News - Americas
- November 25, 2013 – Vestas Launches 'Wind for Prosperity' Venture to Provide Hybrid Systems
- November 25, 2013 – Nordex Unveils N131/3000 Light-Wind Turbine
- November 22, 2013 – Renewables Dominate New U.S. Energy Capacity in October
- November 22, 2013 – Ohio's Clean Energy Law a Success, Environmentalists Say
- November 21, 2013 – World's Largest Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility Opens in S.C.
- November 21, 2013 – DOD and NRDC Develop Guide for Siting Renewable Energy Projects
- November 21, 2013 – U.S. Navy to Deploy WindSentinel Floating LIDAR
- November 20, 2013 – U.S. Energy Dept. Dedicates New Wind Turbine Test Facility
- November 20, 2013 – Researchers Developing Technology to Manage Power Flows, Integrate Renewables
- November 20, 2013 – Retail Energy Supplier Offering Wind Power RECs in Four States
- November 19, 2013 – Study: LEEDCo Offshore Wind Project Safe for Lake Erie Wildlife
- November 19, 2013 – New Mexico Utility on the Lookout for Renewable Energy Resources
- November 19, 2013 – Duke Energy Carolinas Proposes Renewables Program for Energy-Intensive Customers
- November 19, 2013 – Grain Belt Express Clean Line Issues RFI to Kansas Wind Generators
- November 18, 2013 – New Calif. Transmission Line Could Help Integrate Renewables
- November 15, 2013 – Facebook Logs in to MidAmerican's Iowa Wind Farm
- November 15, 2013 – Mexico WindPower 2014 Will Run on 100% Wind Energy
- November 15, 2013 – Xcel Foresees Millions in Savings From Newly Approved Wind Purchase
- November 14, 2013 – Nebraska Utility Selling Wind-Generated RECs to Medical Tech Company
- November 14, 2013 – Quebec Releases Final Regulation For 450 MW Wind Power Block
- November 13, 2013 – Interior Department Approves Most of 1.5 GW Transmission Line Project
- November 11, 2013 – University Lands DOE Grant to Research Grid Integration of Renewables
- November 11, 2013 – Coalition of Governors Calls For Wind PTC Certainty
- November 11, 2013 – CAISO Board Approves Western Energy Imbalance Market Design
- November 11, 2013 – Senators, Advocates Push For Funded Energy Title in New Farm Bill
- November 8, 2013 – Need to Downsize Your Renewable Energy Project? CAISO Says It Has You Covered
- November 8, 2013 – Kansas Regulators OK Grain Belt Express Clean Line Project
- November 8, 2013 – Vestas Seeks Hundreds of New Workers at Colorado Plants
- November 6, 2013 – Pennsylvania Convention Center Opts for Renewables
- November 5, 2013 – Microsoft Buying Wind Power From 110 MW Texas Project
- November 4, 2013 – Vestas Launches V105-3.3 MW Turbine for Windy and Turbulent Conditions
- November 1, 2013 – BayWa Taps Signal Energy to Build New Mexico Wind Farm By Year-End
- November 1, 2013 – DOE Seeks Regional Resource Centers for Wind Power
- October 31, 2013 – Senators Introduce National Renewable Electricity Standard
- October 31, 2013 – Utilities Across the U.S. Are Cashing in on the Lower Price of Wind Power
- October 31, 2013 – Ohio Veterans Work to Protect State Renewables
- October 29, 2013 – Vermont Renewable Energy Businesses Call For 20% By 2020 Target
- October 28, 2013 – ACORE: Policies Make Midwest a Renewable Energy Hub
- October 25, 2013 – Household Products Maker SC Johnson Increases Overall Renewable Energy Usage, Relies on Wind Power
- October 25, 2013 – Liberty Power Donates Wind-Generated RECs to Event in Texas
- October 24, 2013 – Ontario One Step Closer to Eliminating All Coal-Fired Generation
- October 24, 2013 – DOE Report Updates Industry on U.S. Offshore Wind Market, Global Trends
- October 23, 2013 – Mercom Report Tallies up Wind Deals of the Third Quarter
- October 22, 2013 – IEA Report Suggests Wind Could Generate Almost 20% of World's Electricity by 2050
- October 21, 2013 – New Portal Offers Local Businesses a Chance to Work on New Jersey Energy Link
- October 21, 2013 – Long Island Power Authority Seeks 280 MW of Renewable Energy
- October 18, 2013 – California Regulators Set Massive Energy Storage Goal
- October 18, 2013 – U.S. Renewables Outpace Coal, Oil and Nuclear Combined
- October 14, 2013 – Consortium Readies Floating Wind Turbine for Operation in Fukushima
- October 14, 2013 – Climate Change Group Provides C$10 Million to Alberta Wind Project
- October 11, 2013 – Oklahoma Utility Signs Up for 600 MW of Wind Power
- October 11, 2013 – CanWEA Presents its Annual Wind Energy Awards
- October 10, 2013 – Oklahoma Co-op on the Lookout for Wind and Solar Power
- October 10, 2013 – California Ushers in 600 MW Shared Renewables Law
- October 9, 2013 – National Research Council of Canada Announces Energy Storage Program
- October 9, 2013 – Texas High School Cuts Ribbon on Wind and Solar Energy System
- October 9, 2013 – Utility Buying Wind-Generated RECs from University of Delaware
- October 8, 2013 – Galion LIDAR Studying Wind Resource Along Texas Coast
- October 7, 2013 – LM Wind Power Says Production Tax Credit Leads to Jobs
- October 7, 2013 – Wind Energy Showcased at College Football Game in Iowa
- October 3, 2013 – Gamesa Receives First Order for 5 MW Wind Turbines
- October 1, 2013 – Survey: 75% of New Jerseyans Want In-State Offshore Wind
- October 1, 2013 – Vestas Receives 50 MW Wind Turbine Order in Uruguay
- September 30, 2013 – BOEM to Assess Competitive Interest in West Coast Offshore Wind Site
- September 30, 2013 – Clean Energy Storage Project Completed in British Columbia
- September 30, 2013 – 40 MW Energy Storage Facility Goes Live in Ohio
- September 30, 2013 – First-Half U.S. Wind Power Production Up 20% Year-Over-Year
- September 27, 2013 – Regulators OK Minnesota Power's Plan to Add Wind, Reduce Coal
- September 26, 2013 – Vestas Supplying 400 MW to Two Duke Energy Wind Projects in Texas
- September 26, 2013 – Could Renewable Energy Save Utilities Billions?
- September 26, 2013 – EDPR Canada, Timberlands Company Plan 300 MW of Wind Projects
- September 25, 2013 – Wind Industry Makes Its Case at Ohio Statehouse
- September 25, 2013 – NextEra Energy Canada Completes 124.4 MW Wind Farm in Ontario
- September 25, 2013 – EPA Honors 24 Organizations for Green Power Efforts
- September 24, 2013 – JCM Capital Closes Development Financing For Lake Erie CleanPower Connector
- September 24, 2013 – Tri Global Energy Announces 1.1 GW Community Wind Farm in Texas
- September 23, 2013 – IRS Provides Certainty for Wind Developers to Move Forward With PTCEligible Projects
- September 23, 2013 – Massachusetts Utilities File 565 MW Wind Energy Plan
- September 23, 2013 – Connecticut Boosts Renewables Portfolio with Commitment to 250 MW Wind Project
- September 20, 2013 – Report Highlights the Rise of Renewable Energy
- September 19, 2013 – CanWEA Calls For 2 GW More of Ontario Wind Procurement
- September 18, 2013 – ACORE: Western States Are Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Development
- September 18, 2013 – Internet Giant Google Enters 240 MW Wind Power Agreement in Texas
- September 17, 2013 – LEEDCo's Novel Approach to Financing and Support
- September 16, 2013 – Michigan Utility Makes Its First Wind Power Purchase
- September 16, 2013 – Liberty Power Supplies Wind-Generated RECs to Convention in Chicago
- September 13, 2013 – Company Plans Transmission Line Connecting Ontario Energy to the U.S.
- September 13, 2013 – Ohio Utilities Are on the Lookout for Renewable Energy Credits
- September 13, 2013 – Gamesa Partners With Mexican University on Wind O&M Training
- September 13, 2013 – Vestas Wins 80 MW Order from EDF Renewable Energy
- September 12, 2013 – Official: U.S. Treasury Contemplates Releasing Additional PTC Guidance
- September 12, 2013 – DOE Dedicates Research Facility to Help Integrate Renewables
- September 11, 2013 – CPUC Proposes Energy Storage Targets, with 1.325 GW Expected by 2020
- September 10, 2013 – BNEF: Development Banks Finance Record Amount in Clean Energy
- September 10, 2013 – U.S. Army Selects Wind Firms for $7B Renewables Program
- September 6, 2013 – Hawaiian Company Makes Operational Improvements to Use More Wind Energy
- September 5, 2013 – Volkswagen de Mexico Agrees to Power Two Plants with Wind Energy
- September 5, 2013 – System Improvements at IESO Help Transition to More Sustainable Supply Mix
- September 4, 2013 – City of Boston Buys Wind-Generated Renewable Energy Credits
- September 4, 2013 – DOI Concludes Second-Ever U.S. Federal Offshore Wind Auction
- September 3, 2013 – Six-Day 'Energy Exodus' March Ends With Activists Rallying to Build Cape Wind Project
- August 30, 2013 – Washington Supreme Court Backs Controversial Wind Farm
- August 29, 2013 – New Study Debunks Myth That Wind Turbines Hurt U.S. Home Property Values
- August 28, 2013 – High School Students Sign Up For Possible Career in Wind Energy
- August 26, 2013 – Across Country, Editorials Spread Good News on Wind Power
- August 26, 2013 – NREL Study: Cost Gap for Western U.S. Renewables Could Narrow By 2025
- August 26, 2013 – DOE, State Of New Jersey Partner on Microgrid for Transit System
- August 23, 2013 – Illinois Regulators OK Transmission Project That Will Deliver Renewable Energy
- August 23, 2013 – GDF SUEZ Energy Resources Donates RECs for US Open Tennis Tournament
- August 22, 2013 – AWEA: Tax Reform Talks Provide Best Opportunity to Extend PTC
- August 22, 2013 – Report: Renewable Energy Made Up Nearly 50% of U.S. Added Capacity Last Year
- August 22, 2013 – LEEDCo Reports Strong Support for Lake Erie Offshore Wind Project
- August 21, 2013 – AWS Truepower Updates Wind Trends Bulletin
- August 15, 2013 – Here We Go Again: Legislation Introduced By Pa. Congressman Calls for Six-Year PTC Phase-Out
- August 15, 2013 – GE, Sandia National Lab Work Toward Quieter, More Productive Wind Turbines
- August 15, 2013 – Trinity Industries Reports an Increase in Tower Orders on PTC Extension
- August 14, 2013 – Clean Line "Overwhelmed" By Wind Developer Response to RFI
- August 14, 2013 – Iowa Utilities Board Greenlights MidAmerican's Expansion
- August 9, 2013 – Clarkson University Opens Wind Turbine Blade Test Facility
- August 9, 2013 – Wind Energy Helps ERCOT Power through Third-Highest Demand in Its History
- August 8, 2013 – New IBM Weather-Modeling Technology Aims to Increase Reliability from Renewables
- August 8, 2013 – Ambitious Developer Plans 1 GW Community Wind Farm In S.D.
- August 6, 2013 – Major Provider Energizes First of Seven CREZ Lines
- August 6, 2013 – Despite Record-Breaking Installs, Report Says U.S. Must Find Way to Rebuild Pipeline
- August 2, 2013 – Bank Enters 10-Year Deal to Power Texas Branches with Green Energy
- August 2, 2013 – Mass. Community College Offers Offshore Wind Training
- August 2, 2013 – Granite Conducts Intern Training At Mesalands Wind Center
- August 1, 2013 – UMaine Granted $1M to Build Wind-Wave Generation System
- August 1, 2013 – Deepwater Wind Wins First U.S. Federal Offshore Wind Auction
- July 31, 2013 – Xcel Wants to Grow Giant Wind Portfolio By 30%
- July 30, 2013 – U.S. Wind Energy Starts Ramping Back Up Following Early-Year PTC Extension
- July 30. 2013 – GDF SUEZ Energy Resources Donating RECs to New England Aquarium
- July 30, 2013 – Study: Albertans File Few Complaints about Wind Power
- July 25, 2013 – Wind Sector VC Funding Leaps During Second Quarter
- July 25, 2013 – EIA: Renewables Will Be One of World's Fastest-Growing Energy Sources
- July 24, 2013 – New Energy Storage Testing Center Coming to New York
- July 23, 2013 – Wind Energy Helps NYISO Defend Against Record-Setting Heat Wave
- July 22, 2013 – BOEM to Award Wind Energy Lease Offshore Virginia
- July 19, 2013 – Renewables Outpace Coal, Oil and Nuclear in the U.S. During First Half of Year
- July 18, 2013 – Study: More Renewables and Efficiency Would Greatly Help Solve U.S. Water Problems
- July 17, 2013 – Clean Energy Group Launches Online Public Utility Commission Database
- July 17, 2013 – ACEA Calls on White House to Protect U.S. Water, Favor Clean Energy Resources
- July 16, 2013 – Global Clean Energy Investment Rebounds in Q2
- July 16, 2013 – Survey: North Carolinians Oppose Fracking, Favor Clean Energy
- July 12, 2013 – Kansas State Study: Wind Turbines Show Little Impact on Greater Prairie Chickens
- July 12, 2013 – Ontario Kicks Off Long-Term Energy Plan Review
- July 11, 2013 – Is There Enough Room for Offshore Wind on New York's Energy Highway?
- July 11, 2013 – Vestas Confirms It is Hiring Workers in Pueblo, Colo.
- July 11, 2013 – Xcel Energy Plans Significant Increase in Wind Purchases
- July 11, 2013 – Supplemental RFP Opens the Door for UMaine-Led ConsortiumJuly 11, 2013 – Supplemental RFP Opens the Door for UMaine-Led Consortium
- July 10, 2013 – Obama Nominates ACORE Chief to DoD Post
- July 5, 2013 – New Mexico to Lease Land For 1 GW Wind Farm
- July 3, 2013 – New Hampshire to Re-Evaluate Energy Project Siting Laws
- July 1, 2013 – Report: Rise in Wind and Solar Power Will Boost Energy Storage Market
- July 1, 2013 – Texas Utility Adds 570 MW to Wind Portfolio
November 25, 2013 – Vestas Launches 'Wind for Prosperity' Venture to Provide Hybrid Systems
Vestas says it is teaming up with Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar to launch Wind for Prosperity. According to Vestas, Wind for Prosperity will aim to provide energy-poor regions with hybrid wind and diesel power systems.
Under the partnership, Masdar will focus on managing the development and construction of Wind for Prosperity projects, while Vestas will focus on wind mapping, site design, and sourcing and refurbishing wind turbines.
"Many of the world’s most underserved citizens rely primarily on diesel generators for what power they have, which is expensive and polluting,” says Morten Albaek, Vestas Group senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
“Wind for Prosperity uses Vestas’ unique weather-data-processing capabilities to identify energy-poor but wind-rich areas where Vestas’ wind hybrid solutions can power social and economic growth.” However, Albaek notes that Vestas will make profits from the venture.
According to Vestas, the first Wind for Prosperity projects focus on up to 13 Kenyan communities that are home to more than 200,000 people. The company says these projects - being planned in coordination with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, Kenya Power and Light Co., and various government agencies - are expected to supply electricity at least 30% below the current cost of power production based on diesel only.
Frontier Investment Management is actively involved in developing the Kenyan opportunity and, together with Vestas, is exploring potential Wind for Prosperity projects in other African countries.
Vestas says the Wind for Prosperity aims to install the hybrid power generation systems in 100 communities reaching at least 1 million people in the next three years. Additional opportunities are being explored in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Pakistan, Vietnam and Nicaragua.
(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2013 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)
November 25, 2013 – Nordex Unveils N131/3000 Light-Wind Turbine
Nordex SE is extending its Generation Delta turbine platform, which the company launched this spring, with the addition of a turbine for light-wind locations.
The company says its N131/3000 is specially designed for IEC-3 locations and features rotor blades measuring 64.4 meters in length. Nordex is offering the N131/3000 on tubular steel towers with a hub height of 99 and 114 meters for international markets. The target markets for the N131/3000 are central Europe, Scandinavia, Turkey and selected regions in Africa and the Americas.
Nordex says the first light-wind N131/3000 turbine is to be installed in the fourth quarter of 2014. Series production of the turbine is scheduled for 2015.
(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2013 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)
November 22, 2013 – Renewables Dominate New U.S. Energy Capacity in October
The SUN DAY Campaign, a renewable energy advocacy group, reports that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest infrastructure update shows that solar, biomass and wind sources provided 694 MW of new electrical generating capacity in October - representing 99.3% of all new generation placed in-service.
Twelve new solar units accounted for 504 MW (72.1%) of all new electrical generating capacity in October, followed by four biomass units providing 124 MW (17.7%) and two wind units contributing 66 MW (9.4%).
According to SUN DAY, renewable energy sources have accounted for 32.8% of all new electrical generating capacity for the first 10 months of 2013. This exceeds the total from coal's 12.5% and oil's 0.3%. Renewable sources now account for nearly 16% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity.
“As the threats posed by climate change grow increasingly more dire, renewable energy sources have clearly become a viable alternative to fossil fuels as well as nuclear power,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Accordingly, efforts by some at the state and national levels to roll back support for these sources are clearly misguided.”
(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2013 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)
November 22, 2013 – Ohio's Clean Energy Law a Success, Environmentalists Say
Now in its fourth year, Ohio's Clean Energy Law (S.B.221) continues to spur investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to a new report from the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center.
Passed in 2008, the Clean Energy Law established benchmarks for Ohio investor-owned utilities to get 12.5% of their electricity from renewable sources and save 22% of their electricity through energy efficiency by 2025, Environment Ohio explains. In addition, at least half of the renewable energy required must be purchased from in-state projects.
“The Clean Energy Law is getting results for the Buckeye State,” says Christian Adams, Environment Ohio state associate. “Four years in, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law is reducing pollution, cutting our dependence on coal and gas, creating jobs and saving Ohioans money.”
The report - “Ohio’s Clean Energy Success Story, Year 4” - finds that between January 2009, when the Clean Energy Law took effect, and December 2012, the law has resulted in 5,000 GWh of cumulative energy savings and reduced peak electricity demand by 1.583 GW. In addition, 313 MW of wind power and 25 MW of solar energy were added in 2012.
“We decided to shift our focus to Ohio from Indiana primarily because of the passage of S.B.221. We knew the law would create a market for clean energy that we could compete for,” comments Dan Litchfield, senior business developer with Iberdrola Renewables. “We are looking forward to further investment in the state and hopefully a higher percentage of Ohio labor now that there are some firms with wind energy construction experience.”
Ohio Environment notes that the report comes as Ohio lawmakers debate a new energy bill. The organization says S.B.58, introduced by Public Utilities Committee Chairman Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, proposes to alter significant portions of the Clean Energy Law, including expanding the ability of large industrial energy users to exempt themselves from the law’s efficiency requirements and eliminating the buy-Ohio component of the renewable energy standard.
Environment Ohio is urging Gov. John Kasich to veto any version of the bill that may cross his desk.
November 21, 2013 – World's Largest Wind Drivetrain Testing Facility Opens in S.C.
In a lavish dedication ceremony, North Charleston, S.C.-based Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) has opened what is being called one of the world's most advanced wind energy testing facilities.
The facility - supported by South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) and Duke Energy - aims to help test and validate new wind turbines, particularly for offshore wind, as well as speed deployment of next-generation energy technology, reduce costs for manufacturers and boost global competitiveness.
Called the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, the facility will also facilitate research, education and innovation. SCE&G supported the center with a $3.5 million gift.
The Energy Innovation Center can test drivetrains on two test rigs - one up to 7.5 MW and the other up to 15 MW. Weighing more than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet filled with fuel, passengers and luggage, specifications for the facility’s 15 MW test rig are so large many of its components have never before been designed, notes CURI.
CURI says the facility, located at a former Navy warehouse with access to rail and water transport, will test machinery that converts both onshore and offshore wind to electricity and allow engineers to simulate 20 years’ worth of wear and tear on drivetrains in a few months.
Further, CURI says the facility’s proximity to the coast also makes it ideal for U.S. and international companies to begin testing larger offshore wind turbines.
The $98 million testing facility was funded by a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and matched by $53 million of public and private funds.
“Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s all-of-the-above strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” said Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy. “The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry - helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the U.S.”
According to CURI, testing and research efforts will encompass many facets of the electrical market to help transform the electrical infrastructure into a more distributed, resilient and efficient system. Focus areas include wind and solar energy, energy storage, and traditional energy sources, such as natural gas and diesel systems. Other areas of focus extend to smart-grid and microgrid technologies, fuel cells, aerospace systems, electric vehicle charging systems, and grid security.
Notably, the Energy Innovation Center also has its first client: GE Power and Water says it will use the center’s 7.5 MW test rig next spring to test its drivetrain technology. The unit will be tested over a period of several months to investigate its robustness, reliability and efficiency.
The Innovation Center also will house engineers with two partner companies: Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and FEV Inc. SRNL will conduct research into grid security and resilience. Germany-based FEV, a developer of advanced powertrain and vehicle system technologies, will establish a research and development center at CURI.
CURI says the 82,000-square-foot facility will also house the Duke Energy Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development (eGRID) center, a grid simulator that mimics real-world conditions and can help private industry and public researchers better study interactions between wind energy technologies and the U.S. power grid.
The grid simulator will help with compatibility testing, smart-grid technology, modeling and certification. Duke Energy is contributing $5 million to help fund laboratory infrastructure and educational program development and fund a Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair.
The $10.1 million grid simulator is financed, in part, by a DOE grant and funds from the State of South Carolina and industry partners, including utility companies and certifying bodies.
James F. Barker, Clemson University president, said the facility places South Carolina at the forefront of energy systems testing and research.
“Clemson University is renowned for groundbreaking research, super-computing, engineering and workforce development, but the Innovation Center and eGRID take the university to another level,” Barker said. “The fact two such prestigious companies have put their names on this building undoubtedly will help us attract additional industry partners.”
November 21, 2013 – DOD and NRDC Develop Guide for Siting Renewable Energy Projects
A new primer jointly produced by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) addresses core issues for developing renewable energy sources on or around military ranges, airspace and installations. The guidelines are intended to help developers better evaluate solar and wind projects and avoid potential conflicts with military operations or sensitive environmental areas.
The new renewables siting considerations were developed in concert with the Renewable Energy and Defense (READ) Database, a GIS tool NRDC created that combines geospatial data on DOD installations, military flight training routes, radar and other information, along with data on environmentally sensitive areas, national monuments and other protected lands.
"Our highest priority is military readiness, and we’re working hard to mitigate or avoid any potential mission impacts," says Frank DiGiovanni, director for force readiness and training, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, in a statement. "We're also committed to reducing uncertainty for the renewable energy industry through early engagement and outreach. This document gives clear direction for the many intersecting interests involved in developing solar, wind and other renewables on and around military ranges, airspace and installations."
The DOD has a target of deploying 3 GW of renewable energy on military installations and obtaining 25% of its total power requirements from independent renewable sources by 2025.
The guide is available for download here.
November 21, 2013 – U.S. Navy to Deploy WindSentinel Floating LIDAR
SST will provide overall management of the program, coordination with the Navy, ocean engineering expertise, environmental planning and installation support. AXYS will supply its WindSentinel floating LIDAR system, and DNV GL will provide an independent evaluation of the validity of the system by identifying measurement requirements and metrics to qualify the system for use in wind power development.
According to the companies, the WindSentinel uses the Vindicator III, featuring newly developed simultaneous pulse technology with integral motion compensation, to measure offshore wind speed and direction up to the blade-tip heights of 200 meters.
The Vindicator LIDAR system has passed the initial side-by-side testing process overseen by DNV GL and will be shipped to California for deployment in December for a six-month study to confirm the validity of this technology.
November 20, 2013 – U.S. Energy Dept. Dedicates New Wind Turbine Test Facility
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have dedicated a new 5 MW Dynamometer Test Facility at NREL's National Wind Technology Center.
According to the DOE, the $20 million facility enables NREL to work closely with industry engineers to enhance the drivetrains and other electrical systems in the country's largest land-based wind turbines.
In a typical dynamometer test, the DOE explains, a powerful motor replaces the rotor and blades of a wind turbine. The testing focuses on the mechanical and electrical power-producing systems of a wind turbine, including gearboxes, power converters, bearings and control systems. NREL’s new facility uses a hydraulic device that simulates the rotation and bending that a wind turbine rotor places on a drivetrain.
The 5 MW dynamometer is also connected to a controllable grid interface, which can simulate the power grid and help system engineers better understand how wind turbines react to grid disturbances.
“With record growth over the last decade, as they look to the future, wind developers will be installing larger turbines, including off our nation’s shores, to deliver more clean, reliable electricity to U.S. consumers,” says DOE Wind & Water Technologies Office Director Jose Zayas.
“Facilities like the National Wind Technology Center’s new dynamometer will be instrumental in evaluating new technologies, helping to ensure reliability and reduce both risk and cost for the wind turbines of tomorrow.”
November 20, 2013 – Researchers Developing Technology to Manage Power Flows, Integrate Renewables
Consultants at The Brattle Group, working in conjunction with Boston University and other researchers on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, are developing a new technology that will help grid operators more actively manage power flows, reduce congestion and integrate renewables.
Brattle says the technology, which is based on topology control algorithms (TCA), allows for higher utilization of existing and new transmission projects. The technology gives grid operators the ability to reliably transfer power flows to less utilized portions of the grid, the company adds.
In the event of transmission congestion, Brattle reports that TCA quickly develops alternative network configurations to route some power away from and around the congested facilities by opening or closing selected circuit breakers
November 20, 2013 – Retail Energy Supplier Offering Wind Power RECs in Four States
Corporate Resource Services Inc. has announced that Abest Power & Gas, its joint venture in retail energy supply, and Sterling Planet, a retail provider of renewable energy and other carbon-reduction assets, have entered into an agreement for Abest to offer wind power options to its customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
Under the deal, Sterling Planet will supply customers of Abest with Green-e Energy-certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind power projects. Customers can match 50% or 100% of their use of conventionally produced electricity with the RECs. According to the companies, the average residential customer can expect to pay an additional $0.50 daily for wind energy at the 100% level.
November 19, 2013 – Study: LEEDCo Offshore Wind Project Safe for Lake Erie Wildlife
Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) has announced that a new report determines its 18 MW Icebreaker offshore demonstration project will have no biologically significant impact on the birds and bats that frequent the Lake Erie area.
"The weight of evidence gathered from studies conducted over many years is quite conclusive," says Dr. Paul Kerlinger, a wildlife expert who authored the report. "Biologically significant impacts to any bird or bat species, including those that are endangered and threatened, are highly unlikely."
According to LEEDCo, Kerlinger drew upon extensive survey data collected at the project location and reviewed the impacts on birds and bats of offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the U.S.
Cuyahoga County began using radar at Cleveland Hopkins Airport to track bird migration patterns across Lake Erie in 2008. In 2010, the county installed additional radar equipment and an acoustical monitoring station four miles from the project location at the Cleveland water intake crib. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) also conducted visual surveys at the project site and along the shoreline.
“We want to thank Cuyahoga County for helping collect the data and Dr. Kerlinger for his very thorough analysis,” says Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo. “Offshore wind is the best chance for the Great Lakes region to build a significant local source of clean energy. Getting this first project right could unlock the vast offshore wind potential of the entire region.”
LEEDCo says the finding is a milestone as it prepares its applications for the permits required to begin construction on its six-turbine demonstration project. As the project progresses, LEEDCo adds, it will work with regulators and experts to refine the risk assessments and design a post-construction monitoring plan to learn more about wildlife interactions with wind turbines in Lake Erie.
LEEDCo was one of seven national offshore wind developers to win a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant last December. The non-profit plans to file permit applications in early 2014 before submitting a final progress report to DOE in February. LEEDCo will then compete with the other offshore wind projects for one of three $46.7 million follow-up investments from the department.
