wind turbine

Energy Winners and Losers

Apr 15, 2016  | Ep4134

A political push away from fossil fuels intensified on the campaign trail with Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calling for a New York State moratorium on natural gas hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, to go national.

Bernie Sanders D Vermont “In my view if we are serious about safe and clean water, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont but in every state in the country.”

Suffering under the laws of supply and demand, oil prices continue to rebound despite high volatility. The price of crude has risen over 20% in the last 90 days in reaction to gradually increasing global demand, reduced oil stockpiles and lower rig counts.

Other fossil fuel mainstays, like coal, also have been under pressure. The collapse of coal demand for the production of electric power over the last decade has forced Peabody energy, the nation’s largest coal producer, into bankruptcy. Under Chapter 11 rules, Peabody officials says they will be allowed to continue operating as debt is restructured with creditors.

Coal’s loss has been wind energy’s gain. Wind energy supplied electricity to a record 17.5 million American homes in 2015. The 191 megawatts of power generated represents 4.7 percent of America’s power needs.

Seventeen states generate over 5 percent of their electricity through wind power. Iowa and South Dakota each generate over 25 percent of their electricity from the wind.

And this week Iowa - based MidAmerican Energy announced it will spend $3.6 billion dollars over the next 3 years to add 2 thousand megawatts of wind generation capacity. When completed, MidAmerican believes it can generate 85 percent of needed electricity from renewable sources, and that the company is on track to be 100 percent renewable in the future.

The wind energy industry attributes much of its growth to the extension of the 2015 Wind Energy Tax Credit. The 2.3 cent per kilowatt hour credit encourages the addition of wind capacity to the nation’s electrical grid. The incentive is scheduled to sunset in 2020.

Solar energy also benefits from the measure, which spurred 40 percent growth in 2015. Power generated by the sun now tops 28 thousand megawatts annually.

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