Library from Texas
Timmins detailed the flow of money from the State Energy Conservation Office to the city of Jonestown to CM Energies to Central Texas Plastics and then back to Malouff's company. She said Central Texas Plastics submitted vouchers totaling $965,000 for work and materials but then sent most of the money -- $670,000 in checks -- back to Malouff's company.
Miller took his suspicions to the Travis County District Attorney's Office, sparking an investigation that found Malouff fraudulently obtained the federal grant by overstating the energy savings and misrepresenting his project as shovel-ready. Malouff promised 20 wind turbines ...Three turbines went into the ground but never produced energy. Malouff's trial began this week on a charge of securing execution of a document by deception, a first-degree felony.
Malouff, now 55, obtained $1.8 million in federal stimulus money for a wind energy project, even though the former police officer had no expertise in turbines and no project to bring to life, authorities said. What he did have: a romantic relationship with Mary Jo Woodall, 57, then a Texas Comptroller employee who helped him navigate the grant process.
Ironically, while taxpayers and utility ratepayers are being hammered coming and going to subsidize alternative energy and efficiency programs, the most reliable and cost-effective energy sources, fossil fuels, are the brunt of both political scorn and proposed tax increases. ...State legislators should press for those answers. We may be surprised at how much we spend for how little we receive.
Sometimes with long transmission lines that are lightly loaded, such as CREZ, it can be hard to control voltage," he says. "Wind energy needs a source to stabilize it and make it stay in sync." Also, as more CREZ-related projects attempt to tie in with the grid, abnormally hot or cold spring and fall temperatures - leading to unexpected high power demand on the system - could cause delays.
The project could meet an obstacle in the form of Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport's plans to extend its runway ...A longer runway would mean planes on approach would fly lower farther away from the airport, which could preclude construction of towering wind turbines.
“We definitely don’t like them. It’s cut our productivity,” said Sherri Bennack of Bennack Flying Service Inc., which does crop dusting for the area. “The safety concern is the biggest factor,” she said. “It takes a lot more time to get the job done and be able to spray. A lot of the times we can’t even do the job because they’re right there.”
Robert Guptill had the wind blown out of his sails earlier this month when the City Council turned down his request for a specific use permit to allow a wind turbine on his property. Guptill has tried for four years to get the council's approval for the project, which was rejected because of its height. At 43 feet, it's eight feet higher than the city ordinance allows.
"What people need to understand is that it's not just prairie chickens. It's really the inter-connectedness of these biotic communities," Boal said. "When we have indicators like a prairie chicken, and there's something going wrong, that's an indication of that biotic community as a whole. We need to think about, ‘what is the world we want to live in?'
"In 2009, we passed an ordinance that stated, wind energy turbines would only be allowed in commercial and industrial districts," said Danny Cornelius Canyon Code Enforcer Director. Even then, a specific use permit must be approved by the planning and zoning and city commission.
On Thursday conservative representative State Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, filed legislation to remove a signature weapon from the wind energy arsenal. ...Wind power already generates almost 10,000 megawatts, but taking away the mandate to create energy would hurt the renewable energy credit trading system in place, Clark said.
Texas has more wind power than any state and added the most last year, just ahead of California. The problem is that renewable sources are less consistent and reliable than fossil fuels. In Texas, the squeeze comes during heat waves, when demand surges and the air gets still. In California, the challenge is to keep a stable output on the grid and avoid rolling blackouts.
As the session progresses, renewable energy advocates are bracing to defend critical policies that have helped Texas become the leading wind-power state. The ascendancy of the Tea Party, an abundance of cheap natural gas and tighter budgets have reduced the sway of the wind industry. Solar power advocates anticipate limited gains at best.
Oil, gas and wind energy producers are working to persuade federal wildlife officials not to enact protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a move that could force them to halt or significantly alter their operations to protect the species' dwindling grassland habitat.
"The PTC [production tax credit] is helping projects that are ready to go, that are shovel-ready, but the thing that is hurting the industry is really low gas prices that make it fairly hard to obtain financing," said Jimmy Horn of Horn Wind Energy.
The wind energy industry is dependent on something even more unpredictable than wind: Congress. Hidden in the turmoil over the "fiscal cliff" compromise was a tax credit for wind energy.
Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, executive director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse, said he was unimpressed by the one-year extension of the tax credit. He estimated 40,000 wind energy jobs have been lost as companies have halted production, not put up turbines across the state and wait to see what Congress does with the tax credit.
In a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers in May, a top Texas Parks and Wildlife official said his agency had serious concerns about the project. "Numerous federal and state-listed threatened and endangered species and species of concern have been documented within or near the proposed corridors within which transmission lines would be constructed."
EON AG agreed to sell a 50 percent stake in three U.S. wind farms to Danish pension fund PensionDanmark as Germany's biggest utility seeks to free up capital. ..."The return is very similar to what we can get on listed equities, though with a very limited downside risk," thanks to fixed prices negotiated on the power generated by the turbines over the next 15 years."
Expiration of the credit would have a significant impact on development of about 80 turbines near Petronila in Nueces County, said Patrick Woodson, chief operating officer for Germany-based E.On Climate & Renewables in North America. The company wants to build in 2013.