Energy Policy sample essay
Complete short answers to the following questions. Please include the question as part of your answer to facilitate grading.
1. Describe two initiatives established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 that have enhanced the nation’s demand for ethanol? One Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 required the use of oxygenates (such as ethanol) to be used in reformulated gasoline. Another Amendment required that reformulated gasoline be required in regions that violate standards set forth by the Act. This was implemented in 9 specific areas year-round, and wintertime only months in 39 more areas.
2. What is winter oxygenated fuel and what is the benefit to the environment? Oxygenates are added to gasoline in order to reduce carbon monoxide, which can indirectly affect global warming. Carbon Monoxide does this by reacting with hydroxyl in the atmosphere. In 1988, Denver, Colorado was the first place to mandate oxygenated fuels be used during winter months. Adding oxygenates does however reduce the energy density of gasoline.
3. Describe three federal laws or policies that encourage the production of ethanol to be used as fuel? The Energy Tax Act of 1978 was the first piece of legislation to encourage ethanol production by subsidizing it 40 cents for every gallon blended with gasoline. More recently, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required that at least 36 billion gallons of ethanol and clean fuel be blended with transportation fuels by 2022. Before that, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS mandated that a certain amount of renewable fuel be used in the production of gasoline.
4. Describe the renewable fuels standard established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007? The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) sets minimum requirements of renewable fuel production/use. Specifically, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel must be used/produced each year by 2022. A percentage of that fuel must be cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, and advanced biofuel; each of which must meet certain greenhouse gas emission reduction criteria.
5. What federal tax policy encourages wind production? Mention two policies/laws. The primary policy which affects wind generated electricity production is the Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC currently pays 2.1 cents per kWh of electricity generated via wind energy. Additionally, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 created the Small Wind Systems Tax Credit, which subsidizes systems less than 100 kW; system owners receive a 30% credit on the total installed cost.
6. What are the development milestones of a wind project? The first milestone in developing a wind project is gathering wind resource data by constructing collection towers. Second, the feasibility of connecting to existing transmission lines must be determined. Then, access to land must be secured in the form of a lease or easement. Following that, a buyer must be secured for the purchase of electricity generated from the project. Finally, the project owner must secure financing for the project.
7. Describe at least three federal laws that regulate or impact the siting of wind turbines? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has jurisdiction over any structure that might impact flight, or flight related communication equipment. Therefore, any structure over 200 feet tall must be approved by the FAA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This Act protects a number of migratory birds from harm. Therefore, wind project siting must be done in way that does not affect any protected species. The National Historic Preservation Act can require developers to conduct a study to verify that no historic or important locations will be negatively affected by the wind project.
8. Describe the “local laws” (county or townships ordinances) that regulate the construction of wind farms? A conditional use permit will need to be obtained from the local building codes office in order to comply with zoning requirements. Townships or counties may also regulate local roads, and make a determination as to whether or not the infrastructure can handle the additional use associated with the project.
9. Describe the types of state laws that regulate the development and siting of a wind farm? A state’s Public Utilities Commission will need to approve a wind farm project. Additionally, the State Health Department will need to sign-off on the project before commencing. There are myriad other state regulatory programs that may affect the development and siting of a wind farm. Some examples include state regulation of endangered species, historical preservation, and water quality matters.
10. Do you agree with state laws designed to protect landowners vis-à-vis wind farm developers. Explain your position. One-half to one page. Wind farms are a relatively new concept. Combine that with an evolving utility market and aging infrastructure, and there’s bound to be some complications associated with developing such projects. There’s no question that anyone involved in developing a wind project has experienced some of these complications. Part of this comes from the degree of uncertainty that goes along with new business ventures. However, with that uncertainty arises opportunities to take advantage of folks that don’t fully understand the interworking’s of an industry. Some legislators understand this, and attempt to insulate the ‘weaker’ parties from being taken advantage of. Undoubtedly, state laws such as those implemented by North Dakota, have decreased the amount of leverage (and thus profitability) wind project developers have over landowners.
However, I don’t view this as being unfair. It is more a leveling of the playing field. For example: Generally speaking, individual landowners lack the resources to properly negotiate with large wind project developers. Confidentiality mandates further hamper a landowner’s ability to better understand the deal they’ve been offered. Additionally, long-term lease agreements unfairly burden landowners when the project doesn’t produce as expected. Giving them an option to terminate such agreements under specified conditions seems only fair. I agree with state laws that protect landowners from being exploited in wind project lease agreements. Some developers will try to maximize profits at the landowners’ expense is such laws are not in place.
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/law/US/390 Other Indirect Greenhouse Gases – Carbon monoxide. http://www.ghgonline.org/otherco.htm Week 8 – Alternate Energy – Lecture. Bismarck State College. Farmer’s Guide to Wind Energy. Farmer’s Legal Action Group, Inc. Shoemaker, Jessica
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