The wind PTC/ITC expired on January 1, 2014. The Senate Finance Committee passed the EXPIRE Act which would extend the wind PTC/ITC and dozens of other tax credits/deductions worth close to $85 billion. Senator Harry Reid does not have the votes to bring EXPIRE to the floor of the Senate and has, thus far, refused all efforts to amend the bill. He is aware that Senate Republicans, in part, intend to remove the PTC/ITC from the bill. Senator Reid has made bold promises to the wind crowd about votes during the lame duck session to bring back the PTC/ITC but he is not in a strong position to deliver on his promises. Democrats are on the defensive and may well lose control of the Senate come November. If that happens, there is no certainty the wind PTC will make a return.
The U.S. Department of Energy is touting that wind energy pricing dropped precipitously in 2013, but the report cited by the DOE presents a different story. We examine some of the trends in wind energy development in this latest essay.
Last month when GE's Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Bornstein, complained that rules defining 'begin construction' were still too vague and holding up delivery of 400 to 500 turbines. "We expect that clarification to come from the Treasury ...We’ve seen that clarification and we think it is helpful.”
After years of debate there is still disagreement and uncertainty regarding appropriate safety setback distances. This uncertainty has benefited the wind industry. Thousands of turbines are erected that are dangerously close to where people live.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides monthly and annual production data for over 1,900 power plants including wind-powered facilities. Windaction.org filtered the data for the years 2011-2013 looking for wind projects only and determined the capacity factors for each project in EIA's sample list with at least one full-year of production. The below map shows the average capacity factors by state for 2013. (Click the map to see a larger image.)
...the wind turbines involved in the accident were never posted on the navigation charts! Roughly 40,000 utility-scale wind turbines are operating in the United States today and every project is required to be shown on the aviation charts. How many other turbines are missing from the sky maps?
By the end of 2013, wind energy represented 94% of the fuel used to meet New York State's RPS mandate. Twenty wind power plants are operating in the state with an installed capacity of 1,730 megawatts. We've been tracking NY's wind production figures since 2009 and its performance has not improved.
Negative prices are not the goal of any healthy economy, yet the PTC fosters this behavior at the expense of other, reliable generation. Building more infrastructure to correct for this problem is exactly the wrong thing to do.
“We have a long way to go before Chairman Camp’s tax reform bill is final and, no doubt, the debate over tax-extenders will be rigorous. But this is a rare opportunity for American taxpayers to once and for all eliminate the near-permanent temporary tax credits.”
“The combination of the federal PTC and state RPS policies has shielded wind developers from the basic supply and demand forces present in a healthy competitive market. As a result, we are fast-tracking the construction of expensive renewable resources that are variable, operating largely off-peak, off-season and located long distances from where the energy is needed.”
AWEA's CEO Tom Kiernan bellyached last week that his people were exhausted by the "boom-bust" behavior sparked each time the industry faced possible withdrawal of the PTC. He showed no remorse that big wind was still economically impotent despite decades of public handouts meant to stimulate self-growth. Instead he dug in and insisted the PTC be extended.
Proponents of wind energy insist that adding renewable energy to the grid reduces the market price of electricity by displacing resources with substantially higher operating (fuel) costs. Various studies have been performed that model the "price suppression" effect of wind and solar on ratepayer bills, however, assessing the actual impacts of an operating project on rates has proven more elusive.
Stop supporting harmful projects,start protecting people and fixing the problems
This year, the wind industry added just 1.6 megawatts of new operating capacity in the United States, a 0.0027% increase over 2012 installations.
"Ignoring how competitive markets operate-and pretending that wind energy is exempt from the basic rules of economics-will not change the fact that windpower is an expensive, unpredictable resource that cannot compete without enormous public hand-outs. If the PTC were permitted to expired today, the wind industry might be forced to increase its efficiencies and lower project costs, but the effect on electricity prices at large would likely go unnoticed."
Last month, New Hampshire's Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) disapproved Antrim Wind, a 30-megawatt wind energy facility proposed along a remote and environmentally sensitive ridgeline in rural Antrim, NH. After eleven days of evidentiary hearings and three days of public deliberations, the Committee ruled that the ten monster turbines, each standing 492-feet tall, would pose a significant impact on aesthetics with no satisfactory means of mitigating the effect.
New England state RPS policies represent some of the most aggressive and costly programs in the country. By 2021, over 20% of the electricity sold retail in the region must come from renewables. Given a robust mix of natural resources, particularly wood biomass, and some hydroelectric, meeting the state mandates, while tough, is possible. But recent legislative and regulatory proposals altering the Massachusetts and Connecticut RPS programs now threaten the balance in favor of building new wind power facilities which could lead to an energy policy war between the states.
This week, the US Department of Energy announced it was revisiting the conclusions of its 2008 report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030 .
After 20 years of tax credits, the production tax credit (PTC) was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is convinced he's found the right formula for ensuring that his state becomes the first to site a wind facility off its coastline. Last week Maryland's House quietly approved HB 226. The Senate version (SB 275), although still in Committee, is also expected to pass despite much controversy over cost and risks to captive ratepayers–and back-door cronyism for developers and other special interests.