wind energy

Mon, 2014-02-24 05:00Sharon Kelly
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Cold Weather Brings Wild Swings in Natural Gas Prices Despite Shale Gas Rush

Last year, natural gas prices hit record lows and shale gas promoters confidently predicted a bright future of stable low prices, making the fuel the best choice for home heating and electrical generation alike.

But last year was also marked by an unusually mild winter amid a still-sluggish economy. This year, cold winter weather returned across much of the U.S.– and consumers and utilities have begun to confront a strikingly different reality. Natural gas prices immediately spiked as high as $8.15/mmBTU Henry Hub this month – the most expensive prices seen since the 2008 economic collapse – as demand for power and heat surged.

And that $8.15 represents the daily price at a Louisiana pipeline hub often referenced by traders and federal energy analysts; regional prices have spiked far more dramatically. In the frigid Northeast, local prices have skyrocketed this year, with some operators paying up to $120 per mmBTU. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” one New Jersey power company executive told Bloomberg Businessweek in January. The spike’s effects have even reached as far south as East Texas, where spot prices topped $40/mmBTU, nearly reaching the highs seen in 2004 when the current onshore drilling rush began in the Barnett shale.

Keep in mind that the same amount of natural gas cost only $1.92 in April 2012.

That’s a little like suddenly finding out that a McDonalds burger that used to be 2 bucks will now cost you as much as full dinner at a five star restaurant.

These massive fluctuations in natural gas prices over the past year drive home a vital point: natural gas has always been prone to sudden booms and busts. The idea that shale gas – less than ten percent of the nation’s natural gas production and some of the most expensive to produce – could fundamentally transform the natural gas market, keeping prices consistently low, now seems more like a pipe dream than ever before.

Already, utilities and their customers are paying the price.

Wed, 2013-01-02 11:02Farron Cousins
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Wind Tax Credit Avoids The Fall Over The Fiscal Cliff

The U.S. government has managed to postpone financial calamity for a few months with the passage of a so-called “fiscal cliff” deal.  While the deal is hardly anything to celebrate in the larger scheme of things, it did provide a one-year extension for a critical clean energy mechanism – the wind energy production tax credit.

The credit has been in jeopardy since it was first introduced, with Republicans in Washington threatening to kill the tax credit, citing its estimated cost of $12.1 billion over the next decade as too costly.  However, the credit breaks down to a mere 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of wind energy produced in America, making it one of the cheapest subsidies approved for energy projects.

The extension of the credit comes at the perfect time, as the United Nations recently released a report detailing the ways in which climate change could cause financial disasters across the globe.

Among the more dire warnings in the U.N. report is the threat of water scarcity, which could devastate commodity markets, as agriculture would take a massive hit and crops would be decimated.  So while the United States might have postponed the drop over the fiscal cliff, the threat of the environmental and climate change cliff is very real, and very much in need of addressing. 

The wind production credit extension will keep the tax credit alive for the year 2013, which wil help wind energy companies to resume growing and to hire back workers laid off in the past year. Its fate after that remains unclear.

Tue, 2012-05-08 16:06Steve Horn
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The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”

The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.

Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg writes in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy,” 


“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”

A confidential memo seen by The Guardian and obtained by DeSmogBlog “advises using 'subversion' to build a national movement of wind farm protesters,” explained Goldenberg.

That memo was crafted by John Droz, a Senior Fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI).*(see update below)* ATI was the right-wing think-tank behind the lawsuit to obtain University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann's “ClimateGate” emails. 

Fri, 2011-04-01 04:45Ashley Braun
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Chart: The Deadliest Energy Sources in the World

Deaths per terawatt hour by energy source

How deadly is your energy source? The very real and lethal effects of our global energy choices become clear in this interactive data visualization, showing the death rate, as measured by the number of deaths per terawatt hour (TWh), for each of the major global energy sources, e.g., coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydro, peat, and biomass. Take a closer look at the chart here:

Wed, 2010-09-01 13:48Kevin Grandia
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The Uneven Energy Playing Field and the Spindoctors who Ignore it

There has been a recent surge in articles from fossil-fuel friendly sources pointing to the inequity of tax credits and government subsidies being directed to the renewable energy sector. 

The latest is by Alan Caruba writing on the industry-backed CFACT website bemoaning a $7 million investment in a wind project in New Jersey. 

What Caruba and others fail to mention in their argument is that the fossil fuel industry - the main competitor to the renewable energy sector - receives more than ten times as much in government subsidies globally.

A recent report by Bloomberg New Finance finds that worldwide, the fossil fuel industry - which is made up mainly of oil, gas and coal companies - receives $557 billion a year in government subsidies while the renewable energy sector receives less than one-tenth of the support at around $45 billion.

Mon, 2010-03-22 11:46Brendan DeMelle
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Institute for Energy Research Admits It Was Behind Anti-Wind Study

Danish journalists have confirmed that The Institute for Energy Research commissioned and paid for the anti-wind energy study released last year by a Danish think tank that claimed Denmark exaggerates the amount of wind energy it produces (it doesn’t), questioned whether wind energy reduces carbon emissions (it does), and asserted that the U.S. should choose coal over wind because it’s cheaper (it’s not when you count the true costs of coal).

The Copenhagen Post reports:
“A controversial report critical of the wind energy industry from conservative think tank CEPOS was commissioned and paid for by an American think tank with close ties to the coal and oil industries.”

That American think tank is the Institute for Energy Research, which has received $307,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998 and unknown additional sums from other oil and coal industry sources.  The Guardian reported last year that the Institute for Energy Research has received recent funding from KBR and trusts set up by Koch Industries, which has multiple ties to IER and its sister organization American Energy Alliance.

Mon, 2009-04-13 13:05Jeanne Roberts
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Congress and Renewables, Going Whichever Way the Wind Blows

A recent Forbes’ article on Vestas Wind’s CEO, Ditlev Engel, and his determination to make wind energy succeed in America, brings to mind the real problem behind renewable energy in the U.S; Congress tends to swing whichever way the wind blows (pun intended).

Vestas came to the U.S. in the wake of the OPEC oil crisis/embargo in 1973. Then, when oil prices dropped in the 1980s, Vestas – like many other renewable energy startups – went bust because the government let renewable energy tax incentives lapse for lack of interest. This effectively dried up venture capital.

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