Jack Gerard, the often-combative chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said Tuesday that the United States was “at the crossroads of a great turning point” in the nation’s energy history. As long as Congress and the Obama administration don’t mess it up, he warned.
Put the name of Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on top of the list of potential nominees to run U.S. EPA in President Obama’s second term. That’s the talk these days among EPA watchers in Washington, D.C. Gregoire, a Democrat whose second term ends this month, had been rumored to be under consideration for several administration positions, including the Department of Energy, but until Friday wasn’t believed to be in the running for EPA chief.
Last week, global wind turbine manufacturers heaved a sigh of relief after the U.S. government extended a tax credit considered crucial to the industry.
But 2013 will still bring challenges to wind developers around the world. In the United States, long-term uncertainty about the tax credit — which was extended for only one year, after considerable political tension — will continue. Growth in China is expected to slow, a casualty of constraints on the electric grid. And Spain, an important market in Europe, has stalled.
“The industry’s rate of growth will slow substantially in the coming few years,” the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council said in a report released in November. A global deal to put a price on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions would bolster the outlook for wind power, the report said, but such a deal seems unlikely.
Xcel Energy, long the nation’s top wind energy provider, had to do some damage control Monday, Jan. 7, after its chief Washington lobbyist implied the Minnesota utility was considering a split with its wind energy allies. Company officials told state wind energy advocates the Minneapolis-based utility is not abandoning wind power and chalked up its lobbyist’s statements to frustration and fatigue over a last-minute tax credit extension inserted in the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff bill.
Georgia’s largest power provider announced today that it will retire 15 coal- and oil-fired generating units by April 2016.
Georgia Power, Southern Co.’s largest division, said it will ask the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify units at four of its power plants as it reformulates its generating strategy
An unconfirmed nod for Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) to head U.S. EPA could indicate that Obama will nominate someone with a leadership background on climate change. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on Friday that Gregoire — who has served two terms and will relinquish her post next week to Gov.-elect Jay Inslee (D) — is the White House’s top pick to replace Lisa Jackson as administrator of EPA.
Wind turbines installed in Denmark and the United Kingdom are wearing down faster than manufacturers expected, a new study claims. The study is billed as the largest of its kind and looked at 3,000 onshore and offshore turbines in operation between 2000 and 2011. But it was published by the U.K.-based Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a think tank that has campaigned against wind farms, which prompted the wind industry to accuse it of bias.
A top utility is reassessing its membership in the wind industry’s main trade association to focus on lobbying Congress to modify the key tax incentive designed to support construction of wind turbines and send benefits directly to wind purchasers. Xcel Energy, which provides more electricity from wind than any other investor-owned utility, is evaluating whether to stay with the American Wind Energy Association over a disagreement with the trade association over the best way for the government to create incentives for wind development. The company supported an extension of the production tax credit — which was enacted this week after an intense lobbying push from AWEA — but also sought to augment the credit with an incentive that would go directly to utilities.
OPPD and NPPD are about halfway toward goals of having 10 percent of their energy mix come from renewable sources by 2020. With the current projects under way, both will meet the goals way ahead of schedule, Rich said, adding that the utilities hope wind development will continue in the state. “The best opportunity is exporting the rest,” he said. Rich said that other parts of the United States could use Nebraska’s wind energy and that the state needs to re-evaluate ways it can be competitive in the industry. Nebraska ranks fourth in wind resources, according to the American Wind Energy Association, but as of 2011 ranked 25th in megawatts generated.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will add three Republican members this year, including two conservative freshmen, GOP leadership announced today. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), two of their party’s more conservative members, will join the panel, while Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will return to the committee after a stint on Environment and Public Works, which he is leaving. They will be taking over for Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Daniel Coats (R-Ind.).