The Obama administration announced today it has granted final approval of the Alta East Wind Project in Southern California that includes a first-ever authorization allowing the project proponent to injure or kill an endangered condor during the 30-year life of the project. The Bureau of Land Management’s announcement that it has approved a record of decision (ROD) and plans to issue a right of way grant authorizing the 153-megawatt project touched off a wave of concern among environmental groups, who fear that authorizing the “take” of a California condor could set a dangerous precedent.
A House Republican has updated his recurring energy bill this year to include a phaseout of a key renewable energy tax credit, marking the first inclusion in formal legislation of an idea the wind industry floated last year. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) introduces his “no more excuses” energy bill every Congress, outlining a lengthy wish list of policies for oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy, including calls to allow expanded oil drilling on federal lands and waters and to extend targeted renewable electricity and alternative fuel tax credits.
Grant Schmitz can’t remember exactly what triggered his interest in engineering. But it might have been family vacations to Colorado as a child. Schmitz, now 24, can remember traveling there from his home in Audubon, Iowa, in the late 1990s and walking over the Royal Gorge Bridge. He was fascinated with how one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, at more than 950 feet above ground, could safely span the gorge.
The California condor’s slow 20-year climb back from the brink of extinction has long been a fragile not-quite-success story in the conservation world. So when the news came on Friday that developers of a wind-energy project near the Mojave Desert would not face criminal charges if the blades killed a single condor, environmental groups expressed grave concern.
Groups are pushing back against proposed legislation in Colorado that would eliminate a renewable energy incentive. The incentive change is a response, in part, to a pending federal lawsuit filed in 2011 that questions its constitutionality.
The U.S. wind energy sector could add as much as 20,000 megawatts of new generation between 2012 and 2016 as developers take advantage of new Treasury Department rules that make new wind farms eligible for federal tax benefits through the end of 2013. The projections, released yesterday by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, account for January’s extension of the production tax credit for wind power and subsequent guidance from the Internal Revenue Service giving clear direction to developers on how a project must qualify for the PTC.
“The way I look at it is that this natural gas boom is a boon,” Moniz said during a town hall session yesterday that was posted in a video on his Facebook page. “The key is that buying time is not very useful if you don’t use the time,” he said. “It means pushing hard on those other technologies, on the renewable technologies. This is the time to get those ready for the marketplace on a big scale. So, this is the decade, I believe the crucial decade, for us to accomplish that,” Moniz said.
A plan aimed at attracting wind-energy farms to Nebraska is headed to a final vote in the Legislature. Lawmakers gave second-round approval Tuesday to the bill that would extend sales tax exemptions to wind-energy companies. One firm, TradeWind Energy, has expressed interest in developing a wind farm in Dixon County near the Iowa and South Dakota border.
Gov. Paul LePage is withholding support for a compromise bill being worked out by the Legislature’s Energy Committee that’s aimed at expanding Maine’s natural gas infrastructure, boosting funding for energy efficiency, directly lowering businesses’ electricity costs and making it more affordable for residents to abandon oil heat. LePage won’t support the bill unless it also requires wind developers prove their projects will lower electricity costs in order to receive state approval and raises the 100-megawatt limit energy generation facilities must meet so they can count toward the state’s renewable energy goals, according to Patrick Woodcock, who directs LePage’s energy office.
The extension of a key tax credit at the beginning of this year will provide a significant boost in renewable energy installations –- especially from wind -– for the next few years, the Energy Information Administration said today. Congress in January extended the production tax credit through the end of this year and expanded its eligibility requirements for all eligible projects, requiring they must simply begin construction by Dec. 31 rather than requiring them to be complete by the deadline.