The wind-power industry is fully backing voluntary federal guidelines aimed at siting and operating wind farms in ways that minimize impacts to birds, bats and wildlife habitat. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and 40 wind-power companies this week sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledging to adhere to the guidelines, which were developed over a five-year period by a Fish and Wildlife Service advisory committee that included industry officials, conservation leaders, representatives of American Indian tribes, and federal and state regulators.
Nursing a coffee in a café just yards from the Michigan Capitol, Stanley “Skip” Pruss allowed himself to mourn political changes that have slowed state development of wind farms in the Great Lakes. Under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), a clean energy advocate, Michigan made progress with Pruss — then director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth — playing a key role. The Great Lakes Wind Council that he helped set up went as far as to produce draft legislation that would set up a regulatory framework for an offshore wind sector. Now, Pruss is outside looking in.
Two big wind development projects on Appalachian ridges in Bedford and Clearfield counties have been canceled, and fewer new turbines will be spinning across the nation next year due to the possible end of a federal tax credit program that has driven development.
When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said yesterday that he wants a vote before the election aimed at avoiding the “largest tax increase in American history” looming at year’s end, he did not point to wind energy developers who would see higher costs without an extension of their prized temporary tax break.
Nonetheless, backers of the proposal are seeing brighter prospects that companies that rely on the expiring production tax credit, or PTC, may not have to wait until the eleventh hour for a reprieve. Lawmakers and industry lobbyists see a growing interest in the House and Senate tax-writing committees to get a PTC bill to the floor before November, and some point to the uptick in activity from conservative PTC opponents as a sign that the move to extend the credit is gaining some steam.
As Congress considers whether to extend a wind-industry tax break, a key House Republican signaled his willingness yesterday to continue providing the incentive, saying “stability” is key to ensuring a diverse mix of energy resources.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) stopped short of explicitly endorsing an extension to the production tax credit for wind, a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt-hour incentive that’s set to expire at year’s end. But he noted the industry should be part of the “all of the above” energy mix Republicans would like to see.
An American Indian tribe has filed a federal lawsuit against the Interior Department in an effort to stop what would become California’s largest wind farm on public land. The lawsuit filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego by the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation says the proposed wind project’s 112 turbines would cause “irreparable injury” by destroying “culturally and visually significant lands and resources.” It accuses the Bureau of Land Management of essentially ignoring the tribe’s concerns.
Boehner was silent on whether the production tax credit (PTC) for wind, solar and geothermal power would hitch a ride on the tax-cut extension package he plans to bring to the House floor before lawmakers face voters in November. Presumed to be a part of that bill, however, is an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all earners — a move likely to ground the House’s proposal in the Senate, where most Democrats align with the White House in seeking to roll back those benefits for wealthier Americans.
A proposal for an underwater “electric transmission superhighway” took a step forward yesterday as the Department of Interior announced that only one company, Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC, had expressed interest in undertaking the $1.7 billion project. The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) would connect offshore wind farms up and down the Atlantic coast, consolidating up to 7,000 megawatts of power along a single, 300-mile high-voltage transmission line.
Your recent editorials on the federal wind-energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and renewable portfolio standard (RPS) (“Gouged by the Wind,” May 5 and “Windy Republicans,” May 7) are off the mark. The wind-power industry is an American success story that is helping us build our manufacturing base, create jobs, lower energy costs and strengthen our energy security.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has authorized construction of the largest wind farm project on federal land in California, a major milestone in BLM’s ongoing efforts to significantly expand wind power production in the Golden State. Salazar signed a record of decision (ROD) late Friday for the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility, which calls for stringing together 112 wind power turbines across about 10,000 acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Southern California’s Imperial County.