Renewable Northwest Project’s Rachel Shimshak says the shutdown of coal plants in the region will provide new opportunities for wind energy. Following industry contractions, a general economic slump, national uncertainty, and a rollback of state tax credits, Oregon could be looking at an uptick in the renewable energy market as a number of utilities around the region look to power down coal plants.
Vestas Wind Systems announced Thursday morning it was reducing its workforce by 10 percent, cutting about 110 jobs at blade factories in Windsor and Brighton, due to uncertainty in the market for wind turbines caused by Congress’s delay last year in extending a Production Tax Credit for the industry. The wind energy PTC was finally extended at the end of last year; but the refusal by Republicans in Congress to allow that extension until after the presidential election because Mitt Romney opposed it has led to a reduction in wind turbine orders.
Vestas Wind Systems — which operates four factories in Colorado employing 1,100 people — is cutting about 110 jobs from its blade factories in Windsor and Brighton.Workers at the factories had been on a reduced 32-hour workweek; with the job cuts, the remaining employees will return to a 40-hour week, Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas said in a statement.The move comes in response to a drop in orders as the federal wind-production-tax credit, a key element in financing wind farms, was renewed in January for just one year, the company said.
The Upper Midwest is the most wind-rich area of the country. But a new report by the Center for Rural Affairs shows that almost none of the current high-voltage transmission lines capable of carrying wind-generated electricity are built here. Johnathan Hladik, an energy advocate with the rural advocacy group, says the quickest way of generating jobs and economic development, along with wind energy, is getting more of those lines built in the Midwest. He says while Iowa is doing better than most Midwest states, there is still a lot of wind energy potential here going untouched.
Wind’s growing role as a U.S. electricity producer is made clear with record-setting performances in three disparate states.
The governor and State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha on Monday urged state lawmakers to hold off on passing new tax exemptions while they work on overhauling the whole tax system. If the Legislature’s Revenue Committee heeds their calls, two bills that would add wind farms to the state’s business tax incentive programs would be sunk.
If all goes according to plan, a few years hence, hundreds of thousands of homes in Southern California will be turning on their lights with electricity generated by Wyoming’s whipping winds. That’s the ambitious vision of billionaire-backed energy companies and economic development officials aiming to construct thousands of turbines and hundreds of miles of power lines connecting remote, windy Wyoming to dense cities across the Desert Southwest.
weeping federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect next month have sparked a quiet lobbying campaign and veiled threats of lawsuits from renewable energy interests expecting smaller project grants. Much remains unknown about the depth of the cuts or how many grantees would be affected. But if Congress and the White House are unable to reach a deal to avoid “sequestration” before March 1, spending cuts will hit virtually every line in the federal government’s budget, including the clean energy grant program created in the 2009 stimulus law.
At the Union of Concerned Scientists, the senior energy analyst Michael B. Jacobs, who has a blog called the Energy Roller Coaster, has been sounding the alarm about over-reliance on natural gas in New England and Texas. The solution, he said, would be to turn to more renewable energy sources like wind so that the demand for gas would be smaller at clinch times. “You don’t have nearly so much of a price spike if you have more renewables in your portfolio,” he said.
The debate over tax reform is just starting on Capitol Hill, and its implications for energy companies have not yet been a central piece of lawmakers’ discussions, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is claiming the left flank of the debate with legislation introduced yesterday. Sanders’ bill would eliminate a broad swath of tax benefits for oil and natural gas companies while extending renewable energy tax credits through 2020 — longer than even some renewable industry officials think those credits will be necessary.