News roundup: White House proposal supports renewables, Berkshire's energy logistics, and an Iowa school saves and earns with wind

6 March 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

In today’s roundup, the administration shows its support for renewables in its budget proposal, Warren Buffett extends his wind power investment into logistics, and an Iowa school powers itself – and then some – using the breeze.

The White House budget proposal for 2015 underscores the need for homegrown renewable power, including a permanent extension of the PTC:

  • The proposed budget would provide multiple federal agencies with funding to further spur renewable energy development in the country. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would receive approximately $5.2 billion.
  • According to a White House fact sheet, this DOE funding would include over $900 million in basic clean energy research in the Office of Science, over $500 million to increase the use and reduce the costs of renewable power, and $325 million for the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy to support transformative applied energy research.
  • In the budget, Obama also aims to make the PTC permanent and refundable - a goal he proposed in last year’s budget request as well. The fact sheet says making the incentive permanent “will provide a strong, consistent incentive to encourage investments in renewable energy like wind and solar, create American jobs, and support American companies and manufacturers.”

With the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) in Texas, new wind construction will benefit from a centralized supply depot, one that Warren Buffett’s BNSF wants to build:

  • The latest Buffett-related move in wind – coming as Berkshire’s MidAmerican Energy embarks on building more than a gigawatt of new wind power in Iowa – is the development of a logistics center in the heart of wind country, West Texas, by BNSF Logistics, a subsidiary of Berkshire’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company.
  • BNSFL said the facility, expected to open in the next few months, will initially cover 40 acres but could grow to 200 acres. ”When fully developed the site will be receiving, storing and loading out hundreds of turbine components each month, receiving components via both rail as well as truck,” the company said.
  • Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power capacity, with 12,214 MW as Sept. 30, 2013, but more is on the way as developers rush to take advantage of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission project, new lines that link the windy west with the state’s big population centers.

In Iowa, one elementary school is using wind power as an energy source, extra income, and as a learning opportunity:

  • The two [turbines] combined earn about $120,000 a year for the school. That may not sound like a lot, until you put it in human terms.
  • “Well, it will mean anywhere from two to three teachers, which is very important at a time [like] right now.”
  • See the video here.

Be sure check out this week’s other news roundups:

Sources:

Staff, “Obama's Proposed Budget Backs Renewables, Restates Call For Permanent PTC.” North American Windpower. 5 March 2014.

Pete Danko, “Warren Buffet’s wind power love extends to logistics.” Earth Techling. 5 March 2014.

Staff, “Iowa Wind Power.” National Geographic. 5 March 2014.