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Trump’s victory creates uncertainty for wind and solar power

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Radford Takashima works on a solar panel installation on a roof in Honolulu. California, Hawaii, Oregon, New York and many other Democratic-leaning states have ambitious goals to wean themselves off fossil fuels, but they rely heavily on federal grants, tax credits and research to support their efforts, programs that could evaporate or be cut significantly in the new administration.

President Donald Trump has disputed climate change, pledged a revival of coal and disparaged wind power, and his nominee to head the Energy Department was once highly skeptical of the agency’s value. What this means for states’ efforts to promote renewable energy is an open question.

States that are pushing for greater reliance on wind and solar power are not quite sure what to expect as Trump takes over. Many of them depend heavily on federal renewable-energy tax credits, grants and research, much of which comes from the Energy Department.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Trump’s pick to lead the department, presents a contradictory figure: A Texas oil promoter, he also oversaw a huge expansion of wind-energy production while governor. When he ran for president in 2011, he included Energy on a list of departments he thought should be abolished, though he disavowed the idea Thursday at his Senate confirmation hearing.

“We don’t know what version of Perry is going to show up,” said Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, Austin.

Renewable energy accounts for about 15 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. And 29 states have set targets for boosting their reliance on such power.

Officials, experts and advocates in more than a half-dozen states with some of the most ambitious goals told The Associated Press that they are on course to meet their targets. Most said that while Trump policies could slow the expansion, they won’t stop it.

The price of harnessing the power of the sun and wind has dropped so much that in many areas of the country, experts say it could be competitive with traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas even without federal subsidies. Further, they do not expect a fast repeal of the key federal tax credits that have propelled the industry for years.

Still, policies aimed at bringing more renewable power online quickly are not expected while Trump is in office.

“We need to be moving faster, not slower,” said Jeff Forward, president of the trade group Renewable Energy Vermont. “I fear we’re tapping on the brakes right now.”

Those who promote renewable energy are concerned because Trump has expressed doubts about whether climate change is real, even though scientists agree that it is happening and that the burning of fossil fuels is a major reason for it.

Trump also has called for reviving the coal industry, which has struggled in part because of the rise of renewable energy. And he has criticized wind turbines near Palm Springs, California, both for killing birds and for looking like a “junkyard.”

Perry, at his confirmation hearings, said he believes climate change is happening and that some of it is caused by human activity. He also said he favors an “all of the above” energy policy, the way he did in Texas, and wants the federal government to continue research on renewable energy. He didn’t say what he thought of green-energy tax credits and other incentives.

The federal wind credit is set to be phased out in 2019, and the solar one, four years after that. Those incentives and other federal spending on renewable energy in fiscal year 2015 totaled about $10 billion, nearly twice as much as similar subsidies for fossil fuels.

In Hawaii, federal tax credits reduced the price for developers and homeowners by about $125 million annually from 2011 to 2014, according to an analysis by Blue Planet Foundation. During that time, the portion of the state’s electricity coming from renewables nearly doubled from 12 to 21 percent.

Randy Iwase, chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, said incentives are important to the state’s goal of having 100 percent of its power generated from renewable sources by 2045, the nation’s most aggressive target.

“We are in a toddler stage,” he said. “When you lose focus, when attention is distracted, when you make it less of a priority, the toddler kind of wobbles.”

The Energy Department said in a report last year that the cost of getting power from wind fell more than 40 percent from 2008 to 2015, and solar panel prices dropped more than 60 percent in that period.

Market forces have made green power big in Republican-led states, with wind turbines springing up along the Great Plains from Iowa to Texas. In those places — many of which have low or no green-energy requirements — the arguments for renewable power are more often cost savings and job creation, rather than the environmental benefits.

In December, Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio vetoed a bill that would have delayed the requirements there. This month, Phil Scott, the new GOP governor in Vermont, affirmed his commitment to Vermont’s goal of 90 percent green power by 2050.

Meanwhile, some Democratic-leaning states have been pushing their requirements upward. Since 2015, both New York and California have increased their targets to 50 percent by 2030, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he would like to go further than that.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said he is committed to meeting the state’s target regardless of what policy changes come from Washington.

“I know that there can be some changes in federal policy — tax credits and those kinds of things,” Ige said. “But it’s very clear to me that Hawaii’s commitment is much broader and deeper than federal policy or tax credits or incentives.”

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  • Really ? Wow the liberals sure are nuts. Mr. trump is a smart businessman and He would understand that we live on an island and have sun almost everyday. We have high shipping costs so importing oil is not smart for our future. I would bet he supports us to be energy independent if it was presented to him.

    Problem is we have all D’s and they are not that smart and are NOT open to working with R’s to make our state a better place for all.

    Stop living in FEAR and have some faith in our country and God.

    • “Mr. trump is a smart businessman and He would understand…”

      R U 4 real?!

      He is in the GW Bush category of intelligence, or worse. He was angry and upset and tried to do the birther issue, because he didn’t like that a ‘black’ man was more intelligent that he was…

      • You do know that Trump has a degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business right?
        Last I checked they don’t accept “dumb” people there. The man made a fortune in New York real estate in the 80’s, lost it all in Atlantic city casinos in the 90’s, and has rebuilt his fortune larger than ever since then, mostly by simple branding and name recognition.
        Most business experts concede he is a genius when it comes to his core business of real estate development.

        • Yeah. You’re totally correct. What was I thinking?! The school makes all the difference. Fo shua. Let’s see. GWB attended Yale and Harvard. But we know how much he really achieved there, just like Dan Rather reported, before daddy got him in and out with money and connections, not academic achievement. Your real life actions and words show you more than a piece of certificate degree paper stating you supposedly know what you studied…never saw a worthwhile silver spoon POTUS yet. Will Drumpf break the mold?

