Energy Policy and USA
Obama, more supportive of clean energy than George W. Bush, may struggle to shift quickly from coal-burning plants that spew global-warming gases. In Bush's last three years, solar and wind production doubled, helped by easier financing and tax breaks that attracted loans from Lehman, now bankrupt, and insurer American International Group Inc., later taken over by the government. ...Michael Morris, chief executive officer of American Electric Power Co., the biggest U.S. producer of electricity from coal, said "as a practical matter," Obama's target is too ambitious.
Opponents of the project, which include Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and other residents in the area, vowed to continue their fight. They maintain the 400-foot turbines would kill birds, threaten sea life, and hurt tourism and fishing.
"I do not believe that this action by the Interior Department will be sustained," Kennedy said in a statement issued to the Associated Press. "By taking this action, the Interior Department has virtually assured years of continued public conflict and contentious litigation."
But republicans already are on offense, saying the democrats' plan is more of the same, failed policies of the past.
"It's clear they're moving on this path along this flawed notion that we can borrow and spend our way back to prosperity," said Representative John Boehner. "And that we can mount a trillion dollars on the backs of our kids and their kids in an effort to revive our economy."
The green energy sector has a lot riding on 2009. Policymakers from Washington to Beijing have pledged billions of dollars in "cleantech" investment to jump-start the depressed global economy and create millions of new low-carbon jobs. ...As with the solar industry, wind power has been hit by a sudden slowdown in private sector investment as credit has dried up and the price of oil has fallen from its mid-2008 high. The industry hopes public spending will help fill the gap until the global economy gets back on its feet.
President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to double alternative-energy production over the next three years drew a skeptical response Thursday from the chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., Rex Tillerson, who told reporters during an appearance in Washington that rapid increases in alternative energy would be "very challenging."
"Let's be realistic about time frames, let's don't fool ourselves," Mr. Tillerson said.
In a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthome dated Thursday, the congressman [Rahall D-WV] requests that the federal Minerals Management Service delay issuing its final environmental impact statement "until the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has provided the public 60 days to review and comment on a third-party review of the radar study submitted by the Cape Wind project developers."
Royal Dutch Shell has become the second big energy company to abandon the UK wind-energy sector in the last month. ...Shell said: "The focus for new projects will be in North America where we can benefit from the availability of undeveloped wind resources to deliver wind energy at what we expect to be a competitive cost."
Falling prices for European carbon emissions permits could stunt investment in the renewable energy sector both within and outside Europe, but the credit crunch continues to have a greater impact. ...A falling carbon price could worsen the economics of renewable energy further, as falling demand for carbon emissions permits in a deepening recession pulls down carbon prices, benefiting fossil fuels.
The rush to build "green energy" is dividing environmental groups, many of whom believe such projects will irreparably harm ecologically sensitive habitat. ...If millions of acres are razed for solar plants, swaths of wildlife habitat will be eliminated, putting the desert tortoise, the Mojave ground squirrel and the American badger at even greater risk, conservationists say.
Wind development in New York has hit a bit of turbulence.
The nationwide financial crisis has put the brakes on a wind farm under construction in northern New York and another developer has aborted possible projects in eastern and central New York after trouble securing land. And wind energy companies are now being asked to abide by a code of ethics by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Offshore wind farms picked up a good breeze recently, with the U.S. government launching steps to open up the continental shelf and two Northeastern states approving local projects.
The Minerals Management Service, part of the U.S. Interior Department, is preparing to lease parts of the outer continental shelf to wind-energy developers. Rules for leasing are expected by the end of the year.
As workers scramble to build an $800 million coal-fired power plant on a patch of farmland here, a crisis that began on faraway Wall Street threatens to stretch the nation's power supplies to the brink - driving up prices and laying the stage for future shortages. ..."We have to have new (power generation) capacity at some point, or we'll have brownouts, blackouts," said Mary Novak, an economist with the consulting firm Global Insight. "The problem is, too many (utilities) are betting on delay."
The major problem with wind as a power source is that it doesn't blow all the time. To remedy that, Texas is spending $30 million a year to bolster its back-up power, in a change to the electricity grid that began on Nov. 1. ...
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Adding electricity from the wind and the sun could increase the frequency of blackouts and reduce the reliability of the nation's electrical grid, an industry report says.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation says in a report scheduled for release Monday that unless appropriate measures are taken to improve transmission of electricity, rules reducing carbon dioxide emissions by utilities could impair the reliability of the power grid.
BP has dropped all plans to build wind farms and other renewable schemes in Britain and is instead concentrating the bulk of its $8bn (£5bn) renewables spending programme on the US, where government incentives for clean energy projects can provide a convenient tax shelter for oil and gas revenues.
The decision is a major blow to the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who has promised to sweep away all impediments to ensure Britain is at the forefront of the green energy revolution. BP and Shell - which has also pulled out of renewables in Britain - are heavily influential among investors.
William Kovacs, at U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warns: "Anyone who thinks you can have a cap-and-trade system in which trillions of dollars of new securities will be traded is just not paying attention to what's happening on Wall Street." Meanwhile, prices in emerging carbon markets (Carbon Finance) globally have held up better than in other commodities markets, but financial analysts caution that these markets are too immature to provide a safe haven for investors (Reuters). Though sales of carbon emission offset credits--investment in green projects in lieu of direct emissions reductions--have been strong, some experts still express concern over the quality of oversight (WSJ) these projects receive.
Imagine sections of the Great Lakes dotted with rows of gleaming, 12-storey turbines, blades whirring in the stiff breeze as they generate electricity for homes and businesses onshore.
It's only an idea -- for now.
But U. S. government regulators are bracing for an expected wave of proposals for offshore power generation ...Despite its allure as a plentiful source of clean energy, they say, offshore wind power could affect the aquatic environment and commerce.
The twangy entreaties of a Texas tycoon have been filling the pre-election airwaves in the U.S. TV ads for the so-called Pickens Plan have gotten many Americans thinking about wind power and natural gas-fueled cars as ways to reduce dependence on foreign oil. The plan's environmental claims have even won the conservative oilman some strange bedfellows, including conservation powerhouse the Sierra Club.
Yet some energy experts say the plan is too expensive, inefficient, and may not ease U.S. dependence on fuel from Russia, Iran, and other countries.
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Texas consumers and taxpayers could pay more than $2.2 billion a year in subsidies and higher transmission costs to take advantage of the state's abundant wind-generation resources, a free-market research group said on Tuesday.
The state's current push to accelerate use of wind-generated electricity is "costing, not saving, Texans billions of dollars," said Bill Peacock, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Economic Freedom. ...By 2025, the study said the price tag could total $60 billion as Texas reaches 10,000 megawatts of wind capacity.