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April 4, 2014 – AWEA Calls Recent Wind Energy Records 'Transmission Success Stories'

Wind energy is breaking records across the U.S., thanks to long-needed transmission upgrades that are relieving congestion on the power grid and allowing more clean energy to reach consumers, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The group notes the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's (ERCOT) announcement that it had set a new wind production record on its grid last week, reaching over 10 GW. AWEA says this was the most ever for a U.S. power system, the equivalent of powering more than 5 million average Texas homes.

In two previously unreported records, wind energy also supplied a record 39.7% of total ERCOT electricity demand on March 31, and two weeks ago, the Southwest Power Pool region just to the north of Texas set a new wind record with over 7.2 GW of wind production.

Nationwide, AWEA says that up to 60 GW of new wind energy development would be enabled by major transmission projects that are in advanced stages of development. The group adds that Texas is the national leader in wind energy, in part, because it has been a leader in creating policies that enable private sector investment in and open access to an expanded transmission grid.

Specifically, AWEA says Texas’ recent wind records were made possible by the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines earlier this year. The lines connect wind energy resource areas in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to electricity demand centers, and the state currently has more than 7 G MW of wind capacity under construction.

Other regions are following Texas’s lead in adopting policies that will enable long-needed grid upgrades, AWEA adds. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator has adopted similar cost-allocation policies for a set of transmission lines called the Multi-Value Projects. These projects will potentially integrate nearly 14 GW of new wind capacity. Similarly, AWEA says the Southwest Power Pool has adopted a Highway/Byway transmission cost-allocation policy and is making progress toward building a set of lines called the Priority Projects, which are expected to serve more than 3 GW of new wind capacity.

“It may have taken a few years, but in many parts of the country the grid is finally catching up with wind energy’s rapid growth,” says Michael Goggin, senior electric industry analyst for AWEA. “These recent wind energy records, and the tens of billions of dollars of new wind energy investment in the pipeline, are a product of those transmission success stories.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


April 3, 2014 – Senate Committee Passes Bill With Two-Year PTC Extension

Hope for a revival of the wind production tax credit (PTC) has been buoyed, as a two-year extension of the incentive has made its way into a newly passed Senate Finance Committee tax extenders bill. An earlier version of the bill, released by Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday, did not include the PTC.

Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had pushed for an amendment to add the PTC extension prior to a committee markup hearing on April 3. The bill also includes a two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC). Both incentives expired on Dec. 31, 2013, and the legislation would extend them through Dec. 31, 2015.

The Senate Finance Committee passed the tax extenders package Thursday afternoon and has sent it to the Senate floor.

“We’re grateful to all the supporters of renewable energy on the Senate Finance Committee,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), in a statement. He adds that the vote “provides a critical signal for our industry.”

According to AWEA, a number of Senators on both sides of the aisle highlighted the success of the PTC and ITC during the hearing. Grassley spoke at length in favor of the tax credits and called arguments against their extension from Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., “intellectually dishonest.”

John Thune, R-S.D., then withdrew a proposal to phase down the PTC, saying that discussion belonged in comprehensive tax reform, not the debate over the extenders package. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., called the PTC “vitally important” to his state - an incentive that is “driving not just economic growth, but job growth and wage growth.”

Lately, loud support for PTC and ITC extensions has been prevalent among elected officials. Last month, 144 Congress members signed letters urging their colleagues to act quickly to revive the incentives. Twenty-six Senate members signed the letter to Wyden, and 118 House members signed the letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Furthermore, President Barack Obama’s recent fiscal-year 2015 budget proposal reiterated his call for a permanent PTC.

Nonetheless, some groups had urged the Senate Finance Committee not to include the incentive extension. For example, conservative advocacy Americans for Prosperity issued the following statement on April 2: "Wind energy companies have been receiving special handouts from the Obama administration for years and still haven't been successful. It's time for Congress to put an end to this corporate welfare and encourage a free market in the energy industry that will lower costs for Americans across the country."

Although the Senate Finance Committee reported out the tax extenders bill, which includes about 50 other expired provisions, the battle is likely far from over.

As David Burton, a partner at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, points out, the vote is “a first step in a long journey and unlikely on its own to create enough confidence to spur investment in the development of new projects.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


April 2, 2014 – New Vermont Law Raises Net Metering Cap to 15%

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed self-generation and net-energy metering (NEM) legislation (H.702) into law. The new law raises the 4% cap utilities had been using as the limit on their NEM programs to 15% of peak load.

The legislation applies to grid-connected renewable energy generation systems smaller than 500 kW that are intended primarily to offset the customer's own electricity. Supporters, such as Renewable Energy Vermont, say the measure will be a boon for small solar, wind and hydro energy. The politically popular measure passed by a vote of 136-8 through the Vermont House and unanimously in the Senate.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


April 2, 2014 – Stakeholders Form Global Energy Storage Alliance

The Global Energy Storage Alliance (GESA) has been established as an international nonprofit organization to bring together energy storage and clean energy industry associations to help advance education, collaboration and frameworks about the benefits of energy storage.

Co-founders of GESA include the U.S. Energy Storage Association, California Energy Storage Alliance, China Energy Storage Alliance, Germany Energy Storage Association, India Energy Storage Alliance and Alliance for Rural Electrification.

In the alliance's first international initiative, GESA says it partnered with the Renewables 100 Policy Institute to facilitate a series of meetings between German and European policymakers and regulators and a delegation of energy experts and regulators from California.

According to GESA, the participants discussed strategies for utilizing energy storage technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a more adaptable and resilient grid infrastructure to handle the rapid deployment of renewable generation and changing demands of the grid around the world.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


April 1, 2014 – Update: Maine Legislature Rejects Governor's Attempt to Change Wind Energy Law

Last week, both the Maine House and Senate voted down a governor-backed bill that would have required wind developers in the state to prove a proposed project's economic benefits, such as job creation and lower electricity prices, before receiving regulatory approval.

As NAW reported in March, Republican Gov. Paul LePage wanted to add the requirements to the state's Wind Energy Act of 2008. Although the administration claimed the proposal would have helped keep electricity prices low and protect Maine ratepayers, some renewable energy advocates argued that the new requirements would have created uncertainty and hindered wind development in the state.

Originally, the bill also wanted to eliminate megawatt goals of the 2008 wind energy law, but the proposal was later amended to preserve the targets. The Maine legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee voted down the amended bill, which then moved to the House and Senate floors for debate. Following last week’s decisions, the bill is now officially dead.

Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, commends the state legislature for doing away with the proposal.

He says, “It's a victory for those who care about the development of emission-free, clean energy in Maine - environmental and business leaders and the general public came together to oppose the bills, and the House and Senate rightly sided with their constituents, knowing that the uncertainty the bill would've created was not in the best interest of Maine's energy future.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 31, 2014 – ACORE, Trade Groups Author Outlook Report For U.S. Renewable Energy

The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) has released "The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014," a report jointly authored by U.S. renewable energy trade associations that assesses the renewables marketplace and forecasts the future of various technology sectors.

ACORE President and CEO Michael Brower says the group "applauds the unity of the renewable industry community and this united front."

The trade associations that participated in the outlook include the Advanced Biofuels Association; Biomass Power Association; Biomass Thermal Energy Council; Energy Recovery Council; Geothermal Energy Association; Growth Energy; National Hydropower Association; Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition; Solar Energy Industries Association; and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The report highlights some findings from previous AWEA studies, such as wind power’s declining costs. The ACORE report also notes last year’s 92% drop in new installed U.S. capacity and reiterates a call for policy certainty.

“Wind energy is now among the largest sources of new electric power in the U.S.,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Technology innovation and U.S. manufacturing have reduced its average cost by 43 percent in just four years. The economic benefits are reaching communities and consumers all over America, with an average of $15 billion a year in private investment and savings on electric bills also now in the billions a year. We’re on track to generate 20 percent of the electricity in America from wind by 2030, and already produce over 25 percent in Iowa and South Dakota.”

The full ACORE report is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 31, 2014 – MAKE: Latin America Poised For Strong Wind Power Growth

High power prices, strong demand for electricity, reliance on expensive petroleum and the unpredictability of hydroelectricity are a few key factors that have set the stage for wind power development in Latin America, according to a new report from MAKE Consulting. Led by Brazil and Mexico, the region is expected to install 53 GW of new wind power capacity through 2023.

MAKE notes that the development of wind power in Latin America is progressing largely without the support of traditional incentive mechanisms or renewables targets found in more established and developed wind markets. While it is true that a number of regional development banks have been instrumental in facilitating project finance for many of the projects in Latin America, the report says that value proposition of wind power technology has proven attractive to central power authorities, utilities and private off-takers in the region. High power prices and strong growth in demand for electricity in the majority of the region’s markets have facilitated the incorporation of wind into regional power mixes without feed-in tariffs or production incentives.

Brazil - which MAKE says is the most mature and established market in the region - will install 43% of all new wind power capacity expected for the region through 2023. In the near term, the research firm foresees commissioning bubbles in both Brazil and Uruguay pushing new capacity in excess of 5 GW in both 2014 and 2015. The report says medium-term growth is also promising, as the Brazilian market has already contracted a strong portfolio of wind power projects at auctions through 2018. Momentum at national power auctions is likely to be sustained.

According to MAKE, Mexico’s government approved critical amendments to its constitution in December 2013 to introduce increased competition in its petroleum and electricity industries. Several rounds of support legislation are expected to be approved over the course of this year that will help clarify the new future of the country’s power market. Chile, meanwhile, nearly doubled its installed wind power base with the commissioning of 187 MW in 2013, and several utility-scale projects are scheduled to be connected this year - building upon the momentum growing in the market.

Although various factors have facilitated positive growth in some Latin American markets, MAKE says many other markets in the region still face sizable challenges.

For example, the report says the rapidly deteriorating economic and political situation in Venezuela raises serious doubts about the stability of the country and the security of investing in this market. Argentina’s political situation is not as dire, but its economy continues to deteriorate at the hands of currency controls and political meddling in the country’s energy sector, the report adds.

