In one of the biggest announcements this year for the domestic wind energy industry, General Electric Co. said yesterday that it will provide advanced technology turbines to nine new North American wind farms in the coming months, amounting to 650 megawatts of new emissions-free power generation. But the investment won’t be happening in the United States, where wind energy developers remain in a holding pattern while Congress debates whether to extend renewable energy tax credits that provide a 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax benefit to wind farm owners.
Federal energy regulators are defending their approval of plans to spread the cost of new high-voltage transmission lines in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest as a means of preventing blackouts and saving billions of dollars a year. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order Friday reaffirming support for PJM Interconnection’s practice of spreading the cost of new power lines among utilities in 13 states and the District of Columbia. FERC expects the plan to save the region $2.2 billion annually.
The Massachusetts utility NSTAR has agreed to buy power from the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm, giving the long-delayed project guaranteed customers for the majority of its projected power output. The contract filed with state regulators Friday would have NSTAR pay about $1.6 billion for the electricity over the term of the 15-year deal. That is $940 million more than the market price of conventional energy over the same period.
The project, known as Bishop Hill II, is an 81-megawatt wind farm that is under construction. It will feature 50 General Electric 1.62 megawatt wind turbines. “The Bishop Hill II wind project demonstrates MidAmerican Renewables’ commitment to environmental respect and renewable energy,” Bill Fehrman, MidAmerican Renewables’ president, said in a news release. “The closing of the Bishop Hill II acquisition adds to our growing portfolio of renewable energy assets.”
“It’s nuts,” Sen. Michael Bennet said. “It’s like Congress will get around to it when Congress is ready to work on it, but that’s cold comfort for people getting laid off across the country and the state of Colorado.” A delay in the tax extension, say members of Congress and the industry, could cripple manufacturing for 2013. The impact is greater now than it was 10 years ago because domestic manufacturing has grown so quickly.
The Obama administration and several states are easing the offshore wind permitting process for Great Lakes wind developments, officials said today. The Department of Energy and Council on Environmental Quality spearheaded the effort to coordinate siting and permitting requirements — a mix of state and federal regulations — for offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes. Five of the eight Great Lakes states entered into a memorandum of understanding with DOE, CEQ and other federal agencies, in which they agreed to produce a permitting blueprint for wind development in the lakes to smooth the process without sacrificing environmental protection.
They’re still debating the pros and cons of renewable energy in Washington, D.C., but it’s a slam-dunk for the owners of the Phoenix Suns. Strategic marketing of renewable energy through sports brands may have reached a new zenith this month as the National Basketball Association’s Suns became the latest professional sports franchise to tie its brand to environmental stewardship and renewable energy.
The Texas electric grid is proudly isolated. While most other states operate on a pair of grids that serve the eastern and western halves of the country, Texas has evolved on its own, in order to keep federal regulators at bay.
The Senate turned back a proposal today to end oil and gas industry tax breaks and extend a passel of renewable energy credits, the latest twist in a political spectacle centered on a question worthy of Hamlet: What is a subsidy?
Supporters of the Treasury Department’s Section 1603 renewable energy program have gone to great lengths to explain the many differences between the popular grant-in-lieu-of-tax-credit effort and the controversial Department of Energy loan guarantee program that was responsible for the Solyndra debacle. But those efforts didn’t much matter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today as he lumped the two programs together in a broadside against the Obama administration over stimulus spending and the unemployment rate.