A bill that could allow hundreds of acres of preserved farmland to be converted to wind farms or other renewable energy projects was approved Monday by the House of Delegates, 97 to 33. Supporters say farmers need the ability to diversify their income to stay viable. Some conservationists, though, worry that the measure would open the door to other commercial activities, ultimately undermining the viability of farmland preserved at taxpayer expense.
Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmfulattack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard. This year’s bill, SB 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas. There will be a public hearing on the bill at 1 p.m. (half an hour earier than the usual hearing time) this Wednesday, March 19th at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Room 548 South.
William Koch, CEO of energy and industrial products giant Oxbow Carbon LLC, expressed pessimism about the future of coal in the United States during an interview last week.
“The coal business in the United States has kind of died,” Koch said during a phone interview Friday, “so we’re out of the coal business now.”
This week could be a crucial one for the offshore wind industry in New Jersey. The state body with oversight on offshore wind in state waters, the Board of Public Utilities, is expected to hold a public meeting Wednesday during which a proposed 25-megawatt wind farm off Atlantic City will be discussed. An actual vote on the project is possible. That’s the simple part. More complicated is whether the board will get behind the blueprint from developer Fishermen’s Energy, which is also vying for a $49 million “phase 2″ Energy Department grant to help demonstrate the market readiness of offshore wind.
Frigid temperatures gripped large swaths of the United States this winter, while southwestern parts of the country were hit with severe drought, but only a small number of Americans link these phenomena to climate change, according to a new Gallup poll. Two-thirds of respondents in the national survey (66 percent) said they are experiencing colder-than-usual temperatures this winter, but of that group 29 percent attributed it to human-caused climate change. The vast majority (70 percent) attributed the unusual weather to the “normal variation in temperatures.”
A federal judge today ruled the evaluation of a project aiming to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm was generally aboveboard, but directed two agencies to further review some of the project’s impacts on wildlife. The decision has led both sides to declare victory. Cape Wind backers say the project off the coast of Massachusetts scored a major win because the bulk of plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed and because the judge did not question the underlying conclusions of supporting agencies even as he determined they hadn’t quite completed everything that was required of them. But project challengers say the work that must be redone cuts to the heart of whether the wind farm would be viable, exacerbating the uncertainty that has surrounded it for more than a decade.
The group aiming to install America’s first offshore wind farm announced yesterday two new contracts that it says will ensure U.S.-based labor during construction. The proposed 420-megawatt Cape Wind project, which aims to install 130 turbines in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, has awarded contracts to Prysmian Cables and Systems USA, which will manufacture the onshore transmission cables, and Caldwell Marine International, which will install the underwater cables that will connect the farm to the grid.
The deployment of larger and more technologically advanced equipment has helped the wind energy industry boost generation rates on a per-turbine basis since 2008, resulting in greater operational efficiencies and lower costs for consumers, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The data, culled from AWEA’s 2013 annual report, show that while U.S. wind energy capacity grew 140 percent — from 25,000 megawatts to more than 61,000 MW — over the last five years, the amount of electricity generated from those wind turbines grew by 200 percent.
The windy plains of Kansas could be a treasure trove in the nation’s effort to harness clean energy, but a major proposal to move wind-generated electricity eastward is running into a roadblock: Farmers who don’t want high-power transmission lines on their land. Clean Line Energy Partners wants to spend $2.2 billion to build a 750-mile-long high-voltage overhead transmission line. Towers 110 to 150 feet tall, 4-6 per mile, would carry lines with power generated by Kansas’ modernistic windmill turbines through sparsely populated northern Missouri, through the cornfields of Illinois and to a substation in Sullivan, Ind. The exact route has not been finalized.
The formula is simple: Take a high-minded topic and a few knowledgeable talking heads, and rent a hall. Then get a sponsor willing to shell out top dollar to splash its name on the ensuing discussion. To give the event an extra sheen of authority and credibility, it helps if the organizer is a prestigious news organization. For the news media, it’s no longer enough to merely report the day’s events. At a time when traditional advertising revenues are under stress, news organizations are developing a lucrative — and sometimes controversial — sideline by orchestrating live discussions about events and ideas in the news.