The growth of wind power in the United States is putting a significant dent in emissions, according to a forthcoming report from the American Wind Energy Association. Wind generation avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, which is equivalent to taking 16.9 million cars off the road. That’s a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions, when compared to the level of emissions that would have been generated if that power had come from fossil fuels. Wind proponents say that’s evidence that the wind industry is playing a major role in meeting U.S. emissions goals. “Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated,” said Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president for industry data and analysis.
Wind energy is breaking records across the U.S., thanks to long-needed transmission upgrades that are relieving congestion on the power grid and allowing more clean energy to reach consumers. Last week, a new record was set on the main Texas grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), reaching over 10,000 MW of wind. This was the most ever for a U.S. power system, the equivalent of powering more than five million average Texas homes.
An effort to encourage more wind energy development in Nebraska hit a roadblock this session, but some Nebraska lawmakers are determined to capitalize on the state’s wind potential. Despite Nebraska’s strong potential for wind, the state has had difficulty getting major wind development because of a lack of significant tax incentives and the public power structure with a mandate for low-cost energy.
A majority of Americans favor alternative energy over fossil fuels and support energy conservation policies, a new poll shows. According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, 64 percent of Americans prefer wind, solar and other alternative energy sources over oil, coal and gas — a 5 percent increase from 2013.
The Finance Committee this afternoon wrapped up what its chairman hopes will be the last session it will convene on the tangle of technically temporary but regularly renewed tax incentives collectively known as extenders. Now, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is encouraged that this exercise will provide a “springboard” to consider a full overhaul of the tax code in the next couple of years. However, he first needs the extenders bill to make it through the full Senate and House, where it is likely to encounter more resistance than during this afternoon’s markup, which ended with a nearly unanimous voice vote in favor of renewing the 50 expired or expiring extenders.
en. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) put a greener tint on his package of temporary tax breaks this morning, adding key renewable electricity and efficiency credits to the slate, but he stopped short of considering several tangential proposals, including one to expand the scope of an existing solar energy tax credit and another to encourage natural gas as a transportation fuel.
“The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action,” William Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, said in a statement announcing the reports. Environmentalists welcomed the first-of-its-kind acknowledgement by a major petroleum company that climate change poses real and immediate challenges to the firm’s prospects. But they were less sanguine about the company’s vision for what the global energy sector will look like in 2040.
“In the U.S., there are now nine states that are getting 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind power, with Iowa (25 percent) — a data center hub — topping the list,” the group said. In Iowa, Google has invested $1.5 billion in data center operations in Council Bluffs. Facebook is building a $300 million data center in Altoona that’s expected to grow to $1 billion, and Microsoft has invested nearly $900 million in West Des Moines. West Des Moines is expected to draw another large data center project, with an assessed taxable value of $255 million, city documents indicated last month.
The surprising exclusion drew attention from wind energy’s supporters on and off Capitol Hill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed an amendment to renew the PTC, drawing support from other members and the wind energy industry. A committee aide said to expect the PTC in that is passed Thursday in the committee.
Hoyer appeared at a state Senate Finance Committee hearing to speak in favor of a bill that would delay a proposed wind turbine project on farmland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, near the Chesapeake Bay. Hoyer led a parade of political and civic leaders expressing fears that the wind farm could impede critical radar testing across the bay at Patuxent River Naval Air Station — and thus jeopardize the entire existence of the naval base, the economic driver for southern Maryland.