01/21/10

Today the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources the full committee will receive testimony from U.S. Energy Secretary Chu on the research and development priorities/imperatives needed to meet the medium- and long-term challenges associated with climate change. It's live at 10:00 a.m.

The Bangor Daily News ran an editorial today in support of increased investment in wind energy in Maine. The editorial staff cites the recent federal grant to the University of Maine - $12.4 million from U.S. Department of Commerce for a new offshore wind turbine test lab, the Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory. This, in combination with the $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create the Maine Offshore Wind Energy Research Center, will allow Maine to become a leader in offshore wind R&D. Professor Habib Dagher was clearly psyched, and Sen. Collins said the deep-water offshore wind energy industry eventually could bring in 15,000 jobs and $20 billion in investments to Maine -- and the BDN is now on board.

NYT reports that mogul T. Boone Pickens is revising his energy investment strategy, de-emphasizing wind energy, and refocusing natural gas from light passenger vehicles to commercial vehicles like semis and buses. Sounds like his wind love affair was short lived. Will he rekindle that spark?

Wisconsin is struggling with a sweeping new energy bill, including a renewable portfolio standard, tighter emissions standards for vehicles to California's levels, and open the door for new nuclear power development. Wisconsin is dependent on coal, and there is concern that this law would drive a shift toward more costly natural gas -- troubling both manufacturers who purchase power for industrial processes, and the coal industry.

North of the border: Ontario is signing a $6 billion deal with Samsung and Korea Electric Power to build and operate a 2,500 MW wind and solar power generation complex in Ontario. David Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, called the deal "secret" and criticized it for a lack of transparency -- and for undermining the feed-in-tariff program. Apparently Ontario has reserved 500 MW of transmission capacity for the project, which Butters described as

more than half the available transmission (capacity) in southwest Ontario."