The Dernogalizer

November 29, 2010

Give me a break Washington Post!

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:46 am
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Look at that Solar Plant Destroying the Environment!

There’s a recently posted article on the Washington Post about how $2 billion of the stimulus money the Obama Administration doled out avoided review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which basically means they avoided having to get a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement(EIS).  Now, if this money was given out to projects with a net negative impact on pollution and the environment, I would join in on the criticism, but give me a break!  Just looking at the examples the Washington Post uses makes it crystal clear to me why these projects received exemptions.  They list a smart-grid update, a wind farm project, a biofuel from algae project.  All are the kinds of projects we need to be investing in to reduce our impact on the environment.  We need a trillion more dollars for projects like these, and we need them fast not just because of jobs, but because the world needs to deploy a massive amount of clean energy technology in order to avoid catastrophic global warming.  The Obama Administration sums it up well…

“Administration officials say the exemptions were essential to accelerate more than $30 billion in stimulus-funded clean-energy projects through the Energy Department, which already have created 35,000 jobs. In the long run, they add, the exempted activities will boost energy efficiency and curb pollution.

It makes complete sense to me that there should be different environmental standards for a wind farm than a coal plant.

The other minor-story the Post reports on is that some of the companies doing these green projects and received these exemptions aren’t exactly saints in the environmental arena.  Now, if I were the guy in chance doling out grants for projects, I would choose a company with a clean record over one with a dirty one, but the unfortunate reality is that most of these companies  have dirty records.  Find me a green oil company that I can give an algae biofuel grant for.  There are none!  I should add that I ultimately want the dirty companies to start doing clean energy projects.  That’s what environmental activists rightfully spend a lot of time doing, protesting dirty investments by corporations while pressuring them to make clean ones.  So if Duke Energy has a history of building coal plants, and it decides it wants to build a wind farm, I’m not going to throw a fit!  Heck, I’ll tell them to build two.

What we don’t need is more hyped up negative stories to the public about how clean energy projects are dodging environmental regulations intended for dirty ones.

November 20, 2009

Cash for Caulkers on the Table?

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:29 pm
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The NY Times had an article a couple of days ago about a now job creating measure that is receiving some attention from the Obama Administration.  It’s called “Cash for Caulkers” which is fancy for home weatherization.  Let’s hope it ends up as a policy.  Could be the next stimulus.

So White House officials are looking at creating a new version of cash for clunkers— this time for home weatherization.

John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and former President Bill Clinton have separately suggested versions of the idea to the White House. Mr. Doerr calls his proposal, which would give households money to pay for weatherization projects, “cash for caulkers.” Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, told me, “It’s one of the top things he’s looking at.”

“The idea has a lot to recommend it. The housing bust has idled contractors and construction workers, who could be put to work insulating homes and caulking air leaks. Many households, meanwhile, would save substantial money — not to mention help the climate — by weatherizing their homes, research by McKinsey & Company has shown. All in all, a cash-for-caulkers program seems like a promising part of the jobs program for 2010 that Mr. Obama has suggested he is planning.”

“Mr. Doerr, who sits on a board of outside economic advisers to Mr. Obama that is working on a formal cash-for-caulkers proposal, told me that his goal was to “keep it really simple so we can do it really fast.”

The Doerr plan would cost $23 billion over two years. Most of the money would go for incentive payments, generally $2,000 to $4,000, for weatherization projects. The homeowner would always have to pay at least 50 percent of the project’s total cost. About $3 billion would be set aside for retailers and contractors in the hope that they would promote the program, much as car dealerships promoted cash for clunkers. (Mr. Doerr says he owns no stake in any weatherization companies.)”

“And unlike many other climate-friendly policies, it would not cost money over the long term. Done right, cash for caulkers would be precisely the kind of stimulus that makes the most sense: spending money now to save money later.”

January 14, 2009

Need Refundable Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:00 am
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Back when the bailout was passed, attached to it was extensions of tax credits for wind and solar companies. The credits create a much greater incentive for the production of renewable energy. The problem through is that in this tough economic period, most companies are not making money. In their current state, the tax credits only get refunded to the companies if they are turning a profit. Therefore, since many are currently not they are not seeing the benefit of the tax credit. This is hurting their bottom line and undercutting demand for alternative energy projects. Congress should make the tax credits refundable in the stimulus package so that they work the way they were intended to.

Here is a statement below by the wind and solar industries explaining why they need the credit to be made refundable


January 09, 2009

Industry Leaders: Obama, Congress Should Make Tax Incentives Refundable

Washington, D.C. – The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today reported that both wind and solar energy enjoyed record-breaking years in 2008, but face a dramatic reduction in 2009 if Congress and the incoming Administration do not take swift action to help make renewable tax incentives work in today’s difficult economy.

AWEA CEO Denise Bode and SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch both cited the need to make the ITC and PTC refundable to preserve their effectiveness in the current economic climate and maintain the very strong growth of both industries.

“We applaud President-elect Obama’s aggressive goal of doubling the production of alternative energy in the next three years. Wind energy is ready to do its part, but we face a major obstacle in this economic downturn,” Bode said. “We can continue to grow through this difficult period only if the new Administration and the 111th Congress act immediately to make renewable tax incentives refundable so they can work as they are intended to – even in the current financial context. This is a critical first step to building the new, clean energy economy.”

“Congress must use the stimulus bill to move us away from our backwards-looking, recession-burdened economy and toward a new-era of recovery and prosperity with solar and wind leading the way. Our industries have become powerful economic engines in the U.S., each year creating tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in economic investment. And we have the potential to put millions more Americans back to work. But due to the recession, projects are now being put on hold, factories are closing and workers face potential layoffs unless Congress refines the tax credits now so they work as originally intended,” said Resch.

AWEA estimates that last year the wind industry installed a record 7,500 megawatts of capacity in the U.S., bringing total wind capacity in the U.S. to about 24,000 MW. The solar industry is estimated to have nearly doubled growth of solar PV installations in 2008. The California Solar Initiative reported the growth of photovoltaic installations doubled in 2008 over 2007.

On October 3, Congress passed an extension of the ITC and PTC tax credits. Bode and Resch noted that current economic conditions substantially reduce the effectiveness of the tax credits since most companies and individual tax filers expect lower tax liabilities. Making the tax credit refundable restores the incentives’ value. Making renewable tax credits refundable, like those for biodiesel and other alternative transportation fuels, is essential to ensuring continued wind and solar industry growth in 2009 and 2010.

In 2007 and 2008, more than 50 wind energy manufacturing facilities were opened, expanded or announced in the U.S., adding 14,000 employees. More than half of those jobs were added in 2008, even as the overall U.S. economy was faltering.

The solar energy industry employs more than 80,000 people in the U.S. and created more than 15,000 jobs in the last two years. According to Navigant Consulting, the solar energy sector alone will create 440,000 permanent jobs and spur 325 billion in private investment by 2016 with the ITC in place.

“By working together to repair this critical policy, we can put Americans back to work, help achieve national energy security and start down a path that will make America a leader in renewable energy manufacturing and development,” added Bode.

“The American public overwhelmingly supports renewable energy and these policies. Our elected leaders have an opportunity to support renewable energy in the stimulus bill that will keep these vitally important industries growing in the U.S.,” said Resch.

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