November 19, 2013 – New Mexico Utility on the Lookout for Renewable Energy Resources
PNM, a subsidiary of PNM Resources and New Mexico's largest electric utility, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy resources totaling 150,000 MWh produced and delivered to customers in 2016.
"We are looking for solid proposals that will help us provide affordable and reliable power to meet state renewable energy requirements," says PNM Director of Resources and Planning Pat O'Connell. "A robust, competitive bidding process helps us identify the best options available to serve our customers with PNM’s expanding renewable portfolio.”
PNM says it will consider cost-competitive offers for asset purchases, design-build-transfer projects or power purchase agreements, in addition to renewable energy certificate (REC)-only bids.
Projects should be located in or deliver electricity to customers in New Mexico. REC-only purchases must be from a facility located in New Mexico. Renewable energy sources sought include wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and biomass technologies - the utility emphasizes that fossil fuel and nuclear resources will not be considered.
Currently, PNM says it utilizes both wind and solar to serve customers and has a proposal for additional wind and solar resources in 2014 and 2015 before state regulators. Next year, PNM customers will begin receiving geothermal energy from a newly constructed facility in southern New Mexico.
Those who want to participate in the bid process should submit a notice of intent to bid by Dec. 3 and submit their proposal by Jan. 10. Submissions can only be made using a web link to the request for proposals online bidding platform, posted on PNM.com/RFP.
November 19, 2013 – Duke Energy Carolinas Proposes Renewables Program for Energy-Intensive Customers
Duke Energy Carolinas has filed a new renewable energy program with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC).
Duke says the Green Source Rider is an experimental program designed to give energy-intensive customers, including manufacturers, data centers, college campuses and big-box retailers, the option of offsetting some or all of their energy consumption from new load - such as a new or expanded facility - with renewable energy.
According to Duke, a participating customer will make an application to Duke Energy Carolinas requesting an annual amount of energy and renewable energy certificates to be produced or procured over a specific term.
The company will work to match the supply source and contract term request with generation from a Duke renewable energy source or with energy supplied through a power purchase agreement with a renewable energy supplier, Duke adds.
The company says the electing customer will then enter into a contract with Duke Energy Carolinas for three to 15 years, depending on the terms of the agreement between Duke and the renewable energy supplier.
According to the company, both in-state and out-of-state renewable energy resources may be used to meet the energy requirements of the program, contingent on customer preference and availability to meet contract needs.
Renewable energy generation used to meet customer needs through the Green Source Rider is in addition to generation used for compliance with North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standard, Duke notes.
"This is the first program Duke Energy has developed that gives customers the option to purchase renewable energy to offset new energy consumption," says Paul Newton, Duke Energy president - North Carolina. "We designed a program that responds to certain customer requests for more renewable energy but that does not adversely affect other customers."
The proposed program is now under review by the NCUC.
November 19, 2013 – Grain Belt Express Clean Line Issues RFI to Kansas Wind Generators
Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, an affiliate of Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, has issued a request for information (RFI) to wind generators in Kansas.
The RFI will gather information about the generators' demand for transmission capacity. According to Clean Line, data collected will allow the company to better understand the cost-effectiveness and production potential of the wind resource in western Kansas.
The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a 750-mile, overhead, direct-current transmission line designed to deliver up to 3.5 GW of clean generation from western Kansas to utilities and customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east that have a strong demand for renewable energy, Clean Line says.
Interested generators must supply a notice of intent to respond by Dec. 2 and submit their final RFI responses by Jan. 13. More information is available at grainbeltexpresscleanline.com.
November 18, 2013 – New Calif. Transmission Line Could Help Integrate Renewables
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), MidAmerican Transmission LLC and Citizens Energy Corp. have been chosen by the California Independent System Operator Corp. to develop, own and operate a new 230 kV transmission line in the Central Valley region of California.
According to PG&E, the transmission line will span about 70 miles across Fresno, Madera and Kings counties, running from the Gates to Gregg substations, which are owned and operated by PG&E. The utility says the new line will help reduce the number and duration of power outages and bolster efforts to integrate renewable energy onto the grid.
"Today's energy infrastructure is adapting to meet the demands for greater renewable sources, while continuing the reliable service to customers," adds John Cupparo, president of MidAmerican Transmission. "This collaboration with PG&E and Citizens Energy is evidence of MidAmerican Transmission's continued investment to ensure that California's energy infrastructure keeps pace with these evolving demands."
The transmission line would be operational no later than 2022 and could come online earlier, PG&E notes.
PG&E reports that the project needs to undergo an approval process through the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E, MidAmerican Transmission and Citizens Energy will work collaboratively with local stakeholders to determine the optimal routing of the line as part of the approval process.
November 15, 2013 – Facebook Logs in to MidAmerican's Iowa Wind Farm
Social network company Facebook will power its new Iowa data center using wind energy from the 138.6 MW Wellsburg wind farm, which MidAmerican Energy is currently building in the state.
Vincent Van Son, Facebook's data center energy manager, explains in an online post, 'We first started working on this project with RPM Access, a local wind project developer, as we were finalizing our decision to locate in Iowa. Earlier this spring, we transferred our rights to the development to MidAmerican Energy, our local utility, to build, own and operate it."
MidAmerican is developing 1.05 GW of new wind generation in Iowa, and Wellsburg is one of five projects. Work on the wind farm is expected to be complete by 2014, while Facebook's new Altoona, Iowa, data center is slated to begin operation in early 2015.
Van Son notes that the Wellsburg project will likely produce more power than what the data center requires, suggesting the facility will rack up renewable energy certificates. He also notes that Facebook is committed to using 25% renewable energy globally by 2015.
November 15, 2013 – Mexico WindPower 2014 Will Run on 100% Wind Energy
Mexico WindPower 2014, taking place in Mexico City in February, will cover 100% of its power consumption by wind energy and be labeled by WindMade. The Mexican Wind Energy Association, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and E.J. Krause are jointly organizing the event.
In order to qualify for the WindMade label, an event must be fully powered by renewable electricity, the largest share of which must come from wind energy. For Mexico WindPower 2014, this includes the preparation of the event, the power consumption by exhibition and conference, and also the receptions and dinners that are part of the event.
"We are pleased that the WindMade label allows us to 'walk the talk' and ensure that we support the transition toward a renewable energy future in every way that we can," comments Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC.
November 15, 2013 – Xcel Foresees Millions in Savings From Newly Approved Wind Purchase
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has approved Xcel Energy's plan to purchase 698 MW of additional wind energy for its Texas-New Mexico system. According to Xcel, area customers are poised to save an estimated $590 million in fuel costs over the 20-year life of the contracts.
The plan to purchase the additional wind power was announced in July, but it required final approval from the New Mexico regulators. The company was not required to seek approval in Texas. New wind facilities planned for Roosevelt County, N.M.; Hansford and Ochiltree counties, Texas; and Dewey and Blaine counties, Okla., will supply the power.
Riley Hill - president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Co., an Xcel Energy company - says Xcel Energy has already met and exceeded requirements of renewable portfolio standards in both New Mexico and Texas. The additional purchases are being made primarily for economic reasons, but the new wind resources also support the company’s vision of providing clean energy at a reasonable cost, Hill adds.
“The energy purchased from these facilities has been contracted at a price that is less than the price of power generated at some older natural-gas-fueled power plants,” he explains, later adding, “We will continue to make wind purchases when it makes economic sense for our customers.”
November 14, 2013 – Nebraska Utility Selling Wind-Generated RECs to Medical Tech Company
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) has entered an agreement to sell wind-generated renewable energy credits (RECs) to Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD), a medical technology company, for 20 years.
Through a previously establish power purchase agreement, NPPD is buying all the output and associated RECs from NextEra Energy Resources' 75 MW Steele Flats Wind Farm. The project, located between Steele City and Odell, Neb., came online earlier this month.
Headquartered in Franklin Lakes, N.J., BD is the first industrial customer to receive the benefit of the output from a wind farm operating in Nebraska, NPPD says. The agreement enables BD to utilize 30 MW of generation from the wind farm to offset electricity use from its manufacturing facilities in Columbus and Holdrege, Neb., and is an important milestone for the company’s worldwide sustainability program.
According to NPPD, BD has already met four out of five of its 2015 Sustainability Goals, including a target to source 25% of its global electricity use from renewable energy. This agreement will further increase BD’s global renewable energy consumption, which is currently 35%.
“This opportunity with BD was a unique situation where an industrial customer of our wholesale customers was seeking the opportunity to meet its sustainability goals,” says NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Through many discussions and negotiations, we were able to get BD what they were seeking for their Nebraska operations and their sustainability goal, while at the same time adding to our energy portfolio and moving us closer to our board-established goal for renewable energy.”
With the addition of the Steele Flats Wind Farm, coupled with the planned Broken Bow II Wind Farm to be completed by the end of 2014, NPPD says it will be within 45 MW of its target of having 10% of its energy resources come from renewable energy.
November 14, 2013 – Quebec Releases Final Regulation For 450 MW Wind Power Block
The Quebec government has published the final regulation regarding a call for 450 MW of wind energy. The 450 MW block is part of Quebec's previously announced plan to acquire an additional 800 MW of wind.
The TechnoCentre eolien has welcomed the new clarifications and highlighted some of the key rules. For example, Hydro-Quebec will have to introduce a call for tenders for the production of 450 MW of wind power by Dec. 31; 300 MW of this is reserved for the Gaspesie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Bas-Saint-Laurent administrative regions.
The regulation stipulates that the wind farms must be delivered in 2016 and 2017, rather than in 2017 and 2018 as required by the draft regulation introduced last August. There is also a 35% regional-content requirement for the proposed wind farms.
Furthermore, the regulation stipulates that the local "environment" must control at least 50% of the projects and sets the maximum price for electricity producers at C$0.09/kWh.
“This decision by the government of Quebec, eagerly awaited by the wind power industry, is good news and will secure thousands of jobs,” says Frederic Cote, general manager of the TechnoCentre eolien in Gaspe.
November 13, 2013 – Interior Department Approves Most of 1.5 GW Transmission Line Project
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has approved a majority of the proposed Gateway West Transmission Line Project, a 990-mile, high-voltage line poised to provide up to 1.5 GW of transmission capacity in southern Wyoming and southern Idaho.
The DOI says the Gateway West project particularly expects to tap into the abundant wind energy resources that are being developed in the region. During the announcement, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, “The line will strengthen the Western grid, bringing a diversified portfolio of renewable and conventional energy to meet the region’s projected growth in electricity demand.”
According to the DOI, Gateway West is one of seven priority projects of the Obama Administration’s Rapid Response Team for Transmission, which aims to improve the overall quality and timeliness of electric transmission infrastructure permitting.
Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power proposed the Gateway West line as 10 segments originating at the Windstar substation near Glenrock, Wyo., and terminating at the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho, 20 miles southwest of Boise.
The DOI says the project underwent extensive review, with the final environmental impact statement issued on April 26. The department’s Bureau of Land Management has elected to approve eight of the 10 segments and will make its decision regarding the final two following additional stakeholder outreach and public engagement. Once the project proponents meet all necessary conditions identified in the right-of-way grant, they can begin construction for the approved segments, the DOI adds.
November 11, 2013 – University Lands DOE Grant to Research Grid Integration of Renewables
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted the University of Central Florida (UCF) a $3.2 million award to lead one of four national consortia to develop distributed technologies to help increase engineering capacity and prepare for a national shift from traditional sources of electricity to renewables, such as solar and wind.
UCF says the award for Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources (FEEDER) is a part of a broader DOE investment of $12 million to increase the nation's capacity to support distributed energy technologies. FEEDER is supported by the DOE's SunShot Initiative and through the Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment program.
According to UCF, the FEEDER center will bring together seven universities (Auburn University, Florida State University, University of Arkansas, UCF, University of Florida, University of Kentucky and University of South Carolina), eight utility companies (including Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light, Southern Co. and Orlando Utility Commission), two national laboratories (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory) and eight industry partners (including Siemens, SAIC, LEIDOS and Schneider) to speed up the development of technologies needed to prepare the nation's electric grid to operate on renewable energy sources.
The FEEDER center will research technological components, such as distributed control, optimization, advanced communication, renewable generation and smart grids, to help transform the electric grid, UCF reports.
The university adds that the FEEDER center will also focus on education by establishing a cross-institutional smart grid curriculum; facilitating research collaborations among the academic, utility and industrial partners; and incorporating the latest and most relevant research findings into new educational materials and courseware.
November 11, 2013 – Coalition of Governors Calls For Wind PTC Certainty
Throughout the year, several anti-wind groups have lobbied Congress to end the production tax credit (PTC). However, a group of governors seems to have the wind industry's back and is calling for a multi-year extension of the incentive.
Last week, the Governors' Wind Coalition, a bipartisan group of the nation's governors, sent a letter to leaders of Congress defending the wind PTC. Signed by 11 group members, the letter says the following:
“Almost a year ago, many of our citizens who work in the wind industry were subjected to an unnecessary series of layoffs and hardships because Congress failed to extend the wind energy production tax credit in a responsible and timely manner.
Across the nation - from Oregon to Vermont - thousands of Americans working in one of the nation’s most important growth energy industries lost their jobs. We were witness to the hardships that over 5,000 Americans had to endure when they lost their jobs because of the anticipated expiration of the tax credit.
After Congress passed the tax credit extension in January, the nation’s wind industry began a very troubled recovery. The clearest example is the loss of investments. In 2012, the wind industry invested nearly $25 billion. In the first six months of 2013, the wind industry installed just one turbine - a 99 percent drop in investments.
This Congressionally sanctioned uncertainty has hit the nation’s wind industry incredibly hard. The current wind energy production tax credit is due to expire on Dec. 31, 2013. We respectfully urge you not to repeat the legislative brinksmanship of 2012 and to adopt a responsible multi-year extension of the production tax credit so that the wind industry and related industries can plan for a smooth transition to the expiration of the tax credit.
Our nation has some of the best wind resources in the world, but the lack of stable policy hinders the nation’s ability to develop them fully. The nation’s wind industry developers do not need this tax credit forever, but they do need policy certainty in the near term to bring their costs to a fully competitive level.
Please support our states in the pursuit of economic strength, energy diversity, and consumer savings, by acting quickly to adopt a responsible multi-year extension, even if it reduces in value over time, of the production tax credit.”
A copy of the letter is available HERE.
November 11, 2013 – CAISO Board Approves Western Energy Imbalance Market Design
The California Independent System Operator's (CAISO) board of governors has approved the design framework for an energy imbalance market (EIM), which CAISO says will allow western grid operators to voluntarily participate in a real-time energy market that enhances grid reliability and responsiveness, integrates renewable power, and saves wholesale energy costs.
"EIM marks a step forward in the West to more ably manage current complexities as the electric industry undergoes transformative changes to create a significantly cleaner energy network that enhances the utilization of renewables," says CAISO Board Chair Bob Foster.
"By leveraging the ISO's real-time market, a broad array of resources can be shared and economically dispatched," he adds. "This strengthens grid reliability through enhanced real-time visibility across neighboring grids while matching energy needs with the lowest-cost resources."
According to the system operator, its first EIM partner, PacifiCorp, has been working with the CAISO to prepare for implementation of the market, which is expected to go live on Oct. 1, 2014.
Significant increases in the amount of wind and solar power in recent years require grid operators to hold additional flexible generation in reserve to account for the variability of renewable resources, which are dependent on weather conditions, the CAISO notes. Without an EIM, operators generally must rely on generation assets within their balancing authority for any last-minute balancing.
The CAISO says the EIM includes only its real-time market and not its day-ahead market. Costs between balancing authorities are allocated according to cost-causation principles, and EIM balancing authorities still maintain all the operational responsibilities for serving their customers and maintaining reliability in their areas, the system operator adds.
November 11, 2013 – Senators, Advocates Push For Funded Energy Title in New Farm Bill
Eight U.S. Senators have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry urging it to include a strong energy title in the current farm bill it is developing. A collection of environmental, renewable energy and agriculture advocacy organizations led by the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) fired off its own letter in support.
On Oct. 30, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chair of the Agriculture Committee, opened the first meeting House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee. In a statement, Stabenow set out the committee's priorities as crop insurance, subsidy reform, food aid and soil conservation efforts. There was no specific mention of the energy title.
The letter from the eight senators, which includes the signatures of noted energy title supporters Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, pushed for a number of energy programs by name, including the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides grants and loans to help rural businesses and agricultural producers invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, including solar and small wind projects.
The supporting letter from the AgEC urges the Agriculture Committee to adopt a five-year farm bill that includes $900 million in mandatory funding for the energy title.
Last summer, the U.S. House and Senate wrangled with different farm bills, but no legislation made it out of Congress. The 2008 farm bill expired Oct. 1 with no successor in place.
November 8, 2013 – Need to Downsize Your Renewable Energy Project? CAISO Says It Has You Covered
The California Independent System Operator Corp. (CAISO) board of governors has approved interconnection rule changes intended to enable power plant developers to downsize projects in response to economic and demand issues.
The new interconnection changes will provide an annual process beginning in October 2014 for developers to submit a request to reduce the megawatt size of their projects for any reason. To offset possible effects on other developers, downsized projects will be obligated to finance the cost of any network upgrades that resulted from the original project size. Developers modifying the size of projects will have to provide a $60,000 deposit toward the costs incurred by CAISO.
"Building wind and solar generation or any type of power plant can take five to seven years and the business climate can change significantly during that time span," says Keith Casey, CAISO's vice president of market and infrastructure development. "These enhancements to our interconnection queue enable developers to complete projects without being subjected to risks beyond their control."
Proposed projects enter the CAISO interconnection queue as part of a first step in hooking up to the high-voltage grid. CAISO engineers study the projects to determine interconnection costs and any reliability impacts. The operator says allowing flexibility in interconnection rules eliminates the threat of their interconnection agreement being terminated for failing to meet original specifications.
November 8, 2013 – Kansas Regulators OK Grain Belt Express Clean Line Project
Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners, reports that the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has unanimously approved an order granting a siting permit to construct the 370-mile Kansas portion of a new 750-mile direct-current transmission line.
The line will originate near Dodge City, Kans., and traverse north and east to the Kansas-Missouri border. According to the company, the project is poised to deliver wind energy from western Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east that have strong demand for the energy. The entire $2 billion project is expected to take several years to permit and could begin commercial operation as early as 2018.
The company says it submitted the application and proposed route to the KCC in July after taking public feedback into consideration. “We reached this milestone thanks in large part to the thousands of landowners and community members who provided input in the routing process,” comments Michael Skelly, Clean Line president.
Joann Knight, executive director of the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corp., welcomes the decision. “The Grain Belt Express Clean Line will allow Kansas to grow its wind industry for the benefit of western Kansas and the entire state,” says Knight.
November 8, 2013 – Vestas Seeks Hundreds of New Workers at Colorado Plants
Vestas is on the lookout to hire hundreds of new employees at its Colorado manufacturing plants. The announcement comes after the turbine maker, citing financial problems caused by 2012's production tax credit uncertainty, laid off workers at the facilities in February.
However, Vestas reports it has already boosted its headcount at a tower factory in Pueblo, Colo., this year and plans to bring additional workers onboard at three of its Colorado factories: the blade factory in Windsor, blade factory in Brighton and nacelle factory in Brighton.
In September, the company secured three major U.S. orders from Duke Energy (400 MW), RES Americas (60 MW) and EDF Renewable Energy (80 MW), in addition to announcing its first V110-2.0 MW turbine project with EDPR (400 MW).
To meet the growing demand and deliver its turbines on time, Vestas says it is recruiting now and expects to add hundreds of production workers in the first half of 2014.
Do the new hires signal renewed life for Vestas’ U.S. operations? According to a company spokesperson, “We are not done with our two-year global turnaround especially, when it comes to profitability. However, we have very high demand for our products in the U.S. validated by major utilities and developers purchasing out turbines in 2013. We have the potential to secure 2.2 GW worth of turbine orders in the U.S. in the near term and are confident we'll announce more orders in the near future.”
Despite the initiative to ramp up its U.S. plants, Vestas indicated in its third-quarter financial report that it remains committed to reducing its overall global workforce to 16,000 employees by year-end as part of its ongoing turnaround plan.
November 6, 2013 – Pennsylvania Convention Center Opts for Renewables
The Pennsylvania Convention Center has announced that NRG Business Solutions, a part of NRG Energy Inc., will be powering its facilities with a portion of renewable energy for the first time beginning next year. The renewable energy certificates will be generated by sources such as wind, and the convention center says it entered the two-year deal as part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability.
The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority selected NRG Business Solutions as its electricity provider following a competitive procurement process. The convention center's electricity usage, which is estimated at 26,525 million kWh annually, will include 25% renewable energy as part of the recent agreement beginning January 2014.
“The convention center is a Philadelphia icon, and we’re proud to partner with them on their electricity choice,” comments Scott Hart, president of NRG Business Solutions. “The convention center was originally looking at adding a 15 percent renewable energy component to its supply, but we were able to work with them to achieve a 25 percent commitment while still meeting budget demands.”
November 5, 2013 – Microsoft Buying Wind Power From 110 MW Texas Project
Computer software giant Microsoft has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with RES Americas for the output from a Texas wind project.
In a company blog post, Microsoft says construction work will begin on the 110 MW Keechi Wind project, located near Jacksboro, next year. The wind farm will comprise 55 Vestas turbines and is slated to begin operation in 2015. Microsoft notes that the wind power will flow on the same grid to which its San Antonio data center is connected.
“By purchasing wind, we will reduce the overall amount of emissions associated with operating Microsoft facilities in this region and hopefully spur additional investment in renewable energy in Texas,” the blog says.
Further, the company says the PPA helps further Microsoft’s commitment to become “carbon neutral,” adding that the agreement “will certainly not be our last.”
November 4, 2013 – Vestas Launches V105-3.3 MW Turbine for Windy and Turbulent Conditions
Vestas has unveiled the V105-3.3 MW turbine, an expansion of its 3 MW platform. The company says the new model is aimed at high-wind and high-turbulence onshore sites, as well as markets with tip-height restrictions.
"The V105-3.3 MW has been optimized to meet the need for customers developing projects in markets with tip-height restrictions, such as the U.K. and Ireland. It will also increase annual energy production by up to 22 percent in IEC 1A conditions compared to the V90-3.0 MW, resulting in greater revenue for our customers," says Chief Technology Officer Anders Vedel.
Citing U.K. government expectations, Vestas says the onshore wind market in the region is poised to increase by 3.5-5.5 GW by 2020. Around two-thirds of the U.K. market is restricted to operating tip heights of up to 127 meters, and the region is characterized by high and turbulent wind conditions, Vestas adds.
The V105-3.3 MW has the same nacelle, hub and drivetrain technology as the V112-3.0 MW, with a slightly shorter blade, at 51.5 meters long. Vestas says the prototype for the V105-3.3 MW will be installed in Denmark during the second quarter of 2014, with the first serial delivery available at the end of 2014.
November 1, 2013 – BayWa Taps Signal Energy to Build New Mexico Wind Farm By Year-End
Signal Energy Constructors, a general contractor serving the renewable energy industry, was recently awarded a full design/build contract from BayWa r.e. Wind LLC for the 20 MW Brahms wind farm, located in Grady, N.M.
Signal Energy's scope of work includes full design and engineering of all project civil infrastructure, underground and overhead collection systems, wind turbine foundations, project substations and the project interconnection facilities. In addition, the company will erect the project’s 12 1.65-MW V82 Vestas turbines.
Signal says it began construction on the project in October, and the wind farm is scheduled for completion by year-end.
In September, California-based BayWa r.e. Wind LLC acquired the development assets for the Broadview wind project and renamed it the Brahms wind farm after German composer Johannes Brahms.
November 1, 2013 – DOE Seeks Regional Resource Centers for Wind Power
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is on the lookout for organizations to help the agency and lab facilitate regional stakeholder engagement regarding wind energy.
According to the DOE, NREL has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from qualified groups and plans to fund up to six "regional resource centers" (RRCs) to carry out stakeholder-engagement activities to support responsible development of land-based, distributed and offshore wind energy in regions across the nation.
The DOE says the RRCs will serve as centers of knowledge, working collaboratively with organizations to engage diverse stakeholder groups, disseminate targeted technical information about appropriate wind deployment, and provide forums for constructive dialogue.
The RRCs' geographic position and local networks will enable them to understand regional priorities and challenges faced by each region, the DOE adds. Their activities will focus on reducing conflicting uses to preserve or expand access to quality wind resources.
The RFP is available on the Federal Business Opportunities website, and proposals are due Dec. 5.
October 31, 2013 – Senators Introduce National Renewable Electricity Standard
U.S. Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., have introduced a bill to establish a national renewable electricity standard (RES), which the officials say would create almost 300,000 jobs, reduce pollution and save consumers almost $100 billion on their utility bills by 2030.
As proposed, the bill would require the nation's utilities to generate 25% of their power from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025. The legislation would set a 6% requirement by 2014, followed by gradual increases thereafter to meet the 2025 goal.
The senators, who are first cousins, first introduced a similar initiative in 2002 while members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, they say they have continued the fight. In 2010, Sen. Mark Udall helped introduce a federal standard that did not pass; however, he did help establish a state-level renewable portfolio standard in Colorado in 2004.
"Clean energy creates jobs, spurs innovation, reduces global warming and makes us more energy independent,” says Mark Udall. “This common-sense proposal would extend Colorado's successful effort to expand the use of renewable energy alongside natural gas and coal to the entire nation.”
“I've long fought for a ‘do it all, do it right' energy strategy, and a national RES is a critical part of maximizing our country's energy potential," Tom Udall adds.
October 31, 2013 – Utilities Across the U.S. Are Cashing in on the Lower Price of Wind Power
As many expected, newly installed U.S. wind capacity is taking a steep dive this year. However, a just-released report reveals a major success story of 2013: More and more, utilities are embracing wind power.
According to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) third-quarter 2013 market report, U.S. utilities have locked in more than 5.67 GW of wind under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) and announced over 1.87 GW of self-builds since the beginning of this year - a total surpassing 7.5 GW.
"It is certainly one of the largest numbers we’ve seen,” Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA's director of industry data and analysis, tells NAW. “Having a PPA is a critical step in project development,” she notes, adding, “In the past, it has been a challenge.”
Salerno says utilities’ increasing interest in wind power is mostly a matter of economics, as the cost of wind has dramatically fallen. Citing U.S. Department of Energy data, she says wind PPA prices dropped 43% on average across the country between 2008 and 2012. Last year, the PPA price range was anywhere from $30/MWh to $80/MWh. And the costs may be getting cheaper still.
For example, Minnesota and Colorado regulators recently approved Xcel Energy’s wind PPAs totaling 850 MW. According to AWEA, Xcel CEO Ben Fowke expects the company to pay only $25/MWh to $35/MWh over the contracts’ 20-year term.
“It’s incredible that they can get 850 MW of wind for that price,” comments Salerno.
Thanks to the favorable costs, she says, another emerging trend is that utilities are buying more wind power than they originally seek. AWEA reports that utilities across the country have cumulatively issued at least 27 requests for proposals (RFPs) for new capacity due this year, including 12 RFPs that specified wind.
Several utility companies, such as American Electric Power’s Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), have gone beyond their RFP goals in an effort to cash in on the cheaper energy. In fact, the PSO just signed 600 MW in new wind deals, triple the 200 MW that the utility requested.
According to a company press release, “The decision to contract for an additional 400 MW was based on extraordinary pricing opportunities that will lower costs for PSO’s customers by an estimated $53 million in the first year of the contracts. Annual savings are expected to grow each year over the lives of the contracts.”
Of course, renewable portfolio standards also play a critical role in boosting wind procurement in the 29 states - plus Washington, D.C. - that have such policies, but Salerno notes that the price of wind is becoming too attractive to ignore for utilities nationwide.
“Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Tennessee Valley Authority, Arkansas Electric Cooperative - all of these utilities have signed long-term contracts with wind, not driven by policy, but purely by the economics,” she explains.
So, why is wind power becoming more inexpensive? According to Salerno, “There are lots of tweaks and improvements that are being made across the industry to push down costs and push up performance - which lowers the price of energy. We’re reaping the benefits of all that.”
She notes technology innovations, such as taller towers and longer blades, as well as better siting techniques focused on how each turbine reacts with another. Furthermore, she says, operations and maintenance practices continue to become more efficient.
“Year after year, machines are down less and availability is up. The smallest changes of shortening downtime from three hours to one hour can greatly change the output of a project.”
