A Tale of Two Conferences — The World Renewable Energy Forum and DUO Oil and Gas Collide in the Mile High City
Speaking at the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver today, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu called on Congress to extend tax credits that support the nation’s alternative energy industry.
It’s been the Obama Administration’s refrain for several months as the expiration deadline for the Production Tax Credit nears ever closer.The current PTC saves wind farms $22 for every megawatt generated during the 10 years of operation.
Vestas Wind Systems, one of the shining jewels of former Governor Ritter’s New Energy Economy, employs 1,600 workers, but a number of those people could be without a job as the year progresses, according to the manufacturer, if Congress fails to renew the Production Tax Credit.
Given the partisan energy divide in Washington, we’re not taking odds that won’t happen.
Another major incentive for the clean energy sector that President Obama wants to see expanded is a 30 percent tax credit for investments in clean energy manufacturing known as the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
Those credits are supporting companies and workers here in Colorado and across the country, Secretary Chu said. Knowing his audience, he went on to laud our state, and pointed out how Colorado leads the way in clean energy; is among the leaders in installed solar capacity and has a renewable portfolio standard in place for several years. “It’s a hub for clean energy manufacturers from GE to Vestas,” Chu added.
Perhaps most importantly, the Secretary said the industry is getting closer to the point where it will be cost-competitive with traditional forms of energy, and not have to rely on federal subsidies. When that will finally happen — if ever — is still open to debate.
“The market is getting bigger, the technology is getting better, and costs are coming down, Chu said. The question is no longer if clean energy will become competitive with conventional forms of energy; the question is, ‘When will it happen?”
Costs are coming down, too, in a whole other universe of energy production. Next door at the Denver Convention Center, the DUO Reservoirs Conference and Exhibition celebrated the huge boom in shale production with huge crowds, lots of enthusiasm and a highly diverse technical program. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are driving prices down and industry profits up, and that was evident everywhere you went.
“Don’t forget about all the jobs we’re generating for the regional economy, especially in the Niobrara,” one presenter reminded us. “It is going to continue to build with companies like Noble Energy, Bill Barrett Corporation, Anadarko and other operators increasing their well counts in the Wattenberg field and other areas of Colorado and Wyoming.”
A Tale of Two Conferences, for sure.