In its just-released annual report on global clean energy investment, the Pew Charitable Trusts finds an 11 percent drop in investments in 2013. What contributed to the global decline, and what are the expectations for activity in the clean energy sector moving forward? During today’s OnPoint, Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program, discusses the impact of policy uncertainty in the United States and Europe. She also weighs in on how the natural gas boom could be affecting clean energy investments.
Environmental groups say it’s unlikely other Southeastern states will copy the Alabama Legislature’s attempts to stop two wind projects planned for the state’s northeast corner. Two local bills that would regulate the location, design and operation of wind turbines in Etowah and Cherokee counties have made it to the governor’s desk. A statewide bill (S.B. 12) passed the Senate and hung in the balance in the House last week before the Legislature finished Thursday. Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy wants to build turbines along the mountainous Shinbone Ridge in the two counties.
Kansas lawmakers on Thursday passed a compromise plan that would preserve net metering in the state, handing another defeat to a conservative group seeking to repeal the state’s renewable energy laws. As originally introduced, the bill effectively would have put an end to the practice of giving customers credit, or rolling back their meters, to reflect electricity they generate on their property and feed into the local utility’s grid. However, renewable energy activists and the state’s largest utility forged a compromise that would preserve the policy, although in a diminished form. The state’s House of Representative approved the latest version in a 112-12 vote on Thursday. It now must be signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
The American Wind Energy Association has hired a senior aide to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) as its newest lobbyist, the group announced yesterday. James Reilly, who has been Carper’s chief of staff since 2007, is joining AWEA to become senior vice president for federal legislative affairs, where he will oversee lobbying Capitol Hill, grass-roots activism and the group’s political action committee. The industry’s top federal policy goal this year is securing a renewal of the production tax credit (PTC), which expired at the end of last year. A two-year extension was included in a tax extenders bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee last week, but its prospects in the full Senate and House remain unclear
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today said the power plant climate rule now being reviewed by the White House will give states broad latitude to determine how to bring down their carbon dioxide emissions, but that it will require provable emissions reductions. Speaking at a forum hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, McCarthy said her agency’s proposed guidance for existing power plants will take full advantage of the flexibility provided by the Clean Air Act to let states craft their own implementation plans. It will allow states to comply using existing policies, she added.
Referring to the current tax code as a “rotting carcass that smells worse every year,” Wyden reiterated his commitment to comprehensive tax reform. One target of that effort will be addressing master limited partnerships (MLP), which have allowed fossil fuel companies to reduce their tax bills since the 1980s. The same break has not been available for renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or geothermal, but that needs to change, the chairman told the Bloomberg New Energy Summit in New York, according to a recording of his remarks.
Wind energy production in Texas and adjacent states Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska set one-day records last month. Turbines generated nearly 10,300 megawatts of electricity across the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT) grid March 26, just six days after wind farms in the neighboring Southwest Power Pool set a similar one-day record with 7,202 MW of generation.
Senate Bill 310 would freeze the renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency portfolio standards in place. This would be the first time in any state, anywhere in the entire United States, that a renewable portfolio standard would be reduced, frozen or repealed.
The growth of wind power in the United States is putting a significant dent in emissions, according to a forthcoming report from the American Wind Energy Association. Wind generation avoided 95.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, which is equivalent to taking 16.9 million cars off the road. That’s a 4.4 percent cut to power sector emissions, when compared to the level of emissions that would have been generated if that power had come from fossil fuels. Wind proponents say that’s evidence that the wind industry is playing a major role in meeting U.S. emissions goals. “Every time a megawatt of wind power is generated, something else is not generated,” said Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president for industry data and analysis.
Wind energy is breaking records across the U.S., thanks to long-needed transmission upgrades that are relieving congestion on the power grid and allowing more clean energy to reach consumers. Last week, a new record was set on the main Texas grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), reaching over 10,000 MW of wind. This was the most ever for a U.S. power system, the equivalent of powering more than five million average Texas homes.