Energy Policy or Location
WASHINGTON - The perils of climate change are attracting much attention these days, with a popular award-winning movie on the subject, a United Nations panel emphasizing the dangers and widespread agreement among scientists that global warming presents a potentially catastrophic threat.
The concern has prompted a flurry of legislative activity on Capitol Hill, with four major bills, soon to be five, vying for support and votes, and some measure appearing likely to pass. But it remains unclear how strong it will be, how far lawmakers are willing to go in restricting U.S. industry, and whether President Bush will veto a bill in any case.
The documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" spearheaded by former Vice President Al Gore focused the nation's attention more clearly on the issue, especially after it won two Oscars last month, but it is not the only catalyst. In the last month, a United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a study determining that the world's temperature is rising and declaring with 90 percent certainty that human activity is the cause.
Nearly a dozen energy companies have joined with leading environmental groups to form the United States Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP, and have begun lobbying the federal government to institute strict standards for emissions reduction.
Meanwhile, in the absence of binding national standards, many states, on their own or in regional consortia, have adopted laws to regulate emissions. Individual cities have even imposed such regulations.
Half-a-billion dollars worth of wind farm projects in south-west Victoria have been shelved because of a delay in the introduction of a renewable energy target.
Pacific Hydro says the Federal Government must introduce the target before it can build 100 new turbines near Portland and Ararat.
Responding to counties and towns that are restricting development of small wind farms, one lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would call for similar standards to be enacted for wind turbines across Wisconsin.
The proposed bill was among the initiatives recommended by the state's Task Force on Global Warming. ...
Local ordinances that restrict wind power could make it harder to reach the goal, required by state law, for Wisconsin to generate 10% of its power from renewable energy by 2015, the task force said.
There was never a mandate for the task force to examine the relative merits of wind power development in Maine. Instead, members started from the assumption that wind power should be developed in Maine, and the sooner, the better.
"We felt we were in somewhat of a race with other states and Canadian providers" to build wind energy generation, said Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, a task force member and co-chairman of the Legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee.
Once the pats on the back subsided Thursday, the people involved in crafting a law pushing Minnesota to the nation’s renewable-energy forefront took stock of the task ahead.
By the time today’s newborns reach adulthood, utilities must generate a quarter of the state’s electricity from sources like the wind, sun, running water and burned manure. Only about 5 percent of Minnesota’s present power would meet the standard.
If the entire burden fell to wind, for instance, it would mean 3,000 additional turbines jutting out of the Minnesota prairie.
Long standing plans for a major Tasmanian wind farm have been revived, thanks to the increase in Australia's renewable energy target. ..."The Rudd Government's policy was to bring in a 20 per cent renewable energy requirement by 2020" he said.
The $200,000-plus Highland County hoped to receive from the proposed wind utility here could be cut to $120,000 if a legislative proposal survives the General Assembly this session, according to county officials.
Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) submitted a bill that would allow wind energy facilities an exemption on state and local taxes up to 80 percent of the value of their projects if their capacity is less than 100 megawatts.
The bill provides a 10 percent income tax credit, accelerated depreciation and property tax relief to energy companies expanding or locating new facilities in Kansas on projects up to $500 million. The credit moves to 5 percent if the project exceeds that cost.
A local company has lost out on part of a $45 million project in the Midwest because federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources - an integral part of the economics of all renewable energy projects - are set to expire on Dec. 31.
Roughly $200 million invested in two Pittsfield projects that would produce up to 50 megawatts of energy and 50 million gallons of biodiesel is also likely to be affected. Two wind turbine projects in North County that would collectively produce nearly 38 megawatts of energy could also face significant funding obstacles. ...If the extension fails, Fairbank, of EOS, said, on Jan. 1, "the industry just takes a massive blow because you just can't make the economics of these projects work without incentives."
