The Hurdles Facing Wind Energy With PTC Set To Expire
Why is wind energy becoming a controversial issue for communities across the US and around the world? In the political world, democrats are battling republicans over the idea federal tax credits for wind energy.
The biggest issues with people who are against wind energy are with people who seem to think its too expensive when compared to coal. Then there’s people who don’t like the way wind turbines look. Others still, who may happen to live close to a wind farm, may suffer from noise pollution. Another group of people are against wind turbines because they of the potential to kill birds and bats.
When you look at all the people against wind energy, it might begin to feel like a daunting industry to break into with so much opposition.
On the financial side of things, political support has fallen through the cracks as republicans in Congress have refused to support an extension on a tax credit given to wind developers. Known as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), it was created to help jump start the renewable energy industry but is now set to expire at the end of 2012. The tax credit provides 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kwh) produced from wind turbines on a utility-scale.
Some people argue that if the industry cannot survive on its own without tax credits then it should be left to die. But the American Wind Energy Association argues that in the last five years the wind energy industry brought $20 billion of annual private investment into the United State with 75,000 jobs of which more than half could be lost in the coming year. Since the PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, there are no US wind energy projects scheduled for 2013 because of all the uncertainty in the US Congress.
In recent years, the cost of electricity from wind has come down significantly which has allowed for wind companies to sign power purchase agreements on the cheap. But competing with natural gas (an industry that is granted plenty of permanent tax credits for production and drilling) makes it nearly impossible to contend without some sort of level playing field.
Some eco-activists are quite worried about the placement of wind turbines because of the deaths to critically endangered birds or diminishing bat populations. Some of them have valid concerns because wind turbines can be placed in really bad spots and at bad heights that could contribute to more bird and bat deaths than normal. However, some people wonder if such opposition from so called eco-activists are simply the sneaky work of the gas and oil industry masquerading as concerned conservationists.
Not In My Back Yard – every city has them and they’re not always the friendliest people on the block. Some people think of NIMBY’s as grouchy people who aren’t with the times. Leave it to a NIMBY or a group of NIMBY’s to simply not like the way wind turbines look. It could be because they think that wind energy is too ‘liberal’ or it could just be that a NIMBY can’t help but be a NIMBY.
We all know that wind energy has been used since ancient times. As advances in technology are constantly evolving, windmills and other wind turbines are primed to be an important part of future energy portfolios. Like other renewable energy, wind power is also used to address other environmental issues that have negative impacts to the environment.
Wind power these days is capable of generating 430 TWh per year. This rate is equivalent to 2.5% electricity consumption around the globe. In fact, 83 countries including the USA, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Portugal and Spain, are generating electricity from wind. If the US decides not to compete on a global scale, it could lose much needed jobs and global clout in the alternative energy industry.
Like any other form of energy production, wind energy has its positive and negative effects on the environment. If we consider the positive impacts of wind energy on the environment, it’s easy to see that reduced reliance on fossil fuels are a big plus. If the US Congress does decide to let the production tax credit expire then time will only tell what will become of the wind energy industry in the US and around the world.
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