Economics to Keep Wind and Solar Energy Thriving With Trump

November 28th, 2016

On the plains of West Texas, new wind farms can be built for just $22 a megawatt-hour. In the Arizona and Nevada deserts, solar projects are less than $40 a megawatt-hour. Compare those figures with the U.S. average lifetime cost of $52 for natural gas plants and about $65 for coal.
Environmental rules and government subsidies are no longer the key drivers for clean power. Economics are.
That’s why Donald Trump will have limited influence on the U.S. utility industry’s push toward renewable energy, according to executives and investors. Companies including NextEra Energy Inc., Duke Energy Corp. and others that invest billions in power plants are already moving forward with long-term plans to generate electricity with cleaner and more economic alternatives.
“We said before the election that whoever is elected president, we would be continuing our efforts to go to a low-carbon fleet and also pursue renewables,” said Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke, the second-largest U.S. utility owner.

Wind and solar have been the two biggest sources of electricity added to U.S. grids since 2014 as utilities closed a record number of aging coal-fired generators. Trump has derided clean energy and assailed environmental regulations that hinder jobs, while pledging to revive the mining industry. In an interview Tuesday, Trump softened his view, telling the New York Times that he has an ‘‘open mind’’ on the Paris climate accord and noting that “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.
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And it’s not just cost that makes clean energy attractive to utilities — it’s time. A solar farm can go up in months to meet incremental increases in utility demand; it takes years to permit, finance and build the giant boilers and exhaust systems that make up a coal plant, and they can last for a generation. A four-year presidential term is hardly a tick in that energy clock, and companies are already planning projects that will commence after Trump leaves office, even if he serves two terms.
Uneconomical Coal
Over the next four years, utilities have announced plans to close 12 gigawatts worth of coal plants, largely because cheap natural gas has made them uneconomical — the equivalent of switching off a dozen nuclear reactors.
Trump will have some levers at his disposal to influence how they’ll be replaced. He has vowed, for instance, to kill President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would require states to reduce emissions from power plants. And two federal subsidies — the investment tax credit and the production tax credit — remain key components to making solar and wind affordable.
He hasn’t indicated whether he’ll push to repeal the tax credits for wind and solar, which were extended for five years at the end of 2015 with bipartisan support. And the Clean Power Plan, which has been suspended pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2022. Utilities, meanwhile, are marching ahead.

“We are moving forward with plans that call for replacing some of our coal generation with natural gas, low-cost wind energy and expanding solar options for customers,” said Frank Prager, vice president of policy and federal affairs for Xcel Energy Inc., which owns utilities in eight states.
Even without the Clean Power Plan, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that wind and solar energy will grow 33 percent over the next two years, adding 40 gigawatts. A lot of that will be driven by state, rather than federal, policies.
More than half of U.S. states require utilities to incorporate renewable energy into their generation mix, including the traditionally Republican strongholds of Texas, Arizona and Montana. California and New York have set goals to source half of their power from clean energy by 2030.
“I’m skeptical that there is a lot you can do to stop this coal plant replacement cycle from happening,” said Bryan Martin, a managing director at D.E. Shaw & Co., a New York hedge fund that manages about $38 billion and invests in wind and solar projects. “Renewables are the cheapest form of new power in most of these markets.”

Even if renewable energy loses support from the West Wing, it remains popular in corner offices across America. Electricity-hungry tech giants including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and others have increasingly sourced energy in recent years directly from wind and solar farms, signing at least 20 power-purchase agreements totaling 2.3 gigawatts in 2015 alone. Over the next nine years, companies have pledged to buy another 17.4 gigawatts, according to New Energy Finance.
“Wal-Mart will continue to build stores, and Apple will continue to build energy-intensive data centers that will be powered by renewables,” said Kyle Harrison, a New Energy Finance analyst in New York. “We don’t expect the election to have a significant impact on renewable energy.”
There are indirect ways Trump may impede clean energy. His proposal to cut corporate tax rates could blunt the effectiveness of the tax credits for wind and solar. He could cut research-and-development funding. Rolling back environmental regulations may make coal more competitive. And Trump will have the opportunity to appoint at least two members to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Utilities aren’t waiting to see how it pans out.
“We’d love to see more funding to ensure that fossil fuels can stay in that framework,” said Nick Akins, chief executive officer of American Electric Power Co., which owns utilities from Texas to Ohio. “But as we go through this process, I think from AEP’s perspective, we’re going to continue the investments that we’re making.”http://cdn-mobapi.bloomberg.com/mobapi/v2/player/media/video/cc/WiFi/IbmasGO8SrqJLc_TtS_vpA.m3u8

