EERE Network News -- 09/29/04
A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
<http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy (EERE). The EERE Network News is also available on the Web at:
September 29, 2004
News and Events
* Congress Renews Wind Energy Production Tax Credit
* New York State Sets a New Renewable Energy Requirement
* National Solar Tour Kicks Off This Weekend
* EIA: U.S. Solar Power Manufacturing Declined in 2003
* California Passes Bills to Promote Clean Cars and Renewables
* California Approves Rules to Cut Auto Greenhouse Emissions
* Renewable Energy Long Island
* Approval of Reactor Design Opens Door for New Nuclear Power
News and Events
Congress Renews Wind Energy Production Tax Credit
Photo of a man who appears tiny atop the hub of a massive wind
A worker prepares to enter the hub of GE's 1.5-megawatt wind turbine. With
the tax credit reinstated, about 200 of these wind turbines will soon be
erected in Iowa.
Credit: Sandia National Laboratories
Congress approved a bill last week that will extend the wind energy
Production Tax Credit (PTC) through the end of next year. The PTC was
included in a major tax package that President Bush is expected to sign.
The PTC provides a tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (in 1992
dollars, adjusted for inflation) for power produced by wind turbines.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the PTC extension
will allow wind energy investments of about $3 billion to move ahead over
the next several years. See the
<http://www.awea.org/news/news040924wti.html>AWEA press release and the
<http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR01308:@@@L>full text and
latest status of the bill, HR 1308.
Wind power is yielding economic benefits for Pennsylvania, as Gamesa, a
Spanish wind energy company, has agreed to base its East Coast development
offices and U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and to also locate a wind
blade manufacturing facility in the state. According to Pennsylvania
Governor Edward G. Rendell, the new Gamesa facilities could generate as
many as 1,000 jobs in Pennsylvania over the next five years. See the
Wind power is also moving ahead in Iowa, as MidAmerican Energy Company, the
state's largest utility, has chosen two sites on which to install 310
megawatts of wind power. One site is near Blairsburg, about 40 miles north
of Ames in central Iowa, and the other is in northwest Iowa, near Storm
Lake. The company will erect about 100 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind
turbines at each location at a cost of about $323 million. MidAmerican
Energy expects the Storm Lake site to be online before year-end, and the
Blairsburg site should begin operating in 2005. See the
Energy press release.
New York State Sets a New Renewable Energy Requirement
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) adopted a new renewable
energy policy last week that requires 25 percent of the state's electricity
to be supplied from renewable energy sources by 2013. Although the state
already produces 19.3 percent of its electricity from renewable energy
sources, primarily hydropower, the new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
program will result in about 3,700 megawatts of new renewable energy
capacity. The new requirement credits medium- and large-scale facilities
that draw on wind, biomass, or ocean energy sources, as well as solar
photovoltaic systems, fuel-cell systems, hydropower upgrades, and
low-impact, run-of-river hydropower plants of less than 30 megawatts in
capacity. The requirement also credits customer-sited fuel cells, solar
electric systems, and wind turbines. The RPS program will start in 2006
with a target of roughly 1.3 million megawatt-hours from renewable sources,
increasing to nearly 12 million megawatt-hours in 2013.
The PSC estimates that the RPS program will have modest impacts on customer
bills, and should cause the state's wholesale energy prices to decline.
Overall, the PSC estimates residential customers may see as much as a 0.9
percent reduction in their bills over the life of the program, or an
increase of up to 1.68 percent. The projected impact on commercial
customers ranges from a 0.78 percent reduction to a 1.79 percent increase,
and for industrial customers, from a 1.54 percent reduction to a 2.2
percent increase. See the PSC press release
23 KB). <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download
National Solar Tour Kicks Off This Weekend
October 2nd marks the date for this year's National Solar Tour, during
which homes, schools, churches, and businesses across the United States
will open their doors to the public to show how solar energy and energy
efficiency are being put to work. Last year's tour attracted 35,000
visitors in nearly 800 communities in 45 states; this year, the ninth
annual National Solar Tour is offering tours in 37 states plus the District
of Columbia. The tours are organized by chapters of the American Solar
Energy Society (ASES), state energy offices, and volunteer groups. See the
release and to find out if there's a tour near you, visit the
<http://www.ases.org/tour/homepage.htm>ASES Web site.
