News - Americas
- March 7, 2013 – Wind Energy Will Meet 100% of D.C. Government Department's Electricity Needs
- March 6, 2013 – New Website Aims to Engage Canadian Communities in Wind Energy Dialogue
- March 5, 2013 – Pew Report: U.S. Wind Held Trade Surplus with China in 2011
- March 5, 2013 – Insider: Clarity on PTC 'Begin Construction' Language Expected Soon
- March 5, 2013 – North Carolina Voters Overwhelmingly Support Both Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy
- March 4, 2013 – Obama Taps Nuclear Physicist to Lead DOE, Renewable Energy Advocate to Head EPA
- March 4, 2013 – Ontario IESO Anticipates Greater Renewable Energy Integration
- February 28, 2013 – Sen. Carper Renews Push for Offshore Wind Energy, Investment Tax Credit
- February 28, 2013 – Massachusetts to Fund Clean Energy Education Programs
- February 27, 2013 – Analyst: U.S. Renewable Energy Policy Superior to Europe's
- February 27, 2013 – ARPA-E Projects Have Attracted $450 Million in Private Investment
- February 27, 2013 – Rare Bipartisan Cooperation Yields Ideas for Stable Renewable Energy Policy
- February 26, 2013 – Exclusive: Sen. Grassley Seeks Fairness for Wind Energy in Tax Debate
- February 26, 2013 – Wind Turbines to Power Nestle Factory in California
- February 26, 2013 – Miami Hotel Offsets Energy Usage with Wind Power
- February 25, 2013 – Siemens Restaffing Wind Turbine Manufacturing Facilities in Iowa, Kansas
- February 25, 2013 – First Wind to Sponsor Science Competition, Award Scholarships
- February 25, 2013 – Minnesota Utility Issues RFP For 200 MW of Wind Power
- February 21, 2013 – Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Bill Clears House of Delegates
- February 21, 2013 – DOE Awards Funding to Three Innovative Wind Energy Technologies
- February 21, 2013 – Clean Energy Loan Fund Proposed in Vermont
- February 20, 2013 – U.S. Electric Utilities Flock to Lower-Priced Wind Power; Xcel, MidAmerican Among Leaders as More Utilities Sign Up for Consumer Savings
- February 20, 2013 – Renewable Energy Provided 100% of New U.S. Generating Capacity in January
- February 20, 2013 – Cape Wind Developer Among Companies Vying For Virginia Offshore Wind Energy Area
- February 20, 2013 – Michigan Utilities on Track to Meet Renewable Energy Mandates
- February 19, 2013 – Study: Clean Energy Policies Benefiting North Carolina Economy
- February 19, 2013 – New Bill Aims to Boost Pennsylvania's Renewable Portfolio Standard
- February 18, 2013 – Construction Bids Received for Mass. Offshore Wind Terminal
- February 18, 2013 – Massachusetts Agencies Launch Pilot Program to Spur Clean Energy
- February 17, 2013 – Fort Hays State University to Install Two Vestas Turbines on Campus
- February 15, 2013 – Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Streamline Renewable Energy Permitting
- February 15, 2013 – New Climate-Change Bill Would Make 'Historic Investments' in Renewable Energy
- February 15, 2013 – Washington Utility Breaks Wind Energy Generation Record
- February 14, 2013 – White House Document Reveals Obama's Big Wind Energy Proposal
- February 14, 2013 – New York Raises Incentive Cap For On-Site Wind Energy Installations
- February 14, 2013 – Texas Achieves New Wind Energy Record
- February 14, 2013 – U.S. Army Seeks Input on Renewable Energy RFP Contract Rules
- February 14, 2013 – California Regulators Approve Energy-Storage Requirement
- February 13, 2013 – State of the Union: Obama Pledges Progress on Renewable Energy, Climate Change
- February 13, 2013 – California ISO, PacifiCorp Take Steps to Modernize Power Grid, Integrate Renewables
- February 13, 2013 – Sen. Franken Plans to Promote Renewables as Chairman of Energy Subcommittee
- February 13, 2013 – University of Iowa Offering New Certificate in Wind Energy
- February 12, 2013 – How to Benefit From the DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits
- February 12, 2013 – Global Wind Energy Industry Installed 44.7 GW in 2012
- February 12, 2013 – SC Johnson Purchasing Wind Energy to Power Mexican Plant
- February 8, 2013 – Poll Shows Strong Public Support for Renewable Energy in Rocky Mountain Region
- February 8, 2013 – Siemens Inks Investment/Supply Deal For Major Offshore Wind Farm
- February 7, 2013 – DOE, Treasury Release $150M in Unused Section 48C Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits
- February 7, 2013 – Obama Nominates Sally Jewell as Next Interior Secretary
- February 7, 2013 – Siemens to Build Wind Energy Training Center in Florida
- February 6, 2013 – Maryland Agencies Allot $2 Million to Offshore Wind Energy Research
- February 5, 2013 – Deepwater Wind Adjusts Offshore Wind Farm Development Plan in Order to Minimize Wildlife Impacts
- February 5, 2013 – Siemens Unveils New 4 MW Offshore Wind Turbine
- February 4, 2013 – BOEM Extends Comment Period for North Carolina Offshore Wind Energy Development
- February 4, 2013 – House Caucus Urges IRS, Treasury to Clarify Wind Energy PTC Implementation Rules
- February 1, 2013 – U. S. Renewable Energy Capacity Doubled Over Past Five Years; CO2 Emissions Lowest Since 1994
- February 1, 2013 – Treasury Clarifies Sequestration Details on Section 1603 Grants
- January 31, 2013 – Developer Makes the Case for Urban Wind Energy Development
- January 31, 2013 – DOE Launches Second Phase of its Tribal Clean Energy Program
- January 31, 2013 – Minnesota Power's Resource Strategy Includes Wind Energy
- January 30, 2013 – Wind Energy Top Source for New Generation in 2012; American Wind Power Installed New Record of 13,124 MW
- January 29, 2013 – EPA Reveals Top Renewable Energy Users
- January 29, 2013 – Developers Investing Heavily in Scottish Offshore Wind Power Market
- January 29, 2013 – National Grid, Clean Line Close on Wind Energy Interconnection Investment
- January 29, 2013 – The Biggest Wind Energy Deals of 2012
- January 25, 2013 – Making Clean Energy Cleaner: Researchers Developing Bio-Based Wind Turbines, Solar Panels
- January 25, 2013 – Maine Regulators Approve Statoil's Offshore Wind Project
- January 25, 2013 – AWEA: 4Q Numbers Coming Next Week to Reflect PTC Success
- January 24, 2013 – New York Wind Energy Integration Up 18% in 2012
- January 24, 2013 – New Resource Maps U.S. Clean Energy Jobs
- January 24, 2013 – New Renewable Energy Credit Accreditation Program Launched
- January 22, 2013 – U.S. Slaps Hefty Tariffs on Wind Towers from China, Vietnam
- January 22, 2013 – Obama Inaugural Address Reaffirms Commitment to Clean Energy
- January 21, 2013 – Bloomberg: 2012 U.S. Wind Installations Topped 13 GW
- January 21, 2013 – FERC Proposes Reforms to Small Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements
- January 18, 2013 – DOI Designates Land for Wind and Solar Energy Development in Arizona
- January 18, 2013 – Poll Shows Strong Support for Offshore Wind in Maryland
- January 17, 2013 – Analyst: Stable Policy Would Provide Clean Energy Sector a 'Multitrillion-Dollar Opportunity'
- January 17, 2013 – Wind Energy Was Top Source of New U.S. Generating Capacity in 2012
- January 17, 2013 – Wind Tunnel for Anemometer Calibration Opens in Vermont
- January 17, 2013 – DOE Selects New BPA Administrator
- January 16, 2013 – Secretary Salazar to Leave Interior Department
- January 16, 2013 – U.S. Government's Largest Wind Farm Planned for Nuclear Weapons Facility
- January 16, 2013 – Vestas to Ramp Up Production at Colorado Manufacturing Facility
- January 15, 2013 – ERCOT Expects $8.9 Billion of Investment in Texas Transmission
- January 15, 2013 – Atlantic Wind Connection Outlines Plans For First Phase Of Offshore Wind Transmission 'Backbone'
- January 15, 2013 – PGE, BPA Propose Change to Oregon Transmission Project
- January 14, 2013 – Wind Energy Surpasses Coal in Ontario Power Market
- January 14, 2013 – New 'Global Atlas' Charts Renewable Energy Resources Around the World
- January 14, 2013 – Vestas Secures Contract for Wind Farm in Uruguay
- January 11, 2013 – Clemson Makes Headway on Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility
- January 11, 2013 – Ontario to Abandon All Coal-Fired Generation, Making Way for More Wind Energy
- January 10, 2013 – New York's $1 Billion 'Green Bank' Lends Hand to Renewable Energy
- January 10, 2013 – DOE, National Labs Tackling Rare-Earth Shortages to Ensure Clean Energy Future
- January 10, 2013 – Companies Partner to Develop Floating Offshore LIDAR Technology
- January 9, 2013 – DOE Opens Up Wind Energy Competition for College Students
- January 8, 2013 – DOE, National Labs Planning Offshore Wind Energy Research Center
- January 8, 2013 – New Tilt-Up Met Tower Installed in Colorado
- January 8, 2013 – Technological Advancements Critical to Wind Energy Market's Success, Firm Says
- January 7, 2013 – New Mexico College Uses Federal Funding to Train Students in Wind Energy
- January 4, 2013 – WKN USA Brings Two Wind Projects Online
- January 3, 2013 – Post-PTC Extension, Wind Energy Developers Face New Questions
- January 3, 2013 – Wind Energy PTC, ITC Extensions Officially Signed into Law
- January 1, 2013 – Congress Extends Wind Energy Tax Credits for Projects that Start in 2013: “Fiscal Cliff” Deal Preserves America’s Leading Source of New Electric Generation
March 7, 2013 – Wind Energy Will Meet 100% of D.C. Government Department's Electricity Needs
The District of Columbia's Department of General Services (DGS) has signed a one-year contract to meet 100% of its electricity needs with wind energy.
Under the contract, the department will purchase wind power via Washington Gas Energy Services' (WGES) CleanSteps WindPower program.
As part of its agreement with WGES, DGS will leverage its data-acquisition program with services from Lucid Design Group and Honest Buildings. Lucid Design Group will deliver cloud-based dashboards for facility managers to identify and fix inefficiencies and anomalies in energy consumption, while Honest Buildings will provide an interface for the public to see energy performance in DGS facilities.
"We have stated our mission for Washington, D.C., to be the cleanest, greenest city in the nation, which includes the use of renewable energy for our power sources," says Keith Anderson, director of the district’s department of the environment. "We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Washington, D.C., as the leading Green Power Community for our commitment to purchase green power."
(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.)
March 6, 2013 – New Website Aims to Engage Canadian Communities in Wind Energy Dialogue
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has launched a new website - WindFacts.ca - designed to educate Canadians about wind energy and encourage a meaningful discussion about wind power within communities.
The website features wind energy facts, statistics, social-media tools and links to educational resources. It addresses several areas of interest related to Canadian wind power, including how wind energy works, the costs of wind power and its effects on health, the environment and wildlife.
"Wind energy enjoys high public support from coast to coast, but it's natural for Canadians to have questions about how various forms of energy may impact their consumer bill, the environment and what sort of benefits it can deliver to local communities," explains Chris Forrest, CanWEA’s vice president of communications and public affairs.
Wind energy has been the subject of ongoing controversy and political debate in Canada. Some opponents claim that wind energy has harmful effects on human health and the environment, and CanWEA is working to engage communities by providing facts and resources about wind energy.
(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.)
March 5, 2013 – Pew Report: U.S. Wind Held Trade Surplus with China in 2011
The U.S. wind sector held a $146 million trade surplus over their Asian counterparts, according to a Pew Charitable Trust report on trade relations between the U.S. and China.
The report, titled "Advantage America: The U.S.-China Clean Energy Trade Relationship in 2011," focused on wind, photovoltaic and energy smart technologies.
The report concluded that America's clean energy trade strength is derived from leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the global presence of American companies, notes Pew.
The U.S. wind industry excels in sales of relatively high-margin specialty materials, such as fiberglass, and sensitive electronic and other control systems. China's largest sales were in turbine towers and rotors. China's clean energy industry has an advantage in large-scale manufacturing and high-volume assembly of certain clean energy products.
However, the report notes that tensions between the two countries have been heightened in recent years by fiercely competitive market conditions affecting companies in both countries, as well as several high-profile trade cases.
Pew says that wind energy was the smallest of clean energy trade sectors examined, with more than $923 million worth of wind energy goods and services exchanged between the U.S. and China in 2011.
Overall, the U.S. and China traded more than $8.5 billion worth of clean energy goods and services in 2011, with the U.S. companies enjoying a $1.63 billion sales advantage over their Chinese counterparts.
(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.)
March 5, 2013 – Insider: Clarity on PTC 'Begin Construction' Language Expected Soon
The wind energy industry will soon receive long-awaited guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on
According to tax insiders who spoke with NAW, the IRS has imposed an internal deadline of March 31 to clarify what it means for a wind project to be considered under construction, per the "begin construction" language included in the legislation.
John Gimigliano, principal in charge of KPMG's U.S. Energy Sustainability Tax practice, says the IRS recognizes the urgency of the matter and is working "unusually fast" to resolve the issues and release the guidance to wind energy developers.
Historically, the IRS has taken up to a year - or even longer - to resolve such discrepancies. However, the wind industry does not have the luxury of time.
"Speed is of the essence," Gimigliano says. "This is a 2013 rule."
The "commence construction" component is the missing piece from the American Tax Payer Relief Act, which was officially
Without further guidance, developers, suppliers and financiers are more hesitant to move forward with projects.
Tax insiders, such as Gimigliano, were expecting additional guidance from the issuance of the Joint Committee on Taxation's so-called "blue book," which recaps legislation passed by the prior Congress. Although the guidance was not included in that document, industry watchers should not read too much into the omission, he says.
"Typically, Congress will pass a law with broad strokes and leave it to the IRS to fill in the blanks,” Gimigliano explains. "It shows either there wasn't real consensus about what was intended, or it could be a by-product of the bill coming together quickly at the eleventh hour."
Gimigliano says one of the biggest challenges for the IRS will be to establish a rule that is fair to all the technologies mentioned in Section 45 of the Internal Revenue Code, which includes “electricity produced from certain renewable resources," such as wind, solar, geothermal, municipal solid waste and qualifying hydropower.
"What might be feasible for one industry to undertake by year-end may not be possible for another," he notes.
In addition, the IRS must answer questions about the method of guidance that should be applied. The IRS released a similar "begin construction" clarification in July 2010, after the issuance of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Section 1603 cash-grant program. The American Wind Energy Association has been encouraging the IRS and the Treasury to consider similar rules for the PTC, as the industry is already familiar with that guidance.
“The rules pertaining to Section 1603 cash grants are well understood [by] developers, financiers and regulators living in that world," Gimigliano agrees. "Rules pertaining to Section 1603 seem to be more logical in their approach."
Another, albeit unlikely, prediction is that rules pertaining to bonus depreciation - which also includes a "begin construction" component - could be applied to PTC. However, bonus depreciation applies broadly to all businesses, not just renewable energy.
March 5, 2013 – North Carolina Voters Overwhelmingly Support Both Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy
North Carolina voters strongly support the increased use of clean energy sources like wind energy and solar power, according to poll results released by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA).
The poll found that 82.6% of respondents - including 89% of Democrats, 81.6% of Independents and 75.7% of Republicans - said state leaders and elected officials in North Carolina should seek more alternative or renewable energy sources.
The survey results showed overwhelming support for both onshore and offshore wind energy. Of those polled, 80.9% said they support onshore wind, 13.1% oppose it and 6.0% were unsure. Meanwhile, 75.8% said they support offshore wind, while 15.1% of respondents said they oppose it and 9.1% were unsure.
In addition, 85% of respondents support new energy policies that would create opportunities for clean energy companies that use renewable energy resources to offer electricity services directly to consumers and businesses in North Carolina.
The poll also found that 69.7% of respondents were in favor of the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) - which is 12.5% by 2021 for the state’s investor-owned utilities and 10% by 2018 for electric cooperatives and municipal utilities - and 13.6% were unsure how they felt about the policy.
Seventy percent of those surveyed felt the prices they are charged for power and electricity had increased over the last two years. When asked what they thought was the biggest reason for the increase, 35.7% said they thought it was because power companies were increasing their profits; 21.1% felt it was due to inflation and the economy; 14.8% reported that it was due to increased costs for fuel recovery, production and processing; and 5.8% said it was due to the increased use of renewable energy.
“People are obviously concerned about their rising energy and fuel bills, and they also overwhelmingly want our state to increase the use of clean energy,” says Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the NCSEA. “Because of clean energy policies that voters clearly support, the cost of clean energy has come down enough that customers are beginning to see more stability in their energy bills.”
The poll, conducted in January by Fallon Research, surveyed 803 North Carolina registered voters (landline and cellular-phone numbers) on their support or opposition to a number of energy-related issues.
According to a
The full poll results can be accessed here.
March 4, 2013 – Obama Taps Nuclear Physicist to Lead DOE, Renewable Energy Advocate to Head EPA
President Barack Obama has officially announced his nominations for outgoing Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary
The president has nominated nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz to serve as DOE secretary. Moniz was undersecretary of the DOE under former President Bill Clinton and, since then, has directed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative, which aims to develop the technologies necessary for the U.S. to achieve energy independence.
"Most importantly, Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate," Obama said when nominating Moniz.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he looks forward to working with Moniz on energy issues.
“I look forward to discussing with Ernest Moniz the many issues before the Energy Department that are so vital to the nation’s energy security,” Wyden said in a statement. “That includes re-engaging Dr. Moniz over the problems with cleaning up nuclear waste at the Hanford Site, finding creative ways to promote new technologies and harness the ingenuity of America’s energy innovators, and examining the diverse opportunities to attack climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Obama has also nominated Gina McCarthy, who currently serves as assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, as the next EPA administrator. Before assuming her current role, McCarthy was a top environmental official in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where she helped design programs to encourage renewable energy development and promote energy efficiency.
“As assistant EPA administrator, Gina has focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing,” Obama said during the nomination ceremony. “She’s earned a reputation as a straight shooter. She welcomes different points of view. I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.”
Both officials will play a role in encouraging domestic energy development and combating the threats posed by climate change, Obama noted.
March 4, 2013 – Ontario IESO Anticipates Greater Renewable Energy Integration
Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) says a significant amount of renewable energy will be integrated into the province's bulk power system.
According to IESO, more than 3.2 GW of renewable energy will be integrated into the system in the next 18 months, including Ontario's first two transmission grid-connected solar projects.
Additionally, total wind and solar generation connected to the province's transmission and distribution systems are expected to reach approximately 6.8 GW and produce approximately 14.9 TWh of energy annually by August 2014.
The next element – dispatch of grid-connected renewable resources – is planned to be in place within the forecast period and will give the IESO a necessary tool to help manage the system efficiently and reliably, notes the system operator.
"Integrating renewable resources into Ontario’s changing supply mix has been a learning process for both us and the renewable generators," says Bruce Campbell, vice president of resource integration. "Everything we’ve learned will be applied in the coming months as wind and solar gain even more prominence on the grid."
IESO also says that progress continues to be made in removing coal-fired generation from Ontario's supply mix, saying that the remaining generating units at Lambton and Nanticoke are scheduled to stop burning coal by the end of the year. Additionally, the IESO says the conversion of the Atikokan generating station - from a coal-fired unit to biomass - is underway, with the unit expected to be in service by the third quarter of 2014.
February 28, 2013 – Sen. Carper Renews Push for Offshore Wind Energy, Investment Tax Credit
Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have reintroduced the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act, which would provide financial incentives for investments in offshore wind energy.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Angus King, R-Maine; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; William Cowan, D-Mass.; and Ben Cardin, D-Md. The bill is also co-sponsored by Reps. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., in the House.
