Good Monday morning.

We had daylights savings this weekend, we had another snow, and I cannot help but feeling spring is just around the corner. With that great feeling is the urgency to get things wrapped up in the Kansas legislature – it can get a little frantic in Topeka between now and late May.

What does that mean for supporters of the Kansas wind industry? It means we have to be on our toes the next couple of weeks. Those great winds we had two weeks ago? Yep, we are starting round 2 now.

In the last week House Bill 2241 was sent to the Appropriations Committee and then was sent back to the Energy and Environment Committee, at the discretion of the House leader despite the vote on the floor which sent the bill to the Utilities and Telecom committee. I know a little political dancing and A LOT to keep up with. What does it all mean?

Two great ways to learn what all of this talk about the RPS and the wind energy means is to attend one of the CEP roundtables – one at JCCC_Energy_Roundtable and one at Cloud_Energy_Roundtable (2). These events are free to attend, lunch is provided, and it is an opportunity to hear facts about the jobs and income wind had brought to Kansas and the attempts to roll back the RPS. This is important information with real time impacts for Kansas communities.

We also ask you to reach out to your Kansas elected officials and let them know you support wind energy in Kansas. We will have more information about contacting your representative later this week.

If you are really fired up about this issue, please join us in Topeka on Thursday, March 14, 2013 for a legislative luncheon. Visit with your representatives. Come early that morning and attend the committee meeting. Contact Dorothy Barnett at barnett [at] climateandenergy.org if you want to join us or if you have questions about the meeting in Topeka.

With all the friction in Kansas about whether or not our state government if going to support wind energy, our neighboring states are moving forward. Nebraska is making sure the industry knows they are open for business.

Read a few great letters to the editor to see what other leaders are saying about the RPS in  Kansas:

Wichita Eagle – KS Representative Nile Dillmore Dist 92

Hutchinson News – Siemens Leadership

Please join us if you can for one of the upcoming events and please keep in touch with your KS representatives.

UPDATE:

The Committee hearing has been moved, for now, until March 19th.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications and Special Projects

With severe drought impacting over 50% of the US this summer, diversified revenue on the farm is critical to the ongoing economic success of farm families. For many, off farm jobs and natural gas and oil leases have been part of the formula for keeping the family farm in operation. Over the last 10 years wind energy has become a another revenue stream in the increasingly complex world of farm finances.

Bob Dean’s has a well written article on the Huffington Post that brings together the importance  of revenue payments from wind turbines to individuals and communities in tough times such as this year’s drought. Read on for a more:

“Welcome in any year, income from wind turbines has become an economic lifeline for thousands of farmers and ranchers like Carter across the country’s vast heartland. With more than half the country searing in the worst drought in half a century, much of the nation’s corn, wheat and grasslands parched to ruin and cattle ranchers struggling to feed or liquidate their herds, wind turbines are providing back-up income that is helping to keep family farms and ranches alive.

“It’s truly a blessing for us,” said Carter. “It’s kind of like the sky falls with a little more rain.”

Windmills have been part of the landscape of the American West for more than a century, harnessing the force of the wind off the plains to pump water from wells or generate electricity for homes long before power lines crisscrossed the country….

Similar sentiments are being echoed across the American breadbasket, where the summer drought has meant hard times not just for ranchers and farmers, but for the tractor dealers, grain brokers, lumber yards, hardware stores and myriad other businesses that rise and fall on the fortunes of agriculture.

“If affects everything in rural America,” said Jury. “It affects the whole economy. A year like this, everybody kind of goes into survival mode and pulls back. You’re just struggling trying to stay afloat.”

This is just more evidence that the all-of-the-above approach to energy policy of  Governor Brownback and fellow KS leaders makes sense for Kansas communities and Kansas farmers.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, Director of Communications and Special Projects

Kansas is poised to lead the nation in wind energy installations this year, with 1,188 MW scheduled to come online in 2012 according to U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter Market Report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Last fall, BP announced Flat Ridge II in Barber, Harper, Kingman and Sumner Counties. This $800 million wind farm is slated to be the largest in Kansas at 419 MW. At least six other wind farms have been announced for 2012 construction.

If all of the proposed wind farms come online by the end of the year, Kansas will be up over 2,400 MW of installed capacity, which should move us up into the top 10 (we’re number 14 today) for wind installations.  A good thing for our growing wind supply chain.

Unfortunately, if the Production Tax Credit isn’t extended, this will likely be the last year we’ll see this type of growth in the Kansas wind industry.

According to Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) – which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The U.S. wind industry installed just over 6,810 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, and has more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012.

With the second best wind resource in the nation and a growing wind supply chain, Kansas has a lot to lose in the race for clean energy.

Dorothy Barnett, Climate + Energy Project Executive Director

We’ve talked about why the production tax credit matters in recent posts. Another voice joined the conversation in early January. The new Siemen’s nacel production facility in Hutchinson, KS published a letter to the editor in The Hutchinson News on January 5th.

