Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today disagreed about just how large an effect wind production tax credits are having on the U.S. nuclear fleet. Commissioner John Norris said the wind production tax credits that have drawn the ire of nuclear giant Exelon Corp. are a “distraction” that is not productive to the larger conversation about what’s challenging nuclear units.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday formally blocked amendments to a tax bill, setting up a procedural vote this afternoon amid continuing tension over floor procedure that could sink the legislation despite its substantial bipartisan support. Left hanging are a dozen energy tax incentives, including the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC), several alternative fuel credits and incentives for energy efficiency. Those are among the more than 50 expired tax breaks that would be reinstated by the Senate bill, although they face stiffer resistance in the House.
The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded. The Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.
Surging demand for renewable energy pushed global employment in the solar, wind and biofuels energy sectors to 6.5 million in 2013, a 14 percent increase from 2012, according to new figures released this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency. “Renewable energy employment continues to spread to more and more countries. Nonetheless, the bulk of employment remains concentrated in a small number of countries: China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Spain,” states the report issued by the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based trade group. China was the world’s No. 1 renewable energy sector employer for 2013 with 2.64 million workers, riding its dominant position in the manufacture and distribution of solar photovoltaic equipment as well as solar heating and cooling systems, according to the group’s “Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review” for 2014.
The Senate voted 96-3 Tuesday to advance a tax extenders bill, passing the first procedural hurdle. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on a motion to proceed to the Hire More Heroes Act, H.R. 3474, which will serve as the legislative vehicle for S. 2260, the EXPIRE Act. Nearly every Senate Republican joined Democrats to advance the $85 billion plus bill that extends tax credits, which expired at the beginning of the year. Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Mike Lee (Utah) voted against the motion.
Exelon Corp. Chairman and CEO Christopher Crane said yesterday that states should implement U.S. EPA’s forthcoming regulations on carbon emissions by adopting new “clean energy” standards that would include nuclear power alongside renewable energy sources. Speaking to an audience at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C., Crane acknowledged that his company — the largest owner of U.S. nuclear power plants — would continue to lobby on behalf of its portfolio of generation assets, facing advocates for wind and solar power and other energy options. But he said it would be better to negotiate comprehensive agreements among all energy providers to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals without undermining nuclear power, which he called a crucial resource for backing up renewable power when it is not available and providing grid stability.
A Carnegie Mellon University study has found that Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)—regulatory mandates for an increase in renewable energy production—are most likely the strongest policy drivers for the recent increase in wind-related technology patents. In addition, the researchers determined that tax credits, such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), and federal research and development investments have not been particularly successful incentives for innovation.
The GOP blitzkrieg against Ohio’s energy efficiency and green energy mandates has resumed, moving at a pace that could throw the hot potato into Gov. John Kasich’s lap within a week. The key question then, critics of the bill say: Will Kasich be willing to become the first governor to cripple both his state’s renewable energy and efficiency standards, or to sit by without his veto pen while lawmakers do it? Backers of the bill would phrase it differently: Will Kasich take the necessary step to loosen energy mandates that are strangling the economic recovery?
The latest version of a repeal, SB 310, would put the energy efficiency and renewable standards on hold for two years while a committee studies the costs. A national effort to repeal state energy standards has been led by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, whose members include oil, gas and coal companies. Sen. Seitz sits on the board of ALEC. If it is successful, SB 310 will be the first bill in the country to repeal state energy standards.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that it’s long past time the government stopped subsidizing wind energy. “Neither of us is saying there is no place for wind energy. There is an important place for it … but it’s time for the federal subsidy to end,” Flake said on the Senate floor.