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/economics-will-keep-wind-and-solar-energy-thriving-under-trump

AWEA ready to work with President-elect Trump to strengthen U.S. economy

November 10th, 2016

American wind power continues to create jobs and strengthen rural America.
TOM KIERNAN NOVEMBER 9, 2016
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The American Wind Energy Association is ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump and his administration to assure that wind power continues to be a vibrant part of the U.S. economy.

An unstoppable shift to a cleaner energy economy is underway, and the fundamentals of wind energy in America are strong. With bipartisan support for long-term policy firmly in place, and a near-record number of wind farms are under construction, our industry is saving consumers money by connecting low-cost wind power to more parts of the country.

We’re putting money in the pockets of farmers who host wind turbines, keeping the farm in the family and the family on the farm. And wind power supports 88,000 well-paying American jobs, a quarter of them made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs. States, where most energy policy is made, are likely to continue their clean energy policies.

Mr. Trump has said, ‘We can pursue all forms of energy. This includes renewable energies and the technologies of the future.’ We look forward to working with him and his appointees to make sure they recognize that wind is working very well in America today as a mainstream energy source.

In his victory speech early this morning, the President-elect said, ‘We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.’ Wind power is some of the best infrastructure America has ever built and we are on track to doubling it from today’s levels by 2020.

The 2016 Republican platform backed transmission which wind energy requires, saying: ‘We support expedited siting processes and the thoughtful expansion of the grid so that consumers and businesses continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity.’

Americans love wind power partly because it’s proven to be an economic powerhouse for rural America, as well as helping us breathe easier and contributing to our energy independence. Our job is to make good on that promise.

We can bring prosperity to more communities across America that are hurting right now, and that need the business wind energy can bring. With over 80% of all wind farms in Republican-held congressional districts, we envision that the Republican leadership in Congress and the White House will want to keep our industry growing.

Utilities and major corporations are flocking to buy more wind, finding it to be the biggest, fastest, cheapest way to keep the air clean while keeping electric rates low.

We will continue to work with the states to lower electricity costs and share the benefits of rural economic development while meeting their renewable standards.

According to exit polls, the top issues on Americans’ minds as they went to vote were the economy, security, and health. Wind can help with all three. Our determination to fulfill on the U.S. wind industry’s enormous potential has never been stronger.workers

http://www.aweablog.org/awea-ready-work-president-elect-trump-strengthen-u-s-economy/

Costa Rica has been running on renewable energy for 76 straight days

September 9th, 2016

Not too long ago, idea that an entire country could get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources for over 2 months was unthinkable.

Well, one country just shattered that notion for the second time in two years.

Costa Rica’s electricity came from 100 percent clean, reliable renewable energy for 76 days between June and August this year.

As soon as a handful of new wind farms come online in the near future, it’s estimated that wind energy will provide more than 10 percent of Costa Rica’s electricity by the end of next year.costa-rica-wind-farmCosta Rica

http://www.aweablog.org/guess-country-running-renewable-energy-60-straight-days/

Construction finishes on the first US offshore wind farm

August 19th, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Construction on the nation’s first offshore wind farm has finished.

Deepwater Wind built a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski tweeted a photo of the five turbines on Thursday and said that the wind farm is now fully constructed.

The final blade for the fifth turbine was installed Thursday.

The wind farm is expected to be operational this fall after testing is complete.

The $300 million project is expected to power about 17,000 homes.

Developers, federal regulators and industry experts say the opening will pave the way for many more wind farms that will eventually provide power for many Americans.

Grybowski says the wind farm’s opening will be a “momentous occasion.”