Then, of course, there is the production tax credit (PTC), which many utilities themselves have cited as a major incentive for wind procurement and self-builds. Currently at $0.023/kWh, the PTC helps developers offer better prices and find financial backing.
In 2012, wind power was the No. 1 source of new U.S. generating capacity, installing a record 13.1 GW. This year, however, the industry continues to feel the effects of the late PTC extension in January.
“We knew 18 months ago or more that installations were going to suffer if the uncertainty of the PTC ruled the day,” says Salerno. “And so, here we are.”
According to AWEA, the U.S. wind industry commissioned a single 1.6 MW wind turbine, located at North Dakota’s Lake Region State College, during the first half of this year. During the third quarter, the country saw little more than 68 MW of wind come online. This includes a 1.8 MW project and a 0.9 MW turbine in Alaska, a 42.7 MW phase at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo wind farm in California, and 23.8 MW at Alliance Power’s Colorado Highland project.
“This is a story we’ve seen before,” Salerno says. “As an industry, we’ve been in a situation where the PTC is set to expire, and as we approach that expiration date, the industry activity associated with new project development slows down or entirely halts. That’s what happened in 2012.”
As Salerno explains, most developers were focused solely on completing advanced projects by Dec. 31, 2012, in order to qualify for the expiring incentive. Under the new PTC rules, developers now have more breathing room, as they are not required to complete projects by year-end. Rather, they must meet several milestones, such as spend 5% of the project’s cost and be able to demonstrate continuous construction.
The U.S. is currently home to over 60 GW of installed wind capacity and slowly growing. As of Sept. 30, AWEA reports there were more than 2.3 GW of wind projects under construction, and Salerno expects that number will rise significantly in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, she admits, “This is going to be a tough year.”
Projects are under construction across 13 states, with Texas leading the way with over 530 MW. Michigan, Nebraska, Washington and Kansas round out the top five states, respectively. The bulk of those projects are slated to come online next year or in 2015.
October 31, 2013 – Ohio Veterans Work to Protect State Renewables
On Wednesday, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says 20 veterans from across Ohio met with state lawmakers to educate them about the benefits of Ohio's renewable energy standards. According to the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC), local utilities are currently required to have 12.5% of their electricity generated by renewable energy resources by 2025.
Clean energy campaign Operation Free organized the advocacy event, and AWEA says many of the veterans are employed in the renewables industry.
“I’m proud that Ohio has shown leadership in this area through our renewable energy standards, which create clean, homegrown energy options - like wind and solar - that save Ohioans and our military on their utility bills, create thousands of jobs, and stabilize energy markets while ensuring reliable access for a more secure energy future,” commented Zach Roberts, Air Force veteran and Operation Free’s Ohio director.
AWEA notes that the event came after State Sen. Bill Seitz recently introduced S.B.58, legislation that would reduce Ohio’s renewable energy standards if passed.
October 29, 2013 – Vermont Renewable Energy Businesses Call For 20% By 2020 Target
Vermont's renewable energy businesses are calling for the state to meet 20% of its total energy consumption with renewable energy, conservation and efficiency by 2020, according to Renewable Energy Vermont (REV).
REV's board of directors laid out the near-term "20 by 2020" goal to its membership at the business group's annual conference and exposition Tuesday. The group says the goal is critical to address climate change, strengthen the local economy and meet Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which calls for the state to get 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050 across all sectors, including its transportation and thermal heating and cooling needs.
"Vermont has set an ambitious goal, and we can't simply wait to take steps toward meeting it. States all around us, New York and Massachusetts among them, have similarly ambitious goals,” says REV Executive Director Gabrielle Stebbins. “By setting the near-term goal of 20 percent by 2020, we can begin the path to a more renewable and energy-secure Vermont."
According to REV, across all energy sectors - electrical, transportation and thermal uses - Vermont consumes 5,000 MW of energy, with approximately 11% (550 MW) of it coming from renewables.
By 2020, the group estimates that Vermont will need to conserve, supply or contract for 450 MW of new energy through investments in renewable, conservation and efficiency. REV recommends 158 MW of solar, 112 MW of conservation, 68 MW of wind, 63 MW of efficiency, 45 MW of bioenergy and 4 MW of hydro.
In addition, REV has outlined specific policy recommendations for achieving the 20% by 2020 goal, including expanding Vermont's Standard Offer Program to deliver an expansion of community-scale solar and wind up to 5 MW; establishing a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions; and implementing a renewable portfolio standard on par with other states in the region.
October 28, 2013 – ACORE: Policies Make Midwest a Renewable Energy Hub
Largely thanks to renewable portfolio standards, the Midwest is a renewable energy hub and accounts for over a third of U.S. wind power capacity, according to a report from the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).
The Midwestern Region Report, the second in ACORE's four-part 6th annual Renewable Energy in the 50 States report, focuses on the clean energy sector in the 12 Midwest states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“The past couple of years have seen an impressive increase in renewable energy sector activity throughout the American Midwest. Eight of the 12 states we examine in this new report have strong binding standards for renewable and/or clean energy, plus an additional three have non-binding goals,” explains Lesley Hunter, ACORE’s research and program manager and lead author of the report.
“With strong renewable portfolio standards in place, the political will to protect and expand them, and the market stability they bring, these states are certain to protect their large domestic market share.”
According to the Midwestern Region Report, technologies suited for expansion in the region include biomass, solar, hydropower, waste energy, biofuels and wind, among other clean technologies.
In the report, ACORE says five Midwest states generate over 10% of their electricity from wind energy, out of only nine states nationally. Last year resulted in a 29% increase in installed generation capacity in the Midwest, adding over 21 GW of new wind power to the grid, the report notes. However, ACORE says uncertainty caused by congressional debate over the production tax credit, coupled with transmission constraints, has resulted in far fewer wind power facilities to be built to date in 2013.
“The 12 states that comprise the American Midwest are home to nationally recognized bioenergy and wind energy resources,” says Hunter. “Furthermore, smaller-scale renewable energy sources are also experiencing growth in the region. Midwestern solar power capacity, for example, experienced a 150 percent jump in 2012.
“State renewable portfolio standards have been the single largest driver of this growth and expansion. Only one state of our 12 - Nebraska - does not have any sort of binding/nonbinding standard,” Hunter continues. “It is therefore no surprise to see Nebraska come in last for renewable power in the Midwestern States Installed Capacity Rankings.”
This September, ACORE released its Western Region Report, and both the Northeast and the Southeast Region Reports will come out within the next few months.
October 25, 2013 – Household Products Maker SC Johnson Increases Overall Renewable Energy Usage, Relies on Wind Power
SC Johnson, manufacturer of household products such as Windex, Ziploc and Glade, has increased its use of renewable energy to 30% globally. In its newly released 2013 annual public sustainability report, the company says it plans to increase that number to 33% by 2016 and reveals that it relies on wind energy to help power some of its manufacturing plants.
“This report showcases our commitment to sustainable development and to serving the greater good,” comments Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “As a family company that has been around for 127 years, we have always believed that we have both an opportunity and an obligation to better the communities in which we operate.”
According to the report, SC Johnson last year commissioned two 415-foot-tall wind turbines at its largest global manufacturing plant, located in Mt. Pleasant, Wis. With the help of previously existing cogeneration systems, the company says it is now capable of generating 100% of the facility’s electricity itself, on average.
In addition, SC Johnson has been buying wind energy from a nearby wind farm to help power its Bay City, Mich., plant since 2008. The company also entered a deal in June to buy wind energy for a facility in Toluca, Mexico, and SC Johnson says the agreement will boost its renewable energy use at the plant to 86%.
October 25, 2013 – Liberty Power Donates Wind-Generated RECs to Event in Texas
Liberty Power, an independent retail electric supplier, has announced it will donate wind-generated renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match 100% of the estimated electricity consumption at the 2013 National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Fair.
The NMSDC Conference is scheduled to take place Oct. 27 through Oct. 30 in San Antonio, Texas. Liberty Power says it will supply enough RECs from regional wind facilities to offset the estimated usage for the four-day event's venue, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
"It is our privilege to support the NMSDC's commitment to sustainability through the donation of RECs sourced from Texas-generated wind power,” comments David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power.
October 24, 2013 – Ontario One Step Closer to Eliminating All Coal-Fired Generation
Ontario, which has committed to cease coal-fired generation in the province by the end of 2014, is one step closer to its goal.
On Oct. 23, the province marked the end of burning coal at the Lambton Generating Station. This leaves Nanticoke Generating Station as the last operating coal-fired facility in southern Ontario, which is slated to stop burning coal at the end of 2013.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, closing these plants one year ahead of schedule will save ratepayers C$95 million from reduced maintenance and project costs. In addition, the agency says replacing coal with cleaner generation, renewables and conservation will significantly help ease strain on the healthcare system by eliminating emissions that contribute to illness and premature death.
“Ontario is committed to building a clean, modern reliable electricity system to replace dirty coal-fired generation,” said Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli. “Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative being undertaken in North America, equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road. This initiative will leave a healthier environment, cleaner air for our children and grandchildren.”
Since 2003, the Ontario Ministry of Energy says the province has cut its use of coal by nearly 90%. By the end of this year, Ontario will have shut down 17 of 19 coal-fired units; all of them will be shut down by the end of 2014.
October 24, 2013 – DOE Report Updates Industry on U.S. Offshore Wind Market, Global Trends
Eleven offshore wind projects representing 3,824 MW of capacity are currently in an advanced stage of development in the U.S., according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These projects, the DOE explains, have at least signed a power purchase agreement, received approval for an interim or commercial lease in state or federal waters, or conducted baseline or geophysical studies at the proposed site.
And that's just one key finding from this year's U.S. Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis, which was authored by the Navigant Consortium for the DOE. Additionally, the report notes global trends in the offshore wind space.
The new study builds on an analysis from last year, and the DOE says it plans to update and publish one annually for a three-year period, providing stakeholders with a reliable and consistent data source. Over time, the DOE adds, the report could help create a road map for accelerating development and increasing U.S. competitiveness in the offshore wind market.
According to the DOE, other highlights of the 2013 report include the following:
- The average turbine size for advanced-stage, planned projects in the U.S. is expected to range between 4 MW and 5 MW, which is larger than turbines being used in land-based applications.
- The main challenges faced by U.S. offshore wind developers are cost-competitiveness, a lack of infrastructure such as offshore transmission and purpose-built ports and vessels, and uncertain and lengthy regulatory processes.
- Transmission infrastructure projects that saw progress in 2013 included the Atlantic Wind Connection and the New Jersey Energy Link.
- Globally, offshore wind development continues to move farther from shore into increasingly deeper waters; parallel increases in turbine sizes and hub heights are contributing to higher efficiencies (capacity factors).
- Developers continue to test a variety of platform and foundation types as the industry seeks to address deeper waters, varying seabed conditions, increasing turbine sizes and the increased severity of wind and wave loading at offshore wind projects.
The full report is available HERE.
October 23, 2013 – Mercom Report Tallies up Wind Deals of the Third Quarter
Total funding in the wind sector came in at $5.6 billion during the third quarter of this year (Q3'13), including venture capital (VC) funding and other equity financings, debt financings and announced project funding deals, according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group.
The report says VC funding dropped slightly in the third quarter to $135 million, compared to $210 million in the second quarter. Mainstream Renewable Power, an independent renewable energy project developer, raised $133 million from Marubeni Corp., making it the largest VC deal this quarter. Brazilian utility Cemig’s $621 million investment in project developer Renova Energia, and the $52 million raised by wind developer Rabbalshede Kraft, were the other equity financing deals in the quarter, the report adds.
Mercom says announced large-scale project funding in Q3’13 totaled $3.7 billion in 28 deals, compared to $3.2 billion in 24 deals in the second quarter. There were a total of 59 investors that participated in project funding deals in Q3. The company also tracked more than 5 GW of new project announcements globally in various stages of development.
In addition, Mercom recorded three initial public offerings (IPOs) in the third quarter - one each in the U.S. (Pattern Energy), Canada (TransAlta Renewables) and Brazil (CPFL Renovaveis) - resulting in almost $1 billion raised.
“With the capital markets thawing and renewable energy industry maturing - especially wind and solar - we are seeing more IPO activity," comments Raj Prabhu, CEO and co-founder of Mercom Capital Group.
According to the report, there were 14 merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in Q3’13, four of which disclosed amounts, totaling $280 million. Mercom says that after a blockbuster quarter of project acquisitions in Q2, Q3 dipped to 26 transactions for a disclosed total of $177 million. There have been 79 project acquisitions year-to-date compared to 72 in all of last year, the report adds.
Of the disclosed project acquisitions in Q3, Mercom says there were eight project developers that acquired wind projects, seven investment funds, three independent power producers and one utility.
October 22, 2013 – IEA Report Suggests Wind Could Generate Almost 20% of World's Electricity by 2050
Wind power currently generates 2.6% of the world's electricity, but the resource could make up an 18% share by 2050, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In order to achieve this, however, the report says global wind power must increase eight- to ten-fold from its nearly 300 GW today. That would require a jump from 2012’s $78 billion in investment to $150 billion annually, the report adds.
In 2009, the IEA originally forecast that wind power could represent a 12% global share, but the agency says it has increased its long-term target because of recent technology improvements and a “changing global energy context.”
The new report says China will replace Europe as the top wind power producer by 2020 or 2025, with the U.S. ranking third. Nonetheless, the IEA says the global wind sector faces various challenges going forward, including grid integration, funding and overall public acceptance.
The full report can be found HERE.
October 21, 2013 – New Portal Offers Local Businesses a Chance to Work on New Jersey Energy Link
The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) has announced a new supply-chain portal meant to help local contracting and service businesses find opportunities related to the New Jersey Energy Link (NJEL) project.
The NJEL will be an offshore electrical transmission cable, buried under the ocean, linking energy resources and users in northern, central and southern New Jersey. The cable will span the length of New Jersey and, when complete, could carry 3,000 GW of electricity.
The NJEL is expected to be built in three phases over a decade, with the first phase carrying 1 GW of electricity. The NJEL is expected to begin construction in 2016, with the first phase to be in service in 2019.
According to AWC, the process of building the submarine and underground cable system and related electric substations is expected to employ approximately 1,100 New Jersey workers for three to four years, plus a permanent operations and maintenance staff of about 75 workers.
Because it will run at sea through New Jersey’s designated wind energy area, the link can be used to connect and deliver power from future offshore wind farms, AWC adds. Building an offshore electrical substation platform to connect the wind turbines to the transmission system would employ an additional 500-600 local workers for two years for each platform, according to estimates by Bechtel, the project’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
“We see great potential in New Jersey to use the skills, talent and resources of local firms and craft workers. Together with the NJ Alliance for Action, we sponsored in January an offshore wind supply chain forum in Holmdel, New Jersey, and the interest from New Jersey companies was terrific - it was a standing-room-only event with over 250 attendees,” comments Robert Mitchell, CEO of AWC.
To register for contracting opportunities on the NJEL, interested companies can visit atlanticwindconnection.com/supply-chain-portal.
October 21, 2013 – Long Island Power Authority Seeks 280 MW of Renewable Energy
The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has issued two separate requests for proposals (RFPs), including one for up to 280 MW of new renewable energy from resources such as solar, fuel cells and even offshore wind by 2018.
LIPA has had its eyes on offshore wind for years. For example, it had proposed a project to install 40 turbines off the coast of Jones Beach, but it later terminated the project in 2007, citing factors such as strong local opposition and costs. The utility also teamed up with the New York Power Authority and Consolidated Edison on the New York City-Long Island Offshore Wind Project, a proposed 350 MW to 700 MW wind farm located off the Rockaway Peninsula. In June 2011, however, LIPA withdrew its proposal for that project. Nonetheless, a utility spokesperson says LIPA and its partners are engaged in an ongoing study to assess the feasibility and advance the development of the endeavor.
The second RFP is seeking as much as 1,630 MW in the form of new peaking or distributed generation, energy storage and demand response resources to be in service by 2019 or earlier, if possible, LIPA explains. These newer sources of energy are intended to replace approximately 1 GW of 1960’s and 1970’s vintage “peaking” units currently under contract to LIPA.
Both RFPs are part of a long-term energy strategy approved by LIPA’s board of trustees in October 2012. LIPA says the plan is expected to increase renewable energy projects and energy efficiency to a total of more than 1 GW by 2022, making non-fossil energy a material component of the Long Island electric resource profile.
Following LIPA’s announcement, several regional advocacy groups commended the authority for its newest RFPs.
“We welcome the opportunity for offshore and on-site wind, solar, fuel cells and other clean technologies to help meet Long Island’s growing demand for energy safely and reliably,” says Valerie Strauss, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “We expect the success of these RFPs to be the start of a continued commitment to clean energy that places Long Island - and New York State as a whole - at the forefront of the national clean energy economy.”
Peter Olmsted, East Coast policy advocate for the Vote Solar Initiative, adds, “Having just passed the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, a diversified and resilient clean energy portfolio will prove critical to meeting the long-term energy needs of Long Islanders. As the state considers the future role of renewable energy, energy efficiency and demand response, LIPA is showing clear leadership by issuing these robust solicitations.”
More information about the RFPs can be found HERE.
October 18, 2013 – California Regulators Set Massive Energy Storage Goal
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has established an energy storage target of 1.325 GW for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric by 2020, with installations required no later than by the end of 2024.
The decision will increase California's installed energy storage capacity sixfold from its current 35 MW (excluding large-scale pumped hydro storage), says the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA).
According to the CPUC, the guiding principles of its decision are grid optimization, the integration of renewable energy, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, per California's goals.
The commission's action, CESA reports, sets targets for California's investor-owned utilities and direct access providers to procure a specified amount of energy storage every two years through 2020, with targets increasing with each solicitation. Some energy storage facilities are expected to come into service as early as 2015, the advocacy group adds.
The CPUC says its decision directs the utilities to file separate procurement applications containing a proposal for their first energy storage procurement period by March 1, 2014.
The decision also establishes a target for community choice aggregators and electric service providers to procure energy storage equal to 1% of their annual 2020 peak load by 2020, with installation no later than 2024, the CPUC states.
"Storage is a game changer that can help people manage their energy use and expand the capacity of renewable resources to provide power to homes and businesses," says Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval. "This decision will spur investment and innovation in energy storage and help Californians unleash their creative and economic power."
This multi-stakeholder process and final decision were set in motion by A.B.2514, which became law in 2010, CESA notes. According to the organization, under A.B.2514, the CPUC was required to open a proceeding to consider developing energy storage procurement targets for California utilities to integrate grid-scale storage into the state's electrical power system if determined to be viable and cost-effective.
October 18, 2013 – U.S. Renewables Outpace Coal, Oil and Nuclear Combined
Renewable energy sources accounted for 30.03% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed in the first nine months of this year, totaling 3,218 MW, according to a new report from the SUN DAY Campaign.
Citing the latest Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Energy Infrastructure Update, the nonprofit group says renewables provided more new generation thus far this year than did coal (1,543 MW - 14.40%), oil (27 MW - 0.25%) and nuclear power (0 MW - 0.00%) combined. However, the report says natural gas dominated the first three quarters, with 5,854 MW of new capacity (54.62%).
Among renewable energy sources, solar led the way for the first nine months of 2013, with 146 new "units" totaling 1,935 MW, followed by wind power with nine units totaling 961 MW. Biomass added 57 new units totaling 192 MW, while hydro had 11 new units with an installed capacity of 116 MW and geothermal steam had one new unit (14 MW).
According to the report, the newly installed capacity being provided by the solar units is second only to that of natural gas. The new solar capacity in 2013 is 77.36% higher than that for the same period in 2012.
Renewable sources now account for 15.68% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro - 8.32%, wind - 5.18%, biomass - 1.31%, solar - 0.54%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.19%) and oil (4.06%) combined, the report says.
October 14, 2013 – Consortium Readies Floating Wind Turbine for Operation in Fukushima
The consortium developing a floating wind turbine demonstration project offshore Fukushima, Japan, says its 2 MW turbine is slated to begin operation in November.
The consortium includes Marubeni Corp. (project integrator), the University of Tokyo (technical advisor), Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan Marine United, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., Hitachi, Furukawa Electric, Shimizu, and Mizuho Information & Research. The project, announced in March 2012, is sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government revealed plans to test the viability of large-scale floating wind farms.
So far, the consortium says it has connected an extra-high-voltage undersea cable and dynamic cable to a 66 kV floating power substation and a 2 MW downwind-type floating wind turbine. Depending on the meteorological and sea conditions, operations are expected to commence on the first phase of the project in November. The second stage of the project will test 7 MW technology and is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.
October 14, 2013 – Climate Change Group Provides C$10 Million to Alberta Wind Project
Alberta-based nonprofit Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (CCEMC) has announced more than C$46 million in funding for eight renewable energy projects, including C$10 million for a wind farm. According to CCEMC, the eight projects have a combined value of nearly C$390 million.
"Renewable energy is now the largest part of the CCEMC portfolio," comments CCEMC Chair Eric Newell. "With growing global energy demand, it is critical that we continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy will play an important role in helping Alberta to reach emissions reduction goals and transition to a lower carbon future."
CCEMC is providing C$10 million in funding to the 300 MW Blackspring Ridge Wind Project, located in Vulcan County, Alberta. The wind farm, currently under construction, is a 50/50 venture between EDF EN Canada and Enbridge. The project will include 166 Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbines and is slated to reach commissioning in summer 2014.
Waste-to-energy, solar and battery energy storage projects were also among those that received investments from CCEMC’s seventh round of funding. Thus far, the group says it has committed funding to 51 projects valued at nearly C$1.3 billion.
October 11, 2013 – Oklahoma Utility Signs Up for 600 MW of Wind Power
Citing "extraordinary pricing opportunities," Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO) has decided to enter deals for 600 MW of wind power, even though the utility had originally only sought 200 MW.
PSO says it signed 20-year renewable energy purchase agreements (REPAs) for a total 598.7 MW from three wind projects currently under development in Oklahoma. If approved by regulators, the contracts would provide PSO with energy beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
The new REPAs are a result of a request for proposals issued June 10, 2013, through which PSO sought long-term purchases of up to 200 MW of new wind. The utility says it decided to contract for an additional 400 MW because of low prices, and the company expects it could save an estimated $53 million in the first year of the contracts. To boot, annual savings are anticipated to grow each year over the lives of the deals.
“With these long-term power purchase agreements, we’re adding a significant amount of Oklahoma wind energy, bringing more diversity to our fuel mix, and doing so at a price that will provide substantial savings for our customers,” says Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer.
When deliveries of energy from the three new REPAs commence in 2016, PSO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, will have a total 1,137 MW of wind under contract. The new series of 20-year agreements includes the following:
- 198.9 MW from Seiling Wind LLC, owned by NextEra Energy Resources and located in Dewey County;
- 200 MW from the Goodwell Wind Project LLC, owned by TradeWind Energy and located in Texas County; and
- 199.8 MW from Apex Clean Energy’s 300 MW Balko Wind project, located in Beaver County. According to Apex, the development and construction of the Balko project will provide an estimated $430 million investment in the region, and the wind farm is expected to come online in 2015.
October 11, 2013 – CanWEA Presents its Annual Wind Energy Awards
At its 29th Conference and Exhibition in Toronto this week, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) presented its annual awards in recognition of organizations and individuals who have worked diligently to advance the country's wind sector.
CanWEA awarded the Matt Holder Community Connection Award to TransAlta Corp.'s Terry Kwas., the Friend of Wind Award to Malcolm Hamilton, the Individual Leadership Award to ENERCON Canada's Michael Weidemann, the Group Leadership Award to Rio Tinto for its Diavik Diamond Mine Wind Farm, and the R.J. Templin Award to The Pembina Institute.
In addition, CanWEA presented the Wind Energy Project Award for the first time. The group awarded it to EDF En Canada and Enbridge for the Lac-Alfred Wind Farm in Quebec, Canada’s largest wind farm. CanWEA says the project, commissioned this year, has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to responsible and sustainable development through its initial development, community engagement, permitting and construction.
October 10, 2013 – Oklahoma Co-op on the Lookout for Wind and Solar Power
Oklahoma-based People's Electric Cooperative (PEC) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 75 MW of firm, dispatchable generating capacity, up to 50 MW of wind generation, and up to 15 MW of solar generation.
The 75 MW of firm generating capacity will be used to satisfy PEC's capacity margin requirements, while the 50 MW of wind generation and the 15 MW of solar generation will used to satisfy PEC's internal goal of incorporating renewable resources as a larger percentage of its overall capacity.
Through the RFP, PEC is seeking long-term power purchase agreements, asset purchase options, and tolls with a term of 10 to 30 years, although delivery to the PEC service territory in Oklahoma must start between 2016 and 2018. The RFP also specifies that firm capacity bids must be a minimum of 25 MW, wind resources must be a minimum of 10 MW, and solar resources must be a minimum of 2 MW in size. Finally, all solar resources must be sited on a PEC-controlled site in Oklahoma.
PEC has retained Burns & McDonnell to assist with the preparation of the RFP and to act as an independent third party during the evaluation of bids. Bids are due by Nov. 25, and PEC expects to begin negotiations in the first quarter of 2014.
October 10, 2013 – California Ushers in 600 MW Shared Renewables Law
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed shared renewable energy legislation that requires the state's large public utilities to develop an additional 600 MW of renewable energy generating capacity. The added capacity is over and above the existing 33% renewable portfolio standard.
The enacting of S.B.43, also known as the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, requires each of the big three public utilities in the state to file an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to detail its plan to acquire the requisite renewable energy generating capacity. These so-called “green tariff plans” cover each utility's proportionate share of the total 600 MW of new renewable energy generating capacity called for under the law.
According to the law, renewable energy generating facilities specified in a participating utility’s green tariff plan must not be larger than 20 MW. Of the 600 MW capped total, 100 MW of the added capacity would come from facilities rated 1 MW or smaller located in environmentally distressed or economically disadvantaged areas. Moreover, generating capacity is to be built as close to consumers as is practical.
Customers would be able to purchase renewable energy from their utilities not to exceed 100% of their annual consumption. No given customer would be able to subscribe to more than 2 MW, although there are exceptions for federal, state and local governments, along with schools, colleges and universities. Participating customers will pay a rate established by the CPUC.
The CPUC has until July 1, 2014, to approve or reject a participating utility's green tariff plan.
October 9, 2013 – National Research Council of Canada Announces Energy Storage Program
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has announced its Energy Storage for Grid Security and Modernization research program.
According to the NRC, its initiative establishes new collaborative and co-investment opportunities for the energy storage value chain, including material and technology developers and suppliers, systems integrators, utilities, independent power producers and other end-users. The council notes that energy storage efforts will be focused around client-driven research and development, demonstration and validation, and strategic support to facilitate market adoption.
The NRC adds that integrating renewable energy technologies, including wind and solar, into Canada's electricity infrastructure can be accelerated by overcoming technical and cost barriers to grid-scale energy storage.
"This large-scale, multi-year, collaborative approach will deploy a critical mass of expertise in targeted areas to help resolve the reliability and affordability challenges of integrating new technologies into a modernized electricity grid," says Andy Reynolds, general manager of the energy, mining and environment portfolio at the NRC. "This will help grow Canada's renewable energy sector and create new markets for enabling technology and material suppliers, including the mining industry."
October 9, 2013 – Texas High School Cuts Ribbon on Wind and Solar Energy System
Taylor High School (THS) in Texas hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the installation of the school's new renewable energy system, which consists of a 33 kW solar array and a 1 kW wind turbine, with an integrated computer monitoring system.
Executives from IEEE, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Heliovolt and Taylor High School Duck University participated in the proceedings.
The project was initiated as a result of the school's Beginners Learning Alternative Designs for Energy (BLADE) Club winning first place in last year's IEEE High School Photovoltaic Design Competition. Leveraging its prize money awarded by IEEE and Heliovolt, BLADE was able to secure $120,000 of funding from the State of Texas for this renewable energy project.
"The installation of the school's new renewable energy system and today's ribbon-cutting ceremony represent an exciting time at Taylor High School," said Danny Ward, THS principal. "In addition to offsetting the school's energy costs, the new system provides students the opportunity to learn about renewable energy from an active system.”
