Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign came out yesterday with its strongest opposition to date on extending a key wind industry tax credit, saying the presumptive Republican nominee will allow it “to expire” and tying the issue to broader opposition to President Obama’s support for renewable energy. Romney had not shied away from criticizing Obama’s support for renewable energy — highlighting the loan guarantee to now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, among other issues, at numerous campaign stops this year — but the candidate until yesterday had avoided taking a firm position on the production tax credit for wind, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
The lines are now drawn on a political hot button in Iowa: a lucrative tax break for wind energy. Mitt Romney is against it, President Barack Obama favors it — opposing stances that could have political and economic implications in Iowa, which has more wind energy jobs than any other state in the nation.
The Obama administration ruled Friday that Chinese and Vietnamese manufacturers of steel towers used in utility-scale wind turbines have been selling their products in the United States at less than fair value, handing another victory to American manufacturers and escalating an ongoing renewable energy trade battle. In its preliminary determination today, the Commerce Department set tariff rates of 20.85 percent to 72.69 percent to counter dumping practices by Chinese producers. The tariff on Vietnamese manufactures was set at 52.67 percent to 59.91 percent.
Chinese manufacturers have been illegally selling steel towers for wind turbines below the cost of production and will have to pay duties of 20.85 to 72.69 percent on imports, the United States Commerce Department said Friday in a preliminary ruling in an antidumping case brought by four American tower manufacturers.
The pricing pressure in the wind turbine industry will continue because of overcapacities, Siemens AG (SIE) Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher said.“We continue to see capacity adjustments, overcapacity” and therefore continued pricing pressure in the renewables business, Loescher said today during a call with analysts.
The much-vaunted European electricity supergrid, supposed to assist the birth of a low-carbon electricity future by making renewable power from the wind-blown north and sun-soaked south flow seamlessly across the continent, is moving at a snail’s pace as political will withers and economies ebb. Renewable energy industry participants are taking tentative steps, but they are hampered by the shifting economic and political landscape as the global economic downturn shows no sign of evaporating and the homegrown European financial crisis seems to get more entrenched with every move to end it.
The Senate’s top tax writer emerged from a closed-door session last night “very encouraged” that lawmakers would be able to agree on a package to extend a variety of temporary tax breaks that expired last year or are set to do so this year, although the contents of such a package and timing to get it to the floor remain in flux.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is convening a closed-door meeting this afternoon to hear committee members’ views on a variety of temporary tax measures that have expired or are scheduled to sunset at the end of this year, including a key wind industry tax break. It is the second such meeting Baucus has convened this summer to discuss the fate of the “tax extenders,” among other issues on the committee’s plate. A meeting last month produced some optimism but few concrete breakthroughs (E&E Daily, June 13)
More and more travel companies are pivoting toward wind and solar power as a way to cut costs in the long term. The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is joining the trend by installing 40-foot wind turbines on its high-rise roof. Through the installation, the Florida resort plans to generate 5 to 10 percent of its power.
The Department of Energy has broken ground for a first-of-its-kind wind turbine testing center in Lubbock, Texas. The Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWIFT) facility will test wind turbines in real-world conditions to optimize existing generator designs and come up with new ones. Funded in part by a $2.6 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the project will be operated by Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University.