Thursday, June 17, 2010

Renewable Energy News, June 18, 2010

Uncle Sam, Solar Landlord, Is Under Fire - Green Blog -

The nation’s biggest landlord, the United States government, has set the rent it will charge developers who build solar power plants on federal land, and some prospective tenants are not happy.

Solar developers will actually pay two fees – the lease for the land along with what the Bureau of Land Management calls a “megawatt capacity fee” based on how much electricity a project generates.

“Since we don’t have authority to collect royalties for wind and solar projects, we had to come up with a methodology to convert that electrical generation into an upfront rent payment,” Ray Brady, manager of the bureau’s renewable energy team, said in an interview.

But potential developers see a disparity. “The proposed B.L.M. rental fees are in many cases two times higher than market rates for private land,” Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in an e-mail message. “The B.L.M. must collect ‘fair market value’ from developers, but this seems to go beyond that threshold.”

Williamstown board OKs solar farm | The Burlington Free Press | Burlington, Vermont
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Officials in Williamstown have given their approval to a plan to build what would become the state's largest solar farm on a site just off Interstate 89.

The Williamstown Selectboard gave a waiver for the proposal for a 2.1 megawatt solar farm in hopes it would expedite the application process of a Massachusetts company to install nearly 9,000 solar panels on 744 arrays.
U.S. climate bill to shape U.N. talks -
WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Worldwide hopes for a comprehensive climate protection treaty hinge on whether U.S. President Barack Obama can push through an ambitious U.S. climate bill.

At least that's what observers to the U.N. climate negotiations say.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a former Danish climate minister and chairwoman of the Copenhagen climate summit, last month said it was key that the United States legally commits itself to greenhouse gas emissions caps.

"The United States needs to bring in the law," she said of the climate and clean energy bill currently stalling in the Senate. Quickly growing economies like India and China are waiting on Washington to live up to its rhetoric before they are willing to take their own steps, Hedegaard added.
US Senators Propose Extending Renewable-Energy Grant Program -
SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)--A group of U.S. Senators Tuesday proposed extending a government program that provides cash grants to renewable energy developers in lieu of tax credits, a program developers have said is crucial to keeping the market afloat.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and four other Democratic senators proposed extending the renewable tax-credit Treasury grant program another two years, through 2012, as part of a $140 billion bill to extend federal unemployment aid and renew a host of expired tax breaks.

The renewable energy proposal, in the form of an amendment to the "tax extender" bill, would create at least 65,000 jobs in the solar power industry and tens of thousands of jobs in other sectors, Cantwell and Feinstein said.

"The clean energy sector is the next frontier in jobs creation, so we need to ensure that developers can access financing to launch wind, solar and geothermal projects and put people to work," Feinstein said in a statement.
White House Seeks to Bolster Role in Senate Climate Talks -
The White House is trying to assert its influence over the Senate climate debate after President Obama's nationwide energy address left some questioning how aggressively the president will push for comprehensive climate and energy legislation.

Obama made calls yesterday morning to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), both sponsors of competing Senate energy bills, and the White House announced plans to host a bipartisan group of senators next week to discuss the path forward on an energy package.
Democrats May Aid Renewable Energy in Oil Spill Bill (Update1) - BusinessWeek
Senate Democrats will debate today whether a bill that responds to BP Plc’s oil spill should benefit renewable energy sources and limit greenhouse gases.

The closed-door meeting will gauge Democratic support for these proposals before President Barack Obama brings Republicans into talks on energy legislation next week at the White House.
N.J. bill backs offshore wind development | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/17/2010
New Jersey has become a national leader in solar power with the help of a market-based incentive program. Legislative leaders now want to expand the program to include offshore wind projects in hopes of making the state a destination for developers.

No offshore wind turbines yet exist in the United States, but states are in a race to be the first and biggest producers.

A bill sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) and Minority Leader Thomas H. Kean Jr. (R., Union) would provide developers of New Jersey projects guaranteed revenue with which to secure financing.

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