October 9, 2013 – Utility Buying Wind-Generated RECs from University of Delaware
Delaware Municipal Electric Corp. (DEMEC) has announced it will be purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) for three years from a wind turbine at the University of Delaware (UD).
According to a report on UDaily, the proceeds will help fund a student fellowship in wind energy. In 2010, the university and Gamesa commissioned a 2 MW wind turbine on the Lewes, Del., campus, and UD uses the turbine to facilitate wind-related research.
DEMEC CEO Patrick E. McCullar said that the REC purchase furthers the utility’s commitment to wind power in the state, the UDaily report adds.
“We can think of no better way to express that support than to buy wind energy renewable energy credits created right here in Delaware to fund this fellowship and the valuable wind research produced by UD,” McCullar commented.
October 8, 2013 – Galion LIDAR Studying Wind Resource Along Texas Coast
SgurrEnergy has announced that its Galion LIDAR device has been deployed on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coast to study the coastal wind resource in order to prospect for a potential offshore wind farm. The measurement device has begun a nine-month deployment by Baryonyx Corp., a company in the preliminary stage of development of a commercial-scale offshore wind farm.
The GOWind project, which may use Siemens SWT 6.0MW wind turbines, plans to install three turbines for a demonstration phase. The preliminary site-specific wind resource assessment is beginning with Galion LIDAR’s deployment to inform this first phase of the development.
SgurrEnergy, part of Wood Group, will provide support to Baryonyx during the deployment and will conduct a monthly data analysis and preliminary energy yield prediction to inform the next stage of the project.
“There is a large capacity for offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico area, and we wanted to deploy a comprehensive measurement device to ensure that we’re properly informed on the wind resource, which is why we selected Galion LIDAR,” says Heather Otten, chief development officer at Baryonyx.
Baryonyx was one of seven developers awarded a U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore offshore wind projects in state and federal waters.
October 7, 2013 – LM Wind Power Says Production Tax Credit Leads to Jobs
Wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Wind Power says it has doubled its U.S. workforce in less than six months from 350 in April to a little more than 700 in August, thanks to Congress' January extension of the production tax credit (PTC). The company adds that it expects to continue expanding into next year, employing around 1,200 people in the U.S. in 2014.
The additional staff will work in LM Wind Power's factories in Grand Forks, N.D., and Little Rock, Ark. The company says the new employees will help serve demand in the U.S. market, where LM Wind Power is seeing increased volumes from key customers following the PTC extension.
“We are pleased to see that the market is improving again following a period of low activity due to uncertainty around the PTC,” comments LM Wind Power’s Bill Burga Jr. “With the political framework in place, our customers are winning more business again, and we are ready to serve their demand for highly efficient quality blades for the U.S. market, adding hundreds of extra jobs. Now it is crucial that the politicians remain committed to securing a stable economic framework to enable continued industry growth and increased U.S. employment.”
LM Wind Power will have around 570 employees in Grand Forks and little more than 400 in Little Rock at the end of this year, adding another 250 in 2014. With the continued expansion of the workforce, LM Wind Power’s U.S. factories will be among the company’s biggest. LM Wind Power operates 14 blade manufacturing plants across the Americas, Europe and Asia.
October 7, 2013 – Wind Energy Showcased at College Football Game in Iowa
On Oct. 2, MidAmerican Energy Co. supplied renewable energy credits (RECs) from one of its wind farms to a football game between Iowa State University and the University of Texas.
Cyclone Sports Properties, Iowa State's athletic multimedia rights holder, used RECs from MidAmerican's Pomeroy wind farm, located in Pocahontas County, Iowa, to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with the energy consumption of a typical game at the Jack Trice Stadium, located in Ames, Iowa.
According to MidAmerican, the event was designed to educate fans about wind energy, noting that Iowa and Texas rank within the top three states in the U.S. when it comes to total wind-powered energy generation. MidAmerican teamed up with transmission company ITC Midwest and Cyclone Sports Properties as corporate sponsors for the awareness campaign.
The campaign was promoted through more than 30 affiliates on the Cyclone Radio Network, in-game videoboard messaging, and a brief on-field recognition ceremony.
MidAmerican Energy currently owns and operates approximately 2.3 GW of wind generation capacity in Iowa. This year, the company received approval for a $1.9 billion, 1.05 GW wind expansion, which will be complete by year-end 2015.
October 3, 2013 – Gamesa Receives First Order for 5 MW Wind Turbines
Gamesa has announced the company's first contract to supply its G128-5.0 MW turbines. Through the 15 MW order, Gamesa will provide three units of the 5 MW turbines to TuuliWatti Oy, a wind energy joint venture between Finnish energy company St1 Oy and the national retail cooperative S-Group. In addition, Gamesa will perform operation and maintenance services for 10 years.
Specifically, Gamesa will install the turbines at a wind farm being developed by TuuliWatti in Salo, Finland. The wind turbines are scheduled for delivery over the course of 2014, and the facility is slated for commissioning toward the end of next year.
Gamesa says this contract is part of a framework agreement signed by the two parties last year for the supply of 135 MW in Finland. As part of this contract, Gamesa has supplied 18 MW of its 4.5 MW turbines to the Simo wind farm, which is under commissioning, and will also supply 54 MW to the Pori wind farm and 36 MW to the Tornio facility between this year and next.
October 1, 2013 – Survey: 75% of New Jerseyans Want In-State Offshore Wind
The Sierra Club has released a new poll conducted by Monmouth University showing strong public support for developing more renewable energy, including offshore wind power, in New Jersey.
According to the poll, 75% of New Jerseyans favor building offshore wind in the state, and about two-thirds favor Gov. Chris Christie making offshore wind a priority for his administration. The poll also found that two-in-three New Jerseyans believe building offshore wind would strengthen New Jersey’s economy.
"New Jerseyans, like most Americans, understand that investing in offshore wind will grow our economy and create good local jobs at a time when we need them the most,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
In response, the Sierra Club says it has launched a new advertising campaign that includes billboards, online and newspaper advertisements with images of Jersey beaches using the tagline: “The Jersey Shore is known for a lot of things. Let’s make wind power one of them.”
The Sierra Club notes that Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law in August 2010, but the group charges that progress has stalled. The Sierra Club claims the state’s Board of Public Utilities has failed to implement the governor’s initiative and set the required financing rules that would attract offshore wind businesses and builders to the state.
October 1, 2013 – Vestas Receives 50 MW Wind Turbine Order in Uruguay
Vestas has received a 50 MW order from Fingano S.A. for the Carape I wind power plant, which will be installed in Maldonado, Uruguay. The wind deal represents Vestas' first in the country.
The 17 V112-3.0 MW turbines are scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2014, and the wind power plant is expected to be commissioned in the third quarter of next year. The contract for the Carape I wind power plant comprises delivery, installation and commissioning of the turbines, a VestasOnline Business SCADA system and a 17-year Active Management Output (AOM) 4000 service agreement.
September 30, 2013 – BOEM to Assess Competitive Interest in West Coast Offshore Wind Site
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a request to determine whether there is competitive interest in leasing an area offshore Oregon that Principle Power Inc. has proposed for a pilot-scale floating wind energy project.
Last year, Seattle, Wash.-based Principle Power was one of seven developers to receive a U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore offshore wind projects in state and federal waters.
According to BOEM, Principle Power’s proposed WindFloat Pacific Project, which would be located about 16 nautical miles west of Coos Bay, Ore., in about 1,200 feet of water, is designed to generate 30 MW of electricity from five "WindFloat" units, each equipped with a 6 MW offshore wind turbine. The proposed lease area covers about 15 square miles.
BOEM says it must assess whether there are other parties interested in developing commercial wind facilities in the same area in order to determine whether it is appropriate to issue a lease on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.
In addition to inquiring about competitive interest, BOEM is seeking public comment on the proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located.
BOEM has published a notice in the Federal Register, which includes a 30-day public comment period.
"Today's announcement represents an important step forward in the president's all-of-the-above energy strategy as we seek to facilitate renewable, clean energy generation off America's West Coast," says BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "We will work closely with the state of Oregon and stakeholders to share information and resolve issues in order to make responsible wind energy development in federal waters a reality."
BOEM says the Windfloat Pacific Project is the latest in a series of lease initiatives the agency has undertaken to support offshore wind energy development, including one competitive auction for Massachusetts and Rhode Island (won by Deepwater Wind) and one for Virginia (won by Virginia Electric and Power Co., a Dominion subsidiary).
According to BOEM, the two competitive lease sales generated $5.4 million in high bids for 277,549 acres on the U.S. Continental Shelf. Combined, these areas could generate enough renewable energy to power 1.7 million homes, the agency adds. More competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts will be held over the next year.
September 30, 2013 – Clean Energy Storage Project Completed in British Columbia
Utility BC Hydro and David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia, have cut the ribbon on a 1 MW clean energy storage project in British Columbia.
The Government of Canada's Clean Energy Fund and BC Hydro each provided C$6.5 million for the new battery unit. The unit will store clean energy produced by BC Hydro that can be used to help meet the Field, B.C., community's electricity needs in the event of a power outage and reduce system load during peak demand periods.
“Our government is supporting innovative projects across the country and positioning Canada at the forefront of clean energy technology,” said Wilks. “Projects like this not only support high-quality jobs, but also demonstrate how we can use renewable energy sources to help protect the environment.”
Greg Reimer, BC Hydro’s executive vice president of transmission and distribution, added, “The completion of this project means people living in Field now have a clean source of reliable back-up power. It will also give us an opportunity to share our knowledge with other utilities in the country who face the same challenges.”
September 30, 2013 – 40 MW Energy Storage Facility Goes Live in Ohio
The AES Corp. has announced the commercial operation of its 40 MW energy storage resource in Moraine, Ohio.
Located at Dayton Power and Light's (DP&L) Tait generating station, the project is providing fast-response frequency regulation services to PJM Interconnection to help stabilize the grid, according to AES.
"Advanced energy storage resources can uniquely maximize the performance and efficiency of the grid through their ability to act as both generation and load,” says AES’ Phil Herrington. “With over 100 MW now serving the PJM market, we are seeing a growing interest from AES customers in other key markets."
AES notes that the Tait battery array includes more than 800,000 battery cells and connects through DP&L Tait station’s transformers, operated by DP&L and DPL Energy LLC, through an independent agreement with PJM.
September 30, 2013 – First-Half U.S. Wind Power Production Up 20% Year-Over-Year
U.S. energy production from wind power grew 20.14% in the first six months of this year compared to the same time frame in 2012, according to a report from the SUN DAY Campaign. Over the past decade, the nonprofit group says domestic energy production from wind has increased by a factor of nearly 16.
Citing U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the SUN DAY Campaign notes renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, and wind) provided 9.81% of U.S. energy consumption and 11.82% of domestic energy production for the first half of 2013.
According to the group, overall domestic renewable energy production grew 2% in the first half of 2013 year-over-year. Specifically, solar increased by 32.46%, wind by 20.14%, geothermal by 0.89% and biomass by 0.42%. Hydropower slipped by 2.59% and biofuels by 5.92%.
Among the renewable energy sources, hydropower's share during the first half of 2013 was 30.18%, biomass 25.26%, biofuels 20.18%, wind 18.80%, solar 3.19% and geothermal 2.39%.
The SUN DAY Campaign says production from all renewable energy sources, including conventional hydropower, is about 60% higher in 2013 than it was in 2003; production from non-hydro renewable energy sources has more than doubled.
By comparison, during the past 10 years, the group says domestic energy production from fossil fuels has increased by about 11% and from nuclear power by only 1%.
"Renewable sources - particularly solar, wind and biofuels - have been the real growth industries in the energy market over the past decade," says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "They now provide more energy than nuclear and more electricity than oil. If recent trends continue, they will eventually eclipse all uses of fossil fuels and nuclear power."
September 27, 2013 – Regulators OK Minnesota Power's Plan to Add Wind, Reduce Coal
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved Minnesota Power's 2013 resource plan, which includes adding 200 MW of wind energy to the utility's system.
The company says the plan is based on its EnergyForward resource strategy, which further transitions Minnesota Power's energy supply mix toward one-third renewables, one-third coal and one-third natural gas.
Among other components, the commission-approved plan includes the addition of 200 MW of wind energy, which Minnesota Power is proposing to meet through its recently announced Bison 4 project near New Salem, N.D. In addition, the plan allows a reduction of coal-fired generation on the company’s fleet by 185 MW.
“We’re pleased with the commission’s decision approving our plan for Minnesota Power to continue diversifying its energy mix in a balanced way that helps ensure reasonable cost and reliability along with increased environmental stewardship,” says Alan R. Hodnik, president, chairman and CEO of ALLETE, Minnesota Power’s parent company.
September 26, 2013 – Vestas Supplying 400 MW to Two Duke Energy Wind Projects in Texas
Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, has announced it will build two large-scale wind power facilities in South Texas totaling 400 MW. Vestas will supply 200 V110-2.0 MW turbines for the projects, representing the company's largest turbine order globally since 2010.
Duke Energy Renewables will build, own and operate the Los Vientos III and IV wind projects, sited approximately 100 miles west of Brownsville near Rio Grande City in Starr County. Each project will produce 200 MW, and turbine delivery is scheduled to begin in the first half of next year.
Vestas’ factories in Colorado will manufacture blades, nacelles and towers for these projects. Overall, Vestas notes it has secured 870 MW of orders in the U.S. and Canada in 2013 among four turbine types.
Austin Energy will purchase the output and associated renewable energy credits from the wind farms under two 25-year agreements. The utility also buys the power from Duke’s Los Vientos II project in Willacy and Cameron counties.
"Austin Energy has among the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the country, and these two new wind projects with Duke Energy will help us meet our 35 percent renewable energy goal four years ahead of schedule," says Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis. "They will also help push our wind portfolio to more than 1,000 MW, which is nearly a third of our total generation."
Duke Energy Renewables will begin construction of the projects in the fourth quarter of this year, with an in-service date expected in early 2015 for Los Vientos III and mid-2016 for Los Vientos IV.
According to the company, the 400 MW produced by Los Vientos III and IV will bring Duke Energy's total wind-generated capacity to more than 2 GW.
September 26, 2013 – Could Renewable Energy Save Utilities Billions?
Incorporating high levels of wind and solar power into the Western Interconnection grid, which includes 13 U.S. states and some parts of Canada and Mexico, could ultimately save utilities billions of dollars per year in fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions by one-third, finds a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
According to NREL, the projected fuel savings outweigh added costs that the region’s utilities and fossil-fueled plant operators would have to incur in order to integrate the boost in wind and solar, which are intermittent energy resources. Through a practice called cycling, the lab explains, utilities often ramp up or down fossil plants in order to maintain reliable power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.
As part of the study, NREL modeled the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation to make up 33% of the western U.S.’ load in 2020. Debra Lew, project manager for the report, says that figure translates to a nominal 26% penetration across the entire Western Interconnection. However, she notes that most of the cycling would take place in the U.S.
Using the above simulation, the study estimates that cycling costs would reach between $35 million and $157 million per year in the Western Interconnection, which equates to a rise in O&M costs of approximately $0.50 to $1.30 per megawatt-hour of fossil-fueled generation.
“Increased cycling to accommodate high levels of wind and solar generation increases operating costs by two percent to five percent for the average fossil-fueled plant,” Lew explains. “However, our simulations show that from a system perspective, avoided fuel costs are far greater than the increased cycling costs for fossil-fueled plants.”
In fact, the report says the added wind and solar power on the grid would help cut fossil fuel expenses by about $7 billion annually in the Western Interconnection region.
The study also finds that the additional cycling would produce a “negligible” amount of carbon emissions when compared with how much carbon-reduction potential the renewables represent. The report says the high level of wind and solar would decrease net carbon emissions by one-third in the region, including billions of pounds of CO2 and millions of pounds of NOX and SO2.
“Cycling induces some inefficiencies, but the carbon emission reduction is impacted by much less than one percent,” comments Lew.
On average, the report says 4 MWh of renewable energy displaces 3 MWh of natural gas generation and 1 MWh of coal generation. NREL notes that the study focused only on operations and did not include other factors such as capital costs associated with building renewable energy projects or fossil-fueled power facilities. The report is available here.
September 26, 2013 – EDPR Canada, Timberlands Company Plan 300 MW of Wind Projects
TimberWest Forest Corp., a British Columbia-based timberlands company, and EDP Renewables Canada Ltd. (EDPR Canada) have entered into a partnership and propose to develop, build, and operate large-scale wind projects on southern Vancouver Island.
The companies say the proposed projects present a unique opportunity to build power generation capacity on Vancouver Island, which generates only a third of its energy demand locally. At up to 300 MW of capacity, the projects would provide approximately C$600 million to C$750 million of potential investment and support hundreds of jobs on Vancouver Island, the partners add. To date, TimberWest and EDPR Canada say they have invested several million dollars in developing these projects.
"These renewable energy projects would represent a significant investment on Vancouver Island," comments TimberWest President and CEO Brian Frank. "We have a tremendous opportunity here to develop wind energy on TimberWest's private land near where that energy is needed."
In addition, the companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with the T'Sou-ke First Nation that envisions the potential of partnerships with the T'Sou-ke and other First Nations on wind projects. T'Sou-ke’s traditional territory lies within the proposed wind project sites.
Gordon Planes, chief of the T'Sou-ke First Nation, says, "We look forward to working with TimberWest, EDPR Canada and other First Nations to see that the wind projects can be developed in a way that is respectful of First Nations people and their culture, aspirations and interests."
To be successful, the companies say these projects would rely on BC Hydro to purchase the power, or deliver it directly to growing end use markets in the natural resources sector such as mining and liquefied natural gas projects.
September 25, 2013 – Wind Industry Makes Its Case at Ohio Statehouse
At the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday, representatives from Vestas, Iberdrola Renewables, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Calvert Investments held a gathering to lay out the economic case for encouraging further renewable energy business development in Ohio, as lawmakers prepare to enter their last session for the year.
They offered the renewable business community's insights into economic and energy policies like Ohio's Alternative Energy Portfolio (a policy referred to in other states as a renewable portfolio standard or RPS), which AWEA says has been successful in drawing billions of private investment and thousands of renewable energy jobs to the Buckeye State.
According to the association, Ohio has 62 factories that supply parts to the wind industry, more than any other state, making it the U.S. manufacturing leader. Those factories already have over $775 million in capital investment. Additionally, AWEA says wind farms in Ohio now pay over $2.5 million in lease payments yearly to local residents and $3.6 million in annual property tax payments.
“Wind power is a true American success story in Ohio and across the country,” said Susan Innis, senior manager for public affairs at Vestas. “The advantage in bringing wind projects to Ohio, which was one of the top five fastest-growing states for wind capacity installation in 2012, lies in its policies like the RPS.”
Eric Thumma, director of institutional relations at Iberdrola Renewables, added that Ohio is “a great place to do business.”
“The state’s investment in smart policies led to our investment in projects like [the 304 MW] Blue Creek Wind Farm, which is supplying electricity needs to Ohio State University, First Energy and AMP Ohio,” explained Thumma.
“When the legislature resumes its session next month, it’s important that legislators recognize the importance of policy stability in maintaining Ohio’s renewable business growth,” said Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s senior vice president of public policy.
September 25, 2013 – NextEra Energy Canada Completes 124.4 MW Wind Farm in Ontario
NextEra Energy Canada has announced that subsidiary Summerhaven Wind LP has achieved commercial operation at its 124.4 MW Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre. The wind farm, located in Haldimand County, Ontario, comprises 56 turbines.
Development on the Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre began in 2006, and the project received a Renewable Energy Approval in March 2012. Throughout the 10-month construction phase, NextEra says more than 300 local workers and 55 Ontario businesses contributed to the project through services ranging from materials, equipment, utilities, labor, housing and subcontractors. Throughout the process, more than C$26 million was invested in local businesses in Haldimand County, the company adds.
“We are proud to be a part of an initiative that not only contributes to Ontario’s renewable energy supply, but powers the local economy in Haldimand County,” comments Ben Greenhouse, director of development at NextEra Energy Canada.
September 25, 2013 – EPA Honors 24 Organizations for Green Power Efforts
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has presented its 13th annual Green Power Leadership Awards to 21 Green Power Partners and three suppliers for their achievements in advancing the nation's renewable electricity market.
The EPA defines green power as electricity that is generated from renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas and low-impact hydroelectric sources and produces no fossil-fuel-based carbon pollution. The agency says the winning organizations are recognized for dramatically increasing their green power purchases, installing large-scale solar panel arrays, and leading innovative renewable energy procurement efforts, among other actions.
September 24, 2013 – JCM Capital Closes Development Financing For Lake Erie CleanPower Connector
JCM Capital, a Canada-based private equity firm, has closed development financing for the Lake Erie CleanPower Connector, an underwater high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission project designed to connect Ontario to Pennsylvania.
Lake Erie Power Corp. (LEPC), an independent energy transmission developer, announced the project plans earlier this month. According to LEPC, the transmission project would bring hydro, wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear energy to the PJM grid, which supplies electricity to 13 states and the District of Columbia.
The privately funded project is estimated to cost $1 billion, and following regulatory approvals, LEPC is aiming to commission it by the end of 2017.
“JCM Capital is excited and proud to be financing and providing co-development services for this early-stage and high-profile HVDC transmission project between Canada and the United States," comments Martin Ritchie, JCM Capital's chief financial officer.
September 24, 2013 – Tri Global Energy Announces 1.1 GW Community Wind Farm in Texas
Texas-based Tri Global Energy has announced the creation of Hale Community Energy LLC (HCE), a community-sponsored wind farm with the potential to produce 1.1 GW of electricity.
HCE is a partnership comprising Tri Global Energy projects, including Hale County Wind Farm LLC, CottonWind Farms LLC, Lakeview Wind Farms LLC and East Mound Renewable Energy Project LLC. Located in the southern part of Hale County, Texas, stretching west from Abernathy to Petersburg, north to Plainview and across to the Floyd County line, the combined project is planned to have approximately 500-650 turbines and be developed in five phases of construction.
According to Tri Global Energy, the wind farm will be located on 122,000 acres that are owned by more than 340 landowners, and the project has more than 450 shareholders. The company expects the first 200 MW phase to be operational in late 2015 and has plans for the entire project to be operational by mid-2018.
The point of interconnection (POI) for the 200 MW first phase of the project is planned to be the Briscoe County Substation, currently being constructed by Sharyland Utilities 20 miles northeast of the project. The POI for the 250 MW second phase is planned to be the SPP 345 kV Tuco substation located adjacent to the southwest boundary of the project. A new 345 kV transmission line is planned for completion by mid-2014 from Tuco to Woodward, Okla., which will run through the southern part of the project.
September 23, 2013 – IRS Provides Certainty for Wind Developers to Move Forward With PTC-Eligible Projects
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has moved to further spell out the requirements for wind developers to qualify for the production tax credit (PTC), including a solution to one of the program's most confusing aspects.
On April 15, the IRS ruled that to qualify for the PTC, project developers must demonstrate work of a significant nature, incur 5% of the project's cost by Dec. 31 and ensure the wind farm is under continuous construction.
However, proving continuous efforts was problematic from the start and caused wind developers to flood the federal agency with follow-up questions.
Therefore, on Sept. 20, the IRS further clarified requirements, including adding a placed-in-service date, which would still allow developers to qualify, but without painstakingly proving continuous efforts.
According to the IRS, wind projects started by Dec. 31 and placed into service by Dec. 31, 2015, are eligible to qualify for 45 D of the Internal Revenue Code. The rationale is that if a wind developer met an in-service date, so-called continuous efforts would be assumed.
Developers whose wind projects go into service after 2015 will be required to demonstrate continuous work.
Keith Martin, partner at law firm Chadbourne & Parke, explains some developers complained that this continuous-work requirement was making it difficult to finance projects, as banks and tax equity investors balked at taking the risk that the pattern of future work will fall short of what is required.
The guidance also sought to demystify the program's other vexing requirements, such as the following:
Ownership transfers. The IRS offered additional guidance about when a project or equipment for a project can be transferred after 2013 to another developer or investor without losing "grandfather" rights to tax credits.
However, this part of the notice only confirmed what the market already assumed was true, Martin explains. "It did not shed any real new light on transfer issues."
Master contracts. Master contracts are agreements a developer has with turbine suppliers, balance-of-plant contractors or other vendors. David Burton, a partner at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, says the earlier April rules contained no reference to “master contract” applicability, which led to questions of whether the master contract rules applied to the 5% safe harbor in 2013.
However, the new rules confirm that the master contract rules apply to both approaches to starting construction.
The clarifications are expected to give wind developers - and financiers - the needed certainty to go forward with development.
"The notice may cause developers to shift back to the physical-work test rather than try to incur at least five percent of the project cost this year," explains Martin. "It is easier to start physical work."
According to Martin, many wind developers had been focusing on the 5% test because it seemed to suggest that a project could be merely under development by the end of 2013 while the physical-work test required that it be truly under construction.
The guidance is welcome news for an industry facing its share of challenges, explains Akin Gump's Burton.
"It should result in a steady stream of wind projects coming online at least through the end of 2015 and leaves open the possibility for projects qualifying for PTCs after 2015," he says.
September 23, 2013 – Massachusetts Utilities File 565 MW Wind Energy Plan
Massachusetts' four utility companies have jointly filed contracts with state regulators for a total 565 MW of wind energy. According to the Gov. Deval Patrick administration, if approved, the deals would represent the largest procurement of renewable energy in New England.
Northeast Utilities, which owns and operates NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo), National Grid, and Unitil filed the plan with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). The Patrick administration says that the weighted average price from all of the contracts is less than $0.08/kWh.
The deals call for six projects to be built in Maine and New Hampshire by developers First Wind, Iberdrola Renewables and Exergy Development Group.
First Wind, for example, has been selected to supply over 330 MW from two projects planned in Maine.
The 147 MW Oakfield Wind project, which received siting approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in January 2012, will comprise 48 turbines. According to the developer, construction is scheduled to start by the end of this year, and the project should be completed and online in 2015.
First Wind’s planned 186 MW Bingham Wind project is in the advanced permitting stages with the Maine DEP and would feature 62 turbines. The developer expects both projects will qualify for federal investment tax credits.
In August 2012, Patrick signed into law new energy legislation directing Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies to solicit proposals for long-term contracts associated with renewable energy projects to provide 4% of their total energy demand. The four companies issued a joint request for proposals, which the DPU approved on April 1, 2013. The following month, the companies received 40 bids to jointly consider. Short-listed bids were selected in July, and contract negotiations took place throughout August.
“We are pleased with the results of this solicitation. By pooling the resources of all the utilities, we were able to purchase a large amount of clean, renewable energy for the state at below-market prices,” says Ronald Gerwatowski, senior vice president of U.S. regulation and pricing at National Grid. “In addition to delivering environmental benefits for years to come, these agreements have the potential to save customers money over the long term. Renewables are an investment in our green energy future. These long-term power supply contracts are great news for our customers and the Commonwealth.”
The DPU will begin its review process, including a public comment period and public hearings for each of the utilities.
Currently, the Patrick administration says Massachusetts has 311 MW of solar power installed, with more than 130 MW installed in 2012 alone. There has been an increase in wind energy from 3 MW to 103 MW since 2007.
September 23, 2013 – Connecticut Boosts Renewables Portfolio with Commitment to 250 MW Wind Project
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, D-Conn., has announced that two renewable energy projects - a 250 MW wind farm in Maine and a 20 MW solar installation in Connecticut - have been selected to help power the state's electricity grid.
The projects have signed long-term contracts with Connecticut's two major electric distribution companies - Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and United Illuminating - for the purchase of the combined 270 MW of electricity and related renewable energy credits they will produce.
According to Malloy, the cost of power from the two projects will average under $0.08/kWh, representing a price close to matching that of power generated from conventional fossil fuel plants and some of the lowest costs ever obtained for solar and wind power in the region.
EDP Renewables North America LLC will build the Number Nine Wind Farm in Aroostook County, Maine. HelioSage Energy will construct the Fusion Solar Center in Sprague and Lisbon, Conn., on land primarily owned by Connecticut-based Fusion Paperboard Co. Both projects are expected to be operational by the end of 2016.
The two projects were selected after analysis and ranking of 47 proposals submitted in response to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on July 8.