  • Oahu is D controlled. Green energy, self dependant. Also booming economy and thriving business. Unreal for an island state in the most remote location in the world. Thank God we’re Democrats. God bless America.

  • And, how about Mini-Nuclear Power Plants for an Island State (Hawaii) that is save, economical, and reliable, as proven for over 50 years by the United States of America. Think about it safe and clean electric power for under $0.10/kwh instead of our $0.30/kwh and higher consumer cost. Go check it out.

      • IRT Kealaula, no, its 2/3’s approval of the Legislature if nuclear is used or stored in Hawaii. Please, we are discussing “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants” those under 300 MW production. Not the huge 1,500 to 3,000 MW Nuclear Power Plants that have huge waste disposal challenges. IRT Seaborn, “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants” that we handle the waste the same as we do for waste from our Nuclear submarines, carriers, and ice breakers. Their “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants do not require refueling for 30 to 40 years. Go check it out at the U.S. Energy Department.

      • Oh, Kealaula, we could have in place and providing electricity for the entire State some 10 each 200 MW “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants” for the cost we have spent for the “Train” to no where.

    • India is committed to thorium nuke. no radiation. Google the history of thorium nuke energy. the us had 2 kinds of nuke development going on a oak ridge. the us choose uranium because you can’t make a bombs using thorium like you can with uranium,

      • IRT Mythman, yes, the thorium fueled salt reactors are clean and one of a number of options available for the future “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants.” For example, the two “Mini-Nuclear Power Plants in the U.S.S. Nixon Carrier produces enough power for a quarter of the Island of Oahu, some 500MW of electricity.

  • Good grief people think Trump is this evil dark lord or something. Get a grip libtards.
    Maybe if they weren’t so busy boycotting and protesting his inauguration but instead listened to the part of his speech about embracing future technology their panties wouldn’t be in such a bunch.

    • We read his policy proposals. You might want to do that too.
      That and the long list of provably false things he has said, up until and including yesterday.

      He is a craven narcissist who is being used to bring this country down.

      • And yet in spite of all your comical antics – – or perhaps because of them – – Trump defied the prediction of “experts” and is now YOUR President.

        Isaiah was indeed prophetic – – in this case he might well have been anticipating the praise that would be offered to our brand new 45th President.

        “The people walking in darkness
        have seen a great light;
        on those living in the land of deep darkness
        a light has dawned.

        “You have enlarged the nation
        and increased their joy;
        they rejoice before you
        as people rejoice at the harvest,
        as warriors rejoice
        when dividing the plunder.”

        // https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+8:23-9:3 //

        • If Isaiah were around today, he might find the election of a greedy, dishonest, arrogant, boastful, lustful, proud and lofty man as Donald J. Trump to be an ominous… I mean glorious… choice. Yippeee!

          Some other passages from Isaiah:

          Isaiah – New International Version (NIV)

          You, Lord, have abandoned your people, the descendants of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and embrace pagan customs. Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.So people will be brought low and everyone humbled—do not forgive them.

          Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

          In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.

          Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.Why hold them in esteem? People will oppress each other—man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored.

          A man will seize one of his brothers in his father’s house, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!” But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.”

          Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them, they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.

          The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing, “Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine; a homer of seed will yield only an ephah of grain.”

          Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, pipes and timbrels and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.

          Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst. Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.
          So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

          Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

          [I wonder what Steve “Dark Lord” Bannon makes of that last part about gaing power by using darkness and deception?]

    • “Climate change”. BAH Humbug.

      Earth’s climate has indeed changed, is changing and will continue to change.

      But MAN is – –

      – – ONE, Utterly unable to model even local weather in all its complexity and predict what the weather will be tomorrow, let alone what the climate will be a century from now. There are far too many variables in play so that anyone who says that his MODEL scientifically proves this that or the other is a LIAR.

      – – TWO, Not significant enough in terms of planet-scaled phenomenon to cause ANYTHING – – even if all His protoplasm were lumped together in one single slag heap, Man would be no more than a tiny, irrelevant grease spot on the face of our planet and if He were to be wiped out in toto by say, some fast moving virus, his absence would not register a whit with Mother Earth who would continue Her serene orbital curriculum (Latin for ‘race track’) dictated only by the warping of the space/time continuum under the influence of the Sun’s massively radiant gravity field.

      If there is one thing that distinguishes Homo Sapiens from all other life forms, it is His galactic IGNORANCE intertwined with His cosmic ARROGANCE. Nowhere is the result of such amusing nin-com-poop-ery more evident than in the widely disseminated man-made glo-bal-ony warming hoax that has been uncritically lapped up by credulous suckers waiting to be played by political grifters.

  • If Donald threatens wind, the North Shore new age surf zombies could rally support. Jack could host a fund raising concert. Remember those porno slezey joints on Hotel street back in the day? Well, Jack and the North Shore new age surf zombies could put a video of Madonna’s v-tat in booths and other surf zombies and lefties could pay to view it and the funds could be used to support the bat and nene killing windmills, not to mention the whooshing, which sounds like an echo from Hell……and the news is out the Soros is funding the ACLU these days. Don’t we have an ACLU big shot in these comments?

    • Do Democrats who supported Hillary and despise Trump realize what George Soros’ vision is for North America? I’d like to ask every politician in Hawaii if they agree with Soros, His money supports a lot of the rioters and chaos.

    • agree. more non-sense news. the media has yet to realize that they are part of the problem. SA is definitely biased to the left as monitored by independent sources.

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