Senator Gillibrand calls for federal tax credit for NY wind turbine production

Gillibrand Calls on Feds to Provide Tax Credit for Wind Turbine Production in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Ogdensburg

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the federal government to approve an investment tax credit to build wind turbines in manufacturing sites in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Ogdensburg. The D’Arcinoff Group, a U.S. based company, is looking to operate clean technology manufacturing facilities in 15 plants across the U.S. According to their estimates, the four New York plants could employ up to 15,000 people, working in multiple shifts. If fully financed, Phase One of the project could create upwards of 800 jobs at Syracuse’s New Process Gear facility in DeWitt, 6,000 jobs in Rochester, 2,000 jobs in Buffalo, and 1,200 jobs in Ogdensburg.

via Kirsten Gillibrand – United States Senator for New York: News.

NYS Energy Program grants still to be awarded

It’s not too late to obtain Stimulus funding for state energy program projects. Yes, $40M in awards were announced earlier this month. However,  the next round of funding for the remaining $8.8 million has been announced with proposals due to NYSERDA on April 7, 2010. Visit http://www.nyserda.org/funding/1613rfp.asp for more information about RFP 1613.

Source:  www.ny.gov/governor.

Feds announce terms of cash program for renewable projects

Feds at last announce how to obtain stimulus package cash (in lieu of tax credits) for renewable projects.

Source: http://www.treas.gov/press/releases/tg202.htm

Treasury, Energy Announce More than $3 Billion in Recovery Act Funds for Renewable Energy Projects

Cash Assistance Will Increase Economic Development, Promote Renewable Energy Use

Program Guidance Now Available to Businesses to Facilitate Swift Implementation

WASHINGTON – As part of an innovative partnership aimed at increasing economic development in urban and rural areas while setting our nation on the path to energy independence, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Energy today announced an estimated $3 billion for the development of renewable energy projects around the country and made available the guidance businesses will need to submit a successful application. Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), the program will provide direct payments in lieu of tax credits in support of an estimated 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities.

“The renewable energy program provides another important avenue for the Recovery Act to contribute to economic development in communities around the country,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “It will provide additional stimulus to economies in urban and rural America by helping to develop domestic sources of clean energy. This partnership between Treasury and Energy will enable both large companies and small businesses to invest in our long-term energy needs, protect our environment and revitalize our nation’s economy.”

The Recovery Act authorized Treasury to make direct payments to companies that create and place in service renewable energy facilities beginning January 1, 2009. Previously, these companies could file for a tax credit to cover a portion of the renewable energy project’s cost; under the new program, applicants would agree to forgo tax credits down the line in favor of an immediate reimbursement of a portion of the property expense. This direct payment program allows for an immediate stimulus in local economies.

Said Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “These payments will help spur major private sector investments in clean energy and create new jobs for America’s workers. It is part of our broad effort to double our renewable energy capacity in the next few years and make sure that America leads the world in creating the new clean energy economy of the future.”

In previous years, the tax credit has been widely used. It is considered a successful incentive for encouraging the development of renewable energy. In 2006, approximately $550 million in tax credits were provided to 450 businesses. The rate of new renewable energy installations has fallen since the economic and financial downturns began, as projects had a harder time obtaining financing. The Departments of Treasury and Energy expect a fast acceleration of businesses applying for the energy funds in lieu of the tax credit.

To expedite implementation of the program, Treasury and Energy are today making available the terms and conditions, guidance, and a sample application [applications not yet being accepted, btw] at http://www.treas.gov/recovery/1603.shtml so that companies can prepare successful applications in advance of the launch of the web based application in the coming weeks – yet another tool designed to facilitate the timely flow of program funds to eligible businesses.

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Nice, quick Green, Inc. summary here.

New York energy-related federal stimulus funding

So you work in the renewables (maybe wind) sector and you’d like a piece of the nearly $4 billion federal stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [ARRA]) pie available to New York energy projects.

The New York government has a website devoted to the topic: http://www.recovery.ny.gov/.

A factsheet keyed in on available energy stimulus funding is available. A more generalized handbook concerning all funding opportunities is here.

NYSERDA also has posted information, online here. The agency indicates that if you have a specific question, you should email EconomicRecovery@nyserda.org or call 1‐866‐NYSERDA (1‐866‐697‐3732).  [Added 5/5/2009: NYSERDA should be receiving nearly $30 million in federal funds for small municipalities through the Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program (EEBGP), which provides grants to U.S. local governments, states, territories, and Indian tribes, to fund projects that reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency. NYSERDA must first submit an application to the Department of Energy by May 26, 2009. Once approval is received, NYSERDA will issue information on how to apply for funds.  Information on the EEBGP here.]

Questions on federal stimulus monies for New York also may be directed to the Department of Public Service’s Kimberly Harriman.

The time to act is now, as application deadlines loom. You can apply here.

New York wind power updates

First Wind secures loan for Cohocton Wind project.

