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News roundup: Kansans love wind, stability for Vestas, and the State of the Union

News roundup: Kansans love wind, stability for Vestas, and the State of the Union

The weekend is approaching, and Kansans want more wind power, Vestas predicts stability in the turbine market, and the State of the Union gets set to tackle energy and climate challenges.

A poll conducted by North Star Opinion Research shows Kansas voters want more renewable energy, and in a big way:

  • “Kansas voters overwhelmingly support the [RES] energy bill that passed in 2009, and you’re looking at 73 percent support among Republicans,” said Kimberly Svaty, of the Wind Coalition. “So, very big numbers.”
  • The majority, 75 percent, said they either “strongly supported” or “somewhat supported” the law. Only 16 percent said they opposed it.
  • “Kansas is traditionally a red state, and it’s a fairly conservative red state,” Svaty said. “Interestingly enough, you’ll find not only do the voters support keeping the current renewable energy standards, they favor increasing them.”

While Congress has yet to extend the PTC, Vestas expects its turbine business to stay stable for the next few years:

  • The U.S. wind turbine market is likely to be stable this year and next even though the main government incentive to the industry has expired, Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) Chief Executive Officer Anders Runevad said.
  • The unpredictability of stop-start government incentives for wind in the U.S. has led to a boom-bust market in recent years. While the main incentive to the industry, the Production Tax Credit, or PTC, expired at the end of 2013, new criteria mean projects that were started last year can still qualify so long as they finish construction by the end of 2015.
  • The U.S. market is Vestas’s biggest historical market, accounting for almost a fifth of all deliveries through the end of 2012, according to the company’s data. Vestas has four factories there and a “very good uptick” in orders toward the end of last year means the Aarhus, Denmark-based manufacturer is hiring new workers in North America, Runevad said.

President Obama will give his take on the State of the Union next week, and energy and climate will almost certainly factor into his plan for next year:

  • Here’s a little secret about the State of the Union address that President Barack Obama will deliver next week: He’ll give Congress a long list of requests but few likely will be approved. That’s just the reality of a politically divided government.
  • Obama launched a major second-term drive to combat climate change, bypassing Congress as he proposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. The plan aims to help move the United States from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy such as wind and solar power, nuclear energy and natural gas.
  • Obama also has ordered the federal government to use renewable sources for 20 percent of its electricity by 2020 — nearly triple the current level. Moreover, the White House announced in December that John Podesta, a former chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, will join Obama’s inner circle, focusing on energy and climate change policies that Obama can advance on his own.

AWEA’s Carl Levesque highlights the Kansas poll here: 'Near unanimous support': Kansas sends a renewable-energy message to America

For more of this week’s news, check out all our roundups:

Sources:

Andy Marso, “Survey shows support for renewable energy law.” Topeka Capital-Journal. 24 January 2014.

Matthew Campbell and Alex Morales, “Vestas Sees U.S. Wind Turbine Market Stable for Two Years.” Bloomberg. 24 January 2014.

Associated Press. “State of the Union: High volume, low yield.” The Washington Post. 23 January 2014.

 

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