USA and Kansas
Renewable Portfolio Standards are coming under attack. The latest locale is Kansas, where the Republican-led legislature says that green energy mandates are distorting markets. ...It's all part of the national discussion over whether requiring utilities to either procure or to produce a percentage of their offerings from sustainable sources is a good thing.
"There's no money tree in Washington, D.C.," responded Huelskamp, opposed to renewing the subsidy set to expire at the end of the year.
They pressed him about his support for other incentives benefitting agriculture and oil and gas. He criticized the comparison and defended his stand. ...Reno County resident Wayne Johnson told Huelskamp it was refreshing that Huelskamp was "holding firm."
It's still possible that a wind subsidy might work its way out of the Senate yet this year, but the U.S. House of Representatives is another matter.
The House includes a large contingent of staunch conservative budget hawks and opponents of alternative energy subsidies, including U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita. He said the House is highly unlikely to pass any bill with alternative energy subsidies.
Though finding an Indiana bat might slam the brakes on a proposed wind farm, the presence of other bat species isn't likely to impede development.
"There's a gradient of contribution and acceptance of wildlife impacts and what companies are doing about it," said Ed Arnett, a researcher participating in the Bats Wind Energy Cooperative.
The Kansas Wildlife Federation, Schroeder said, generally is supportive of wind energy.
"But we're very concerned about bad siting," he added.
Already, a couple projects have been located in areas where it affected lesser prairie chickens.
With the deck stacked in favor of building, he said, if systems aren't designed to keep costs down, ratepayers will suffer the most.
"I'm not opposed to building transmission lines, but right now it's sort of the gold rush," Springe said. "I'd like to see a few more checks and balances, and actually building in the least-cost way for customers."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the request of wind-power developers, plan to prepare an environmental impact statement that would cover much of Kansas.
The area includes the corridor used by migrating whooping cranes and the troubled lesser prairie chicken range.
On wind, he said he opposes a measure called the Renewable Energy Standard that requires utilities all over the country to use a certain percentage of wind-generated electricity, although he has supported other wind tax credits.
Renewing the production tax credit for wind farms in 2012 will be difficult, he said.
Developers there are lining up to build new wind farms, representing thousands of megawatts. Projects have been permitted and land has been leased, but work won't go forward without additional transmission ...the existing transmission grid lacked capacity to move Kansas wind power to eastern Missouri.
All of them were later found to have damaged blade tips. Siemens alleges this occurred when they hit a rail overpass at Kansas Avenue and First Street in Kansas City, Kan.
Siemens is seeking $3.2 million.
Sen. Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican and chairman of the security panel, said he wanted the briefing to make legislators mindful of the potential conflicts as the state pushes for more wind development with existing military operations.
"There are consequences to all of our actions," Emler said.
Some Kansas legislators are asking whether the development of wind farms could affect training at military bases.
The Legislature's Joint Committee on Kansas Security has placed the topic on its agenda for a meeting Nov. 22.
Local governments are beginning to flex their permitting authority to challenge commercial-scale wind farms, a trend some industry observers say could impede broader federal efforts to expand renewable energy production.
The latest round in the emerging battle between local governments and wind-energy developers occurred last week in Kansas, where the state Supreme Court upheld a Wabaunsee County zoning ordinance banning industrial-scale wind ...Experts say the Wabaunsee ordinance, unanimously upheld by the Kansas court, is a key test of local governments' power to effectively ban large-scale wind farms, as opposed to blocking a specific project or proposal.
Wind power is booming -- at the moment.
Companies are flocking to build turbine and blade plants in the United States, such as the one Siemens will build in Hutchinson. The amount of energy harvested from wind rose 50 percent last year to 25,300 megawatts.
For the people in the ethanol industry, it must sound sadly like deja vu.
The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love -- or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting -- or guarding against.
If built, the 460-mile line would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, enough to avoid the need for a handful of coal-fired plants and to help utilities meet mandated targets for use of renewable fuel.
In recent weeks, though, energy experts have also noted that a squeeze in credit and collapsing oil and natural gas prices, both byproducts of a worldwide financial crisis, could stifle the further growth of renewable energy.
Industry observers and companies operating in the state, however, say the chances are good that the production of wind power will keep growing in Kansas. ...Tighter credit markets could make it more difficult for wind developers to secure financing for their projects. Plus, lower natural gas prices could give utilities less incentive to invest in wind turbines, some renewable energy boosters fear.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms.
Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266.
But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.
"Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For the anti-nuke crowd, the storage pool's ghostly appearance hints at potential catastrophic fallout from reliance on an energy source with a waste stream so toxic it must be guarded for centuries. ...The nation's tolerance for atomic power is about to be tested by an industry intent on welcoming a new wave of nuclear plants and drowning memories of accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Legions of activists will surface to obstruct the flow of this nuclear gambit. The exchange is likely to spark a relapse into polarizing environmental, political and regulatory debates that dominated nuclear power's emergence at Wolf Creek and plants carrying the names Copper Station, Turkey Point, Vermont Yankee, Peach Bottoms, Beaver Valley, Comanche Peak and Grand Gulf. ...Stuart Lowry, a Topeka lawyer who works with power cooperatives and serves on the Kansas Energy Council, said he didn't need surveys to grasp that nuclear power had to play a larger role in the nation's energy future.
But as much wind as there is in Kansas, it shouldn't be relied on to feed our growing hunger for energy and prevent further climate change; ...Those who champion research into alternative fuels and high-efficiency cars are "perpetuating the idea that we can continue to be car-dependent," Kunstler said. "There's no silver bullet that will allow happy motoring to continue ... we're not going to run the interstate highway system and Disney World and Wal-Mart on any combination of wind, solar, french-fry oil or switchgrass."