More information about MAKE’s Latin America Wind Power Outlook 2014 is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 28, 2014 – Wind Generation Output in Texas Tops 10 GW, Breaks Record

March winds brought a new wind power record to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region Wednesday evening, March 26, when instantaneous output reached a record 10,296 MW at 8:48 p.m.

ERCOT says that at the time the new record was set, wind generation was providing nearly 29% of the 35,768 MW of electricity being used on the its grid. The new record beats the previous record set earlier this month by more than 600 MW.

Of the total generation at the time, 1,433 MW came from wind generators on the Gulf Coast, while 8,863 MW came from other regions. Most came from West Texas, where transmission projects in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones were recently completed to transport more power from that region to more populated areas of the state.

"With the continuing growth in wind generation capacity and the completion of new transmission projects to get it to the grid, ERCOT is making greater use of this resource,” says Ken McIntyre, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and operations.

According to ERCOT, Texas continues to have more wind power capacity than any other state. The ERCOT region has more than 11,000 MW of commercial wind power capacity, with nearly 8,000 MW of new projects in development and more than 26,700 MW under study. Wind power constituted 9.9% of the total energy used in the ERCOT region in 2013, compared to 9.2% in 2012.

EROCT notes wind generation had already broken previous records twice this month. Additionally, 9,868 MW of wind generation was serving a record 38.43% of the 25,677 MW system-wide demand at 3:19 a.m. on Thursday, March 27.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 28, 2014 – Va. Governor Announces Offshore Wind Grants: 'We're Ready For Business'

The State of Virginia has awarded research grants totaling $860,000 to four local companies. According to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., the research will help give the state a competitive advantage and accelerate the development of offshore wind power and its associated industry supply chain.

The four proposals were selected for first-round awards under a request for proposals that generated 20 responses for projects requesting a total of $4.83 million in Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy funding and which offered a total of $5.38 million in matching funds.

The grant winners include the following:

  • Alstom Power Inc., a global industrial manufacturer with its North American wind power business headquartered in the metro Richmond area, offered $10,000 in contributed cost share and was selected for a $40,000 award to develop advanced controls that adjust ocean wind turbines to respond in real time to incoming waves, reducing wear and tear on the rotor and generator.
  • CoastalObsTechServices LLC of Virginia Beach offered $310,000 in cost share contributions and was selected for a $260,000 award to perform a 12-month wave measurement project and wave forecast modeling and validation to help mitigate the risk of construction delays and service vessel inaccessibility.
  • Timmons Group, a Richmond-based engineering and technology firm, offered to contribute $345,000 in cost share and was selected for a $250,000 award to develop a proof of concept for a commercial wide-area metocean and environmental monitoring program.
  • Virginia Electric Power Co., dba Dominion Virginia Power, offered $2 million in cost share contribution and was selected for a $310,000 award to advance geotechnical studies, including deep borings, which are essential to early project engineering analysis.

In September 2013, Dominion won the commercial auction conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop wind power on just over 112,000 acres approximately 24 miles off Virginia’s coast. According to BOEM, the federally designated Virginia Wind Energy Area has the potential to support up to 2 GW of wind generation.

McAuliffe claims that the gradual slope of the Outer Continental Shelf off of Virginia, with relatively shallow water at offshore distances sufficient to minimize conflicts with commercial shipping and military training, and an excellent wind resource make the area ideal for wind power development. In addition, the governor says that Virginia is well positioned along the Atlantic coast to become the central hub to support wind power development planned in other states to the north and south.

Nonetheless, McAuliffe notes that much data still needs to be gathered, such as information on sub-sea geology, waves and currents, and marine and avian species, before commercial development can begin.

“The projects selected for award today will help to fill some of these gaps,” he says, later adding that the awards are “the latest examples of the commonwealth encouraging and supporting private sector investments in offshore wind development. There is more to come. We’re ready for business.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 27, 2014 – PG&E Surpasses 20% Renewable Energy Milestone

California-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) says it delivered 22.5% of its power from eligible renewable resources in 2013 and is on track to meet the state's 33% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard.

PG&E says this marks the first time that its renewable energy deliveries - including solar, wind, biomass, small hydroelectric and geothermal - exceeded 20% for one year and gave the utility a slight surplus for the 2011-2013 compliance period, when renewable deliveries needed to average 20% a year to meet California's renewable energy mandate.

Since 2002, PG&E has signed 155 contracts for more than 10.6 GW of eligible renewable power.

"More than 55 percent of our electricity comes from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources," says John Conway, senior vice president of energy supply for PG&E. "Through our own clean energy resources and power purchase agreements for solar, wind and other renewable fuels, we are working to grow our clean energy portfolio and do so in a way that is affordable for our customers."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 27, 2014 – Wind Sector Has Invested Billions of Dollars in Oklahoma

The wind energy industry in Oklahoma has invested more than $6 billion in wind farm construction and contributed more than $1 billion to the production of goods and services in the state, according to a new study commissioned by The Wind Coalition Oklahoma office.

"Wind energy is no longer 'alternative' energy," says Curt Roggow, director of The Wind Coalition Oklahoma. "It has become a mainstream, reliable and cost-effective source of energy for the people of Oklahoma."

Compiled by independent consulting firm Economic Impact Group (EIG), the report also shows that wind industry project construction and operating activities in Oklahoma from 2003 to 2012 created the following:

- More than $340 million in labor income;
- More than 1,600 direct full-time jobs;
- More than 4,000 total jobs including manufacturing and support industries; and
- More than $1.8 billion of economic activity during the first 20-year contracts.

“The property improvements made by developers created a tax base that will provide more than $43 million in property taxes annually to Oklahoma municipalities and school districts following the property tax abatement period,” says Russell Evans, principal and co-founder of EIG. “These projects provide more than $22 million annually in payments to local landowners and approximately $15 million in direct wages to local workers.”

Oklahoma wind projects range in capacity from 40 MW to 300 MW, with the average facility incorporating 68 turbines to produce 130 MW of energy. These wind farms represent more than 3 GW of electricity generation capacity.

“With 26 active wind farms in our state, Oklahoma is now ranked sixth in the country for the amount of wind energy generated for consumers,” Roggow adds. “That’s enough energy to power nearly 770,000 homes every year.

“As this industry grows, it is important to understand the economic impact wind energy has on Oklahoma now and the potential it has to meet our future energy and economic needs. This data will be essential for policymakers and elected officials to understand the importance wind energy has in our state, and to forecast its potential impact.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 26, 2014 – Study: California Could Cash in on Wyoming Wind Power

Californians would benefit and save money - up to $1 billion in annual generation costs - if a new direct-current transmission line connected the California grid to Wyoming's high-capacity wind energy resources, according to an economic analysis produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Commissioned by the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) in 2013, the final report shows the calculated benefits of such a transmission project would outweigh the costs by more than two times. The WIA says that is well above the threshold utilities typically require before making transmission investments.

The Wyoming legislature created the WIA in 2004 to diversify and expand the state economy through improvements in the state’s electric transmission infrastructure and to facilitate the consumption of Wyoming energy.

“Wyoming has some of the best onshore wind in the United States,” says Loyd Drain, executive director of the WIA. “This study quantifies the benefit of connecting the best wind in the West to the state with the largest demand for renewables in the West - thus, the California-Wyoming connection.”

The study looked at various scenarios and reviewed how California plans to supply the 32,000 GWh of new renewable energy in order to meet the state’s 33% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard (RPS). According to the WIA, the report suggests Wyoming wind power would help the state accomplish its goals, and at a low long-term cost.

Drain notes that one Wyoming direct-current transmission line, the TransWest Express Transmission Project, is well advanced in the federal permitting process and on track to be in service ahead of California’s 2020 RPS deadline. The TransWest project is a 600 kV, 3 GW, high-voltage direct-current transmission line that would be 725 miles long.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 26, 2014 – Cape Wind Offshore Project Receives More European Backing

Cape Wind and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. (BTMU) have added France-based Natixis and Netherlands-based Rabobank to serve as lead arrangers for the 468 MW Cape Wind project, which is being developed off the coast of Massachusetts.

Natixis and Rabobank will work with BTMU to structure and arrange the syndication of the senior debt financing to additional lenders. The lead arrangers are also expected to make significant commitments, which, together with EKF, would provide more than $1 billion to Cape Wind's debt financing following approvals. In February, Cape Wind announced a $600 million loan from Danish export credit agency EKF.

"Cape Wind is a good fit for Natixis considering our prior participation in other offshore wind projects, and we believe the market is strong for additional commercial banks to participate," comments Natixis’ Olivier Delay.

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon says the developer is pleased to work with “these experienced offshore wind lenders.”

Earlier this month, Cape Wind won four legal cases in federal court that were challenging the project’s permit from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Following financial closing, the developer expects to commence commercial operations in late summer 2016.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 25, 2015 – 144 Congress Members Call For Wind PTC, ITC Extensions

Members from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have signed bipartisan letters urging their colleagues to act quickly and extend the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC).

Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, headed the effort. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the letters call on Congress to encourage more private investment by stabilizing the U.S. industry and averting another falloff like 2013’s 92% drop in domestic wind power installations.

AWEA notes that the champions of these letters hail from Iowa and Colorado, leaders in wind energy. The group says Iowa is the national leader in wind generation, with over 27% of the state’s electricity coming from wind power and over 6,000 Iowans employed in the wind energy sector. Colorado, meanwhile, is a manufacturing powerhouse that has seen over $4 billion of private investment from wind energy and is home to Xcel, the nation’s No. 1 wind power provider.

AWEA says at least 559 U.S. factories across the nation that manufacture parts for wind turbines are once again vulnerable since the PTC and ITC - which is of special importance to the distributed and offshore wind sectors - were allowed to expire Jan. 1.

