Energy and Global Warming News for September 1: Big Money Returns to Wind Power

Chalk up another one for the Obama-Democratic stimulus (see “EIA projects wind at 5% of U.S. electricity in 2012, all renewables at 14%, thanks to Obama stimulus!“).

[wind farms and wall street]

WSJ:  Wind Farms Set Wall Street Aflutter

After nearly a six-month lull, Wall Street is getting back into the business of financing new wind farms.

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. have invested $100 million each to finance separate wind farms this month, taking advantage of a brand-new federal program that is paying substantial cash grants to help cover the cost of renewable energy investments.

Bankers say this is the beginning of an active pipeline of new wind-farm financing, as well as investment in large solar installations and geothermal facilities. Project developers and Wall Street appear to be viewing the federal cash grant program as such a good deal, industry experts say, it may grow much larger than its Washington creators expected….

Under the program, the government will give a cash rebate for 30% of the cost of building a renewable-energy facility, awarded 60 days after an application is approved. Investors are also given valuable accelerated depreciation deductions, which help offset taxes. Energy and Treasury departments have said they expect to spend $3 billion on the program, which started July 31 and runs through the end of 2010, and was part of the stimulus bill. But a government spokesman says requests for $800 million in grants were submitted during the first four weeks.

Some Wall Street bankers say they expect applications to grow to $10 billion, based on projected wind-power installations….

The strong interest echoes the $3 billion cash-for-clunkers program that provided incentives to trade in older, lower-gas mileage cars, and which was quickly overwhelmed by demand….

But unlike the popular cash-for-clunkers programs, there is no spending cap on the renewable energy grants, and the government has committed to spending as much as is needed to keep renewable-energy investments flowing….

Most of the investments are expected to go to wind projects, because the industry is more mature and in a better position to capture limited funds. “I would not be surprised if the program is ridiculously successful and spurs a huge amount of development,” says Liz Salerno, director of industry analysis for the American Wind Energy Association….

It’s not just Wall Street banks that are attracted. Iberdrola SA, a Spanish company that is the world leader in renewable energy by capacity installed, said in July that it expects to tap $500 million in cash grants for U.S. wind projects. “We’ve been in contact with the Treasury Department and we think the $3 billion is a minimum-type number,” said Ralph Curry, chief executive of Iberdrola’s U.S. business unit….

“If we have a quick recovery and we’re going like gangbusters again, you could easily get to $10 billion in two years,” says Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners LLC, a Washington consultant.

Venture Firm’s ‘Green’ Funds Top $1 Billion

Vinod Khosla, the prominent venture capitalist who has been investing hundreds of millions of his own dollars in green technology companies for the last several years, will now invest other people’s money, too, The New York Times’s Claire Cain Miller reported.

Khosla Ventures, the firm he founded in 2004 after leaving Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is announcing Tuesday that it has raised $1.1 billion in two funds that will invest in green technology and information technology start-ups.

Green Forest Works for Appalachia: A Win-Win-Win for Jobs, Forests, and Birds

In a June 2009 entry to the Huffington Post, Jeff Biggers listed ten reasons why President Obama, CEQ chief Nancy Sutley, and EPA head Lisa Jackson must visit Appalachia and launch a war for green jobs.If this Administration truly wants to win the hearts and minds of the region’s residents, environmentalists, and green economists in Appalachia, they would do well to take a close look at a proposal called Green Forest Works for Appalachia.

The Appalachian region is a land of contrasts, abounding with natural resources, yet troubled by poverty and slow economic growth. Appalachian forests support some of the highest biological diversity in the world’s temperate region, including a rich variety of migratory songbirds, but extraction of the area’s abundant coal reserves has dramatically altered the landscape. With the Green Forest Works for Appalachia program, the Obama Administration now has an opportunity to address economic, environmental, and ecological challenges simultaneously.

Building a Green Economy: Green Jobs, Transmission Lines & Microgrids

Imperial County, tucked away in the southeastern corner of California, has long suffered from perennial unemployment rates exceeding 20 percent. Yet Imperial County is also home to the “crown jewel” of all geothermal steam resources in the U.S., making it a prime spot to showcase how renewable energy can help spur the new green economy so enthusiastically touted by the Obama Administration.

Late December, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the construction of the $1.9 billion Sunrise PowerLink transmission line, which could send clean electricity from Imperial County to San Diego. However, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the California Supreme Court last January to review this decision, citing San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) refusal to guarantee that the transmission project would be reserved exclusively for renewable energy resources.

SCENARIOS: Fate of climate change bill in Congress

The fate of U.S. climate control legislation is in the hands of the Senate where it faces an uphill climb, as a year-end international meeting in Copenhagen on coordinated action to slow global warming looms.

