Archive for April, 2016

Senate votes to increase wind energy funding

Wednesday, 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.

Happy Earth Day!!!

Friday, 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.
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Friday, April 1st, 2016

But experts and advocates don’t expect it to happen under Gov. Christie, who’s consistently questioned the economics of the clean technology

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New Jersey still has an opportunity to be a leader in an emerging offshore wind industry, despite years of delay in putting together a financial plan to lure developers to build along the coast, officials said yesterday.

The state is well positioned to develop offshore wind farms thanks to natural features that include a relatively shallow coastal shelf; abundant wind resources; and a proximity to markets with a demand for electricity, industry executives and government officials said at a forum at Stockton University.

But it may not happen for at least a few years. With Gov. Chris Christie questioning the economics of the technology, and developers having to jump through regulatory hoops prior to winning approval for any projects, it likely will be at least that long.

“We may need a new governor on this one,’’ said Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), one of the panelists and a longtime advocate of offshore wind projects, including a stalled smaller demonstration project proposed three miles off Atlantic City.

Nevertheless, the two developers that have secured leases on hundreds of thousands of acres to build huge wind farms expressed optimism about their prospects off the Jersey coast.

“This is a site very similar to the second round of projects we developed in the United Kingdom,’’ said Carolyn Heeps, developer of strategy development for RES America Inc., which has partnered with a Danish company to build one-third of Europe’s offshore wind capacity.

Paul Rich, project development director for the other developer, U.S. Wind, Inc., agreed. “We’re very glad to be in New Jersey,’’ Rich said. His company also has won leases off the Maryland coast and hopes to have an offshore wind farm in service by the first quarter of 2020. What is happening in Maryland is likely to occur in New Jersey, he said.

Maryland is the only state along the Eastern Seaboard to have a fiscal mechanism in place to pay for at least some of the electricity generated from the projected wind farm, which will be designed initially to generate 750 megawatts.

New Jersey has yet to come up with a financial mechanism to pay for the wind farms, but that should not set back the state’s efforts in offshore wind, according to Walter Cruickshank, deputy director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is overseeing federal efforts to promote the renewable energy source. 

The fact that it has a law allowing it to establish such a mechanism puts it ahead of other states, Cruickshank said. “It’s an important issue but New Jersey is well positioned to be a leader,’’ he said.

Under an offshore wind development law enacted almost six years ago, the state Board of Public Utilities was supposed to propose regulations by early 2011 that would give credits — dubbed Offshore Renewable Energy Credits — to developers to help finance the wind farms. Utility customers would pay for the credits by a surcharge on their monthly bills.

“You can’t finance a project unless you have someone to pay for the electricity,’’ said Paul Gallagher, chief operating officer of Fishermen’s Energy, which is trying to convince the Christie administration to approve a small 24-megawatt wind farm off Atlantic City, a project first proposed in 2011. It has been rejected several times by the BPU as being too costly to ratepayers.

Rich also said the credits are “absolutely vital’’ to getting the industry off the ground.

The developers touted the economic benefits and jobs that would be created if New Jersey is successful in developing a robust offshore wind industry, especially if it is large enough to attract manufacturers of turbines and other equipment needed for the sector.

Copyright 2014 NJ Spotlight
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