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Sen. Chuck Grassley: Wind Energy Opponents Ignore “many tax credits” Fossil Fuels Receive

Posted By Lowell F. on December 11th, 2014

We don’t usually (or ever, come to think of it) link to the anti-environment, anti-clean-energy, pro-dirty-energy Daily Caller, but this op-ed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is just too good to ignore.  According to Grassley:

  • “It seems as though opponents of wind energy try at every turn to undermine this industry. They portray the wind energy production tax credit as clutter that doesn’t belong in the tax code. But they conveniently forget the many tax credits that benefit other energy industries as permanent law, when wind energy is fortunate to receive a year or two extension at a time.
  • “…just because we haven’t cleaned up the tax code in a comprehensive way doesn’t mean that we should pull the rug out from under domestic renewable energy producers. Doing so would cost jobs and harm our economy, the environment and our national security.
  • Wind energy supports tens of thousands of American jobs, it has spurred billions of dollars in private investment in the United States, and it displaces more expensive and more polluting sources of energy. More than 70 percent of a U.S. wind turbine’s value is now produced in the United States, compared to just 25 percent prior to 2005.”
  • I don’t understand the argument that repealing a subsidy for oil or gas or nuclear energy production is a tax increase on energy producers and consumers, while repealing an incentive for alternative or renewable energy is not. It’s not intellectually honest.”
  • “…any phase-out [of tax credits for wind power] should be done in the context of comprehensive tax reform, where all energy tax provisions are on the table. And it should be done responsibly over a few years, to provide certainty and ensure a viable industry.”

Again, we never thought we’d promote a piece from the Daily Caller, given how slavishly hypocritical that publication is on the fossil fuel welfare bums. But we’re glad to see Sen. Grassley calling them out for their blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty when it comes to wind power.

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New Fact Sheet Illustrates Southeastern U.S.’ Enormous Wind Power Potential

Posted By Lowell F. on December 9th, 2014

In 2013, the southeastern U.S. produced 1,171 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. Of that, 67.7% was generated using health-and-environment-harming coal and natural gas, with another 25% produced by expensive nuclear power plants. Only 2.2% was generated by “other renewables,” and almost none of that was solar or wind. Yet, according to this new fact sheet from the Southeastern Wind Coalition, the southeastern U.S. has the potential within just 5-10 years to produce 6,234 TWh/year more than five times the entire amount of electricity the southeastern U.S. generated in 2013.

Impressive. Along those same lines, also note:

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), just four states (VA, NC, SC, and GA) have about 63% of the total East Coast offshore wind resource in less than 30 meters of water. If we look at resource greater than 12 miles offshore and in less than 30 meters of water, those same four states have 82% of the East Coast resource.

NREL estimates the technical potential within 50 miles of the coast of VA, NC, SC, and GA to be about 583 gigawatts, which which is equal to about two times the electricity demand of every coastal state from Maine to Florida. This region has the potential to be a significant exporter of offshore wind energy.

In sum, not only could the southeastern U.S. produce all of its power from wind, it could produce enough to export, potentially earning billions of dollars for the regional economy. Of course, offshore wind power is more expensive than onshore wind power, but as with everything else, costs will come down sharply once we start building “to scale” (see this study for some thoughts on that topic). Also keep in mind that wind power emits no health-and-environment-damaging pollution, whether we’re talking about greenhouses gases, toxic substances of various kinds, particulates, whatever. Offshore wind power doesn’t require removing the tops of mountains. It doesn’t “spill” like oil does. It doesn’t contaminate our water supplies or require massive amounts of water to produce it, as “fracked” natural gas does (in fact, wind power requires ZERO water to produce). It’s not even an “eyesore,” since it would be located well offshore.

So what’s the holdup? Basically, it’s two major things: 1) counterproductive, dysfunctional, nonsensical, or to be nice “suboptimal” public policy, which massively subsidizes fossil fuels, while tilting the playing field in a myriad of other ways (e.g., not correcting for market failure by imposing a sizable tax on fossil fuel’s pollution) against clean energy and in favor of dirty energy; and 2) the fact that offshore wind power currently costs somewhat more than heavily-subsidized, non-internalized fossil fuels (although, on that point, see the graph below regarding cost trends for onshore wind vs. natural gas).

