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Renewable Energy News
Renewable Energy Tax Credit Renewed, Debate Isn't Over
Flying under the radar in the run-up to the "fiscal cliff" was the strenuous lobbying efforts for and against extending the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which was to expire Dec. 31. Despite general pessimism about its extension by supporters of renewable energy, the last-minute deal cut by Congress and President Obama extended the PTC for another year.
While getting a last second pardon, the debate about the PTC will extend into 2013 and it is likely that Congress will revisit what incentives the government should provide for renewable energy. Briefly, the PTC provides a corporate tax credit for the establishment of eligible renewable energy projects. Wind energy, solar power, fuel cells, geothermal systems and combined heat and power systems are examples of eligible projects. The tax credit is available to a taxpayer who begins to construct the system during an eligible year (now extended to Dec. 31, 2013) and puts it into use.
The tax credit is most advantageous for wind power, providing a credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy produced. Other technologies receive a credit of 1.1 cents per kWh. The more recent incentives have created a boom for wind and solar in particular, which has coincided with the real costs of those technologies being reduced. In addition, jobs related to manufacture, construction and maintenance of alternative technologies have boomed throughout this time period. For example, the Michigan Manufacturers Association reported in September 2012 that alternative energy production jobs represented 4.1 percent of all manufacturing jobs in Michigan, employing 20,700 people. In 2012, the PTC supported the installation of 12,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity through wind alone. ...by Saulius Mikalonius from Crains Detroit Business Journal
Ontario Eliminating Coal as Electric Power
Word that Ontario is nearing its long-promised goal of eliminating coal-fired power plants has gotten a lot of play outside the province in scientific, environmental and power industry publications. Premier Dalton McGuinty last week trumpeted the fact that by the end of this year the last two large-scale coal-fired generating plants will close, leaving only a small backup facility in Thunder Bay operating until the end of 2014.
"Shutting down the last coal plants in Southern Ontario will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the province $95 million," the premier's office said in a statement. Scientific American reported the closures will make Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to shutter its entire fleet of coal-fired power plants. The two units scheduled to close by the end of this year are the Lambton and Nanticoke generating stations, the latter one of the biggest coal-fired plants in the world, generating 4,000 megawatts of electricity, Scientific American noted. The Ottawa Citizen reported last year that coal, which a decade ago accounted for a quarter of Ontario's electricity, now generates only 2.8 per cent of the total. It's now exceeded by wind power, which provides three per cent. The shift "demonstrates how far we’ve come in terms of the changes to the supply mix," said Martine Holmsen, spokeswoman for Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator. "It really represents a turning point in this transition." ...by Steve Mertl from the Daily Brew: Yahoo News
White Sands Missile Range home to Army's largest Solar Farm
White Sands Missile Range held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the largest Army solar farm Wednesday morning at the Frontier Club on post. The 42 acre solar farm can produce up to about 10 million kilowatt hours of clean energy translating into enough power for 3700 homes. "We're looking forward to being a good example of what right looks like and being able to reap the benefits this initiative will bring to us," said Commanding General Gwen Bingham.
The 4 megawatt solar farm features 774 solar clusterS with 20 solar panels per cluster. The project did not cost the taxpayers any money to build because the range partnered with Siemens USA who will sell the power produced to the range at a fixed rate for 25 years. The solar plant will produce about 10 percent to the installation's total demand, but will save an estimated $930,000. "That's a significant cost saving for us," Bingham said. "Particularly now when we have to tighten up our belt in terms of resources."
The plant is designed to be as efficient as possible with the solar clusters rotating from east to west throughout the day, catching as much sun as possible. With less of a reliance on fossil fuels, the plant will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 7.5 tons, the equivalent of planting 188,000 trees. ...from KTSM News
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