Growing concern over duplication of federal programs to aid wind energy development will receive more attention this week in the House. A hearing tomorrow will consider the findings of a recent Government Accountability Office report on various overlapping federal programs to benefit the industry (Greenwire, March 28). The Republican-requested report has bolstered the efforts of some GOP lawmakers and outside conservative groups to end the production tax credit, the industry’s main support mechanism, and otherwise dial back the extent to which the government subsidizes clean energy development.
A proposal to allow renewable energy developers to take advantage of a tax structure that has long been popular among fossil fuel companies is gaining traction among lawmakers tasked with overhauling the tax code. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is leading a working group examining energy tax provisions, praised the idea of opening master limited partnerships (MLPs) to renewable energy companies. The structures have been popular among oil and gas, pipeline and coal companies as a way to attract investors, but current law does not allow renewable companies like wind and solar developers to use them.
President Obama’s budget proposal calls for the permanent extension of a key renewable energy tax credit — an approach that goes beyond even what the credit’s main beneficiary says it needs to thrive and that observers say allows room to negotiate a proposal that falls short of the president’s initial request but still allows wind and other beneficiaries to thrive. The budget released yesterday calls for a permanent extension to renewable and efficiency incentives, such as the production tax credit. The wind industry is the largest beneficiary of the 2.3-cent-per-killowatt-hour credit by virtue of its position as the largest non-hydro renewable energy source, but it also provides support for geothermal, biomass and other renewable electricity producers.
Wind energy was the largest source of new generation installed in the United States last year, with a growing number of utilities and other purchasers signing long-term contracts for the electricity generated by new turbines, according to a report today from the industry’s primary trade group. The American Wind Energy Association’s annual report highlights some good news for the industry but warns that continued uncertainty over the fate of its level of federal support led to a sharp drop in new project planning that buffeted the wind manufacturing sector and continues to challenge the industry.
The American Wind Energy Association in a report released Thursday said that in 2012 only two other states — Texas and California — built more wind generation. Kansas more than doubled its production capacity during the year. That pushed it from 14th to ninth place in the total amount of electricity the state could generate from wind among the 39 states and Puerto Rico that have wind power.
Wind energy grew 28 percent in America last year, setting a new installation record and confirming its status as a mainstream energy source, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2012, released today on a webinar for association members and reporters. In its best year ever, the U.S. industry topped all energy sources with 42 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity. Over 6,700 new wind turbines were erected, which produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.5 million homes. Overall, America finished the year with 45,100 wind turbines that can power 15.2 million homes.
President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget request would boost funding for a variety of clean energy initiatives while reducing spending on fossil fuel programs and repealing oil and gas tax breaks. The clean energy increases would come in research and development, state-based competition to enhance energy efficiency and the electric grid, a new trust fund designed to find alternatives to oil in transportation, and a permanent extension of the renewable energy production tax credit.
After his most successful legislative session in two terms, Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday signed a long-sought bill to promote development of an offshore wind industry near Ocean City, among several other measures he hailed as job creators.
The UK’s wind power industry has restated its pledge to drive down the cost of energy, as it pushed the button on the last of the 175 turbines at the world’s largest offshore wind farm. The London Array project, jointly owned by Dong Energy, Masdar and EON, yesterday annouced that the first 630MW phase of the project in the Thames estuary is now fully operational.
This summer, San Jose State University is offering the first classes in what it calls “battery university,” a series in its professional development program intended to train a work force for the next generation of battery makers. The curriculum is being developed by more than 100 experts from the emerging battery storage sector — mostly from the San Francisco Bay Area — and will focus not only on developing the technology, but also on ways to make it cost-effective and realistically usable in electric cars, renewable energy or smartphones and laptops.