Congress: Picking energy losers, over clean energy winners

Congress just released its propose “tax reform” plan – and it’s a doozie. Instead of promoting renewable energy and electric vehicles, the plan would slash those incentives – while giving a massive bailout to the failing nuclear industry.

Two years ago, Congress passed a massive overhaul for the wind and solar industries that gave a clear path for phasing-out tax credits for those industries. The newly proposed “tax reform” plan reneges on that promise made two years ago and threatens hundreds of billions of dollars in clean, domestic, renewable energy development.

The wildly popular, and effective tax credit for electric vehicles has produced many jobs, cut pollution, and increased our energy security. But now Congress’s “tax reform” plan would totally eliminate the electric vehicle tax credit, and slams on the breaks of an American industry.

Meanwhile, Congress would extend $6 billion worth of subsidies to the failing nuclear industry.

Click here to tell Congress to support clean energy and electric vehicles.

Wind Farm Fact Check

Wind power is wildly popular. But, wind power hasn’t been as quick to catch on here in the south, so we get a lot of questions and comments about wind energy. Let’s clear the air on wind farms.

Local utility quietly clouds solar future

But this past August, our local electric utility company passed perhaps the worst solar power policy in the south. Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) introduced an extremely complicated electric, water and sewer rate increase the same week historic, 1,000-year flooding occurred in Louisiana. The new rate structure for net metered customers, including solar power families like mine, is likely to double monthly electric bills, and double the length of time it takes for a solar panel system to pay for itself. The new policy effectively acts as a giant tax on solar power. Solar tax credits are being phased out, and when coupled with LUS’s new solar tax, it is unlikely that solar power systems would ever pay for themselves.

Remember that “wind tree”? It’s worse than we thought.

Fad wind turbines bad-mouth utility-scale wind farms, and then frequently fail to live up to their promises. That’s bad news for renewable energy. People can get misled into a false techno-optimism, that we should delay using today’s technologies because the future technology will be perfected, if we just wait a little longer. One positive aspect from the QZ.com article is it points out that a residential solar array costs about half as much as the wind tree. One thing the article doesn’t mention is that residential solar panels can achieve 20-30% capacity factors, or 4-5x higher performance than the wind tree (at 5%). At half the price and 4-5x the performance, residential solar panels are way, way better investments than the wind tree.

A Perfect Storm for Southern Wind Power Purchases?

This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.

Electric Utilities Could Lose Billions of Dollars in Wind Energy Savings

Because of the PTC phaseout, there is a real urgency for wind farm development to begin as soon as possible. Electric utilities that delay purchase of wind energy resources may end up losing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in ratepayer savings due to a reduction in the federal PTC value.

Debunking Wind Turbine Fads

Online publications are doing a real disservice to the future of clean tech (and their readers) by perpetuating the hype of fad wind turbines without hard data. If people begin investing in the Vortex Bladeless Wind Turbine through some sort of crowd-sourcing effort (as the inventors announced, is their intended way of getting more money), because they read a sensational article from online news sources such as Gizmag, WIRED, Phys.org, CleanTechnica and Grist; who should be held liable if the investment doesn’t pan out?

10 Reasons Conservatives Support the Production Tax Credit

10 Reasons Conservatives Support the PTC Extension: The American Wind Industry is particularly successful in conservative districts. In fact, GOP congressional districts contain 75% of wind energy capacity and currently host over 70% of wind energy manufacturing facilities.

Geauxing Solar in South Louisiana

My family and I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana a little over a year ago. We were pleasantly surprised to find out Louisiana has some of the best solar incentives in the country, and were eager to install a solar panel system on our home. The process started out similar to just about any other large purchase – we did our research, and got estimates from several solar installation companies. We asked the installers about their competition and why they were the best for the job – just like any other contractor or car dealer. However, we decided to hold off for a year, in good part because it appeared that the solar photovoltaics industry was in price free-fall in 2011; and, if we just waited, we could get more solar energy for the same price. After that year, I just contacted our former installers again and they all gave me updated quotes within a week.