A flurry of wind farm completions in the closing months of 2014 helped the U.S. wind energy sector regain its footing after a near-collapse in 2013, with 4,850 megawatts of new wind power coming online over the 12 months ending in December, the American Wind Energy Association reported yesterday. The 2014 annual figure represents a fivefold increase in year-over-year installations from 2013, when the industry commissioned just over 1,100 MW and suffered steep drops in both investment and jobs. The down year came after Congress allowed the industry’s primary federal tax credit to expire before renewing it in January 2013 for one additional year.
Bidders were interested in only half the offshore wind development leases being auctioned by the Interior Department today. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put up for auction four lease areas near Massachusetts totaling 742,000 acres and with the potential to support 4 gigawatts of commercial wind generation.
The Interior Department’s largest sale of federal waters for offshore wind development today drew relatively modest bidding, with two companies paying a combined $448,000 for the right to develop two tracts totaling 354,000 acres about 14 miles south of Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard. The auction was brief, lasting two rounds before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management declared Offshore MW LLC and RES America Inc. as the provisional winners of 187,523-acre and 166,886-acre tracts, respectively.
Not too long ago, in 2013, the Obama administration began auctioning off leases for offshore wind farms up and down the Eastern Seaboard, hoping to spur a nascent industry. But now, the industry is languishing. Projects off the coast of New England, New Jersey and Delaware are dead, moribund or struggling. And an auction on Thursday for parcels off the coast of Massachusetts — some of the windiest areas of the country — drew little interest from developers. Two of the four parcels drew no bids at all, and the ones that did attracted substantially lower prices than other auctions in recent years.
“These same harsh winds that we’ve endured for centuries can be turned into clean power for our homes, creating jobs even as it cuts the carbon pollution that is worsening climate change and supercharging storms,”“ Markey said in a statement. “Instead of drilling for oil and gas off of the Atlantic Coast, we should pursue a clean energy vision that safeguards our environment and boosts our economy.”
A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in April on lawsuits from several states, utilities and power companies challenging U.S. EPA’s proposal to set greenhouse gas standards for power plants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said yesterday it will convene April 16 to hear the consolidated lawsuits brought by West Virginia, Murray Energy Corp. and others.
Legislative Republicans are threatening to block a proposed transportation package if Democrats move forward with legislation aimed at combating greenhouse gases. Senate President Peter Courtney said Tuesday the development makes him pessimistic about the prospects for a gas tax increase to pay for transportation projects.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) broad climate bill to make polluters pay for carbon emissions sparked heated debate yesterday during state lawmakers’ first public hearing on it, which quickly filled the legislative chamber and spilled out into several overflow rooms. More than three dozen speakers testified before the House Environment Committee, while outside the chamber, groups demonstrated both in support of and opposition to H.B. 1314.
Iowa remains third in the country for the amount of electricity produced by wind power, but could move up as more projects are built this year. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released its annual report on wind production today and it shows Iowa in third place behind Texas and California. AWEA analyst, Emily Williams says 2014 saw a record number of new wind turbines built as the industry saw a rebound.
A majority of the Senate went on record yesterday against reinstating an expired renewable energy tax credit through the end of the decade.The 47-51 failure of a nonbinding measure calling for a five-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) delivered a tough start to the year for supporters of the wind energy industry, the credit’s primary beneficiary.