The Alternative Agenda: Nissan Leaf Comes to America; Cape Wind looking for a Power Buyer; CES

by Terrence Murray - December 20, 2010

Nissan Leaf

Japanese automobile maker Nissan has begun the North American rollout of its Leaf electric vehicle (EV). stocked their showrooms with the much-awaited car. Days before, dealerships in California, Oregon and Arizona also began delivering the Leaf to customers.

Over the past year the EV sector has crossed some important milestones. They include Tesla Motor’s successful IPO and competitor (sticker price $41,000). Back to the Leaf, outside North America Nissan has been working closely with EV battery service provider Better Place, which is deploying EV service stations, initially in Israel and Denmark. These service centers — allbeit in small markets — will ensure steady demand for the Leaf.

Cape Wind

Cape Wind is looking for someone to buy electricity from the 420 megawatts offshore wind farm it is developing off Cape Cod. Already half of the plant’s output is sold to National Grid as part of a 15-year power purchase agreement. However, there’s still 210 megawatts for sale.   that utility NStar would be an obvious customer for that output. But NStar beggs to differ, pointing out that ongoing low natural gas prices make conventional onshore power more attractive. Undeterred, backed by its single PPA, Cape Wind is moving ahead with project development and is understood to have begun talks with banks to secure construction financing.

Clean Energy Standard

Last week President Obama extended a package of green energy subsidies, including the very popular cash grants. Could a Clean Energy Standard (CES) follow? Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that there might be some Republican votes in support of a CES mandate. “I think there is a level of flexibility that allows you to achieve the goal of reduced [greenhouse gas] emissions, but gives you the ability to determine what it is you are going to do and how you are going to do it,” she tells The Hill’s Ben Geman. She adds: “I don’t think that is a mandate that scares people away. A CES standard is a lot looser than the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), backed by Democrats. Unlike the RES, which specifically mandates utilities pipe more electricity from wind, solar and other renewables, the CES only requires utilities to generate power from “low-carbon sources” that include wind and solar generation BUT also new nuclear power plants, and coal plants if they can trap emissions — a technology that today remains largely experimental.

Photo: Nissan

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