Tax Breaks & Subsidies
When Oregon started handing out jumbo tax subsidies for renewable energy projects two years ago, one of the biggest beneficiaries was also one of the world's richest corporations -- Walmart.
No, the retail giant hasn't branched to solar panels or wind turbines.
Instead, Walmart took advantage of a provision in Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit that allows third parties with no ties to the green power industry to buy the credits at a discount and reduce their state income tax bills.
Your view: Is carbon offsetting a con?
Holidaymakers are being misled by companies who guarantee to repair the damage flights do to the atmosphere, according to the first independent study of a fast-growing market.
The report claims it is not possible to state categorically that buying any "carbon offset" — as Tony Blair did grudgingly last week to counter the global warming potential of his family's New Year break in Miami Beach — will neutralise the damage that flying causes to the atmosphere.
Large utility companies will have to increase their renewable energy sources to 15 percent of their supply by 2020 under an initiative approved by Washington voters.
Under Initiative 937, utilities with more than 25,000 customers would have to meet 15 percent of their annual load with resources such as wind power, solar energy or sewage gas by 2020.
With about 65 percent of the expected vote counted Thursday, I-937 passed with about 52 percent of the vote, or 697,133 votes. About 48 percent, or 647,572, voted against the measure.
In a special session that begins today, Washington's legislature will consider limiting current tax exemptions to wind equipment owned by or generating power for in-state utilities.
Washington state governor Chris Gregoire called the special session in an attempt to agree measures to address the state's $2.8 billion budget gap.
Developers of renewable energy schemes such as wind farms are profiteering from the Government’s drive to curb carbon emissions by making customers pay more for their electricity than is necessary, the energy regulator Ofgem warned yesterday.
Publishing figures which reveal that the cost of the so-called “renewables obligation” is at least eight times greater than other schemes designed to combat climate change, Ofgem called for a wholesale shake-up of the current arrangements.
The obligation works by requiring energy suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity from renewable sources or buy certificates to cover the shortfall. The cost of this is then passed on to the end customer.
Citing a weakened economy and the prospect of new regulations for renewable energy, We Energies of Milwaukee has withdrawn its request to spend up to $69 million to coordinate construction of wind power projects to meet a state mandate. ..."In the months since the filing, economic conditions in the United States and Wisconsin have changed dramatically, and the potential for additional state legislation and for federal renewable legislation is coming into focus," the utility says in a letter to the PSC.
What Romney considers "breaks" and "green" are up for debate. Despite his assertion that he supports "green energy," Romney has made it clear that he is in favor of letting the PTC expire ...
Instead, Romney said the money invested in renewable energy and cleantech companies could have been better used for other purposes.
Carpinteria CEO envisions a future powered by turbines.
With oil and gas prices relentlessly rising -- and the cost of producing power from sustainable energy sources continuing to fall -- it appears the time is fast approaching when alternative energy begins to make good economic as well as environmental sense.
The Pentagon could go "carbon neutral."
Federal tax dollars could be used to buy carbon "offsets" if legislation introduced by Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., becomes law - creating a potential windfall for the blossoming offset industry.
Legislative branch offices and all federal agencies - including massive institutions such as the State, Defense and Transportation departments - would be authorized to use portions of their budgets to buy greenhouse-gas offsets and renewable-energy credits, should the Carbon Neutrality Act of 2007 become law.
Greenhouse gas offsets are commonly known as carbon offsets. Renewable energy credits, or RECs, are tradeable commodities that are generated when energy is produced by renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass or municipal solid waste. The credits purchased by the government would be retired and thus removed from the market, Welch spokesman Andrew Savage said.
Money generated through the sale of carbon offsets is used to finance renewable energy projects. Offset funds also are spent on forestry projects and the capture of methane from landfills and dairy farms that would otherwise be released into the air.
There are no estimates of the cost to purchase offsets for all federal agencies and legislative offices, Welch said.
Wells Fargo & Co. became the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the country after an agreement to buy renewable energy certificates to support wind energy.
