Hill over how to handle the several dozen lapsed tax breaks collectively known as “extenders.”
At the heart of the scuffle was a hedge fund, Powhatan Energy Fund LLC, that publicly fumed over FERC’s investigation of it over accusations that it gamed the energy markets. Kevin and Rich Gates, identical twins who manage the fund in Pennsylvania, warned that FERC’s foray into investigations under the direction of Bay — best known as the director of FERC’s Office of Enforcement since 2009 — was too ambitious and misplaced at times. Separately, William Scherman, FERC’s former general counsel and a partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying the Gateses’ experience with FERC was just the “tip of the iceberg.” Scherman, notably, has been critical of FERC for not clarifying what constitutes market manipulation.