Library filed under Energy Policy
Any approach to determining economic policy for climate change should take into account the possibility that the current understanding of the atmosphere may not be translatable into reliable forecasts with a precision that allows the design of an economic response. Further, any economic forecasts that are used to construct models of future carbon use and carbon dioxide emissions will be unable to deal with technical innovations. Their success cannot be predicted. This impacts on policy in two ways, first the obvious uncertainty in estimating economic development but more immediately the desire of governments to stimulate technical solutions. The need to be seen to be taking action frequently descends to picking winners and creating classes of rent seekers. ...As an example the present subsidies for wind farms are a response to demands for action from Green groups and green politicians. The result is a new rent seeking group. There is little cost benefit analysis to guide policy development. Rather policy is set to subsidise non-competitive technologies that may produce unquantified benefits. A simple comparison with the more conventional alternative of natural gas shows the use of gas to be more cost effective and useful as gas turbine generators produce electricity on demand. General encouragement of innovation should be the limit of government policy. It is hard enough in business to develop innovations and well beyond the reach of general government.
Canada has warned the US government that a narrow interpretation of new energy legislation would prohibit its neighbour buying fuel from Alberta's vast oil sands, with "unintended consequences for both countries". In a letter to Robert Gates, US defence secretary, Canada said that it "would not want to see an expansive interpretation" of the Energy Independence and Security Act 2007. ...Amy Myers Jaffe, energy expert at Rice University, said cutting out the oil sands as a source of fuel would also limit global supplies further, forcing up the price of oil: "$106 a barrel is going to look cheap." ..."The Canadians do, in fact, have something to worry about, particularly from a Democratic administration," Ms Jaffe said.
On Jan. 31, The Recorder newspaper printed an interview that Judge Theodore "Ted" V. Morrison Jr. gave to Anne Adams, staff writer for the paper. He was one of three commissioners on Virginia's State Corporation Commission, which recently approved Virginia's first industrial wind project in Highland County over well-organized protests from residents and landowners. Morrison has been on the SCC for 19 years ...Morrison stressed the federal production tax credits are what make commercial wind facilities attractive, but the reality is the renewable electricity utilities will never substantially change the country's need for larger power plants.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
Supervisor Keith Batman is looking for town residents to serve on a committee concerning wind farms and wind energy. At a recent town board meeting, a resident wondered if the town was moving too fast on the wind farm issue, stating more research was needed. Shell WindEnergy Group is going to be putting up two to four temporary towers in Scipio to take wind measurements with the hopes of putting up a wind farm in the future. Batman said the company has filed an application to put up the first test tower on Skillet Road between Wycoff Road and Route 34 in the northern part of the town. The temporary test towers will be about 100 feet tall. "This is a complex issue with lots of ramifications for our town," Batman said. "We have to research it carefully and understand it fully."
If Michigan is to join 25 states requiring that more electricity come from renewable sources, the Legislature must sort out all kinds of issues -including the price tag. Compared with existing power from old, already-paid-for coal plants, renewable energy is more expensive. The House is considering capping residents' extra costs at no more than $3 a month, or $36 a year over 20 years, which could let power companies off the hook for meeting the renewable energy requirement, known as an RPS. Under legislation pending in the House, commercial customers would pay no more than $190 a year more, while the cap for industrial customers would be $2,250.
Ridge Protectors, a group fiercely opposed to industrial wind power on Vermont's ridge lines, has launched a letter-writing appeal to Gov. Jim Douglas, who they hope will veto S.209, the so-called Energy Efficiency and Affordability Act. The bill, which is aimed at promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, has passed both the House and Senate, and is on the governor's desk. The letter-writing campaign is a last-ditch attempt to change a part of the measure that gives industrial wind power a tax break at the expense of the education fund, said Paul Brouha of Sutton.
A physics argument broke out at Friday's hearing on the Bluewater Wind contract. When a wind farm powers up, which plants power down? Bluewater Wind officials said Friday that in the congested Delmarva Peninsula, it will be area fossil-fuel plants. Area residents will realize a direct environmental and health benefit, they said. But Delmarva Power officials said the benefits will be diluted throughout the 13-state PJM electrical grid, and would have its biggest impact on oil-burning plants, not generators that use the notoriously dirty-burning coal. ...Citing a PJM Interconnection official who spoke at the hearings, they contended environmental benefits of an offshore wind farm would be spread throughout the grid. It wouldn't be coal that would go first, but more-expensive fossil fuels such as oil, said company spokesman Bill Yingling.
Senate leaders banded for the second time in a week to unveil bipartisan legislation, this time aimed at increasing the development and use of renewable energy throughout the state. ...the bill could fix a problem holding back green energy projects here: a lack of big buyers. Before building an offshore wind farm, for example, developers must convince potential investors that a major customer with money will buy the power over a long period. Lawmakers want National Grid, the state's dominant electricity distributor, to fill the role. The company supports the bill. ...The bill would excuse National Grid from signing contracts it considers "commercially unreasonable," a term that lawmakers defined only vaguely. Ryan said he could not say what contracts National Grid might reject without seeing a specific developer proposal.
