The White House Rural Council will announce plans on Thursday to start a $10 billion investment fund that will give pension funds and large investors the opportunity to invest in agricultural projects. Those include wastewater systems, energy projects and infrastructure development in rural America. “We’re the eHarmony.com of infrastructure and business investment,” the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said, referring to the online dating service.
Wind-energy is becoming a big deal in Oklahoma. In 2013, this state was the country’s fourth-largest wind power producer. Wind farms are a common sight in western Oklahoma, but the industry is new to northeastern Oklahoma. Developers say the wind here is good, and this region is close to electrical infrastructure. That makes it cheaper to get wind power to the grid. But resistance has been fierce. A key question local and state officials are wrestling with: Where do one person’s property rights end, and another person’s begin? On one side you have landowners like Frank Robson, one of the loudest anti-wind farm voices in Oklahoma.
While the politics of fracking has taken hold of election-year energy discussions in Colorado, the wind power industry is quietly surging. On Friday Vesta Wind Systems announced it was hiring 800 new workers, part of plans to fill 1,500 jobs this year in Colorado, after receiving orders for 370 turbines over the last few weeks. The jobs will be full-time, high-skilled jobs primarily in the manufacturing of blades and towers. “We have received U.S. orders of 740 MW in the last month alone, so our North American factories are very busy, as are factories overseas,” Vestas spokesman Adam Serchuk told ThinkProgress. “As far as I can see this will be the case at least through the end of 2015.”
From Iraq to Ukraine, fast-shifting energy needs are changing the face of international security, experts told Congress yesterday. Testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee panel, current and former defense leaders put climate change squarely at the center of security operations, arguing that rising seas and fiercer storms must be taken into account when planning for America’s military future.
Norman Bay will fill a fifth seat when members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission testify before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week, the committee confirmed yesterday. The Senate approved Bay last week for a four-year term as a commissioner on FERC, but the White House has not sworn him in yet, which led to uncertainty about whether Bay would appear with four other FERC members for an Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on grid reliability under the proposed U.S. EPA regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants set for Tuesday
The Sierra Club announced today it is launching online advertisements targeting nine more House Republicans to criticize the lack of action to renew a key clean energy tax break. The campaign continues the green group’s efforts to secure an extension to the production tax credit, or PTC, which expired at the end of last year. The credit supports wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources and typically enjoys broad bipartisan support, but advocates have struggled to secure an extension amid intense criticism from conservative critics who say the PTC is too expensive and has outlived its necessity. Advocates say the credit should be reinstated because it supports job creation and energy innovation.
The wind is so relentless that a week can go by before it is calm enough for a crane operator to install the 30-ton blades atop the 260-foot towers at the Panhandle 2 wind farm here. It’s worth the wait; a single turbine at the farm can produce 40 percent more energy than an average one. But turning wind into electricity is one thing; moving the energy to a profitable market is another. For years, the wind industry has been hampered by such a severe lack of transmission lines that when the wind is strong, a local power surplus forces some machines to be shut down. Now, Texas is out to change that by conducting a vast experiment that might hold lessons for the rest of the United States. This year, a sprawling network of new high-voltage power lines was completed, tying the panhandle area and West Texas to the millions of customers around Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Houston.
Brownback made the comments around 10 a.m. Just before 5:30 p.m., his spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, issued a statement saying that Brownback’s remarks were aimed at phasing out federal tax credits for wind energy production. “The Governor made a comment intending to say he supports phasing out production tax credits (not RPS) and emphasized his continuing support for all forms of energy production in Kansas,” Hawley said. “Remember that in each case, he said ‘I’m a Kansan’ first and that he is focused on doing what is right for Kansans and Kansas businesses.” The federal production tax credit expired in 2013, but projects under construction before January 2014 remained eligible.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Senator James M. Inhofeof Oklahoma are among the most vocal Republican skeptics of the science that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, but a new study to be released Thursday found that their states would be among the biggest economic winners under a regulation proposed by President Obama to fight climate change. he study, conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group, both research organizations, concluded that the regulation would cut demand for electricity from coal — the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution — but create robust new demand fornatural gas, which has just half the carbon footprint of coal. It found that the demand for natural gas would, in turn, drive job creation, corporate revenue and government royalties in states that produce it, which, in addition to Oklahoma and Texas, include Arkansas and Louisiana.
The continued expiration of the U.S. production tax credits for energy projects has caused renewable energy developers to focus on international projects. The production tax credits for renewable energy projects expired at the end of 2013 and haven’t yet been renewed, as has happened when the credits have expired before. Jim Adams, president of Natural Power’s North American operations supports the continuation of the tax credits, but what he wants more is stability. “If it’s going to go away, let it go so we can figure out what’s next,” Adams said. “It is grossly unfair that the renewable energy industry, especially wind, has been subject to these uncertainties.”