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

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.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (12/11/14)

December 11th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (12/11/14).

  1. Climate Progress reports, “Eleven United States Senators think the new federal rule cutting the nation’s carbon emissions could go even further.”
  2. According to Bloomberg, “As the U.S. moves closer and closer to energy independence, greater fuel efficiency, changing demographics and an increase in renewables are altering the dynamic that in the past would have seen demand for gasoline climbing.”
  3. The BBC reports, “Catholic bishops from around the world are calling for an end to fossil fuel use and increased efforts to secure a global climate treaty.”
  4. Robert McCartney of the Washington Post argues: “Then there’s the question of why any government body should be subsidizing the development of natural gas. It’s a mature industry enjoying a boom in growth. Scarce public dollars ought to go to promote non-fossil, alternative energy sources, which don’t contribute to climate change.”
  5. Greentech Media reports, “Early-stage investments in off-grid solar companies operating in developing countries reached $63.9 million in 2014, according to a tally from Greentech Media.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (12/10/14)

December 10th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (12/10/14).

  1. Media Matters reports “that newspapers provided one-sided coverage of the issue and seldom mentioned the coal industry’s negative environmental and health impacts or its efforts to fight regulations.”
  2. Oil Change International asks, “Exxon’s Outlook: Forecast or Fantasy?”
  3. Greentech Media has “10 Slides That Show the Complex Future and ‘Tipping Point’ of US Solar.”
  4. According to RenewEconomy, “US electric vehicle maker Tesla presented the keys to the first eight owners of the Model S car in Australia on Tuesday, and announced details of its first super-charged network along the east coast of the country.”
  5. The New York Times reports, “Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.”

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

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.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (12/9/14)

December 9th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (12/9/14).

  1. Bloomberg reports: “Oilfield contractors hired to drill wells and fracture rock to raise crude and natural gas to the surface will have to lower prices by as much as 20 percent to help keep their cash-strapped customers working. Ultimately, that could carve out more than $3 billion from the 2015 earnings outlined by analysts for the world’s four biggest oil-service companies — Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), Halliburton Co. (HAL), Baker Hughes Inc. and Weatherford International Plc. (WFT)”
  2. At Grist, David Roberts writes: “Peabody has hit on a novel strategy: It is trying to position itself as a savior of the global poor. In its Advanced Energy for Life PR campaign, it claims that coal is the only thing that can fuel economic growth and reduce energy poverty. The implied corollary: Any country that tries to restrict the use, import, or export of coal is basically killing poor children.”
  3. The Washington Post reports, “President Obama spoke in dismissive terms of the Keystone XL pipelineMonday during an interview on “The Colbert Report Monday saying its modest benefits need to be weighed against its contribution to climate change, ‘which could be disastrous.’”
  4. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “As more solar and wind electric generating capacity is added in California, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the electric grid operator for most of the state, is facing an increasingly different net load shape. Net load—the total electric demand in the system minus wind and solar generation—represents the demand that CAISO must meet with other, dispatchable sources such as natural gas, hydropower, and imported electricity from outside the system.”
  5. Greentech Media reports, “This U.S. solar market continued its strong growth in Q3, installing 1,354 megawatts* of solar photovoltaics in Q3 2014, up 41 percent over the same period last year.”