The bipartisan House letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was signed by 118 members. It urged “certainty and predictability so that long-term project decisions and investments can be made.” The bipartisan Senate letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was signed by 26 members. It asked that the PTC “be considered by the committee as soon as possible … to avoid further layoffs and divestment.”

“We look forward to Congress, in particular the Senate Finance Committee, acting quickly to extend the PTC and ITC so that the U.S. remains a global leader and our businesses can continue building, expanding and hiring,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Senators Udall and Grassley and Congressmen King and Loebsack have been tireless advocates for this homegrown American industry, and we thank them for their vision and determination.”

AWEA says wind energy has grown exponentially in the last decade, in large part due to the effectiveness of the PTC. From 2005 to 2012, when the PTC was continuously in place, the wind industry grew nine times over, resulting in $105 billion of private investment. Domestic content rose sharply from 25% to 72% from U.S. factories, and jobs reached 80,000, including 30,000 in U.S. manufacturing. However, AWEA says uncertainty over the future of the PTC at the end of 2012 caused private investment to fall from $25 billion in 2012 to $2 billion in 2013.

“Siemens has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in factories in multiple states, and we now employ 1,500 people in the U.S.,” comments Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens Energy’s Wind Power Americas business. “We continue to make significant progress in closing the cost gap with conventional power generation technologies, but the policy uncertainty is once again a hiccup for further development. Extending the PTC is critical to giving the wind industry the certainty needed to thrive in the long term."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 24, 2014 – Renewables Dominate New U.S. Capacity for First Two Months of 2014

For the first two months of this year, renewable energy sources accounted for 91.9% of the 568 MW of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity, according to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Coal, oil and nuclear provided none, while natural gas and 1 MW of "other" resources provided the balance.

In February alone, wind and solar made up 80.9% of new domestic capacity, with five new "units" of wind providing 99 MW and 12 units of solar providing 92 MW. In addition, one new unit of natural gas provided 45 MW.

"Another month dominated by renewables!" comments Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a renewable energy advocacy group. "Only flat-earthers and climate-deniers can continue to question the fact that the age of renewable energy is now here."

Citing the FERC statistics, SUN DAY notes renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.14% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro - 8.45%, wind - 5.26%, biomass - 1.37%, solar - 0.73%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.26%) and oil (4.05%) combined.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 21, 2014 – Clean Energy Land Program to Fund Up to $100M in U.S. Wind and Solar Projects

Altus Power America Management, an investor and manager of clean energy projects and assets, and Macquarie Group, a provider of investment and funds management services, have teamed up to launch the Clean Energy Land Program. According to the companies, the program will finance up to $100 million in solar and wind land energy projects in the U.S.

The companies say the program is designed to bring to the market the most cost-competitive capital to acquire lands and rights under solar and wind assets, while allowing the developers and owners of these assets to monetize those values.

"Altus and its principals have deep experience in clean energy and a proven track record in developing wind and solar projects,” says Macquarie’s Matthew Lancaster. “This arrangement combines the provision of efficient asset-based financing with a strong track record in project sourcing and execution.”

The companies say the program will offer financial solutions to solar and wind developers to acquire lands under any projects in development and the opportunity to monetize any existing portfolios of similar assets immediately. The parties expect the first transaction to occur during the second quarter of this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 21, 2014 – Clean Energy Investment in Nevada Hits $5.5 Billion Since 2010

Clean energy investment in Nevada has accelerated rapidly in the past five years, reaching at least $5.5 billion since 2010, according to a new report from the Las Vegas-based Clean Energy Project.

Government officials joined representatives from renewable energy advocacy groups to highlight the report. During a press conference, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "Las Vegas and Nevada are leading the way on deploying clean renewable energy. These technologies are creating thousands of jobs. And they are strengthening our state’s electricity supply.

“But, there is more we must do. From providing predictable and fair tax incentives that level the playing field, to quickly approving permits for projects on public lands, we can help clean energy grow in Nevada and nationwide."

Nevada’s emergence as a renewable energy hub will also be symbolized by four major trade shows being held this year in the state, including the Solar Energy Industry Association’s Solar Power International conference and the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) WINDPOWER show.

AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan, who was present at the press conference, remarked, “Las Vegas is the perfect place to celebrate how affordable and widespread wind energy has become, since Nevada’s first utility-scale wind farm is part of this $5 billion renewable energy boom for the state, and more wind energy is on the way.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 21, 2014 – Maryland Offers $700,000 to Help Spur Early Offshore Wind Investments

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has launched a $700,000 grant initiative designed to help Maryland businesses become integral participants in the global offshore wind market.

The Market Entry Assistance Grant Program is the first initiative to originate from the Offshore Wind Business Development Fund, and the funds are aimed to reduce the costs associated with establishing commercial offshore wind sector exports.

The program will provide two types of grant assistance: administrative costs grants will be available to cover up to $25,000 for organizational needs, and capital equipment and facility upgrades grants for amounts up to $500,000 will offer financial support for significant equipment investments.

"It is important that we support innovative Maryland businesses that seek a dominant position in the offshore wind supply chain with products that challenge the established European market," says Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the MEA.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 18, 2014 – FERC Signs Off On Coordinated Transaction Scheduling For PJM and NYISO

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved tariff revisions for the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and PJM Interconnection that PJM says will help improve scheduling of wholesale electricity sales between the two regions.

According to PJM, FERC's approval of coordinated transaction scheduling (CTS) will help enable PJM and NYISO to make more efficient use of the transmission lines that connect the two regions. CTS, PJM adds, will help improve scheduling efficiency, maximize transmission utilization and reduce counterintuitive interregional transmission schedules by explicitly incorporating projected price differences between the NYISO and PJM markets into interregional scheduling decisions.

PJM notes that technical enhancements include increasing the frequency of scheduling energy transactions over the transmission network between the two regions and implementing software changes to enable the two grid operators to coordinate their selection of the most economic transactions available.

"Over the past year, PJM and New York market participants successfully guided the CTS proposal through each region’s stakeholder process," comments Stephen G. Whitley, NYISO president and CEO. The result of these collaborative efforts is enhanced grid operations throughout New York and the Mid-Atlantic and savings for consumers across the regions."

Implementation of CTS is scheduled for November, PJM reports.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 17, 2014 – Wind Energy Powers the 2014 Environmental Film Festival

Green Power Offsets, a subsidiary of EDP Renewables North America, has donated 200,000 kWh of wind-generated renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electricity use of the 2014 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital.

According to Green Power, the RECs will avoid an estimated 151 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Peter O'Brien, the festival's executive director, says, "The Environmental Film Festival is proud to partner with Green Power Offsets as we present our 22nd annual program. Their generous donation of RECs is a vital part of our organization's commitment to sustainability, making it possible for us to partner with 65 venues across [Washington, D.C.] while minimizing our carbon footprint."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 17, 2014 – Ohio Environmental Groups Back Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project

Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) says several environmental groups have shown support for Icebreaker, the developer's proposed 18 MW offshore wind pilot project in Lake Erie.

On the company's website, LEEDCo has posted letters backing the project from The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), The Nature Conservancy, Environment Ohio, The Sierra Club, Mom's Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, and Earth Day Coalition.

LEEDCo says support from the environmental community is crucial for Icebreaker to secure the permits it needs to begin construction. The letters were included in recently filed permit applications with a number of state and federal regulatory agencies. LEEDCo says those applications also included an environmental assessment determining that the pilot project poses no significant risk to the birds and bats that frequent the area.

“LEEDCo has completed comprehensive studies, which demonstrate that Icebreaker will deliver cleaner air while avoiding harm to wildlife,” said Keith Dimoff, executive director at The OEC. “The State of Ohio has an urgent need for more local sources of clean energy, and offshore wind could become a big part of the solution.”

LEEDCo notes that it is completing the engineering design, securing power purchase agreements and project finance, and working to develop the local supply chain for Icebreaker. Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2017.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 14, 2014 – Steelcase Inc. Offsets 100% of Its Global Electricity Use With Renewable Energy

Steelcase Inc., a Michigan-based office furniture company, has announced the company's renewable energy investment is equivalent to 100% of its worldwide electricity consumption. The company has chosen to purchase its renewable energy credits (RECs) from a portfolio that includes newer wind power and hydroelectric projects in North America and Europe.

"Our commitment to renewable energy is reflective of our passion for innovation and the environment. We're helping grow an industry that will ultimately benefit the entire world," says Jim Keane, president and CEO of Steelcase Inc.

The company adds that its REC purchases are part of the company's larger energy strategy, which has resulted in a 60% reduction in energy use since the company began tracking its consumption in 2001.

Furthermore, Steelcase says it has created a program to help encourage the company's suppliers to purchase RECs from new wind energy facilities that came online in 2011 or later. Those partners choosing to participate will benefit from Steelcase's volume discount pricing.

"We see this program as both a business advantage and extension of the company's long-term commitment to sustainability," comments Angela Nahikian, director of global environmental sustainability for Steelcase. "As demand for fossil fuels begins to outpace global supply, we'll know that we've played an important role in developing a market for clean energy. It's exciting to be able to offer this great benefit to our trusted partners."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 14, 2014 – BOEM to Review 12 MW Pilot Project Offshore Virginia

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking public comment as it prepares an environmental assessment (EA) for a 12 MW offshore wind pilot project off the coast of Virginia.

Dominion Resources Inc. is heading the two-turbine project, which is proposed adjacent to the BOEM-designated Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore Virginia. Dominion recently won the commercial lease for the Virginia WEA, and this demonstration project will aim to help the company’s future development an offshore project up to 2 GW.

For the 12 MW pilot, Dominion has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, which has requested the research lease. BOEM has published in the Federal Register a notice about the EA and will accept public comments by April 14. In addition, BOEM will hold a public meeting to solicit comments on the scope of the EA.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 14, 2014 – Turbine Tech Advances Played Key Role in U.S. Wind Power Growth, Cost Decline

U.S. wind energy generation has outpaced the growth in new wind power capacity, thanks to innovative technological advancements, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The group says that over the past five years, U.S. wind energy capacity grew from 25 GW to over 61 GW, a 140% growth rate, yet electricity generated from these wind turbines grew at a rate of 200%, exceeding capacity growth and making wind energy cheaper than ever.