The legislation provides a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for the first 3 GW of U.S. offshore wind projects. Once awarded a tax credit, companies have five years to install the offshore wind facility. Companies cannot receive other tax credits in addition to the offshore wind ITC.
In an interview with NAW, Carper said the legislation mirrors a bill he co-introduced with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in 2011 that provides "certainty and predictability" for offshore wind developers. Carper points out that offshore wind differs from onshore wind because of its infancy, long investment time and higher initial costs.
"Investors need a quicker return on such a long-term investment, which is why the ITC is advantageous for offshore wind projects and the production tax credit is not," he notes.
The proposed bill aims to provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by amending Section 48 of the tax code to extend ITCs for the first 3 GW of offshore wind facilities placed in service.
The timing of the legislation is noteworthy, given the debate over tax reform expected to occur this summer. In fact, some committees - such as the House Ways and Means Committee - are already looking at tax reform, Carper says, adding that the Senate is currently focused on Medicare reform.
"[The two chambers] have somewhat different priorities," Carper says. Nevertheless, Carper expects that a healthy debate on all tax matters - including those pertaining to offshore wind - will come soon.
However, Carper admits that the upcoming discussion on tax reform "doesn't auger well" for some tax incentives, such as those included in the offshore wind bill. "That's going to cost more than what's in the current code," he admits.
Among other matters, Carper anticipates a healthy debate over the Bowles-Simpson budget plan, a 10-year deficit-reduction plan proposed by Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and Alan Simpson, a retired Republican senator. The goal of the plan is to reach a compromise on spending cuts and tax hikes.
Nonetheless, Carper is taking a pragmatic approach.
"Whether it's 3,000 MW or 2,000 or 2,500 - that's a dialable number,” he says. “The important thing is to preserve the concept and not let it die. I want to protect as much of it as I can."
"I'm like a dog with a bone," he adds. "When I know something is right, it's right. And I will fight for it."
February 28, 2013 – Massachusetts to Fund Clean Energy Education Programs
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has made $640,000 in grants available to fund clean-energy-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs for K-12 students.
"The clean energy sector is an example of a growing, innovative industry in Massachusetts, and we need to excite and encourage more students to study STEM and pursue careers in this thriving industry," says Massachusetts Lieutenant Gov. Timothy Murray, chairman of the governor’s STEM Advisory Council.
“Exposing educators and students to science and technology will prepare the next generation of clean energy workers for the high-paying jobs of tomorrow,” adds Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, who serves as the chairman of MassCEC’s board of directors. “Bringing clean energy professionals together with educators and students will only boost the already-booming clean energy sector in Massachusetts.”
MassCEC is now accepting grant proposals for programs that develop and integrate clean energy- and STEM-related curricula; create practical problem-solving projects to address student skill development; or provide clean energy and STEM-focused career exposure or work experience opportunities for both educators and students.
Ideal programs will also engage the clean energy industry in the classroom by providing dual enrollment programs that allow high-school students to take college courses, offering high-school internships for low-income youths, and developing activities and practical laboratories for applied science in the clean energy field.
Applications are due May 3, and a webinar on the program and application process will be held March 8 at 2 p.m. To register for the webinar, email anatella©masscec.com
More information is available here.
February 27, 2013 – Analyst: U.S. Renewable Energy Policy Superior to Europe's
One energy analyst is challenging the commonly held belief that European nations' renewable energy policies are more progressive than those in place in the U.S.
"Whisper it quietly," says Jonathan Lane, head of consulting for power utilities at research firm GlobalData. "The U.S. has a more progressive renewable support policy than Europe. In the U.S., the major federal support scheme for renewables - the production tax credit - provides a tax break for renewable generators of $0.022/kWh for 10 years."
In many European countries, renewable energy subsidies are loaded onto customers’ electricity bills - usually through a tax, or sometimes via an electricity retailer obligation - a policy Lane calls “perverse.”
“Whilst this approach confers the advantage of keeping tax subsidies out of the electricity sector, with the competitive market setting the price for consumers, the reality is that it is government intervention pushing prices upwards,” he explains.
In fact, Lane says Europe should actually look to the U.S. as an example for successful energy policy.
“As energy prices become more politically charged across the world, Europe should take a look at the U.S,” he says. “The problem with Europe’s policy is growing fuel poverty. Electricity and gas prices increase rapidly against a recessionary backdrop, with little or no wage growth and high food and road fuel inflation.
"This can’t be considered fair, and the complaints are getting louder," Lane says. "The reason that governments subsidize renewable generation is a social good - aimed at reducing carbon emissions and reducing fossil-fuel import dependency - and it makes far more sense for these goals to be delivered via general taxation. Under the U.S. system, those most able to pay for renewables do so. Under the European system, those least able to afford it pay.”
February 27, 2013 – ARPA-E Projects Have Attracted $450 Million in Private Investment
Since 2009, 17 projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) have attracted $450 million in private-sector follow-on funding, administration officials said at the agency's ARPA-E Summit, held this week.
Following ARPA-E's initial investment of approximately $70 million, 12 companies have leveraged their technologies to form new companies, and over 10 have partnered with other government agencies for later-stage investment.
"ARPA-E is changing what’s possible for America’s energy future, as demonstrated by our projects’ technical successes and market engagement with both the private and public sector," said Cheryl Martin, ARPA-E’s deputy director. “As seen here today at the fourth annual Energy Innovation Summit, ARPA-E and the energy innovation community have embarked on a journey to convene great minds, form new companies, spur private investment and foster public partnerships.”
The full list of ARPA-E projects is available here.
February 27, 2013 – Rare Bipartisan Cooperation Yields Ideas for Stable Renewable Energy Policy
While bipartisanship remains but a pipedream on Capitol Hill, a group of Democrat and Republican energy experts, policy analysts and former lawmakers are coming together to help establish a comprehensive energy strategy.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) - a bipartisan think tank created in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell - has issued to lawmakers a set of energy-policy recommendations, including proposals for wind power.
Among their recommendations is a phase-out of all energy-specific tax expenditures, including the wind energy production tax credit (PTC).
"[W]e believe the long-term goal should be to phase out all energy-specific tax expenditure subsidies," the document states. “Where tax expenditures or similar mechanisms are the best or only available option to address market failures, they should be enacted for only so long as necessary to meet their intended goals, with a clear sunset date. Finally, once enacted, these policies should be reviewed periodically and ended if not effective.”
Instead, the BPC says, Congress should review all energy-related expenditures as part of comprehensive tax reform and phase out tax subsidies for “mature fuels and technologies.” As part of this plan, the renewable energy PTC - including for wind power - should be phased out by 2016, the group says.
“Phasing out the production tax credit for renewable energy by the end of 2016 would align the incentive program with actual and expected reductions in wind project costs and increases in energy revenues,” the BPC says. “In order to increase exposure to market forces at a pace that permits industry adaptation, the value of the credit should decline over time on a pre-determined schedule or other basis informed by relevant market conditions.
The BPC dismisses the ubiquitous talk of “picking winners and losers” in favor of more constructive discussions on broader tax reform.
“In addition, we wish to avoid an unproductive debate about which technologies are more deserving of support compared with other technologies,” the group says. “Broad-based, comprehensive tax reform and/or energy subsidy reform offers a better framework for changing current incentive policies than piecemeal efforts to target a particular industry or technology.”
Instead, federal policymakers should invest in energy research and development (R&D), the BPC recommends.
“We agree that the R&D tax credit should be made permanent, increased and expanded,” the BPC says. “The administration and Congress should consider and propose reforms to existing tax incentive programs in the context of broader tax reform efforts.”
Although most of the discussion about wind energy incentives has focused on the PTC, the Section 1603 program - which allowed renewable energy project developers to claim a one-time cash grant of 30% of a project's total costs in lieu of the PTC or investment tax credit - was also
According to the BPC report, the cash-grant program is a more cost-effective way to encourage development and, if reinstated, would cut installation costs.
“An investment cash grant - such as the Section 1603 Treasury Program authorized under the 2009 [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] - could also provide the same benefits as the production tax credit at 25 to 30 percent less cost, as project developers could leverage less-expensive debt financing rather than depend on more expensive tax-equity financing,” the report says. “An investment-based grant incentivizes renewable energy production by reducing installation costs, rather than by increasing the value of generation.
However, in offering a cash grant instead of a production-based incentive, the government runs the risk of rewarding projects that do not necessarily perform well, the group notes.
Other Incentive Mechanisms
Although the BPC report discourages the long-term use of energy-specific tax credits, it does recommend alternatives for spurring investment in renewables. One such idea - which
“The federal government could conduct reverse auctions for such incentives to ensure promotion of only the lowest-cost renewable energy resources,” the report recommends.
Under this mechanism, a renewable energy developer would compete with potential suppliers to draw out the lowest price or best value.
Another way to spur renewable energy development, of course, is to mandate it. State renewable portfolio standards already impose renewable energy requirements, but efforts to implement a federal clean energy standard (CES), such as those
The CES is one area in which the bipartisan group seems to lack full consensus.
“Though the concept of a CES or [renewable energy standard] is simple, we have diverse views regarding the merits of a CES and agree there are numerous controversial details regarding program design that must be examined should Congress consider a national standard,” the BPC report states.
These “controversial details” include an unclear definition of what constitutes “clean” energy, the penalties for noncompliance and the cost to consumers, among other concerns.
It is unclear whether this bipartisan analysis will have any influence on federal energy policy. However, the BPC includes a wide swath of esteemed energy experts, policy analysts and former lawmakers, and at a time when bipartisanship is rare, it may merit attention from policymakers. A list of BPC members and staff, as well as the full analysis, is available here.
February 26, 2013 – Exclusive: Sen. Grassley Seeks Fairness for Wind Energy in Tax Debate
Whether he was working to amend the production tax credit's (PTC) definition or speaking out in favor of wind energy during the U.S. presidential campaign, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has repeatedly found himself in the middle of efforts to extend the wind energy industry's biggest legislative priority. After all, Grassley is not known as the father of the modern-day PTC for nothing.
In an interview with NAW, Grassley said he will continue to defend wind energy against attempts to thwart or weaken its standing. Such efforts could come as early as this summer, when Congress is expected to begin tax-code reform.
Although congressional leaders will likely begin talking about a broader range of issues affecting many industries, such discussions will likely reopen the debate about the PTC and how long the wind industry will need the incentive.
"I've always said the incentive should exist only until the industry can stand on its own and compete effectively against traditional sources," Grassley says. "That time is coming, and I believe Congress will consider options to responsibly phase out the credit, as the wind industry itself has suggested and proposed."
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has looked into phasing out the PTC and says doing so over a period of time would give the wind industry the time necessary to ramp down the tax incentive.
According to AWEA's analysis, the tax credit would start at 100% of the current $0.022/kWh for projects started this year, and would be phased down to 90% of that value for projects placed in service in 2014; 80% in 2015; 70% in 2016; and 60% in both 2017 and 2018, after which time it would end.
"If the wind industry says they need until 2018," Grassley says, "I'm not going to argue with them."
Meanwhile, AWEA says the PTC discussion should be part of a larger conversation on tax reform.
"We would be happy to engage in further discussions, if and when Congress seriously engages in comprehensive, bipartisan tax reform where other industries are at the table as well,” says Peter Kelley, AWEA’s vice president of public affairs.
Grassley says tax reform should be made across the board in an intellectually honest way and that all industry-specific tax credits should be reviewed.
"It's important, however, that the tax credit for wind energy - similar to the argument I made when the ethanol credit expired in 2011 - shouldn't be challenged in a vacuum that ignores all other industry-specific energy tax breaks, such as those for oil and gas,” Grassley says. “What I'm saying is, let's be fair."
As a member of the Senate since 1980, Grassley is well versed in the legislative process. He anticipates a spirited debate among oil and gas generators, environmentalists and even the media.
"You have to look at the political considerations," he says. "What's the political opposition? What sort of compromise can we reach? What does it cost to generate electricity?"
One scenario could involve lowering the overall corporate tax rate in exchange for ending many industry-specific tax incentives.
"It doesn’t make sense to pit one domestic energy supply against another,” Grassley explains. “America needs all of the above - meaning drilling for domestic oil and gas, promoting renewable and alternative energy, supporting conservation and emission-free nuclear energy - when it comes to energy. That reality should dictate an even hand from policymakers."
Grassley recalls some of the events leading up to the tax incentive's final passage last year. When the tax credit
"When Romney's people got involved," Grassley recalls, "I just thought to myself, 'What the heck is going on?'"
However, when asked if he had doubts about whether the PTC would be extended, Grassley says, "The only doubt I had was the unknown of so many new House members and the strong stand they were taking on spending."
Grassley says he will continue to defend wind energy. However, there may be other battles to fight. For instance, more transmission will be needed to transport wind power from the Midwest to load centers in the East - which has the potential to spark a debate on transmission siting.
"Perhaps that might be even more controversial," Grassley says.
February 26, 2013 – Wind Turbines to Power Nestle Factory in California
Nestle says it has installed two utility-scale wind turbines on the site of its Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) bottling plant in Cabazon, Calif.
The two GE 1.6 MW turbines provide approximately 30% of the electricity needed to power the facility, which produces the company's Arrowhead and Nestle Pure Life brand bottled waters.
NWNA says it chose this location for the turbines because of its high wind potential. NWNA partnered with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Foundation Windpower to site, host and commission the wind turbines.
Foundation Windpower installed the turbines and will operate and own them, as well as their associated environmental attributes. NWNA will purchase the power produced directly and receive renewable energy credits from Foundation Windpower.
February 26, 2013 – Miami Hotel Offsets Energy Usage with Wind Power
The InterContinental Miami Hotel says it is partnering with Greenlight Energy to purchase 16.064 GWh of wind energy this year - enough to offset 100% of the hotel's estimated energy usage for the year.
Representatives from the InterContinental say the hotel is the largest green power purchaser in the state of Florida and maintains its place on the 100% Purchaser's List maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership.
The InterContinental Miami is one of seven InterContinental properties that purchased wind energy. The other participating InterContinental properties are InterContinental New York Barclay, InterContinental New York Times Square, InterContinental Boston, InterContinental Boston Residences, InterContinental San Francisco and InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco.
February 25, 2013 – Siemens Restaffing Wind Turbine Manufacturing Facilities in Iowa, Kansas
After the uncertain fate of the production tax credit (PTC) led Siemens to lay off approximately 37% of its U.S. wind energy workforce last year, the company is now in the process of restaffing its operations in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kan., company spokesperson Monika Wood confirmed to NAW.
Although the tax credit has been renewed, Siemens' decision to hire more workers is not a direct result of the PTC extension, Wood says. In fact, the company is restaffing in order to produce wind turbine components for projects located outside the U.S.
“While the recently passed one-year PTC extension is not directly related to our need to ramp up production at this time, the PTC extension gives us confidence in the American market,” Wood tells NAW. “As projects move forward and we receive new wind turbine orders sparked by the PTC extension, we will continue to adjust our operations accordingly.”
Woods says that some of the company’s decisions will be based on the results of further guidance from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department on the definition of what constitutes “begin construction” in order for projects to qualify for the PTC.
“We cannot evaluate the potential impact of the extension on our business until detailed guidance on the interpretation of the language change from an "in service" to a "begin construction" date is released,” Wood notes.
February 25, 2013 – First Wind to Sponsor Science Competition, Award Scholarships
Boston-based wind energy developer First Wind will sponsor scholarships and school awards for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's (LADWP) 21st annual Science Bowl.
First Wind owns and operates the two phases of the Milford Wind Corridor projects that deliver renewable energy to Los Angeles and several nearby communities, including Pasadena, Burbank and Glendale.
The Science Bowl will be held on Feb. 23 at LADWP's downtown headquarters. The competition tests students' reflexes, teamwork skills and knowledge of science, math and technology in a fun, competitive atmosphere following a television game-show format, First Wind explains.
This is the third year that First Wind has been a sponsor of the Science Bowl. This year, the company will provide $7,750 in scholarships and awards to schools and students. First Wind is sponsoring all the awards in the First Wind Hands-On Competition, with prizes of $250 for the five first-place winners and $100 for the five fourth-place winners. In addition, First Wind is funding the second-place school award in the amount of $1,750 and the second-place student scholarship at $500 each for the five winners of that prize.
February 25, 2013 – Minnesota Utility Issues RFP For 200 MW of Wind Power
Northern States Power Co., a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 200 MW of wind energy inside the territory of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO).
The utility says it will accept project proposals for power purchase agreements or for ownership.
Northern States Power says it reserves the right to reject projects that have not entered the definitive planning phase of MISO's generator interconnection process.
Northern States Power is accepting proposals through April 1. Details can be found here.
February 21, 2013 – Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Bill Clears House of Delegates
The Maryland House of Delegates has passed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which was proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley last month.
Several amendments to the bill were proposed, but most were defeated. However, the House did adopt an amendment that would establish a Clean Energy Program Task Force, which would make recommendations on the authorization of certain expenses related to offshore wind and report those recommendations to the governor and the state's General Assembly.
The offshore wind bill would create a mechanism to incentivize the development of a 200 MW offshore wind facility and establish a regulatory framework that would allow additional projects to interconnect to the grid in Maryland. The legislation would only allow the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a proposed offshore wind farm if the PSC were to estimate that the additional ratepayer impact would be below $1.50 per household, or 1.5% for nonresidential customers.
The legislation also contains a $10 million Offshore Wind Business Development Fund targeted to small and minority businesses to assist them in preparing to participate in this new industry. Prospective offshore wind developers would have to demonstrate that any project proposed would result in a net economic benefit to the state by creating jobs, boosting economic development and protecting public health.
The bill now moves to the Maryland Senate, where similar legislation was defeated last year.
February 21, 2013 – DOE Awards Funding to Three Innovative Wind Energy Technologies
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has awarded 70 grants totaling $10.5 million to small businesses to develop clean energy technologies designed to improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, reduce reliance on foreign oil and generate electricity from renewable energy.
The projects will explore concepts in a variety of areas, including improving the performance of batteries, increasing the efficiency of engines, developing advanced materials and manufacturing methods, and reducing the supply-chain vulnerabilities for rare-earth materials. Sixty-three awards will go to Small Business Innovation Research projects, and another seven will go to Small Business Technology Transfer projects.
Three of the awards will go to small businesses that will develop innovative wind energy technologies, including the following projects:
Lafayette, Colo.-based Boulder Nonlinear Systems Inc. will develop a compact, low-power, offshore 3D wind sensor to monitor offshore winds and optimize wind power generation. Successful development of the technology will enable small wind sensors to be incorporated into many platforms, including ocean-based buoys, wind turbine generators, gliders, unmanned air vehicles and commercial aircraft.
Columbus, Ohio-based Hyper Tech Research Inc. will develop a transportable 5 MW to 6 MW superconducting wind turbine generator for use on land. The company will develop an innovative class of superconducting wind turbine generators that will be lightweight so that they are easily transportable by trucks on present roads and installed on taller towers, thus enabling 5 MW to 6 MW land-based wind turbine generator systems.
Lawrence, Kan.-based Wetzel Engineering Inc. will develop field-assembled, component-based rotor blades for land-based machines in order to avoid expensive and logistically challenging transport requirements.
The full list of the projects receiving funding is available here.
February 21, 2013 – Clean Energy Loan Fund Proposed in Vermont
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, state lawmakers, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) and private partners have outlined a proposal designed to support and expand clean energy projects across the state.
Under the proposal, the state would establish the Vermont Clean Energy Loan Fund (VCELF), which would consolidate existing state energy loan programs and increase private capital to encourage the development of clean energy projects. The program would be similar to the "green banks" already launched in Connecticut and New York.
VCELF will comprise the following programs:
Renewable Energy Loan Program. Any new renewable energy loans for wind, solar and hydropower projects will be moved into the Clean Energy Loan Fund. The CEDF may direct some of its monies to this fund. For loans using CEDF funds, the approval process will incorporate CEDF’s energy analysis of the proposed projects. Individual loans of up to $1.5 million will be made in the program. VEDA will expect to partner with banks in this program, much like the current Direct Loan Program.