The RFP was released just weeks after the general assembly approved and Malloy signed into law Public Act 13-303, An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Clean Energy Goals. The act restructured Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standard, authorizing the state to go forward with an alternative energy procurement process for up to 4% of the state’s total electricity load and recommit Connecticut to obtaining 20% of its electric power from alternative energy sources by 2020.
According to Malloy, the two projects selected will provide 3.5% of Connecticut’s total energy load. The quick time frame for the procurement process allows the projects to take advantage of federal tax credits for renewable energy projects that expire at the end of 2013, the governor adds.
“The pricing offered by these projects demonstrates that Connecticut’s new approach to clean energy can spark innovation and competition among various technologies and drive down costs,” adds DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. “We had wind, solar, fuel cells, tidal and biomass all competing for the same long-term power contracts with the electric distribution companies - and the clear winners were Connecticut’s ratepayers.”
The power purchase agreements will be submitted to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority for review and approval.
September 20, 2013 – Report Highlights the Rise of Renewable Energy
The quantity of renewable energy in the U.S. has been steadily on the rise for the past 15 years, experiencing exponential growth in 2012, according to a new report from Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy.
For example, the report says total U.S. wind power capacity has increased from a single gigawatt in 1998 to about 65 GW last year. At the same time, traditional sources of U.S. electricity production, including coal-fired power plants, have been in decline.
The report, titled “How Renewables are Winning,” further says U.S. renewable energy capacity doubled between 2009 and 2012, becoming one of the leading sources of electricity generation in the first six months of this year. The report attributes this growth is due to falling renewable technology prices, market investment, voluntary purchasers of renewable energy credits, compliance markets and tax incentives.
“What this report demonstrates is what those of us in the industry have long known - that the future of U.S. energy production lies in renewables,” comments Quayle Hodek, CEO of Renewable Choice Energy. “Increasingly, companies are turning to sources such as wind and solar power to drive their energy strategy with excellent results.”
September 19, 2013 – CanWEA Calls For 2 GW More of Ontario Wind Procurement
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is calling for 2 GW of new wind energy procurement in Ontario between 2014 and 2018. Looking beyond 2018, the association also wants the provincial government to create a long-term target that wind power meet at least 15% of electricity demand by 2031.
As announced in July, the Ontario Ministry of Energy is currently reviewing the province's long-term energy plan (LTEP). The government has also made changes to its feed-in tariff program, including replacing the FIT for large-scale renewable energy projects with a competitive procurement process - a move that has introduced uncertainty for some Ontario wind stakeholders.
On Sept. 16, CanWEA officially submitted its new recommendations for the LTEP review to the Ministry of Energy. Among the group’s suggestions is that Ontario procure 450 MW of wind in 2014, followed by 450 MW in 2015, 450 MW in 2016, 550 MW in 2017 and 550 MW in 2018.
“Today, Ontario has a broad range of options for new electricity generation but few that match the requirement for affordability, economic development potential, environmental sustainability, diversification, reliability and rate base value as compellingly as wind energy,” states CanWEA President Robert Hornung.
“In addition, new wind energy development will continue to provide Ontario’s wind energy supply and value chains with a core domestic market that will allow it to maintain and build upon its current investments in Ontario’s green energy economy,” he continues.
CanWEA says it is imperative that wind energy opportunities are further committed to an updated LITP that provides stable long-term targets for wind energy procurement in the province of Ontario.
September 18, 2013 – ACORE: Western States Are Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Development
The western U.S. is a leader in renewables development, and nearly all existing clean energy technologies are well suited for deployment in the region, according to a new report from the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). These technologies include wind, solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal, marine and a wide assortment of biofuels.
The Western Region Report, the first portion of ACORE's 6th annual Renewable Energy in the 50 States report, is a review of state energy policies and programs, investment, and market openness as they relate to the current state of renewable energy and its potential for further growth. Three additional reports will focus on the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.
According to the Western Region Report, the West benefits from some of the best solar resources in the country, responsible for roughly 65% of the nation’s solar photovoltaic capacity and 86% of the nation’s solar thermal electric capacity. The region is also responsible for about 63% of the nation’s installed hydropower capacity, and that hydropower accounts for about 25% of the region’s electricity generation. The report adds that the country’s utility-scale geothermal power projects are found exclusively in this region. Finally, wind power projects have been built in every western state. In fact, the report says California and Oregon rank in the top five states for wind power capacity.
“There is no shortage of power demand in the thirteen Western states. Their populations are growing, and with that growth comes increased need for power,” explains Lesley Hunter, ACORE’s research and program manager and lead author of the report. “Renewable energy deployment is growing to meet this demand, and the West produced approximately 31 percent of its total energy generation from renewable energy sources. That is compared to 12 percent nationally in 2012.
“There can be no doubt that state renewable portfolio standards have been a real driver in this growth,” Hunter continues. “Nine of the states profiled have binding mandates for renewable energy production, many with minimums for certain distributed generation technologies and/or solar energy. Protecting and expanding these standards is imperative.”
Michael Brower, ACORE’s interim president and CEO, says the West serves as a model for other regions.
“For well over a decade, the individual states - in conjunction with the federal government - have been leading the way in all renewable energy innovation, exploration, investment, and increasing equal market access. In no part of the U.S. is this truer than in the West,” he says. “With strong renewable portfolio standards, the political will to protect and/or expand them, and the nearly half of 2012’s new build asset finance for renewable energy, the West is far and away in the national renewable energy vanguard. America needs all the states in our three other regions to quickly follow their lead.”
September 18, 2013 – Internet Giant Google Enters 240 MW Wind Power Agreement in Texas
Google has signed a deal to buy all of the output from the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind project, located outside Amarillo, Texas.
In an official blog post, Matt Pfile, Google's senior manager of data center energy and location strategy, explains the company entered the power purchase agreement with Chermac Energy, a Native American-owned developer in Oklahoma. The project is slated to be operational in late 2014 and will supply energy to the Southwest Power Pool grid, which serves the company’s data center in Oklahoma.
“Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it,” explains Pfile in the blog post. “After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.”
Pfile notes that this wind PPA is Google’s fifth and biggest long-term commitment to date, and the company has now signed up for a total 570 MW of wind power.
September 17, 2013 – LEEDCo's Novel Approach to Financing and Support
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), a regional public-private partnership based in Cleveland, has literally taken to the streets to drum up support for its 18 MW Icebreaker offshore wind demonstration project.
The developer began its grassroots program, Power Pledge, by going door-to-door beginning in June to collect signatures of customers willing to pay a small premium on monthly utility bills in exchange to have their electricity powered by offshore wind.
"It’s a commitment saying that the person who signs the pledge would be willing to pay a little bit more on their electricity bill to get a portion of their electricity from our project," explains Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo president, adding that customer pledges ranged from $1 to $100 per month in some cases.
After collecting more than 7,000 pledges from three counties, LEEDCo says the average consumer is willing to pay approximately $13.24 per month.
Considering that 80% of Ohio is powered by coal-fired generation, the odds are stacked against the developer. However, Wagner says the grassroots efforts are a crucial step in bringing about change. He draws a parallel to the deregulation of telecommunications in the 1980s.
"Prior to 1984, you either had phone service or you did not," Wagner explains. "There was no product differentiation or choice. Today, consumers have a wide variety of choices, and they get what they want. It is not a price-driven market for what was once considered a commodity. In a sense, we are taking the telephone analogy and applying it to Icebreaker and offshore wind.
"We see the utility industry in a state of flux very similar to the 1980s,” he continues. “It started to change when the consumer was given a choice of providers. Now, it is morphing into all kinds of ways where consumers want locally generated, clean, renewable, good corporate citizen utility, etc. We do not know if it will parallel the phone industry, but we do know it will change from the way it is today.”
The idea is to show the 88 independent power companies licensed to sell electricity in Ohio that there is a consumer demand for offshore wind power. Although LEEDCo has not yet signed with a provider, it has begun reaching to each of the providers to gauge interest.
As of yet, there have been no takers. However, the results are example enough of the general public's appetite for the project.
"We've found that when people give us a chance to tell our story, we can convert many of them," he says, citing the company's better than 60% success rate. "Many consumers have shown a preference toward locally grown projects."
LEEDCo signed a power purchase agreement with Cleveland-based municipal utility Cleveland Public Power, which agreed to purchase 25% of the project's output.
Like other demonstration projects, such as Deepwater Wind's Block Island project and Fishermen's Energy Atlantic City Wind Farm, Icebreaker is located in state waters. However, while Deepwater and Fishermen's have designs for larger projects in federal waters, Icebreaker will remain in its current location. Therefore, Wagner theorizes, "The process we develop for the demonstration project will carry through to all future projects."
Additionally, LEEDCo is busy satisfying the requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) $4.1 million loan to study the feasibility of monopile foundations that are designed to reduce ice loading. The developer was one of seven industry recipients to receive an award.
Next year, the DOE will begin evaluating the seven projects for the next round of funding. By May 2014, the DOE will select three winners that will each receive an additional $46.7 million award.
LEEDCo expects fabrication, construction and installation of its offshore wind project to begin in Spring 2017, with commissioning of the freshwater offshore wind project in fall 2017.
September 16, 2013 – Michigan Utility Makes Its First Wind Power Purchase
The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL), a Michigan-based public utility, has entered into a 19.2 MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with Exelon Wind. The BWL notes the deal represents its first contract for wind energy.
Under the 20-year agreement, the utility will buy the output from the Beebe 1B project, which will be located east of Ithaca in Gratiot County, Mich. The wind farm will comprise eight Nordex N117 wind turbines. The 2.4 MW machines are designed for moderate wind sites and will be on 300-foot towers.
A BWL spokesperson says project construction is slated to begin later this year or early next year, and the wind farm is expected to be operational in fall 2014. The BWL adds that this contract helps put the utility on track to meet Michigan’s 10% by 2015 renewable portfolio standard.
“We’re excited about bringing the BWL’s first wind-energy-sourced electricity supply to our customers,” says J. Peter Lark, BWL general manager. “This adds another clean-energy component to the BWL’s renewable energy portfolio.”
September 16, 2013 – Liberty Power Supplies Wind-Generated RECs to Convention in Chicago
Liberty Power has donated wind-generated renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match 100% of the estimated electricity usage at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's (USHCC) Annual Convention.
According to the Florida-based independent retail electricity supplier, the USHCC Convention is known as the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in the U.S., and this year's event is being held Sept. 15 through Sept. 17 in Chicago.
Liberty Power says it will supply enough RECs from Illinois wind energy facilities to match the estimated consumption for the event's venue, the Hilton Chicago, for the duration of the three-day convention.
"We are excited to demonstrate the commitment of the USHCC and Liberty Power to sustainability by purchasing Illinois wind RECs to offset the consumption of the USHCC's Annual Convention in Chicago," comments David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power.
September 13, 2013 – Company Plans Transmission Line Connecting Ontario Energy to the U.S.
Lake Erie Power Corp. (LEPC), an independent energy transmission developer, has announced plans to build an underwater high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission project connecting Ontario to Pennsylvania. The company says the Lake Erie CleanPower Connector would help meet the growing demand for electricity in the state and the PJM grid.
According to LEPC, the transmission project would bring hydroelectric, wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear energy to the PJM grid, which supplies electricity to 13 states and the District of Columbia. The Lake Erie CleanPower Connector would entail placing two solid, six-inch transmission cables beneath Lake Erie, from Nanticoke, Ontario, to Erie County, Pa., a distance of approximately 65 miles.
The privately funded project is estimated to cost $1 billion, and commissioning is targeted by the end of 2017. However, LEPC notes the project requires approval by 2015. To achieve this, the company says it is holding a series of meetings with local, state and federal agencies, as well as environmental groups and local residents, to discuss the project and help alleviate concerns.
September 13, 2013 – Ohio Utilities Are on the Lookout for Renewable Energy Credits
FirstEnergy Corp. has announced a request for proposals (RFP) to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for its Ohio utilities.
The three utilities - Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Toledo Edison - will use the credits to help meet the 2013 renewable energy targets established under Ohio's alternative energy law.
SRECs and RECs sought in this RFP must be produced by renewable generating facilities that are either certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) or are in the process of being certified by the PUCO. The SRECs and RECs must be generated between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2013. The following amounts and locations are being sought:
- 120,000 RECs generated in Ohio;
- 145,000 RECs generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio;
- 100 SRECs generated in Ohio; and
- 6,500 SRECs generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio.
FirstEnergy explains one REC represents the environmental attributes of 1 MWh of generation from a PUCO-qualified renewable generating facility. No energy or capacity will be purchased under the RFP.
The number of individual bidders is not limited, and proposals are due Oct. 14. More information about the RFP is available here.
September 13, 2013 – Gamesa Partners With Mexican University on Wind O&M Training
Gamesa has teamed up with the University of Istmo, located in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, to offer wind turbine operation and maintenance (O&M) training in the region.
Under the agreement, Gamesa and the university have designed a four-month course that includes theoretical and practical learning. The initiative, free of charge for participants, will be given jointly by the university's professors and Gamesa specialists.
The program will make use of various wind turbine parts (e.g., nacelle, generator, cells, control cabinets, gearbox), which will be provided by Gamesa and transferred to the university's La Ventosa campus.
September 13, 2013 – Vestas Wins 80 MW Order from EDF Renewable Energy
Vestas has secured an 80 MW order out of a master supply agreement (MSA) with EDF Renewable Energy for multiple wind energy projects in the U.S. Vestas says it could ultimately supply EDF Renewable Energy up to 750 MW overall.
Deliveries and commissioning for the projects, which will use the V100-2.0 MW turbine, are expected to occur in 2014 and 2015. The new projects’ names and specific locations were not disclosed.
Vestas’ factories in Colorado will be involved in manufacturing blades, nacelles and towers for these projects. Earlier this year, the company secured a contract with EDF EN Canada, along with Enbridge, to deliver 166 V100-1.8 MW turbines for the Blackspring Ridge Wind Project in Alberta, Canada.
“This agreement builds on the long-standing relationship between our two companies in Europe, as well as recent collaboration in North America through the Blackspring Ridge project in Alberta,” comments Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president of EDF Renewable Energy. “With the MSA in place, EDF Renewable Energy is well positioned to progress key U.S. wind projects that will support near-term domestic manufacturing and construction jobs, and provide competitively priced, clean energy for our nation’s long-term energy security.”
Vestas notes each project will feature a multi-year Active Output Management (AOM) 5000 service agreement for up to six years. AOM 5000 is the company’s energy-based availability guarantee, and the service option includes the VestasOnline surveillance system that remotely controls and monitors the turbines and predicts potential wear-and-tear issues, the company adds.
On Sept. 12, EDF Renewable Energy also announced a turbine supply agreement (TSA) with GE for up to 200 MW of wind turbines for U.S. projects beginning construction this year.
September 12, 2013 – Official: U.S. Treasury Contemplates Releasing Additional PTC Guidance
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is contemplating the release of additional guidance to further clarify requirements for the production tax credit (PTC). Speaking during the American Wind Energy Association's Finance and Investment Seminar on Sept. 10, a Treasury representative acknowledged the possibility of a second round of guidance.
On April 15, the Treasury issued guidance to spell out the new rules pertaining to Section 45 D of the Internal Revenue Code. To qualify for the PTC, project developers must demonstrate work of a significant nature, incur 5% of the project's cost by Dec. 31 and ensure the wind farm is under continuous construction.
"We received mostly positive feedback," Christopher Kelley, from the Treasury’s Office of the Tax Legislative Counsel, told attendees via a conference call. Despite the instructions, however, Kelley says the agency still receives numerous queries pertaining to certain elements, such as the continuous-efforts test and rules pertaining to ownership transfers to a strategic investor in an asset sale, a flip partnership in a tax equity transaction or to a lessor in a sale-leaseback.
"Some ambiguity and lingering uncertainty [in the guidance] may be holding back the pace of development," he acknowledged, adding that additional guidance would help give project developers the needed certainty to begin and complete wind farms.
Although Kelley stopped short of specifics, he noted that if such guidance were published in mid-November, it would be too late to spur much in the way of equipment orders.
“I'm not in the prediction business," he said. "But sooner is better."
Of course, there is a possibility that the agency will not issue guidance.
When prompted by session moderator Joe Mikrut of Capitol Tax Partners, Kelley hinted the guidance may contain information to further clarify acceptable delays, such as permitting setbacks or the pursuit of a power purchase agreement.
"This is not an overly strict standard," Kelley explained, adding that the intent of the rule was to ensure that wind farm construction would not languish for years before completion. "We don't want a bunch of zombie projects out there."
Notably, Kelley suggested that new guidance could include a placed-in-service date, which had been a central part of earlier PTC rules.
In theory, an end date for when projects must be completed would lessen questions surrounding the continuous-efforts test. The rationale is that if a wind developer met an in-service date, continuous efforts to build the wind farm would be assumed.
According to David Burton, tax partner at New York-based law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, if the guidance includes a placed-in-service date, developers may be required to show a greater amount of qualified expenses for 2013.
"Such certainty would mean that as long as placed-in-service was achieved by the stipulated date and the required level of expenses were incurred in 2013, developers and their investors would not have to wrestle with questions, such as how many days a pause in construction is permissible,” Burton said.
Just the same, the government considered a placed-in-service rule when the PTC guidance was drafted earlier in the year. Ultimately, such a rule was not included in the instructions.
“We considered it originally," Kelley acknowledged. "But Congress had just taken it out."
September 12, 2013 – DOE Dedicates Research Facility to Help Integrate Renewables
During a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., on Wednesday, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated the new Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF).
According to the DOE, the new research facility will focus on helping manufacturers, utilities, and public- and private-sector researchers overcome the challenges of integrating clean energy and energy efficiency technologies into the nation's energy infrastructure. The ESIF will tackle generation, transmission, distribution and end-use challenges to advance renewable energy, electric vehicles, energy storage batteries, microgrids and next-generation building technologies.
In addition, the new ESIF data center will house Peregrine, the newest DOE supercomputer. The DOE says Peregrine will further strengthen NREL’s modeling and simulation capabilities to support fully integrated energy systems. By pairing this capability with the facility’s interactive hardware-in-the-loop system, the DOE says researchers and manufacturers can test their products at full power and real grid load levels.
September 11, 2013 – CPUC Proposes Energy Storage Targets, with 1.325 GW Expected by 2020
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently issued a proposed decision for energy storage targets and policies to bring about rapid deployment of grid-scale energy storage in the state.
According to the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), the proposed decision's framework provides essential goals and a timeline for the implementation of A.B.2514, which became law in 2010.
Under A.B.2514, the CPUC was required to open a proceeding to consider developing energy storage procurement targets for California utilities to integrate grid-scale storage into the state's electrical power system if determined to be viable and cost-effective. The CESA says the CPUC has now developed a proposed framework for implementing the law.
Some of the highlights of the proposal are as follows:
- The proposed framework outlines specific year-by-year energy storage procurement targets for Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Pacific Gas and Electric. By 2020, the three are expected to have contracted for 1.325 GW of energy storage for their operations;
- The proposed targets increase between 30% and 55% every two years, creating economic incentives for multiple players with various technologies to enter the market;
- Utilities will be allowed to employ energy storage for a variety of functions, such as capacity, ancillary services and peak shaving, which will provide real-world data for further market evaluation;
- Utilities may own some energy storage systems and will procure at least 50% from independent developers across all segments of the grid via existing procurement processes or “all-source” solicitations starting in 2014; and
- The first solicitation for new energy storage capacity will be required no later than Dec. 1, 2014.
September 10, 2013 – BNEF: Development Banks Finance Record Amount in Clean Energy
Clean energy financing by the world's development banks increased 19% last year to $109 billion - breaking through the $100 billion-a-year barrier for the first time, according to new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The top three banks were Germany's KfW, China Development Bank and the Brazilian Development Bank. BNEF says that clean energy financing by development banks has grown at a compound rate of 25% per annum over the last five years. This trend is expected to continue, especially as the larger development banks such as the European Investment Bank and World Bank are scaling down their investments in coal projects, which should leave more of their finite capital available for clean energy projects.
“This year, we expect at least another 15 percent growth in development bank financing,” comments Abraham Louw, clean energy analyst at BNEF. “There is potential for an even bigger increase in the longer term if other institutions - such as a possible BASIC-country development bank - become active.”
September 10, 2013 – U.S. Army Selects Wind Firms for $7B Renewables Program
The U.S. Army has chosen17 wind energy companies to pursue the wind power portion of its $7 billion renewable energy program.
Working with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF), the Army Corps of Engineers' Engineering Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., granted the wind companies Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOCs). The contracts enable the companies to bid on future wind energy developments on or near Department of Defense (DOD) sites as the opportunities are announced.
No money has exchanged hands, and no projects have yet been designated. However, EITF Executive Director John Lushetsky tells NAW the task force is “actively assessing” about 200 MW of wind options. “If these become viable opportunities, specific projects will be released through the MATOC, or other acquisition vehicles,” he says.
The Army is mandated to procure 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025, and in August 2012, it revealed a $7 billion Renewable and Alternative Energy Power Production for DOD Installations program. The initiative awards MATOCs to qualified renewable energy contractors, and wind energy is the third of four technologies to be awarded the contracts: the program announced MATOCs for geothermal in May and selected 22 solar technology contractors last month. MATOCs for biomass contractors are slated to be issued by year-end.
According to the Army, the renewable energy contractors that receive awards are pre-qualified to submit proposals under Task Orders for future projects involving their respective technologies. The MATOCs also leverage the DOD authority to contract up to 30 years under power purchase agreements. Overall, the EITF’s Lushetsky says the Army plans to develop 1 GW of renewable resources.
Initially, 45 wind energy companies responded to the Army’s August 2012 request for proposals. Tonju Butler, procurement contracting officer at the Huntsville Center, explains that the qualified wind companies needed to meet several criteria.
For example, the companies were evaluated on their management approach and financial capability. In addition, Butler says the wind companies needed to “describe three 4 MW or larger projects that were relevant and for which the Offeror had responsibility for implementation and then for operation and maintenance for at least three years.”
The following 17 companies are receiving wind energy MATOCs:
- Dominion Energy Inc. (Richmond, Va.)
- First Wind (Boston)
- Acciona Energy North America Corp. (Chicago)
- Cobra Industrial Services Inc. (Houston)
- Duke Energy (Charlotte, N.C.)
- EDF Renewable Energy (San Diego)
- Emerald Infrastructure (San Antonio, Texas)
- Enel Green Power North America (Andover, Mass.)
- EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
- Iberdrola Renewables LLC (Portland, Ore.)
- LTC Federal LLC (Detroit, Mich.)
- NorthlandPower Inc. (Toronto, Ontario)
- Siemens Government Technologies Inc. (Arlington, Va.)
- Stronghold Engineering Inc. (Riverside, Calif.)
- Turn Key Power Consortium LLC (Orlando, Fla.)
- VERT Investment Group (Houston)
- West Texas Power Co. (San Angelo, Texas)
Two of the winning companies, Dominion Energy and First Wind, both tell NAW that they look forward to working with the Army. They anticipate a post-award briefing and further guidance soon. Meanwhile, the two companies applaud the Army’s renewable energy plans.
Jim Eck, vice president of business development at Dominion, says the Army is an important customer and his company will “actively participate with the Army in exploring ways to achieve their goals.”
First Wind spokesperson John Lamontagne adds that the wind industry, as a whole, will likely benefit from the Army’s program.
“The size of the DOD market for energy is significant, and contracting opportunities like the MATOC will demand further innovation and cost-effective solutions from industry,” he says.
September 6, 2013 – Hawaiian Company Makes Operational Improvements to Use More Wind Energy
Maui Electric Co. (MECO) has implemented operational improvements to further increase its use of wind energy.
MECO says it is now using about 91% of available wind energy, compared to an estimated 72% prior to making the changes. The increased use of wind energy results in estimated savings of more than $22 per year for a typical Maui, Hawaii residential electric bill. With additional changes, Maui Electric expects to increase the amount of wind energy from roughly 95% to as much as 98%, which could save a typical residential customer another $7 to $10 per year.
To ensure reliable electric service, MECO notes that it uses some of its generators to balance the output from renewable energy sources, such as wind farms and photovoltaic systems. This output varies from moment to moment, depending on a number of factors including wind speeds, wind direction, cloud cover, weather conditions and time of day.
In a report filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC), MECO laid out its plan to increase its reliance on wind by modifying some of its generator control systems, reducing the use of the four generating units at the Kahului power plan and incorporating a battery energy storage system at the Kaheawa Wind II wind farm.
MECO is also planning to deactivate two of the four generating units at the Kahului power plant in 2014, retire all four Kahului generating units by 2019 and modify the use of generating units at the Maalaea power plant.
The filing also covered other likely options, such as implementing demand response pilot programs, installing a battery energy storage system or beginning measures to shift customer usage to certain time periods, upgrading transmission lines, and implementing Advanced Metering Infrastructure.
MECO's growing use of renewable energy includes wind power, biomass energy from Hawaii’s last working sugar plantation, hydroelectric power and energy from photovoltaic systems. As of the end of 2012, 21% of the electricity used by Maui Electric customers came from renewable sources.
September 5, 2013 – Volkswagen de Mexico Agrees to Power Two Plants with Wind Energy
Volkswagen de Mexico plans to power two automotive and engine plants with the output from a nearby 180 MW wind farm being planned in La Bufa, in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.
The automaker and Mexico Power Group signed an agreement for the yearly supply of 290 GWh of renewable energy, which, according to Volkswagen, will supply 60% of power requirements at the factories beginning in September 2014.
Volkswagen notes that the initiative is part of its "Think Blue" factory strategy, which calls for a 25% reduction of its global environmental footprint by 2018. In addition to energy savings and the reduction of the CO2 generated in its production processes, the company intends to reduce water consumption, emissions and industrial wastes.
September 5, 2013 – System Improvements at IESO Help Transition to More Sustainable Supply Mix
Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) will mark a major milestone with the introduction of a new dispatch tool for grid-connected wind resources.
The IESO says the ability to dispatch wind - scheduled to take effect Sept. 11 - comes at a pivotal point in Ontario's transition to a more sustainable fuel mix. By February 2015, an expected 7.4 GW of wind and solar power will be connected across the distribution and transmission networks.
The ability to dispatch wind adds an important lever to the reliable operation of the bulk power system. It gives operators another source of flexibility to meet ramping requirements as demand for electricity increases and decreases over the day, and to manage surplus baseload generation.
Within the availability of wind, wind turbines can be highly flexible, increasing and decreasing output very quickly in response to system needs.
According to the IESO, the dispatch will apply to 1.7 GW of existing transmission-connected wind resources, as well as an estimated 3 GW of transmission-connected wind and 280 MW of transmission-connected solar resources expected to come into service over the next 18 months.
Distribution-based wind and solar facilities, forecast to total almost 2.4 GW during this period, will not be subject to grid dispatch. However, the output from those facilities will now be visible to the IESO's system operators. The enhancements also include state-of-art wind forecasting to assist in planning and executing daily operations.
The IESO says that overall, the 18-month outlook projects adequate generation and transmission capability to meet consumer demands over the next year-and-a-half, including a 2014 summer peak forecast approaching 25,000 MW in extreme weather conditions.
Ontario is in the final stages of ridding itself of coal-fired generation, as approximately 3 GW of supply is being taken out of service.
The remaining coal-fired units at Lambton and Nanticoke will cease operations by the end of 2013, according to the IESO. The Thunder Bay facility is currently slated to stop burning coal by no later than the end of 2014.
September 4, 2013 – City of Boston Buys Wind-Generated Renewable Energy Credits
Renewable Choice Energy reports that the City of Boston has purchased 28,000 wind-generated renewable energy credits (RECs) from the Colorado-based firm for fiscal year 2013, 33% more than were purchased in the prior year.
"The City of Boston is committed to leading by example to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Purchasing renewable energy credits is one of our many strategies to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”
According to Renewable Energy Choice, the RECs purchased by the City are sourced from 100% U.S. wind power facilities and certified by Green-e Energy, a leading U.S. certification program for renewable energy. The City has been purchasing green power in the form of RECs for the past seven years.
September 4, 2013 – DOI Concludes Second-Ever U.S. Federal Offshore Wind Auction
On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) completed the nation's second competitive lease sale for offshore wind development in federal waters, garnering $1.6 billion in high bids for 112,799 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Virginia.
