Grassley: Wind Tax Credit Could Be Part of Deal

The extension of the wind energy tax credit could come this year, but it might be part of a bigger deal of tax reform. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who holds positions on the Senate’s Budget, Finance and Ag Committees, says it will be a fight.

“I think now the argument ought to be, ‘Why would you sort wind out of all the other energy tax credits that are in the bill that came out of the Senate Finance Committee?’ Hopefully, they won’t find a reason to separate it and make an exception for wind,” he said during a news conference, pointing out there are 60 extenders in the tax bill.

Grassley said it could be part of a deal to get a whole package through. “There could be a decision made between [House Speaker John] Boehner and the President that we ought to put this all off until next year. If that happens, then everything that sunsets January first will be extended into next year, I’d say, for at least six months. Then, use that for… more tax reform of the tax code, generally.”

The senator added that a five-year extension is probably not doable, but this deal, backed by a bipartisan coalition of governors, is just for one year.

Listen to Sen. Grassley’s comments about the wind energy tax credit: Sen. Chuck Grassley

Vidaris Expands Renewable Energy Division

Vidaris Inc. has expanded its Vadaris Renewable Energy Division to address the growing demand for renewable energy solutions. The company’s industry list includes solar photovoltaic, building-integrated building-integrated photovoltaic, building-applied photovoltaic, wind, and solar thermal integrated technologies. More specifically, the company has expertise in renewable energy systems including solar photovoltaic, BIPV, BAPV, wind, and solar thermal systems for both new construction projects and existing building upgrades.

The company provides clients with an independent, third-party advisor to evaluate project opportunities and assist in the design, integration and implementation of renewable energy technologies.

“Our Renewable Energy Division enables clients to strategically navigate the renewable energy marketplace and take advantage of the many benefits renewable energy offers to building value,” concluded John Hannum, PE, VP of Energy Services.

Let Production Tax Credit Expire

A new report has been released from the Texas Public Policy Foundation analysts Bill Peacock and Josiah Neely reviewing the impact of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy.  According to The Cost of the Production Tax Credit and Renewable Energy Subsidies in Texas, the PTC’s current annual cost in Texas alone is nearly $567 million. If the PTC continues, the cost of the tax credit would run about $4.1 billion through the 10 years ending in 2015.

“The continuation of the Production Tax Credit will cause more disruption in electricity markets and impose higher costs on consumers and taxpayers,” said Bill Peacock, the Foundation’s Vice President of Research and Director of the Center for Economic Freedom. “The negative consequences of the Production Tax Credit are even more apparent in Texas, as it has more wind-generated electricity than any other state.”

For wind producers in Texas there are several programs to aid in development: the PTC, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, federal grants as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and access to transmission through the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) program. When combined, the programs will cost taxpayers about $12.8 billion through 2015 and the cost of subsidies in the state are on the rise.

“Texas is undergoing a major debate over whether price signals are adequate to maintain resource adequacy,” said Josiah Neeley, policy analyst for the Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment. “A significant portion of the problem with price signals can be directly attributed to the subsidies for wind generation, particularly the Production Tax Credit.”

Peacock added, “Electric competition is working in Texas; rather, it is government interference with the market led by the Production Tax Credit that is causing today’s concerns regarding reliability. Congress should allow the Production Tax Credit to expire. If not, consumers, taxpayers, and Texas’ world-class energy-only electricity market will pay the price.”

Recharge Gets WindMade Designation

The latest WindMade label designation has gone to Recharge, a news service focusing on renewable energy. The organization is now using 100 wind power to generate all of its power needs.

The WindMade label is backed by the UN Global Compact, WWF, Vestas and the Global Wind Energy Council. To be awarded the label, companies must obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind power. Recharge dramatically exceeded this requirement with the generation of all power needs from wind energy.

“WindMade is set to play a key role in making sure that public support for wind energy translates into growing industry momentum, as more and more corporations see the benefits of using wind as their main energy source,” said Recharge Editor-in-Chief Ben Backwell. As a high profile media company, it is vital that we practice what we preach, and WindMade makes both commercial sense and fits in with our core values.”

Henrik Kuffner, WindMade’s CEO added, “Recharge is one of the most authoritative publications in the renewable energy sector, but the company’s commitment to renewables extends beyond journalism. We are proud to be awarding the WindMade label to Recharge’s UK operations, and look forward to a constructive partnership with this new member.”

Wind Turbines Weather Hurricane

The clean-up is in full swing on the east coast as a result of hurricane Sandy. The majority of people who lost power during the storm have had their electricity restored. Yet is there a better way to keep the lights on during a major weather event? Wind power might just be the answer. Several wind energy companies have said that their turbines, directly in the path of the hurricane remained operational and undamaged.