Agricultural Energy Loan Program. VEDA would move agricultural digester projects on Vermont farms into the Green Energy Loan Fund and make any new agricultural energy loans through the fund. The CEDF may direct some of its monies to this fund. For loans using CEDF funds, the approval process will incorporate CEDF’s energy analysis of the proposed projects.
Energy Efficiency Loan Guarantee Program. VEDA is developing this new program in conjunction with Vermont banks, Efficiency Vermont (EVT), the CEDF and other supportive partners in which banks may make loans for energy efficiency. The enrolled loans would be 75% guaranteed by a cash reserve from EVT, VEDA and CEDF. Modeling indicates the capacity to guarantee approximately $10 million in loans via the program. VEDA will continue to work with EVT to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these projects.
Small Business Conservation Loan Program. VEDA will move this portfolio, which currently contains 45 loans totaling $3.24 million, into the new fund. This program offers loans of up to $150,000 for all types of energy-conservation measures and is operated in conjunction with EVT to certify that projects are cost-effective.
VEDA currently acts as the loan underwriter and administrator for the CEDF. The CEDF will continue to provide grants, energy analysis of proposed loan-funded projects and targeted incentives for clean energy development in the state. The CEDF may transfer funds to VEDA for lending or for credit enhancement of clean energy projects. Any such CEDF monies would be transferred to the VCEL fund.
Under the proposal, which is consistent with the recently released strategic plan of the CEDF that called for greater coordination and partnership between public and private entities regarding energy financing, the VEDA board would be expanded to include three additional members with energy-related experience.
“For commercial projects, this growing market is increasingly less dependent on public subsidies and looking for cost-effective private capital,” explains Jo Bradley, CEO of VEDA. “I’m pleased that VEDA can play a key role in providing low-cost, low-risk financing to increase confidence and participation in the clean energy industry by private-sector financiers in the state.”
February 20, 2013 – U.S. Electric Utilities Flock to Lower-Priced Wind Power; Xcel, MidAmerican Among Leaders as More Utilities Sign Up for Consumer Savings
U.S. electric utilities are locking in fixed-price contracts for wind power, now more cost-competitive than ever, illustrating the success of a key federal tax policy in holding down rates for consumers.
A total of 66 U.S. utilities bought or owned wind power by the start of this year – nearly half for large amounts over 100 megawatts (MW) – up from 42 a year before. Utilities have continued to sign up for more since Congress and President Obama extended the Production Tax Credit for wind energy in the "fiscal cliff" bill signed at the beginning of January.
"AWEA applauds these utilities for maximizing the PTC opportunity to continue bringing low-cost, fixed price wind power to their customers," said Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
"From Xcel Energy in Minnesota to OG&E in Arkansas, electric consumers are racking up the savings as a result. The wind energy industry looks forward to our continued partnerships with utilities across the country to lock in the economic development, rate stabilizing and environmental benefits of more wind power."
Among the utilities making major wind power purchases and reporting consumer savings are:
-Xcel Energy, the number one wind energy provider in the nation, is considering adding more wind generation in Minnesota and Colorado because of the PTC extension.Earlier this month, Judy Poferl, president and CEO, of Xcel Energy's Northern States Power Company-Minnesota said, "Although Xcel Energy is well ahead of meeting our state's renewable energy requirements, we are open to adding cost-effective wind projects that could provide long-term value to our customers. The extension of the federal renewable electricity Production Tax Credit may make cost-effective projects available to serve our customers."
In Colorado, Xcel Energy has repeatedly set national records for generating more than half its electricity from wind power and is now seeking regulatory approval to accelerate its resource acquisition process to allow for the addition of value priced wind energy. "We have a great opportunity to see if additional wind resources in Colorado would be of economic benefit to our customers with the extension of the federal tax credit, but we must act quickly," said Ben Fowke, chairman, president, and CEO of Xcel Energy. "Our request is not being driven by state renewable energy standards, but by the opportunity to reduce costs."
-MidAmerican Energy, the No. 1 utility in the U.S. in terms of ownership of wind capacity, announced Dec. 31, 2012 that it had completed three more wind projects totaling 407 MW in Iowa. MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company controlled by investor Warren Buffett. "Wind now comprises 30 percent of MidAmerican Energy's generation portfolio," announced Bill Fehrman, president and CEO.
-Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, citing the recently extended PTC and ongoing Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements in moving forward withan RFPto be executed by June 30 for approximately 100 MW of renewable energy to take advantage of competitive market prices.
-Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which in a filing in Arkansas, reported cost savings to its customers from the "clean, renewable energy" of its Crossroads wind farm:
"From September 2011 through June 2012, fuel costs to Arkansas customers were approximately $1.2 million lower because of the incorporation of Crossroads into OG&E's generation fleet. OG&E estimates that fuel savings to Arkansas customers from September 2011 through December of 2012 will be in the range of $2.2 million. Total Company production cost savings for the first five years of operation are estimated to be $268 million. Over the expected twenty-five-year life of the asset production cost, the savings are estimated to be $2.3 billion."
-Minnesota Power, part of ALLETE Inc., which completed phases two and three of its 210-MW Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota. With the purchase of a direct-current transmission line to Duluth, the company can phase out a long-term contract for coal generation and replace it with wind energy, increasing renewables to 20 percent of its generation mix en route to meeting Minnesota's goal of 25 percent by 2025. "By meeting an aggressive timetable we are able to capitalize on the wind production tax credits to the benefit of our customers in providing a clean, cost-effective energy resource," Minnesota Power COO Brad Oachs said in a news release.
- Alliant Energy Corp., a subsidiary of Interstate Power & Light Co., which on Dec. 21, 2012 issued an RFP for approximately 100 MW of wind power in the Midwest.
- Nebraska electric utilities: AlthoughNebraska utilities had not been planning to add more wind power until 2017, Nebraska Public Power District recently signed a purchase agreement for 75 MW; Omaha Public Power District is in the process of signing for an additional 200 MW; and Lincoln Electric is seeking 50 MW, all as a result of the PTC's extension for projects started in 2013.
- Puget Sound Energy, which announced last week it had set a new record by generating 23.5 percent of its energy from the utility's three Eastern Washington wind farms:
"This milestone underscores the role wind power can play in meeting our energy needs," said David Mills, PSE vice president of Energy Supply Operations. "Wind is now a key resource for providing our customers with reliable, affordable electricity. And when combined with our hydro, natural gas and coal power plants, wind gives us flexible, cost-effective options for serving local homes and businesses."
- DTE Energy: The company's ECHO Wind project, slated for 2013, will have a combined levelized cost of approximately $52.50 per megawatt-hour (MWh), down substantially from power purchase prices several years earlier, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission. DTE says its investment in that and two other recent wind parks will contribute $150 million in economic benefits to Michigan.
- Consumers Electric Power estimates that Macon County and the state of Michigan received an economic boost of nearly $10 million from the development of the company's first wind farm, the Lake Winds Energy Park.
The Michigan Public Service Commission said Feb. 15, 2013, in releasing its "Report on the Implementation of the P.A. 295 Renewable Energy Standard and the Cost-Effectiveness of the Energy Standards," that:
"Compared to building a new, conventional coal facility, renewable energy contracts are significantly lower in price…less than any newly built generation including new natural gas combined cycle plants. Based on contract pricing trends and the January 2013 announcement that federal legislation extended the eligibility of the Production Tax Credit for projects that begin construction by December 31, 2013, Commission Staff anticipates that the cost of renewable energy will continue to decline, while the benefits from energy optimization savings and emission reductions from offset generation will continue to increase."
As the Michigan PSC noted, utilities are cutting pollution by purchasing more wind energy. Currently installed wind turbines will avoid nearly 100 million metric tons this year of carbon dioxide emissions, for instance, equal to 1.8% of the entire country's carbon emissions.
Other new wind power purchasers last year included at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 school districts, and eight towns or cities, showing a significant trend toward nontraditional power purchasers from the industrial sector. Manufacturers of everything from plastics to light bulbs, semiconductors, and badges, farms, and medical centers are now directly purchasing wind power.
Spurred by the federal incentive, American wind power grew by 28 percent in 2012 alone, for the first time becoming the number one source of new electric generating capacity, and pouring $25 billion of private investment into the economy. The top states for new installations last year were: 1. Texas, 2. California, 3. Kansas, 4. Oklahoma, 5. Illinois, 6. Iowa, 7. Oregon, 8. Michigan, 9. Pennsylvania, and 10. Colorado.
Illinois saw the installation of over 800 MW, for example, with half that output sold into the Tennessee Valley Authority market. As one of America's wind power hubs, Illinois is home to wind power innovation. This year saw the installation of the first concrete wind tower there, which the manufacturer says can support taller turbines to access better winds and open up new areas for development.
(Reprinted with permission from Wind Energy Weekly, a publication of the American Wind Energy Association. For additional news, please visit www.awea.org.)
February 20, 2013 – Renewable Energy Provided 100% of New U.S. Generating Capacity in January
Renewable energy - including wind, solar and biomass resources - accounted for all new generating capacity added in the U.S. in January, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update.
The 1.231 GW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity entering service in January represented nearly a threefold increase in new renewable energy generating capacity compared to January 2012, when wind, solar and biomass provided 431 MW of new capacity.
Wind energy accounted for the largest share of the new capacity in January, with six new units providing 958 MW, followed by 16 units of solar (267 MW) and six units of biomass (6 MW). No new generating capacity was reported for any fossil fuel (i.e., natural gas, coal, oil) or nuclear power sources.
Renewable sources now account for 15.66% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity, and wind energy represents 5.17% of the total. Other renewable resources include water (8.5%), biomass (1.29%), solar (0.38%) and geothermal (0.32%). In comparison, natural gas accounts for 42.37% of total operating generating capacity, followed by coal (29.04%), nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.54%).
February 20, 2013 – Cape Wind Developer Among Companies Vying For Virginia Offshore Wind Energy Area
Energy Management Inc. (EMI), the developer of the Cape Wind offshore wind project, is among the developers that have expressed interest in building a wind farm off the Virginia coast.
EMI's application was one of two qualification packages recently submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); the other was from Sea Breeze Energy LLC, BOEM spokesperson Tracey Moriarty confirmed to NAW.
However, BOEM is not yet seeking specific project proposals at this time, so the details about each developer’s intentions for the area remain unclear.
The expressions of interest come in response to Virginia's proposed sale notice, which was published last December. In addition to EMI and Sea Breeze Energy, eight other companies already submitted nominations in response to BOEM’s February 2012 call for information and nominations for commercial wind leasing offshore Virginia: Apex Virginia Offshore Wind LLC, Arcadia Offshore Virginia LLC, Cirrus Wind Energy LLC, Dominion Virginia Power, enXco Development Corp. (EDF Renewable Energy), Fisherman's Energy LLC, Iberdrola Renewables Inc. and Orisol Energy US Inc.
The proposed lease area offshore Virginia will be auctioned as a single lease and totals about 112,800 acres located about 23.5 nautical miles off the southern part of the Virginia coast. It is expected to support more than 2 GW of wind energy generation.
BOEM will hold competitive lease sales for the area sometime this year. The qualification process is ongoing, and the companies that are qualified to bid on the upcoming lease sale will be announced as part of the final sale notice, which is expected to be published later this year, Moriarty says.
February 20, 2013 – Michigan Utilities on Track to Meet Renewable Energy Mandates
All of Michigan's electricity providers - except Detroit Public Lighting (DPL) - are on pace to meet the interim targets and final goals established under the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) reports.
According to the MPSC, DPL is expected to be unable to meet the standard because of surcharge caps put in place by Michigan law.
Although efforts to increase the state's RPS to 25% by 2025
Wind energy has been the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan. At the end of 2012, there were 978 MW of utility-scale wind projects in operation in the state.
"More renewable energy came online in Michigan in 2012 than ever before," notes MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. "Michigan added 815 MW of new wind capacity in 2012 and now has a total of 978 MW from 14 operating wind farms."
The full MPSC report can be viewed here.
February 19, 2013 – Study: Clean Energy Policies Benefiting North Carolina Economy
Clean energy policies have had a positive economic impact on the North Carolina economy, finds a new report released by RTI International and La Capra Associates Inc.
The study, commissioned by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) and based on independent and objective analysis, found that by 2026, clean energy will lead to $173 million in cost savings for electricity customers in the state.
The key drivers of clean energy development in North Carolina include the renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard, the renewable energy investment tax credit and the utility savings initiative.
According to the study, tax credits taken by renewable energy projects developed between 2007 and 2012 generated $1.87 in state or local revenue for every $1.00 of incentive. Since 2007, the state’s clean energy policies have generated $113 million in net revenue for the state.
Between 2007 and 2012, clean energy investment in North Carolina increased 13-fold and generated or saved an estimated 8.2 TWh of energy through a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, the study found. During the same time frame, the total economic benefit of clean energy development in North Carolina was $1.7 billion and generated $2.56 billion in associated spending in the state economy, according to the report.
Moreover, while the broader North Carolina economy lost more than 100,000 jobs between 2007 and 2012, the state gained 21,162 clean energy jobs during the same period, the study also found.
According to the 2012 NC Clean Energy Industries Census released last October, North Carolina is home to over 1,100 companies serving the clean energy industries, which include businesses related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, high-performance building, the smart grid, energy storage and electric vehicles.
The full report is available here.
February 19, 2013 – New Bill Aims to Boost Pennsylvania's Renewable Portfolio Standard
Pennsylvania State Rep. Greg Vitali has introduced legislation that would increase the amount of electricity that the commonwealth's utilities must obtain from wind power and other renewable energy sources.
H.B.100 would amend the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act by requiring Pennsylvania utilities to obtain 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2023, compared to the current AEPS requirements of 4% by 2013 and 8% by 2021.
Vitali says he introduced the legislation to help address climate change and create green jobs.
"Superstorm Sandy was a reminder of the consequences we face if we ignore the climate-change issue," says Vitali, who is Democratic chairman of Pennsylvania’s House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "We will not solve this problem without increasing our use of renewable energy.”
Currently, 0.05% of Pennsylvania electricity must come from solar energy, and that would increase to 0.5% under the AEPS in place by 2021. Vitali's bill would increase that amount to 1.5% by 2023.
This is the second bill Vitali has introduced during this legislative session to increase the amount of renewable energy Pennsylvania uses.
February 18, 2013 – Construction Bids Received for Mass. Offshore Wind Terminal
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) says it has received three construction bids for the development of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, a facility to support the construction, assembly and deployment of offshore wind projects.
According to the MassCEC, bids were received from Braintree, Mass.-based Cashman Equipment Corp., Quincy, Mass.-based Cashman-Weeks NB and Oak Brook, Ill.-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company LLC.
The agency will review the submitted bids and expects to sign a general contractor by the end of May. Staff and engineers will review the bid requirements for compliance and determine the lowest qualified bidder, the agency notes.
February 18, 2013 – Massachusetts Agencies Launch Pilot Program to Spur Clean Energy
A pair of Massachusetts agencies are partnering on a $500,000 pilot program to help local communities identify renewable energy and energy efficiency strategies.
The Community Energy Strategies Pilot Program, sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources' Green Communities Division, will provide technical and financial assistance to help identify and enable clean energy strategies and incentives.
Massachusetts lies at the end of the energy pipeline, lacking indigenous supplies of traditional energy resources. As a result, Massachusetts has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, the agencies note. Of the $22 billion Massachusetts spends annually on energy, $18 billion of that goes to out-of-state and foreign sources.
According to the MassCEC, the pilot program is designed to help communities assess and evaluate clean energy investments ranging from high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and insulation to wind turbines and solar electricity systems.
The following communities/planning agencies are participating in the pilot program:
- Franklin Regional Council of Governments (Greenfield, Montague, Buckland and Shelburne);
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Hamilton, Wenham, Salem and Swampscott); and
- Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (Amherst, Hadley, Holyoke, Easthampton and East Longmeadow).
February 17, 2013 – Fort Hays State University to Install Two Vestas Turbines on Campus
Fort Hays State University (FHSU) plans to install two wind turbines to supply electricity for its Kansas-based campus.
According to FHSU, the Vestas-supplied wind turbines will be operational by late June, with an anticipated energy saving of $600,000 to $1 million. The final cost of the project was estimated at $8.8 million to $9 million.
Vestas will produce blades, towers and nacelles at its Colorado manufacturing facilities. Additionally, FHSU is nearing an agreement with Longview, Wash.-based PNE Corp. for turbine installation.
To coincide with the project, FHSU is also planning a renewable energy-related education program and will explore alternatives to export excess electricity.
February 15, 2013 – Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Streamline Renewable Energy Permitting
Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; and Dean Heller, R-Nev., have introduced legislation that would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects on public lands.
The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act creates a leasing pilot project to establish a straightforward development process that treats renewable energy - including wind and solar - similar to traditional sources of energy development, such as oil and natural-gas projects, the senators explain.
Currently, obtaining permits for wind and solar projects on public lands can take several years. The senators say the proposed bill would reduce the number of steps required by law and make it easier for companies to make long-term plans. The changes would also increase local governments' revenue and certainty by establishing a more predictable and direct royalty system from renewables that will support conservation, the senators add.
"We in Colorado and across America are blessed with abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources that are ready to power our nation, create jobs and grow our economy,” Udall says. “We should develop these resources in a responsible, sustainable way.
“That's why I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce legislation to improve the way we develop and use the renewable energy resources on our public lands,” he adds. “By directing a portion of the revenues from these leases to state and local governments - as well as to conservation - this bill will help support our schools and rebuild infrastructure while conserving the land and water that our rural economies depend on."
The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; and Tom Udall, D-N.M.
February 15, 2013 – New Climate-Change Bill Would Make 'Historic Investments' in Renewable Energy
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have introduced comprehensive climate-change legislation that would also benefit renewable energy.
Under the provisions of the bill, a fee on carbon pollution emissions would fund what the senators call "historic investments" in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. The proposal also would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices.
“The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their projections in the past were wrong - that, in fact, the crisis facing our planet is much more serious than they had previously believed,” Sanders said at a news conference in the Senate Environment Committee hearing room.
Boxer is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sanders sits on the Environment Committee and also is a member of the Senate Energy Committee.
February 15, 2013 – Washington Utility Breaks Wind Energy Generation Record
Nearly one-quarter of the electricity Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers consumed on Feb. 12 came from the utility's three wind farms, marking a new one-day production record for the PSE energy facilities, the utility reports.
Between midnight on Feb. 11 and midnight on Feb. 12, the 1.1 million homes and businesses powered by PSE received 23.5% of their electricity from the utility's three eastern Washington wind farms.
Winds east of the Cascades allow PSE's three wind farms to generate power approximately two-thirds of the time. On average, the facilities are supplying about 10% of all the power used by PSE’s electric customers.
PSE’s first wind farm, Hopkins Ridge, came online in late 2005 in Columbia County. The Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, in Kittitas County, entered service a year later, and PSE completed Washington’s largest wind farm to date - the Lower Snake River Wind Facility, in Garfield County - nearly one year ago.
On Feb. 12, the utility’s wind farms produced 16.593 GWh of electricity. The new 24-hour record is enough electricity to power 503,000 homes for a full day, according to PSE.
“This milestone underscores the role wind power can play in meeting our energy needs,” says David Mills, PSE’s vice president of energy supply operations. “Wind is now a key resource for providing our customers with reliable, affordable electricity. And when combined with our hydro, natural gas and coal power plants, wind gives us flexible, cost-effective options for serving local homes and businesses.”
February 14, 2013 – White House Document Reveals Obama's Big Wind Energy Proposal
In his State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Barack Obama reiterated his support for renewable energy. But what he didn't say was even more interesting.
A policy framework released by the White House in conjunction with the SOTU address highlights the specifics that were conspicuously absent from the president's speech. Among them is a proposal to make the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) a permanent fixture of the tax code.
