News roundup: AWEA's Tom Kiernan joins NWF's Larry Schweiger in op-ed, Obama acts on climate, and the world's largest wind turbine comes online

29 January 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

It’s Wednesday, and AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan and NWF President and CEO Larry Schweiger urge Congress to extend the PTC, the State of the Union lays out Obama’s climate & energy policy, and Vestas activates the world’s largest wind turbine.

The Hill is featuring an op-ed by Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s CEO, and Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, who both think Congress should act quickly to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power:

  • The Production Tax Credit (PTC), a tax incentive that has been available to wind energy and many other technologies, has been a bipartisan success story and has made a major difference in the fight against climate change. The tax credit has attracted up to $25 billion in private investment in a single year to the U.S. economy, spurring economic development in rural areas that need it the most. With the PTC in place, wind power has grown rapidly and can now power more than 15 million American homes.
  • Climate change not only threatens people, it’s the single biggest threat to America’s wildlife, and a menace to our recreation and outdoor economy. Last summer, thousands of Alaskan salmon and trout were killed during a record-breaking heat wave. Many of America’s treasured big-game species, like moose, black bears and caribou, are seriously challenged by climate change, and the situation will only get worse if we don’t act to reduce carbon pollution.
  • Responsibly sited land-based and offshore wind power is something a wide majority of Americans can feel good about, and polls show they already do. It diversifies our electricity supply and hedges against rising prices, while America’s wildlife benefits from a cleaner environment and American job seekers get sent back to work.

The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog says Obama is ready to act on climate change… whether Congress wants to or not:

  • During President Obama’s speech tonight, he announced many different ways he would use the executive branch to pursue strong action on climate change. For longtime readers, this is old hat by now; I’ve been over how the EPA can use its pollution authority to cut back on carbon emissions several times. The policy framework hasn’t changed.
  • President Obama intends to finish what he has started. To a first approximation, climate change is about coal. The oldest and filthiest coal-fired power plants are already being retired, squeezed by cheap natural gas and ever-cheaper renewables on one side, and the EPA on the other. 
  • In any case, the bottom line is clear: This president intends to make use of his final years in office to make a serious dent in climate emissions. As he said during the address: “When our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”
  • Note: President Obama’s State of the Union transcript can be read here. The President did voice his support for “smart” tax policy for the fuels America needs more of today: “Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.”

ThinkProgress reports on Vestas, who has just brought online their prototype V164-8.0 MW turbine – the largest ever built:

  • On Tuesday the world’s largest and most powerful wind turbine swung into gear at the Danish National Test Centre for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild. The prototype V164-8.0 MW wind turbine is 720 feet tall, has 260-foot blades, and can generate 8 megawatts of power — enough to supply electricity for 7,500 average European households or about 3,000 American households.
  • “We have now completed the production, testing, and installation of the V164-8.0 MW as planned, thanks to the team’s intense effort during a time when Vestas has reduced its investments and lowered fixed costs,” Anders Vedel, Chief Technology Officer for Vestas, said. “We now look forward to evaluating the turbine’s performance on site.”
  • Vestas is Europe’s second leading wind turbine manufacturer, after Siemens, a German company. As of last year, Vestas had installed 27 percent of Europe’s offshore wind turbines, or 547, compared to Siemens’ 1,249, or 60 percent.

Be sure to check out all this week’s news roundups:

Sources:

Tom Kiernan and Larry Schweiger, “Clean energy needs Congress’s support, not its cold shoulder.” The Hill. 28 January 2014.

Ryan Cooper, “In the State of the Union, Obama pledges strong action on climate.” The Washington Post Blogs. 28 January 2014.

Ari Phillips, “World’s Largest Wind Turbine Starts Generating Power For First Time.” ThinkProgress. 28 January 2014.