Northern Power Systems said 74 of its wind turbines remained standing, undamaged and performed safely. The turbines were designed that when each turbine detected high force winds, it automatically entered safe mode. When conditions returned to normal, each turbine began generating electricity again.

“The losses experienced from Hurricane Sandy are a tragic reminder of how powerful nature can be,” said Troy Patton, Northern Power Systems president and CEO. “Many of our turbines, from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard of the US, were directly in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but none were damaged by the high winds. At Northern Power Systems, we have the experience and commitment to continue to make products that are safe and reliable.”

At the peak of energy outages, more than eight million people lost power. However, Capstone Turbine heard from its customers that its wind energy systems continued to operate seamlessly during and after the worst of the storm. Many of the buildings that did not lose power were integral to diaster relief efforts including the Salem Community College in Salem County, New Jersey that served as a Red Cross diaster relief. The college has three Capstone C65 microturbines that provide heating, cooling and emergency powered and they succeed in their charge.

“Users around the world continue to adopt Capstone microturbines because they want the high reliability and low emission benefits of our distributed generation products,” said Darren Jamison, Capstone president and Chief Executive Officer. “Hurricane Sandy is a tragedy that has had a terrible loss of life and property, but I’m proud of the performance of our Capstone product that successfully kept our customers in business during this crisis. It’s unfortunate that in many cases it takes a major event like this to get people to start to think differently about how to reliably deliver their energy needs and change traditional utility buying habits.”

To aid diaster relief efforts, visit the Red Cross website.

New Clean Energy Jobs See Slowdown

During the third quarter of 2012, more than 10,800 jobs were announced in the clean energy sector and related industries according to the latest analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The top 10 states for clean jobs, beginning with the number one state were: California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada. Despite an improvement in the economy, the job growth was actually less than in the first and second quarters of 2012 – there were 46,000 clean energy jobs announced between January – March 2012.

The analysis, “What Clean Energy Jobs? These Clean Energy Jobs!” concludes that the slowdown was caused in part by political and policy uncertainty, including the pending sunset of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy. The lack of action on this tax credit, among several others has also caused a loss of jobs within the clean energy sector.

“These numbers show that policy matters,” said Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs. “With clean energy job announcements slowing down, it becomes even more important that Congress and the administration take the right steps to ensure that we don’t lose any more momentum in the clean energy sector that’s helping both our economy and our environment.”

According to the E2 report:

    • Power generation companies announced the most clean energy jobs in the July-September quarter. Solar, wind and biogas companies announced 40 projects that together are anticipated to create more than 6,000 jobs.
    • Manufacturing companies making everything from electric vehicles to solar panels announced 14 projects in the quarter that would created more than 1,600 jobs, albeit many temporary.
    • In the wind industry, manufacturing job announcements fell to zero in the third quarter, compared to eight announcements in Q1 and two in Q2.
    • Three states saw significant jumps in announcement for clean energy and related jobs between the second and third quarters: North Carolina (from No. 26 to No. 7), Washington (from No. 27 to No. 4), and Texas (from No. 15 to No. 6).

In addition to the report, E2 also unveiled its new tracking tool that aids individuals searching for clean energy jobs.

Election Insight 2012

An “Election Insight 2012” report was issued shortly following the elections on November 7, 2012 by SNR Denton, and provides interesting insights into what political issues will take the forefront in the next four years. The report highlights winners and losers both at the federal and local levels as well as provides a short list of who could take over several key appointed positions. It also gives a top level discussion of what key issues will be addressed during the upcoming lame duck session, as well as over the next four years.

Of interest to our readers is the overview of several areas: renewable energy, environment and the tax extenders package. Here is a samling of the highlights:

  • The 112th Congress returns for a lame duck session beginning next week and the major topic of discussion will be the combination of expiring tax provisions and across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) including discussion of retroactive extension of expired provisions including research and development tax credit, the production tax credit for wind energy, and other “tax extenders”.
  • Several major policy areas that will be on the agenda for the next Congress: debate on the future of American energy; and job creation and economic growth. The issues above are forecast to become part of the broader debate over the economy.
  • The energy sector also will draw attention in the context of tax reform, with debate continuing on tax policy affecting both oil and gas companies and renewable generators.
  • President Obama’s corporate tax reform plan calls for a lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35%to 28%, and reducing the manufacturing income rate to 25%. To pay for these proposals, the president would eliminate several business tax breaks, most notably subsidies for oil companies.
  • Obama’s plan would make the Research and Development (R&D) tax credit permanent and the tax credit for renewable electricity production permanent.
  • Obama’s plan would require companies to pay minimum tax on overseas profits and remove tax deductions for moving production overseas, while giving a 20% income tax credit for the expenses of moving back to the U.S.
  • The next terms will bring continued debate on the future development of American energy resources,  Continue reading

Delaware Offshore Wind Project Gets Green Light

The first lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters has been given to an offshore wind energy project approximately 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware. This is the first lease awarded under the Department of Interior’s “Smart from the Start” program to ensure environmentally responsible offshore wind energy development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.