The measure is cited as a step toward meeting another goal contained in the policy framework but missing from the SOTU speech: the president’s goal to double renewable energy production by 2020.
"To once again double generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020, the president has called on Congress to make the renewable energy production tax credit permanent and refundable, as part of comprehensive corporate tax reform, providing incentives and certainty for investments in new clean energy," the document states.
This isn’t the first time Obama has proposed such an idea. Last February, the president
However, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has stressed repeatedly that despite the industry’s obvious preference for a PTC in the near term, the incentive was never intended to be permanent. Last December, AWEA said six years would be enough time to ramp down the PTC.
Under the six-year-phase-out scenario, the PTC would begin at the current $0.022/kWh and be phased down by 10% annually, to 90% of that value for projects placed in service in 2014, 80% in 2015, 70% in 2016, and 60% in both 2017 and 2018, at which point it would end.
According to AWEA spokesperson Ellen Carey, the association would be willing to discuss a phase-out as part of a broader discussion about the PTC.
“We would be happy to engage in further discussions, if and when Congress seriously engages in comprehensive, bipartisan tax reform where other industries are at the table as well,” she tells NAW.
In the immediate term, however, AWEA is concentrating on continuing the momentum resulting from the recently passed one-year PTC extension.
“Right now, we are thankful that Congress extended the PTC for a year,” Carey says, “and we need to focus on building more wind projects, maintaining our manufacturing sector and regaining the industry’s momentum that was put on hold during the last year.”
February 14, 2013 – New York Raises Incentive Cap For On-Site Wind Energy Installations
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has authorized the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to increase the maximum incentive amount for its on-site wind energy program from the current $400,000 to $1 million per installation.
The on-site wind energy program has been a part of the state's renewable portfolio standard since 2004. In 2011, the PSC modified the equipment-size cap for on-site wind installations from 600 kW to 2 MW in order to be consistent with net-metering laws and to boost on-site wind program participation.
The PSC says it increased the funding cap in order to respond to market conditions and assist with the development and construction of these larger installations, the PSC says.
“Since the inception of New York’s renewable energy program, the customer-sited tier has been an important component in encouraging customers to install their own behind-the-meter renewable energy production systems,” says PSC Chairman Garry Brown. “Increasing the funding cap for on-site wind projects reflects the need to respond to market conditions in order to advance additional renewable energy projects.”
February 14, 2013 – Texas Achieves New Wind Energy Record
Wind energy generation provided a record-breaking 9.481 GW of power on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid at 7:08 p.m. on Feb. 9, ERCOT reports.
Wind power generation provided nearly 28% of ERCOT's system load at the time, surpassing the previous record of 8.667 GW, set on Jan. 29.
Of the total, 7.205 GW came from West Texas, 1.62 GW came from the Texas Gulf Coast, 431 MW came from northern Texas and 225 MW came from southern Texas.
"As wind generation capacity continues to be added in ERCOT and additional transmission lines are being completed to accommodate that generation, we continue to set new records," says Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of grid operations and system planning. "While wind generation over the course of a day can change very quickly, improved tools help us predict those patterns and enable us to reliably use this resource to its fullest potential."
ERCOT has more than 10.4 GW of commercial wind power capacity. Wind power constituted 9.2% of the total energy used in the ERCOT region in 2012, compared to 8.5% in 2011.
The completion of the remainder of the high-voltage transmission projects in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones by the end of this year will continue to improve ERCOT’s ability to move wind power from West Texas to the metropolitan areas where demand on the grid is highest, ERCOT notes.
February 14, 2013 – U.S. Army Seeks Input on Renewable Energy RFP Contract Rules
As part of its request for proposals (RFP) for 1 GW of renewable energy projects on or near Army land, the U.S. Army's Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) is developing a standardized Utility Service Contract Performance Work Statement (PWS) that the Army will use for contracts executed under the authority of Title 10 United States Code 2922a.
The EITF is seeking a standardized PWS in order to improve the understanding of government requirements and industry capabilities, increase bid quality and lower the cost of capital to the government. Therefore, the EITF is seeking the industry's input concerning the content of the PWS to inform its standardization effort. The PWS will be released on or about March 29.
February 14, 2013 – California Regulators Approve Energy-Storage Requirement
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has unanimously approved a decision to require Southern California Edison (SCE) to procure between 1.4 GW and 1.8 GW of energy resource capacity in the Los Angeles basin to meet long-term local capacity requirements by 2021. At least 50 MW of this amount must be procured from energy-storage resources, and 600 MW must be procured from preferred resources.
Under the CPUC's final decision, energy-storage resources must be considered "along with preferred resources" - including energy efficiency, demand response and distributed generation - consistent with the clean energy resource procurement priorities embodied in California's Energy Action Plan.
"The required energy-storage procurement under this decision provides a much-needed market signal that energy storage will be considered as a key asset class to help California address its long-term local reliability needs,” says Janice Lin, executive director of the California Energy Storage Alliance and managing partner of Strategen Consulting LLC.
The decision will have an immediate impact, as SCE is directed to file an application for each local reliability area seeking approval of contracts by late this year or early next year.
February 13, 2013 – State of the Union: Obama Pledges Progress on Renewable Energy, Climate Change
President Barack Obama has been clear about his support for renewable energy - a position he reaffirmed in Tuesday night's State of the Union (SOTU) address. Although the speech was short on energy-related specifics, it did highlight the role wind energy and solar power would play in meeting a number of the administration's goals.
Perhaps it was fitting, then, that one of the guests seated in the First Lady's box was Lee Maxwell, a wind energy technician credited with co-launching Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Kirkwood Community College's wind energy training program.
Indeed, throughout the last several years, Obama has pledged his support for wind energy, even making the production tax credit a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. In his SOTU address, the president highlighted the progress the country has made to increase the penetration of renewable energy, especially wind power.
“Now, four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it - and we’ve begun to change that,” he said. “Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. Let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.”
The president’s call for renewable energy is not new. However, his speech did highlight one issue that has been downplayed by the administration. That topic, of course, is climate change, which, lately, has been considered a partisan issue. Obama stressed that clean energy would be critical to protecting future generations.
“But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,” he said. “Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods - all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence, or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science - and act before it’s too late.
Obama urged Congress to devise bipartisan legislation to address climate change but warned he would take executive action if lawmakers failed to act.
“But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said. “I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
In a statement, American Wind Energy Association Interim CEO Rob Gramlich lauded the president’s continued support for wind power.
"We are proud to be recognized for producing nearly half of the nation's new electric capacity last year - creating tens of thousands of jobs - and as a central climate solution," he said. “Wind power is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective greenhouse-gas mitigation technologies available to our nation. With over 60 GW of wind power generating capacity now installed in America, wind energy will avoid nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions this year - equal to 1.8% of the entire country’s total carbon emissions.”
In addition to promoting renewable energy, Obama announced the launch of three “advanced manufacturing hubs” that will focus on developing advanced technology solutions, including for the U.S. Department of Energy.
February 13, 2013 – California ISO, PacifiCorp Take Steps to Modernize Power Grid, Integrate Renewables
PacifiCorp and the California Independent System Operator Corp. (CAISO) have released a memorandum of understanding that commits the two largest western U.S. grid operators to work toward creating a real-time energy imbalance market (EIM) by October 2014. According to PacifiCorp and CAISO, the partnership will allow electricity to move across the power grid more efficiently and facilitate renewable energy growth in the western U.S.
Authorization to proceed with negotiating a formal agreement between the companies will be considered by the CAISO board of governors during its general meeting in March.
If the policy is implemented, PacifiCorp - which controls two balancing authorities primarily covering portions of six states, including part of northern California – will participate in a co-optimized real-time energy market facilitated by the CAISO. The joint agreement applies only to the EIM service; PacifiCorp is not joining the CAISO and will maintain control of its assets and responsibilities for serving its customers.
“Increased coordination of energy systems in the West is critical if we are to meet important challenges, such as ensuring reliability, keeping costs down for customers and effectively integrating renewable resources,” says Greg Abel, PacifiCorp’s chairman and CEO. “We’re hopeful this agreement between PacifiCorp and the ISO signals a significant step toward broader coordination across the West.”
Participants in the EIM voluntarily take advantage of generation resources across the entire EIM region, with the added benefit of more frequent dispatching in real time to optimize available energy supplies with actual power demand. Without an EIM, only generation assets within each balancing authority can be used to cover these short-term gaps.
Dramatic increases in the amount of wind and solar power in recent years require grid operators to hold more flexible generation in reserve to account for the variability of renewable resources, which are dependent on weather conditions, CAISO and PacifiCorp explain, adding that this announcement marks a step toward better management of current and future energy challenges.
The agreement between the parties initiates a public-input process as well as further analysis and negotiations between PacifiCorp and the ISO before full implementation of the expanded EIM.
The EIM would use computer technology to exchange electricity at five-minute intervals, instead of by telephone every hour, as was formerly the case, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which issued a statement praising the announcement.
“We hope other utilities across the West will join this proven solution for reducing electric bills and allowing more clean energy onto the power grid,” says Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s interim CEO.
“This is the single most beneficial step that can be taken to use our existing power grid more efficiently,” he adds. “In the year 2013, it is about time that electric companies that want to exchange electricity with their neighbors move beyond using telephone calls and manual processes to do so, while much of the rest of the country is using computers and automated processes.”
An EIM that has been operated by the Southwest Power Pool for the last six years has already produced hundreds of millions of dollars in net benefits for consumers, according to AWEA.
“Extensive analysis conducted over the last several years indicates that implementing an Energy Imbalance Market across the western U.S. will yield around $1.5 billion in net benefits over its first 10 years,” says Michael Goggin, AWEA’s manager of transmission policy. “It is time for utilities and regulators to stop studying - and start implementing - this proven tool.”
February 13, 2013 – Sen. Franken Plans to Promote Renewables as Chairman of Energy Subcommittee
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has been named chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources' Energy Subcommittee.
Franken says he plans to use his new role to help promote Minnesota's and the nation's renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, and to create manufacturing jobs, as he believes growth in these sectors is critical to U.S. energy independence and competitiveness.
"I'm proud of the strong and historic role Minnesota has played in the development and deployment of clean energy and energy efficient technologies,” Franken says. "I plan to use this new chairmanship to bolster emerging technologies, particularly in renewables and energy efficiency.”
Franken has served on the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee since 2011. Since taking office, he has been a strong advocate for clean energy technologies, including wind, solar and bio-based energy.
In the last Congress, Franken co-sponsored legislation proposing a clean energy standard and pressed for an extension of the wind energy production tax credit.
February 13, 2013 – University of Iowa Offering New Certificate in Wind Energy
The University of Iowa's College of Engineering has introduced a new undergraduate-student certificate in wind energy.
The certificate program integrates coursework and faculty expertise from the university's departments of mechanical and industrial engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and geography.
The wind energy certificate requires 18 hours of coursework in energy, environment and information science. More information is available here.
February 12, 2013 – How to Benefit From the DOE's Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released $150 million in unused advanced energy manufacturing tax credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects across the U.S.
The credits are the remnants of $2.3 billion in funding authorized under Section 48C of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and they cover 30% of the cost of new, expanded or re-equipped facilities in the U.S. for manufacturing wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment used in renewable energy projects.
This means that up to $500 million of green manufacturing projects in the U.S. can benefit from the credits. However, the credit allocation for each project is limited to $30 million.
The DOE will rank proposals based on how many jobs they are expected to create, the potential innovation in product lines and cost reductions, and the degree to which the products the factories make help to reduce air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions. A proposal will not receive a ranking unless the DOE concludes that it has a “reasonable expectation of commercial viability.” The department will also look at how much benefit the government will receive per dollar of tax credits.
The Fine Print
Companies seeking to apply for the clean energy manufacturing tax credits should be aware that a significant change in plans later on could lead to a loss of tax credits. A change is considered significant if it might have caused the DOE to assign the project a different ranking. In a later audit, the IRS may still challenge whether a project was entitled to the tax credits a company claimed.
The tax credits may be recaptured if the factory or an interest in the factory is sold within the first five years after the construction of the facility is completed. However, only the “unvested” credits will be recaptured. The credits vest ratably over five years; thus, if a factory were to be sold in year two, 80% of the tax credits claimed would have to be repaid to the government.
There are two potential federal tax subsidies on the project. The owner can claim the 30% tax credit and also depreciate - or deduct - the cost of the project. However, if a tax credit is claimed, only 70% of the cost can be deducted.
Most individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs) or partnerships cannot use tax credits or depreciation efficiently to reduce their tax liability because of special rules that do not allow investment-type tax credits to be used against tax liabilities on most types of income, like wages, interest and dividends. Large corporations are usually the best users of tax benefits because they have very few limitations on using tax credits.
Many manufacturers are family owned - or, in this market, operating with slim profit margins - so they may have difficulty using the credit and depreciation immediately. Companies that do not owe any taxes in the year they get the tax benefits can store the credits on their balance sheet until they do owe tax to the government.
These tax benefits can be stored as an asset for up to 20 years, but it is an asset that does not increase in value or offer any return to its owner. In other words, it has the same value today as it will have in 10 or 20 years.
For this reason, bartering the tax benefits to someone who can use them immediately is often an efficient way to raise capital. There are three common ways to barter tax benefits and still retain control over the facility: a partnership-flip transaction, a sale-leaseback transaction or an inverted lease.
In a partnership flip, an investor either would purchase an interest in an LLC that owns the facility or make a contribution to the LLC in exchange for an interest in the LLC. For tax purposes, the LLC would turn into a partnership when the investor becomes a member. The economic returns (including the tax credit), except possibly cash, would be allocated 99% to the investor. Once the investor reaches its specified return, its share of the deal would flip down to 5%.
In a sale-leaseback, the manufacturer would place the facility into service and then sell the equipment to an investor within the next three months and lease it back. (In a partnership flip, the investor must be a partner before the project is placed in service. In a sale-leaseback, he or she has up to three months after the project is completed to invest.) In this case, the investor would own 100% of the equipment, and the lessee would pay rent and share the value of the government subsidies (tax credits and depreciation) with the investor in the form of a reduced rent.
An inverted lease passes the tax credit to an investor who leases the facility from the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally maintains operating control of the facility. After the five-year tax-credit period is over, the lease term ends and the facility is returned to the manufacturer.
In order to be considered for the tax credits, companies must submit a concept paper to the DOE by April 9 and an application both to the DOE and the IRS by July 23. The DOE’s recommendations are due by Oct. 11, and the IRS will then work down the DOE rankings to award credit allocations.
The IRS will accept or reject the DOE’s recommendation by Nov. 15. Any company awarded tax credits will face two deadlines: The manufacturing project must be shovel-ready within one year of receiving the award, and it must then complete construction within three years.
February 12, 2013 – Global Wind Energy Industry Installed 44.7 GW in 2012
The global wind energy industry installed 44.711 GW of capacity last year, bringing the world's cumulative installed wind power capacity to approximately 282.482 GW at the end of 2012, according to statistics released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
This represents an annual market growth of almost 10% and cumulative capacity growth of about 19% in 2012. The U.S. and China tied for the top spot in wind energy installed last year, with approximately 13 GW each.
"While China paused for breath, both the U.S. and European markets had exceptionally strong years," explains Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC. “Asia still led global markets, but with North America a close second and Europe not far behind."
Both the Chinese and Indian markets slowed somewhat in 2012, with their annual installations coming in at 13.2 GW and 2.3 GW, respectively. Market consolidation and rationalization in China, and a lapse in policy in India were the main reasons, but these conditions are expected to be short-lived, and Asian dominance of global wind markets is expected to continue, the GWEC says.
In a last-minute rush to complete projects before the anticipated expiration of the production tax credit (PTC), the U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 GW in the fourth quarter, ending up at 13.1 GW for the year. Canada had a solid year, and Mexico more than doubled its installed capacity, adding 801 MW for a total of 1.37 GW.
Meanwhile, European markets, led by Germany and the U.K., accounted for 12.4 GW of wind energy last year - a new record, according to the GWEC. Emerging markets - such as Sweden, Romania, Italy and Poland - also contributed to this growth. However, ongoing sovereign debt crises mean that the outlook for the European market this year is uncertain, although Europe’s framework legislation and its 2020 targets ensure a degree of stability.
Europe continued to lead the offshore wind energy market, with 1.166 GW installed, representing more than 90% of the 1.293 GW in total global offshore wind installations in 2012.
Brazil led the Latin American market, with 1.077 GW installed, to bring its total installed capacity to just over 2.5 GW. Australia accounted for all of the new installations in the Pacific region, with 358 MW of new capacity in 2012, for a cumulative capacity of 2.584 GW.
The Middle East and North Africa region had another quiet year, with only one 50 MW project completed in Tunisia, but sub-Saharan Africa’s first large commercial wind farm - a 52 MW project in Ethiopia - came online in 2012.
“This is just the beginning of the African market, and with construction started on 500+ MW in South Africa, we expect Africa to be a substantial new market, where clean, competitive energy generated with indigenous sources is a priority for economic development,” Sawyer says.
More 2012 statistics are available here.
February 12, 2013 – SC Johnson Purchasing Wind Energy to Power Mexican Plant
SC Johnson - the maker of household products such as Windex, Glade, Pledge and Raid - says it has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico's government-run grid operator, that will enable SC Johnson to increase its use of renewable energy at its Toluca, Mexico, facility to an estimated 86%.
Under the PPA, SC Johnson will purchase wind energy produced by turbines located in Mexico's Oaxaca region beginning in the middle of this year. The wind turbines were constructed by Enel, in partnership with CFE.
This is not SC Johnson's first wind energy initiative: Last year, the company installed two wind turbines at Waxdale, its Mt. Pleasant, Wis.-based global manufacturing plant. In 2010, the company installed three mini-wind turbines at its Racine, Wis.-based corporate headquarters, and in 2009, the company erected a wind turbine to help power its European manufacturing facility in the Netherlands.
February 8, 2013 – Poll Shows Strong Public Support for Renewable Energy in Rocky Mountain Region
The results of a new bipartisan poll show that public support for renewable energy continues to be strong in the Rocky Mountain region.
For the second year in a row, registered voters in the Western U.S. states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana prefer that renewable energy projects - rather than nuclear or fossil-fuel plants - be developed in their states, the poll found. In addition, 56% of those surveyed said that environmentally sensitive public lands should be permanently protected from oil and gas drilling.
The poll was conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates of 2,400 register voters in Western U.S. states (400 registered voters each in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Montana).
The full survey results can be viewed here.
February 8, 2013 – Siemens Inks Investment/Supply Deal For Major Offshore Wind Farm
Siemens has signed a deal with wpd group to supply and install 80 wind turbines for the 288 MW Butendiek offshore wind farm, which will be built in the North Sea.
The wind turbines, which have a capacity of 3.6 MW and a rotor diameter of 120 meters, will be installed in a 42 square-kilometer area located about 32 kilometers west of the island of Sylt, near the German-Danish border.
The agreement also covers a long-term maintenance contract for a period of 10 years. Siemens will also provide a new logistics concept that includes a service operation vessel specially developed for deployments to offshore wind facilities. The total contract is worth more than 700 million euros.
This project company is made up of five investors. Siemens Financial Services, Marguerite Fund, Industriens Pension and PKA A/S - each of which will indirectly hold 22.5% - will provide, as financial investors, a substantial portion of the required equity and have secured the financing of the project with a total project volume of 1.3 billion euros.
wpd group, which will hold a 10% stake in the project, will also contribute to the equity but will focus mainly on project development and project management. All of the partners have aligned their resources in order to secure a project finance structure on a 67% senior debt and 33% equity basis with a consortium of up to nine banks, Siemens notes.
February 7, 2013 – DOE, Treasury Release $150M in Unused Section 48C Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have made available $150 million in advanced energy manufacturing tax credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects across the U.S.
The advanced energy manufacturing tax credit - often referred to as the Section 48c tax credit - was established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support investment in domestic clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities through a competitively awarded 30% investment tax credit.
