Monday, December 12, 2011

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Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Tax Credit Extension Crucial to US Clean Energy Growth, Manufacturing & Jobs Revival

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 10:13 AM PST

Graphic courtesy AWEA

The US wind energy industry can create and save 54,000 jobs, including expanding the wind energy manufacturing sector by 1/3 to 46,000 jobs, according to the results of a study completed by Navigant Consulting. That’s given a stable federal tax policy that includes extending the existing wind energy production tax credit (PTC) for another four years. Unfortunately, the US hasn’t had a stable clean/renewable energy tax policy.

First enacted as back in 1992 as part of that year’s Energy Policy Act, the wind energy PTC provides a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the first ten years of electricity production from utility-scale wind turbines. It’s been extended four times, and it’s been allowed to “sunset” three times, recounts the Union of Concerned Scientists. The “on-again, off-again” tax policy of the federal government has led to a cycle of boom-and-bust in the wind energy and other renewable energy industries that’s compromised and hindered their development and growth.

Wind Fueling US Job Creation, Manufacturing Revival

The PTC has been central to the wind energy sector becoming one of the fastest growing in the US economy. US domestic production of wind turbine components has grown 12-fold at now more than 400 facilities in 43 states with the PTC in place over the last six years, bringing highly valued manufacturing jobs back to the US, the AWEA points out.

With the wind energy PTC due to expire again at the end of 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is urging lawmakers to extend the PTC for another four years, and it’s embarked on an ambitious campaign of public and Congressional outreach to help make that happen.

Today’s publication of the Navigant study at a press conference in Washington, D.C. is the association’s highest profile effort yet. Wind energy manufacturers with facilities in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida joined AWEA at the press conference.

Enacting a four-year extension of the PTC will keep the US wind energy industry on track to supporting half-a-million jobs by 2030, a statistic projected in a US Dept. of Energy report completed during the G.W. Bush administration, the AWEA noted.

Still a year off, the expiration of the PTC is already having a negative effect on wind energy project planning and business development. Permitting and zoning for wind energy projects alone can take two years or more to see through. Project developers are reluctant to undertake new projects if there’s uncertainty regarding the existence of the PTC, an effect that’s been well-documented by the AWEA.

The Likely Effects of a Wind PTC Sunset

"We have made a significant investment during the last three years creating several hundred jobs for the state of Illinois to support the wind industry domestically," said Terry R. Royer, CEO of Winergy Drive Systems Corporation.

"With the uncertainty of the PTC extension, we are seeing the hesitation of our customers to make continued commitments for orders in late 2012 and 2013. An immediate extension is needed to support the investment we have made in our operations and secure the jobs that have been created."

US wind energy jobs would fall off 50%, a loss of 37,000 jobs and a 1/3 cut in wind manufacturing jobs, should the PTC be allowed to expire, Navigant determined. Private investment in the wind energy industry would drop by 2/3. Extending the PTC for another four years, on the other hand, would result in the creation of 17,000 American jobs, Navigant found.

Wind Energy PTC Extension in the House

"American manufacturing jobs are coming back, with tens of thousands of new jobs from wind power," said Denise Bode, AWEA CEO. "But these jobs could vanish if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire, in effect enacting a targeted tax increase, and sending our jobs to foreign countries. Congress must act now to keep this American manufacturing success story going."

A coalition of more than 370 members, including the AWEA, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau, the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Governors’ Association, the United Steelworkers union and environmental groups are supporting bipartisan legislation calling for a four-year extension of the wind energy PTC recently introduced in the House by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

The “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act” (H.R. 3307) would extend the PTC for the production of wind, geothermal, hydropower and other forms of renewable energy through 2016.

Related posts:

  1. AWEA Reaches Out to Public Urging Extension of Key Wind Power Incentive
  2. Treasury 1603 Grant Extension Key to Sustaining Renewable Energy & Green Jobs Growth
  3. U.S. Wind Power Increasingly American-made (Creating U.S. Manufacturing Jobs)

Can ALEC Dim Arizona Solar on Tuesday?

