This week’s energy headlines start with the launch of what the Department of Energy hopes will become a fleet of floating wind turbines. We also saw clean-energy policy developments in several states.
Floating Turbine Sets Sail Off Maine Coast
The nation’s first grid-connected, floating wind turbine was deployed off the coast of Maine recently in an effort officials hope will eventually yield 5 gigawatts of power.
The turbine, christened VolturnUS, is 65 feet tall. It’s a one-eighth size model of enormous 6 MW turbines that are planned for the future. Then, an entire farm of giant arrays will be deployed 50 miles offshore, where there are few conflicts and constant winds.
“Led by the University of Maine, this project represents the first concrete-composite floating platform wind turbine to be deployed in the world – strengthening American leadership in innovative clean energy technologies that diversify the nation’s energy mix with more clean, domestic energy sources,” the Department of Energy said in a press release.
The effort is supported by a $12 million grant from the DOE.
Louisiana Legislature Moves to End Solar Tax Credits
The Louisiana House this week sent Gov. Bobby Jindal a bill that would gradually end the state’s generous tax credits for solar energy systems. The system, launched four years ago, would be dismantled by end of 2017, but those who lease solar systems would be allowed to continue taking the tax credits, subject to certain provisions.
According to nola.com, tax incentives initially forecast to cost Louisiana $500,000 a year in tax revenue have exceeded original cost projections by a factor of 20. With the state now facing a shortfall in the billions, the credits became a target. Jindal’s spokeswoman, while not addressing the solar credits directly, said in December that the Republican would assess “all options that will make taxes fairer, flatter and lower for Louisiana families and businesses.”
We’ll take that to mean that Jindal will sign the bill.
The tax breaks have been used to offset the cost of installing solar systems, with most customers leasing their systems.
Nebraska Governor Reluctantly Signs Wind Energy Measure
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman this week signed – over serious reservations – a bill that grants tax breaks for wind energy development.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Heineman said he would have gutted the bill if he had line-item veto authority but signed it because it included an amendment to prevent a small increase in local sales taxes in Omaha.
The governor said he opposed the bill because it amounts to a “special tax break” to TradeWind Energy, which has promised to build a wind farm.
Study: California Leads States On Clean Energy Technology
California was No. 1 in the nation in a new index of states’ commitment to energy efficiency and early stage technology development.
Clean Edge, a research and advisory firm devoted to clean energy technology, issued its index for the fourth straight year. The rankings are calculated on nearly 100 metrics that include state policies on transportation, venture capital investment, number of patents and activity in the clean-tech industry.
The group called California the “hands-down winner” in both the state and metro indexes. Among the highlights cited, California last year launched the first auction of carbon credits in the United States, and it became the first state to install more than 1 gigawatt of solar generating capacity.
Among metro areas, San Francisco was No. 1, followed immediately by San Jose. Los Angeles was fourth, Sacramento sixth and San Diego seventh.
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