A letter in the Hutchinson News, January 5, 2012

A call for help

Siemens Energy would like to thank Hutchinson and Reno County for the warm reception we’ve received since we announced our plans to build our Wind Turbine Nacelle Assembly Facility in Hutchinson in 2009.

Since that time, Siemens has proudly hired more than 300 employees, whose dedication, enthusiasm and work ethic have helped us produce more than 690 MW of clean wind generation over the past year – enough to power more than 200,000 households.

Siemens has also benefited immensely from friendly, quality local services – from construction, hotels, restaurants and other local merchants – spending millions of dollars in the local community over the past year. We’ve also launched efforts to give back to the community through organizations such as First Call for Help, the Reno County Food Bank, New Beginnings and Hutchinson Community College.

We feel very fortunate to have built such a strong partnership with this community. Now, we’re relying on that partnership as we ask the citizens of Hutchinson and Reno County to support us and the future of wind energy in Kansas.

The future of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) is currently uncertain. The PTC is a tax credit for renewable energy project developers that helps keep electricity rates competitive and encourages development of clean renewable energy projects, . While the PTC technically expires at the end of 2012, given the long project development and manufacturing lead times, the PTC will effectively expire within days.

To preserve tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs, the wind energy industry urgently needs Congress to take action to extend the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). Nearly 1,000 people are employed in the wind industry in Kansas alone. This does not include the jobs indirectly created or the economic benefits of increased spending with local businesses by these companies and their employees.

Siemens has made significant strides to make renewable energy more competitive with conventional forms of power generation by optimizing our production systems and project logistics, and has also made significant investments in product innovation to improve performance and reduce the overall cost of renewables-generated electricity. However, there is still a need for clear policies that drive the long-term demand of renewable clean energy in the U.S. The next few years are critical to ensure that renewable energy is a viable part of a balanced domestic electricity portfolio. A multi-year extension of the PTC will help ensure industry participants can continue to make progress until critical mass is reached and renewable technologies become fully cost-competitive based on economies of scale.

Hutchinson and Reno County have been outstanding partners to date, which reinforces our decision to build our plant here. Siemens is grateful for the community’s ongoing support, and asks Hutchinson and Reno County residents to contact their legislators to advocate for the inclusion of a renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) extension in any tax bill as soon as possible. To write to their legislators, residents are encouraged to visit the local district offices or go to: http://www.saveusawindjobs.com

CLAUS UNGSTRUP

Plant Manager

JIM SILVER

Plant Controller

####

We will continue to update the blog as more voices call for the extension of the Production Tax Credit.

Kate Van Cantfort, CEP, Director of Communications & Special Projects

I’d say this new report marks the fact that renewable energy sources are definetly mainstream and a permanent part of our energy future. Now if only we can add energy efficiency to that stack of resources…..

Keep reading for some exciting numbers about the impact renewable energy is having on the US energy market and hopefully on our future energy independence.

This was the headline in our inbox Monday morning:

RENEWABLE SOURCES CONTINUE EXPLOSIVE GROWTH:

NOW PROVIDE 12% OF DOMESTIC ENERGY PRODUCTION – 14% MORE THAN 2010

RENEWABLE ELECTRICAL OUTPUT INCREASES 25%; CONTRIBUTES 13% OF U.S. POWER

Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through September 30, 2011, renewable energy sources continue to expand rapidly while substantially outpacing the growth rates of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

For the first nine months of 2011, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 11.95% of domestic U.S. energy production. That compares to 10.85% for the same period in 2010 and 10.33% in 2009. By comparison, nuclear power provided just 10.62% of the nation’s energy production in the first three quarters of 2011 — i.e., 11.10% less than renewables.

Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), renewable energy output, including hydropower, grew by 14.44% in 2011 compared to 2010. Among the renewable energy sources, conventional hydropower provided 4.35% of domestic energy production during the first nine months of 2011, followed by biomass (3.15%), biofuels (2.57%), wind (1.45%), geothermal (0.29%), and solar (0.15%).

(On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.35% of total U.S. energy use during the first nine months of 2011.)

Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly,” with data through September 30, 2011, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, water wind) provided 12.73% of net U.S. electrical generation. This represents an increase of 24.73% compared to the same nine-month period in 2010. By comparison, electrical generation from coal dropped by 4.2% while nuclear output declined by 2.8%. Natural gas electrical generation rose by 1.6%.

Conventional hydropower accounted for 8.21% of net electrical generation during the first nine months of 2011 – an increase of 29.6% compared to 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.52% of net electrical generation (wind – 2.73%, biomass – 1.34%, geothermal – 0.40%, solar – 0.05%). Compared to the first three quarters of 2010, solar-generated electricity expanded in 2011 by 46.5%; wind by 27.1%, geothermal by 9.4%, and biomass by 1.3%.

“Notwithstanding the recession of the past three years, renewable energy sources have experienced explosive rates of growth that other industries can only envy,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as state and private funders have paid off handsomely underscoring the short-sightedness of emerging proposals to cut back on or discontinue such support.”