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 09:41 AM PST


Tuesday morning could be key in deciding Arizona solar policy for years to come.  Because of the way public utilities oversight was set up in the 19th century, the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has wound up with almost unfettered control of energy policy in the state.

On the agenda: rolling back renewable energy standards, gutting solar rebates, and even forbidding ACC from discussing declining rebates, thanks to infiltration by ALEC, the sinister nationwide shadow group which has just gained effective control over the ACC, via new member Brenda Burns, a former National Chairman of ALEC.

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is the infamous front group mass-producing “model bills” for states to shake’n'bake into conservative legislation that benefits only corporate interests of its biggest funders, among them the Koch brothers. The fossil fuel industry famously wrote its own widely duplicated ruling, that global warming is a hoax, in order to avoid controls on polluting industries, for example.

The utility that owns of one of the oldest coal plants in America, the Arizona Public Service Company (APSC), is subject to an already ridiculously low Renewable Energy Standard; requiring less than 1% of solar to be added annually since 2006 or 15% by 2025. But APSC is petitioning at the open meeting to reduce the solar requirement even further.

“And that’s not because solar is more expensive than coal – when you count value from solar feeding into the grid at peak times, the zero environmental footprint, and the huge pollution costs from coal,” said Nancy LaPlaca, Policy Advisor to Commissioner Paul Newman, one of two Democrats on the five member ACC.

She said Arizona spends between 15 and 20 times more buying fossil fuels from out of state than it does on solar, adding: “You just wouldn’t believe how hard you have to fight for solar – in Arizona!”

Just last year alone, she said Arizona spent $3 billion on coal, uranium and natural gas fuel, while its solar rebate program paid out only between $150 and $200 million for solar during the same time, mostly in rebates for rooftop solar.

“We get a third of electricity from natural gas. We spent a billion and a half last year for it, and another $800 million on natural gas for heating,” she added. “And $500 million a year importing coal, plus $280 million on in-state coal.”

The $3 billion for coal, uranium and natural gas will come out of ratepayer pockets again next year, and keep rising each year until those resources are gone. Indeed, on the agenda are several rate rise requests for natural gas contracts.

By contrast, homes with solar electricity are freed from the need to be supplied by coal, uranium and natural gas electricity for decades. Solar rebates create a long-term benefit for all ratepayers because once installed, these roofs will ship out a supply of clean power to the Arizona grid at no further cost to other ratepayers, reducing the demand for coal, gas and uranium and thus lowering the cost of electricity for everyone.

Yet on Tuesday, the question to be decided (thanks to ALEC) is should the small solar rebates be cut even more, and should utilities be able to reduce yet further their already undemanding renewable energy standards.

A fair number of concerned citizens are expected at the two day hearings and a couple of groups plan to drive up from Tucson for the Tuesday and Wednesday “Open Meeting” that any interested citizen can attend. “The reason that APS wants to reduce the amount of money it’s spending on the REST is because they are going to hit the 15% by 2025 target 7 years early!  There are a couple reasons they are going to hit the target early”, said LaPlaca.

“Former Chair Kris Mayes added 100 MW of solar to an APS rate case; and the response has been enormous – people LOVE solar.”  But local solar developers are worried that if rebates are cut out of utility budgets for the next few years, this will create a boom and bust cycle that hurts the ability of solar businesses to hold on to the needed skills in the state.

The widely ridiculed ACC “staff” amendment forbidding the ACC from even discussing solar rebates during 2012 especially bothers renewable energy proponents, including LaPlaca.  ”As the sunniest state in the US, and with renewable energy policy evolving at a rapid rate, to refuse to discuss issues like declining rebates is sticking your head in the sand.”

Ironically, the state’s constitution was written where there was a backlash against corporate power, and requiring that the ACC to be independent as well as elected was seen as a way to curb corporate power.

(Previous story: Arizona to Cut Solar Rebates)

Related posts:

  1. New Solar Rebate Launches for Arizona Homeowners
  2. Arizona Solar Markets Potentially Losing Focus on Residential and Commercial Solar Projects
  3. Arizona to Cut Solar Rebates – Because Utilities Add a Percent of Renewables Annually???