Virginia Electric and Power Co., a Dominion subsidiary, is the provisional winner of the sale, which auctioned a Wind Energy Area (WEA) approximately 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia Beach. According to the DOI, the WEA has the potential to support 2 GW of wind generation.
The auction lasted one day, consisting of six rounds before determining the provisional winner. Although eight companies were pre-approved to bid, only two firms participated: Virginia Electric and Power Co. and Apex Virginia Offshore Wind LLC.
The Attorney General, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission, will now have 30 days in which to complete an antitrust review of the auction. The lease will have a preliminary term of six months in which to submit a site assessment plan to BOEM for approval. Such a plan describes the activities (e.g., installation of meteorological towers and buoys) the lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease.
After the plan is approved, the lessee will have up to four-and-a-half years in which to submit a construction and operations plan (COP) for approval, which provides a detailed outline for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 33 years.
The sale follows a July 31 auction of 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for wind energy development that was provisionally won by Deepwater Wind, generating $3.8 million in high bids.
BOEM is expected to announce additional auctions for WEAs offshore Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts later this year and in 2014.
September 3, 2013 – Six-Day 'Energy Exodus' March Ends With Activists Rallying to Build Cape Wind Project
At the end of a six-day march on Sept. 2, about 200 climate activists rallied in Cape Cod, Mass., in support of building the Cape Wind offshore wind farm. The 468 MW wind project is planned to be built in Nantucket Sound.
At the rally, speakers targeted oil tycoon Bill Koch, claiming he had funded efforts to impede the construction of Cape Wind since the project's proposal in 2001. The protestors also called on the Town of Barnstable, Mass., to end lawsuits against the project.
“Cape Wind will be a landmark achievement for our country, bringing us closer to a clean energy economy, healthy communities and a stable climate - and creating 1,000 jobs in the process,” said Ben Thompson, who co-organized the event.
The rally finished a six-day, 66-mile “Energy Exodus” march, which was developed by the Better Future Project and Students for a Just and Stable Future. According to the groups, the marchers hoped that the march would highlight the need to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources and build political momentum to speed up that transition.
The march began on Aug. 28th with a rally near the Brayton Point coal and gas plant, calling for Gov. Deval Patrick to close all coal plants in Massachusetts, replace them with renewable energy, and ensure a just transition for affected workers and communities. In towns along the route, the marchers held other events, including a sustainable food feast, an educational panel on climate solutions and a rally for green jobs.
“It has been beautiful to see people of all ages coming together to fight not only against our dependence on fossil fuels, but for the solutions we know are possible,” said Emily Edgerly, a marcher with Students for a Just and Stable Future. “We no longer have the time to wait for our government to act, we have to get in the streets and demand the clean energy solutions we so desperately need.”
August 30, 2013 – Washington Supreme Court Backs Controversial Wind Farm
In a unanimous decision, the Washington State Supreme Court has backed Gov. Christine Gregoire's March 2012 approval of the Whistling Ridge Wind Energy Project. The court action denies a legal challenge to erecting 35 wind turbines on private industrial timberland in eastern Skamania County, Wash.
The Supreme Court dismissed assertions made by the Portland-based Friends of the Columbia Gorge and its ally Save Our Scenic Area. Whistling Ridge Energy LLC says the court found that the project permit application was not flawed as the petitioners had claimed and that the responsible state agency, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), had considered all of the wind farm’s potential impacts.
“Any minor deficiencies in the application itself are to be expected and do not warrant reversal,” the court wrote. “Invalidation of the completed review and recommendation would also defeat the purpose of the extended hearings and [EFSEC’s] ongoing oversight of the project.”
Jason Spadaro, SDS Lumber Co. and Whistling Ridge Energy LLC’s president, has welcomed the decision and restated his company’s commitment to the project.
“The siting council, the governor and now the Washington Supreme Court have all recognized that this project is outside of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and that all impacts have been appropriately mitigated,” says Spadaro. “We look forward to finally proceeding with the business of securing markets for our energy and creating local jobs and tax base.”
Whistling Ridge first proposed the $150 million wind farm in spring 2008. The proposal originally called for 50 wind turbines but faced opposition from environmental groups and nearby landowners. In an attempt to rectify these concerns, Gov. Gregoire modified the proposal to allow for 35 wind turbines to be built on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge.
August 29, 2013 – New Study Debunks Myth That Wind Turbines Hurt U.S. Home Property Values
Despite what many anti-wind groups may claim, wind farms in the U.S. have no impact on nearby residential property values, according to a new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).
"This is the second of two major studies we have conducted on this topic, and in both studies [using two different datasets], we find no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measurable impact on home sales prices," says Ben Hoen, an LBNL researcher and lead author of the report.
For the new study, LBNL analyzed more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind facilities in 27 counties across nine U.S. states. The lab notes that it used a number of sophisticated techniques to control for other potential impacts on home prices, including collecting data that spanned well before the wind facilities’ development was announced to after they were constructed and operating. This allowed the researchers to control for any pre-existing differences in home sales prices across their sample and any changes that occurred due to the housing bubble.
This study, which the lab says is the most comprehensive to date, builds on both a previous LBNL study as well a number of other academic and published U.S. studies, which also generally find no measurable impacts near operating turbines.
“Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus far,” says Hoen.
“Moreover, our findings comport with the large set of studies that have investigated other potentially similar disamenities, such as high-voltage transmission lines, landfills and noisy roads, which suggest that widespread impacts from wind turbines would be either relatively small or non-existent.”
The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The full report is available HERE.
August 28, 2013 – High School Students Sign Up For Possible Career in Wind Energy
New Mexico-based Mesalands Community College will begin offering wind energy technology classes through dual-credit accreditation at Vaughn High School this semester. Administrators from Mesalands visited Vaughn High School last week to finalize the agreement and meet with school administrators, teachers and students.
"We have a first-rate Wind Energy Technology program at Mesalands. We also have a seven-million-dollar facility and an on-campus turbine that distinguishes us from other programs,” said Natalie Gillard, Mesalands’ vice president of academic affairs. “We are just glad to provide this type of training to you at your school, and we hope that when you finish high school, you will come to Mesalands to finish your degree in wind energy technology.”
Mesalands will be offering the following classes online at Vaughn High School:
- WET 101: Introduction to Wind Energy;
- WET 105: Electrical Theory I; and
- WET 115: Field Safety and Experience.
Following these classes, the college will be sending portable simulators to Vaughn High School to give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.
Susan Wilkinson-Davis, superintendent of Vaughn Schools, reached out to Mesalands about offering wind energy technology classes at the high school.
“Vaughn has the best source of wind in this part of the state, and we see this as the future for our students. This is a real opportunity for them to be prepared for a good career when they get out of high school,” said Wilkinson-Davis.
Esequiel Lucero, 16, explains why he has decided to take these classes through Mesalands this semester.
“Because I think this will help my future a lot,” Lucero said. “I’m going to continue on to get my degree, and I probably will be attending Mesalands.”
August 26, 2013 – Across Country, Editorials Spread Good News on Wind Power
Over the past week, editorials from Texas to North Carolina and Colorado to Michigan have been spreading the good news about wind power.
No matter what state you’re in, it seems the common theme is wind power is a good deal for America. Wind saves consumers money, drives billions of dollars in private investment into state economies, and protects coastal communities by helping curb climate change.
To learn more about the benefits of wind, let’s take a trip around the country.
Michigan (lower costs)
Due to wind’s steadily falling costs, two utilities that supply 90 percent of the electric market in Michigan--DTE Energy and Consumers Energy--have decided to end surcharges they had for providing electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources.
In its editorial, the Midland (Mich.) Daily News applauded the fact that utilities were able to roll back these charges because “[G]reen energy is becoming more cost-efficient to produce. For example, the wind farm Consumers is planning in Tuscola County is expected to produce more power than initially projected, meaning the utility can purchase fewer turbines and still produce the same amount of power. As advances in technology occur, the efficiency of green energy will continue to improve.”
Iowa (economic investment)
The good news couldn’t be much better after MidAmerican Energy decided on what has become the largest economic development investment in Iowa’s history. The $1.9 billion project will add over 1,000 megawatts of wind power (enough to power the equivalent of 270,000 homes) across five counties.
The benefits will be spread across the state. According to the Quad City (Iowa) Times, “Work commences in September on 448 turbines in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties, creating 460 construction jobs, then 48 permanent jobs. Those turbines will churn out $12 million a year in property tax from those backyards and generate $3.2 million annually for their property owners. Call them YIMBYs: Yes in my backyard.”
The Quad City Times correctly points out that MidAmerican has already invested $4 billion since 2004 in the state and overall, “Wind generates more than coal, more than natural gas and four times more energy in Iowa than nuclear power.”
With all these economic benefits, YIMBYs are going to be on the rise not just in Iowa but all across the country.
Colorado (jobs, wind growth)
With wind’s growth comes job growth in Colorado. The Greeley (Colo.) Tribune is “glad to see [wind power] growing” after the 2012 Department of Energy Wind Technologies Market Report found Colorado installed close to 500 megawatts of new wind power capacity (enough to power the equivalent of 135,000 homes) in 2012.
Wind power supports up to 5,000 jobs in Colorado currently and over 80,000 jobs across the country. But in Colorado and elsewhere, many of those jobs were put in jeopardy as Congress stalled in extending wind’s primary federal incentive – the production tax credit.
Colorado wind power potential is substantial in Colorado--wind power is capable of meeting more than 24 times the state’s current electricity needs. With wind currently providing over 11 percent of Colorado’s electricity, there’s a lot more room for growth.
The Tribune concluded. “Even with significant growth in oil and gas drilling, wind energy remains an important part of Weld County’s robust energy economy.”
The Amarillo (Tex.) Globe-News was in disbelief with the news that a newly planned, federally-owned wind power project wasn’t going to cost taxpayers a dime. Once completed, wind power will provide more than 60 percent of the annual electricity at a local assembly, disassembly, and maintenance site for American nuclear weapons.
Due to the type of contract the government signed to complete the project, turbine supplier Siemens will get a return on its investment from the energy savings related to the turbines used, estimated to average $2.8 million a year over 18 years.
The Amarillo Globe-News concluded “In other words, Pantex gets an infusion of green energy, which is good for the environment while allowing the facility to continue its vital nuclear role, while taxpayers will not have to pick up the tab for the construction of the government’s biggest wind farm…The federal government is saving energy while not wasting taxpayer money.”
The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer rounds out our good news about wind, urging North Carolina readers to take a second look at offshore wind power in order to fight back the very real impact of climate change on coastal communities.
The News & Observer cautions its readers, “If nothing is done, oceans are expected to rise by 2 feet globally by 2100. In North Carolina, sea rise would be even more pronounced because of the state’s relatively shallow coastal waters and the gentle slope of the Coastal Plain.”
However, wind power reduces carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change. Installed wind power offsets 99 million metric tons of carbon emissions--the equivalent of taking more than 17 million cars off the road. The News & Observer correctly points out wind is “part of a [climate change] solution” and that North Carolina’s offshore wind power potential is “perhaps the largest wind resource on the East Coast.”
(Reprinted with permission from Wind Energy Weekly, a publication of the American Wind Energy Association. For additional news, please visit www.awea.org.)
August 26, 2013 – NREL Study: Cost Gap for Western U.S. Renewables Could Narrow By 2025
By 2025, wind and solar power electricity generation in the western U.S. could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The report, "Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West,” compares the cost of renewables (without federal subsidy) from the West’s most productive renewable energy resource areas with the cost of energy from a new natural-gas-fired generator built near the customers it serves.
“The electric generation portfolio of the future could be both cost-effective and diverse,” says NREL Senior Analyst David Hurlbut, the report’s lead author. “If renewables and natural gas cost about the same per kilowatt-hour delivered, then value to customers becomes a matter of finding the right mix.
“Renewable energy development, to date, has mostly been in response to state mandates,” Hurlbut adds. “What this study does is look at where the most cost-effective yet untapped resources are likely to be when the last of these mandates culminates in 2025, and what it might cost to connect them to the best-matched population centers.”
According to NREL, the study’s key findings include the following:
- Wyoming and New Mexico could be areas of robust competition among wind projects aiming to serve California and the Southwest. NREL says both states are likely to have large amounts of untapped, developable, prime-quality wind potential after 2025. Wyoming’s surplus will probably have the advantage of somewhat higher productivity per dollar of capital invested in generation capacity; New Mexico’s will have the advantage of being somewhat closer to the California and Arizona markets.
- Montana and Wyoming could emerge as attractive areas for wind developers competing to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The challenge for Montana wind power appears to be the cost of transmission through the rugged forests that dominate the western part of the state.
- Wyoming wind power could also be a low-cost option for customers in Utah, which also has its own diverse portfolio of in-state resources.
- Colorado is a major demand center in the Rockies and will likely have a surplus of wind potential in 2025. However, the study suggests that Colorado is likely to be isolated from future renewable energy trading in the West due to transmission costs between the state and its Rocky Mountain neighbors.
- California, Arizona and Nevada are likely to have surpluses of solar resources. None is likely to have a strong comparative advantage over the others within the three-state market, unless environmental or other siting challenges limit in-state development. Consequently, development of utility-scale solar will probably continue to meet local needs rather than expand exports.
- New geothermal development could trend toward Idaho by 2025 since much of Nevada’s resources have already been developed. Geothermal power from Idaho could be competitive in California as well as in the Pacific Northwest, but NREL says the quantity is relatively small. Reaching California, Oregon and Washington may depend on access to unused capacity on existing transmission lines or on being part of a multi-resource portfolio carried across new lines.
The study notes future electricity demand will be affected by several factors, including trends in the supply and price of natural gas; consumer preferences; technological breakthroughs; further improvements in energy efficiency; and future public policies and regulations. While most of these demand factors are difficult to predict, NREL says the study’s supply forecasts rely on empirical trends and the most recent assessments of resource quality.
August 26, 2013 – DOE, State Of New Jersey Partner on Microgrid for Transit System
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced it will partner with the State of New Jersey, NJ Transit and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to develop a microgrid to help power the state's transit system.
"As we rebuild New Jersey from Superstorm Sandy, I am committed to making our state stronger and more resilient. NJ TRANSITGRID is an important step in that process," says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“This first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid will supply highly reliable power during storms and help keep our public transportation systems running during natural times of disaster, which is critical not only to our economy, but also emergency- and evacuation-related activities,” he continues.
The DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories has already designed advanced microgrids that are up and running at more than 20 military bases across the country. This partnership will utilize a quantitative risk-based assessment tool, entitled the Energy Surety Design Methodology (ESDM), that was developed at Sandia and allows communities to evaluate their regional energy needs, identify advanced solutions to improve the reliability and resiliency of their electric grids, and understand the most cost-effective strategies for system upgrades.
At the core of this methodology is the use of advanced smart grid technologies and the integration of distributed energy resources such as backup generators, wind generation, solar photovoltaics and storage. The DOE says previous applications of the ESDM have shown enhanced reliability and resiliency, improved integration of renewable and distributed energy, and cost-effectiveness.
August 23, 2013 – Illinois Regulators OK Transmission Project That Will Deliver Renewable Energy
Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI) has received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to build the majority of a $1.1 billion transmission project, which the company says will enable the delivery of renewable energy and improve grid reliability.
The nearly 400-mile Illinois Rivers project consists of a new 345 kV transmission line crossing the Mississippi River near Quincy, Ill., and continuing east across Illinois to the Indiana border. Right-of-way acquisitions for the approved portions of the project are expected to begin immediately with a full range of construction activities in 2014.
"This project will help fuel the Illinois economy and provide customers access to a variety of energy sources, including wind energy," says Maureen A. Borkowski, president and CEO of ATXI.
The ICC agreed with and supported the need for this new line and granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity for seven of nine proposed segments on the route and three of nine proposed bulk substations. ATXI is moving forward on the approved portions of the project.
The ICC noted the remaining two segments were not approved due to lack of time and evidence to determine the most cost-effective route. ATXI plans to request a rehearing to determine the appropriate routing of the two segments and the location and need for the substations that were not approved.
The project previously received approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.
August 23, 2013 – GDF SUEZ Energy Resources Donates RECs for US Open Tennis Tournament
GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA, a retail electricity provider, has announced it will donate renewable energy certificates (RECs) to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to match 100% of electricity consumption at the 2013 US Open.
The tournament will be held Aug. 26 through Sept. 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, located in New York City. Each Green-e Certified REC represents the environmental attributes of energy generated from a renewable source, such as solar or wind.
"Thanks to the support of GDF SUEZ Energy Resources, we're bringing more awareness of the importance of green energy to the fans and attendees of the US Open," says the USTA’s Joseph Crowley. "We're doing our part to protect the planet while reinforcing our goal of making the tournament one of the most sustainable competitions in the world."
August 22, 2013 – AWEA: Tax Reform Talks Provide Best Opportunity to Extend PTC
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) will be looking to include an extension of the production tax credit (PTC) as part of upcoming Capitol Hill discussions on tax reform. Tom Kiernan, the association's CEO, revealed the plans at the 10th Annual American Renewable Energy Day (AREDay), recently held in Aspen, Colo.
Appearing on a panel with Susan Reilly, CEO at RES Americas, and Susan Innis, senior manager of public affairs at Vestas, Kiernan highlighted for attendees the extraordinary success the U.S. wind industry experienced in 2012, a record-breaking year that included more than 13 GW in installed capacity.
However, to underscore the point that wind energy needs policy stability to flourish, Kiernan noted that the U.S. wind industry has dropped to just 1.1 GW of projects under construction through the second quarter due to uncertainty.
He said that the key challenge was the unpredictable political environment and that policymakers “need to enable the industry to reach its full potential” through creating stable policy.
Kiernan emphasized wind in the long term is going to be successful, and the industry needs to build the bridge with the appropriate policies - including the PTC - and look to public utility commissions to appropriately value all energy forms.
Following the panel discussion, Kiernan told NAW that preliminary discussions are underway on Capitol Hill to address comprehensive tax reform. As a result, AWEA is focusing on the tax reform process, since it is going to be tough to get an extenders package while tax reform is active and being discussed. Kiernan stated that working through extenders is still on the table but that tax reform is the option at this point.
Last year, AWEA employed a similar strategy and decided the best chance to extend the PTC was to attach it to a larger bill to ride through Congress.
Kiernan also reiterated that the industry would be willing to consider responsibly phasing out the PTC through comprehensive tax reform, so long as all other energy industries are at the table.
But he added that it is the industry’s position that it should not prematurely sunset clean energy tax credits, as that would destroy investment-backed expectations for many projects currently being planned and, in turn, destabilize already fragile markets.
Citing the standalone PTC bill that was recently introduced by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Kiernan said he is enthusiastic about the bipartisan support the wind industry receives. He also said he is encouraged by the industry's efforts to defend attempts in several states to rollback renewable portfolio standards (RPS). "The fact that every state rebutted RPS rollback efforts shows the strong support the industry has."
He added that he looks forward to continuing to defend against the RPS-rollback efforts where needed and targeting opportunities to strengthen RPS policies.
In his final comments, he stressed the importance of working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states to address rules on existing power plants, noting these efforts will enhance the market position of wind. Kiernan seemed confident that while the industry faces challenges, there is bipartisan support on the local, state and national levels that is encouraging, and the industry has a bright outlook.
The AREDay conference, which also featured keynotes by the likes of Ted Turner, T. Boone Pickens and General Wesley Clark, attracts individuals from both the public and private sectors, including international renewable energy experts, investors, entrepreneurs, industry experts and nonprofit leaders.
August 22, 2013 – Report: Renewable Energy Made Up Nearly 50% of U.S. Added Capacity Last Year
Renewable energy projects in the U.S. experienced a banner year in 2012, with wind deployment adding a record 13,124 MW of capacity and solar adding 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity, finds a new report from Ernst & Young. In fact, the report says renewables accounted for close to 50% of the nation's added capacity last year.
"While overall U.S. investment in clean energy is down, it's still ahead of annual investment from prior years," says Ernst & Young’s Michael Bernier. “What’s important to note is that the $44.2 billion invested is not representative of the industry’s true expansion. Solar technology, for example, is increasingly cost effective. As prices fall, the initial investment goes a lot further; $1 billion installs a lot more solar than it did five years ago.”
The Ernst & Young report, “United States renewable energy attractiveness indices (USAI),” highlights trends in U.S. renewable investment and ranks the states in terms of their attractiveness for clean technology investment.
With some shake-up in the top 10 rankings, the report says California is once again leading the nation in renewable energy. However, some states are not far behind the Golden State. Texas, for example, remains the king of the wind installed base. California, though, is working to ensure the long-term health of its renewable energy infrastructure through the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, which identifies transmission projects needed to get renewable energy power to consumers and to support future energy policy. The report says state policy support and a favorable regulatory environment will determine whether other states will catch up.
The top rankings in this edition of the USAI are as follows:
“All Renewables” Index:
Long-Term Wind Index:
Long-Term Solar Index:
- New Mexico
full USAI report is available HERE.
August 22, 2013 – LEEDCo Reports Strong Support for Lake Erie Offshore Wind Project
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) has announced that its POWER Pledge program to build local stakeholder support for the development of an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie has now received more than 4,500 signatures from people living and working in northeast Ohio.
According to LEEDCo, the demonstration of market demand and community support is one essential way for it to secure power purchase agreements with utilities and additional federal funding. LEEDCo's 18 MW Icebreaker demonstration project consists of building six 3 MW wind turbines seven miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie.
The POWER Pledge milestone was celebrated during a “POWER UP for Offshore Wind” event at the new Cleveland Convention Center on Thursday. LEEDCo says the event featured comments from LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and hosted approximately 200 supporters from the local community.
“LEEDCo’s Icebreaker project is one of only seven offshore wind demonstration projects in the country that has $4 million in direct financial support from the Department of Energy, and the opportunity to earn an additional $46.7 million,” said Wagner. “We are very pleased to have so much support from the region’s elected officials, other business and community leaders, and our general public stakeholders. Community engagement and support are critical to our success, and the support we have received for the POWER Pledge is very encouraging for the future of offshore wind in the Great Lakes.”
Mayor Jackson said the City of Cleveland supports the Icebreaker project and its potential benefits.
“In August of 2011, I asked the community to rally behind LEEDCo’s vision, and that’s what we’re seeing here today,” he said.
"Wind power is an important source of energy and jobs in Northern Ohio's future," commented Rep. Kaptur. "Lake Erie is the Saudi Arabia of wind power, and The POWER Pledge is a perfect way for the public to express its support."
Many of the attendees signed the POWER Pledge at the event or had already signed it since LEEDCo began collecting signatures in the spring. LEEDCo says it expects Icebreaker to be operational in 2017.
August 21, 2013 – AWS Truepower Updates Wind Trends Bulletin
New York-based AWS Truepower LLC has released a redesigned and expanded version of its Wind Trends Bulletin - a free quarterly report that examines deviations in global wind conditions from historical norms.
The first-quarter 2013 (Q1'13) bulletin has expanded from Europe, India and North America to include South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. In addition to including new regions, AWS Truepower says it has updated its methodology in creating the anomaly maps to improve global accuracy.
The AWS report notes the wind speed anomalies in North America during Q1’13: Areas with below-average winds included the coastline of British Columbia and the western U.S., the northern Canadian territories, South Florida, and the Lesser Antilles. Areas with above-average winds include the north slope of Alaska, the Canadian Maritimes, and Mexico, especially Baja California and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Other key Q1’13 findings include the following:
- Winds were generally below normal across the northern latitudes of North America and Eurasia, the west coast of the U.S., the Sahara region of Africa, southern Argentina and Chile, and New Zealand.
- Winds were well above normal across southern Europe and North Africa, as well as in southern Africa, eastern Australia and most of South America.
- The largest wind speed anomalies of the quarter - both positive and negative - were found in Europe and North Africa, a pattern that can be explained in part by the Arctic Oscillation.
August 15, 2013 – Here We Go Again: Legislation Introduced By Pa. Congressman Calls for Six-Year PTC Phase-Out
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) has introduced H.R.2987, the PTC Certainty and Phase-Out Act of 2013, which would extend the PTC for six years before being completely phased out.
According to Fitzpatrick, who introduced the bill into the House before Congress dismissed for the August recess, the bill would provide the business certainty that wind developers and suppliers need.
"This bill gives wind energy producers a six-year window to make this alternative form of energy work on market-based principles," says Fitzpatrick. "The phase-out strategy outlined in this bill can be a model for similar tax credits to provide entrepreneurs with a level playing field while giving these companies the opportunity to innovate and plan for success."
The federal PTC for wind expires at the end of this year. However, a change in the rules, added during the last extension, requires project developers to show that project construction in 2013 must be able to demonstrate "significant work of a physical nature" and show that 5% of their costs have been incurred.
Congress amended the language to allow any project that starts construction in 2013 to qualify for the PTC, rather than require the project to be fully completed. Congress tweaked the rule to allow developers to maximize the tax incentive.
In the release, Fitzpatrick notes the last-minute approach to the previous PTC extension has resulted in thousands of layoffs. Langhorne, Pa.-based turbine maker Gamesa, which is part of Fitzpatrick's Bucks County district, has been particularly hit hard by PTC uncertainty.
"This boom-bust cycle has kept the industry in a state of perpetual uncertainty," says David Flitterman, Gamesa's North American chairman, adding that with stable policy, manufacturers are able invest in research and development that can drive down the cost of energy.
"Under Fitzpatrick’s bill, that downward trend would continue, enabling the industry to reach grid parity by the time the PTC phases out," says Flitterman. "His legislation provides the certainty manufacturers need to make these long-term investments."
Given the full docket facing legislators this fall, such as debt ceiling and tax reform negotiations, the long-term prospects are unclear for the stand-alone bill in a divided Congress.
In a statement, the American Wind Energy Association says Fitzpatrick's legislation, if part of a comprehensive tax reform bill, "could provide the wind industry with much needed predictability and allow for longer term planning and investment into future U.S. projects."
August 15, 2013 – GE, Sandia National Lab Work Toward Quieter, More Productive Wind Turbines
GE Global Research and Sandia National Laboratories have research that could significantly impact the design of future wind turbine blades.
Using high-performance computing to perform complex calculations, engineers have overcome previous design constraints, allowing them to begin exploring ways to design re-engineered wind blades that are low-noise and are more prolific power-producers.
According to GE, its scope of work focused on advancing wind turbine blade noise prediction methods. Aerodynamic blade noise is the dominant noise source on modern, utility-scale wind turbines and represents a key constraint in wind turbine design. Efforts to reduce blade noise can help reduce the cost of wind energy and increase power output.
GE predicts that a 1-decibel quieter rotor design would result in a 2% increase in annual energy yield per turbine. With approximately 240 GW of new wind installations forecast globally over the next five years, a 2% increase would create more than 5 GW of additional wind power capacity.
"There's no question; aerodynamic noise is a key constraint in wind turbine blade design today," explains Mark Jonkhof, wind technology platform leader at GE Global Research. "By using high-performance computing to advance current engineering models that are used to predict blade noise, we can build quieter rotors with greater blade tip velocity that produce more power. This not only means lower energy costs for consumers, but also a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
To ensure that GE’s wind blades do not pose noise issues, airfoil level acoustic measurements are performed in wind tunnels, field measurements are done to validate acceptable noise levels and noise-reducing operating modes are implemented in the control system. Better modeling will help maintain the current low noise levels while boosting output.
GE’s testing involved Sandia’s Red Mesa supercomputer's running a high-fidelity Large Eddy Simulation (LES) code, developed at Stanford University, to predict the detailed fluid dynamic phenomena and resulting wind blade noise.
For a period of three months, this LES simulation of the turbulent air flow past a wind blade section was continuously performed on the Red Mesa HPC. The resulting flow-field predictions yielded valuable insights that were used to assess current engineering design models, the assumptions they make that most impact noise predictions, and the accuracy and reliability of model choices.
"We found that high fidelity models can play a key role in accurately predicting trailing edge noise," adds Jonkhof. “We believe that the results achieved from our simulations would, at the very least, lay the groundwork for improved noise design models."
August 15, 2013 – Trinity Industries Reports an Increase in Tower Orders on PTC Extension
Dallas-based Trinity Industries - a provider of products and services to the industrial, energy, transportation and construction sectors - is reporting an increase in wind tower production due to the extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC).