Westar is seeking the rate approval to recover $282 million for ownership of turbines at two proposed wind farms and for costs in purchasing energy from a third farm. The 300 megawatts of electricity would come from the Central Plains Wind Farm in Wichita County; Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County and Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County. ...Westar expects energy demand to continue growing among customers and while new wind energy can put off purchase of new "baseload" or constant power sources, for now, the utility expects it will need to build a new power plant between 2016 and 2018. ...Moore told commissioners Westar would walk away from the wind projects if they weren't allowed to earn at least a small profit from them.
A decision by the Kansas Corporation Commission has led Westar Energy, Inc. to suspend plans to develop 200 MW of wind power by the end of 2010. ...The company said the order also indicated that in the future wind generation could be subject to "undefined operating standards" and "potential financial penalties" that have not been imposed on other forms of generation. ...In its order, the commission said it concluded the circumstances do not justify allocating to ratepayers the cost of an additional 1 percent return on investment in light of the uncertainties inherent in wind generation and the narrow margins as to whether purchased power agreements or ownership is more costly.
The commission also said an incentive mechanism to maximize wind energy output is not necessary at this time. It plans to revisit the issue in two years.
Kansas can forget about wind power if Westar Energy doesn't get the chance to earn extra profit from it, the company's chief executive testified Monday.
Westar chief executive Bill Moore also said Westar would scrap its wind energy plans if the company isn't allowed to build its own wind plants, or if regulators approve sanctions that would be triggered if wind power performs below expectations.
"If the direction we're headed is not what the commission wants us to do, we won't go forward," Moore said.
Monday was day one of a court-like hearing on how Westar will recover costs of adding about 300 megawatts of wind power to its energy system, which serves 674,000 Kansas customers.
The town could become the first municipality in Massachusetts to provide electrical power to a town hall by way of a wind turbine.
A 100-foot tower would take up about one parking space behind Town Hall and pay for itself within four years, according to a presentation before Westport’s Alternative Energy Committee made by Lighthouse Electrical Contracting Inc. of Pembroke.
The $54,000 cost of a wind turbine is potentially partially reimbursable with a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the committee learned. The collaborative is the state’s development agency for renewable energy and the innovation economy, which the organization asserts is responsible for a quarter of the jobs in the state.
Wind farms generate a lot of electricity, but not a large number of permanent jobs once the construction phase is over.
And although the projects are desirable because they use an abundant renewable natural resource, the only significant revenue the units are generating in Wyoming at this point is through property taxes in the counties where they are located.
Their property tax bills so far are modest.
The Section 1603 cash grant is generally credited for keeping the U.S. wind industry healthy during the 2009-2010 recession . Since the program was initiated in 2009 through the first quarter of 2011, $5.6 billion in cash grants has been awarded for wind projects, representing more than 80 percent of all Section 1603 funding to date.
Michigan's drive to renewable energy is generating concern about higher electricity prices.
The issue: How, and at what price, will utilities or other energy providers build or purchase renewable power to meet a proposed state mandate that 10 percent of power come from renewable sources by 2015?
"They really have to start going to town in a short period of time. And doing that, whether they're building or buying, there will be an additional expense that comes with it. And that's going to come back to the ratepayers," said Chuck Hadden, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association.
This year Fort Collins Wind Power Program will hand over more than $1 million to Platte River Power Authority to help the city reach its goal of having 15 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2017.
Of that money, some $366,000 will be used to purchase what are called renewable energy credits (RECs) from out-of-state projects that cannot-or will not-detail how the money is being used to help reach that goal.
Without such accountability, it is unclear how Fort Collins' wind power dollars are helping to create new renewable energy, which is the ultimate goal of these credits.
Environmentalists love wind power and there is increasing bipartisan support for it among Republicans and Democrats concerned about energy security and global warming. But as wind power grows more prevalent the tax benefits from a production tax credit for wind is becoming increasingly expensive - now about $2.75 billion annually by one estimate - for an energy source produced by rich utilities that still generates less than one percent of the country's power...People are not always enthusiastic about having 400-foot high, or 122-meter, wind behemoths that sometimes kill lots of birds and bats as neighbors, as he conceded with his poster.
Carol's four-page proposal to restructure the Energy Department included the blunt recommendation that Chu be fired, and that his leadership team also be replaced, calling it time for "serious changes, even if they are uncomfortable to make."
"I would respectfully suggest that the president be strongly encouraged to make major leadership changes as soon as possible," Carol wrote.