News roundup: PTC draws GOP support, Ohio fights to defend RPS, a record-breaking wind farm

15 May 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

The Production Tax Credit’s rollercoaster ride through the Senate is this week’s big new item, but there’s also significant activity in Ohio, where lawmakers and citizens must act to preserve the state RPS, and in Wyoming, where a developer is applying to build the largest wind farm in North America.

First, although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “filled the tree” last night, preventing Republicans from adding amendments, the bipartisan, popular EXPIRE Act still has Republican support as evidenced by comments by Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Thune (R-SD), among others.

Sen. Grassley highlighted wind energy’s major economic benefits for his home state of Iowa and offered more support for the PTC by countering Sen. Lamar Alexander’s recent claims, saying “wind energy cannot be blamed for the market conditions affecting nuclear energy.”

Sen. Thune was quoted favoring a PTC extension in an article in yesterday’s National Journal:

  • Usually when Majority Leader Harry Reid prevents Republicans from offering amendments, GOP senators block the underlying bill. At least, that was how Republicans handled the recently dispatched energy-efficiency bill, which went down earlier this week. But there are signs that even if Reid blocks amendments on legislation to extend expired tax provisions, known as tax extenders, Republicans won't prevent the bill from coming to the floor.
  • "There's probably a lot more support among Republicans for tax extenders than there perhaps was for energy efficiency," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chamber's No. 3 Republican.
  • …Republicans who sound supportive of letting the legislation move forward aren't fazed by the conservative headwinds. "Different organizations are going to come to different conclusions," Thune said. "You're gonna have an awful lot of support from the business community."

The fight against Ohio’s successful renewable portfolio standards rages on, nearing the governor’s desk, where people are still wondering whether or not he plans to veto the legislation. Plain Dealer:

  • The GOP blitzkrieg against Ohio's energy efficiency and green energy mandates has resumed, moving at a pace that could throw the hot potato into Gov. John Kasich's lap within a week.
  • The key question then, critics of the bill say: Will Kasich be willing to become the first governor to cripple both his state's renewable energy and efficiency standards, or to sit by without his veto pen while lawmakers do it?
  • Developers have spent more than $1 billion to build wind and solar projects in Ohio since the state created the renewable standard in 2008, said Dayna Baird Payne, spokeswoman for wind developers. The state has approved 10 projects and so far two have been built. And they will not likely be built during the next three years if the law is passed as written, she said.
  • With the bill headed for a full vote of the House as soon as next week, the focus is already beginning to move toward Kasich. The governor is said to have insisted on the standards automatically coming back into law in 2017 rather than an earlier version of the bill that would have left the resurrection of the mandates up to future lawmakers. Kasich has made a few vague public statements in the past that the current law perhaps goes too far and needs a review.

Well-known Colorado businessman is making moves to build what would be the largest wind farm in North America, applying for a permit with the state of Wyoming this week. Denver Business Journal:

  • A massive wind-power installation backed by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz is moving closer to reality, with an application filed with Wyoming authorities to build and operate what may be the biggest wind farm in North America.
  • The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Program wind farm is being developed by the Power Company of Wyoming LLC, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp. It involves 1,000 wind turbines capable of generating up to 3,000 megawatts of power — enough to support the electricity demands of about 900,000 homes. The wind farm is planned for Overland Trail Ranch, a checkerboard of private land also owned by Anschutz, as well as public land managed by the federal government. The BLM is reviewing specific plans for individual turbines at the ranch. The project also received a Conditional Use Permit from Carbon County in 2012.
  • Construction on the first 500 wind turbines is expected to run through 2018 and involve 945 jobs at the height of the work. The second phase of work, an additional 500 wind turbines, could start in 2019, depending on the federal approval process, according to the Wyoming industrial council. Under Wyoming law, the wind farm must get a permit from the state's Industrial Siting Division because the commercial project has more than 30 turbines.

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Michael Catalini, “Republicans Might Let Tax-Extenders Bill Move Forward.” National Journal. 14 May 2014.

John Funk, “Ohio GOP bill to freeze efficiency and green energy rules racing toward Gov. John Kasich's desk.” The Plain Dealer. 14 May 2014.

Cathy Proctor, “Anschutz-backed Wyoming wind farm, biggest in North America, files for permit.” Denver Business Journal. 14 May 2014.