Wind-energy industry hopes to regain its momentum
Fri, Feb 13, 2009 (2 a.m.)
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Last year was a good year for making wind work.
The U.S. wind energy industry installed more than 8,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2008, shattering previous records, the American Wind Energy Association reported last month.
Wind power brought on line in the last quarter of 2008 alone (4,112 megawatts) exceeds annual additions for every year except 2007.
Nearly $17 billion in investments helped increase the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50 percent last year. That also accounted for more than 40 percent of power-producing capacity increases across all electric generation types, the organization said.
The country gets more than 25,000 megawatts of electricity from wind, enough to power nearly 7 million households — at least during a breeze.
But the organization warned that storm clouds are forming over the industry.
In the last months of 2008, financing for all types of renewable energy projects disappeared. That combined with the economic meltdown hit the global wind turbine manufacturing industry hard, and the new year has brought layoffs.
“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” association Chief Executive Denise Bode said in a statement. “The U.S. wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the president’s call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development ... Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs as we help make our country more secure and leave a more stable climate for our children.”
Although Nevada is not among the top states in wind energy potential or production — it’s ranked 21st in the nation — boosting the wind industry in the U.S. could still be a boon for the state.
The Energy Department lists Nevada’s wind potential as “good-to-excellent” across large parts of the state. The largest areas of good-to-excellent wind resources are near Las Vegas and Ely, and on the higher ridge crests throughout the state.
Improved financing options for wind projects would likely apply to the state’s other two major renewable energy resources: solar and geothermal.
There have also been calls for changes in tax law to stimulate transmission line development. Nevada needs billions of dollars in new transmission lines if it is to capitalize on its renewable energy potential and become a net exporter of clean energy, Gov. Jim Gibbons said in a statement.
Gibbons sent a letter last week to President Barack Obama urging him to include in his stimulus package amendments to certain Internal Revenue Service codes to allow the sale of bonds for renewable energy and transmission projects.
The stimulus package has already been sent to Congress and passed in the House. It is being debated in the Senate.
“Nevada is profusely blessed with solar, wind, and geothermal energy production potential,” Gibbons said. “The time for talk passed long ago.”
• • •
No more cocktails on the beach and lavish lunches alongside shady creeks for the State Bar of Nevada.
In light of the economic woes crippling the economy, the bar announced it is moving its 2009 annual meeting from Hawaii to an as-yet-to-be-determined Nevada location.
Past vacations have been held at fishing lodges and beach retreats, and have served as meeting, continuing legal education sites and family vacation in one. The bar said in a statement that it wanted to show its support for local companies in these hard times.
• • •
The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee last month introduced the Small Business Act of 2009.
The bipartisan legislation would provide immediate tax relief for small businesses to promote investment in new equipment and infrastructure.
“Expensing has long served as a critical tool to grow the economy and create new jobs. At a time in which we find ourselves in a recession and our nation’s small businesses are having trouble finding capital to make job-creating new investments, we simply cannot allow this tax incentive to expire,” Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a ranking committee member, said in a statement. “By increasing small-business expensing and establishing a five-year carryback for net operating losses, this measure will pack a powerful punch and assist America’s 26 million small firms that represent 99.7 percent of all employers.”
President Obama is a strong supporter of extending the legislation that raised
the small-business investment expensing limit.
He has proposed continuing to keep the expensing limit up to $250,000 through the end of 2010. The legislation setting that limit expires at the end of this year.
The administration has also pledged to push through legislation eliminating all capital gains taxes for small businesses as well as a new temporary tax credit of $3,000 to companies for every full-time job they create through 2010.
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