“Delaware has remarkable offshore wind potential, and harnessing this clean, domestic energy resource will create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior. “The Administration has implemented a true all of the above approach to American energy, with renewable energy from sources like wind and solar doubling since the President took office, while at the same time domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in almost a decade and domestic natural gas production at its highest level ever.”

The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. The company may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) with a proposal to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, and/or submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore.

“This lease is the result of many months of hard work and collaboration among BOEM, our Federal partners, the Delaware Renewable Energy Task Force, and other stakeholders,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “I congratulate NRG Bluewater Wind and we look forward to their progress in standing up offshore wind energy generation under this lease.”

In its original project proposal, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-megawatt project offshore Delaware, with estimates that the project could generate enough power to supply electricity for over 100,000 homes.  The lease area, composed of 11 full OCS blocks and 16 partial blocks, has been located to avoid interfering with current coastline activities including major shipping lanes into and out of Delaware Bay, a proposed vessel anchorage ground and a munitions disposal area.

Renewable Energy Lobbyists Make The Hill List

Several advocates for renewable fuels and alternative energy made the annual list of top lobbyists in Washington D.C. compiled by “The Hill.”

Among those recognized by The Hill were the heads of both the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. The publication called RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen a “Capitol Hill mainstay for the biofuels industry, Dinneen has been an integral player in many of the renewable fuels sector’s policy victories.” Noting that Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis was formally head of the National Farmers Union, The Hill noted that he “is pressing lawmakers to maintain renewable fuels policies that are popular in rural America.”

The Hill also recognized Denise Bode and Rob Gramlich with American Wind Energy Association. “Bode’s fluency in tax policy has been a godsend for wind companies as they push Congress to extend an industry incentive,” said The Hill. “Gramlich has been with AWEA since 2005, a seven-year stretch that has seen explosive growth in wind power.” On the corporate side for wind energy, The Hill gave a nod to Rich Glick of Iberdrola Renewables, the nation’s second-largest wind power operator. Glick served in Bill Clinton’s Energy Department.

Traditional energy sources were also represented in the top lobbyists listing, including “unflappable” Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute.

Federal Tax Credit Success

Former Governor Mitt Romney would like to see the estate tax eliminated and he would also like to end the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy production. Speaking on ag issues in this Presidential election on the nationally syndicated radio program AgriTalk, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that he appreciates Romney saying he’s for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), “but he’s not for the wind tax credit which is unfortunate because that’s going to cost a lot of jobs in rural America. We need to not only continue focusing on biofuels, but renewable energy as well.

Both President Obama and Romney have advocated for an expansion of domestic energy production in order to boost the economy and create jobs. They also agree that increasing energy independence is critical to national security. It’s how to get there that they disagree on – the role government should play in subsidizing energy production and regulating its environmental impact.

Farmers for Romney Co-Chair Bill Northey, and Iowa Ag Secretary, says Romney’s position comes from a desire to simplify the tax system. “Looking at a lot of different tax credits and trying to make it easier for folks to be able to reduce rates, and therefore he has opposed the wind energy tax credit,” said Northey. “Many of us in Iowa are still very supportive of the wind energy tax credit. We’ll have lots of discussion with him as we look at the overall picture.”

Northey also said it’s day and night between those two candidates in the opportunities to become self sufficient in energy production.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, record growth in the wind power industry can be attributed to the success of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In August, the U.S. wind industry surpassed 50 thousand megawatts of installed electrical generation capacity for the first time. This is enough energy to power 13 million averaged sized homes each year. So far in 2012, the country has added 4,728 megawatts of wind power, and AWEA says there are several factors driving this growth including the expansion of U.S. manufacturing, technological advances and the Production Tax Credit.

AWEA CEO Denise Bode says this is what a successful policy looks like when it’s working. But will wind continue to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy? Bode says that depends on Congress. The PTC is set to expire on December 31st and Bode says it has incentivized more than $15 billion dollars a year in private investment in U.S. wind farms.

Extending the PTC is part of an overall tax extenders package that Congress is set to debate during the lame duck session following the November 6, 2012 election. Bode says without the extension, 37,000 industry jobs will be lost within the first quarter of 2013.