WindAction Editorials filed under Energy Policy
This essay, the fourth in a series aimed at correcting the most harmful wind energy-related policies of the Obama era, examines how the U.S. Department of Energy has set aside its scientific objectivity and has assumed the role of chief advocate for wind power in the federal government. Prior essays can be found here, here and here.
“Obama’s green energy agenda meant advancing wind interests at any cost, and it shows. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) now estimates the total cost of the wind production tax credit in the years 2016–2020 at $23.7 billion.”
In December, 2015, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (‘SEC’) adopted new rules governing the siting of energy projects in the state, including wind energy facilities. The new rules represent the culmination of 2+ years of intense focus by stakeholders with widely varying interests. In that time, the SEC conducted months of hearings and deliberative sessions, all open to public, where thousands of pages of detailed comments were debated and ultimately distilled down to standards intended to better quantify the data presented by applicants, reduce subjectivity and lead to more informed, and more consistent decisions on energy facility siting.
The output of DOE's models are easy to promote but reality paints a very different picture. DOE's Vision assumes 7 GW of wind built per year between 2014 and 2020, followed by 12 gigawatts per year between 2020 and 2030, and 17 GW every year after until 2050. The Agency points to the progress since 2009 as proof that a more aggressive wind roll-out is possible. But in many ways, the success of U.S. wind in those years is the very reason wind development will not grow, but continue to slow.
Cape Wind was the wrong project, at the wrong time, and the wrong place. It was too big and costly. Its impacts were poorly mitigated and its benefits highly questionable. In the end, it was the regulatory arrogance of the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the Obama Administrations that did the most harm. A lot of people were offended and willing to stand up to the abuses. Remember, it was Massachusetts’ spirit that triggered the Revolutionary War.
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.
Stop supporting harmful projects,start protecting people and fixing the problems
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 .
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.
Tens of thousands of acres across New York State have been transformed into sprawling electric generating facilities -- 18 in total -- where nearly 1,000 industrial-scale wind turbines consume the landscape and threaten communities in their way.
The Big Wind lobby has descended on Washington DC and its objective is singular -- secure a four-year extension of the Production Tax Credit ('PTC'), the 20-year ‘temporary' subsidy most credited for market growth in the wind sector. The PTC is due to expire at the end of this year.
If you haven't heard from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), you probably will.
There's desperation on the Hill.
Energy subsidies have proven fertile ground in the debt-ceiling debate now raging before Congress.
Last week, the New England Energy Alliance in Boston, released the results of its annual survey of New England energy consumers. Paul Afonso, executive director of the Alliance and a former Massachusetts utility regulator, summed the results up this way: "Overall, the main concern of New Englanders continues to be the economy and pocketbook issues. If voters think any policy - private or public - will bring down the cost of energy, they will support it."
The United Kingdom has long been regarded as having the best wind resource in Europe.
The American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) newly released Annual Market Report for 2010 can be summed up in one word -- Spin!
Late last week, the House of Representatives passed HR-1, the Continuing Resolution legislation needed to fund federal government operations through to September 30, the end of the 2011 fiscal year.
California has one of the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standards ('RPS') in the country requiring 33% of the electricity sold in the state come from renewables by the year 2020. A ruling this month upped the ante on utilities by mandating that 75% of the energy come from projects located in the State. Despite the enormous pressure on utilities to meet the RPS standards, the State has demonstrated that not every project should be built.