November 9 , 2012
Wind energy and the Production Tax Credit advance in elections
Wind energy fared well in yesterday’s elections, with voters returning wind champions in both parties to Congress, and allowing the current administration’s support for wind energy to continue uninterrupted.
“We’re pleased to see the popular support we’ve always seen in polling validated by the election of so many champions of wind energy who’ve stepped out on our behalf, Republicans and Democrats,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “We heard a lot about wind energy in this election, and it proved to be a winning issue because it is so popular with the American people. As just one measure, an overwhelming majority of the members supported by our political action committee, WindPAC, won their races.”
Among the dozens of Republican wind champions reelected to Congress yesterday, for example, were outspoken House supporters Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa), and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
Independent Angus King, a wind project developer since leaving the governorship in Maine, won his race for the open Senate seat there.
Overall, AWEA sees continued bipartisan support In Congress for extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) to incentivize $15 billion a year in private investment in U.S. wind farms, with support steady in the Senate and a net increase in announced supporters in the U.S. House.
Swing states with numerous wind farms as well as wind factories were carried in the election by President Obama, whose campaign took the position that Congress should extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit.
They included Iowa and Colorado, where layoffs have struck wind energy factories because of uncertainty over when Congress will address the tax credit, which expires at the end of this year; and, Michigan and Ohio, important to the wind energy supply chain, and which have untapped wind resources under development.
One measure of support for wind this election: Of the 12 new Senators, seven received WindPAC backing this election cycle. Out of all the Senate candidates for this election cycle who were supported by WindPAC, 89 percent won their races.
In the House, there may be as many as 85 new House members and districts, once all races are decided. Of all the House candidates supported by WindPAC, 88 percent won as well.
Current House Members include 119 co-sponsors of H.R. 3307, introduced by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA-8) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), which would extend the PTC through 2016. Of those, 87 won reelection, including 14 Republicans, and three more won Senate seats, with three races undecided on Wednesday.
The Production Tax Credit for renewable energy (PTC) is an incentive in effect continuously since 2005. It drives $15 billion a year in private investment in wind farms by offering tax relief to their operators according to how much electricity they make. It also creates business for component manufacturers, suppliers, trucking companies and more. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that allowing it to expire would kill 37,000 jobs within a year, while extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years.
The Hill in its election analysis this morning listed “wind energy tax credits” as one of the top three “energy winners” from the election, noting that it will free up more Republicans in Congress to back an extension.
The Des Moines Register’s “A Better Iowa” feature quoted two experts who named “continuing tax credits for Iowa’s wind energy industry” as one of the top five outcomes of the election for Iowa.
For more information, including bipartisan endorsements of the PTC’s extension, please seewww.SaveUSAWindJobs.com.
With outside Election-Day dynamics at play, Michigan 25X25 ballot initiative falls short
Falling victim to an Election-Day dynamic that saw a categorical rejection of constitutional amendments by Michigan voters, the ballot initiative to increase the state’s renewable electricity standard did not garner the necessary affirmative votes to become law.
While public support of renewables remained strong through Election Day, none of the five proposals to change the constitution passed. In addition to the renewable energy ballot question, constitutional amendments included those on collective bargaining, home health care, state tax increases and bridge building. One proposed amendment proved a lightning rod of controversy as it was seen as a ballot initiative backed by a billionaire who wanted to protect his own interests.
Meanwhile, Proposal 3, the renewable electricity standard initiative that would have called for 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewables by 2025, received full-throttle public-relations campaign attention in the months leading up to the election, via a $30 million utility-backed push to derail the initiative.
In addition to the Proposal 3 opposition, the initiative was influenced by a well-funded broad-based campaign against all of the ballot initiatives, using a theme of protecting the Michigan constitution. The Wolverine State is somewhat unique in that its constitution is often used as a policy vehicle, having been amended some 32 times since the 1960s.
Seemingly contradicting the Proposal 3 outcome yet shedding light on the public’s constitutional-amendment concerns, in an exit poll completed on Election Day, only 1 percent of voters cited opposition to expanded renewables as the reason for voting no. A full 73 percent continue to believe the state should increase its wind and solar generation, including 84 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans. Yet over 60 percent cited opposition to changing the constitution as the reason for voting no. Proposal 3, therefore, apparently got swept up in the “no change to the constitution” fever that overtook the public in an unusual year when the ballot was bursting with proposals on which to vote.
Meanwhile, wind power continues to be good for Michigan. It has proven to be lower cost than almost all conventional sources, according to the state’s economic regulator, the Michigan Public Service Commission. Thus, the election results leave somewhat unanswered questions about the state’s energy policy, with interest in renewables remaining strong as a result of their benefits.
