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Renewable energy in the West on track to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels — without subsidies

Smart placement needed to match production with demand


An NREL map shows the potential for solar power production.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tries a mix-and-match approach to help plan future solar, wind and geothermal power development in the West.

By 2025, renewable energy generation could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies — if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive areas, smartly located to meet the demand from regional population and industrial centers.

The report compares the cost of renewable electricity generation (without federal subsidies) with the cost of energy from a new natural gas-fired generator built near the customers it serves. Wind power produced in Wyoming and New Mexico could meet demand from California and the Southwest. Wyoming could probably produce the power at a lower cost, but New Mexico has the advantage of being closer to the areas with high demand, the report found. Continue reading

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Sen. Udall to host a renewable energy Twitter chat

Colorado lawmaker a longtime leader on energy policy

An offshore wind energy farm near Copenhagen, Denmark. Image courtesy Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. Senator Mark Udall has long been a passionate advocate for renewable energy. In recent months, he’s been one of the leaders in the fight to renew the wind energy production tax credit, which has been an effective mechanism to spur the growth of renewable power.

Next week, Udall will host a town hall Twitter chat to answer constituents’ questions about renewable energy and discuss the role it plays for our environmental, military and economic future.

Twitter uses can ask questions about renewable energy using the hashtag #AskUdall. On Oct. 16, @MarkUdall will answer the questions via Twitter. Continue reading

Colorado wind turbine makers cutting jobs

Wind power hits a political stumbling block, as Congress fails to pass a crucial tax credit for the fledgling industry. Photo courtesy NREL/ Dennis Schroeder.

Colorado’s U.S. senators fight for passage of critical tax credit for renewable energy

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado-based companies making parts for wind turbines say they’re starting to feel a negative trickle-down effect from congressional inaction on wind production tax credits.

The tax credits have been used in the U.S. and other countries to spur the growth of renewable energy production, but partisan posturing and the influence of the fossil fuel lobby have hindered political action.

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet Tuesday heard from local business leaders about the economic impact and potential layoffs due to recent cuts at Vestas.

Bennet discussed with local CEOs the need to extend the wind production tax credit during a tour of the Walker Component Group’s manufacturing facility, which supplies cables for wind turbines used by Vestas Wind Systems.  Continue reading

Energy: Congressional inaction on wind power production tax credits is already causing job losses in Colorado

Wind turbine. Photo courtesy Petr Kratochvil.

Colorado-based wind turbine company announces potential layoffs

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Uncertainty surrounding tax credits for wind energy production is already having an impact, as Vestas Wind Systems announced that it will cut jobs at its factory in Pueblo, Colorado.

Congress has been dithering over an extension of the wind production tax credits for months, with renewable energy as a chip in the current ideological poker game in Washington, D.C.

Wind production tax credits have helped the industry gain a foothold in the past few years, and have been used successfully in other countries to spur renewable energy growth. But the influential fossil fuel lobby — not to mention partisan budget battles — in the U.S. have hampered efforts to renew the tax credit. Continue reading

Germany: Full speed ahead on renewables

Germany forges ahead with ambitious renewable energy plans

Germany’s rail corridors are lined with medium-size photovoltaic installations.

A cluster of wind turbines is barely visible in the lower righthand corner of the image.

By Bob Berwyn

MUNICH, GERMANY — It’s been a whirlwind week of travels here in the ‘old country’ where I grew up, but as I scan the news from back home in the USA and Colorado about the politics of renewable energy, I’m still thinking about what I saw as we flew into Frankfurt a little more than a week ago.

The U.S. Senate is playing politics with wind power, and presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he would do away with even the most harmless way to promote renewable power, the so-called wind energy production tax credits.

Meanwhile, even from 30,000 feet, the change in the German landscape is striking — hundreds, and even thousands, of power-generating wind turbines dot the countryside, in small clusters near villages, in lines along ridge tops, and in seemingly random clumps around some of the larger cities.

It all adds up to about 29,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 8 percent of the industrial country’s needs, and Germany has been adding new wind capacity at a healthy rate. Continue reading

$20 million in grants to boost offshore wind energy

U.S. lags behind Europe in critical renewable energy sector

Wind turbines in Denmark.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While the U.S. is still lagging well behind countries like Denmark and Holland in the production of offshore wind energy, that may soon change.

The U.S. Department of Energy this week announced a $180 million initiative aimed at spurring the development of innovative offshore projects that could help capture some of the country’s untapped renewable energy resources.

Top administration officials said the investments are critical to ensuring that the U.S. remains competitive in this growing global industry that can drive new manufacturing, construction, installation and operation jobs across the country. Continue reading

2011: ‘Swift and steady’ progress on renewable energy

Obama administration continues unprecedented push to shift energy paradigm away from fossil fuels

Wind power infrastructure growing along East Coast.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —The Obama administration may have stumbled in a few areas in 2011, but stayed on a roll in the energy sector by approving several new large-scale renewable projects and laying the planning groundwork for many more.

The renewable energy developments are not without some detractors and controversy, but the administration — led by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar —  is making good on promises to drag the country, kicking and screaming if need be, into a renewable energy future.

Last week the Interior Department announced approval of two more utility scale projects — one wind and one solar — that, when built, will generate nearly 500 megawatts of power, or enough to power 150,000 homes, and create 700 jobs during peak construction. Continue reading


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