AWEA says the increasing performance and production of wind turbines is the result of technological innovation and operational improvements, which have effectively driven down the costs and allowed development to occur in lower wind speed regions.

Advancements undertaken by manufacturers include designing taller towers and turbines with longer and lighter blades, allowing rotor diameters to exceed 100 meters. As AWEA explains, the power of the wind is directly proportional to the swept area of the blades, so an increase in rotor diameter has spurred development in low and medium wind speed areas and has added to the efficiency of existing sites.

“Wind turbine and component manufacturers have been diligently working over the last few years to develop longer, lighter advanced technology blades that allow the systems to produce more energy at lower costs,” comments Steve Lockard, president and CEO of TPI Composites. “Continued reduction in levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is key to making wind even more competitive with conventional electricity sources.”

AWEA adds that tower heights have also grown steadily in the last five years, allowing developers to access higher, steadier wind resources. A decade ago, the average wind turbine was installed on a 65-meter tower. Today, the group says, the average wind turbine sits atop an 80-meter tower, but 85- and 100-meter towers are increasingly utilized.

The combination of taller towers and larger rotor diameters has been vital to bringing the cost of wind energy down, allowing developers to build projects in a cost-effective manner in locations like the Great Lakes. AWEA says states like Indiana, Ohio and Michigan have experienced rapid growth and a decrease in the price of wind power once tower heights reached 80 meters.

Operational improvements have also contributed to the increased production. AWEA says more informed operations and maintenance strategies have led to the highest performance levels ever seen in the U.S. wind industry. Citing an assessment by the Sandia National Laboratory, AWEA says wind turbine availability, utilization and capacity factors have all improved over the past three years. In all, the group says U.S. Department of Energy data shows capacity factors have risen across the fleet, and at certain projects in wind-rich states, capacity factors have exceeded 50%.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 14, 2014 – BOEM to Review 12 MW Pilot Project Offshore Virginia

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking public comment as it prepares an environmental assessment (EA) for a 12 MW offshore wind pilot project off the coast of Virginia.

Dominion Resources Inc. is heading the two-turbine project, which is proposed adjacent to the BOEM-designated Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore Virginia. Dominion recently won the commercial lease for the Virginia WEA, and this demonstration project will aim to help the company’s future development an offshore project up to 2 GW.

For the 12 MW pilot, Dominion has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, which has requested the research lease. BOEM has published in the Federal Register a notice about the EA and will accept public comments by April 14. In addition, BOEM will hold a public meeting to solicit comments on the scope of the EA.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 13, 2014 – Cape Wind Offshore Project Signs 'Major' Cable Contracts

South Carolina-based Prysmian Cables and Systems USA has won the contract for the eventual supply of the intra array and export power cables for the 468 MW Cape Wind offshore wind farm, being developed off the coast of Nantucket Island. In addition, New Jersey-based Caldwell Marine International has been awarded the contract for the installation of the underwater cables.

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon says that the new agreements mark significant project milestones and that Prysmian and Caldwell are "capable companies that will help establish a domestic offshore wind supply chain."

This newest announcement follows other recent progress on the Cape Wind project, including a $600 million loan from a Danish credit agency and a turbine-supply deal with Siemens for 130 3.6-MW offshore machines.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 13, 2014 – DOE Sets Up Six Wind Energy Regional Resource Centers Across The U.S.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced six Wind Energy Regional Resource Centers, selected through a competitive process administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Working closely with the DOE and NREL's broader outreach and education programs, these centers will aim to provide accurate, impartial information about challenges facing wind deployment in their regions to aid in efforts to overcome or mitigate these challenges; use best practices in education and outreach to deliver this information to create an educated stakeholder community; and work with decision-makers to ensure they have the tools to make informed decisions about wind energy projects and related policies in their jurisdictions.

The resource centers and their operators are the following:

  • Northeast Wind Resource Center, operated by the Clean Energy Group and Sustainable Energy Advantage (SEA).

“For our focus on offshore wind, we expect to work closely with state policymakers to ensure that the center provides the information and analysis that they need to advance offshore wind in the Northeast in the best way possible,” says Lewis Milford, president of the Clean Energy Group.

Deborah Donovan, senior consultant of SEA, adds, “Sustainable Energy Advantage looks forward to working with DOE, NREL, and stakeholders from across the region to making the Northeast Wind Resource Center a forum that will support effective decisions about land-based wind power, which is a growing contributor to our energy mix.”

  • Southeast Regional Resource Center for Wind Energy, operated by the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition.

“The Southeastern RRC team has developed a strategic focus to specifically address the unique characteristics of the Southeast market,” notes Brian O’Hara, president of the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition.

  • Northwest Wind Resource and Action Center, operated by the Renewable Northwest Project.
  • Four Corners Wind Resource Center, operated by the Utah Clean Energy Alliance.
  • Midwest and Prairie Regional Wind Resource Center, operated by Windustry.
  • America's Islanded Grids Resource Center, operated by the Renewable Energy Alaska Project and Island Institute and covering islanded communities across the U.S. and U.S. Territories.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 12, 2014 – Alliant Energy Grant to Help Community College's Wind Training Program

The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Wind Turbine Technician Program has received a $5,000 grant from Alliant Energy, which owns and operates wind farms in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"We are so thankful for this generous grant and support from Alliant Energy," says DMACC Wind Energy Program Chair Dean Hoffmann. "We will be able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that will benefit DMACC wind energy students."

DMACC students get hands-on safety training in the two-year Wind Turbine Technician Program, and Hoffmann says the money will be used to buy climbing harnesses and related safety equipment.

Julie Bauer, executive director of the Alliant Energy Foundation, comments, "Wind is an important element in our generation portfolio, and we appreciate DMACC's efforts to train workers for this specialized field."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 11, 2014 – Top 15 Wind Turbine Suppliers of 2013 Revealed

MAKE Consulting has released its list of the top 15 global wind turbine suppliers of 2013. According to the report, Vestas has maintained its No. 1 spot, GE has dropped from second to sixth place, and Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have secured over half of the top positions.

The top 15 turbine suppliers of 2013, with their respective market shares, are as follows:

  • Vestas - 13.2% (also held the No. 1 spot in MAKE's top 10 list of 2012)
  • Goldwind - 10.3% (up from No. 7 in 2012)
  • Enercon - 10.1% (up from No. 5)
  • Siemens - 8.0% (down from No. 3)
  • Suzlon Group - 6.3% (up from No. 6)
  • GE - 4.9% (down from No. 2)
  • Gamesa - 4.6% (down from No. 4)
  • United Power - 3.9% (same position as in 2012)
  • Mingyang - 3.7% (up from No. 10)
  • Nordex - 3.4% (did not rank in MAKE's 2012 top 10 list)
  • XEMC - 3.2%
  • Envision - 3.1%
  • DEC - 2.3%
  • Sinovel - 2.3% (down from No. 9 in 2012)
  • Sewind - 2.2%

Following a tough 2012, the Chinese market rebounded in 2013, with a 16% year-over-year (YOY) increase in installations. MAKE says this strong year in China - coupled with contraction in Western markets, especially in the U.S. - pushed several Western OEMs down the rankings, as exemplified by GE, whose No. 2 spot was taken by China’s Goldwind.

MAKE Consulting’s Luke Lewandowski explains why GE fell to sixth place in the rankings.

“GE couldn’t overcome the combination of 80 percent less capacity grid-connected in the U.S. and nearly 500 MW of installed-yet-not-grid-connected capacity in Brazil,” says Lewandowski. “GE did have a strong year in Asia Pacific, excluding China, but any gain was offset by less capacity connected in Europe YOY.

“It is important to note that even if the capacity not yet connected in Brazil had been added to GE's total, its global position would have remained in sixth place,” Lewandowski continues. “Thus, the main story line is the huge drop in U.S. opportunity in 2013. GE needed roughly 1.95 GW of additional grid-connected capacity in 2013 to maintain its second-place position, a possibility in an ordinary year in the U.S.”

Despite financial struggles, Vestas maintained its position as the world’s largest turbine OEM in 2013, and the company has welcomed the news.

“Vestas has been through a tough two-year turnaround process to return to profitability,” says CEO Anders Runevad. “That we simultaneously achieved our financial goals in 2013 and solidified our market leadership is a testament to the strength of the company.”

According to the report, the majority of the top 15 OEMs saw market increases, especially Chinese OEMs such as Goldwind and Envision. Although Chinese OEMs experienced a very positive 2013, MAKE says it should be noted that their success was highly dependent on the status of their home market.

Excluding the China market, no Chinese turbine OEMs would have made the global top 10 - a distinction that MAKE says highlights the challenges in competing against established global companies outside of China.

MAKE says the biggest winners from the West were Enercon and Nordex, which secured some of the highest market share gains, boosted by a record year for added capacity in Germany. The report adds that Siemens had a massive lead in the offshore wind sector - reflecting the successful sale of its G4 platform - but struggled in the onshore wind sector, with a 58% decrease YOY in new onshore installations.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 7, 2014 – Ninety-One Illinois Communities Fully Powered By Renewable Energy

Illinois has embraced renewables on a massive scale not seen anywhere else in the nation, with 91 communities providing 100% clean electricity to their residents, says a new report.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Environmental Law and Policy Center, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association, the Illinois Sierra Club, and The George Washington University Solar Institute released the report.

Each of the communities in Illinois independently voted to buy electricity through renewable energy credits (RECs) - energy that comes from sources like wind, solar and geothermal.

"Communities up and down the state have banded together to pursue renewable electricity, reducing both their utility costs and the state's environmental footprint,” comments U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “Illinois is showing what can happen when change at the local level is harnessed to create a collective movement, and I hope other states take notice.”