EIA: U.S. Solar Power Manufacturing Declined in 2003
Despite a growing U.S. market for photovoltaic solar power, a drop in
exports caused photovoltaic manufacturing in the United States to decline
in 2003. According to a recent report from DOE's Energy Information
Administration (EIA), the bankruptcy of AstroPower in 2003 contributed to
the first decline in the U.S. production of solar cells and modules since
the EIA began keeping track in 1986. The 2.5 percent decline from the
previous year was the result of a 9 percent drop in exports, which
outweighed a 7 percent increase in domestic shipments. Meanwhile, ABI
Research reports that Japan has been leading the photovoltaic industry for
years, but now the center of activity is shifting to the Westnot to the
United States, but to Germany, where strong subsidies are in place. See the
Thermal and Photovoltaic Manufacturing Activities 2003," and see the
Even the growing U.S. market sometimes fails to yield new production
capacity within the United States: Japan's Kyocera Solar, Inc. plans to
double its photovoltaic manufacturing output within the next year, and will
open a new production plant on Friday to serve the North American market.
The company's new module assembly plant is meant to focus on the California
market, but is located in Tijuana, Mexico. See the
California Passes Bills to Promote Clean Cars and Renewables
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a number of bills over the
past week that will be beneficial to hybrid-electric car owners and certain
renewable energy installations.
Photo of the Toyota Prius.
The Toyota Prius may soon be a more common sight in California's HOV lanes,
thanks to a new law.
California owners of new hybrid electric cars and recent-model low-emission
vehicles will benefit from
2628, which allows those vehicles to use the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle)
lanes normally reserved for carpools. The bill opens those lanes to
low-emissions vehicles produced during the 2004 model year or earlier, as
well as new low-emission hybrid-electric vehicles that achieve at least 45
miles per gallon. Meant as an incentive for people to buy hybrid vehicles,
the bill also limits the total number of HOV stickers for these vehicles to
75,000 and sets procedures to avoid causing the HOV lanes to become
congested. The governor
the bill on September 23rd, but the measure will also require approval from
the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Several new laws will also help the development of renewable energy
resources in the state.
1689 expands the state's self-generation incentive program to include
projects fueled with waste gas, while
1565 requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development
Commission to develop a strategic plan including renewable energy. The
both bills on September 22nd. Governor Schwarzenegger also
two solar energy bills on September 25th:
2473, strengthening an existing law that prohibits local governments from
placing restrictions on solar energy systems, and
594, which requires Pacific Gas and Electric Company to establish a net
metering agreement with the City and County of San Francisco for up to 5
megawatts of solar power. The city currently owns a 688-kilowatt solar
power system at the Moscone Convention Center, and plans to install a
600-kilowatt system at a wastewater treatment plant.
California Approves Rules to Cut Auto Greenhouse Emissions
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved new regulations last
week requiring automakers to sell vehicles that produce lower emissions of
greenhouse gases. The new regulations begin to phase-in during the 2009
model year and gradually tighten until 2016, when the average new car or
light truck sold in California will be required to emit 30 percent lower
greenhouse gases than today's vehicles. The CARB staff estimates that costs
for the added technology needed to meet the rule will average about $325
per vehicle in 2012 and about $1050 per vehicle in 2016. However, lower
operating costs for the vehicles will result in a net savings to consumers,
according to analyses by CARB. See the
<http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr092404.htm>CARB press release and the
<http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/grnhsgas/grnhsgas.htm>full regulatory documents.
Although restricting greenhouse gas emissions from cars is often equated
with fuel economy, that's not the full story. In June, CARB issued a report
on greenhouse gas reduction technologies that suggested a variety of
fuel-saving technologiesincluding improved engine technologies,
turbocharging combined with smaller engines, and automated manual
transmissionsbut also suggested technologies to cut emissions of
refrigerants from cars' air conditioning systems. Many refrigerants are
powerful greenhouse gases. See the report
(<http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/factsheets/cc_isor.pdf>PDF 1.1 MB).
<http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download Acrobat Reader.
<http://www.renewableenergylongisland.org/>Renewable Energy Long Island
Renewable Energy Long Island is a membership-based, not-for-profit
organization promoting clean, sustainable energy use and generation for
Long Island. It seeks public participation in energy policy decisions to
encourage energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources, and to
protect our environment, economy, and public health.
Approval of Reactor Design Opens Door for New Nuclear Power
Will new nuclear power plants contribute to the U.S. energy supply in the
future? The Westinghouse Electric Company thinks they will, as the company
has just earned approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
for its new standard nuclear plant design, the AP1000. Described by
Westinghouse as the "safest, most economical nuclear plant currently
available with NRC approval," the new design "has already received strong
interest from potential customers in Asia, Europe, and the United States,"
according to Westinghouse. See the announcement on the
<http://www.westinghousenuclear.com/>Westinghouse Web site.
According to DOE, a recent study by the University of Chicago finds that
advanced nuclear power plants could be cost-competitive with coal and
natural gas as a source of electricity. The study shows higher costs for
the first few nuclear power plants, but lower costs once a third or fourth
plant comes online. See the
<http://nuclear.gov/home/09-20-04.html>announcement and the
<http://nuclear.gov/nucpwr2010/NP2010rptEconFutofNucPwr.html>full report on
the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology Web site.
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