First Wind, an independent North American wind power developer, today announced that it has secured a non-recourse term loan from HSH Nordbank AG and NORD/LB for its 125 megawatt (MW) Cohocton Wind power project in Cohocton, NY [in operation since January 2009]. This is the first non-recourse term loan extended for a project utilizing wind turbine power generators produced by Clipper Windpower. First Wind, 4/1

The New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) suspends NY Public Service Commission (PSC) transmission line application, citing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision not to review its recent decision approving the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) transmission tariff. Per NYRI, that decision made making and operating the proposed 190-mile line uneconomic. Letter from NYRI CEO

GE capital infusion to Noble Environmental Power, per the two companies:

[Noble]  has received long-term capital for its 330-megawatt wind power projects in western and northern New York state. GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE (NYSE: GE), invested more than $200 million in the portfolio, which includes the Noble Altona, Chateaugay and Wethersfield Windparks. A syndicate of banks and financial institutions provided long-term debt, including letters of credit, totaling approximately $440 million. GE 4/6

North Harmony looking at wind law. Post Journal 4/5

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar touts offshore wind‘s potential:

“More than three-fourths of the nation’s electricity demand comes from coastal states and the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states actually exceeds our entire U.S. electricity demand,” Salazar told a summit meeting of 25X’25 America’s Energy Future, a group working to lower America’s carbon emissions. DOI 4/2 See also http://www.doi.gov/ocs.

This blogger attended last week’s terrifically interesting MIT offshore wind technology workshop and left a believer in the potential of offshore wind to contribute to the nation’s energy mix.  Whether the turbines are anchored to the ocean floor or suspended in the water with buoyancy, offshore offers some significant advantages over on-shore projects including proximity to coastal load centers and NIMBY avoidance. If DOI and FERC can learn to work together, costs can be reduced some, and (especially in the case of monopile turbines) construction vessels built, we may be poised for an explosion of offshore wind activity. Nice write up of the workshop at RenewableEnergyWorld.com; and a video here.

NY PSC approves Noble Environmental passive ownership transfer

At its December 10 meeting, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approved effective December 15  a proposed transfer of passive ownership in the upstream owner of certain wind developer companies in New York state without declaring the new passive owners electric corporations subject to PSC regulation.

The PSC indicates:

Describing the transaction, the Petitioners explain that EFS II [a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric Company (GE), and an affiliate of GE Capital Markets, Inc. (GECM)] will infuse cash-only capital contributions into NEP 2008 [Noble Environmental Power 2008 HoldCo Prime LLC-wholly owned, indirectly, by Noble Environmental Power LLC and the upstream owner of the Noble Companies] in exchange for the acquisition of all Class A membership interest units in NEP 2008. According to the Petitioners, the Class A interests are structured so that their owner can qualify for certain tax benefits and will receive an allocation of the profits from the wind facilities’ operations. The Petitioners emphasize that the Class A interests convey only passive ownership rights, limited to the vetoes and consents necessary for EFS II to protect its economic investment. Following the transfer, the Petitioners continue, EFS II may transfer up to approximately 50% of the Class A interests to GECM, but NEP Environmental will continue to own, indirectly, all of the Class B membership interests in NEP 2008. It is those interests, say the Petitioners, that bestow upon their owner the authority to control the operation of the Noble Companies’ [Noble Altona Wind Park LLC, Noble Chateaugay Wind Park LLC, Noble Wethersfield Wind Park LLC] wind facilities.

PSC CASE No. 08-E-1267 – Noble Altona Wind Park LLC, Noble Chateaugay Wind Park LLC, Noble Wethersfield Wind Park LLC, and EFS Noble Holdings II LLC – Petition For a Declaratory Ruling Regarding the Transfer of Membership Interests and Regulation. Decision, closing the matter, is here.

Wind energy update in New York and offshore

Cattaraugus County examines alternative energy tax issue

Per the Buffalo News (9/12)

Cattaraugus County legislators agreed Wednesday to go ahead with a Sept. 23 public hearing, but some said they’re still confused by a proposed local law governing local taxing authority for alternative energy systems.

Town of Italy (Yates County) reviews wind zoning

Per the Daily Messenger and MPNNow.com (9/14):

…The board is considering two amendments. If approved, the town would change the comprehensive plan and current zoning restrictions to allow for industrial wind turbines. Wind development has been on the table in Italy for seven years – since affiliates of Ecogen first expressed interest and began buying and leasing land for potential development.

Early on, the board opposed wind development and placed a moratorium on future projects. Ecogen sued, but the town won. However, the court advised the town to adopt an official stance on wind development, said MacKenzie. That led to a strong anti-turbine opinion in the town’s comprehensive plan. But Ecogen sued again, said MacKenzie.

Watertown Daily Times (9/14) editorial: New York State needs to provide wind project oversight

…There should be uniform standards for siting and development of wind turbines. People making decisions that will impact communities for many years should be above any allegations of conflicting interests.

The state needs to assume a greater oversight role in the many aspects of wind power development. This must be done soon, as wind projects are being implemented and pondered throughout upstate. The state should take some leadership here.

2007 Academic Study: Overwhelming support for Lewis County wind development

File this with the oldies but goodies. From an October 2007 study by the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College:

  • Over 72% of those surveyed “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that “The development of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm has had a positive effect on Lewis County.” The largest group in disagreement, in the aggregate more than 27%, were those aged 18-29.
  • Over 76% of those surveyed “strongly” or “somewhat” support the expansion of windfarms in Lewis County, with support very similar across gender and age groups.

The study was released in March 2008.

Delaware’s offshore project

New York Times magazine (9/14) article on the Bluewater Wind project off the coast of Rehoboth beach in Delaware.

“The moment I read that paper,” the wind entrepreneur Peter Mandelstam recalled, “I knew in my gut where my next wind project would be.”…