According to the report, Illinois is one of six states in the country that currently allows community choice aggregation (CCA), a system by which communities can use their bulk purchasing power to solicit bids from energy providers. Requests for bids can stipulate the mix of energy sources, and as seen in Illinois, can require that all electricity is offset by RECs. Other states allowing CCA are New Jersey, Ohio, California, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Keya Chatterjee, director of renewable energy and footprint outreach at the WWF, congratulates the communities for embracing renewables and for doing so with little or no fanfare.

"No one knew this was happening, and I doubt anyone would have guessed,” says Chatterjee. “America's green energy revolution is here; and it starts in Illinois."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 7, 2014 – City of Beaverton Commits to 100% Wind Power

The City of Beaverton, Ore., is now purchasing 100% of its electricity from wind power sources under utility Portland General Electric's (PGE) renewable energy program.

In the past, the city purchased offsets for its electricity needs in all of its buildings, but now because renewable energy is less expensive, city officials say it is able to purchase green power equivalents for all operational demands, including streetlights, traffic signals and water pumping. Beaverton is the only city in the state that buys all of its power from PGE’s program.

“By supporting these renewable energy sources since 2007, Beaverton continues to contribute to a bright, sustainable energy future for Oregon,” says Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, adding, “We understand the importance of investing in green power to preserve the high-quality of life our community enjoys.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 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, 2014 – U.S. Wind Sector Reaches Major Generation Milestones in 2013

U.S. wind power topped 4% of the U.S. power grid for the first time last year and has delivered 30% of all new generating capacity for the last five years, according to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). In Iowa and South Dakota, wind power now exceeds 25% of total electricity production. In nine states, it provided more than 12% and, in 17 states, more than 5%.

Citing the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, AWEA says wind power generated 4.13% of all the electricity in the country in 2013 - making it the fifth-largest electricity source in the U.S. That is enough to power 15.5 million American homes, which is equivalent of all the residential households in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada and Ohio combined.

“Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the U.S. power mix,” says Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president of industry data and analysis. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008 not only due to significant growth in new wind projects, but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.” According to AWEA, all renewable energy sources now deliver nearly 13% of the nation’s electricity.

Texas, the state with the largest electricity load and the most installed wind capacity, also generated the most electricity from wind energy - over 35.9 million MWh, or enough to power 3.3 million homes. AWEA says ERCOT, the main electric grid in Texas, received 9.9% of its electrical generation from wind energy during 2013 and is on track to top 10% in the coming years, considering the 7 GW of new capacity now under construction in the state.

AWEA adds that the top states for installed wind capacity all set records in 2013 for the amount of electricity generated: Texas, Iowa, California and Oklahoma each generated enough electricity to power more than 1 million American homes.

The association notes that even more U.S. wind generation is on its way, as the industry started 2014 with a record 12 GW of project capacity under construction.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 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, 2014 – Obama's Proposed Budget Backs Renewables, Restates Call for Permanent PTC

President Barack Obama has announced his fiscal-year 2015 budget proposal, which seeks to provide billions of dollars for clean energy and reiterates the president’s call for a permanent production tax credit (PTC) and the elimination of $4 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies.

The proposed budget would provide multiple federal agencies with funding to further spur renewable energy development in the country. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would receive approximately $5.2 billion.

According to a White House fact sheet, this DOE funding would include over $900 million in basic clean energy research in the Office of Science, over $500 million to increase the use and reduce the costs of renewable power, and $325 million for the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy to support transformative applied energy research.

“The United States remains the global leader in energy, science and security, building on its longstanding commitment to innovation,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in a statement. “The president’s budget request for the Department of Energy sustains this commitment for future generations - in clean energy, in frontier scientific discovery, and in global nuclear security.”

The budget would provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with $345 million for programs ranging from research related to biofuels to the demonstration and deployment of renewable energy systems. Furthermore, the budget supports $5 billion in USDA lending to rural electric cooperatives and utilities to help support the transition to clean energy and increased energy efficiency.

The budget would also invest in U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) renewable energy development programs, providing roughly $95 million to review and permit new projects on federal lands and waters. The fact sheet says the funds will allow the DOI to continue progress toward its goal of permitting 20 GW of renewable energy capacity and related transmission infrastructure by 2020 as part of the president's Climate Action Plan.

In the budget, Obama also aims to make the PTC permanent and refundable - a goal he proposed in last year’s budget request as well. The fact sheet says making the incentive permanent “will provide a strong, consistent incentive to encourage investments in renewable energy like wind and solar, create American jobs, and support American companies and manufacturers.”

In addition, the president repeats his 2014 request to cut $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil, gas and other fuel producers.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 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, 2014 – IEA: Any Country Can Reach High Shares of Wind, Solar Power Cost-Effectively

Any country can integrate high shares - i.e., 30% of annual electricity production or more - of wind energy and solar photovoltaics (PV) in its power systems at little additional cost in the long term, according to a recent study from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

However, the report notes, costs depend on how flexible the system currently is and what strategy is adopted to develop system flexibility. Managing this transition will be more difficult for some countries or power systems than others, the study adds.

“Integrating high shares of variable renewables is really about transforming our power systems,” comments IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This new IEA analysis calls for a change of perspective.

“In the classical approach, variable renewables are added to an existing system without considering all available options for adapting it as a whole. This approach misses the point. Integration is not simply about adding wind and solar on top of ‘business as usual’. We need to transform the system as a whole to do this cost-effectively.”

Currently, the IEA says wind and solar PV account for just about 3% of world electricity generation, but a few countries already feature very high shares: In Italy, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Denmark, wind and solar accounted for about 10% to more than 30% of electricity generation in 2012 on an annual basis.

The report says that for any country, integrating the first 5-10% of variable renewable energy (VRE) generation poses no technical or economic challenges at all, provided that three conditions are met: uncontrolled local “hot spots” of VRE deployment must be avoided, VRE must contribute to stabilizing the grid when needed, and VRE forecasts must be used effectively.

IEA adds that these lower levels of integration are possible within existing systems because the same flexible resources that power systems already use to cope with variability of demand can be put to work to help integrate variability from wind and solar. Such resources can be found in the form of flexible power plants, grid infrastructure, storage and demand-side response.

Going beyond, the first few percent to reach shares of more than 30% will require a transformation of the system, however. The IEA says this transformation has three main requirements: deploying variable renewables in a system-friendly way using state-of-the art technology, improving the day-to-day operation of power systems and markets, and investing in additional flexible resources.

The agency explains that the challenges of such a transformation depend on whether a power system is “stable,” meaning no significant investments are needed to meet demand in the short term, or “dynamic,” which requires significant investments in the short term, to meet growing power demand or replace old assets.

The IEA says governments with stable systems face tough policy questions about how to handle the distributional effects, particularly if other power plants need to be retired before the end of their lifetimes. Meeting these challenges will only be possible through a collaborative effort by policymakers and the industry, the report adds.

In any case, Van der Hoeven says, “These surmountable challenges should not let us lose sight of the benefits renewables can bring for energy security and fighting dangerous climate change. If OECD countries want to maintain their position as front runners in this industry, they will need to tackle these questions head-on.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 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, 2014 – Alberta Signals Plans to Develop Renewable Energy Framework

During the Speech from the Throne on March 3, the Alberta government announced plans to create an alternative and renewable energy framework.

According to the speech, the government will develop a framework that will "diversify" the province's energy mix and "empowers consumers to exercise choice within the market-based electricity system." However, the speech offered no details.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has welcomed the announcement. The group says a renewables framework would be a first for the province and present opportunities to make Alberta a more competitive destination for wind energy investment. The new framework also would support improvements to the electricity system that help the province meet environmental and economic priorities, the group adds.

“Wind energy is an established and growing player in the Alberta electricity market, providing clean and renewable electricity to complement conventional energy sources,” says CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “It is encouraging to hear of the importance that the Government of Alberta places on further diversifying the electricity grid, and the province’s immense, yet largely untapped, wind resources could play a key role.”

CanWEA says Alberta is well positioned to take advantage of its significant wind energy resource, given the province’s skilled trades and the experience of independent power producers. The province is currently home to about 1.12 GW of installed wind capacity.

Hornung adds that CanWEA looks forward to being an active participant and playing a significant role as the renewables framework evolves and moves forward.

“We intend to remind Albertans how wind energy is poised and ready to provide substantial amounts of new clean electricity, contribute to rural economic development and significantly reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions across the broader electricity sector,” he says.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 4, 2014 – Wind Power Helps Ontario Grid Maintain Reliability

Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently reported in its 18-month outlook that the connection of new wind and other renewable energy is being achieved without any impact on the reliability of the province's electricity system.

According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the IESO stated that the retirement of coal-fired generation, combined with transmission-ready renewable wind and solar power, has put downward pressure on peak demands on the electricity system without causing reliability issues. Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind energy and has more than 2.4 GW of installed capacity, supplying over 3% of the province's electricity demand, CanWEA notes.

“Procuring a stable and steady stream of wind energy complements Ontario's new energy-conservation measures, and provides the province with unprecedented flexibility to align electricity-supply needs with changing economic and environmental circumstances,” comments Robert Hornung, CanWEA's president.

“Progressive governments around the world know that continuing to integrate new wind energy not only results in a major contribution to reducing carbon emissions, it improves the reliability of electricity grids, while ensuring more predictable and stable electricity prices.”

In December 2013, Ontario released its latest Long-Term Energy Plan, which strongly emphasizes energy conservation over new generation procurement. However, the plan does still include a target of 600 MW of wind power by 2015 - a goal lower than the 900 MW by 2015 CanWEA had called for earlier.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


March 4, 2014 – GE Eyes 15% Cost Reduction of Offshore Wind with New DC Solution

GE has completed trials of PassiveBoost, a technology the company says is designed to allow remote power networks to go direct current (DC) and could cut the cost of offshore wind power by 15%.