Top 10 Countries for Solar Power (Infographic)

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 08:11 AM PST

Here’s our fun infographic of the week, on the top 10 countries for solar power, based on installed solar power capacity (CLICK TO ENLARGE IT):

top countries solar power

Most striking stats, to me:

1) 43% of the world’s solar is installed in Germany!

2) 91% of the world’s solar is installed in only 10 countries. Wow,.. and wow.

via One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), our former owner (no longer any affiliation)

Related posts:

  1. Does Solar Really Work in My State? (Infographic)
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Help American Wind Energy — Get the PTC Renewed

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 07:55 AM PST

PTC Expiring - Contact Your RepRenewable energy in the United States – most notably, wind energy – currently benefits from a production tax credit (PTC). Wind energy is eligible for $0.022 in tax credits per kWh. It might not sound like much, but considering how much energy wind turbines can generate, it can add up pretty quickly. The problem is that the PTC is set to expire next year.

Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week describes the PTC as a "political football." To put it as simply as possible: when renewable energy doesn't get tax breaks, they pay more taxes. Paying more taxes means less money to spend on developing more renewable energy. (It should also be noted that fossil fuels get much higher subsidies, largely in the form of tax breaks – there's no favoritism for renewable power here. Whether or not there should be is another matter entirely.)

Just The Facts, Ma'am

The graph below – provided by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) – shows industry growth on a yearly basis, with years showing little growth implied to be years in which the PTC was allowed to expire.

PTC Expiring - Contact Your Rep - 1

More information from the AWEA supports continuation of the PTC:

With the support of the PTC, the U.S. wind energy industry has achieved impressive numbers:

• Over 400 facilities across 43 states manufacture for the wind energy industry.

• 60% of a wind turbine's value is now produced here in America, compared to 25% prior to 2005.

• Over 90% drop in the price of wind power since 1980, benefiting utilities and consumers.

• More than $60 billion of investment since 2005

What Can I Do?

You can contact your local representative, by phone, email, or even handwritten letter. I won't lie — your rep may ignore you entirely, or give you a lukewarm response. But if the PTC is beneficial to the wind industry, it should be renewed, and your rep will help decide that. I don't have to tell you why renewable energy is a good thing – you're already here, reading this blog, and chances are you agree already.

Good luck.

Source: Climate Denial Crock of the Week | Image: Wikimedia Commons

Related posts:

  1. Renewable Energy Solutions {Videos}
  2. US Becomes Largest Wind Power Producer in the World
  3. Pilot Project with Mini Wind Turbines as Chance for Energy Independence

Green Airless Tires from Bridgestone – Coming Soon?

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 07:54 AM PST

$10,000/Year — Available to You

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 06:28 AM PST

OK, it would only be about $10,000 ($9,797) a year if you are an average American living in a city or county with local transit available and are not yet using transit. It could be less, or more, depending on your unique situation. So,.. take a look at your expenditures and options and see what you would actually save.

Where am I getting the number above? It’s from the American Public Transportation Association's latest Transit Savings Report. The average monthly savings for switching to transit would have been $816 in November, when the report was created. The assumptions were:

  • average national gas price = $3.38 per gallon (as reported by AAA), about 50 cents higher than at this time last year;
  • national average for monthly, unreserved parking space in a downtown business district = $155.22… or $1,863 per yer (according to 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study)
  • average mileage of a mid-size auto = 23.4 miles per gallon
  • average miles driven per year = 15,000
  • average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country not reported

APTA also delves into the average savings for 20 of the country’s largest cities (table below). And, I’ll just note that while these savings are pretty tremendous, you can save even more by choosing to bicycle for your transportation purposes. And, one more thing, walking more (which you generally do when you use transit) and bicycling can imrpove your health significantly, further saving you money (and improving your quality of life in most cases). Something to think about. Anyway, here’s the city-by-city data (CLICK TO ENLARGE IT):

Note: I’ve been car-free for about 7 and a half years now and lovin’ it!

