Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Renewable Energy News, November 17, 2010

US Tells China Fairness Needed in Green Energy Industry
The top U.S. official on energy policy says China should allow American companies to qualify for subsidies Beijing offers for renewable energy projects. There are growing complaints that China violates world trade rules by subsidizing its green energy companies, such as solar panel and wind turbine manufacturers.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says his government welcomes Chinese green energy companies because they help create American jobs.

But he says there must be a level playing field for U.S. companies in the booming Chinese green energy industry. China provides various subsidies to its green energy companies, and Washington wants those subsidies to be open to all companies working on environmentally sound energy sources.
Sunset for a Solar Subsidy?
When the economy hit the skids in 2008, one of the casualties was the federal government’s main mechanism for subsidizing renewable energy, tax credits.

These became almost useless because they were supposed to work by allowing a company with profits to reduce the tax on those profits if it has spent money on solar or wind installations. Suddenly, far fewer had profits.

So to tide the industry over the recession, Congress stipulated in the Recovery Act that for the next two years, it would give the help in the form of grants instead of tax credits.

The two years are about over but the economic woes are not, so the solar industry is asking for a two-year extension.
Virginia fast tracks wind energy project approval
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has approved a uniform permit regulation for wind energy projects, making the approval process more efficient. Here is a press release from Governor McDonnell’s office:

Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved the state’s first permit regulation for renewable energy projects, following legislation from the 2009 General Assembly that transferred permitting authority for such projects from the State Corporation Commission to DEQ.

The permit regulation, known as a “permit by rule,” seeks to balance two statutory goals: to streamline and facilitate development of small renewable energy projects in Virginia, and to protect natural resources. This regulation addresses wind energy, and other types of renewable energy projects will be the focus of future regulations.
Interior Department OKs Second Large Solar Project on Nevada Public Lands
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on November 15 approved the second large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada. The Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project, a 500-megawatt (MW) facility, will provide electricity to about 150,000 homes. The project, an initiative of Solar Millennium LLC, is expected to create 1,300 construction jobs and up to 200 permanent operation jobs. Last month, DOI green lighted the first solar energy project on U.S. public lands in Nevada, First Solar's Silver State North Solar Project, a 50-megawatt facility to be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas.
PA's Gov. Rendell announces $7.9 million in alternative-energy grants
Projects to charge electric cars, fuel vehicles that run on natural gas, and promote biofuels received a $7.9 million boost from the state Tuesday.

Gov. Rendell announced that amount in state grants for 21 projects, which he said also would create 221 jobs and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 14.5 million pounds.

Additional private funds to finish the projects boost their value to $30 million, he said.

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