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.final-turbine-installed-at-block-island-deepwater

http://www.greensboro.com/ap/us_world/construction-finishes-on-the-first-us-offshore-wind-farm/article_f2c5e240-f2da-50e2-a9c9-32a1c01aa793.html

Three Is Not a Crowd off Block Island

August 11th, 2016

Fred. Olsen Windcarrier’s installation vessel Brave Tern has installed three of the five GE Renewable Energy Haliade 150-6MW turbines at the Block Island Wind Farm.

This is the first offshore wind farm to be installed in US waters and the first project Fred. Olsen Windcarrier has worked on outside of Europe.

“The first turbine on this landmark project was installed on 4th August. Installation is progressing well and on schedule,” said Fred. Olsen Windcarrier project manager, Eskil Røset.

All five Haliade 150-6MW turbines are expected to be installed by early September.

The wind farm is planned for full commissioning by the end of the year.

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http://www.offshorewind.biz/2016/08/11/three-is-not-a-crowd-off-block-island/

One step closer: First American offshore wind turbines installed

August 10th, 2016

Construction on the country’s first offshore wind farm began last spring, off the coast of Rhode Island, and the project is expected to be fully operational later this fall.

With an installed capacity of 30 megawatts, the five-turbine Deepwater Wind wind farm will generate enough electricity to supply all of Block Island’s needs, while also sending some to mainland Rhode Island. This will be a clean, affordable and welcome development for Block Island’s residents, who have long had to rely on imported, expensive and polluting diesel fuel for energy.

“Today’s turbine installation shows that offshore wind power is a real, viable option for states along the coast to transition to clean energy,” said Miles Grant, a National Wildlife Federation spokesman. “This can and must be the beginning of something big – a new clean energy chapter for America that can create thousands of jobs and protect wildlife and communities from the dangers of climate change.”

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo also celebrated the milestone, tweeting:

Raimondo

This progress is happening at a time when support for growing wind power has never been higher: 91 percent of likely voters want to expand wind energy, according to a recent poll. And this support is truly bipartisan, with 82 percent of self-described conservatives saying they think transitioning to a clean energy economy is important.

Stay tuned for more updates on Deepwater Wind’s progress on this historic project throughout the fall.

http://www.aweablog.org/one-step-closer-first-american-offshore-wind-turbine-installed/image1-4

New York Wind Farm Part of Larger Offshore Energy Ambitions

July 20th, 2016

A New York utility plans to approve a wind farm off eastern Long Island that it says would be the nation’s largest offshore wind energy project built to date.

The project would be the first phase of a more ambitious effort to construct hundreds of electricity-producing turbines in the Atlantic Ocean in the coming years.

The announcement that the Long Island Power Authority plans to approve a proposed 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm in U.S. waters east of Montauk at a meeting next week was greeted enthusiastically by energy experts, elected officials and environmentalists.

“This is obviously an important development,” said Jeffrey Firestone, a professor at the University of Delaware and an expert on offshore wind. “Hopefully, this will be something toward facilitating a more regional approach to the need for offshore wind energy.”

The U.S. lags behind Europe and others in development of offshore wind energy because of regulatory hurdles and opposition from fossil fuel and fishing interests, among other challenges. Many wind farms in Europe are already producing hundreds of megawatts of power.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued several leases for wind projects along the Atlantic coast, but none have come to fruition yet. LIPA said its project would be the next one built after one opens near Block Island, Rhode Island, later this year.

“This is the first in New York, it’s the largest to date, but we’re looking at this and seeing a tremendous offshore wind resource that will be developed and it’s not the last,” LIPA chief executive officer Thomas Falcone said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“I think this is a very big step … for New York, but also for the United States.”

LIPA is awarding the project to Deepwater Wind. That company is working on the Rhode Island wind farm, which will feature five turbines creating 30 megawatts of power. Deepwater Wind would build and own the New York project, selling power to LIPA; financial terms still need to be negotiated. Falcone said he expected a final agreement by early next year.

“New York is boldly leading the way on a clean-energy revolution that will transform the nation’s energy future,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement.

The LIPA project, which would power approximately 50,000 homes, is considered the first phase in Deepwater Wind’s ambitions to eventually build turbines producing 1,000 megawatts of power in the waters between eastern Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Falcone said because Deepwater Wind has already acquired the lease for the site in 2013 and has already performed initial marine surveys, construction could be expedited and power could be reaching customers by the end of 2022.