Related posts:

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Bullet-Proof Electric Vehicle (VIDEO)

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 04:55 AM PST

I wrote about a bullet-proof electric luxury vehicle that includes solar panels that Latvian armored car company Dartz is working on just about one month ago here on CleanTechnica. When I first read about it, I wondered if it was actually legit, not having heard of Dartz before and not finding much info on the car. Well, it looks like it is legit (at least the idea). Here’s more from sister site Gas2:


Related posts:

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300-MW Wind Farm Proposed for Belvoir Ranch

Posted: 12 Dec 2011 04:37 AM PST

The Morley Company of Jackson Hole is proposing the construction of a 300-MW (300,000-kW) wind farm on Belvoir Ranch, which is 6 miles west of the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming. It would consist of 120 wind turbines.

Morley Company CEO Bruce Morley said that Cheyenne won’t be required to invest any money into the project, and that the wind farm will benefit the city greatly. According to the CEO, the city of Cheyenne could make $72 million to $130 million by leasing land for the wind farm to Morley.

Morley said that there are factors that could delay the construction of the wind farm, such as the national political scene and, specifically, whether or not tax credits for wind farms will be renewed.

He also said that he could not guarantee the construction of the wind farm for the next three years, because it requires that transmission lines be constructed to transmit power from the farm to the electricity grid.

“We need to be able to move the energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed,” Morley said.

Morley said that there are six transmission line projects being developed in Wyoming at the moment and that the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority is doing a great job of developing the transmission lines in the state, though, so the eventual construction of necessary transmission lines is likely.

He also added that the construction of a wind farm would increase the likelihood that a wind-turbine-parts factory would be constructed in the area, to manufacture various parts for the turbines, implying that the factory would create numerous jobs, which is, of course, much-needed.

h/t | Photo Credit: imotov

Related posts:

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How the Durban Climate Agreement Sidesteps Republican Obstruction

Posted: 11 Dec 2011 11:54 PM PST

For the first time in the history of climate negotiations, all nations, including the world’s largest carbon emitters – China and the US – have agreed to work towards emissions-reduction targets binding every nation equally "with legal force."

The last-minute successful agreement at Durban puts pressure on what has been the world’s biggest obstacle to a climate agreement – the US Republican party.

For ten years or more, they have walked out of hearings on renewable energy or climate policy with “We won’t act on climate because China won’t!” – a petulant mirror image of the parental favorite: “Would you jump off a bridge, just cause your friend does?”

But now – China will

With the Durban Platform, for the first time, there will not be one rule for developed, and another for “developing” nations.

For the first time, all nations have committed to one universal legal agreement on climate change to be completed by 2015, and enforced by 2020. Work on the treaty is to begin immediately under a new group called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

The nearly 40 major industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol will submit emissions targets for a second commitment period beginning next year, when Kyoto had been due to expire. But the new agreement to be hammered out by 2015 is to be universal, and cover all nations.

“You could hear the shifting of tectonic plates,” said one diplomat. “This is hugely important not just for the climate talks but in geopolitical terms.”

What’s more, to offset its own carbon emissions, China will by 2015 become a net buyer of credits from carbon abatement projects, rather than a seller, giving a boost to clean development worldwide. The carbon markets in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, California, a few Canadian provinces and the RGGI states will all be boosted by being joined by China’s.

Every nation will be covered by the new treaty, so now no nation can get out of acting on the basis that “My carbon emissions don’t make a difference, because some other nation is not acting”.

Now the world can begin to nail down the details of a worldwide binding treaty for legal enforcement by 2020. This is already the date for many greenhouse gas emission targets worldwide so the whole world has both reasonable time to prepare, and no more reason not to.

Related posts:

  1. Rich Countries “Give Up” on Climate Treaty
  2. China Even Beats US to Cap and Trade, Due to Republican Opposition to Climate Legislation
  3. US Taking Hard-Nosed Stance at Cancun

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