News roundup: PTC comes to Senate Finance, Americans prefer renewables, and a sneak peek into Facebook's Iowa datacenter

3 April 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

In today’s news, the Production Tax Credit is looking for inclusion in the Senate's extenders legislation, Gallup says Americans want more clean energy, and Facebook gives Iowans a sneak peek into its new wind-powered datacenter.

The Production Tax Credit is a bipartisan success story for American wind power, and in today’s Senate Finance Committee, it is looking for inclusion in the committee’s extenders package:

  • Although the initial draft does not include production tax credits (PTC) for wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and other renewable power sources, Senate lawmakers and officials representing the wind industry expected the measure to be included when the committee debates the bill today. The draft included measures that largely were not controversial.
  • [South Dakota Senator Tim] Johnson said if the tax credit is not included in the bill, he would attempt to get it included later on the Senate floor. “The uncertainty surrounding the wind production tax credit has hurt the wind industry in South Dakota. We have seen planned projects canceled and periods of layoffs in the industry due to the lack of long-term policy certainty,” Johnson said. “The wind PTC is too important to South Dakota’s energy and manufacturing sectors to give up the fight now.”
  • Peter Kelley, vice president of public affairs with the American Wind Energy Association, said he is optimistic the wind credit will be added by the Senate committee. “Ultimately, on both sides of the aisle, they know this is a must-have because it means jobs and economic development back home,” he said.
  • The American Wind Energy Association said the bipartisan support for wind energy reflects that all 50 states have either utility-scale wind farms or factories, representing 70 percent of congressional districts.

A new poll from Gallup is reporting that Americans favor energy conservation and clean energy sources as the best ways to tackle our energy challenges:

  • Americans still prefer energy conservation over production. After dwindling in recent years, Americans' long-standing preference for emphasizing conservation over production in U.S. energy policy has rebounded, now matching levels seen in prior years. Currently 57% of Americans say the U.S. should emphasize conservation in its approach to solve the nation's energy problems, up from 51% in 2013 and 48% in 2011. About one-third in the U.S. now favor greater emphasis on energy production as the solution.
  • A separate question in the survey, asked of a different subset of respondents, finds 64% of Americans prefer an emphasis on the development of alternative energy production, such as wind and solar power, to an emphasis on production of traditional fossil fuels. That is up from 59% in 2013.
  • Americans' collective interest in alternative energy sources is reinforced by the responses to a question asking Americans if they favor or oppose nine specific proposals dealing with energy and the environment. Two-thirds of Americans favor increased government spending to develop solar and wind power, and spending more to develop alternative fuels for cars has the same level of support.

Facebook is building a wind-powered datacenter in Iowa, where it has posted a few photos showing the new facility’s construction progress:

  • "We're making great progress and are right on track with the construction of our new data center in Altoona. We expect to begin serving user traffic in early 2015," reads the new post from Facebook. You can see the new photos posted here.
  • In April 2013, Facebook announced plans to build the 476,000-square foot building just off Northeast 56th Street. The finished facility will be rows and rows and rows of computer servers.
  • The center will be powered by renewable energy from wind turbines near Wellsburg, which is about 95 northeast of the Des Moines metro area. Facebook officials said the availability of wind energy was one of the factors in selecting Altoona for the company's data center.

Have a look at guest blogger Jason Dedrick’s post: A new way to visualize the wind energy tax credit.

And be sure to check out all this week’s roundups:

Sources:

Christopher Doering, “Wind tax credit renewal showing signs of life in Congress.” Argus Leader. 2 April 2014.

Brendan Moore and Stafford Nichols, “Americans Still Favor Energy Conservation Over Production.” Gallup Politics. 3 April 2014.

Tad Anderson, “Facebook provides sneak peek inside new Iowa center.” KCCI. 2 April 2014.