The initial round provided $2.3 billion in credits to 183 projects across the country. The $150 million in tax credits are being made available now because they were not used by the previous awardees, the DOE says.
These remaining tax credits will be allocated on a competitive basis. Projects will be assessed by the DOE based on the following criteria: commercial viability, domestic job creation, technological innovation, speed to project completion, and potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions. The DOE will also consider other factors, including diversity of geography, technology, project size and regional economic development.
The full solicitation is available on the Internal Revenue Service website.
February 7, 2013 – Obama Nominates Sally Jewell as Next Interior Secretary
President Barack Obama has nominated Sally Jewell, president and CEO of outdoor-apparel company REI and a former oil and bank executive, as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Jewell will replace Ken Salazar, who announced last month that he will step down from the post at the end of March.
In the nomination speech, Obama said Jewell is an expert on energy, climate and conservation.
"[Jewell] is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country," he said. “She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress - that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand. She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet.”
February 7, 2013 – Siemens to Build Wind Energy Training Center in Florida
Siemens has announced that it will build a new wind energy training facility in Orlando, Fla., in order to fulfill the high demand for skilled wind energy service technicians.
The 40,000 square-foot center, which will be located close to the global headquarters of Siemens' Energy Service division in Orlando, will require an initial investment from Siemens of approximately $7 million. The service center will host approximately 2,400 trainees annually from the U.S. and the rest of the Americas, and will create 50 new full-time jobs.
The training center will provide technical and health and safety training for Siemens’ wind power service technicians, equipping them with the skills required to safely meet the service needs of the industry, the company explains. The facility will offer a wide variety of qualification and training options covering all aspects of technology and operational reliability.
The central feature of the new training center will be two full-sized Siemens nacelles, upon which wind service technicians will be trained to perform maintenance based on Siemens specifications. In addition, two 32-foot-high climbing towers, ladder structures, electrical and hydraulic modules, and a maintenance crane will make training, safety and rescue simulations possible under realistic conditions. The Orlando location will also be designed to accommodate large classroom sizes.
The Orlando wind power training center will be one of four Siemens wind service training facilities, joining Brande, Denmark; Bremen, Germany; and Newcastle, U.K. The training center, which is being built based on LEED Gold green-building standards, is scheduled to begin operations by this summer.
February 6, 2013 – Maryland Agencies Allot $2 Million to Offshore Wind Energy Research
The Maryland Energy Administration and the Maryland Higher Education Commission have issued a $2 million request for applications (RFA) designed to further Maryland's role as an offshore wind energy development hub.
The RFA, paid for with funds committed by Exelon as a condition of its
Topics for the grant application include (but are not limited to) modeling and analysis, marine environment impact studies, infrastructure, superstructure, and operations research and planning. Applicants are encouraged to build upon current research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and other institutions.
Applications are due April 15. More information is available here.
February 5, 2013 – Deepwater Wind Adjusts Offshore Wind Farm Development Plan in Order to Minimize Wildlife Impacts
Offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind and nonprofit organization Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) have formed an agreement designed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales during the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm, a 30 MW demonstration-scale offshore wind project proposed in state waters about three miles off the Block Island coast.
After extensive discussions with CLF, Deepwater Wind has agreed to voluntarily adjust its planned construction period to minimize potential impacts on migrating North Atlantic right whales. Right whales have been documented feeding in Rhode Island Sound throughout the month of April.
Deepwater Wind had originally planned to begin the pile driving necessary to secure its wind farm to the ocean floor in April of its construction year, which is expected to be either 2014 or 2015. However, as a result of the agreement, the company will not begin the pile driving before May 1 of that year.
The pile driving is required to fasten the five proposed turbine steel foundations to the seafloor using steel piles that are hammered up to 250 feet beneath the ocean floor.
“Deepwater Wind has worked diligently to try to understand the key issues for the project area, and because we share a common interest in advancing renewable energy in Rhode Island, we have been motivated to work together to develop solutions that keep us moving forward,” explains Tricia K. Jedele, vice president and director of CLF’s Rhode Island office.
As a result of the agreement, Deepwater Wind has filed an amended project schedule with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.
The agreement adopts the seasonal-restriction concept set forth in a right-whale-protections agreement established last month for the Mid-Atlantic region by a Deepwater Wind-led coalition of offshore wind developers and national environmental organizations.
The coalition - which includes Deepwater Wind, CLF, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Energy Management Inc. (Cape Wind) and NRG Bluewater Wind - agreed to a set of protective measures that the developers will voluntarily implement over the next four years in the Mid-Atlantic wind energy areas, which stretch from New Jersey to Virginia.
The measures outlined in that agreement provide protections for the North Atlantic right whales, primarily by limiting sound impacts from exploratory activities such as underwater geological surveys and the construction of temporary towers to measure weather conditions. NRDC, NWF and CLF plan to pursue a similar agreement with interested developers for the federal wind energy area in Rhode Island Sound.
The Block Island Wind Farm will be connected to both Block Island and mainland Rhode Island via the bidirectional Block Island Transmission System.
February 5, 2013 – Siemens Unveils New 4 MW Offshore Wind Turbine
Siemens Energy has launched a new offshore wind turbine, which features a generating capacity of 4 MW and a rotor diameter of 130 meters.
The new SWT 4.0-130 wind turbine joins Siemens' 3.6 MW turbines as part of the company's G4 geared-drive platform series. The nacelle and tower of the SWT 4.0-130 are variants of those used in the 3.6 MW wind turbine design, Siemens says. The rotor blades are manufactured using the company's IntegralBlade process, in which they are cast in a single piece without the use of adhesive bonding.
The new B63 rotor blade, which measures 63 meters in length, sweeps an area equivalent almost to the size of two football fields, according to Siemens. Thanks to optimized coupling of blade bending and twisting, these aeroelastic blades react more flexibly to high wind loads, the company adds.
In December 2012, a SWT 4.0-130 prototype
Siemens also announced that in the future, each of its wind turbines will belong to one of the following platforms: Siemens G2, Siemens G4, Siemens D3 or Siemens D6. Platforms based on geared technology are denoted by the letter "G" (for "geared drive"), while product platforms featuring gearless technology are identified by the prefix "D" (for "direct drive").
February 4, 2013 – BOEM Extends Comment Period for North Carolina Offshore Wind Energy Development
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced that it is extending the comment period for its call for information and nominations to gauge the offshore wind energy industry's interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in three areas offshore of North Carolina, and to request comments regarding site conditions, resources, vessel traffic, visual impacts and other uses within the call areas.
BOEM is also extending the public comment period on its notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental assessment (EA). Through the NOI, BOEM is seeking public comment for determining significant issues and alternatives to be analyzed in the EA. The EA will consider potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with issuing commercial wind leases and approving site assessment and site characterization activities on the lease areas.
The call for information and the NOI were originally published in the Federal Register on Dec. 13, 2012, for a 45-day comment period that ended Jan. 28. BOEM extended the comment period for the notices at the request of stakeholders seeking more time to submit comments. The comment period for the call and NOI will now end on March 7.
February 4, 2013 – House Caucus Urges IRS, Treasury to Clarify Wind Energy PTC Implementation Rules
Thirty members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) have sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, encouraging them to act swiftly in issuing guidance to clarify the eligibility qualifications for the wind energy production tax credit (PTC).
After the PTC language was changed to allow projects to qualify for the tax credit if they start construction before Jan. 1, 2014, rather than begin operation before that date, the industry has been awaiting further guidance from the IRS and the Treasury on what it technically means to begin construction.
In their letter, the committee members urged the agencies to act swiftly on the issue.
“Because the PTC has been extended for one year only, it is imperative that you work to clarify the specific criteria that will define the commencement of construction as soon as possible,” they wrote.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., an SEEC member, stressed that the guidance is necessary to provide certainty to the wind energy industry.
"The PTC is important to the wind turbine manufacturers, but also to all the small businesses along the supply chain and the farmers and landowners who want turbines on their property,” Perlmutter says. “Clarifying the rules to ensure the PTC applies to those projects that are ‘commenced construction’ in 2013 will provide the certainty for these businesses to invest in the future and maintain and create thousands of good-paying, private-sector jobs in Colorado and throughout the country.”
The full text of the letter is available here.
February 1, 2013 – U. S. Renewable Energy Capacity Doubled Over Past Five Years; CO2 Emissions Lowest Since 1994
The U.S. is increasing its share of renewable energy while decreasing its overall energy consumption and emissions, finds a new report released jointly by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
According to the report, U.S. renewable energy consumption - including from wind, solar, biomass and hydropower - jumped from 6.4% in 2007 to 9.4% in 2012. In comparison, natural gas rose from 23.4% to 27.2% during that time period. Meanwhile, U.S. consumption of coal declined from 22.5% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2012, and oil consumption fell from 39.3% to 36.7%.
Renewable energy sources are being built quickly, and renewable energy production costs are plummeting. The cost of power from a typical large wind farm has decreased from $0.09/kWh in 2009 to $0.08/kWh in 2012, the report notes. Meanwhile, the cost of electricity generated by average large solar power plants has fallen from $0.31/kWh in 2009 to $0.14/kWh in 2012 (excluding the effect of tax credits and other incentives, which would bring those costs down even more).
Thanks to these developments, the U.S.’ total installed renewable energy capacity has more than doubled in the five years between 2008 and 2012.
In addition, energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a priority, particularly among large power consumers. U.S. utility budgets for efficiency expenditures reached $7 billion in 2011 (the latest available date for which data exists), and financing for energy efficiency retrofits has become increasingly sophisticated, propelling the further greening of U.S. buildings, the report notes. Overall, energy demand decreased by 6.4% from 2007 to 2012, largely due to efficiency gains.
As a result of all of these factors, combined with more fuel-efficient vehicles, U.S. energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions dropped 13% during that time period and now stand at their lowest levels since 1994, the report says.
The full report can be downloaded here.
February 1, 2013 – Treasury Clarifies Sequestration Details on Section 1603 Grants
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has provided a bit of clarity for renewable energy developers receiving funding through the department's Section 1603 cash-grant program.
According to a recent client alert from law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the Treasury has set the sequester percentage for Section 1603 grants at 5% - lower than the standard 7.6% figure that was originally expected. The change resulted from recalculations following the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (i.e., fiscal-cliff legislation).
Although applications for the program have closed, money is still being distributed. The grants, like all budget allocations, are subject to across-the-board sequestration if Congress cannot reach a workable long-term budget agreement by March 1.
The 5% cash-grant haircut is expected to be confirmed by the Office of Management and Budget in the next few weeks. If sequestration is triggered, Section 1603 grants will not be reduced immediately. Rather, the haircut is expected to go into effect March 27 or when Congress completes the final budget authorization (whichever occurs later), Akin Gump says.
Other questions regarding sequestration - including the cutoff dates for determining which projects will be affected - have yet to be answered.
January 31, 2013 – Developer Makes the Case for Urban Wind Energy Development
Kruger Energy's 100 MW Monteregie wind farm, located 20 km outside of Montreal, is surely opening a lot of eyes - mainly because you can see spinning wind turbines from the roofs of downtown skyscrapers.
Commissioned on Dec. 12, 2012, the wind farm features 44 Enercon E82 wind turbines perched on 98-meter hybrid towers made of steel and concrete. The project is the result of nearly five years of company outreach and continual communication with the local communities, explains Jean Roy, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Kruger Energy.
From the outset in 2008, Kruger canvassed the surrounding municipalities - holding yearly open houses in each municipality - to provide project updates and to answer questions from residents.
Developing a utility-scale project so close to an urban location is especially significant to the growing issue of social acceptance, which will gain greater attention as wind projects continue to move closer to urban locations. In fact, social acceptance is the No.1 strategic priority of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
Roy says the Monteregie project can serve as a model for other urban wind projects, but not the only model. Unfortunately, there is no standard practice for gaining local acceptance.
"The whole exercise is about people interacting with people - which means explaining, listening and adapting to local needs as expressed by the community," he says.
In Quebec, there is no shortage of opportunities for stakeholders to vet the wind farm, which - depending on your viewpoint - can be a challenge or an opportunity. On one hand, such public scrutiny requires wind developers to adopt best practices - which often leads to successful projects and, in turn, community acceptance.
On the other hand, public hearings - which automatically follow environmental assessments - can be combative.
"A hearing can take two days or two weeks," Roy says, adding that the wind farm's layout “changed about 20 times” due to residents’ concerns.
Roy explains that the modifications included reducing the number of turbines from 50 to 44 by using a 2.3 MW version of the E82 machine. Additionally, the distance between each turbine and the closest residence has been set at an average of 1 km. In fact, Roy says that no house is closer than 750 meters - even though some municipalities only require 500-meter setbacks.
Furthermore, as part of its public hearings, Kruger Energy twice set up a secluded room for sound simulation "so that residents could grasp the effect of different sound levels and compare that with what they hear in their day-to-day environment," Roy says.
The developer was awarded a contract for the Monteregie project following Hydro-Quebec's 2005 call for power, which included a solicitation for 2 GW of wind energy. Although the response to Hydro-Quebec's request for proposals was overwhelming - 66 wind project proposals totaling 8 GW of installed capacity - Roy believes it was the Monteregie project's proximity to load that helped to secure the bid.
Generally speaking, adding generation closer to load centers minimizes transmission line losses. However, the same cannot be said for wind farms located in other regions of the province, such as in Gaspe, where lines must carry power over hundreds of kilometers.
According to a Hydro-Quebec spokesperson, power losses on the utility's transmission system are mostly related to the length and the voltage of a line.
"While the price of energy was higher, we thought we might get some points from Hydro-Quebec based on proximity to load," he explains. The assumption proved correct, as Kruger Energy was one of 15 developers to receive a long-term contract.
Although Hydro-Quebec does not produce figures for line losses from each project, it estimates that, on average, losses on its transmission system are equal to 5.4% of the energy transmitted.
"Being so close to load,” Roy says, “our project avoids those kind of losses on the system."
January 31, 2013 – DOE Launches Second Phase of its Tribal Clean Energy Program
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the second round of its Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START), which provides federally recognized tribal governments with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project deployment.
In addition, the DOE plans to seek information from tribes that are interested in launching or expanding utility services in their own communities, which will help establish a new START Utility Program (START-UP).
Over the past year, the START program has helped nine tribal communities advance their clean energy technology and infrastructure projects, which have included solar, wind, biofuel and energy-efficiency initiatives.
This second round of technical-assistance awards will build upon the initial successes of the START program and further help Native American and Alaska Native communities increase local generation capacity, enhance energy-efficiency measures and create local entrepreneurial and job opportunities.
In the contiguous U.S., experts from the DOE and its national labs will provide technical assistance on tribes’ clean energy project development, supporting community-scale renewable energy projects across the country. In Alaska, the DOE and the Denali Commission will help rural Alaska Native communities conduct energy-awareness and training programs and pursue new renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities. The selected Alaska Native villages may also be eligible for grant funding that supports renewable energy or energy efficiency projects.
The DOE's new START-UP will expand on the current START program to help tribes across the country develop their own utility services and increase ownership of local energy assets.
To ensure START-UP meets the needs of the tribes, the DOE plans to gather information and public comment from the tribes interested in developing, acquiring or expanding utility services in their own communities.
January 31, 2013 – Minnesota Power's Resource Strategy Includes Wind Energy
In releasing its resource plan for 2013, Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, says it may consider adding more wind energy on its system now that the federal production tax credit (PTC) has been extended.
With the recent extension of the PTC, the company says it is analyzing adding more wind to its energy mix. However, the utility did not give specifics. Minnesota Power recently completed three phases of the Bison Wind Project in North Dakota, delivering more than 400 MW of wind energy to customers.
In addition to renewable energy, other elements of its resource strategy include energy conservation programs, construction of a major transmission line to facilitate delivery of carbon-free hydropower, fleet transition of small coal units and the addition of natural gas resources.
January 30, 2013 – Wind Energy Top Source for New Generation in 2012; American Wind Power Installed New Record of 13,124 MW
4Q Numbers Show 2012 Was Best Year Ever, As Industry Reached 60,000 MW; Texas, California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Illinois Are Leaders
The U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012, the American Wind Energy Association announced today, installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity, leveraging $25 billion in private investment, and achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity.
The milestone of 60,000 MW (60 gigawatts) was reached just five months after AWEA announced last August that the U.S. industry had 50,000 MW installed. Today’s 60,007 MW is enough clean, affordable, American wind power to power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.
In this historic year of achievement, wind energy for the first time became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing some 42 percent of all new generating capacity; the final tally will be released in April in AWEA’s annual report. In fact, 2012 was a strong year for all renewables, as together they accounted for over 55 percent of all new U.S. generating capacity.
Resulting from 190 projects across 32 states plus Puerto Rico, this new record for annual installations of over 13,000 MW by the U.S. industry far surpasses the previous record of 10,000 MW installed in 2010.
AWEA Interim CEO Rob Gramlich said, “It is a real testament to American innovation and hard work that for the first time ever a renewable energy source was number one in new capacity. We are thrilled to mark this major milestone in the nation's progress toward a cleaner energy system.”
Currently installed wind power will avoid 95.9 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to 1.8% of the entire country’s carbon emissions.
In last year’s fourth quarter alone, 8,380 MW were installed, making it the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history. This was due in large part to impending expiration of the successful federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). It was slated to end on December 31, 2012, but was extended by Congress on January 1, 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff package,” the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
Gramlich added, “What is just as striking as the new records is the expansion of new customers. A total of 66 utilities bought or owned wind power in 2012, up from 42 in 2011. We are also seeing growth in new customers in the industrial and commercial sectors purchasing or owning wind energy directly.”
New wind power purchasers last year included at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 schools and universities, and eight towns or cities, showing a significant trend toward nontraditional power purchasers from the industrial sector. Manufacturers of everything from plastics to light bulbs, semiconductors, and badges, farms, and medical centers are now directly purchasing wind power.
“The fact that wind power grew by another 28 percent in 2012 alone and poured $25 billion of private investment into the U.S. last year demonstrates wind’s ability to scale up, and continue to serve as a leading source of energy in America,” Gramlich said.
Top States for New Capacity Installations in 2012 Include:
- Texas (1,826 MW)
- California (1,656 MW)
- Kansas (1,440 MW)
- Oklahoma (1,127 MW)
- Illinois (823 MW)
- Iowa (814 MW)
- Oregon (640 MW)
- Michigan (611 MW)
- Pennsylvania (550 MW)
- Colorado (496 MW)
States with exciting news in wind project development in 2012 include California, Michigan, and Illinois. The Golden State regained its position as the second largest state in installed wind capacity, surpassing Iowa, which had been number two since 2008. California achieved the 5,000-MW milestone in wind capacity, following Texas, and alongside Iowa.
Illinois had its most successful year ever. Ranking number five in new capacity, Illinois saw the installation of over 800 MW, with half that output sold into the Tennessee Valley Authority market. As one of America’s wind power hubs, Illinois is home to wind power innovation and this year, it installed the first concrete wind tower, which the manufacturer says can support taller turbines to access better winds. Iowa soon followed suit.
While a strong renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is successfully growing wind power in California, such policies are also growing wind projects in upper Midwest states like Michigan. Over 610 MW across 9 projects were built in the Wolverine State, which is close to achieving the 1,000-MW mark within the first few years of its RPS program, while continuing to be a leader in wind manufacturing jobs.
America's wind energy industry workers had been living under threat of the PTC's expiration for over a year and layoffs had already begun, as companies idled factories because of a lack of orders for 2013. Uncertain federal policies have caused a "boom-bust" cycle in U.S. wind energy development for over a decade.
Half the American jobs in wind energy – 37,000 out of 75,000 – and hundreds of U.S. factories in the supply chain would have been at stake had the PTC been allowed to expire, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.
“America's wind energy industry is back on track,” said Gramlich. “With a banner year to celebrate, we look forward to showing how wind power can continue to strengthen America's energy future, and create jobs and business for our families and communities.”
