New York and New Jersey residents continued to suffer in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy even as power was restored in many areas and the nation’s attention prepares to turn to the 2012 Presidential Election. The DOE reports that almost a million New Jersey customers remain without power – one-quarter of the state. Another half-million are stranded in New York, mostly in the Outer Boroughs of New York, Westchester and Long Island. The weather has turned cold and a new storm system is moving in. The crisis is not over by any means.
As the election approaches, Michigan’s Proposition 3 is emerging as the main battleground for renewable-versus-conventional energy (if you don’t count Mitt Romney’s support of coal vs. President Obama’s backing of renewables). Prop 3 would amend the state constitution to require Michigan get 25 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025. California and a few other states have similar mandates. Supporters say the ballot initiative would create jobs and turn Michigan into a world center of renewable energy. (But then Greece and Spain both said the same thing.) Opponents say it will create huge inefficiencies and cost customers dearly. “Prop 3 Can’t Change the Laws of Economics,” writes Jarrett Skorup of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
And Washington isn’t doing a bad job of creating a renewable controversy as Congress goes down to the wire on renewing the wind industry’s production tax credit. The PTC, which has been in place since 1980, makes it highly profitable to put up windmills and is responsible for most of the construction. Without it, however, the industry faces collapse. Marlo Lewis of GlobalWarming.org says it’s time to remove wind’s training wheels and The Daily Caller says the industry can’t stand on its own. But Joanna Schroeder of DomesticFuel.com says the tax credit has been a success. In any case, jobs in the industry are dwindling and Vestas, the Danish wind giant, is closing is closing its research center in Boulder, CO.
Finally, on the other side of the world, China moves ahead with its own agenda. The Chinese are registering their objections to European solar subsidies with the World Trade Organization – retaliation for the EU’s challenge to China’s program. The Minister of Commerce is also investigating American subsidies to China’s silicon imports. The Chinese economy is slowing down and coal supplies are piling up. Overseas investments are expanding, however, and Tehran has just announced that China will help it build ten new power plants. The Western nations’ boycott of Iran’s nuclear efforts does not seem to be having much impact in Beijing.