The turbines would be placed about 30 miles offshore, putting them over the horizon and out of view of land.

A scallop industry trade organization, the Fisheries Survival Fund, has raised concerns about some wind farm proposals, but not this one. Important scallop areas were removed from the possible lease areas for this wind farm, said Drew Minkiewicz, an attorney for the fund. He cautioned that other commercial fishermen could raise objections.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the LIPA project will “help achieve the state’s ambitious goal of supplying 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.”

LIPA also is planning to build two new battery energy storage facilities with a company called LI Energy. The facilities will consist of lithium-ion battery technology designed and installed byGeneral Electric; they will be used when LIPA is facing peak demand for electricity.

Federal officials announced earlier this year plans to auction the rights to build a wind farm on a 127-square-mile wedge, 11 miles south of Long Island’s popular Jones Beach. That project, which has the backing of New York state officials, still faces regulatory and other hurdles before it can proceed.

———

Associated Press writer Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

———

This story has been corrected to show Long Island Power Authority will contract with company to purchase energy from wind farm, not construct it. It also has been corrected to show that the Rhode Island project under construction is in state waters and that different project would be in federal waters, and to show that the company slated to build battery storage facilities is LI Energy, not Deepwater Wind.

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http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/apnewsbreak-ny-utility-plans-largest-us-offshore-wind-40575357

N.J. governor vetoes bill supporting Fishermen’s offshore project

May 3rd, 2016

Posted: Monday, May 2, 2016 3:35 pm

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill supporting a proposed windmill farm off the coast of Atlantic City.

Christie on Monday rejected the bill that would permit, but not require, the state Board of Public Utilities to approve the wind farm off the coast, to be built by Fishermen’s Energy.

He says the legislation would “usurp” the board’s authority by compelling it to receive applications.

An environmental group that strongly supports the plan says New Jersey has the greatest potential to develop offshore wind energy of any northeastern U.S. state.

Concerns that large subsidies might be needed have led the BPU to reject the proposal three times.

Senate votes to increase wind energy funding

April 27th, 2016

The Senate passed an amendment Tuesday that would keep funding for wind energy research and development at its current level and restore a cut that appropriators had put into their bill.

The amendment, from Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would provide $95.4 million for the Department of Energy’s wind program, up from the $80 million in the bill proposed by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

 

Alexander, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees energy and water spending bill, is a frequent critic of wind energy, which he says gets too much government assistance and should compete on its own.“We have sometimes heard that wind is a mature industry and that that is why the funding for research should be revoked or lowered,” Merkley said on the Senate floor.

“But, in fact, as wind is emerging, we’re seeing continuous innovations that are resulting in different designs and different strategies for integrating intermittent wind energy into the grid,” he said. “As that wind component becomes substantially larger, we need to understand the details about how we accommodate it effectively.”

Alexander defended the funding level in the original bill.

“I wonder if the American taxpayers wouldn’t think that $32 billion is enough to spend on giant windmills,” Alexander said. “That’s the amount that the Congressional Research Service has said that Congress has spent of taxpayers’ money to subsidize wealthy people so they can build giant wind turbines across America.”

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The amendment passed 54-42.

The Senate also voted to pass a bipartisan measure from Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to add $50 million to fund the Army Corps of Engineers’ pilot projects aimed at conserving water in the Colorado River Basin.

Senators voted to reject a proposal from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to defund federal support for local and state environmental projects through the Army Corps.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/277669-senate-votes-to-increase-wind-energy-funding

Happy Earth Day!!!

April 22nd, 2016

This Earth Day, let’s get really big stuff done for our planet.

What are we waiting for? The time is now.
Earth Day 2016 – Trees for the Earth poster
Trees for the Earth
Earth Day Toolkit
Register your Event
Find an Event in Your Area
Billion Acts of Green
Countdown to 2020
The movement continues.

We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.

In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.

And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016. It’s bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand.

This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. Let’s take the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and build on it.

Let’s start now. And let’s not stop.
- See more at: http://www.earthday.org/#sthash.Il0afMOl.dpufEarth-Day-2016-Poster-Earth-Day-Network