In its quarterly filing, Trinity says its Energy Equipment Group - the segment that includes wind towers - reported revenues of $152.5 million for the quarter ended June 30, compared to revenues of $130.7 million in the same quarter last year. In the filing, Trinity notes, "Orders for structural wind towers, slow since mid-2008, increased in 2013 principally related to the January 2013 renewal of the federal production tax credit."
Further, its operating profit for the quarter increased to $14.3 million, compared to $4 million in the same quarter last year.
As of June 30, the company notes it has received orders for $22 million of structural wind towers during the quarter, resulting in a backlog for structural wind towers of $642.9 million.
The rebound in tower orders is notable considering that last July, Trinity noted that it was transitioning away from tower production. In fact, Trinity re-purposed tower facilities in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Castanos, Mexico to produce rail tank cars.
However, Trinity continued to build towers in Clinton, Ill., and Newton, Iowa. The company also confirms that it is manufacturing towers in West Fargo, N.D. and Tulsa, Okla. - two sites formerly owned by DMI Industries, which Trinity acquired in Sept. 2012.
August 14, 2013 – Clean Line "Overwhelmed" By Wind Developer Response to RFI
Clean Line Energy Partners reports that 15 wind generation companies in Oklahoma, southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle have responded to a request-for-information (RFI) that was issued on June 20.
According to Clean Line, the results of the RFI confirm that there are abundant, high quality wind resources in the Oklahoma Panhandle region ready to provide affordable clean energy to millions of consumers via a new transmission line, such as the company's Plains & Eastern Clean Line, an approximately 700-mile overhead, direct-current transmission line running from western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle to utilities and customers in Tennessee, Arkansas and other southeastern markets.
The RFI provides valuable information about generators’ need for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s transmission capacity as well as data that will allow Clean Line to characterize the wind resource and production potential of the Panhandle region.
Clean Line says the project developers have rights to more than 16 GW worth of wind projects in the region, demonstrating the need for more transmission infrastructure to move the cost-competitive wind energy to the Mid-South and the Southeast.
The 16 GW of proposed wind projects would represent more than four times the delivery capacity of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line. While Clean Line notes that pricing details will not be made public, the proposed cost per kWh of energy was in line with other wind energy power purchase agreements recently signed in this region.
“When we add our expected transmission cost to the prices proposed by these wind developers, we can offer a delivered product that competes head-to-head with all other energy options available to utilities in the southeastern U.S.,” says Michael Skelly, Clean Line president.
The line, estimated to cost $2 billion, is currently under development, Clean Line notes.
August 14, 2013 – Iowa Utilities Board Greenlights MidAmerican's Expansion
The Iowa Utilities Board has approved a MidAmerican Energy proposal for the development of up to 1,050 MW of additional wind generation in Iowa by the end of 2015.
According to MidAmerican, the wind expansion will enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years. Landowner payments totaling more than $3 million per year also are expected as a result of the expansion. The expansion is planned to be built at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017, commencing with a $3.3 million reduction in 2015.
The rate reduction will begin after MidAmerican Energy installs the first 350 MW of generation capacity. During construction, approximately 460 jobs will be added to the Iowa economy, and nearly 50 new permanent jobs will be added when the expansion is complete.
MidAmerican Energy announced plans May 8 to invest up to $1.9 billion to expand its wind generation fleet in Iowa. The company continues working with county officials and landowners and has secured development and interconnection rights for the wind farm sites, which are planned to be located in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien and Webster counties. Construction is expected to begin in September, and all projects are planned for completion prior to the end of 2015.
The company began building wind projects in 2004 and, to date, has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, making it the largest rate-regulated utility owner of wind generation in the U.S.
The electric generation capability for MidAmerican Energy will comprise approximately 39% wind, 33% coal, 18% natural gas, 6% nuclear and 4% other by July 2016. The wind expansion will have no impact on the company’s current Iowa rate case.
August 9, 2013 – Clarkson University Opens Wind Turbine Blade Test Facility
In partnership with Intertek's Center for Evaluation of Clean Energy Technology (CECET), New York-based Clarkson University has opened a new blade test facility on its campus that will test the strength and rigidity of small- and medium-scale wind turbine blades.
CECET and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) both helped fund the new laboratory. NYSERDA has contributed $877,000 to CECET toward the creation of the $1.2 million facility.
In all, NYSERDA has contributed about $4 million to CECET, which will also operate a solar panel testing facility in Cortland, N.Y., now under construction and expected to be operational by this fall.
"We are pleased that Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and NYSERDA have shown their confidence in Clarkson as a partner in research and evaluation to support and grow New York-based wind market activities," says Tony Collins, president of Clarkson University. "Our goal is to serve as the go-to research facility for manufacturers of small to midsize wind turbines.”
August 9, 2013 – Wind Energy Helps ERCOT Power through Third-Highest Demand in Its History
Demand for power on the grid that serves most of Texas hit the third-highest level in its history on Wednesday, Aug. 7., and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) notes that wind energy was there to help.
ERCOT reports peak electric use within its region topped out at 67,180 MW during the 4-5 p.m. hour. The operator says the grid experienced no problems during the day, with more than 74,000 MW of electricity, including more than 2,300 MW of wind power, available during the peak hour. Wind energy constituted 3.4% of the operator’s fuel mix on Wednesday.
This was ERCOT’s highest demand so far in 2013, which has included a mild summer compared to 2012 and the record-breaking 2011, Texas’ hottest summer on record. ERCOT’s record peak occurred on Aug. 3, 2011, when demand hit 68,305 MW.
August 8, 2013 – New IBM Weather-Modeling Technology Aims to Increase Reliability from Renewables
IBM says its power- and weather-modeling technology can help utilities increase the reliability of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar.
Using weather prediction and analytics to accurately forecast the availability of wind and solar energy will allow utilities to integrate more renewable energy into the power grid and help reduce carbon emissions.
IBM says its system, Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting (HyRef), uses weather modeling capabilities, advanced cloud-imaging technology and sky-facing cameras to track cloud movements near real time, while sensors on the turbines monitor wind speed, temperature and direction. When combined with analytics technology, the data-assimilation based solution can produce accurate local weather forecasts within a wind farm as far as one month in advance, or in 15-minute increments.
Additionally, HyRef can predict the performance of each individual wind turbine and estimate the amount of generated renewable energy by using local weather forecasts. This level of insight will enable utilities to better manage the variable nature of wind and solar, and more accurately forecast the amount of power that can be redirected into the power grid or stored. It will also allow energy organizations to integrate other conventional sources such as coal and natural gas.
"Applying analytics and harnessing big data will allow utilities to tackle the intermittent nature of renewable energy and forecast power production from solar and wind, in a way that has never been done before," says Brad Gammons, general manager of IBM's Global Energy and Utilities Industry. "We have developed an intelligent system that combines weather and power forecasting to increase system availability and optimize power grid performance."
According to IBM, State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Co. Ltd. (SG-JBEPC), a subsidiary company of the State Grid Corporation of China, is already using the system to integrate renewable energy into the grid. This initiative led by SG-JBEPC is phase one of the Zhangbei 670 MW demonstration project, the world’s largest renewable energy initiative combining wind and solar power, energy storage, and transmission.
By using the wind forecasting technology, phase one of the Zhangbei project aims to increase the integration of renewable power generation by 10%. The efficient use of generated energy allows the utility to reduce wind and solar curtailment while analytics provides the needed intelligence to enhance grid operations.
August 8, 2013 – Ambitious Developer Plans 1 GW Community Wind Farm In S.D.
South Dakota-based developer Dakota Plains Energy wants to team up with local landowners in Lincoln County to build a community wind farm between 500 MW and 1 GW. The ambitious developer cites two main catalysts for the project: South Dakota's strong-but-underutilized wind regime and a nearby transmission project.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, South Dakota is the fifth windiest state, with potential to generate more than 882 GW of wind energy. However, the state had a total 784 MW of installed wind capacity by year-end 2012.
“We have an awful lot of wind. We should be embracing it, we should be monetizing it,” says Rob Johnson, president and co-founder of Dakota Plains Energy. He refers to wind power as a “game-changer” for South Dakota.
Dakota Plains Energy began in the wind energy business in 2007 and started formulating its first project in early 2008. Dubbed the Campbell County Wind Farm, it is a traditionally financed project, and Johnson says construction on a 99 MW phase is slated to begin by December. The developer plans to eventually build the wind farm out to 300 MW.
The company principals, including Johnson, come from a background in real estate development. So while working on the Campbell project, Dakota Plains Energy traveled South Dakota looking for a prime spot to put another wind farm.
“We learned a long time ago in real estate development that if you wait for people to knock on the door, you’ll starve to death. Nothing will happen,” explains Johnson. “You go out and find the best location and figure out a way to put a project together.”
About two years ago, the developer came across Lincoln County and did some due diligence. The county is located close to a planned transmission project, and Johnson says preliminary wind studies showed the region is promising. Dakota Plains Energy then prepared a business plan and engaged local landowners to see if they would be interested in moving forward with a project. As it turned out, they were.
Earlier this year, some Lincoln County landowners and community leaders established Dakota Power Community Wind. The group formally announced “preliminary action” on the up-to-1 GW community wind farm last month, saying the project would help boost the county’s economy.
“This wind energy plan is unique in being a truly community-based project,” said Jim Fedderson, mayor of Beresford and Dakota Power board vice chairman, in a statement. “The economic potential for our area is tremendous, in addition to using South Dakota renewable resources to help solve our country’s energy needs.”
According to Dakota Power Community Wind, a 1 GW project would create over 1,000 construction and 70 permanent jobs, as well as lead to millions of dollars in direct investments. The entire project could have a $2 billion price tag.
Johnson explains that enrolled landowners in the project footprint would receive royalties and, conceptually, citizens across the state may have the opportunity to invest in the project should such a plan be approved.
“To bring this into a project that’s really feasible, we need the buy-in, if you will, of the local residents and the potential stakeholders,” he says, adding that he hopes to secure between 65,000 and 75,000 acres of land.
Making the Connection
South Dakota may have a great wind regime, but according to Johnson, “Our problem is we don’t need it here. We’re a small state.”
Therefore, he says South Dakota should make wind energy an exportable product. The main hurdle, though, is that the state has a lack of available transmission. “If we can figure out a way to break that transmission deadlock, we can really open up the doors for this state.”
In addition to its wind potential, Johnson explains that he chose Lincoln County mainly because it is near the planned Rock Island Clean Line project. As proposed by Clean Line Energy Partners, the 500-mile HVDC transmission line project would deliver 3.5 GW of renewable energy from northwest Iowa and the surrounding regions to Illinois and other states to the east.
Hans Detweiler, development director of Rock Island, says the project is well under way and currently seeking regulatory approvals. He expects the line to be in operation sometime in 2017.
Dakota Plains Energy has been in discussions with Rock Island for quite some time and will seek to connect to the transmission line if and when both projects come to fruition. As of today, Johnson says the only formalization between the two parties is an executed memorandum of understanding.
“We are pleased that Dakota Plains Energy is interested in our project,” notes Detweiler. “South Dakota is highly transmission constrained, and Rock Island Clean Line would create potential outlets for that energy to be delivered to PJM.”
That said there is a problem: Dakota Plains Energy would still need to build about 60 miles of transmission line to connect to Rock Island’s western terminus in Iowa. Johnson anticipates constructing a 345 kV line and says the community wind farm must ultimately be at least 500 MW to make it financially viable.
“Can this be done? Yeah. Are we going to do 1 GW? I don’t know,” he says. “It depends on how much land we sign up and the response, but our modeling shows us that to pay for that 60 miles, we’re going to need to have pretty close to 500 MW minimum.”
Johnson says he has met with several potential developers, including Clean Line, that could handle the extension and other transmission work. As to whether Clean Line will be the one to build the extra 60 miles, Detweiler says, “It is too early to determine at this point.”
Dakota Plains Energy recently held meetings with over 200 Lincoln County landowners. According to Johnson, there has been an “amazingly strong positive response [and] absolutely no negative reaction to this point.”
The developer’s attorneys are in the process of formalizing some landowner option agreements, and Johnson expects to begin signing up acreage in the next few weeks. He is careful not to disclose anymore details.
Johnson hopes to begin erecting meteorological towers within the next two months, as well as to conduct other studies and seek necessary permits. In order to closely match Rock Island’s timeline, Dakota Plains Energy wants the wind farm to come online by 2018. “We’re already halfway through 2013, so we have to get moving,” Johnson admits.
Nonetheless, Dakota Plains Energy is determined to develop the wind farm, whether it be 500 MW or 1 GW.
“We’re a South Dakota company that wants to help our home state, so we are taking the challenge head-on and intend to do everything in our power to make this project a reality.”
August 6, 2013 – Major Provider Energizes First of Seven CREZ Lines
Electric Transmission Texas (ETT), a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., has energized the first of seven 345 kV transmission line projects associated with the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) initiative in west Texas.
According to ETT, the Riley to Edith Clarke transmission line and the Edith Clarke switching station were energized to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid on July 31. The 345 kV Riley to Edith Clarke transmission line is 41.6 miles long and runs from the Vernon area in Wilbarger County to the Crowell area in Foard County, Texas. This phase of the ETT CREZ program represents approximately $141.5 million of ETT's estimated total CREZ investment of approximately $1.5 billion.
Energizing the Riley to Edith Clarke line completes the first of the seven greenfield 345 kV transmission projects assigned to ETT as part of the CREZ initiative. The overall CREZ initiative involves eight different transmission service providers, including ETT, constructing 2,400 miles of transmission lines to carry 18,500 MW of west Texas wind generation to eastern load centers in ERCOT. All CREZ projects are scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. ETT received the second largest assignment of CREZ projects from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
ETT received 20% of the Texas CREZ initiative. ETT's share of the CREZ project includes building approximately 460 miles of new double-circuit 345 kV lines and 16 switching stations, as well as acquiring rights-of-way across 578 tracts of land and upgrading existing stations and transmission lines.
For more on the CREZ lines, click here.
August 6, 2013 – Despite Record-Breaking Installs, Report Says U.S. Must Find Way to Rebuild Pipeline
By now, most everyone in the U.S. wind industry understands that last year's 13 GW-plus installed capacity shattered all previous records.
But how many knew that the price of wind under long-term power purchase contracts signed in 2011 and 2012 averaged $0.04/kWh – making wind competitive with a range of wholesale electricity prices seen in 2012. Or that cumulative U.S. installations have increased more than 22-fold since 2000?
These factoids are all part of the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report, released on Aug. 6 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The report, authored by LBNL's Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger, details the latest trends in the U.S. wind power market.
Findings from the report indicate that nine states now rely on wind power for more than 12% of their total annual electricity consumption – with wind power in Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas contributing more than 20%. Additionally, Texas added over 1.8 GW of wind power last year, more than any other state.
The authors contend wind sector’s growth underscores the importance of continued policy support and clean energy tax credits to ensure that wind manufacturing and jobs remain in the U.S. The 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report expects that 2013 to be a slow year for new capacity additions, due in part to continued policy uncertainty and project development timelines. While the report notes that 2014 is expected to be more robust, as developers commission projects that will begin construction in 2013, projections for 2015 and beyond are much less certain.
Despite the fine work of the domestic supply chain last year, reduced near-term demand expectations led to a difficult business environment in the middle and year-end last year.
Not only did a smaller number of new turbine and component manufacturing facilities open in 2012 than in 2011, but also a number of facilities closed (including the manufacturing facilities of Clipper and Nordic).
Even with these adjustments, notes the authors, near -term forecasts for wind power additions in the U.S., suggest that the market will have an over-capacity of nacelle assembly capability in the short term. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the entire wind energy sector directly and indirectly employed 80,700 full-time workers in the U.S. at the end of 2012.
Although this is 5,700 more jobs than reported in 2011, wind industry manufacturing jobs saw an overall decrease from 30,000 jobs in 2011 to 25,500 in 2012 due to the severe decline in new orders toward the end of 2012.
According to the authors, manufacturers have now begun receiving orders for 2013 and 2014 delivery, but it is not yet clear to what degree these orders will lead to a recovery of the manufacturing sector in 2013.
Perhaps more troubling is that current state policies cannot support continued growth at recent levels. As of June, renewable portfolio standards existed in 29 states and Washington D.C. From 1999 through 2012, 69% of the wind power capacity built in the U.S. was located in states with RPS policies; in 2012, this proportion was 83%.
However, given renewable energy growth over the last decade, existing RPS programs are projected to drive average annual renewable energy additions of just 3 GW to 5 GW/year between 2013 and 2020 (only a portion of which will be from wind), less than the amount of wind capacity added in recent years, thus demonstrating the limitations of relying exclusively on RPS programs to drive future deployment.
August 2, 2013 – Bank Enters 10-Year Deal to Power Texas Branches with Green Energy
BBVA Compass, a commercial banking company that operates 688 branches in several states, and Choice! Energy Services, a Houston-based retail energy consultant and broker, have signed a 10-year fixed contract to bring renewable power to a large number of the bank's branches and facilities in Texas.
Under the deal, Choice says it will provide 41 million kWh of solar- and wind-generated electricity annually to more than 300 of the bank's branches, offices and ATMs. The agreement runs through May 22, 2023.
"At BBVA Compass, we are always looking for ways to reduce the bank's impact on the environment," says Troy Lindsey, head of real estate for the bank. "This contract ensures that our growing Texas operations will be powered by reliable green energy sources and significantly reduces our carbon footprint."
August 2, 2013 – Mass. Community College Offers Offshore Wind Training
Massachusetts-based Bristol Community College (BCC) will offer a new certificate program to prepare local residences for the rise of an offshore wind industry in the U.S. The announcement came Thursday, a day after the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held the nation's first-ever offshore wind auction.
According to a SouthCoastToday report, the college's two-semester program will launch at its New Bedford, Mass., campus in the fall and include four courses. The courses will focus on a range of wind-related technology and practices.
At a ceremony Thursday, a BCC official said, "This is a program that is essential to run in New Bedford to give residents the skill sets they need to be part of our offshore wind energy future.”
To read the full SouthCoastToday report, click here.
August 2, 2013 – Granite Conducts Intern Training At Mesalands Wind Center
Granite Services International Inc., an affiliate of GE, held wind technician intern training at New Mexico-based Mesalands Community College's North American Wind Research and Training Center.
Granite had use of the college's 1.5 MW GE wind turbine, classroom space and lecture hall to conduct training for its Wind Technician Internship Program. Six interns from Granite Services and two interns from GE participated in the training this year, and one was a Mesalands Wind Energy Technology student. Their training at the Wind Center included tower rescue training, self-rescue training, CPR/First Aid certification, new hire orientation, OSHA-10 hour training and a climb test.
To participate in the paid summer Wind Internship Program with Granite International, students must be pursuing a two-year Wind/Renewable Technology degree from one of their partnered colleges. After successfully completing the internship, they will be guaranteed full-time employment with Granite International.
“Being host to the Granite and GE indoctrination training for their internship programs here on campus is a win-win for all parties,” says Jim Morgan, director of the North American Wind Research and Training Center. “We welcome the opportunity to share our first-class facilities at the Wind Center with international companies, like Granite and GE.”
August 1, 2013 – UMaine Granted $1M to Build Wind-Wave Generation System
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, have announced that the University of Maine (UMaine), along with partners Maine Maritime Academy, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, received a $983,997 grant from the National Science Foundation to design, develop and construct a multidirectional Wind-Wave generating system called W2.
Once completed, the W2 will be able to simulate wave and wind conditions similar to those found in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere. By better understanding the effects of waves and wind shears that are typical in the often-inhospitable ocean environment, researchers will be able to develop new methods of capturing renewable energy.
Moreover, the senators say this system will permit scientists to optimize the performance of existing renewable energy devices and provide guidance in the construction of future offshore and coastal infrastructure.
"Researchers at the University of Maine and their world-class partners have demonstrated ingenuity in seeking new ways to capture Maine's abundant supply of offshore deepwater wind energy through the launch of the nation's first grid-connected offshore floating wind turbine prototype in May," Sens. Collins and King said in a joint statement.
"The construction of the Wind-Wave generating system will provide students and scientists with invaluable information regarding the ocean's interaction with offshore infrastructure as they seek to build on their already-considerable achievements."
August 1, 2013 – Deepwater Wind Wins First U.S. Federal Offshore Wind Auction
Deepwater Wind has won the U.S.' first-ever competitive lease auction for renewable energy development in federal waters, bidding $3.8 million for both available sites located off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the auction for two parcels, totaling more than 164,000 acres, in a designated Wind Energy Area on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Deepwater Wind plans to develop the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), a utility-scale wind farm with up to 1 GW of capacity. The developer says DWEC’s 200 or so wind turbines will be located 20 to 25 miles from the nearest landfall. In addition, the project will include a regional transmission system linking Long Island, N.Y., to southeastern New England.
Deepwater says construction could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018.
“This is an enormous step forward for the industry. This is the best site for offshore wind in the United States, bar none,” says Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “Our Deepwater Wind Energy Center Project will produce clean power and jobs for an entire region. It’s very exciting.”
Deepwater Wind’s winning bid came in the 11th round of the competition. The developer previously paid a $900,000 deposit to participate in the auction, with the remainder of the bid amount to be paid in the coming months when the official lease is signed for the sites.
In addition, Deepwater Wind will pay the federal government annual rent payments of approximately $500,000 beginning this year, until a wind farm is operational on the site. Once the wind farm is operational, Deepwater Wind is obligated to pay the federal government an annual royalty fee based on the value of the energy produced.
The BOEM will hold its next competitive lease sale for offshore wind on Sept. 4, which will auction nearly 112,800 acres offshore Virginia.
July 31, 2013 – Xcel Wants to Grow Giant Wind Portfolio By 30%
Utility company Xcel Energy, which already had nearly 4.9 GW of wind power on its system at the end of 2012, has proposed to grow its wind portfolio by at least another 1.5 GW.
The company says it has submitted throughout its service territories proposals to purchase the additional wind resources, a 30% increase in overall wind capacity. If the projects are approved by the relevant state regulators, Xcel expects that more than 20% of its total energy mix will be supplied by wind.
Xcel Energy is seeking approval of the following projects:
Upper Midwest: Three 200 MW projects in Minnesota and North Dakota. Xcel says the additions will save Upper Midwest customers more than $180 million in fuel costs over 20 years.
Texas/New Mexico: Three projects totaling almost 700 MW located in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The company says the additions will save Texas-New Mexico customers up to $590 million in fuel costs over 20 years.
Colorado: One project totaling approximately 200 MW, which the company says will help save Colorado customers more than $142 million in fuel costs over 20 years. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will decide this fall on whether to approve another 350 MW of wind power.
The company says the move is made possible by “extremely competitive prices” and the extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC), a key incentive for wind development.
"Wind energy is a valuable, low-cost substitute for natural gas and other fuels right now," says Ben Fowke, Xcel’s chairman, president and CEO. "These projects will lower customer costs by at least $800 million over their lives and will provide a valuable hedge to rising and volatile fuel prices for well into the future."
If approved by regulators, construction on the projects will begin immediately in order to qualify for the PTC. All projects are scheduled to be in service by the beginning of 2016.
July 30, 2013 – U.S. Wind Energy Starts Ramping Back Up Following Early-Year PTC Extension
After coming to a standstill in the first half of 2013 due to Congressional delay in extending the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), activity in the U.S. wind industry is ramping back up as a strong wave of utilities sign up for more wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Second Quarter 2013 Market Report.
Throughout 2012, the industry awaited a policy signal from Congress via a PTC extension, but that extension didn’t come until New Year’s Day of this year. As the industry had previously warned, with wind energy project timelines spanning 18-24 months, the delay had serious consequences, and its impacts have continued to ripple through the industry well into 2013.
Only 1.6 megawatts (MW) of wind power were commissioned during the first half of the year and none at all during the second quarter, yet activity is now robust in areas that indicate impending project construction—namely, requests for proposals (RFPs) and power purchase agreements (PPAs). More than 20 RFPs have been issued, and extremely competitive prices for wind energy are spurring utilities to ink contracts for even more megawatts than their initial RFPs requested. Approximately 1,300 MW are now under construction, while more than 3,600 MW in PPAs are secured. In total, utility plans for more wind announced in the first six-plus months of the year total nearly 5,000 MW.
“The market pattern playing out in U.S. wind energy right now tracks exactly with warnings sounded by the industry a year ago, and with studies that examined the consequences of not extending the PTC,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “No industry can contribute what it’s capable of giving America without stable policy, and wind energy is Exhibit A of that reality. The industry is hard at work getting geared up to meet the strong demand for more wind energy, but if it’s going to generate more jobs and clean energy for America in the future, it simply must have the same kind of policy certainty under which other industries operate.”
As the industry rebuilds its development pipeline, activity on the supply chain side has also begun to increase, with new orders to some manufacturers causing them to slowly begin new production and even rehire workers.
Helping to drive the demand is wind energy’s cost competitiveness as well as its benefit of providing a hedge against volatile fossil-fuel prices. Here are a few examples:
“The price per megawatt-hour of energy generated at these wind facilities will be less than the per-megawatt-hour price of most of the company’s natural gas-fueled generation, according to Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company. Over the 20-year terms of these agreements, Xcel Energy expects to save $590.4 million in fuel costs, Hill said.
- “’We started shopping for more wind energy in March after seeing some very good prices on the market,’ Hill said. ‘We are making these acquisitions purely on economics and the savings we can deliver to our customers.’”
- Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation just signed a PPA with RES Americas for a 150-MW project in Oklahoma. A July 22 release highlighted wind’s fossil-fuel hedge benefits:
- "’The latest addition of 150 megawatts of low-cost wind energy provides AECC with a hedge against fluctuating natural gas energy prices,’ said Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer of AECC, a Little Rock-based wholesale electricity supplier. ‘AECC will have 201 megawatts of wind energy in its generation assets with this addition. We will continue to pursue energy options that allow AECC's member cooperatives to provide reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost.’
- In some regions of the country, wind has been the cheapest resource available for utilities. In a press release announcing Xcel Energy wanted to add another 600 MW of new wind power, the utility explained that:
- “The additional 600 megawatts of wind power – enough to serve 180,000 homes – would lower customer costs by $180 million over the lives of the projects.
- “Added David Sparby, CEO of Xcel Energy’s Northern States Power, “’Wind prices are extremely competitive right now, offering lower costs than other possible resources, like natural gas plants. These projects offer a great hedge against rising and often volatile fuel prices.’”
Construction is underway across eight states, and 2013 PPAs have been signed for projects in 11. The bulk of recent activity is occurring in the interior region of the U.S. – from North Dakota down through Texas – but projects in states including California, Michigan and New York are being supported through strong state policies and competitive prices.
“What we are seeing now,” said AWEA’s Kiernan, “is a testament to the willingness of utilities to sign long-term contracts for wind energy offered at competitive prices. But the late PTC extension caused serious harm, and we urgently need policy stability going forward for the American wind energy industry to reach its full potential.”
(Reprinted with permission from Wind Energy Weekly, a publication of the American Wind Energy Association. For additional news, please visit www.awea.org.)
July 30. 2013 – GDF SUEZ Energy Resources Donating RECs to New England Aquarium
For the fifth consecutive year, GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA has announced that it will donate renewable energy certificates (RECs) to the New England Aquarium, located in Boston.
Each Green-e Certified REC represents the environmental attributes or benefits associated with a specific quantity of energy generated from a renewable source, such as solar or wind. According to GDF, the donated RECs will match 100% of the aquarium's estimated annual electricity usage.
July 30, 2013 – Study: Albertans File Few Complaints about Wind Power
Albertans file very few complaints about wind power projects once those projects are operating, according to a new study by the Pembina Institute.
The Pembina Institute says its study was designed to document the number and nature of official complaints that have been brought to the various authorities in Alberta that are most likely to receive them.
Among the parties that were interviewed - including the electricity industry regulator, the municipalities where wind farms are located, and the operators of nearly all of the wind turbines in the province - very few complaints were found, the report says.
In particular, the report says the Alberta Utilities Commission, which regulates the sector, did not find a single complaint against an operating utility-scale wind energy project in its 31,000 contacts received since 2000.
"Alberta has more than 20 years of experience in developing wind power and some of the best potential for wind energy generation in the country," says Ben Thibault, legal and policy analyst with the Pembina Institute. "It’s encouraging to see that Albertans appear to be living near wind turbines with few complaints."