This new report published by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a project of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, discusses the rising costs of electricity in the State. A number of recommendations are offered, including an overhaul of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, a state policy that supports clean-energy generation such as wind farms. The Executive Summary is provided below. The full report can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
Gov. Ted Strickland is willing to set yearly goals for the use of renewable power sources but he wants to give utilities more time to ease into compliance than lawmakers proposed, his office said Friday. The Democratic governor responded to changes Ohio House Republicans want to make to his sweeping energy plan. He agrees with the House's plan to set strict deadlines for utilities on using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. But Strickland wants the benchmarks to begin in 2015, instead of next year as the House plan specifies.
Wind-energy companies have set their sights on Ohio's high ground, so Morrow County commissioners are trying to stay ahead of the game by working out regulations for wind farms before a major controversy blows into town. As more townships and counties consider possible wind-energy developments, state legislators might have to take up the matter in the interest of consistent statewide rules. Officials in Logan and Champaign counties proposed wind-farm rules only after developers had proposed deals to local landowners, and would-be sellers and unhappy neighbors had formed opposing camps. The new rules quickly were challenged by a referendum petition in Logan County by opponents who don't think the rules are restrictive enough. The referendum was ruled off Tuesday's ballot because of a procedural error, but the acrimony isn't likely to fade.
Green is the new black--from Washington, D.C., to Silicon Valley. But the lovefest with clean technology still has plenty of detractors who say that it's all just posturing, wishful thinking, or, worse, misguided. Let's pull together a few threads from Friday morning's river of green tech news and see whether it adds up to anything. For those of you in a hurry, here's my bottom line: No, America will not "get off oil" anytime soon as President Bush urged us this week, but yes, green tech matters a lot for the economy and the environment.
Two of Rhode Island's most active environmental groups have come out against a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council to put a one-year moratorium on applications from developers to build wind- and wave-energy projects in state waters. Grover Fugate, the CRMC's executive director, has said implementing a moratorium would enable the state agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters and coastline to avoid the risk of costly, drawn-out political battles over wind farm proposals - similar to the decade-old effort by developer Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound - while drafting zoning regulations for offshore energy projects here.
I continue to be amazed, and alarmed, by decisions being made in regard to industrial wind installations without the foreign-owned developers first being required to provide proof of all of their claims. It has always been my understanding that good common sense business practices dictate that responsible persons first demand proof of claims being made before jumping into business with anyone, and then seek competitive bids in order to assure the absolute best service, goods, and financial agreement possible for the person, community, and/or entire region entering into these business deals. To date, neither has happened in the case of industrial wind energy development in Western New York. Sadly, what we are left with is the looming industrialization of our countrysides, the apparent indifference as to whether wind actually does what it claims or not, and many other unanswered questions.
Romantic notions about wind energy have taken a severe buffeting at the Ngaruawahia hearing into Wel Networks' proposal to build a $200 million wind farm near Te Uku. Over the next few weeks commissioners Michael Savage, John Hudson, David Hill and Graham Ridley will rule on Wel's application for resource consent for 28-turbine wind farm on the Wharauroa Plateau. But regardless of the outcome of their deliberations and perhaps those of the Environment Court further down the track strident opposition to the Te Uku project has already done much to undermine wind power's image as our favoured squeaky clean alternative to fossil fuels.
Wind farm legislation sailing through the Legislature lost its breeze this week. ...Opponents object to giving control of that standard to the PSC. "This bill will preempt all local control over building wind farms," said Glenn Stoddard, an attorney and partner in Cwest, a group formed to help preserve local control over wind farm approvals. "Even though it says local governments still can make the final decision in the matter, that decision is still directed by the PSC." Stoddard added that the wind energy bill isn't needed, because the PSC has to approve any project that generates more than 100 megawatts of energy. "These companies that build the farms just want a green light and a blank check," he said. "This bill is just something that was compromised in the back room."
Michael Economides, University of Houston chemical engineering professor and one of the world’s most influential energy consultants, discounts a number of beliefs about the future of the oil and gas industry. [Including:] a) Solar and wind energy, Economides said, is not a solution. It will account for no more than half a percent of demand. b) Getting people out of large SUVs and into subcompacts won’t put a dent in the demand for fuel, he contended. c) And, he said, ethanol is not the solution. He pointed out that the equivalent of 1.6 gallons of gasoline is needed to produce each gallon of ethanol.
Ireland on Wednesday awarded four offshore oil and gas exploration licences to three groups, which included Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), in a bid to reduce the country's dependence on imported fuels. The licences cover block areas totalling 4,963 square km in the Porcupine Basin, off the west coast, the energy ministry said. ...The country has tried to boost the development of renewable energy by introducing government-backed guaranteed prices for offshore and onshore wind farm generation.
Spanish wind turbines provided record levels of power on Tuesday and the national grid said it had to order a cut in output to avoid becoming vulnerable to a sudden drop should the wind have stopped blowing. The national grid, REE (REE.MC: Quote, Profile, Research), said it would ideally compensate for abrupt falls in the unpredictable supply from wind parks by importing energy from France, but current power lines did not have sufficient capacity to do this. ..."If the drop in generation is greater than the capacity for interconnection of electricity with the European system, it entails a serious risk for the continuity of supply," an REE statement said.