The trials were performed at the company's full-scale power system test site near Leicester, U.K. According to GE, the solution provides a straight replacement, on the same footprint, for the alternating current (AC) transformer inside every wind turbine and allows direct connection to a high-voltage DC power collection grid while reducing cable cost and without the need for a DC breaker. PassiveBoost features a new power device packaging technique with a cooling system, as well as GE’s ActiveFoldback fault protection system.

“Whether extracting fossil fuels or capitalizing on renewable energy resources, we find ourselves working further offshore or in inhospitable desert locations,” says Keiran Coulton, senior executive of global industry at GE Power Conversion. “In either case, the energy wasted in AC transmission systems is costing the energy consumer too much. The technologies behind PassiveBoost will enable these costs to be cut.”

Scottish Enterprise supported the PassiveBoost project, and the company’s Seoniad Vass comments, “Reducing the cost of electricity generated by offshore wind is a vitally important factor in realizing the significant economic potential of the technology. As a result, the development of innovative technologies such as this is key to the sector’s ongoing development, and we look forward to continuing to work with GE in this important field.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 28, 2014 – Governors, FERC to Collaborate on Preparing U.S. Grid for More Wind Power

Representatives from the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition recently met with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners to discuss ways in which they can work together to further develop and modernize the U.S.' electric grid and promote the more rapid deployment of wind energy.

"The value of wind energy resources to our states' economies cannot be unlocked unless they have access to a market," said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, chairman of the coalition. "Long-distance transmission is the critical link between these resources and the customers who want clean and less-expensive energy."

“Expanding and modernizing the nation’s domestic electrical transmission system, both on shore and off shore, is an essential component in revitalizing the nation’s economy and creating jobs,” said Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, former chairman of the coalition.

Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said, “Transmission can strengthen reliability, reduce congestion costs, and connect new generation resources to the grid. “We welcome the support of the governors in helping to advance the development of our nation’s electric transmission system.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 28, 2014 – 3TIER Teams Up With Google to Provide Public Wind and Solar Data

3TIER, a renewable energy assessment and forecasting company, has announced the public release of wind and solar annual averages from its global datasets as part of Google's Map Gallery launch.

Through its collaboration with Google, 3TIER says it aims to improve access to wind and solar resource information by making it freely available to both researchers and the general public in Google’s platform.

"At 3TIER, our belief is that better information empowers smarter decision-making," says Pascal Storck, 3TIER global director. "Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful is well aligned with our goal, and we are thrilled to be a part of this launch.”

Access to 3TIER’s datasets within Google's Map Gallery is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 27, 2014 – Wind Power Helps Boost U.S. Renewable Generation Up 30% Last Week

Renewable generation across the U.S. was up 30% for the week ending Feb. 20, according to recent estimates from Genscape's Generation Fuel Monitor Report. The company says the total weekly generation of 11,982 GWh was the second-highest weekly number in the past five years.

Genscape notes that wind generation in the Midwest appears to be a significant driver of the increase week-over-week. According to the report, wind power in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator region was up 31% (+220 GWh), Southwest Power Pool wind was up 117% (+299 GWh), and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) wind was up 129% (+469 GWh). Genscape’s monitored hydro generation in the Pacific Northwest was also up 39% (612 GWh), despite ongoing drought conditions.

As a result of the increase in renewables and weaker power demand, Genscape says gas consumption plummeted 35% (-7,847 GWh). This drop was particularly evident in Texas and the surrounding states. After strong output in recent weeks, many units in ERCOT, such as Midlothian, Freestone and Kiamichi, did not run.

Genscape says the additional culprits appeared to be a combination of weaker demand (ERCOT was down 25% week-over-week), higher gas prices, and gas units on outage. For much of the week, the ERCOT day-ahead markets were trading below an 8,000 BTU/kWh heat rate, which was likely not enough to clear this generation, Genscape adds. ERCOT was also reporting ~16 GW of generation on outage. Genscape says it monitors the vast majority of coal and nuclear generation in this region, which appeared to be running, leaving the bulk of this outage number to the remaining gas-fired units.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 27, 2014 – GE Opens Wind Turbine Drivetrain Repair Lab in New York

GE has opened what it dubs the Global Wind Turbine Drivetrain Repair Innovation Lab at the site of the company's Power Generation Repair Technology Center in Albany, N.Y.

According to GE, the facility is equipped with advanced technologies to support fast development and innovation for repairs to the wind turbine's gearbox and rotor, creating a lab environment to simulate and solve problems that previously had to be worked on more than 100 meters in the air and at remote sites.

"This is the first facility of its kind dedicated to developing repair technologies and capabilities that reduce the lifecycle cost of wind turbines,” says Andy Holt, GE’s general manager of global wind projects and services. “Albany was an ideal location for the facility with its close proximity to GE's renewable energy headquarters, the GE Energy Learning Center, as well as the existing Repair Technologies Center. It is uniquely positioned for collaboration with the field, design engineering, training and product service teams."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 27, 2014 – New England's 'Largest' Renewables Procurement is All Wind, But Less Than Envisioned

Massachusetts regulators have officially signed off on what the Gov. Deval Patrick administration is hailing as "the largest procurement of renewable energy in New England." The 12 long-term wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) equal an impressive 409 MW from three projects in Maine and New Hampshire; however, due to issues regarding three other wind farms, the deals still represent 156 MW less than what Massachusetts' utility companies had originally proposed last year.

According to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the PPAs carry a weighted average price of less than $0.08/kWh, are expected to save ratepayers $853 million over the contracts' lifetime, and will account for about 2.5% of each utility’s total electricity sales.

“The Patrick administration is committed to diversifying our fuel sources with affordable, clean energy,” says Rick Sullivan, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in a statement. “These contracts will save ratepayers money and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions from our power sector.”

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved the agreements for the state’s four electric distribution companies: National Grid, NSTAR Electric, Unitil and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. As mandated by a new law, the companies had issued a joint request for proposals for renewables in 2013 and later filed a plan to procure 565 MW from six wind projects. According to a DPU document, though, the utilities eventually withdrew their requests for contracts with three of the wind farms.

Iberdrola Renewables had two projects up for consideration but took one off the list. The DPU document says the developer terminated the PPAs for its 99 MW Fletcher Mountain wind farm in New Hampshire “due to failure to receive corporate approval for the project."

Iberdrola Renewables spokesperson Paul Copleman tells NAW, “We expected to have received our interconnection study and to have cleared other uncertainties by that time last year, and they were delayed. With this drift, the PPA commitments were tracking ahead of our development schedule.” Nonetheless, he says Iberdrola is continuing to work on the project.

The developer’s 75.9 MW Wild Meadows project, also in New Hampshire, did get its PPAs approved, and Copleman praises Massachusetts for its renewables push.

“Massachusetts' regulatory and policy measures, thanks to the Patrick administration and the legislature, encourage investment in clean energy, particularly the long-term contracting provision,” he says.

But, as it turns out, Iberdrola has halted work indefinitely on the Wild Meadows project. The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) recently returned the project application, saying it was incomplete and ordering the developer to file a new proposal.

“After discussions with local stakeholders, we’ve recently decided that it’s best to pause and reevaluate the application process on our estimated $150 million investment decision at Wild Meadows,” Copleman says. “There is no specific timetable for any further decision at this point.”

He adds that the company is instead focusing its efforts on resolving issues with an already-operating wind farm in the state, the 48 MW Groton project. “Some people have raised an issue with the permit granted to us by the SEC based on some work that was done during construction and some operational questions raised by the state fire marshal,” explains Copleman.

Separately, the Massachusetts utilities terminated all contracts with Exergy Development Group. The DPU document simply says the decision was based on “the developer’s failure to post the required security in accordance with the proposed contracts.”

At press time, Exergy Development Group did not respond to requests for comment.

First Wind, meanwhile, owns two of the three projects that have won PPAs with the Massachusetts utilities. The company’s Evergreen Wind II LLC subsidiary is building the Oakfield Wind facility in Maine. The 147 MW project, consisting of 49 3-MW Vestas turbines, has all necessary permits and approvals. Early construction work began late last year.

In addition, subsidiary Blue Sky West LLC is developing the 186 MW Bingham Wind project. The project will feature 62 3-MW Vestas turbines and is being reviewed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The company hopes to start construction on that project later this year.

“We're thrilled that the power purchase agreements were approved by the Massachusetts DPU,” comments John Lamontagne, a First Wind spokesperson. “This is an important milestone for both projects and a great step for bringing more renewable power to the state.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 26, 2014 – Cape Wind Announces $600 Million Loan from Danish Company

The board of directors of Danish export credit agency EKF has approved a $600 million loan to the 468 MW Cape Wind offshore project, being developed off the coast of Nantucket Island in the U.S. Cape Wind President Jim Gordon made the announcement at a conference in Boston on Wednesday.

"EKF is a very knowledgeable and experienced investor in the offshore wind industry, and they recognize that Cape Wind makes sense both economically and environmentally," said Gordon. "Moving Cape Wind forward will help further diversify New England's electric generation portfolio."

The loan remains subject to final completion of documents and due diligence. EKF, which has backed a number of European offshore wind farms, is not the first Danish investor to help finance Cape Wind: Last year, PensionDanmark announced a $200 million investment in the project.

This latest announcement follows several others that suggest the Cape Wind project is pushing ahead. In December 2013, Cape Wind entered a deal with Siemens for 130 3.6-MW offshore wind turbines, and earlier this month, Bladt Industries and EEW Special Pipe Constructions GmbH signed on to supply foundations for the project. In addition, Cape Wind recently hailed a legal victory against project opponents.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 25, 2014 – University Of Delaware Leads New Effort to Catalyze U.S. Offshore Wind

The University of Delaware (UD) is leading an effort to spark conversation and action among government and industry in hopes of advancing the embryonic U.S. offshore wind industry.

According to UD, the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW) will serve as an independent catalyst for offshore wind development and add momentum to a promising industry that is at a critical juncture. The non-commercial offshore wind program is designed to draw together critical information on cutting-edge technologies, financing and collaboration opportunities, UD notes.