A Senate bill has not even been introduced yet and Democratic backers say it could be late September before one emerges. Nonetheless, Democratic leaders still hope for a vote this year in the Senate.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of a bill to mandate reductions in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Here are some scenarios on how the battle in Congress over this part of President Barack Obama’s policy agenda could play out in coming months:

Grid Lock: New Transmission Lines Key for Clean Energy-And Coal

Environmentalists are already hoping that the Senate tackles both energy and climate change this fall, rather than simply dealing with the clean energy bits (which are popular) and punting on the climate-change stuff (which isn’t so popular).

Here’s another reason greens will want to make sure they go together. Beefing up the nation’s electricity-transmission system to make renewable energy a reality could backfire and make coal an even more widespread source of electricity””unless carbon emissions are reined in at the same time. That’s one of the findings from a new report from Duke University’s Climate Change Policy Partnership, “Electrical Transmission: Barriers and Policy Solutions.”

Fuel Fight: The Battle over Low-Carbon Fuel Standards

How fierce is the energy debate getting? Some groups are launching ad campaigns against new energy rules that aren’t even part of the climate package sitting on the Hill.

The Consumer Energy Alliance-made up of more than 100 groups including Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, Peabody, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-today kicks off an ad campaign in a handful of states “to educate American consumers on economic and national security impacts associated with a national Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).”

Gov. unveils new green job training program

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to Los Angeles on Monday to announce a new $75-million “clean energy workforce training program,” which he said would help train more than 20,000 workers for green-sector jobs.

US Agriculture Interests Split Over Energy Bill

Legislation to confront climate change could be an economic godsend to farmers and ranchers. Or it could be an enormous financial burden. It depends on whom you ask, and not even farmers and ranchers agree on the matter.

It depends on whom you ask, and not even farmers and ranchers agree on the matter.

Those who are against the bill say it would lead to skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer costs, cutting into farmers’ and ranchers’ already unpredictable profits. Those who support it contend any losses would be more than made up for through a provision that would allow companies to meet their pollution targets by investing in offset projects, such as farms that capture methane or plant trees.

9 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for September 1: Big Money Returns to Wind Power

  1. Erik Schimek says:

    “… there is no spending cap on the renewable energy grants, and the government has committed to spending as much as is needed to keep renewable-energy investments flowing …”

    I wonder how this got through Congress. It seems almost … dare I say it? Smart.

  2. pete best says:

    Its sounds amazing to me here in the UK. Go USA!!!!

  3. Louise Rubacky says:

    Great piece. Who made the photo? It’s terrific.

    [JR: Came from the WSJ.]

  4. Chris says:

    We Energies announces $250 million biomass plant near Wausau

    Rothschild — We Energies and Domtar Corp. on Tuesday announced plans to build a $250 million, 50-megawatt power plant burning wood, waste wood and sawdust.

    The project would help the Milwaukee utility comply with the state’s renewable power mandate. The power plant would generate enough power to supply 40,000 homes.

    As part of a settlement of a lawsuit involving construction of the Oak Creek power plant, We Energies had committed to proposing to build a 50-megawatt biomass power plant by next summer. The settlement resolved lawsuits by Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin challenging the legality of a water intake structure the utility built in Lake Michigan to serve the Oak Creek power plants scheduled to start running by the end of the year.

    The power plant project will help Domtar’s Rothschild paper mill virtually eliminate its use of fossil fuels.

    We Energies said it plans to file an application with state regulators for the project early next year. If approved, the project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2013.

  5. Jay Turner says:

    It would be terrific if we could make coal irrelevant in Appalachia by promoting green jobs. If enough local communities saw the value in clean energy, that could break the death-grip that the coal industry has on parts of rural America. Once the cycle of fear is ended, local support for dirty energy will fade away.

    To quote one of Joe’s earlier posts: “The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States. Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report… from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, coal mining employs about 81,000 workers.”

    That’s a development that needs to be encouraged, especially in places where coal is king.

  6. Phillip Huggan says:

    Banks investing in a labour intensive supply chain, creating jobs. That’s different from the past two year narrative.

  7. paulm says:

    I guess this means its probably 2012 when one takes in to account the underestimate delta which seems to be present in these reports.

    Summer sea ice likely to disappear in the Arctic by 2015

  8. riverat says:

    Maybe West Virgina can put wind turbines on the decapitated mountains from coal mining. It would provide jobs and reduce the need for coal.

  9. pete says:

    California Unemployment Situation in Heat Map form:
    here is a map of California Unemployment in July 2009 (BLS data)

    versus California Unemployment Levels 1 year ago