In the spirit of the holiday season, President Obama's tax-cut deal with Republicans is becoming a Christmas tree tinseled with gifts for lobbyists and lawmakers. But that hardly stopped the squabbling on Friday, with Bill Clinton even back at the White House pleading the president's case.
THE Scottish Government has said it will oppose a city MSP's Bill which would offer council tax discounts to people who install windmills and solar panels on their homes. ...Ms Boyack said Mr Swinney had politely informed her that the Government would oppose the bill, but he had a lot of sympathy with its objectives and he would seek to include some of them in the SNP's proposed Climate Change Bill.
When Gov. Ted Kulongoski vetoed a bill this summer that would have slashed Oregon's tax subsidies for large wind farms, he insisted the reduction went too far and would jeopardize the growth of Oregon's green economy.
But during the past eight years ...it has yet to do any substantive analysis of how big a subsidy is necessary -- if any -- to continue attracting investments. ...Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, a sponsor of the original bill, says she has no problem with the basic strategy of providing incentives. ..."But we're greatly oversubsidizing these things and the benefits are flowing to California ratepayers," she said. "I don't think that's what Oregon taxpayers signed up for."
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal will begin a series of hearings tomorrow on energy and tax policy proposals that will give tax incentives to companies for using alternative sources of energy.
As chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, the Springfield Democrat will look at using tax incentives to prompt the private sector to develop or expand the use of clean and renewable energy with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
They are seen as the state-backed boost that solar and wind energy need to compete with power generated from fossil fuels in the coming decade.
Trouble is, they may be the next target for Delaware tea party activists, who see them as wasteful government intervention into the free market system that just end up costing consumers more for electricity.
They're renewable energy credits, or RECs.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An industry-sponsored poll suggests most Tennesseans support renewable wind energy, but don't count U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander among them.
"I am all for renewable fuels. I am all for clean air and carbon-free electricity," the Tennessee Republican said Tuesday in a conference call from Washington, where the Senate is getting ready to debate an energy bill that could come with renewable energy mandates.
But Alexander has no love for windmills. Wind power, he said, "is expensive and disfigures the landscape. It produces a puny amount of power, and it doesn't fit Tennessee."
Governor Beverly Perdue, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, and Representative Tim Spear hosted the meeting at Cape Hatteras Secondary School.
"If water levels are rising as predicted and we take no action, we will have made a terrible mistake for the people who come after us," Basnight said in opening remarks to a crowd of more than 250 people assembled in the school auditorium.
The Public Service Commission is meeting this week to consider Iberdrola SA's $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp., and its eventual vote on the matter later this month may test one of the state's long-standing energy policies.
One of the most contentious issues in the merger of the two utilities is whether Iberdrola, which is based in Spain, should be allowed to own electricity-generating wind farms in New York. ..."The commission can accept, reject or modify whatever is put before them at session," Denn said. "They have the opportunity to review all the evidence in the case and make the best determination possible."
The most scandalous aspect of the coal-plant controversy is the refusal -- yea, the inability -- of coal-plant foes to describe just how they'd go about providing for Texas' large and growing energy needs at a time of shrinking natural gas supplies and deep opposition to nuclear power. We hear about "conservation." We hear about wind power, solar power; we sometimes even hear about coal gasification. We never hear coal-plant foes explain how that's going to happen, and what it would mean and cost. Coal gasification, for instance: The technology is (at present) expensive and still under development. Wind? A nice little supplement, but a major source? Show us where and how much.
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. ...
The transmission problem is so acute in Texas that turbines are sometimes shut off even when the wind is blowing.
"When the amount of generation exceeds the export capacity, you have to start turning off wind generators" to keep things in balance, said Hunter Armistead, head of the renewable energy division in North America at Babcock & Brown, a large wind developer and transmission provider. "We've reached that point in West Texas." ...The exact route of the transmission lines has yet to be determined because the state has not yet acquired right-of-way, according to Mr. Withrow of the utility commission.
The project will almost certainly face concerns from landowners reluctant to have wires cutting across their property.