Home Back Issues May 2012 Has the green energy bubble burst?

Has the green energy bubble burst?

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012

By Jon Bell

Like industries everywhere, Oregon’s renewable energy sector, which saw impressive growth before 2008, has experienced turbulence. Chinese solar panels and wind turbines have stiffened competition, and uncertainty around the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), a valuable incentive for renewable energy companies, has many firms wary. Vestas Wind Systems and Iberdrola Renewables announced layoffs earlier this year.

At the same time, SoloPower is forging ahead with a $340 million facility in Portland that could someday employ 400. New federal tariffs on Chinese solar panels could help level the playing field.

So, has the green bubble burst in Oregon or is it just deflating a bit before staging a comeback?

0512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_010512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_020512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_030512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_040512_ExpertOpinion_GreenEnergy_05

Bill Conerly
Lake Oswego economist, principal at Conerly Consulting
“Green energy wasn’t really a bubble as investments go. A sign of a bubble is that people see first-generation investors making money and pile on after them. Nobody was truly making money here, just collecting government subsidies. The availability of subsidies attracted money, but few market participants believed that renewables made sense absent the subsidies. The future of renewable energy depends entirely on subsidies in the foreseeable future, aside from a few select applications. There may come a time, many years from now, when renewables can stand on their own feet, but we are very far away from that time. With falling natural gas prices, the time when solar makes sense is even farther away.”

Steve Corson
Portland General Electric spokesman
“The recession certainly had an impact on development of renewable energy, just as it did on the overall picture of the region. We have seen some softening in load growth and our projections for what customers are going to need, but we see that as a dip rather than a stall. We’re still working to acquire new renewables. We have a renewable standard in Oregon [which mandates that 25% of power must be renewable by 2025], so we are going to be increasing our amount of renewable power in the coming years. [As far as subsidies go], even if you took away the major incentive, which is the Production Tax Credit, we would still add renewables. In our case, the tax incentives are essentially a pass-through to our customers. From a public policy standpoint, it makes sense that tax and environmental policies align.”

Erin Greeson
Spokeswoman for Renewable Northwest Project, a Portland nonprofit that advocates for the development of renewable resources

“We don’t feel the bubble has burst. The entire country and the world are recovering from a recession. We have a very strong renewable energy economy here, and it is being affected by the global economy. Renewable has always been kind of boom and bust because there’s never been sound, stable policies in place to fully support it. But we are very proud of the progress that the state has achieved in bringing clean renewable energy onto the system and for having the vision to see renewable energy as an economic driver. Renewable companies have invested $5.4 billion in Oregon. This industry has brought a lot of jobs to the state. New renewable energy is still a small fraction of what’s on the grid. We’re making progress, but the work has only just begun.”

 

 

Comments   

 
John  A. Ward
0 #1 Has the Green Bubble BurstJohn A. Ward 2012-04-25 12:48:01
I agree with the 'there never was a green bubble without subsidies', renewable energy wouldn't exist without external financing, it doesn't now or anywhere in the near future 5-10 years look like anything but a niche product.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Jody Wiser
0 #2 Policy Wonk, Tax Fairness OregonJody Wiser 2012-04-26 09:04:55
Actually, in California, solar is now competitive with other sources of energy. More progress on system efficiencies and the same will be true in Oregon. And there is lots of experimentation going on. We'll get there. Maybe not for all the individual projects on homes' roofs, but certainly for larger scale arrays.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


Read more...

Register for 100 Best Companies survey

News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
OBM-100-best-logo-2015 150pxwBy Kim Moore | OB Editor

The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS