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Category — Wind politics

Rep. Camp’s Bold Move: End of the Wind PTC (and other energy subsidies too)

“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.”

Members of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) descended on Capitol Hill this week for  a two-day member-only marathon to educate Congress on why the wind production tax credit (PTC) needs to remain a priority for American taxpayers. The PTC expired at the end of 2013.

Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens’ wind power business in the Americas and a member of AWEA’s Board, touted his expectation of receiving a positive response from D.C. lawmakers.  ‘We’re going to ask for as long an extension [of the PTC] as we can get to bridge the gap  until we get a comprehensive energy policy,” he said.

But by the end of the day yesterday, the future of the PTC dimmed.

On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-anticipated proposal to reform the U.S. tax code which offered no consideration for reinstating the PTC. But that’s not all. According to the bill, the uncapped, 20+-year tax credit, which currently stands at 2.3¢/kWh[1], would no longer be adjusted annually for inflation which means that projects now receiving the PTC would see their subsidy reset back to 1.5¢/kWh. [Read more →]

February 27, 2014   1 Comment

Towards Sound Energy Policy (Part II – Sensible Approaches)

Part I yesterday addressed the drivers and flawed approaches to current energy policy in many developed Western countries. Part II today describes the rational approaches necessary to best position us to withstand all challenges/threats that face us, both known and unknown.

Time frames are an important consideration in assessing the various elements of sensible and feasible energy policy programs. Here are the periods used in this discussion, which are nominal in nature:

  • Short term (Up to about 10 years) – In this time frame, major radical changes in our energy infrastructures are not advisable and should be avoided, because energy is so intrinsically bound up in everything we do. Ill-advised, extensive tinkering with these is dangerous to our well-being. Best use must be made of reliable and powerful energy sources which are consistent with existing energy infrastructures and uses. Sufficient, sound R&D initiatives must be established. This is largely an initiation period.
  • Medium Term (approximately next 30 years) – This period should ensure improvements in: (1) the best practices across the fuel life-cycle; and (2) technologies for existing energy infrastructures. R&D is important to the success of this but should also be at least equally directed to new technologies needed in the longer term. This is a transition period.
  • Long Term (beyond approximately 40 years) – This period is the realistic time frame for new technologies to start to make major, fundamental changes to existing energy infrastructures. It is a period of fulfilment of energy policies and programs put in place starting today.

In general terms, these time frames put activities and developments roughly into the first and second half of the 21st century. It is emphasized that these are not rigid boundaries, but realistic expectations of developments. Pleasant surprises are always possible and could change some aspects. It also best positions our societies to meet unpleasant surprises against which reliable, extensive and powerful energy sources are the best defense. [Read more →]

January 17, 2013   1 Comment

Towards Sound Energy Policy (Part I – Current Flaws)

For well-being, present and future, including overall governance, health and medical care, financial, economic, human rights, equality, peace, security and liberty, etc.,[1] we have to stop playing political games with energy policy in the developed countries in the West and turn to sound approaches.

In particular, Europe must withdraw from its desperate and destructive attempts at regaining some measure of world ‘leadership’, which it deservedly lost in the 20th century as a result of succumbing to dangerous extremist policies in many areas, including political, social, judicial, economic, military and international matters.

Europe’s “leadership” conceit includes questionable, radical energy policies, particularly in electricity systems, to “de-carbonize” the world with “new” (really ancient) renewables. This futility is wasting resources on a grand scale as is now beginning to be realized (here and here).

Unfortunately this may be a case of too little too late unless we act now to get off this lemming-style dash to catastrophe, energy being the master resource. We face more than one such ‘cliff’ today, and any that can be avoided must be.

This cannot be stated too strongly. It is not an argument from a special interest point of view or in support of any specific economic theory, not to say that any of these is necessarily invalid. It is from the perspective of what is best for mankind, and based on the work of internationally respected energy experts.[2] I repeat a disclosure statement which I have stated before.[3]

The case for the current flawed energy policies (primarily focussed on electricity) in the West is based on issues surrounding climate change, 21st century industrial development (jobs), fossil fuel and nuclear concerns, and energy independence/security. The following is a necessarily brief overview of very complex matters, but should serve to provide an instructive, broad context.

Part I today addresses the drivers and flaws of current energy policies in many developed Western countries. Part II tomorrow deals with sensible approaches, which are quite evident, but apparently politically impossible within most Western democracies. [Read more →]

January 16, 2013   3 Comments

Section 1603 Grant Extension: Just Say No (Good money after bad–is the end near?)

There’s desperation on the Hill by the taxpayer  parasites. The wind industry is once again pressing Congress for a last minute extension of the Section 1603 subsidy.

