USA or Maine
"The green bubble is starting to fall apart," said Tom Borelli, a fellow at the tea party group FreedomWorks. "How much longer can we fund things that are not cost-competitive?"
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Obama prominently collided during the campaign over the fate of the tax credit. ...the last chance to extend it comes in December's lame-duck session.
Once-trendy biofuels like ethanol produced from corn are now being derided by the authorities, who say the fuels have little value in the fight against global warming. Vital components for windmills and solar cells have run short over the past year, requiring expensive projects to a halt. Meanwhile, subsidies for renewable energy remain at the whim of politicians, creating a boom and bust cycle for wind farms and solar projects, particularly in the United States.
Such a risky environment means some bankers are placing bets on projects that are unlikely to develop into serious, profitable alternates to fossil fuels, and could ultimately slow investment flows
"Some of these green investments are going in the wrong direction," said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "Very well-intentioned projects can go awry, particularly where government policies on cutting emissions aren't clear." ..."The world is repricing risk, and these are risky assets," Liebreich said, referring to renewable energy investments.
New Jersey-based NRG Energy, however, said in a statement Monday that the outlook for offshore wind has changed dramatically over the last two years. The company cited two decisions by Congress that could significantly affect financing for any offshore wind project. Not one has yet been built in the United States.
The movement toward investing in green energy sources has been picking up steam, helped by a big push from the White House to "make America energy-independent." But the movement also has brought out scam artists attempting to ride on its popularity and rip off unsuspecting investors.Not every alternative-energy investment is a rip-off, of course, but investors have to be able to tell the difference.
The nonprofit that runs the New England power grid is exploring incentives to encourage gas-fired power plants to commit to long-term contracts, which could in turn finance more pipelines. The Governor's Energy Office is looking at ways to facilitate capital investment. The Maine House minority leader has a "bold proposal" - but he's not sharing it just yet.
The Wind Siting Reform bill would mandate turbines go up at least 1,800 feet from property lines, the strongest regulation in the country. The restrictions would prohibit any future wind projects from being built and threaten the same jobs that Obama heralded just weeks ago, the industry says.
While the state legislature agreed last week that it would not take up the bill during the current special legislative session, Walker has pledged to continue to fight for tougher regulations, according to news reports.
Where will the next bubble turn up? In Mr. Janszen's view, the alternative-energy industry's expansion is showing some of the same patterns that allowed values to swell far beyond their true worth during the dot-com and housing booms. For starters, green energy is popular with the media and with politicians - "energy security" has become a catchphrase for both Democrats and Republicans. It has received favorable legislation involving loan guarantees and subsidies, just as the Internet got a sales-tax amnesty in the 1990s and deregulation allowed banks to offer more credit to potential homeowners.
Despite the speed with which the government wants to act - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- includes a goal of spending 50% of the $787 billion allocated by the legislation within 120 days from when it is signed into law -- many hurdles and unanswered questions remain ...while one provision of the Recovery Act gives cash grants, another takes away tax benefits.
The act stipulates that recipients of cash grants can only use 85% of the accelerated depreciation associated with a project.
Wind companies are expanding out of the farm country of the gorge and into wildlife rich habitats like Oregon's Blue Mountains. ...This is an industry that is killing wildlife and it's killing bats. And the whole issue is, are you going to produce enough energy to overcome the amount of wildlife that you're going to kill?
For decades, most of the nation's renewable power has come from dams, which supplied cheap electricity without requiring fossil fuels. But the federal agencies running the dams often compiled woeful track records on other environmental issues. ...Yet the shift of emphasis at the dam agencies is proving far from simple. It could end up pitting one environmental goal against another.
But Somnath Baidya Roy, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois, points out that although wind energy use is growing quickly, fossil fuel use is growing even more quickly. Wind is growing at an estimated 20,000 megawatts per year while fossil fuel use is growing at an estimated 3,000,000 megawatts per year.
Like most big, bold ideas, the Atlantic Wind Connection is risky, and this week's Bluewater announcement can hardly be a good portent. AWC - which is a transmission line, not a power-generation project - won't go forward without an offshore wind boom along the Atlantic Coast.
Massachusetts Audubon Society, which has long voiced conditional support for Cape Wind's plan to build 130 wind turbines in the Sound, announced Friday that the government and the project's developer have met a call the society issued in 2006 for more environmental data before the project is built.
Over 40 voters gathered Saturday and agreed to give town leaders time to draft an ordinance for wind power, said Selectman Robert Ellis.
During the 180-day wind-power moratorium, town officials will create an ordinance for any future wind-power projects within the town, he said.
Roughly 24 hours after winning a legal challenge that could kick-start construction of the AWA Goodhue wind project, the project was mentioned in a lawsuit filed by the American Bird Conservancy against the federal government.
The head of the American Wind Energy Association announced her resignation today.
Denise Bode will be leaving her post as president and CEO of AWEA on Dec. 31 to return to private practice as a tax attorney ahead of next year's expected debate on Capitol Hill over comprehensive tax reform.
The overarching goal is to determine "what does the industry need to stay alive, basically," said one industry lobbyist familiar with the meeting ...Congress is expected to address the immediate fate of the PTC during a lame-duck session, although the future of the credit and myriad other issues largely hinge on the outcome of the elections.
Under the old PTC rules, beginning construction meant starting work "of a significant nature," which could include steps like building access roads and foundations. ...However, the previous guidance was less clear about whether construction had to be continuous in order for the project to qualify for the PTC. ...the same changes were not made to the requirements for bonus depreciation.
On Thursday, AWEA submitted testimony to the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development calling for a substantial boost in wind energy research and development (R&D) funding to $70 million next year.
AWEA claims the guidance could delay the construction of projects by up to three years and require operating projects to retroactively conduct post-construction wildlife studies for a minimum of two years and as much as five years, adding unforeseen costs to the operating budgets of these facilities.