The global wind energy industry will gather in Chicago, Ill., this May 5-8, 2013, for the world’s largest annual wind power event, WINDPOWER 2013. Thousands of workers and leaders from all sectors will attend to show their wares, attend conference sessions, and seek further solutions for success.
(Reprinted with permission from Wind Energy Weekly, a publication of the American Wind Energy Association. For additional news, please visit www.awea.org.)
January 29, 2013 – EPA Reveals Top Renewable Energy Users
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an updated list of the top 50 organizations for voluntarily using clean energy from resources such as wind, solar and low-impact hydropower.
Intel Corp. continues to hold the No. 1 spot as the largest single user of green power, and has increased its green power usage by over 300 GWh annually. With this increase, Intel now uses more than 31 TWh of green power annually, which is enough to meet 100% of the company's electricity use.
The top 20 green power users are as follows:
1. Intel Corp.
2. Kohl's Department Stores
3. Microsoft Corp.
4. Whole Foods Market
5. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
7. Lockheed Martin Corp.
8. District of Columbia
9. Cisco Systems Inc.
10. City of Houston, Texas
12. City of Austin, Texas
14. Hilton Worldwide
15. McDonald's USA LLC
16. U.S. Department of Energy
17. City of Dallas, Texas
18. U.S. Air Force
19. TD Bank
20. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
For more on the rankings and to view the full top 50, click here.
January 29, 2013 – Developers Investing Heavily in Scottish Offshore Wind Power Market
Offshore wind energy developers have invested nearly 165 million pounds in the Scottish economy, with 65 million pounds invested in 2012 alone, according to data released by industry trade group Scottish Renewables.
The investment figure represents all contracts awarded by developers with Scottish companies in advance of any consents being awarded to their projects. In 2012, Scotland had more than 4 GW of potential offshore wind capacity under development.
"Most of this current investment has been made in research, such as environmental surveys, technical engineering surveys and project demonstration," explains Lindsay Leask, senior policy manager for offshore renewables at Scottish Renewables. “However, this flow of private finance is also generating huge opportunities for the supply chain, and once consents for projects are granted, this will both motivate new entrants and strengthen those existing companies who are already reaping the benefit of diversifying into this emerging sector.”
“These latest figures underline the progress made to date in getting initial projects off the ground and creating opportunities for Scottish businesses entering the offshore wind supply chain,” adds Andy McDonald, renewables director at Scottish Enterprise. “We and our partners have been working hard to create the optimum conditions for investors and Scottish business alike by developing the business environment and supporting the development of a strong supply chain.”
Scotland currently has 5.4 GW of installed renewable energy capacity.
January 29, 2013 – National Grid, Clean Line Close on Wind Energy Interconnection Investment
The investment was subject to various state and federal regulatory approvals, which have been obtained.
Under the terms of the transaction, Clean Line will use proceeds from the National Grid investment to advance the development of its four high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission projects that will connect onshore wind energy resources in the Midwestern U.S. to communities and cities with demand for low-cost clean energy.
Per the terms of the deal, National Grid will have the ability to acquire a significant ownership stake in Clean Line’s HVDC projects. The funds associated with ZBI Ventures and the Houston-based Zilkha family will maintain their existing equity stakes in the company.
Lazard acted as financial adviser to Clean Line for this transaction. Grid America, a subsidiary of National Grid USA, will make the investment in Clean Line with corporate funds. The transaction is separate from National Grid’s existing regulated businesses in the U.S. and the U.K.
January 29, 2013 – The Biggest Wind Energy Deals of 2012
Fueled by policy uncertainty, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the wind energy sector spiked in 2012, while venture-capital (VC) funding decreased slightly, according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group.
There were 35 company acquisitions in the wind energy sector in 2012 - more than double the 17 acquisitions seen in 2011. The acquired companies included 12 downstream companies, seven manufacturers, eight wind component companies, six service providers and two balance-of-system (BOS) companies.
The eight wind component company acquisitions included the following:
- Valmont’s acquisition of wind tower manufacturer Katana Summit;
- Trinity’s acquisition of wind tower manufacturer DMI Industries;
- SSE’s acquisition of an additional 40.05% stake in Wind Towers, which brought SSE’s total interest in the company to 80.1%;
- Titan Wind’s acquisition of Vestas’ Danish tower factory;
- Dulas’ acquisition of wind component company Chillwind;
- Sinomatech’s acquisition of blade manufacturer and Goldwind subsidiary Tellhow;
- David Brown’s acquisition of industrial gear manufacturer Unigear; and
- REpower’s acquisition of a 49% stake in rotor blade and wind turbine producer PowerBlades.
Acquisitions in the wind power manufacturing space included the following:
- Goldwind Science was acquired by China CNR Corp;
- Clipper Windpower was acquired by U.S.-based Platinum Equity;
- Suzlon’s Chinese manufacturing subsidiary Suzlon Energy Tianjin Ltd. was acquired by China Power New Energy Development;
- Wind Tower Systems was acquired by GE;
- a 55% stake of Global Wind Power was acquired by China’s Ming Yang;
- The intellectual property rights of PowerWind were picked up by India-based RK Wind; and
- Fuji Heavy Industries’ wind turbine generator system business was acquired by Hitachi.
Two BOS companies were acquired in 2012:
- Oliotalo, a developer of remote and condition monitoring products for wind turbines, by Miston; and
- Spin Trends, a wind turbine borescope and condition monitoring company, by Frontier Pro.
2012 was also a very active year for large-scale wind project M&A. There were 72 large-scale project acquisitions totaling $8.8 billion in 2012, compared to 61 transactions totaling $4.1 billion in 2011. The fourth quarter was an especially busy quarter, with 20 acquisitions totaling more than $5 billion.
Top large-scale wind project acquisitions included the following:
- Statoil and Statkraft’s $2.6 billion purchase of Warwick Energy’s 560 MW Dudgeon Offshore Wind Project;
- ERG’s $1.1 billion purchase of an 80% stake in IP Maestrale Investments’ Italian and German wind farms;
- Algonquin Power & Utilities’ $900 million acquisition of a 480 MW Gamesa project portfolio;
- The Oticon Foundation’s $840 million acquisition of a 50% stake in DONG Energy’s 277 MW Borkum Riffgrund I project; and
- CPFL Energia’s $620 million acquisition of a 158 MW project portfolio from Bons Ventos Geradora de Energia.
Market uncertainty took its toll on investment last year, as VC funding in the wind energy sector was slightly lower than in 2011, Mercom says. VC funding in the wind power market amounted to nearly $315 million in 22 deals in 2012, compared to $369 million in 14 deals in 2011.
Of the 22 deals made in 2012, there were 10 downstream companies (eight project developers; one engineering, procurement and construction company; and one operations and maintenance company). Ten turbine companies (mostly small wind turbine makers), one monitoring software company and one airborne wind company also received funding.
Mercom notes that because wind is a relatively mature renewable energy technology, more emphasis is placed on development than on technology and innovation.
“While venture-capital funding into new technology companies was sparse, it does not indicate a lack of innovation in the sector, as a lot of large manufacturers with their own research and development divisions spend millions of dollars to improve efficiencies and come up with new designs and innovations,” explains Raj Prabhu, managing partner of Mercom Capital Group. “For a sector still dependent on subsidies, there is still a lot of room for investments in new designs and technologies that reduce costs and increase efficiencies.”
Some of the top VC investment deals in 2012 included the following:
- $183 million raised by Element Power, a developer, owner and manager of wind and solar projects in U.S., South America and Europe;
- $21.5 million raised by Mainstream Renewable Power, a developer of renewable energy and offshore wind projects;
- $20.2 million raised by ReGen Powertech, a wind turbine maker;
- $18.6 million raised by Leap Green Energy, an independent power producer; and
- $15.3 million raised by Trishe Developers, a wind power infrastructure company.
In addition, there were 16 debt deals amounting to nearly $12.5 billion in 2012, compared to $11 billion in 15 deals in 2011, Mercom notes, adding that most of the larger debt deals were in China. The top debt deal was the $5.5 billion in credit received by Chinese turbine maker Xinjiang Goldwind Science Technology.
Mercom also tracked approximately $14 billion in 71 announced large-scale project funding deals in 2012. Of that amount, $4.2 billion in 22 deals came in the fourth quarter. In comparison, large-scale project funding announcements in 2011 came to approximately $11 billion in 52 deals.
Top project funding investors in 2012 included Union Bank, with seven deals; EBRD and KfW IPEX-Bank, with six deals; and JP Morgan and Rabobank, with five deals apiece.
January 25, 2013 – Making Clean Energy Cleaner: Researchers Developing Bio-Based Wind Turbines, Solar Panels
Renewable energy technologies, which are generally accepted as clean and sustainable, are confronted with the irony that they often employ non-sustainable, petroleum-based materials.
"The blades on a wind turbine, for example, are massive and need to be replaced about every 25 years," explains Richard Gross, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). "They end up in landfills, like any other non-recyclable garbage. If they could be deconstructed by biological or chemical processes to recover chemicals that can be re-used, that would have an enormous positive impact on the environment. We could, in effect, 'green up' green energy."
Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Gross and his collaborators from seven other universities are exploring ways in which biological-based materials can be used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades, solar panels and other components for the clean energy industry. Materials development and deployment is expected to take a minimum of five years.
In addition to the environmental benefits, as petroleum costs rise, there also may be economic advantages to using biological-based polymers, Gross says, adding that because the new materials will be meticulously engineered, their performance is expected to be just as good - or even better - than those currently employed.
"We believe that the precision by which nature designs molecules can be used to deliver better performance in both solar cells and wind turbine blades, where the organization of components is critical to device efficiency and material properties," Gross explains.
In addition to NYU-Poly, researchers hail from Case Western Reserve University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Sheffield in the U.K., the University of MONS in Belgium, the University of Bologna in Italy, and Santa Catarina State University in Brazil. They include not just materials scientists, but also mechanical engineers, chemists and others.
(Reprinted with permission from Wind Energy Weekly, a publication of the American Wind Energy Association. For additional news, please visit www.awea.org.)
January 25, 2013 – Maine Regulators Approve Statoil's Offshore Wind Project
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a contract proposal submitted by Norway-based Statoil for an offshore wind project planned for a site off Maine's coast, the Portland Press Herald reports.
The project will cost the average residential customer about $0.75 extra on their monthly electric bill; however, the PUC ruled that the benefits of offshore wind power in the state outweigh that cost.
In December 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a finding of no competitive interest for the area where Statoil requested a commercial wind energy lease. The proposed lease area covers approximately 22 square miles, located about 12 nautical miles offshore Maine.
The proposed Hywind Maine project would consist of four offshore wind turbines for a total of 12 MW of installed capacity, and would be the first project to use floating offshore wind turbine technology in the U.S.
January 25, 2013 – AWEA: 4Q Numbers Coming Next Week to Reflect PTC Success
AWEA said it will release the wind industry's fourth quarter results for 2012 on Wednesday, January 30, providing a first look at aggregate project tallies for the year.
Previous indications were that the industry, racing to install projects before its key incentive, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) was due to expire December 31, 2012, would turn in a strong showing for the quarter and a new record for the year. (The PTC was extended January 1 as part of the "fiscal cliff" agreement.)
January 24, 2013 – New York Wind Energy Integration Up 18% in 2012
Most of the 745 MW of new power generation that came online in the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) market in 2012 was wind energy and natural gas, NYISO reports.
Last year, NYISO implemented a wind forecasting system designed to improve the use of wind energy resources by forecasting the availability and timing of wind-powered generation. As a result of these initiatives, wind generators in New York produced 3.302 TWh of electricity in 2012, more than 500 GWh above the levels achieved in 2011.
"As New York pursues ambitious goals to scale up renewable resources, such as wind and solar, it is essential that our wholesale market rules and grid operations keep pace with these changes," says Jackson Morris, director of strategic engagement at the Pace Energy and Climate Center. “With its continued efforts to efficiently integrate wind onto the grid, the NYISO has demonstrated its ability to innovate in order to optimize the performance of our evolving electric fleet.”
NYISO also notes that, at $45.23/MWh, the average wholesale electricity price for 2012 was the lowest in the 12-year history of New York’s competitive markets for wholesale electricity, eclipsing the previous record-low price of $48.63/MWh in 2009.
January 24, 2013 – New Resource Maps U.S. Clean Energy Jobs
Where are the clean energy jobs? A new resource launched by the Ecotech Institute - a college focused entirely on preparing the U.S. workforce for careers in renewable energy and sustainability - aggregates all of the available clean energy jobs in the U.S.
According to the new resource, called the Clean Jobs Index, there were more than 3 million clean energy jobs available across the U.S. in 2012. The index breaks down clean energy jobs by state, with links to local job listings. In addition to providing objective information on jobs, the index also looks at a variety of sustainability factors that affect citizens' lifestyles, including alternative fueling stations, LEED projects, total energy consumption, energy efficiency, green pricing, net metering and state incentives.
Highlights from the Clean Jobs Index include the following (data updated Jan. 15, 2013):
- The number of clean energy jobs in the U.S. is 3,014,785;
- Oregon is the No. 1 state for the entire Clean Jobs Index, taking all factors into account;
- Alaska is the No. 1 state for clean energy jobs per 100,000 residents;
- Idaho generates the highest percentage of energy from renewables, at 85%;
- Minnesota is ranked No. 1 for renewable energy and efficiency state incentives;
- California ranks the lowest in energy usage per 100,000 residents;
- Massachusetts ranks the highest for energy efficiency;
- Maryland has the highest number of LEED projects per capita; and
- Hawaii has the highest number of customers on net-metering energy per capita.
The Clean Jobs Index can be accessed here.
January 24, 2013 – New Renewable Energy Credit Accreditation Program Launched
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI), the coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system, and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council Inc. (IREC) have launched the ANSI-IREC program, which will accredit renewable energy and energy efficiency certificate programs.
The program has completed its pilot phase and is now accepting general applications. It evaluates certificate-awarding schools, colleges and other institutions against requirements for equipment, curriculum, facilities, administration and personnel set forth in the IREC Standard 14732: 2013, General Requirements for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Certificate Programs.
Accreditation under the ANSI-IREC program demonstrates to students, policymakers, funders and employers that programs have demonstrated meeting all requirements in the standard, and provides third-party verification that certificate programs have demonstrated meeting the requirements for issuing a market-valued certificate.
Students who have graduated from an ANSI-IREC-accredited program will improve the quality of work in the marketplace and help to establish benchmarks for the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, the organizations add.
Successful applicants will join three organizations currently accredited against the 14732 Standard: CalCERTS, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and National Solar Trainers.
January 22, 2013 – U.S. Slaps Hefty Tariffs on Wind Towers from China, Vietnam
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has determined that the U.S. wind energy industry has been materially injured by dumped and subsidized imports of utility-scale wind turbine towers from China and Vietnam.
The case was brought on Dec. 29, 2011, by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition (WTTC), a group of producers of utility-scale wind towers in the U.S. The case covers utility-scale wind towers with a minimum height of 50 meters that are designed to support turbines with generating capacities in excess of 100 kW.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), which issued its final ruling on the case in December 2012, will now impose antidumping (AD) and countervailing-duty (CVD) orders against Chinese producers of utility-scale wind towers with AD margins of between 44.99% and 70.63% and CVD margins of between 21.86% and 34.81%, according to law firm Wiley Rein, which represented the WTTC in the case.
The DOC will also impose an AD order against Vietnamese producers of utility-scale wind towers at margins of between 51.50% and 58.49%.
“The commission’s determination today recognizes that over the last two years, in a period of peak demand, the U.S. [wind] industry should have been profitable,” says Alan H. Price, a partner in Wiley Rein's international trade practice and lead counsel to the WTTC. “Instead, due to the surge in dumped and subsidized imports, the industry lost market share, saw its profits collapse, producers leave the industry and its workers laid off.”
The ITC’s determination ensures that, following publication of the AD and CVD orders in the Federal Register, the DOC will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting cash deposits on entries of utility-scale wind towers at the final AD and CVD rates, Wiley Rein says.
“These orders are important to help restore a U.S. industry and its workers that have been devastated by unfair price competition from Chinese and Vietnamese wind tower producers,” Price notes.
January 22, 2013 – Obama Inaugural Address Reaffirms Commitment to Clean Energy
In his inaugural address Monday, President Barack Obama reiterated that his dedication to clean energy will continue into his second term.
Among other priorities outlined in his agenda, the president said that sustainable energy sources will be critical in addressing the threat of climate change.
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity," Obama said. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult - but America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it,” he continued. “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries; we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways, our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
January 21, 2013 – Bloomberg: 2012 U.S. Wind Installations Topped 13 GW
The U.S. wind industry installed a record 13.2 GW of new nameplate generating capacity in 2012, with a surge of new installations coming in the last month of the year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). December 2012 alone saw 5.5 GW installed - by far the most ever in a single month - as developers rushed to bring projects to completion ahead of expiration of the federal production tax credit.
According to BNEF, the 2012 capacity addition represented more than a 102% increase over 2011's number, when the industry installed 6.5 GW. Including 2012, U.S. wind projects now account for 60 GW of total cumulative capacity, comprising 6% of the country’s overall electricity generating capacity.
BNEF also notes that the leading wind developers behind the 2012 numbers were NextEra Energy Resources (1.5 GW new capacity added), Caithness Energy (0.8 GW) and BP (0.8 GW). Turbine manufacturers that were the greatest beneficiaries of these installations were GE (4.5 GW of turbines sold to 2012 U.S. wind projects), Siemens (2.9 GW) and Vestas (2.2 GW).
According to BNEF, the leading states to complete projects were:
- California (1,738 MW)
- Kansas (1,589)
- Texas (1,532)
- Oklahoma (1,224)
- Oregon (845)
- Illinois (803)
- Iowa (790)
- Michigan (700)
- Pennsylvania (568)
- Colorado (496)
January 21, 2013 – FERC Proposes Reforms to Small Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) to modify its small generator interconnection procedures (SGIP) and small generator interconnection agreement (SGIA), which establish the terms and conditions under which public utilities must provide interconnection service for electric generating facilities of 20 MW or smaller.
FERC states that the proposed reforms stem from market changes, such as higher volumes of small generator interconnection requests and increases in solar photovoltaic installations. The proposals are intended to ensure that the time and cost of processing small generator interconnection requests, particularly those for distributed solar generating facilities, will be just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory, as well as allowing for more efficient interconnection of resources to the benefit of customers while maintaining grid reliability, increasing energy supply and removing barriers to the development of new energy sources.
While the NOPR was motivated by increases in the solar photovoltaic market, the FERC filing also notes that installed wind generation with a capacity of 20 MW or less increased from 1,185 MW in 2005 to 2,961 MW in 2012.
January 18, 2013 – DOI Designates Land for Wind and Solar Energy Development in Arizona
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced the first-ever statewide plan to identify and set aside previously disturbed lands for wind and solar energy development.
The initiative, called the Restoration Design Energy Project, designates a renewable energy zone on 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.
The publication of the record of decision (ROD) for the project caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. The ROD also establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide.
The lands identified in Arizona include previously disturbed sites (primarily former agricultural areas) and lands with low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts. Bureau of Land Management lands in Arizona containing sensitive resources requiring protection, such as endangered or threatened wildlife and sites of cultural and historic importance, were eliminated from consideration.
Furthermore, the areas selected had to have reasonable access to transmission lines and load centers as well as be situated near areas with high electricity demand.
The ROD also sets standards for projects to avoid impacts to sensitive watersheds, groundwater supplies and water quality, and establishes a baseline set of environmental protection measures for proposed renewable energy projects.
However, the initiative does not directly authorize any wind or solar projects; any proposal will need to undergo a site-specific environmental review.
“This project is a key milestone in our work to spur smart development of solar and wind energy on public lands across the West,” Salazar says. “Arizona has huge potential when it comes to building a clean energy economy, and this landscape-level plan lays a solid foundation for making sure that it happens in the right way and in the right places.”
