Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) yesterday told reporters the omnibus spending bill “is kind of in a frozen state for a bit” while negotiators continue work on a tax extenders package. “But we’re making very good progress on trying to resolve the money issues,” she told reporters. “We have about 40 or 42 poison pill riders, some are really big, Hobby Lobby, campaign finance reform, things that never really should have been on appropriations. So we’re kind of stuck at the riders.” In the meantime, a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running past Friday appears likely.
If negotiators in Paris reach an agreement next week on a global plan to rein in the use of fossil fuels, the next question becomes this: How can the participating countries fulfill their pledges to do their part? They may get some direction from Germany, which has claimed some early success in diversifying its energy sources and balancing economic growth with environmental concerns.
The spinning blades of wind turbines produced 9 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2014. Most of those turbines are in the north of the country, near Denmark and the Netherlands, or off the coast in the North Sea. The majority of Germany’s electricity demand, however, comes from some 400 miles to the south, in the factories and corporate headquarters of Bavaria.
Transporting electricity from the place where it is generated to the place it will be used means installing high-voltage power lines. But while renewable energy is extremely popular among the German public, power lines are not.
Renewable-energy developers are increasingly selling wind power straight to the users, tapping a new customer base as some traditional utility buyers are backing away. Technology giants have led the way, including Google’s deal Dec. 3 for 625 megawatts of U.S. wind power and Microsoft Corp.’s biggest-ever wind deal Dec. 1. Other industries are following suit, with businesses, universities, government agencies and other non-utility buyers accounting for 32 percent of U.S. contracts this year through early November, according to the American Wind Energy Association, up from 5 percent for all of 2013.
Not long ago, Denmark was making headlines for harvesting so much wind power that it was leading the way in generating renewable energy, while becoming a center of innovation and growth for green and clean technology. Then, in June, a center-left government was replaced by a right-wing, minority coalition determined to tighten spending and balance the budget in a program to grow the economy. The budget cuts include a key fund that was used to seed green technology projects — a government subsidy that environmental advocates said had paid itself off many times over.
Lawmakers may work into next weekend to finish negotiations on a multiagency spending bill and a tax-credit extension package, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday afternoon. “I don’t see any of them ending when it comes to extenders or when it comes to the” omnibus spending bill, the California Republican said. McCarthy echoed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), who told a radio station in his home state of Wisconsin that the House may not finish its work this week, as many lawmakers want. “It might take us more than just this week to get these issues put together correctly,” Ryan said.
Discussions on an elusive long-term spending package and legislation to extend expiring tax provisions, including renewable energy incentives, are jeopardizing a desire by many lawmakers to wrap up this year’s work by the end of the week. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he hoped talks on a bill to keep the government running past Dec. 11 would be over by yesterday. They weren’t. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said more weekend of work may be necessary
Kansas utility regulators voted yesterday to begin an investigation into what U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will mean for utility rates in the state and the reliability of the electric grid. The order by the Kansas Corporation Commission is based on a recommendation by commission staff and will focus on examining generation redispatch options that enable the state to comply with the rule while maintaining reliable, least-cost electric service.
A company has announced that it plans to create three wind farms in southeastern Nebraska. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Aksamit Resource Management’s projects represent a $725 million investment in Saline, Thayer and Fillmore Counties. The projects include a 300-megawatt site that will have 150 turbines spread out over 30,000 acres in Saline and Fillmore Counties and a 76-megawatt project that will have 40 turbines on 8,000 acres in Thayer County. Those two projects are scheduled to be operational in 2019.
Energy: The deal could extend the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit for five years with a phase out. But the RSC wants to let the credits phase out as scheduled. The wind credit expired at the end of 2014, and the solar credit is set to expire in 2016.