Although housed at UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, the SIOW will be national in scope and already is playing a key role in major projects to harness the vast East Coast and Great Lakes wind resources, according to the university.

SIOW will also aim to connect states with international experts - especially in Europe, where more than 2,000 wind turbines are now installed and grid connected in 11 countries. UD says the resource will provide advice to all states exploring offshore wind and help advance customized policy models.

UD notes that the effort has the support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which will provide $250,000 in seed funding, as well as other philanthropic organizations.

“The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind will be a platform for catalyzing multi-sector collaboration and innovation to advance offshore wind,” says Michael Northrop, program director for sustainable development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. “The time is now; there is a huge opportunity here to tap the East Coast’s largest renewable resource and spur a whole new industry.”

For offshore wind to be deployed in the U.S., UD notes utilities must buy electricity from offshore wind projects, with state support for offshore wind contracts. While the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind will not facilitate contracts or state approval of them, the university says it will advocate the value proposition of offshore wind, such as the price-suppression effect and net environmental benefits, explains offshore wind energy veteran Stephanie McClellan, who will lead the effort.

McClellan, who joined the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in January, previously worked for the Google-financed Atlantic Wind Connection, the proposed transmission backbone slated for the mid-Atlantic.

Given the university’s history of advancing offshore wind through policy analysis, research, public testimony and industrial partnerships, McClellan notes that UD is well equipped to take a leadership position.

For example, in 2010 UD and Gamesa Technology Corp. joined forces to install a utility-scale 2 MW coastal wind turbine at the university’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Del., allowing Gamesa to test the turbine in a coastal environment and students to conduct training and research on the turbine.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 25, 2014 – Court Victory for Ostrander Point Wind Project in Ontario

The Ontario Divisional Court has dismissed a recent decision of the province's Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) to overturn a renewable energy approval (REA) for the proposed Ostrander Point wind project. The ERT had argued that the wind farm would cause "irreversible harm" to the Blanding's turtle.

As proposed by developer Gilead Power, the 22.5 MW wind farm will be located on Crown land on the south shore of Prince Edward County and include nine 2.5 MW wind turbines.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) says the Divisional Court's decision reaffirms that the wind industry is meeting environmental protection standards.

According to CanWEA, the Divisional Court cited a number of inconsistencies in the ERT decision, chiefly that the ERT failed to give due consideration to REA conditions that had been met by the developer, such as a protected-species permit, an environmental management plan that has provisions for Ministry of Natural Resources oversight, and expert scientific evidence that protected species and indigenous plants would not be seriously and irreversibly harmed by the project.

The Divisional Court also denied the appeals of project opposition groups, stating the ERT had correctly determined that these groups had not presented sufficient evidence of irreversible harm to human and habitat health.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 24, 2014 – Renewables Account For 99% of New U.S. Generation In January

Non-hydro renewable energy sources accounted for more than 99% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed during January for a total of 324 MW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group SUN DAY Campaign explains solar led the way in January with 13 new "units" totaling 287 MW, followed by geothermal steam with three new units totaling 30 MW. Biomass added three new units totaling 3 MW, while wind had one new unit with an installed capacity of 4 MW. In addition, there was 1 MW added that FERC defined as "other."

The slow-down in new wind power is no surprise. As the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently noted in its fourth-quarter 2013 market report, policy uncertainty led to a dive in new U.S. installed wind capacity last year. However, AWEA found that over 12 GW of new wind capacity started construction in 2013 and is slated to come online within the next few years.

According to the FERC statistics, renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.03% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: hydro - 8.44%, wind - 5.20%, biomass - 1.36%, solar - 0.70%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.26%) and oil (4.04%) combined.

"The trends are unmistakable," concludes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "Renewables are the energy growth market of the future, with solar - for the moment, at least - the leader of the pack."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 24, 2014 – Health Agency Finds No Reliable Proof That Wind Farms Pose Danger

Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released a draft information paper concluding that "there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans."

Quoting the paper, NHMRC's CEO Professor Warwick Anderson says, "There is some consistent but poor-quality evidence that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and, less consistently, with sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life. However, it is unknown whether these effects are caused by the wind turbines themselves, or by other related factors."

This newest paper follows a 2010 NHMRC study finding no scientific evidence that links wind turbines to adverse health effects. The draft paper is based on the findings of an independent literature review commissioned by the NHMRC, which says it used internationally recognized methods to select and analyze all available evidence.

“When Australian communities are genuinely concerned about the quality of their health, it is essential they have access to reliable advice based on the best-available evidence,” says Anderson, who has invited public comments on the document and submissions of any additional evidence for consideration.

Clean Energy Council (CEC), an Australia-based industry association, says the draft position statement is “yet another tick of approval for the wind industry from the country’s best health experts.”

"It is the role of health experts like the NHMRC to consider the scientific evidence on these issues and make recommendations, rather than the wind industry, or its opponents,” comments Russell Marsh, director of the council. "That's why we welcome the public-consultation process and look forward to continuing to work with agencies like the NHMRC to inform our best-practice guidelines for wind farm development and community engagement, and ensure the industry can continue to operate in a responsible way."

"While there is mounting evidence that wind farms cannot directly cause health problems, the industry recognizes the need to make communication and community engagement a high priority when building a wind farm," Marsh adds.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 21, 2014 – Illinois Rivers Transmission Project Receives Final ICC Nod

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has granted siting approval of final routes and substations for Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI) to build the nearly 400-mile-long Illinois Rivers electric transmission project.

"Today's action by the ICC is welcome news for Illinois," says Maureen Borkowski, chairman, president and CEO of ATXI. "This project will benefit the state's economy, create jobs and provide Illinois electricity customers greater access to a variety of low-cost energy sources, including wind energy."

Last August, the ICC approved the need for the project and some of the project routes and substations. The 345,000-volt transmission line, using steel poles with a single shaft, will run from Palmyra, Mo., crossing the Mississippi River at Quincy. It will then run east past Meredosia, Pawnee, Pana, Mt. Zion and Kansas, ending at Sugar Creek, Ind., with additional lines running from Meredosia to Ipava and between the Sidney and Rising substations near Champaign. The project previously received approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.

Substation construction is already under way on the $1.1 billion Illinois Rivers project, and line construction is expected to commence later this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 21, 2014 – Study: Wind Farms Are a Smart Long-Term Investment

There has been some debate about whether wind turbines have a more limited shelf life than other energy technologies. However, a new study suggests that wind turbines can remain productive for up to 25 years, making wind farms an attractive long-term choice for energy investors.

Conducted by researchers at the U.K.-based Imperial College Business School, the study notes that the U.K. has a target of generating 15% of the nation's energy from renewable resources by 2020. There are currently 4,246 individual wind turbines in the region across 531 projects, generating 7.5% of the nation's electricity.

The report says a previous study used a statistical model to estimate that electricity output from wind turbines declines by a third after only 10 years of operation. Some opponents of wind power have argued that aging turbine technology could need replacing en masse after as little as 10 years, which would make it an unattractive option in economic terms, the report adds.

But through a nationwide analysis of the U.K. fleet of wind turbines, using local wind speed data from NASA, the researchers found that the turbines will last their full life of about 25 years before they need to be upgraded.

In fact, the research found that some of the U.K.'s earliest turbines, built in the 1990s, are still producing three-quarters of their original output after 19 years of operation, nearly twice the amount previously claimed, and will operate effectively up to 25 years. According to the study, this is comparable to the performance of gas turbines used in power stations.

The study also found that more recent turbines are performing even better than the earliest models, suggesting they could have a longer lifespan. The team says this makes a strong business case for further investment in the wind farm industry.

"There have been concerns about the costs of maintaining aging wind farms and whether they are worth investing in,” comments Professor Richard Green, co-author and head of the Department of Management at Imperial College Business School. “This study gives a 'thumbs up' to the technology and shows that renewable energy is an asset for the long term."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 21, 2014 – Illinois Rivers Transmission Project Receives Final ICC Nod

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has granted siting approval of final routes and substations for Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois (ATXI) to build the nearly-400-mile-long Illinois Rivers electric transmission project.

"Today's action by the ICC is welcome news for Illinois," says Maureen Borkowski, chairman, president and CEO of ATXI. "This project will benefit the state's economy, create jobs and provide Illinois electricity customers greater access to a variety of low-cost energy sources, including wind energy."

Last August, the ICC approved the need for the project and some of the project routes and substations. The 345,000-volt transmission line, using steel poles with a single shaft, will run from Palmyra, Mo., crossing the Mississippi River at Quincy. It will then run east past Meredosia, Pawnee, Pana, Mt. Zion and Kansas, ending at Sugar Creek, Ind., with additional lines running from Meredosia to Ipava and between the Sidney and Rising substations near Champaign. The project previously received approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.

Substation construction is already under way on the $1.1 billion Illinois Rivers project, and line construction is expected to commence later this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 20, 2014 – Wind Power Keeps Michigan Utilities on Track to Meet RPS Goal

Thanks to a surge in wind power development, Michigan's utilities are on track to meeting the state's 10% by 2015 renewable portfolio standard (RPS), finds a new report issued by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

For 2012, the estimated renewable energy percentage reached 5.4%, up from 4.4% the previous year. For 2013, renewables are expected to have reached 6.9%.

"The year 2012 marked the first time that Michigan utilities were mandated to meet an interim compliance requirement, and all of them succeeded," notes MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. "Progress toward Michigan's 10-percent-by-2015 renewable energy standard is going smoothly, and since the standard has been in effect, over 1,100 MW of new renewable energy projects have become commercially operational."

The new report offers findings similar to a previous study the MPSC and Michigan Energy Office issued to Gov. Rick Snyder in November 2013. Both studies highlight that wind energy has been the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan because of its low cost, and the state’s wind generation is expected to increase to over 1.4 GW by the end of this year. The November report also suggested that 15% by 2020 and 30% by 2035 RPS targets are achievable for Michigan.