January 18, 2013 – Poll Shows Strong Support for Offshore Wind in Maryland
A new poll shows that 72% of Maryland voters support offshore wind energy development, which represents an 8% increase over the results of a similar poll conducted in December 2011.
The survey results were released as Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to renew his push for offshore wind energy legislation, which failed to make it out of the state's General Assembly the past two years.
The offshore wind bill would have established an offshore wind renewable energy credit carve-out of at least 450 MW within Maryland's existing renewable portfolio standard, which is 20% by 2022.
The poll, conducted by research firm Opinion Works and commissioned by the Marylanders for Offshore Wind Coalition, interviewed 800 randomly selected registered Maryland voters about their specific beliefs on the cost and benefits of developing offshore wind power.
Support was highest for offshore wind in Baltimore and Montgomery County, where 79% and 76% of those polled supported offshore wind, respectively. In addition, a majority of western Maryland (69%) and Eastern Shore (70%) voters said they support offshore wind.
Furthermore, the poll results showed that a growing number of Marylanders are willing to pay $2 more per month on their electric bill for offshore wind development.
Additionally, the poll showed that Marylanders expect that the price of fossil fuels will continue to rise, and 80% agree that they would “prefer that we invest in wind power, rather than build another power plant that burns fossil fuels.”
More than two-thirds of voters cited health benefits as a strong reason to support offshore wind development.
January 17, 2013 – Analyst: Stable Policy Would Provide Clean Energy Sector a 'Multitrillion-Dollar Opportunity'
The global clean energy marketplace is expanding rapidly, but the competitive position of the U.S. industry is at risk because of increased competition abroad and uncertain policies at home, according to a new report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The study states that revenue in the global clean energy sector could total $1.9 trillion from 2012 to 2018. However, roundtable discussions with more than 100 U.S. industry leaders reveal that the country is at a crossroads: Private investment, manufacturing and deployment of renewable power have been constrained by the lack of a long-term, consistent energy policy, Pew says.
The firm’s research predicts that revenue associated with the installation of wind, solar and other renewable energy will grow at a compound annual rate of 8%, rising from $200 billion in 2012 to $327 billion annually by 2018. In the U.S., clean energy installations are projected to reach 126 GW, which would more than double non-hydroelectric generating capacity.
However, the U.S.’ position in the industry is constrained by numerous challenges, including tight credit markets, growing international competition and an uneven playing field with fossil fuels.
The Pew report makes the following policy recommendations to improve the U.S.’ competitiveness in the clean energy sector:
- Establish a clean energy standard to guide deployment and investment for the long term;
- Significantly increase investment in energy research and development;
- Enact a multiyear but time-limited extension of tax credits for clean energy sources;
- Level the playing field across the energy sector by evaluating barriers to competition;
- Renew incentives for domestic clean energy manufacturing; and
- Create a strategy to expand markets for clean energy goods and services abroad.
"Industry is telling us in no uncertain terms that the United States needs to adopt clear, consistent, long-term energy policies that allow American businesses to thrive, make our country more energy secure and advance environmental imperatives," says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's Clean Energy Program.
"Our research shows that there is a multitrillion-dollar opportunity in the clean energy sector,” she adds. “U.S. industry has the capacity to be a leader, provided we have the right policies in place. It's time for Congress to support a comprehensive energy strategy by delivering long-term certainty for businesses and investors in renewable power."
January 17, 2013 – Wind Energy Was Top Source of New U.S. Generating Capacity in 2012
Renewable energy sources - including wind, solar, geothermal, water and biomass - accounted for 49.1% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed in 2012, for a total of 12.956 GW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
More than a quarter of that new capacity - 3.276 GW - entered operation in December, as wind developers, in particular, scrambled to get their projects online before the would-be production tax credit deadline.
Wind energy led the way, with 164 new units totaling 10.689 GW in new generating capacity, followed by solar, with 240 units totaling 1.476 GW; and biomass, with 100 new units totaling 543 MW. Geothermal and water each had 13 new units with installed capacities of 149 MW and 99 MW, respectively.
By comparison, new natural-gas generation entering operation totaled 8.746 GW (33.15%), followed by coal, with 4.51 GW (17.09%); nuclear, with 125 MW (0.47%); and oil, with 49 MW (0.19%).
New capacity from renewable energy sources in 2012 increased by 51.16% compared to 2011, when those sources added 8.571 GW. In 2011, renewables accounted for 39.33% of all new in-service generation capacity.
Renewable energy sources now account for 15.4% of total installed U.S. generating capacity in operation, with wind energy representing 4.97%.
“If there were still any lingering doubts about the ability of renewable energy technologies to come online quickly and in amounts sufficient to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power, the 2012 numbers have put those doubts to rest,” says Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies. “Not only has renewable energy become a major player in the U.S. electrical generation market, but it has also emerged in 2012 as the reigning champion.”
January 17, 2013 – Wind Tunnel for Anemometer Calibration Opens in Vermont
SOH Wind Engineering has completed the construction of a massive wind tunnel that will be used to calibrate anemometers and test wind actions (or forces) on large structures.
In response to a request issued by NRG Systems, a manufacturer of measurement equipment for the renewable energy industry, Svend Ole Hansen, principal of SOH Wind Engineering, decided to launch a new business in the U.S.
The wind tunnel, which will be built in Vermont, will be used for a wide range of applications in civil engineering, transportation and wind energy, including the calibration of NRG Systems' #40C and Class 1 anemometers.
At full build-out, the facility will operate four closed, return-flow wind tunnels, one of which is currently operating. Each wind tunnel is three meters squared and 40 meters long, and is capable of producing wind velocities of up to 20 meters per second (m/s). Reducing the wind tunnel cross-sections may increase the velocity to 100 m/s. The wind tunnel has received ISO certification and will carry out IEC-approved calibrations for anemometry per IEC 61400-12-1 Annex F, which is identical to the MEASNET standard.
Launching the business was a two-year initiative that integrated private investment with public dollars. Based on the capital investment and employment projections, SOH secured a grant under The Vermont Economic Growth Initiative for roughly $150,000. The wind tunnel will also be an educational resource for University of Vermont professors and students in its engineering school.
January 17, 2013 – DOE Selects New BPA Administrator
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has chosen Bill Drummond to replace Steve Wright as the Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) administrator.
Drummond will be responsible for managing the agency, which markets carbon-free power from Columbia River hydroelectric dams and the region's one nuclear plant. BPA also operates most of the surrounding power grid, distributing wind and other energy to the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Drummond currently serves as BPA's deputy administrator - a role he has held since October 2011 - and has worked in the energy industry for over 30 years. In addition to his responsibilities as deputy, he oversaw the agency’s general counsel, as well as its compliance and governance, risk management, internal audit, public affairs, finance, and corporate strategy functions.
Before joining BPA, Drummond was manager of the Western Montana Electric Generating and Transmission Cooperative in Missoula, Mont., for 17 years. From 1988 to 1994, he led the Public Power Council, an association of all Northwest publicly owned utilities.
“The leadership of BPA is critically important because America’s continued global competitiveness in the 21st century will be significantly affected by whether we can efficiently produce and distribute electricity to businesses and consumers, seamlessly integrating new technologies and new sources of power,” says DOE Secretary Steven Chu. “I look forward to working with Bill Drummond to help lead BPA’s transition to a more flexible, resilient and reliable electric grid, and establish much greater coordination among system operators in partnership with its customers.”
January 16, 2013 – Secretary Salazar to Leave Interior Department
U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that he will step down from the post at the end of March.
Salazar has been instrumental in promoting and streamlining the process for renewable energy development on federal lands. Since 2009, the DOI has authorized a total of 34 wind, solar and geothermal energy projects representing a combined capacity of 10.4 GW, including the massive
Salazar also established the nation’s first program for offshore wind leasing and permitting.
“Today, the largest solar energy projects in the world are under construction on America’s public lands in the West, and we’ve issued the first leases for offshore wind in the Atlantic,” Salazar says. “I am proud of the renewable energy revolution that we have launched.”
Upon leaving the DOI, Salazar will return to his home state of Colorado. A fifth-generation Coloradoan, he has served his state and the nation for 14 continuous years as Colorado attorney general, U.S. senator and the 50th secretary of the DOI.
President Barack Obama has not yet named a successor.
January 16, 2013 – U.S. Government's Largest Wind Farm Planned for Nuclear Weapons Facility
Under the agreement, Siemens will provide a wind farm system for 20 years, including a five-year service, maintenance and warranty agreement with operations and maintenance options in years six through 10. Siemens will also provide an annual energy production guarantee.
The Pantex wind farm will consist of five 2.3 MW turbines located on 1,500 acres of government-owned property east of the Pantex Plant, a federal nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. The project will allow the NNSA to meet almost all of its renewable energy goals while also offering research opportunities to Texas Tech University and its research collaborators.
The wind farm will fulfill more than 60% of Pantex’s annual electricity needs, the NNSA notes.
“Three years of hard work, dedication and determination have paid off,” says Steve Erhart, manager of the NNSA’s production office. “The NNSA’s goal was to turn Texas wind into energy, and we have overcome numerous hurdles in implementing the contracting strategy.”
January 16, 2013 – Vestas to Ramp Up Production at Colorado Manufacturing Facility
Vestas has secured an agreement to supply its wind turbine towers to a number of non-Vestas wind projects over the next two years. In order to meet that demand, the company will ramp up production at its Pueblo, Colo., tower factory, where the company
As a result of the new agreement, Vestas will hire more than 100 additional workers by the end of this quarter.
"Our tower-factory employees are very excited about this new order," says Tony Knopp, vice president of Vestas Towers America Inc., in Pueblo. "The extension of the production tax credit at the beginning of the year also was an important factor in securing this contract, and we are now in the process of evaluating our ramp-up plan."
The company says it will soon begin manufacturing the first part of the third-party tower supply agreement, which could use up to 25% of the production capacity.
“Vestas is continuously evaluating its manufacturing footprint and opportunities to utilize the current production capacity better,” explains Jean-Marc Lechene, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Vestas Wind Systems A/S. “Producing components for third parties is part of this strategy, and although we have had other smaller orders, this new agreement is the first major step in realizing this plan.”
January 15, 2013 – ERCOT Expects $8.9 Billion of Investment in Texas Transmission
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) expects Texas transmission providers to complete improvement projects totaling $8.9 billion by the end of 2017.
A long-standing constraint between West Texas, where most of the state's wind energy generation is located, and the North Texas region, which includes the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is expected to be resolved by the end of this year, when the state's Competitive Renewable Energy Zones project is completed.
However, with more than 20 GW of new wind power currently being studied, new constraints could occur in the future, particularly in the Panhandle region, ERCOT says.
To address these and other concerns, ERCOT has released the Long-Term System Assessment (LTSA) report, which provides an assessment of system needs over the next 10 to 20 years, as well as the Electric System Constraints and Needs report.
The LTSA looks beyond the five-year ERCOT stakeholder planning horizon, evaluating a range of possible scenarios that could affect the types and locations of generation resources, as well as consumer energy-use patterns.
The results indicate that the following resources likely will be needed within the next 10 years:
At least one path to import power into the Houston region, as ERCOT says regulatory requirements will limit the development of new generation within that region; and
- An additional circuit to carry more power into the Lower Rio Grande Valley (unless more generation resources are developed there).
The results also indicate that the following actions likely will be needed within the next 20 years:
The potential retirement of older natural-gas-fired resources in urban areas could necessitate more transmission facilities within the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston regions to support capacity and voltage stability;
- Natural gas and renewable energy generation resources are likely to be competitive in a variety of scenarios, and significant growth in renewables may require ERCOT to study the need to integrate more variable generation that cannot sustain consistent output;
- If market factors result in significant growth in renewable resources, it may become cost-effective to develop higher-voltage transmission solutions to connect those resources to areas where electric consumption is high; and
- Although there should be sufficient water resources to allow the operation of existing and future power plants in an extended drought, those conditions could lead to increased power-plant development in eastern Texas, where more surface water is available.
January 15, 2013 – Atlantic Wind Connection Outlines Plans For First Phase Of Offshore Wind Transmission 'Backbone'
The companies behind the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) - an offshore wind transmission "backbone" planned by independent transmission company Trans-Elect and developer Atlantic Grid Development, and backed by Google, Bregal Energy, Marubeni Corp. and Elia - have revealed some of the details for the first phase of the project.
The group has selected New Jersey for the project's first phase, which will be called the New Jersey (NJ) Energy Link. According to the companies, the selection was based on the state's commitment to developing an offshore wind energy industry and the large potential for renewable energy that exists off its shoreline.
The NJ Energy Link, which will be built in three phases, will be a subsea offshore electrical transmission cable linking energy resources and end users in northern, central and southern New Jersey. The cable will span the length of New Jersey and carry 3 GW of electricity.
According to AWC, the NJ Energy Link will help support the goal of developing offshore wind by reducing the cost of offshore wind energy; creating a superhighway for wind farms; and providing ratepayers with a transmission line that works 100% of the time, not just when the wind is blowing.
AWC expects that construction on the NJ Energy Link will begin in 2016 and that the first phase will enter service in 2019.
January 15, 2013 – PGE, BPA Propose Change to Oregon Transmission Project
Portland General Electric (PGE) and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pursue a modification to PGE's proposed Cascade Crossing Transmission Project.
PGE says it is proposing the Cascade Crossing Transmission Project to meet its customers' growing energy needs, enhance the region's grid and support the development of wind energy projects east of the Cascades.
It is one of seven projects in the nation that have been identified as a Job-Creating Grid Modernization Pilot Project by the Obama administration and are the focus of the Interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), which aims to improve the quality and timeliness of electric transmission infrastructure permitting, review and consultation by the federal government.
PGE initially proposed a 215-mile transmission project from Boardman, Ore., to Salem, Ore. Under the modification in the MOU, the line would begin at Boardman and follow the path of the original project, but terminate at a new Pine Grove substation that PGE would build about 18 miles southwest of Maupin.
According to PGE, this change would eliminate about 101 miles of the project from the Maupin area to Salem, avoiding most impacts to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation, the Mt. Hood and Willamette national forests, and private forest and agricultural land in Marion and Linn counties.
PGE also would invest in grid enhancements and/or exchange assets with BPA to increase transmission capacity, and potentially reduce congestion and enhance the reliability of the grid. In return, PGE could receive up to 2.6 GW of transmission capacity ownership rights to deliver electricity to customers in Portland and the Willamette Valley. Specific contract terms are still under discussion.
BPA will conduct a formal stakeholder review process prior to entering into any further agreement. PGE and BPA would cooperate to complete the necessary environmental reviews.
PGE intends to file amendments to the public permitting processes for the Cascade Crossing project. The utility will focus on permitting the project from Boardman to the Pine Grove substation and will suspend permitting of the previously proposed section west of the Maupin area. The project currently is undergoing review by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council and the federal agencies involved in the National Environmental Policy Act process.
PGE first began developing Cascade Crossing in response to an order issued by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) in 2004 that directed the utility to work with BPA and others to develop transmission capacity over the Cascade Mountain Range. The project was included in PGE’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan, which was acknowledged by the OPUC in November 2010.
January 14, 2013 – Wind Energy Surpasses Coal in Ontario Power Market
Although nuclear power continues to dominate Ontario's energy supply, wind energy is increasing its share of the province's power mix.
According to recent data from Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator, wind energy has grown to become a mainstream resource in the province. In 2012, wind power production increased from 3.9 TWh to 4.6 TWh in Ontario. On a percentage basis, wind generation represented 3% of total energy output - up from 2.6% in 2011.
Notably, wind energy production surpassed coal-plant output in 2012, reflecting the province’s move away from coal and toward clean energy sources. Last week, the Ontario government
In 2012, nuclear output showed a modest increase to 85.6 TWh, up from 85.3 TWh in 2011 and representing 56.4% of total generation; output from hydroelectric and natural-gas facilities was essentially unchanged from 2011, coming in at 33.8 TWh and 22.2 TWh, respectively; and Ontario's coal-fired units accounted for less than 3% of production.
January 14, 2013 – New 'Global Atlas' Charts Renewable Energy Resources Around the World
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a new global atlas of renewable energy resources that is intended to help countries assess their renewable energy potential.
IRENA also hopes the atlas will help companies gather data and maps from leading technical institutes and private companies worldwide. The atlas currently charts wind and solar resources, and will expand to other forms of renewable energy over this year and next year.
Nine new signatory countries will sign on to the Global Atlas, bringing the current number of participating countries to 22.
“The Global Atlas provides a powerful new tool in international efforts to double the world’s share of renewable energy by 2030,” explains Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA director general. “With 22 countries now taking part, and more expected to join in the coming months, it is a clear sign of our growing political will to transition to clean, renewable energy.”
The Web-based platform, accessible here, is designed to raise awareness of the world’s renewable energy potential and to help companies looking to invest in new markets.
January 14, 2013 – Vestas Secures Contract for Wind Farm in Uruguay
Vestas has received a 42 MW order from Akuo Energy for 14 V112-3.0 MW wind turbines.
The turbines, which will be installed at the Minas wind project in Uruguay, will be the first V112-3.0 MW machines to be installed in the country.
The contract for the Minas project comprises the delivery, transportation, installation and commissioning of the turbines; a VestasOnline Business SCADA system; and a 10-year Active Management Output 4000 service agreement.
Delivery of the turbines is scheduled for the third quarter of this year, and the project is expected to enter commercial operation by year-end.
January 11, 2013 – Clemson Makes Headway on Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility
Construction of a wind turbine drivetrain testing facility at Clemson University's Restoration Institute will achieve another milestone today, as engineers from Choate Construction pour 1,900 cubic yards of concrete into a pit in order to form the 15 MW test rig foundation.
The building's foundation is almost the equivalent of seven stories deep, and the pit already has approximately 450 tons of reinforcing steel weighing roughly the equivalent of 250 midsize cars, Clemson says, adding that there will be about 3,500 tons of concrete poured into the foundation base. The massive pour will last through the night to take advantage of generally calmer weather conditions and minimize traffic congestion, and is expected to take up to 12 hours.
The operation has taken months of planning and thousands of hours of preparation and field work. Engineers must consider environmental conditions and other factors that could cause an inconsistent flow of concrete. In May 2012, the engineering team from Choate poured the foundation for the smaller test rig. The pour for the 7.5 MW test rig required 750 cubic yards of concrete.
The project involves completely redeveloping an 82,000 square-foot warehouse on the former Navy base. The engineering design was performed by Minneapolis-based AEC Engineering.
In November 2009, Clemson and its partners were awarded a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which was combined with $53 million of matching funds, to build and operate the large-scale testing facility for next-generation wind turbine drivetrains. When complete later this year, the facility will have the capability for full-scale, highly accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines in the 5 MW to 15 MW range.
It also will have 50 Hz and 60 Hz testing capability, which means it can accommodate test specimens destined for anywhere in the world, according to Clemson.
January 11, 2013 – Ontario to Abandon All Coal-Fired Generation, Making Way for More Wind Energy
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced that the province will shut down 17 of 19 coal plants by the end of this year and eliminate coal as a source of electricity production by the end of 2014.
The last of the coal plants in the southern part of the province will be retired by the end of this year - a year ahead of schedule.
The early closure of Ontario's two largest coal-fired electricity plants, Nanticoke and Lambton, comes as a result of the province's improved, smarter electricity grid, increased efficiency, strong conservation efforts and diversified supply of clean energy, the provincial government says.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) applauded McGuinty’s decision, suggesting it would clear the way for more wind power in the province.
“The move to eliminate dirty coal from the provincial power system makes Ontario a North American leader in both environmental performance and in supporting the development of a clean energy economy,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA. “Ontario is one of North America’s wind energy leaders, and every 1,000 MW of new wind energy development represents more than $2.5 billion in new investment. Our developers, manufacturers and construction contractors are excited and ready to help the province continue to build a world-leading power system that is cleaner and affordable.”
