Race on to beat Dec. 31 end of tax credit
RIO VISTA — Construction has entered the final phase at EDF Renewable Energy’s fourth major wind-turbine project in southeastern Solano County, just as federal incentives for wind-energy projects are set to expire.
On Sept. 24, EDF Renewable Energy (edf-re.com) commemorated the installation of one of the last turbines at its Shiloh IV project on about 3,000 acres in the Montezuma Hills south of Highway 12 with a turbine-blade signing near Rio Vista.
EDF and the U.S. wind industry as a whole have just 90 days to complete current construction activities to be eligible for the federal production tax credit for wind energy, which is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.
“As one could imagine, we are working furiously to finish all five of our wind-energy projects across the nation, including Shiloh IV,” said Mark Tholke, vice president for EDF Renewable Energy’s southwest region. The other projects are in Kern County, Kansas and Texas. “Wind tax credits have expired before and have been renewed and made retroactive. We hope that history will repeat itself. In the past, support for wind energy on Capitol Hill was strong and bipartisan, but this time things are less certain.”
He said anxiety over the economy and budget issues in Washington has changed the climate for renewable energy, to some degree, as competition and lobbying from natural gas and coal interests have increased.
The American Wind Energy Association has been actively trying to convince Congress that, given the typical seven-year project-development cycle, development and investment dollars will not be as readily available in the future without renewal of the tax credits.
The loss of these credits also could put more than 37,000 U.S. jobs in jeopardy, as well as impact a host of other jobs in the industry’s supply chain.
“In 2005, only 25 percent of the content going into wind turbines was American-made,” Mr. Tholke added. “By 2012 this figure had risen to 60 percent, showing how domestic manufacturers have embraced this technology and have established a steady market and industry. If tax credits are not renewed, U.S.-made content will be reduced.”
Shiloh IV is the fourth EDF Renewable Energy project to be developed under power purchase agreements with PG&E. The utility’s wants to have 33 percent of total energy coming from renewable sources under contract or delivered by 2020.
Each of the 50 Shiloh IV turbines, supplied by Repower, produces 2.05 megawatt-hours of electricity a year. All together, the installed capacity of the project is 102.5 megawatt-hours and valued at $300 million.
Beginning in December, the turbines are expected to begin delivering about 300 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year to PG&E’s generation portfolio.
That is enough to power 40,000 average PG&E-served homes, according to company officials. Using wind energy avoids 235,278 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fuels to generate an equivalent amount of power.
Turbine pedestals have a hub height of from 68.5 to 78.5 meters above ground level. This height ensures that the fields can continue to be used by landowners for grazing sheep and growing hay.
One of final rotor blades to be installed was used for the signing ceremony by community leaders, federal, state and county officials along with landowners and students from the Rio Vista High School who have been involved in a Renewable Energy class sponsored with a grant from EDF Renewable Energy.
EDF Renewable Energy, formerly enXco, is a major U.S. independent power producer with cumulative project financing in North America of more than $4 billion over the last 10 years. [See "enXco expanding, upgrading Solano wind farms," July 2.]
The company has developed or owns 22 wind power projects in California and is active 25 other states bringing the firm’s installed wind energy capacity in the U.S. to 1,449 megawatts.
Ten years ago, EDF Energies Nouvelles, the EDF subsidiary specializing in renewable energy, acquired enXco, initiating tremendous growth in the company throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.
At the time of the acquisition, the EDF (Electricite de France) group owned half of EDF Energies Nouvelles. EDF acquired the remaining half in August 2011. enXco is now fully integrated within the group under a new name, EDF Renewable Energy.
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