With the wind industry facing the expiration of a production tax credit at the end of the year, the sector’s main trade association is facing off against Exelon, the big power generation company, over whether the tax break should be renewed. Last week, the Wind Energy Association expelled Exelon as a member because the company opposed a renewal of the credit. The association says that if the tax credit expires, some 17,000 jobs will be eliminated next year and that deliveries of new turbines will spiral to zero.
When Barack Obama first ran for president, being green was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming. As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets. This year’s campaign on behalf of fossil fuels includes a surge in political contributions to Mitt Romney, attack ads questioning Mr. Obama’s clean-energy agenda, and television spots that are not overtly partisan but criticize administration actions like new air pollution rules and the delay of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada
With lawmakers aiming to spend most of their time before November on the campaign trail, Congress is expected to have a full plate for a post-election session in November and December. But some House conservatives say it would be inappropriate to convene as lame ducks before the 113th Congress — and, they hope, a new president — comes to town next year. The wind industry has been lobbying intensively for an extension of the production tax credit, without which it says half its jobs will be lost next year. And an array of other energy sectors, from home efficiency contractors to appliance makers to alternative fuel producers, also are counting on a continuation of tax credits prized by their respective industries.
As the clock ticks down on a key wind industry tax break, a top environmental group today released two reports aiming to detail where jobs are created within the industry and how its growth has created ripple-effect economic benefits, such as boosting incomes and tax revenues in beleaguered cities and towns. The reports commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council are meant to bolster arguments that the wind industry has been an economic boon as industry supporters continue a long-running lobbying effort urging Congress to extend the wind production tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
A heated dispute over an Obama administration initiative to modernize the country’s sprawling electric grid triggered a partisan brawl in the House Natural Resources Committee yesterday, with a top Democrat accusing his GOP colleagues of trying to implement a “socialist electricity system.”
Which state had the most extreme heat this summer? Wisconsin, according to the organization Climate Central. The group set out to rank the states, with its analysis relying on two main questions: Which state broke or tied the most high-temperature records (after accounting for the number of measurement stations in each state, and the anticipated number of records based on the age of the stations)? Which states had the largest disparities in the ratio between record high and record-low temperatures?
Like all current and proposed energy resources, wind power faces a long list of challenges: connection to inflexible grids, inconstant generation and stiffly competitive energy markets, to name just a few. One problem the sector is unlikely to face, however, is scarcity of supply. According to the most detailed model of wind’s potential to date, undertaken by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Delaware, there’s enough wind on Earth to meet world power demand seven times over.
Opposition by Exelon Corp. to a key wind industry tax break, which led to its dismissal from a wind trade association, is driven in part by concerns that subsidized wind power is making it more difficult for the utility’s nuclear fleet to keep pace in competitive markets, a company official said today.
The American Wind Energy Association’s board of directors has ousted a power company that has urged Congress to end production tax credits for wind energy. AWEA’s board last week found Exelon Corp. was no longer a member in good standing because of the Chicago-based utility’s public campaign opposing the extension of the tax incentives that are set to expire at the end of this year.
Last week, the New York Times reported on an exciting new energy project that is scheduled to begin testing off the coast of Oregon in early October. A company called Ocean Power Technologies is going to lower a 260-ton generator into the Pacific ocean, just 2.5 miles from the shore, in order to capture renewable energy from waves. The buoy generator will link up to the grid and, if it works, could generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. Like many new experiments in renewable energy, the Oregon project was partially funded by a grant from the Department of Energy. In previous decades, the Department of Energy drove basic research by operating giant government-funded labs, but under the leadership of Energy Secretary and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, the agency has transformed itself into something different: the biggest, greenest venture capital firm in the world.