Of course, to correct #2, we need to fix #1. And that will require our political leaders to realize what a huge opportunity their states are missing due to the failure to exploit their tremendous wind power potential. Let’s hope that fact sheets like this one will help to change their minds.

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New Poll Finds Maryland Voters Support Solar by More than 4:1; Oppose Coal

Posted By Lowell F. on November 19th, 2014

Another day, another poll showing overwhelming support for clean energy. This time it’s a poll of Maryland voters, commissioned by Ethical Electric. Also note that Maryland voters have a highly favorable view of wind, and a net unfavorable view of coal. Hopefully, Maryland’s new governor will keep all this in mind as he formulates Maryland’s energy policy in coming years.

Maryland voters support solar energy by a more than four to one ratio, say it’s the top energy technology they’d support if they were in charge of state policy, and want the state to be a solar leader, according to a new poll commissioned by Ethical Electric.

Solar is the most popular form of renewable energy in Maryland. 64% of voters have a favorable opinion of it, compared to just 13% who have an unfavorable opinion of the zero emission technology. All other forms of renewable energy performed well, including wind (57% favorable, 21% unfavorable), geothermal (56% favorable, 11% unfavorable), and hydropower (63% favorable, 8% unfavorable).

“The message is clear: solar power is incredibly popular with Maryland’s voters and they want their government to help it grow across the state,” said Tom Matzzie, CEO of Ethical Electric. “Solar’s a winner with Democrats and Republicans – Governor-elect Larry Hogan should keep this mandate in mind as he assembles his administration and begins to shape policy.”

And if the average Maryland voter were governor for a day, solar power would shine. 37% would provide financial support to solar if they were in charge of the state’s energy policy and could choose one technology to support. No other form of energy came close – natural gas (14%) and wind power (13%) were the only other energy sources with double-digit support.

64% of voters also say it’s important for Maryland to be a solar leader – a concerning result considering Maryland is outside the top ten in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s cumulative installed solar capacity ranking and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s state ranking for solar installed in 2014. Indeed, 43% of voters say state government is not involved enough in solar power promotion.

While voters also support natural gas (69% favorable, 9% unfavorable), a majority of voters are against coal (37% favorable, 41% unfavorable), and oil is supported by less than half of all voters (44% favorable, 29% unfavorable). Nuclear power is also supported by less than half of all voters (43% favorable, 31% unfavorable), highlighting a clear trend against energy technologies that create large amounts of carbon pollution or pose major environmental threats.

Solar support is consistent across party lines. 63% of Democrats, 59% of Republicans, and 62% of Independents view it favorably.

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    Three Graphics from Lazard Study Show How Competitive Clean Energy’s Gotten

    Posted By Lowell F. on September 30th, 2014

    The following three graphics (click on the images to enlarge) are from a recent “Levelized Cost of Energy” (LCOE) study by Lazard – one of the world’s leading financial advisory and asset management firms. I’m posting the graphics here because they demonstrate how competitive clean energy’s become (even with massive implicit and explicit subsidies to fossil fuels), and also how much cheaper renewable power is going to get over the next few years.  No wonder why the International Energy Agency just explained how solar “could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050,” with coal just about extinct (see the slide “Solar’s share varies significantly by region”). Great stuff; now let’s get on with the transition from dirty, dangerous, fossil-fuel-based energy to clean, renewable power.



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    AWEA, SEIA Leaders: Wind, Solar “two affordable, reliable, and business-friendly solutions” to Meet EPA Rules

    Posted By Lowell F. on June 18th, 2014

    We just wanted to highlight this morning’s op-ed in The Hill by Tom Kiernan and Rhone Resch – the leaders of the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, respectively, about how wind and solar are “two affordable, reliable, and business-friendly solutions” for America to meet the proposed new EPA carbon pollution rules. Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed, with which we concur 100%.

    Some members of Congress worry we could hurt our economy by working to meet the EPA’s proposed standards. They may not have heard the good news about these newly affordable solutions at hand.

    While there’s no single solution to meeting the much-needed goal of reducing carbon emissions, wind and solar power are two of the biggest, fastest, and most cost-effective ways to meet the EPA’s proposed rule. Governors all across the country already know how they grow economies and create jobs – and a strong majority of Americans support scaling up these clean, homegrown energy sources.

    That’s why we urge all members of Congress to look to wind and solar power as leading solutions to help meet America’s future energy needs.

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