Maine PUC seeks long-term contracts
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for long-term contracts for capacity, associated energy, and/or renewable energy credits from qualified resources.
New and existing resources from supply-side, both renewable and non-renewable, and demand-side resources may participate. Bidders selected will enter into long-term contracts with one or more of Maine's investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities: Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., and Maine Public Service Co.
Initial proposals will be due on or before March 1, 2013.
The RFP’s objective is to acquire long-term contracts that would reduce electricity costs for Maine consumers or serve as a hedge against price volatility. Other factors such as environmental and reliability attributes will also be considered.
Renewable capacity resources must rely on one or more of the following: wind power, fuel cells, tidal power; solar, geothermal, biomass, (including landfill gas), or hydroelectric generators that meet all state and federal fish passage requirements applicable to the generator.
The RFP and all related documents and information are available from the MPUC’s RFP Website. Any changes to the RFP or related documents and any supplemental RFP information and data will be posted to the Commission RFP website. The RFP contact person is: Faith Huntington, Director of Electricity and Natural Gas, Maine Public Utilities Commission email Faith.Huntington@maine.gov.
Terra-Gen sells Alta Wind 7 and 9 projects to MidAmerican Wind
MidAmerican Wind recently completed the acquisition of the 168-MW Alta Wind 7 and the 132-MW Alta Wind 9 projects from California Highwind Power, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power, LLC.
The projects bring MidAmerican Wind’s growing renewable energy portfolio to 381 MW. The company is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables, whose parent company is Midwestern investor-owned utility MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
The projects, located near Tehachapi, Calif., will consist of a total of 100 Vestas 3-MW V90 wind turbines. Southern California Edison has entered into long-term power purchase agreements for the output of the projects, which have yet to be completed. The projects will interconnect to Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project.
Insurance product insures against missing PTC deadline
Project underwriting service provider GCube has come out with an insurance product to address at least a piece of the uncertainty surrounding the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit.
The product, the company said, covers losses incurred by wind energy developers or contractors if projects unexpectedly miss the current December 31 online deadline to qualify for the credit. The tax credit, wind power’s primary policy driver, is scheduled to expire at the end of the year unless Congress takes action and extends it. The policy uncertainty has had a negative impact on the industry, with the wind turbine supply chain already experiencing a slowdown and layoffs and the projects on hold on the development side of the industry.
With investors increasingly nervous, project capital for new developments has become progressively harder to secure, GCube noted. GCube's latest offering is designed to bolster market confidence for the projects currently under development.
GCube said its “PTC Coverage solution” will provide operators with coverage if their projects face delays that cause them to miss the December 31 deadline, and the tax credit is not renewed. Insured companies would be reimbursed for the loss of the tax credit for the 10-year period to which it applies. Project delays that will be covered by the policy include, but are not limited to, force majeure, weather delay, inability of turbine suppliers to deliver on time, contractors' delay or third-party default on supply contracts.
GCube offered similar PTC coverage in 2004, when the industry faced the same uncertainty of the PTC renewal and insured several projects under its program.
AWEA estimates that without the continuation of the PTC, up to 37,000 jobs in the US wind industry will be lost.
"The political uncertainty surrounding the continuation of the PTC has decimated U.S. wind market confidence," said John McLane, president of GCube Insurance Services, Inc. “By providing this additional security for wind energy developers, GCube looks to ensure that the market does not witness a capital flight, which would prohibit the future growth of the industry."
Boulder Wind Power the "Breakout Company of the Year" in Colorado
Boulder Wind Power, the Colorado wind power technology company led by some notable industry veterans, was selected as the “Breakout Company of the Year” by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA)
The company, which is developing a new direct-drive wind turbine generator, received the award at the 2012 Colorado Cleantech Awards Celebration held on October 22, 2012 in Denver.
Over the last year Boulder Wind Power has raised $35 million bringing total equity capital raised to $46 million since its founding in 2009, successfully proven its unique direct drive generator and power converter technologies at scale, relocated its headquarters to a 35,000 square-foot facility in Louisville, Colo., and continued to expand its team at all levels, including the addition of wind industry veteran Andy Cukurs as CEO in February.
Cukurs, the former Suzlon Wind Power CEO, joined up with Boulder Wind Power co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Sandy Butterfield, a long-time veteran of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory who most recently served as chief engineer at NREL’s National Wind Test Center.
Co-founder Matt Jore serves as CEO. Jore comes from the power tool and industrial markets and sought to use his electric motor generator design that he co-invented to wind industry applications. In total Boulder Wind Power has created 43 new jobs in Colorado.
