EIA sees continued decline of coal, rising use of gas and renewables

Source: Manuel Quinones, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Power plants’ use of coal for electricity production will continue to decline over the next 15 years, the Energy Department’s statistical arm said today. The Energy Information Administration’s draft “Annual Energy Outlook 2013” says more efficient use of fuel by existing power plants and the building of few new coal plants will reduce coal use.

Doctoral wind energy studies to take flight at Iowa State University

Source: By Emily Nohr, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER • Posted: Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Iowa is second to Texas in installed wind capacity, but the state is catching up on the wind energy educational front. The State of Iowa Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a Ph.D. program in wind energy science, engineering and policy in Iowa State University’s College of Engineering. The request was recommended earlier this year by ISU’s faculty senate, Board Office and Council of Provosts.

Outlook for Offshore Wind: Dark and Stormy

Source: By MATTHEW L. WALD, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

A new worldwide survey of offshore wind installations takes a look at why it might be slow going in the United States, which still doesn’t have any. Navigant Consulting, reviewing conditions at the end of last year, found that building a wind machine offshore in Europe cost about 4 million euros (around $5.1 million) per megawatt of capacity. By comparison, wind turbines built onshore in the United States (the only point of comparison for now) cost about $2 million per megawatt.

Officials waiting for wind energy tax break

Source: Written by Adam B Sullivan, Iowa City Press-Citizen • Posted: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Insiders are optimistic that Congress will extend wind energy tax breaks, but that doesn’t mean Iowa’s wind industry will see a quick boon. Iowa’s interests in the wind industry has pushed the state’s policymakers to be spokespeople for the federal tax breaks. For instance, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad went to Washington, D.C., last month for a news conference about the tax credit, while U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, delivered a speech on the House floor in support of the extension.

Simpler and cheaper turbines will help wind power compete

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Materials science breakthroughs in wind turbine blade technology could drive down the costs of building wind farms and help put the renewable energy technology on a stronger economic footing to compete with coal- and natural-gas-fired electricity. Early-stage research by General Electric Co., with support from the Department of Energy and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, aims to use tensioned architectural fabrics rather than fiberglass as the primary material for turbine blades, thus driving down costs by 25 to 40 percent, according to officials involved in the research-and-development effort.

MetLife, GE Team Up To Provide $247 Million To Kansas Wind Farm

Source: by MSTURDEVAN, Hartford Courant • Posted: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

MetLife and an arm of General Electric that finances energy projects have teamed up for the second time this year as investors in a major wind farm in the Great Plains. This time, GE Energy Financial Services and MetLife Inc. joined Union Bank to invest $247 million in a wind farm near Wichita, Kan. The Post Rock wind farm has been up and running since Nov. 14, developed by Wind Capital Group. The 22,900-acre wind-energy farm is about 80 miles outside Wichita, in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.

Interior announces first-ever Atlantic lease sales in 2013

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The Obama administration today announced it will hold its first competitive lease sales next year for offshore wind in U.S. waters, a decision that was hailed by clean energy advocates, industry groups and East Coast lawmakers. The Interior Department said two lease sales will be held in wind energy areas off the coast of Virginia and in federal waters shared by Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Wind credit backers floating on the tide of fiscal talks, hoping not to sink

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Just as the passengers on the Titanic could do nothing to avoid that iceberg, supporters of a key wind industry tax break have little control at this point over whether their incentive will continue into next year.

Proponents of the wind production tax credit (PTC) believe they have largely won the argument over the merits of extending it at least through next year — with a deep, bipartisan bench in both chambers of Congress on board in principle with an extension. But there is little appetite in Congress to address the credit in isolation of the broader suite of tax-and-spending issues collectively known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Southeastern U.S. hit hard after two months of less rain

Source: Jessica Estepa, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 30th, 2012

The drought continued to expand this week, with the largest increase found in the southeastern United States and Oklahoma.

Energy extenders hang in balance amid scant progress in budget talks

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 30th, 2012

Ongoing budget negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) showed little sign of progress yesterday, leaving a suite of energy-related tax breaks hanging in the balance. Expired or expiring tax incentives for wind energy, alternative fuels, home weatherization and other activities are expected to be included as part of a broader legislative package aimed at addressing the looming spending cuts and tax hikes collectively known as the “fiscal cliff.”