And why not? ‘Tis the season for giving, and the approach of “Ask and ye shall receive” has worked pretty well for the industry so far, especially with a contingent of members happy to be led around by any entity cloaking itself in ‘green’. Who better to do the leading than the American Wind Energy Association (‘AWEA’), the trade group increasingly dominated by wind turbine manufacturers — most of whom are headquartered in Europe and Asia.

Any reasonable assessment of the 1603 grant program would be lost entirely on this crowd but there are facts that make any discussion of an extension foolhardy.

High Cost: The treasury reports it’s already distributed $9.6 billion in cash grants during the period from 2009 to October 31, 2011. Of this, 80% ($7.6 billion) was handed to wind developers representing 12,272 megawatts of installed capacity. Since the money does not transfer to project owners until a wind facility is in service, the public has NO idea of the total cost of 1603. And we won’t know until 2013 or after.

But based on projects now under construction, we estimate the outlay for wind alone to be closer to $20 billion. This is without an extension. If Congress agrees to extend 1603 by 1 year, this figure would be much larger. Remember, we are borrowing 40 cents on every dollar to pay for this program. [Read more →]

December 5, 2011   24 Comments

China and Wind: What a Waste

Setting aside the matter that wind turbines are not an effective means to supply utility-scale electricity, the claims of job creation and 21st century industrial development are equally illusory. A New York Times (NYT) article last month spoke volumes on this.

I have frequently claimed that the recently created wind turbine manufacturing industries in Europe (Denmark, Germany and Spain) are in jeopardy from competition by the emerging giants, China, India and the U.S. The Times article reports that China now controls almost half of the global market, having absorbed billions of dollars in government assistance and consumer subidies.

The wind businesses in these European countries have existed for little more than a decade, and having saturated their domestic markets, have enjoyed a brief, and unsustainable, dominance of global markets. I may have been mistaken in including the U.S. in the emerging giants list, but one cannot realistically exclude it, at least at first glance.

I now suggest it should be added to the same list as the European countries. [Read more →]

January 11, 2011   16 Comments

Wind Farms DO NOT Provide Large Economic and Job Benefits (quite the opposite)

One would think that by now Obama Administration officials would admit that “wind farms” do not provide large economic and job benefits. However, recent Administration statements suggest the delusion continues and, perhaps, that officials do not understand why their expectations are unrealistic.

False expectations may be due to the infamous “JEDI” model (Jobs and Economic Development Impact model) developed for DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) by a wind industry consultant-lobbyist. Unfortunately, this “model”( paid for with our tax dollars) has been widely promoted by NREL and DOE and outputs from the model are used by “wind farm” developers to mislead the public, media, and government officials.

Economic models often produce false or misleading outputs because (a) the model itself is faulty, and/or (b) unrealistic assumptions are “fed into” to model, with the result that the models overstate national, state, and/or local job and other economic benefits.

In the case of wind energy models, basic flaws and faulty assumptions often include one or more of the following:

1. Ignoring the fact that much of the capital cost of “wind farms” is for equipment purchased elsewhere, often imported from other countries.  Some wind energy advocates claim that wind turbines are “manufactured” in the US when, in fact, they are merely assembled in the US using imported parts and components. About 75% of the capital cost of “wind farms” is for turbines, turbine parts and components, towers and blades – so a large share of the “wind farm” cost is for imports. These add to the outflow of wealth from the US and provide no economic or job benefits in the US.

2. Assuming that employment during project construction results in new jobs for local workers — when most “wind farm” construction jobs are short term (6 months or less) and the overwhelming share of them are filled by specialized workers who are brought in temporarily. [Read more →]

January 5, 2011   36 Comments

A Republican Enigma on Renewables (Sen. LeMieux, please check your premises)

In line with conservative values, and with the passion of a local Tea Party leader, U.S. Senator LeMieux (R–FL) is behind his state’s lawsuit against the federal government’s healthcare reform law.  He also has a national debt clock on his WEB SITE, and his headline platforms include reducing government waste and improving transparency and accountability from soup to nuts.

So can we feel assured this senator upholds these values across the board?

No, unfortunately, when it comes to the failed government experiment with politically correct renewable energy.

Senator LeMieux has co-sponsored a bill–along with 25 of his closest friends across the aisle–to extend the ARRA 1603 tax credits, doling out 30% of project costs up front to so-called “renewables.”

So what goes? Florida is not a big renewables state. Florida voters are rebelling against Big Government, as recently shown at the polls. Florida is also a marginal solar state and has dismal wind resources.

So what is behind Sen. LeMieux’s deviation? Enter Florida Power & Light Company, and specifically its government-dependent, now-running-scared subsidiary, NextEra Energy.

Floridians should be furious. [Read more →]

December 7, 2010   5 Comments