However, there is no certainty as to what measures the next provincial government might take. McGuinty, who has been a wind power proponent, announced he is stepping down. Members of other political parties in the province have disapproved of McGuinty’s pro-wind stance. In fact, some members of the Progressive Conservative Party are calling for a moratorium on all wind energy development in the province.
Wind energy in Ontario has grown from 400 MW in 2006 to over 2 GW today, according to CanWEA.
January 10, 2013 – New York's $1 Billion 'Green Bank' Lends Hand to Renewable Energy
In his 2013 State of the State address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a comprehensive plan that aims to boost the state's clean energy economy and encourage renewable energy development.
Among other cleantech initiatives, a new $1 billion "Green Bank" will offer loans and grants to promote clean energy projects and alleviate some of the financial-market barriers currently inhibiting the flow of private capital to renewable energy and cleantech projects.
New York would be the second state to set up a so-called Green Bank; Connecticut debuted its version in July 2011 with the establishment of the state's Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.
Cuomo has appointed Richard Kauffman, a senior adviser to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and an expert in clean energy investment, to lead the Green Bank. Kauffman will also serve as head of a newly established sub-cabinet focused specifically on clean energy policy and finance.
The Green Bank is designed to fill in the holes left by unstable policy and funding at the federal level. New York has already injected hundreds of millions of dollars into renewable energy initiatives, including a recent $250 million solicitation for clean energy projects to fulfill its renewable portfolio standard.
The request for proposals, administered by the New York State Research and Development Authority, is just one part of the Energy Highway initiative Cuomo introduced in his State of the State address last year. Among other goals, the initiative seeks 270 MW of new renewable energy projects.
However, Cuomo recognizes that government subsidies alone will not spur the kind of renewable energy development he hopes to see.
“Currently, various New York state entities collect and spend $1.4 billion per year on renewables and energy efficiency - approximately 80 percent of this funding, or $1.15 billion, comes in the form of one-time subsidies,” he said. “In spite of this level of spending, the state is far from realizing its clean energy goals. So while subsidies are important, it is becoming evident that they alone cannot achieve the level of clean energy deployment necessary.”
That’s where the Green Bank comes in. Cuomo stressed that private-sector investment will be critical to the state’s renewable energy future, and his proposal aims to increase investors’ confidence in the cleantech sector. Under the governor’s plan, the Green Bank would leverage public dollars with a private-sector match to spur the state's clean energy economy.
“The NY Green Bank leverages private capital in a fashion that mitigates investment risk, catalyzes market activity and lowers borrowing costs - in turn, bringing down the prices paid by consumers,” Cuomo explained. “Through the use of bonding, loans and various credit enhancements, such as loan-loss reserves and guarantees, a Green Bank is a fiscally practical option in a time of severe budget conditions."
The Green Bank will also streamline development hurdles - such as contract standardization, data collection and dissemination, and project aggregation - in order to attract more investors.
The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY), a nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy in the state, welcomed the governor’s approach to spurring clean energy development.
“Energy remains a complex and ever-changing landscape, and state policies must be flexible and forward-thinking in order to capture all the economic, public-health and environmental benefits of clean power,” Valerie Strauss, ACE NY’s interim executive director, said in a statement. “The governor’s proposal to create a NY Green Bank is an innovative approach to spurring greater investment in clean energy, and we look forward to working with the Cuomo administration on its successful development.”
Although not as heavily publicized as the Green Bank, another important tenet of Cuomo’s plan is significant for wind project siting and development. In his State of the State address, Cuomo proposed to make Article X - a power-plant siting law that establishes a centralized certification process for electric generating facilities - permanent, which could be advantageous for wind project developers.
The newest version of Article X, finalized last July, creates a siting board, provides intervener funding for municipalities and local parties, consolidates and coordinates state environmental review and permitting requirements, and provides authority for the siting board to override overly burdensome local laws. Under the legislation, most proposed generation projects exceeding 25 MW, regardless of fuel source, are included in the new process.
For more information on how Article X affects wind project developers, click here.
January 10, 2013 – DOE, National Labs Tackling Rare-Earth Shortages to Ensure Clean Energy Future
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that a team led by Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare-earth metals, which are critical in the manufacture of wind turbines and other clean energy technologies.
The new research center, which will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will bring together leading researchers from academia, four DOE national laboratories, and the private sector.
"Rare-earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines, electric vehicles, advanced batteries and a host of other products that are essential to America’s energy and national security," explains David Danielson, assistant secretary for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
“The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests,” he adds.
In responding to the DOE’s call for proposals, Ames Lab assembled a team that offers capabilities covering the full spectrum of critical-materials research and development, from mining to separations, alloy formulations, component and systems development, and materials recycling.
The new hub will focus on technologies that will enable the U.S. to make better use of the materials found domestically as well as eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions.
The DOE’s 2011
Recently, the DOE and others have scaled up work to address these challenges. In fact, the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy and EERE have supported more than $40 million in magnet, motor and generator research.
CMI will leverage these existing research programs into a larger, coordinated effort designed to eliminate materials’ criticality as an impediment to the commercialization of clean energy technologies, the DOE explains.
The hub will address challenges across the entire life cycle of these materials, including the following: enabling new sources; improving the economics of existing sources; accelerating material development and deployment; ensuring more efficient practices in manufacturing; promoting recycling and reuse; and developing strategies to assess and address the life cycles of new materials.
Cross-cutting research, including the development of computational tools and supply-chain and economic analyses, will also be necessary in order to support the basic science needs across all challenge areas.
CMI will be headquartered at Ames Laboratory and will be directed by Alex King, who is currently director of Ames Lab. Other national labs partnering with Ames include Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. University, and research partners include Brown University, the Colorado School of Mines, Purdue University, Rutgers University, the University of California-Davis, Iowa State University, and the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute.
Industry partners that have joined to help advance CMI-developed technologies include General Electric, OLI Systems Inc., SpinTek Filtration Inc., Advanced Recovery, Cytec Inc., Molycorp Inc. and Simbol Materials.
January 10, 2013 – Companies Partner to Develop Floating Offshore LIDAR Technology
AXYS Technologies Inc., a provider of offshore remote sensing systems, has partnered with Optical Air Data Systems to develop and manufacture the Vindicator Generation 3 Laser Wind Sensor for the AXYS WindSentinel floating wind resource assessment system.
The Vindicator Generation 3 Laser Wind Sensor combines the current Vindicator technology with lessons learned from the world's first commercially deployed floating LIDAR systems, and will feature wind resource data collection and a lens-cleaning solution specifically designed for the challenging marine environment, AXYS explains.
The WindSentinel is a floating buoy system that uses a simultaneously pulsing laser wind sensor to measure wind speed, wind direction and turbulence offshore at turbine hub height and across the blade span.
January 9, 2013 – DOE Opens Up Wind Energy Competition for College Students
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory has issued a request for proposals for participation in the DOE's inaugural National Collegiate Wind Competition.
The competition is a forum for undergraduate college students of multiple disciplines to investigate innovative wind energy concepts; gain experience designing, building and testing a wind turbine to perform according to a customized market data-derived business plan; and increase their knowledge of wind industry barriers.
Successful teams will gain and then demonstrate knowledge of technology, finance, accounting, management and marketing.
The theme of the inaugural competition is to design and construct a lightweight, transportable wind turbine that can be used to power small electronic devices. A principal contest involves testing each team's prototype wind turbine in a wind tunnel under specific conditions. Each team's business plan and turbine will also be evaluated against other pre-weighted criteria.
The third stage of the competition will be a team-to-team debate relating to current wind market drivers and issues. Teams will be judged on the members' understanding of the issues posed to them, their communication of potential solutions and their ability to promote constructive dialogue.
More information is available here.
January 8, 2013 – DOE, National Labs Planning Offshore Wind Energy Research Center
A new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research facility could help bring the U.S. closer to offshore wind energy development by helping to alleviate a major hurdle.
The new Reference Facility for Offshore Renewable Energy will be used to test technologies, such as remote sensing, designed to determine the power-generating potential at sites along U.S. shores, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) explains.
Questions about the accuracy of offshore data from new measurement technologies have made some investors hesitant to back offshore energy projects. Research at the new facility will help verify that the technologies can collect reliable data and help improve those technologies, which, in turn, will provide potential investors confidence when reviewing offshore wind development proposals.
Current plans are for the facility to be located at the Chesapeake Light Tower, a former Coast Guard lighthouse that is about 13 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. Scientists representing industry, government and academia are likely to start research at the facility in 2015.
PNNL will shape and prioritize the research conducted there, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will manage the facility's remodeling and operations. PNNL will form an interagency steering committee to determine the facility's research priorities and procedures. The research will primarily focus on offshore wind but will also include underwater ocean energy and environmental monitoring technologies.
Part of NREL's renovation of the former lighthouse will include installing research equipment, including a meteorological tower that reaches 100 meters above sea level, which is the height of offshore wind turbine hubs.
The harsh environment and remote location of offshore energy sites make new technologies necessary in order to assess the power-producing potential of offshore sites. Strong winds and high concentrations of salt, for example, mean data-collecting equipment needs to be heavy-duty and extremely sturdy to operate offshore.
Whereas land-based wind assessment is often done by placing meteorological equipment on a tower, the challenges of anchoring similar towers into the ocean floor can increase costs substantially. As a result, offshore energy developers are looking at new ways to gather precise wind measurements at sites of interest.
Among the new technologies that are expected to be tested at the reference facility are devices incorporating light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to measure offshore wind speeds. LIDAR devices would be placed on buoys in the ocean. However, ocean waves move buoys up and down, which would also send the device's light beams in multiple directions. To avoid this problem, scientists have developed methods to account for a buoy's frequently changing position to collect the wind data they need.
That's where the reference facility comes in, PNNL says. Mathematically corrected data from buoy-based LIDAR will prove that the data collected is reliable and accurate. Wind assessment LIDAR devices would be placed both on buoys floating near the facility and on the facility itself. Wind data would be collected from both sources and evaluated to determine the buoy-based technology's accuracy.
January 8, 2013 – New Tilt-Up Met Tower Installed in Colorado
Capital City Renewables (CCR) has installed a 100-meter tilt-up meteorological tower in Colorado.
The company says the met tower can be both climbed and easily moved by tilting it downward. The metal lattice tower was assembled on the ground - complete with anemometers and wind vanes, a safety wire for climbing, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety lights - before being erected and mounted on a steel-plate base.
CCR installed, documented and tested the instruments on the ground for the new tower, which can be climbed to repair instruments, the company says, adding that the tower meets Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for aircraft visibility.
January 8, 2013 – Technological Advancements Critical to Wind Energy Market's Success, Firm Says
Publicly traded wind energy firms have drawn the ire of investors around the world as stock prices continued their tumble over the past year, with losses from publicly traded companies between 50% and 70% year over year. So far, internal cost-cutting and supply-chain optimization have only yielded profit margins in the low single digits, but further margin increases are needed in the next two to three years, says a new report from MAKE Consulting.
In order to reinvigorate investor enthusiasm, onshore wind energy must be able to compete head to head with fossil-fueled power generation with limited or no support from government-driven incentives, the firm says. In select situations, this has been achieved, with major turbine manufacturers claiming the ability to produce unsubsidized wind energy in the range of $50/MWh to $60/MWh.
Years of advancements in modern, mainstream onshore wind turbines have made this possible, yielding performance increases of 15% in annual energy production, while turbine pricing has remained under pressure over the past 24 months. Technology and industrialization lie at the heart of this endeavor and must be embraced to increase wind turbine energy capture and lower the capital cost of next-generation wind turbines, MAKE Consulting says.
Traditional wind turbine designs have their limitations, and continued evolution of an existing design will eventually lead to diminishing returns, the firm adds. Achieving even specific ratings (<200 w/m2) or expanding the market of current low-wind-speed turbines into class III and class II environments will require innovations.
Innovation requires investment, which is sometimes difficult to justify in a tough market environment but is essential to cement a path back to profitability.
According to MAKE Consulting, blade structures and materials remain at the forefront of innovation as new concepts reach commercialization in the coming years, including new adaptations of segmented blades, advanced root joints and pultruded spars.
In addition, new direct-drive concepts that apply ironless core designs are moving closer to full-scale testing and offer the promise of significantly improved torque-to-weight ratios without expensive and heavy rare-earth elements.
In the geared space, the move toward medium-speed drivetrains in larger megawatt-rated turbines is finally gaining some traction, while the demand for towers higher than 100 meters is increasing every year.
Advanced control capabilities are being developed to tie these new technologies together, most notably in the areas of load reduction via independent pitch control and turbine lifetime monitoring, MAKE notes.
Collaboration will be the key to success, the firm adds, and effective alliances will be successful when innovative component concepts are combined with thoughtful systems engineering.
January 7, 2013 – New Mexico College Uses Federal Funding to Train Students in Wind Energy
The North American Wind Research and Training Center at Tucumcari, N.M.-based Mesalands Community College has announced that it has used funds received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to assist students in gaining the skills, knowledge and hands-on training necessary to secure jobs in the wind energy industry.
This grant has also given the Wind Center at Mesalands the opportunity to meet the industry’s need for highly skilled workers in the utility wind operations and maintenance industry, the college says.
In January 2011, Mesalands was awarded $523,751 for the Wind Center of Excellence grant. These funds were a result of the State Energy Sector Partnership Program, as authorized by the ARRA grant awarded through the U.S Department of Labor.
Mesalands has used these funds to develop short-term certification programs, including a one-semester program resulting in an occupational certificate in wind energy technology. Students in this program received grants to cover the cost of tuition, fees, equipment and supplies.
Mesalands has a 1.5 MW GE wind turbine adjacent to the Wind Center, where students receive hands-on training and troubleshooting experience. The turbine is also used for research projects in the future advancement of wind energy.
In addition, through the Wind Center of Excellence grant, the college partnered with the Central New Mexico Workforce Training Center in Albuquerque, N.M., to provide a free course - Introduction to Wind Energy - to area students. This course included a day of hands-on training at the Mesalands campus.
Mesalands also partnered with Clovis Community College in Clovis, N.M., to offer free tower rescue training at the Wind Center for their wind energy students.
January 4, 2013 – WKN USA Brings Two Wind Projects Online
Renewable energy developer WKN USA says it has brought two wind projects online: Project Mozart, a 30 MW wind farm located just north of Rotan, Texas; and Project Wagner, a 6 MW project in Palm Springs, Calif.
Project Mozart utilizes 12 Nordex N100 2.5 MW turbines and interconnects to the local ERCOT grid. It is the first phase of a larger 250 MW project. Project Wagner comprises two Vestas V90 3 MW turbines, which produce as much energy as up to 60 of the older surrounding wind turbines, according to WKN USA.
January 3, 2013 – Post-PTC Extension, Wind Energy Developers Face New Questions
President Barack Obama has officially signed H.R.8, the American Tax Payer Relief Act, into law. While the sweeping legislation helped extend unemployment insurance and make permanent the Bush-era tax cuts, it also extended for one year the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), as well as the investment tax credit (ITC), which is important for offshore and community wind.
Per the legislation, wind energy projects must begin construction by Jan. 1, 2014, in order to receive the $0.022/kWh incentive. Notably, the act amends the "in-service" date to a "begin construction" date, which allows for more lead time for developers than would a one-year extension alone.
Although the extension averts a total collapse this year, wind developers (and likely manufacturers) are still grappling with a host of issues. Chief among those concerns is the true definition of "begin construction."
According to Keith Martin, partner at Chadbourne & Parke, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs to decipher for the industry what it means for a project to be under construction in order to qualify for the PTC or the ITC. The IRS issued a similar clarification on so-called "begin construction" language after the issuance of the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program.
Martin says geothermal industry lobbyists who pushed for the change in language to “start construction” talked to the Senate tax committee staff about using the same approach that was used for Treasury cash grants.
"The grant program has an unusually generous definition of what it means to start construction," he says, noting that the issue for wind farms is that each turbine is considered a separate "facility" for tax purposes.
"Among the issues the IRS will have to decide is whether to give developers the option to treat an entire wind farm as a single facility for this purpose so that the start of construction of one turbine will be considered the start of work on the entire project,” Martin adds.
The IRS has typically taken up to one year to resolve discrepancies. However, given that the wind industry only has a one-year extension, the IRS could expedite a ruling within four to six months, Martin says.
However, the government's track record in this area has been less than stellar. The Section 1603 cash grants were included as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which Obama signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009. However, it was not until July 9, 2010 - nearly 18 months later - that the Treasury provided guidance relating to the 5% safe harbor for the start of construction.
David Burton, partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, says the act's “begin construction” language may mean incurring 5% of the cost in 2013, which is how the Treasury interpreted the begin-construction rules for the Section 1603 cash-grant program.
Just the same, the Treasury or the IRS will need to rule on the interpretation, Burton says, adding that the Joint Committee on Taxation, a group of tax lawyers that advise the Senate Finance Committee, could help to clarify the matter in a few weeks.
As written, Burton says, the act does not include an end date. Therefore, savvy project developers could theoretically bank tax credits well into the future. For example, a wind farm owner could incur $5 million to purchase wind blades in 2013 and use those blades in a $100 million project that is completed in 2017. As currently written, the wind project would be eligible for 10 years of PTCs beginning in 2017.
According to Burton, if a developer plans well and banks enough 2013 PTC-eligible component parts, it may be able to continue to construct PTC-eligible wind farms indefinitely.
However, he cautions, "We do not know yet if the government will permit such an interpretation."
And without the certainty, wind developers are unlikely to take full advantage of the extension.
"The regulations interpreting the new PTC/ITC language have not been issued yet, so we can't be sure," notes Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, the developer behind the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm. "We intend to qualify the Block Island Wind Farm for the tax credits this year, assuming the regulations permit it."
January 3, 2013 – Wind Energy PTC, ITC Extensions Officially Signed into Law
President Barack Obama has signed H.R.8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which, among many other tax-related and economic provisions, extends the production tax credit and investment tax credit for wind energy for one year.
Under the legislation, wind energy projects must begin construction by Jan. 1, 2014, in order to receive the $0.022/kWh incentive. The law also extends the investment tax credit for projects that begin construction before Jan. 1, 2014.
January 1, 2013 – Congress Extends Wind Energy Tax Credits for Projects that Start in 2013: “Fiscal Cliff” Deal Preserves America’s Leading Source of New Electric Generation
Congress has included the long-sought extension of wind energy tax credits in final passage of a bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" that now moves to President Obama for his expected signature.
America's 75,000 workers in wind energy are celebrating tonight over the continuation of policies expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country. The extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects, will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, with factories or wind farms in all 50 states.
The version included in tonight's deal would cover all wind projects that start construction in 2013. Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm.
Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee included that version in a "tax extenders" package they assembled in August, which made it into the overall fiscal cliff deal that passed the Senate early this morning and the House tonight. The bill is expected to be swiftly signed into law by President Obama, who consistently supported the wind energy tax credits throughout the process.
Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.
However, America's wind energy workers have been living under threat of the PTC's expiration for over a year and layoffs had already begun, as companies idled factories because of a lack of orders for 2013. Uncertain federal policies have caused a "boom-bust" cycle in U.S. wind energy development for over a decade.
Half the American jobs in wind energy – 37,000 out of 75,000 – and hundreds of U.S. factories in the supply chain would have been at stake had the PTC been allowed to expire, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.
In the closing days of this year's "lame duck" session of Congress, America's wind energy workers have been posting videos to tell their stories of working in the new industry. The 2,000 companies that belong to AWEA have sent delegations to Capitol Hill repeatedly, invited Members of Congress on tours of wind farms and factories, and delivered hundreds of thousands of letters from constituents.
"On behalf of all the people working in wind energy manufacturing facilities, their families, and all the communities that benefit, we thank President Obama and all the Members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014," said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA for the past four years.
"Now we can continue to provide America with more clean, affordable, homegrown energy, and keep growing a new manufacturing sector that's now making nearly 70 percent of our wind turbines in the U.S.A.," said Rob Gramlich, who becomes AWEA's interim CEO on January 2 with Bode's return to private practice as a tax attorney, as previously announced.