News roundup: VA, MA mayors advocate for wind incentives, Buffett doubles down on renewables, Montana clean energy jobs

11 June 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

In today’s news roundup, mayors from two distant states advocate for more offshore development, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway prepares to go all-in on clean power, and a new report showcases Montana’s clean energy jobs potential.

There’s nothing partisan about renewing important tax incentives like the PTC and ITC, say Mayors Jon Mitchell and Will Sessoms of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Hill:

  • At a time when Congress needs to demonstrate to the American people that it can still get important things done, it has a unique opportunity to do exactly that by renewing its commitment to critical wind energy incentives. We urge the Senate to pass its package of tax incentives that includes key credits for renewable energy. In doing so, Congress can show it is still focused on priorities that matter most to the public—encouraging the creation of good-paying jobs and spurring private sector investment.
  • …[O]ur local economies, and those of other communities from coast to coast, are primed to become the beneficiaries of thousands of new jobs from a new national renewable energy industry that has the capacity to power millions of homes – offshore wind.
  • In short, New Bedford is doing everything it can to position itself as an ideal location for the industry to build its future. What it needs is a federal government partner. Virginia Beach is likewise seizing the offshore wind opportunity. The Navy has given its assurance that properly-placed turbines can go hand-in-hand with critical military operations off the coast.
  • Congress, let’s put our cities to work building a cleaner future, and let’s start today.

Warren Buffett’s already shown his acumen when it comes to investing in clean resources like wind power, and it appears he’s prepared to invest even more into these increasingly affordable power sources. Bloomberg:

  • Warren Buffett briefly lost track of how many billions of dollars his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) is spending to build wind and solar power in the U.S. That didn’t stop him from vowing to double the outlay. Describing the company’s increasing investment in renewable energy at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas yesterday, Buffett had to rely on a deputy, Greg Abel, to remind him just how much they’d committed: $15 billion. Without missing a beat, Buffett responded: “There’s another $15 billion ready to go, as far as I’m concerned.”
  • The [energy holdings] unit, now called Berkshire Hathaway Energy, operates electric grids in the U.K., natural gas pipelines that stretch from the Great Lakes to Texas and electric utilities in states including Oregon and Nevada. Its renewable investments include wind farms in Iowa and Wyoming, as well as solar farms in California and Arizona. Unlike other utility-holding companies, Berkshire Hathaway Energy retains all of its earnings. That probably will continue, Buffett said yesterday, estimating that the unit could reinvest about $30 billion into its business in the next decade.
  • “We’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see,” he said. “We’ll just keep moving.”

Montana has a world-class wind resource, and – aided by newly proposed limits on carbon pollution – the state could stand to gain thousands of jobs in the clean energy supply chain. Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

  • On Monday, Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics released a report that calculated the renewable energy sector could create as many as 4,000 new jobs in Montana, if the recent Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for power plants are enacted.
  • “Montana has significant potential for energy efficiency and there's a lot to be done. Energy efficiency is the cheapest resource available, and it reduces the generation required to serve costumers,” said report author Tyler Comings. “But with tremendous wind resources, Montana also has significant renewable energy potential.”
  • In Montana, wind energy is projected to provide more than three-quarters of the jobs, partly because some wind facilities, such as those at Judith Gap, are already up-and-running and partly because wind turbines require not just installation but long-term maintenance.
  • Prior to 2005, less than half of 1 percent of Montana's energy production came from renewable sources other than hydropower. Now it's up to 5 percent. But the EPA guidelines should give renewable power a boost. Marty Wilde, WINData CEO out of Great Falls, thinks that percentage will take off in the next five to 10 years, because unlike other states, Montana has a huge wind resource that is available when the most power is needed during the winter.

Be sure to check out Monday’s news roundup: Newspapers editorialize in favor of proposed limit on carbon pollution.

Sources:

Jon Mitchell and Will Sessoms, “Nothing partisan about renewing American wind power incentives.” The Hill. 10 June 2014.

Noah Buhayar and Jim Polson, “Buffett Ready to Double $15 Billion Solar, Wind Bet.” Bloomberg. 10 June 2014.

Laura Lundquist, “Report: Renewable energy poised to bring thousands of jobs.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. 9 June 2014.