Baucus urges extension of green tax credits as part of payroll tax package

Source: Elana Schor • E&E • Posted: Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Bipartisan enthusiasm for sweeping tax reform — a task considered nearly impossible to complete before the November elections — should not prevent lawmakers from swiftly extending renewable energy credits, the Senate’s chief tax writer said yesterday. At issue for the Senate Finance Committee are dozens of tax benefits that expired last year, including the research and development credit, as well as a passel more set to run out at the end of this year unless lawmakers act. In that latter group are two credits hotly pursued by alternative energy companies, a production credit used by wind and biomass producers and a 30 percent advanced manufacturing credit.

Buffett-owned MidAmerican spawns merchant division to sell green power

Source: Daniel Cusick • E&E • Posted: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

No longer a conventional utility company with a penchant for renewables, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings has created a new stand-alone firm to sell wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power into the unregulated energy market. The announcement last week by Des Moines, Iowa-based MidAmerican follows a recent flurry of investment in renewable energy projects, including a handful of wind farms in Iowa and Illinois and two large solar projects in the desert Southwest (ClimateWire, Jan. 24). MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm backed by Buffett’s estimated $39 billion in personal wealth.

States Finding New Ways To Accelerate Transmission Development

Source: National Governors Association • Posted: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

“Governors are making significant progress in developing new transmission that helps diversify our nation’s energy portfolio and support economic growth and job creation,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Through new and creative ways to expedite the planning and construction of electric transmission lines, and by working more closely together, states can help continue that progress and achieve economic success in the future.”

Mexico isthmus attracts wind rush

E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

One of the world’s windiest spots — the Isthmus of Tehuantapec in Mexico — is attracting a “wind rush” as alternative energy companies are rushing to acquire land there for wind farms.The isthmus is so windy that, at times, it is powerful enough to prop up a person who is leaning against it. Gales roar through at an average of 19 mph

Battery maker’s bankruptcy is ill-timed for White House

Source: John McArdle • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Just days before a White House-appointed auditor is set to deliver a report on the Department of Energy’s troubled loan guarantee program, another of the department’s stimulus-funded endeavors made headlines this week at a particularly bad time for the Obama administration. Ener1 Inc. — which received more than $118 million in the form of a DOE grant to make electric-car batteries — filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The announcement threatened to undermine the administration’s offensive on its investments in renewable energy.

Illinois tops nation in wind energy

Source: Sandra Guy • Chicago Sun-Times • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Despite skepticism about the viability of solar-component and electric-car battery companies that have gone bankrupt recently, Illinois is proving that firms can create jobs and help the environment with wind turbines and wind farms, alternative-power advocates said Thursday. In 2011, Illinois topped the nation in the number of new wind turbines installed here — 404 — and ranked No. 2 behind California in the total amount of the turbines’ power capacity , according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association.

Governors drill deep on energy in annual addresses

Source: Amanda Peterka • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

When President Obama focused heavily on energy issues in his State of the Union address earlier this week, he echoed themes many governors have been pushing forward in their annual “state of the state” speeches this month. Governors from resource-rich states like Alaska, Virginia, West Virginia and Colorado all have devoted substantial sections of their annual addresses to traditional energy this month. The governors — both Democrats and Republicans — have called for increases in traditional and renewable energy development, and many have taken jabs at the federal government for stifling development.

New Report by Agency Lowers Estimates of Natural Gas in U.S.

Source: IAN URBINA • New York Times • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Just how much natural gas is trapped underground in the United States? The difficulty and uncertainty in predicting natural gas resources was underscored last week when the Energy Information Administration released a report containing sharply lower estimates.

Murkowski sees ‘no real consensus’ on CES, blames Obama for inaction

Source: Phil Taylor • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she sees a bumpy road for passing a clean energy standard this session. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also blamed the president for failing to actively promote his proposal to generate up to 80 percent of the country’s electricity from low-carbon sources by 2035, despite calling for it in his past two State of the Union speeches.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead says it appears unlikely the Legislature will change new wind energy taxes

Source: BEN NEARY • Associated Press • Posted: Friday, January 27th, 2012

Gov. Matt Mead says he’s given up hope that the Wyoming Legislature this year will roll back state tax increases on wind energy production and construction of wind energy projects. Wyoming began imposing a $1 per megawatt hour tax on wind energy production in January. This month, the state also began imposing sales and use taxes that generally exceed 5 percent on equipment used on wind energy projects.