Governor Rick Snyder wanted to overhaul the state’s energy bills in 2015, but encountered fierce opposition. Opponents of Senate Bill 438 (SB 438) believed it puts corporate interests above the needs of residents. Proponents describe it as a small step towards lowering electricity costs, creating jobs and improving public health. Thanks to the Governor’s direct intervention, the legislators found a compromise. Thursday Michigan passed laws requiring 15% renewables by 2021.
Two thirds of US Installations were from the Wind Sector in October. Five wind farms, with a cumulative capacity of 547 MW, went online. There were also 102 MW of Biomass and 31 of utility scale solar energy. This is becoming a familiar picture, with renewable sources accounting for the most added generation during eight months so far this year. The only fossil fuel making strong advances is natural gas, which had 132 MW added ytd. The have been no new coal plants and only limited additions in the oil and nuclear sectors. The question, of course, is what will happen after the Republicans take control of Congress in January?
The “Tea Party” has been holding back approval of an $85 billion tax package since December, because it includes a $13 billion production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy. They claim that after “tens of billions of tax-payer dollars,” it is time to end “this sweetheart deal.” That’s an interesting sentiment, coming from people who apparently have no objection to letting oil producers continue to use “tens of billions of tax-payer dollars” every year. A broad spectrum of business leaders, and the governors of at least four states, are concerned about the impact delaying the PTC has had, and is having, on their economies. There is also opposition to wind farms from some environmentalists and many of the communities where they have been installed. The Production Tax Credit is a modern day Gordian knot.
People have been talking about the Ocotillo Wind Farm’s poor performance almost as long as the project has been online. One of the most devastating critics has been Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley, who documented the scarcity of wind in a long series of videos. The existence of this chronology was revealed when East County Magazine published links to some of the titles between March 5, 2012, and January 23, 2013. Pelley’s videos indicate that this project, in California’s Imperial County, generated little power throughout the year that followed. Documents from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show he is right.