The award for Breakout Company of the Year goes to the most promising clean-tech company in Colorado that has moved past its Series-A round of financing (the first round of financing after seed capital), has raised at least $10 million and is expanding its employee base.
“Our team of innovators has achieved several critical milestones over the past year, and we are thrilled to be recognized by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association for this progress,” said Butterfield. “As we begin developing prototype generators and power converters for leading wind turbine manufacturers around the world, we look forward to the commercialization phase ahead of us.”
Supply Chain Connections
Safeworks provides blade-access platforms for Canadian projects
Spider, a division of Seattle-based SafeWorks, LLC, provided two 360° blade access platforms to Suspendem Rope Access Inc. in order to enable that company’s blade repair and de-icing jobs on GE and REpower turbines at two different sites in Quebec, Canada.
The 360° platform provided a blade-repair access solution for several GE turbines near Saint-Ulric and access to install experimental new anti-icing technology on two REpower 2.05-MW MM92 turbines for the Wind Energy TechnoCentre.
“With Spider’s universal 360° BAP, we were able to get three crew workers on the platform at the same time to do the larger repair work and the installation of anti-icing technology on the blades,” said Bill Talbot, director of business operations at Suspendem. “Spider made it easy, with the onsite installation support, rigging expertise and simple training. We were able to get the job done on time more effectively and efficiently.”
Standards Focus: NREL to host summit; priority AWEA area
In recognition of the growing interest in developing national and international standards to ensure the uniform high quality of wind energy equipment being sold in the U.S., the National Renewable Energy laboratory will host a “Standards Summit” November 27-28 in Denver, Colo.
As the designated manager of national and international standards, AWEA standards bodies have been developing both international and national wind energy standards. The summit will facilitate discussions of such pertinent issues as U.S. position on specific standards issues, the establishment of “shadow committees” to recommend U.S. positions on specific international standards, the need for new national and international standards and the pros and cons of adopting international standards as American National Standards. Parties affected by standards are encouraged to participate in the summit. Space is limited, and registration forms must completed by November 14. Contact Darcy.Gallagher@nrel.gov at NREL for more information.
O&M people, hold the date: AWEA O&M program strategy session coming in December
Operating and maintaining the rapidly expanding fleet of wind turbines demands new and more effective strategies. Operators and owners of those turbines are being confronted with new challenges. AWEA members: what services, information or programs can your trade association—AWEA—provide that will help you and others in the O&M services industry produce reliable, clean, low-cost electricity from wind power?
AWEA will be hosting a “listening session” for its members on Wednesday afternoon, December 4, in Houston, Texas, the afternoon before the AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Southwest (see below). Please plan to be there to share your recommendations! Details to follow.
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit – Southwest
Obtain a comprehensive view of all critical aspects of wind project development in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) regions of the United States. Delve deep into the most important current and forecasted issues facing the wind energy industry in these regions. The highly successful AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit series provides a unique on-the-ground perspective, and now the series comes to the Southwest to tackle that region’s issues. Coming December 5-6 to Houston. Make plans and get more info.
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit – West
Focusing on California and surrounding states, the AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit – West provides a comprehensive and timely analysis of the hottest topics in the Western U.S. wind market. The knowledge you'll gain and relationships you'll create at this summit will strengthen your business and increase your bottom line. Plan to attend sessions that not only speak to your current business challenges, but offer realistic and actionable solutions. Coming January 14 to La Jolla, Calif. Get more info.
AWEA Wind Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar
Growth and business opportunities are showcased in the wind energy industry's premier O&M event. Regardless of a change in projected project developments—and with more turbines deployed than ever—operations and maintenance activities for existing wind energy projects will continue to be a strong and necessary component to the industry. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Wind
Operations and Maintenance Price Index, in the last four years, the cost of operating and maintaining wind turbine facilities has declined 38%, while contract durations increased 65 percent. Only the AWEA Wind Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar offers you timely and comprehensive education, up-close interaction with industry leaders, and exclusive access to a variety of industry side meetings and special events—all in beautiful Southern California. Coming January 15-16 to La Jolla, Calif. Get more info.
Volume 29, Issue 1508
|Wind Energy Weekly is a publication of the American Wind Energy Association and a service to its Members.
Upcoming AWEA Events:
AWEA Wind Energy Fall Symposium
November 13-15, 2012
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Southwest
December 5-6, 2012
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - West
January 14, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar
January 15-16, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Environmental Health & Safety Seminar
January 16-17, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Power on Capitol Hill
February 5-6, 2013
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Northwest
February 19, 2013
AWEA Wind Project Siting Seminar
Febuary 20, 2013
AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition
May 5-8, 2013
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