The Pembina Institute says that this study should not be interpreted as a broader indicator of public opinion toward wind projects in Alberta. The authorities which participated in the study noted that, while some people raised concerns during the preliminary permitting and construction phases of the projects, few of those concerns translate into complaints once the turbines are operating.
July 25, 2013 – Wind Sector VC Funding Leaps During Second Quarter
Wind sector venture capital (VC) funding picked up significantly during the second quarter of this year (Q2'13), amounting to $210 million compared to just $16 million last quarter, finds a new report from Mercom Capital Group.
The report says some large deals going to project developers in India helped with the quarterly increase. ReNew Power, an Indian wind project developer, attracted $135 million from Goldman Sachs, which raised its total investment in the company to $385 million so far.
NSL Renewable Power, also a project developer from India, received $60 million in funding from multiple investors. In two smaller funding deals, IDEOL, a designer and installer of foundations for offshore wind projects, raised $9.1 million, and $6.2 million was received by ROMO Wind, a wind technology company focused on improving wind turbine rotor function.
The report says announced large-scale project funding in Q2’13 totaled $3.2 billion in 24 deals compared to $6.2 billion in 29 deals in Q1’13. There were a total of 42 investors that participated in project funding deals this quarter.
In addition, there were six merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in Q2’13, amounting to $328 million. The report says the top M&A transaction was the acquisition of Salus Fundos de Investimento em Participacoes (Salus) by Copel for ~$128 million.
PNE WIND purchased a 54% share in WKN from former shareholder Volker Friedrichsen Beteiligungs for ~$122 million. Aksa Energy acquired 93% stake in Kapidag Ruzgar Enerjisi Elektrik Uretim for ~$67 million. Marmen, a machining, fabrication and mechanical assembly company, acquired a wind tower plant from Broadwind Energy, an independent services provider, for ~$11.7 million. The report says Makani Power was acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount, reportedly for its secret Google X skunkworks laboratory, and Urban Wind acquired Myriad Wind for an undisclosed amount.
There was significant project acquisition activity in Q2’13, the report continues. Thirty-six project acquisitions took place during the quarter, the highest in terms of number of transactions since 2010. There have been 53 project acquisitions year-to-date (YTD) compared to 72 in all of last year.
“The strong project acquisition activity shows how wind has evolved into a mature and mainstream energy source and an attractive investment for both private and public firms alike,” comments Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
The report says most of the project acquirers this quarter were investment funds. Allianz Capital Partners acquired three projects this quarter, followed by Enel Green Power, John Laing and Lukerg Renew with two each.
The largest project acquisition by amount was utility PG&E’s acquisition of Puget Sound Energy’s 267 MW Lower Snake River Phase II Wind Project for $535 million, followed by Scottish and Southern Energy’s acquisition of the 99 MW Dunmaglass Wind Project from Renewable Energy Systems for $305 million.
Palisade Investment Partners and Northleaf Capital Partners acquired 75% of the 111 MW Waterloo Wind Project from EnergyAustralia for $227 million. Romania’s Lukerg Renew acquired the 70 MW Gebeleisis Wind Project from Vestas for $144 million, while Danish energy company SE and Denmark’s Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) acquired the Danish onshore wind business (196 MW) of DONG Energy for $133 million.
Of the disclosed transactions in Q2’13, the report says there were 15 investment funds that acquired wind projects, eight project developers, six independent producers, and four utilities.
To learn more about the Mercom Capital Group report, click here.
July 25, 2013 – EIA: Renewables Will Be One of World's Fastest-Growing Energy Sources
Over the next three decades, renewable energy and nuclear power will be the world's fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5% per year, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). However, fossil fuels will continue to supply almost 80% of world energy use through 2040.
Almost 80% of the projected increase in renewable electricity generation will be fueled by hydropower and wind power. The report says the contribution of wind energy, in particular, has grown rapidly over the past decade, and the trend is expected to continue. Of the 5.4 trillion kilowatt-hours of new renewable generation predicted to be added over the projection period, 52% is attributed to hydroelectric power and 28% to wind.
In addition, the report says world energy consumption will increase 56% by 2040, with half of the rise attributed to China and India. World energy consumption will increase from 524 quadrillion Btu in 2010 to 820 quadrillion Btu in 2040.
July 24, 2013 – New Energy Storage Testing Center Coming to New York
The New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) and DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability have partnered to invest nearly $23 million to build and grow the new Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Testing and Commercialization Center in Rochester, N.Y.
Under the partnership agreement, DNV KEMA will provide investments of up to $16 million, including re-location of its existing energy storage testing operations from its laboratory facility in Pennsylvania to the new center in Rochester.
NY-BEST will provide the initial investment of $6.9 million from state grant funds into capital facility improvements and purchase of additional advanced testing equipment for the center.
The Test and Commercialization Center will provide a suite of test, validation and independent certification capabilities to help accelerate commercial deployment of energy storage technologies. Work is under way to construct the facility, and the center is slated to be complete by the fall and opened in December.
July 23, 2013 – Wind Energy Helps NYISO Defend Against Record-Setting Heat Wave
During a six-day heat wave last week, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) says the state successfully met a new record peak demand for electricity of 33,956 MW on July 19, thanks to a balanced array of resources, including a large supply of available wind power.
On many days during extremely hot weather, the operator says winds can be very light or non-existent. However, on Friday, the NYISO had the benefit of more than 1,000 MW of wind power throughout much of the day to help meet demand.
The operator also relied on market participants' generation and transmission assets, demand response programs, and inter-regional coordination.
“The duration and large regional impact of last week’s heat wave made it particularly challenging,” says NYISO President and CEO Stephen G. Whitley. “However, our markets and system assets - including generating plants, transmission facilities and demand response programs - all performed very well throughout the duration of a very long and hot week.”
July 22, 2013 – BOEM to Award Wind Energy Lease Offshore Virginia
The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced it will hold a second competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The auction, scheduled to take place on Sept. 4, will offer nearly 112,800 acres offshore Virginia for commercial wind energy leasing.
In June, the DOI and BOEM announced the first-ever competitive lease sale for wind energy on the OCS. That auction will be held July 31 and offer 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
According to BOEM, the wind energy area offshore Virginia will be auctioned as a single lease and has the potential to support more than 2 GW of wind generation. The area is composed of 19 full OCS blocks and 13 sub-blocks.
BOEM says the area available for auction is identical to the one announced in the proposed sale notice that was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 3, 2012. The agency has pre-qualified the following eight offshore wind developers to participate in the upcoming lease sale:
- Apex Virginia Offshore Wind LLC
- Virginia Electric and Power Co. (Dominion Virginia Power)
- Energy Management Inc.
- EDF Renewable Development Inc.
- Fisherman’s Energy LLC
- Iberdrola Renewables Inc.
- Sea Breeze Energy LLC
- Orisol Energy U.S. Inc.
July 19, 2013 – Renewables Outpace Coal, Oil and Nuclear in the U.S. During First Half of Year
Renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal, accounted for 24.93% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed in the first six months of this year for a total of 2,144 MW, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update report.
Thus far this year, renewables provided more new generating capacity than did coal (1,579 MW - 18.36%), oil (26 MW - 0.30%) and nuclear power (0 MW - 0.00%) combined. However, natural gas dominated the first half of 2013 with 4,852 MW of new capacity (56.41%).
Among renewable energy sources, solar led the way for the first half of 2013 with 94 new "units" totaling 979 MW followed by wind with eight new units totaling 959 MW. Biomass added 36 new units totaling 116 MW while water had eight new units with an installed capacity of 76 MW and geothermal steam had one new unit of 14 MW.
For the month of June alone, six new solar projects in North Carolina and one in New Mexico came online with a total capacity of 15 MW while a single 4 MW hydropower project was also added. No new capacity was reported for the month for natural gas, but coal and oil had additions of 618 MW and 26 MW, respectively.
For the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2012, new capacity from all sources declined by 16.16% (from 10,259 MW to 8,601 MW). However, solar capacity grew by 3.70% while natural gas capacity increased by 12.47%. Water power saw a more than ten-fold increase from 7 MW in the first six months of 2012 to 76 MW thus far in 2013.
Renewable sources now account for nearly 16% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro - 8.52%, wind - 5.17%, biomass - 1.31%, solar - 0.48%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.05%) and oil (3.51%) combined.
“Renewable energy sources continue their rapid growth in the nation's electrical generation mix, outpacing traditional sources such as coal, oil and nuclear power,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies. “Clearly, earlier public and private investments in R&D and commercialization are paying off.”
July 18, 2013 – Study: More Renewables and Efficiency Would Greatly Help Solve U.S. Water Problems
The U.S. can dramatically lower the power industry's draw on the nation's strained water supply by replacing its aging power plants with water-smart options like renewable energy and efficiency, according to a new report.
The study, conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)-led Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3), warns that continuing down a "business as usual" path will place a heavy burden on the U.S.' water resources.
“In our water-constrained world, a 20-year delay in tackling the problem leaves the power industry unnecessarily vulnerable to drought and exacerbates competition with other water users,” says John Rogers, co-manager of EW3. “We can bring water use down faster and further, but only by changing how we get our electricity.”
According to the study, more than 40% of the U.S.’ freshwater withdrawals are used for power plant cooling. These plants also lose several billion gallons of freshwater every day through evaporation. Furthermore, the report says increasing demand and drought are putting a greater strain on water resources.
Examining different paths the nation’s electricity production can take in the coming decades, the study says that while utilities’ ongoing shift to natural gas would decrease water use in the coming decades, its ongoing requirements could still harm water-strained areas.
However, according to the report, a pathway that includes strong investments in renewables and energy efficiency would greatly reduce power generation’s water use and carbon emission.
Under such a scenario, water withdrawals would drop by 97% from current levels by 2050, with most of that drop within the next 20 years. The study says that approach would also cut carbon emissions 90% from current levels, mostly in the near term. A renewables path would also be a much cheaper path for consumers, the report adds.
July 17, 2013 – Clean Energy Group Launches Online Public Utility Commission Database
Energy business organization Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has launched an online database of information about bodies responsible for energy regulation in the U.S. The AEE says the site also includes key energy data for each state and a comparison tool that allows users to analyze states side by side.
According to the AEE, each state has its own commission - typically made up of three to seven commissioners - with most appointed by governors to terms of varying length and some elected. All told, there are nearly 200 public utility commissioners nationwide, the group says, adding that the turnover rate among them is about 25% a year.
The Public Utility Commissioners (PUC) Portal, developed by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, the AEE's charitable and educational affiliate, provides the names and biographies of each commissioner, along with political affiliation, method of selection, term of office and requirements for qualification. The site also provides information on other key players in state energy policy, such as executive branch officials and key legislative committees, and data on electricity prices and in-state power generation. Up to four states can be selected for comparison side by side.
"For making our energy system more secure, clean and affordable, state public utility commissions are the most important institutions most people don't know anything about," says AEE and AEE Institute CEO Graham Richard. "The new PUC Portal will help our members, policymakers, media and the public better understand how electric and natural gas utilities are regulated at the state level and get key information on the energy circumstances in each state."
July 17, 2013 – ACEA Calls on White House to Protect U.S. Water, Favor Clean Energy Resources
The Committee for an American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA) says it has submitted to the White House a proposed executive order that would make water a major national priority and further shift the U.S. toward clean energy.
The ACEA, which represents 120 citizen organizations in 33 states and the District of Columbia, hopes President Barack Obama will consider the draft executive order.
Although the order has several water-related provisions, including the completion of a national water census and a “U.S. Water Budget,” it also calls for favoring clean energy over more water-intensive electricity resources.
According to the ACEA, the order would reduce or eliminate, to the extent practicable, by 2030 steam-cycle coal-fired, nuclear and natural-gas fired power plants that derive water from or impact key watersheds identified by a U.S. Geological Survey and replace them with a less water-intensive electric generation mix of renewables, energy efficiency and energy storage technologies.
Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, comments: "When it comes to protecting water and making 'water smart' energy choices, we already are far behind where we need to be as a nation. … We are now at the point where energy production increasingly threatens water quality across the country, as well as quantity in places where water is scarce. We need to start planning today if we want to avoid disaster in the years to come."
For the full copy of the draft executive order, click here.
July 16, 2013 – Global Clean Energy Investment Rebounds in Q2
Global investment in clean energy was $53.1 billion in the second quarter of this year (Q2) - up 22% from the first quarter, finds a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).The report attributes the quarterly rebound to an upturn in the financing of wind and solar projects and a 170% surge in equity funding for specialist companies on public markets.
Leading the Q2 increase were the U.S., China and South Africa. The report says the U.S. saw investment jump 155% compared to a weak first quarter and reached $9.5 billion, China rose 63% to $13.8 billion and South Africa was up from almost nothing in Q1 to $2.8 billion.
However, the report notes that Europe, for many years the mainstay of clean energy activity worldwide, saw investment fall 44% compared to Q1, reaching just $9.5 billion.
BNEF says this represents the continent’s lowest quarter total for more than six years, and the downturn in Europe helped ensure that global investment in clean energy in Q2 ended up 16% below the figure for the second quarter of last year.
“These figures are a mixture of sweet and sour,” comments Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF. “On the sour side, 2013 globally is still running below 2012, which was itself down on the 2011 investment record. And European investment is clearly being hit by cuts in support for renewable energy and by policy uncertainty, notably ahead of the German election in September.
“On the sweet side, the U.S. is back in business following the hiatus that resulted from fears about the possible expiry of the production tax credit for wind at the end of 2012,” Liebreich continues.
Financing of utility-scale projects such as solar parks and wind farms represented the biggest category of investment between April and June, BNEF says. This was $31.9 billion in Q2, up 39% on the first quarter but down 21% year-over-year. Among the projects financed were MidAmerican Renewables’ 681 MW Solar Star photovoltaic project in California, at $2.5 billion; and EDF’s 299 MW Blackspring Ridge wind farm phase one in Alberta, Canada, at $588 million.
July 16, 2013 – Survey: North Carolinians Oppose Fracking, Favor Clean Energy
The majority of North Carolinians oppose fracking and want more clean energy, according to a new poll by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The NRDC says 55% of respondents statewide oppose proposals that would open up North Carolina to fracking - a procedure by which oil and gas companies inject water and other liquids into the ground to fracture rock formations and extract natural gas.
Meanwhile, the majority of respondents say the state should do more to support and develop renewable energy. According to the survey, 68% of respondents view solar energy very favorably, 56% view wind energy favorably, and 50% favor offshore wind energy.
The NRDC adds that about 56% of respondents oppose attempts by some lawmakers to eliminate the state’s clean energy standard, which gives utilities until 2021 to get at least 12% of their energy from renewable sources.
July 12, 2013 – Kansas State Study: Wind Turbines Show Little Impact on Greater Prairie Chickens
Wind energy development does not ruffle the feathers of greater prairie chicken populations, according to the results of a seven-year study from a Kansas State University ecologist and his team.
The researchers - led by Brett Sandercock, professor of biology - discovered that wind turbines have little effect on greater prairie chickens, and that the grassland birds are more affected by rangeland management practices and the availability of native prairie and vegetation cover at nest sites. Unexpectedly, the scientists also found that female survival rates increased after wind turbines were installed.
With the arrival of wind projects in Kansas and throughout the Plains, Sandercock and his team were part of a consortium of stakeholders - including conservationists, wildlife agencies and wind energy companies - who studied how these wind projects influence grassland birds.
According to the study, the greater prairie chicken was once abundant across the central Plains, but populations have declined because of habitat loss and human development. The chickens now are primarily found in the Great Plains in Kansas - particularly the Smoky Hills and the Flint Hills - where the largest tracts of prairie remain.
Sandercock and his team started their study in 2006 with three field sites that were chosen for wind development: a site in the Smoky Hills in north-central Kansas, a site in the northern Flint Hills in northeastern Kansas and a site in the southern Flint Hills in southern Kansas. The Smoky Hills site - the Meridian Way Wind Power Facility near Concordia - was developed into a wind energy site, which gave researchers the opportunity to observe greater prairie chickens before, during and after wind turbine construction. The researchers cooperated and collaborated with private landowners at each site.
The researchers studied the birds for seven breeding seasons and captured nearly 1,000 total male and female birds around sites, which are communal areas where males gather and make calls to attract females. Females mate with the males and then hide nests in tall prairie grass.
The scientists researched several features of prairie chickens and their biology: patterns of nest site selection; reproductive components, such as clutch size, timing of laying eggs and hatchability of eggs; survival rates and population viability.
The Grassland Community Collaborative Oversight Committee of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative oversaw the research project. The project received funding from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.
July 12, 2013 – Ontario Kicks Off Long-Term Energy Plan Review
Ontario is inviting public and stakeholder feedback in its review of the Long-Term Energy Plan, according to a release from the Ontario Ministry of Energy (MOE).
To facilitate dialogue, the MOE says it will hold numerous information sessions across the province, including St. Catharines, London, Windsor, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Barrie and Ottawa. Not only is the MOE seeking feedback related to energy and conservation issues, but it also wants input for solutions and implementation. Alternatively, the MOE says Ontarians can also participate by completing an online questionnaire.
Over the past 10 years, Ontario has brought more than 3.3 GW of renewable energy online. Since 2003, approximately 12 GW of new and refurbished generation has been added to Ontario’s energy supply.
However, transmission capacity and renewable energy, specifically wind, have become hot-button political topics in the province. As a result, utility-scale wind projects have largely been de-emphasized for the near future.
The updated Long-Term Energy Plan will be released this fall, notes the MOE.
July 11, 2013 – Is There Enough Room for Offshore Wind on New York's Energy Highway?
Calling it "a critical first step," the New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) released a study showing how offshore wind located off its coasts can greatly improve the state's ocean-based economy.
According to the NYSDOS, the results of a 154-page Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study are expected to lay the groundwork for selecting offshore areas where wind development could be most suitable and appropriate.
At 8.5 m/s, the wind resource located off of New York in the Atlantic Ocean is relatively strong. Additionally, the resource is close to load centers, and commercially available technology currently exists to generate and transmit electricity from offshore wind resources to New York’s electric grid.
Taking advantage of this renewable resource could help New York State reduce
its dependency on fossil fuels while meeting a growing energy demand. In addition, offshore wind could bring new economic development opportunities to New York industries involved in the siting, permitting, manufacturing, construction, operations or decommissioning activities necessary to build, maintain and retire an offshore wind energy facility.
"The [study] is a critical first step as New York State seeks to plan for current and future uses of the Atlantic Ocean," says Cesar A. Perales, New York secretary of state. "Our coastal communities rely on a vibrant ocean economy, and this information will help protect existing industries while we explore new economic opportunities, such as the development of offshore wind capabilities."
Drawing from four individual reports created for the NYSDOS to support offshore ocean planning efforts, the information will serve as a foundation for future site assessment and other relevant research activities, reducing the potential for wasted and duplicative research efforts, saving time and money.
The study includes research critical to advancing one of the action items of Governor Cuomo's "New York Energy Highway Blueprint," which outlines recommendations for utilizing public-private partnerships to help transport New York’s aging energy infrastructure into the future.
The study will provide guidance to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - which regulates ocean waters beyond three miles - to show New York impacts for any proposed leasing of federal waters for siting of offshore wind projects.
The study is also expected to shape the current federal review of the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project lease application, filed in September 2011 by the New York Power Authority on behalf of the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative, which also includes Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority.
July 11, 2013 – Vestas Confirms It is Hiring Workers in Pueblo, Colo.
Turbine maker Vestas confirms it is hiring about 100 workers for at its Pueblo, Colo.-based facility. Of those 100 workers, at least 75 will be experienced welders, says Andrew Longeteig, company spokesperson.
According to Longeteig, Vestas is looking to bring on workers to help fulfill an April order that called for the supply of 166 V100 1.8 MW wind turbines for Alberta's Blackspring Ridge wind farm, a joint venture between EDF Renewable Energy and Enbridge. He noted that Vestas is also supply wind towers for a separate wind farm. The company has already hired 100 workers in the first quarter.
At the beginning of 2012, Vestas had 1,700 manufacturing workers in the U.S. However, fearing the expiration of the production tax credit for wind at the end of last year, Vestas laid off hundreds at its Colorado-based plants. Currently, Vestas has about 1,100 workers at its U.S. plants.
July 11, 2013 – Xcel Energy Plans Significant Increase in Wind Purchases
Xcel Energy's Southwestern Public Service Co. is seeking approval in New Mexico to purchase almost 700 MW of additional wind energy through three purchase agreements, deals that will save Texas-New Mexico customers more than $590 million in fuel costs over 20 years.
According to Xcel, the wind purchases will come from three facilities to be located in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico:
- 199 MW from NextEra Energy Resources/Mammoth Plains Wind Energy Center located in Dewey and Blaine Counties, Okla.;
- 249 MW from NextEra Energy Resources/Palo Duro Wind Energy Center located in Hansford and Ochiltree Counties, Texas; and
- 250 MW from Infinity Wind Resources/Roosevelt Wind Ranch in Roosevelt County, N.M., between the towns of Dora and Elida.
The price per megawatt-hour of energy generated at these wind facilities will be less than the per-megawatt-hour price of most of the company’s natural gas-fueled generation, according to Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Co. Over the 20-year terms of these agreements, Xcel Energy expects to save $590.4 million in fuel costs, Hill notes.
July 11, 2013 – Supplemental RFP Opens the Door for UMaine-Led Consortium
Maine's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has reissued a request for proposals (RFP) for deepwater offshore wind pilot projects. The PUC's reissuance opens the door for the DeepCWind Consortium, led by the University of Maine, to begin preparing a bid that will include its 12 MW Aqua Ventus 1 project designed with floating turbines.
In 2012, the PUC issued an RFP for up to 30 MW of installed capacity and associated renewable energy. The PUC was authorized to provide one or more contracts to demonstration projects.
On Dec. 21, 2012, the PUC approved a long-term contract for Ocean Renewable Power Co.'s 5 MW tidal energy demonstration project. On Feb. 26, the PUC approved a term sheet for a long-term contract for a 12 MW deep-water offshore wind energy pilot project from Statoil's Hywind Maine project. A final contract has not been approved. And earlier this month, Statoil put the project on hold citing risk and uncertainty.
Elizabeth Viselli, manager of offshore wind programs and global communications for the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, says that during the last legislative session, "special language" was added to the supplemental RFP, which allowed the university to respond to the RFP.
According to the legislation, "The University of Maine's deepwater offshore wind energy pilot project must be considered a deep water offshore wind energy pilot project under this section. The commission shall make all reasonable efforts to complete its review of proposals under competitive solicitation conducted pursuant to this paragraph and make decisions on additional proposals by Dec. 31."
According to the filing, Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro-Electric or Maine Public Service will purchase the output. Bids are due Sept. 1.
July 10, 2013 – Obama Nominates ACORE Chief to DoD Post
President Obama has nominated American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) President and CEO Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn to serve as assistant secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment within the Department of Defense (DoD). The position requires Senate approval.
McGinn is engaged in efforts to highlight the close link between energy, climate and national security. He is a strong advocate for innovative government policy, public and private partnerships, and investments that will promote clean energy growth and innovation. The appointment comes at a time when the DoD is expected to increasingly develop renewable energy technology on or near its bases.
While McGinn's tenure at ACORE was brief, the organization says his contributions were immense.
"In early 2011, Vice Admiral McGinn took the helm at ACORE to serve as president and CEO," says Dan Reicher, co-chair of the ACORE board of directors. "He has been an invaluable leader here at ACORE for over two years. His insights about energy, economic and environmental security, especially in the context of national security and energy independence, have greatly strengthened ACORE’s leadership in the rapidly growing renewable energy business community."
As for ACORE, the organization's board is now concentrating on finding a replacement to steer ACORE into the future. Vice Admiral McGinn will continue as president and CEO until the board identifies his successor, notes ACORE.
July 5, 2013 – New Mexico to Lease Land For 1 GW Wind Farm
The New Mexico State Land Office is seeking lease bids for the El Cabo wind farm, a proposed 1 GW wind energy project that would be built on state trust land.
According to the office, the project would be located on 33,600 acres in Torrance County and built in several phases over the next 10 years.
"A new and growing source of income for the State Land Office is renewable energy leasing, which is expected to be the largest growth area for our commercial resources division," says State Land Commissioner Ray Powell.
Powell notes that there are currently four wind farms on state trust lands, with five more applications pending. He says the existing projects are poised to earn more than $50 million over their lifetimes, and the pending projects could earn over $215 million.
On Sept. 19, bids will be accepted at an oral public auction at the Torrance County Courthouse to determine the highest bid for a long-term business lease. Additional information is available in the bid packet, which is available HERE.
July 3, 2013 – New Hampshire to Re-Evaluate Energy Project Siting Laws
Under the legislation, the Office of Energy and Planning has to contract with an outside vendor to conduct a study of the state Site Evaluation Committee and its processes. According to Hassan, the study will evaluate factors such as "the role of the public and municipalities in the siting process, the need for funding and staffing of the Site Evaluation Committee, and the use of transportation rights of way for energy infrastructure." In addition, the law requires the committee to adopt new rules by Jan. 1, 2015.
"To create jobs, reduce energy costs and strengthen our clean energy sector, we must pursue ways to strengthen our system for evaluating energy projects, especially to incorporate the evaluation of relative economic value and impact, while also recognizing and respecting the time, energy and investment that many businesses have already made in submitting proposals for new energy projects in our state,” Hassan says.
July 1, 2013 – Report: Rise in Wind and Solar Power Will Boost Energy Storage Market
The installed capacity of energy storage systems (ESS) for solar and wind power integration will total 21.8 GW from 2013 to 2023, finds a new report from Navigant Research.
More than 1,300 GW of wind and solar power generation capacity is expected to come online in the next 10 years, creating an unprecedented amount of instability on the grid - particularly in key markets within North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific. As grid operators adapt to increasing levels of variable generation on their systems, Navigant Consulting predicts energy storage systems will become an integral element of their overall strategies.
“Several of the major markets for renewables, including Germany, Japan and the United States, have enacted rules or legislation encouraging the adoption of energy storage systems for the purpose of integrating variable energy sources onto the grid,” says Anissa Dehamna, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “These market incentives come in various forms, including outright subsidies for ESS adoption, reforms that change how variable generation is compensated, and adjustments to connection requirements for variable power plants.”
In particular, the report says changes to the compensation arrangements for variable power generation will have significant influence on the market for ESS for solar and wind. Compensation mechanisms have changed drastically over the past 10 years, according to the report, and many compensation schemes have grandfather clauses -meaning that older wind and solar systems have much different compensation rates and structures than newer systems coming online.
July 1, 2013 – Texas Utility Adds 570 MW to Wind Portfolio
On June 27, Texas-based utility Austin Energy got the go-ahead from the Austin City Council to enter into three new wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) totaling 570 MW. Even with a short-term wind contract expiring in 2015, Austin Energy says this will bring the company's total wind portfolio to 1,225 MW and puts the utility four years ahead of schedule for meeting its 35% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
Two contracts with Duke Energy Renewables Inc., each for 200 MW, will buy power generated in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley about 30 miles northwest of McAllen. The Los Vientos 3 wind project is expected to be online at the end of 2014, and Los Vientos 4 is expected to be complete by mid-2016.
The third contract buys 170 MW of generation from E.ON Climate and Renewables North America LLC, in Nueces County. The Patriot Wind project, located 25 miles southwest of Corpus Christi, is expected to be online by the end of 2014.
These projects have terms up to 25 years and fixed pricing between $23/MWh and $33/MWh. Austin Energy says the contracted prices are comparable to wind pricing 10+ years ago and are also competitive with natural gas generation.
“This is a very attractive time for Austin Energy to invest in more wind energy,” says Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis. “The extension of federal production tax credits (PTCs) for wind developers, combined with the recent decline in power prices and lower demand for new wind generation, means we are able to keep costs down while expanding our renewable portfolio to meet our goals ahead of schedule.”
Austin Energy’s other utility-scale renewable energy resources are a 100 MW biomass plant in Nacogdoches and a 30 MW solar farm in Webberville. An additional 11.7 MW is generated from solar installations on public and privately owned properties in the Austin Energy service area. Austin Energy has a goal to include another 200 MW of solar energy in its renewable portfolio by 2020. Currently, about 27% of the utility’s energy comes from renewable resources.
Editor's note: For more on the Texas wind energy market, including the nearly-completed CREZ lines, click here.