Friday, February 18, 2011

Renewable Energy News, February 18, 2011

DOE Requests $3.2 Billion for Renewable Energy, Efficiency in FY 2012
President Obama unveiled on February 14 a $29.5 billion budget request for DOE covering fiscal year (FY) 2012, including $3.2 billion for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The budget request for EERE represents a 44% increase over the current FY 2010 appropriation of about $2.2 billion. The proposed budget aims to strengthen renewable energy sources, boost clean energy research, and cut expenses as the United States pursues the President's vision of generating 80% of its electricity from clean sources by 2035. Overall, the DOE budget would grow 12% over 2010 levels while cutting a number of programs and administrative costs.
Energy Funding Is Spared the Axe in the President's Budget
The release of markedly different proposed budget plans from President Obama and Republican members of the House of Representatives over the last several days marks the beginning of a legislative contest that will likely last most of the year, and that could have a major impact on funding for the development of clean energy. The House plan includes big cuts for clean-energy research, while the president's plan would in some cases double spending.

The president's plan looks ahead to fiscal year 2012, which starts in October. Congress failed to pass a fiscal year 2011 budget last year, and the government is operating on stopgap bills that keep funding at 2010 levels. The latest expires in early March, and this week, the House started debate on a bill meant to fund the government for the rest of the year.

Because of the big differences between the House bill and Obama's goals for energy funding, among other things, some experts say that it could be difficult to come to an agreement by the March deadline, making a government shutdown possible. The stakes are high on the form this bill takes, not only because the House cuts could have a big impact on the functioning of government agencies this year, but also because it will serve as a baseline for the 2012 budget negotiations.
John Kerry urges feds to OK loans for Cape Wind project
Sen. John Kerry and the state's Democratic congressional delegation are urging federal officials to approve a key portion of Cape Wind's financing package.

Kerry and all 10 Massachusetts members of the U.S. House sent a letter Thursday to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking that he speed up Cape Wind's federal loan guarantee application so the project can begin construction.

Kerry said a timely approval will help reduce the cost of electricity from the nation's first offshore wind farm, to be located in Nantucket Sound.

"This innovative project is poised to create jobs and kick start a whole new industry in the United States," Kerry wrote. "A (Department of Energy) loan guarantee would greatly help this first U.S. offshore wind project secure financing in this challenging financial market."
Conergy Unit Plans $2.7 Billion Australian Wind Farms
A unit of Conergy AG, the German solar power company, said it plans three wind farms in Australia estimated to cost as much as $2.7 billion that will proceed if the government does more to spur clean energy investment.

The wind power developments in New South Wales state proposed by Conergy’s Epuron Pty unit depend on the expansion of Australia’s renewable energy target and the introduction of a price on carbon emissions, Andrew Durran, Epuron’s executive director in Sydney, said today in a phone interview.

“There is significant uncertainty in this market and that is going to continue,” he said. “There have been too many changes at the state and federal level over more than a decade, and people funding these projects don’t forget that.”

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, has set a target of generating 20 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said lawmakers must decide this year on a way to impose a cost on burning fossil fuels such as coal to tackle climate change.
Japan plans new renewable tariffs from 2012
Japan plans to make the power sector buy electricity from a wider range of renewable energy sources than it does currently in a feed-in tariff incentive scheme from the year starting April 2012.

The government is expected to submit related bills for the new scheme during the current parliament session, aiming to make electricity low-carbon and to support a clean-energy market.

Currently, Japan's 10 power companies are required to pay 48 yen ($60 cents) per kilowatt hour for surplus solar electricity from house owners and 24 yen per kwh for the surplus from small businesses and are allowed to add on the extra costs to users evenly.
New Oregon solar panel plant getting federal help
The manufacturer of a new generation of rooftop solar panels is getting a $197 million federal loan guarantee to expand a plant being built in Oregon, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Thursday.

Chu said in a teleconference that the renewable energy loan guarantee is going to SoloPower, a Silicon Valley startup that makes thin-film solar panels.

"We want technologies invented in America to be made in America," Chu said.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said the plant in Wilsonville is bringing 1,000 construction jobs and 500 manufacturing jobs to Oregon, which has become a leader in photovoltaic solar panel production.
Georgia Power Dalton Utilities break ground on solar power site
The first phase of what will eventually be Georgia’s largest solar power system could be in operation by the end of March, officials with Georgia Power say.

Groundbreaking for the project, on Dalton Utilities’ Land Application System (LAS) in Murray County, took place Wednesday morning.

“Solar is up and coming. We are going to see more of it. I am glad this is going to be the largest facility in Georgia. It’s exciting to be part of this,” said Dalton Utilities board member Cathy Holmes.

Officials say Dalton is also home to what is currently the largest solar array in Georgia, which is owned by U.S. Floors.
Voice of the Free Press: Take a leap of faith and ride the wind
The issue at hand is whether to allow Green Mountain Power Corp. to place 21 behemoth wind turbines on the ridges of Lowell Mountain to deliver renewable energy. The answer is "yes."

On Town Meeting Day last year, the voters of Lowell said "yes" in a resounding way after the utility wooed residents with sweet talk of payments to the public till and a vow of clean energy for 20,000 homes.

Feb. 11, Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has promised to be the green governor, chimed in with the second big "yes."

The Kingdom Community Wind project is before the Vermont Public Service Board for final approval.

Green Mountain Power waits for a third and final "yes."

It would be virtually impossible for the governor to turn his back on this project.
Vermont delegation gets perfect green score
Vermont's two U.S. senators and one congressman have received the nation's only perfect score for a state congressional delegation from a national environmental group.

The League of Conservation Voters says Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch each received a perfect score of 100 on six Senate votes and nine House votes taken last year on issues involving the environment.

They league says those issues ranged from clean energy to public health protections to wildlife conservation.

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