Contact:  Ken Bossong, 301-270-6477 x.11

# # # # # # # #

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent “Monthly Energy Review” on December 23, 2011.  It can be found at: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/index.cfm.  The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 10.1.  EIA released its most recent “Electric Power Monthly” on December 16, 2011; see: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/pdf/epm.pdf. The relevant charts are Tables 1.1, ES1.A, ES1.B, and 1.1.A.

Kate Van Cantfort, CEP, Director of Communications & Special Projects

We’ve talked about why the production tax credit matters in recent posts, here are a few more thoughts from a broad coalition of partners (including CEP):

America needs homegrown energy resources to power the nation and with our economy struggling, we’re in dire need of American jobs. Wind energy delivers in both of these areas. The wind energy industry has lowered the cost of wind power by more than 90%, has fostered economic development in all 50 states, and currently powers the equivalent of 10 million American homes. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) was instrumental in helping the wind industry achieve these breakthroughs. Experts say that if we keep the PTC in place, over 500,000 more jobs will be created in the next 20 years. By then, wind will generate 20 percent of America’s electricity.

The PTC is not a subsidy, but a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. The PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC will lead to thousands of job losses and put the brakes on the vast progress we’ve made as a nation toward making clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.

Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind project developers are hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. Job layoffs have already begun. The wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in significant job losses.

Unfortunately, renewable energy is under attack right here in Kansas – Representative Mike Pompeo is on a quest to stop renewable energy subsidies, “From solar to wind, from geothermal to biomass and from ethanol to hydrogen, they all must go. It is equal opportunity – not one single solitary tax credit would survive this bill”.

Funny how fossil fuel subsidies would seem to continue under Pompeo’s plan.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director CEP

In case you missed last week’s blog about the Production Tax Credit, here is a quick update on the latest news:

RENEWABLE ENERGY:

Lawmakers prepare bipartisan push to extend wind energy tax credit

Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter

Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lawmakers are poised to introduce a bipartisan bill extending a key federal incentive for wind energy developers through 2016. It’s emerging during a stormy debate over renewable energy subsidies and as lawmakers struggle to identify massive spending cuts before year’s end.

Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) will seek a four-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which makes wind energy comparable in price to electricity derived from coal and natural gas by giving generators 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. They plan to introduce it later this week.

The bill begins what its supporters say is an urgent effort to prolong the wind credit before it expires at the end of 2012. That would avoid a similar slowdown in construction after the credit’s last disappearance in 2003, industry officials say.

The year-away expiration is already having a negative effect, according to some industry reports that claim developers are not planning beyond the 2012 time frame and have begun laying off employees.

“We need to renew these credits quickly so that construction and job creation in the wind industry can continue uninterrupted,” Blumenauer said in a statement. He and Reichert are members of the Ways and Means Committee.

An extension might mark Congress’ boldest action on renewable energy this year. But even modest action on tax credits faces political hurdles as House Republicans question federal energy loan guarantees while others target all subsidies — for fossil fuels and renewables.

The bill to extend the credit comes days after Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said he’ll offer one to disband it, along with other subsidies.

“The House majority has repeatedly disappointed anyone who wants to see smart policy,” said Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. “It’s tough to see anything, including the smart extension of the PTC, succeed — though it would be really pleasant.”

A ‘good possibility’ for extension?

But a Democratic aide believes the bill has a chance. It would likely involve attaching the extension to a larger tax bill that could emerge from the “supercommittee” that is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in cuts by Nov. 23.

“There’s a lot of open questions with how this year ends, and we’d like to make sure that it’s there as a moving vehicle,” the aide said, adding that the tax credit “should not be as partisan” as other clean energy policies. “I think there’s a good possibility for this.”

Still, the legislation could test the partisanship of energy issues in today’s Congress, where lawmakers have traditionally supported policies that align with their regional interests over political positioning. But the bill’s sponsors face an unfriendly atmosphere in which energy subsidies are being demonized, cash is short and Congress is maneuvering for the presidential election.

Yet members of both parties have celebrated the policy’s ability to create jobs, especially in the gusty Great Plains, out West and in Southern states like Texas where wind is growing.

Eight weeks ago, 24 governors asked the administration to extend the production tax credit for seven years to encourage long-term commitments from wind developers. Nine of those executives are Republicans, and some of them represent key election states, including Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania.

House Republicans also held hearings last summer to identify roadblocks for renewable energy projects on public land. But they emphasized a need for faster permitting, not expanded subsidies.

The Reichert-Blumenauer bill is already attracting some Republican attention. One source said Reps. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) have signaled support for co-sponsoring the bill.

That’s not unusual. The tax credit has enjoyed GOP support in the past, including from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the majority whip. He proposed a 10-year extension of the credit in 2009, saying Congress needs to take “decisive action and create a stable wind energy development climate.”

McCarthy’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Two years ago, he said, “This decade-long extension of the production tax credit would also invest in new local jobs and energy to power our future.”

Perhaps those of you talking to our Kansas congressional delegation may want to mention how important this production tax credit extension is to our friends at Siemens, Draka, JR Customs, Jupiter to name a few of the companies creating clean energy jobs in Kansas.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director