Renewable-energy developers are increasingly selling wind power straight to the users, tapping a new customer base as some traditional utility buyers are backing away. Technology giants have led the way, including Google’s deal Dec. 3 for 625 megawatts of U.S. wind power and Microsoft Corp.’s biggest-ever wind deal Dec. 1. Other industries are following suit, with businesses, universities, government agencies and other non-utility buyers accounting for 32 percent of U.S. contracts this year through early November, according to the American Wind Energy Association, up from 5 percent for all of 2013.
Not long ago, Denmark was making headlines for harvesting so much wind power that it was leading the way in generating renewable energy, while becoming a center of innovation and growth for green and clean technology. Then, in June, a center-left government was replaced by a right-wing, minority coalition determined to tighten spending and balance the budget in a program to grow the economy. The budget cuts include a key fund that was used to seed green technology projects — a government subsidy that environmental advocates said had paid itself off many times over.
Lawmakers may work into next weekend to finish negotiations on a multiagency spending bill and a tax-credit extension package, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday afternoon. “I don’t see any of them ending when it comes to extenders or when it comes to the” omnibus spending bill, the California Republican said. McCarthy echoed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), who told a radio station in his home state of Wisconsin that the House may not finish its work this week, as many lawmakers want. “It might take us more than just this week to get these issues put together correctly,” Ryan said.
Discussions on an elusive long-term spending package and legislation to extend expiring tax provisions, including renewable energy incentives, are jeopardizing a desire by many lawmakers to wrap up this year’s work by the end of the week. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he hoped talks on a bill to keep the government running past Dec. 11 would be over by yesterday. They weren’t. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said more weekend of work may be necessary
Kansas utility regulators voted yesterday to begin an investigation into what U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will mean for utility rates in the state and the reliability of the electric grid. The order by the Kansas Corporation Commission is based on a recommendation by commission staff and will focus on examining generation redispatch options that enable the state to comply with the rule while maintaining reliable, least-cost electric service.
A company has announced that it plans to create three wind farms in southeastern Nebraska. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Aksamit Resource Management’s projects represent a $725 million investment in Saline, Thayer and Fillmore Counties. The projects include a 300-megawatt site that will have 150 turbines spread out over 30,000 acres in Saline and Fillmore Counties and a 76-megawatt project that will have 40 turbines on 8,000 acres in Thayer County. Those two projects are scheduled to be operational in 2019.
Energy: The deal could extend the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit for five years with a phase out. But the RSC wants to let the credits phase out as scheduled. The wind credit expired at the end of 2014, and the solar credit is set to expire in 2016.
Congress could be close to phasing out the tax credits that have, for years, supported the booming wind and solar energy industries. Tax writing committees in the House and Senate are working to introduce and pass a package of tax breaks before the end of the year to extend or renew a number of incentives like those for low-income housing, scientific research and small businesses.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol today with just five days left to avoid a government shutdown, as negotiations proceed on an omnibus spending bill and a tax package. Discussions stretched out over the weekend, but congressional aides gave no signs of a breakthrough on either appropriations or the tax extenders package. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters last week he hoped to unveil the omnibus today. “Negotiations continue,” Rogers spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said in an email last night. “It is expected that there will be an agreement this week.”
A Q&A with Pennsylvania official who hopes to be among the first to comply with the Clean Power Plan
John Quigley is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Under Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Quigley will craft Pennsylvania’s compliance path for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a sweeping regulation to reduce U.S. carbon emissions from the power sector 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Under the Clean Power Plan, U.S. EPA is requiring Pennsylvania to lower its emissions rate from power plants by 33 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Pennsylvania’s plan will have repercussions beyond the state’s borders. It is the top electricity exporter in the United States, according to DEP, and also is a major producer of both coal and natural gas.