To read more about Michigan’s RPS and wind power’s role in the state, click here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 17, 2014 – Oklahoma Utility Enhances its WindChoice Program for Customers

Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO) says it has made it easier for customers to take advantage of Oklahoma wind energy, and at a lower cost.

According to the utility company, it has reduced the cost of its WindChoice program by more than 40% and is also offering customers more flexibility on the amount of wind energy they purchase. WindChoice is a voluntary program that allows residential, commercial and industrial customers to buy Oklahoma-produced wind power for part or all of their energy needs in 100 kWh blocks or as a percentage of their total monthly billed usage. The utility notes that a typical PSO residential customer could subscribe almost half of their usage for just an extra $5 per month.

“PSO is pleased to now offer customers even better options through the WindChoice program,” says Bobby Mouser, PSO’s director of customer services and marketing. “By providing a lower price and greater flexibility, we’re making it easier than ever for our customers to take advantage of and promote the tremendous energy resource that is our Oklahoma wind.”

The electricity generated for PSO’s WindChoice program comes from the Minco Wind Farm, a 99 MW facility in western Oklahoma that is dedicated to supplying power for the program.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 17, 2014 – Report: Renewable Energy Will Supply At Least 5% of Mining Industry Power Demand By 2022

The electricity-hungry mining industry is investing in renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to power its operations, particularly those in remote locations, a new report from Navigant Research says. According to the report, rising energy prices and the desire to reduce mining companies' carbon footprints have created a growing consensus in the mining industry that renewable energy at mine sites - both grid-tied and off-grid - is feasible and often necessary.

According to Navigant Research, the portion of energy consumption in the mining industry supplied by renewable energy will grow from less than 0.1% now to at least 5% - and possibly up to 8% - by 2022.

Wind power will account for the majority of deployed renewable energy assets for mining operations by 2022, with nearly 516 MW of capacity, according to the report. Following closely will be solar power, with 493 MW of installed capacity.

In terms of geographical distribution, the Asia Pacific region will see the highest level of renewable capacity, with 505 MW. In all, more than 1,438 MW of renewable energy capacity for mining operations will be deployed worldwide by 2022, the report concludes.

"A number of mines are already utilizing large-scale wind power, but these sites were chosen based on extreme needs and/or ideal wind characteristics," says Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director at Navigant Research. "The industry is now at a point where it can move forward into larger and more complex deployments, potentially including energy storage technologies, which would enable a higher percentage of renewable use per mine site."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 17, 2014 – U.S. Survey Finds Majority Support for Action on Global Warming

A national survey conducted in the final months of 2013 finds that most Americans support national action on global warming and energy policies.

Performed by investigators at Yale University and George Mason University, the survey discovers that 83% of Americans believe the U.S. should make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs, and 71% say global warming should be a high priority for the president and Congress.

The survey also finds that majorities of both Democrats and Republicans support the following:

  • Providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (82% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans support this);
  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources (84% and 60%, respectively);
  • Regulating CO2 as a pollutant (85% and 55%); and
  • Eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (67% and 52%).

Similarly, the survey says fewer than half of Democrats and Republicans support eliminating federal subsidies for the renewable energy industry.

“Much of our national dialogue about climate and energy policy focuses on divisions between the political parties,” explains lead researcher Edward Maibach of George Mason University. “Our findings show that while there are important policy differences between Democrats and Republicans, there is also some common ground on which the nation could build an effective response to climate change.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 13, 2014 – AWEA Report: Wind Energy Reduces Consumers' Electricity Bills

Wind power is keeping electricity bills low for U.S. homes and businesses, thanks to plummeting wind energy costs driven by technological improvements, finds a new white paper from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The group says the report uses publicly available data and more than a dozen studies from government, utility and other independent sources to explore how wind energy affects consumers' energy bills.

A highlight of the report is just-released U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data showing that consumers in the states that use the most wind energy have fared much better than consumers in states that use less wind energy. In fact, AWEA says consumers in the top wind-energy-producing states have seen their electricity prices actually decrease by 0.37% over the last five years, while all other states have seen their electricity prices increase by 7.79% over that time period.

“During last month’s cold snaps, we saw very high wind energy output play a critical role in protecting consumers across the country from skyrocketing energy prices. This study confirms that wind energy is providing that benefit every day,” comments Michael Goggin, AWEA’s senior electric industry analyst.

Citing the DOE data, AWEA notes wind energy costs have fallen by 43% over the last four years.

“With the drastic cost declines over the last few years, wind energy offers consumers a great deal today,” says Goggin. “That deal will only get better with time because that low price is locked in for the life of the wind project, as the fuel will always be free. No other major source of energy can offer that kind of price stability. Diversifying our energy mix with zero-fuel-cost, zero-emission wind energy is a win-win for consumers and the environment.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 13, 2014 – Incoming Senate Finance Chairman Signals Plans for PTC Extension

The incoming chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee says working to renew a slew of expired tax breaks, including the production tax credit (PTC), will be one of his first priorities when he takes office.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is slated to take over the chairman role for former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who was recently confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China. On Feb. 11, Wyden told reporters, "My sense is that the focus at the outset is likely to be the extender package."

The so-called extender package includes over 50 tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013, one of which was the PTC. Keith Martin, a partner at law firm Chadbourne & Parke, tells NAW that it’s likely that the package will get passed but not until the last half of this year.

“Wyden is replacing the senior staff on the Senate Finance Committee. It will take time for them to settle in,” he says.

In addition, Martin expects U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will avoid presenting the extender as stand-alone legislation.

“He usually needs something to propel such a bill forward, like doing it in the context of budget reconciliation where special rules limit debate or as a rider to some other must-pass legislation or because Congress is at the end of the session and eager to get home,” Martin explains.

He also warns that outside opposition to a PTC extension for wind is better organized “than ever before,” and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will likely follow suit and stand against the tax incentive. Nonetheless, Martin believes the extenders will eventually pass after both houses of Congress negotiate.

Furthermore, he bets the construction-start deadline for the PTC will be extended for at least a year and suggests, “Companies should start planning how to incur at least five percent of the cost of more projects this year and be ready to pull the trigger when the extenders pass.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 13, 2014 – Mortenson Building 76-Mile Transmission Project for Oklahoma Utility

Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction has announced it was recently selected by investor-owned utility Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) to build the Woodward EHV Thistle transmission line project. The project will start at the Woodward EHV District Substation, 12 miles south of Woodward, Okla., and run to the Oklahoma/Kansas border about two miles southeast of Hardtner, Kans.

"OG&E is pleased to have Mortenson Construction working on the Woodward-to-Thistle project," says Phil Crissup, OG&E’s vice president of utility technical support. "This transmission line is essential to delivering Oklahoma’s wind potential and improving regional electric system capacity and reliability."

Mortenson says all aspects of construction are currently under way, and construction is expected to be completed in September 2014.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 12, 2014 – U.S. Interior Dept. Releases First National Interactive Map of Onshore Wind Turbines

The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released the first publicly available interactive map and geo-dataset showing more than 47,000 onshore wind turbine locations and related information across the entire U.S.

According to the DOI, the new tool is consistent with the goals of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's Order No. 3330, which was released in October 2013 to incorporate a landscape-level approach to development on public lands.

“In making this critical information available to the public, the USGS has provided public agencies and private companies with a new tool to help guide smart landscape-level planning decisions that support domestic energy production while minimizing conflicts,” says Jewell. “The data will help improve the siting of future wind energy projects, as well as aid land managers in devising more up-to-date land-use and multiple-use plans.”

The wind turbine map, which includes turbines installed as of July 2013, was created by combining publicly available datasets from the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as other federal, state and local sources. USGS researchers also identified additional turbines not in those pre-existing databases and added them to the dataset and map.

The DOI notes that before this new release, some individual state maps with turbine information and national maps of facility information existed, but there were no national maps with turbine-specific information and verified locations.

“In addition to informing siting decisions for future wind energy projects, this fundamental, nationwide data will support research on wind generation efficiency, economic impacts and applied science for reducing wildlife impacts,” says Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. “Just as we need basic information about stream flows to support good water administration decisions, we must have accurate data on wind generation to better understand and support this important source of renewable energy.”

The interactive map is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 12, 2014 – New York Green Bank is Officially Open for Business

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., says the New York Green Bank has started business operations. The program is intended to stimulate private-sector financing of renewable energy by providing financial support for creditworthy clean-energy projects in the state that have difficulty accessing financing due to various market barriers.

Through a request for proposals (RFP), the NY Green Bank seeks financing requests from industry participants and financial institutions. Projects to be supported by the NY Green Bank include a range of commercially proven technologies, including solar, wind and other renewable energy generation technologies; residential and commercial/industrial energy efficiency measures; electricity load reduction; on-site clean generation; and similar projects that can support the state’s clean energy objectives.

Cuomo proposed the creation of a $1 billion green bank in his 2013 State of the State address as the financial engine to help mobilize private investment in clean energy projects. In December of last year, he announced $210 million in initial funding for the program.

"The NY Green Bank will be the catalyst for significantly accelerating the flow of private capital to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and will send a message to the financial markets that expanding our clean energy economy is a priority for New York State," Cuomo says in a statement.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 11, 2014 – Deepwater Wind Takes 'Leap Forward,' Taps Alstom to Supply Rhode Island Offshore Demo

Deepwater Wind has signed an agreement for Alstom to supply the Block Island Wind Farm with five Haliade 150-6 MW offshore wind turbines. Deepwater says the deal represents a pivotal point in the development of the 30 MW demonstration project, located off the coast of Block Island, R.I.

Originally, however, Deepwater Wind had signed a preferred-supplier contract with Siemens in 2011 for five of its 6 MW direct-drive machines. The agreement provided a window of exclusivity for the two parties to hammer out a deal. However, one did not materialize and the agreement expired at the end of 2012.

Jeff Grybowski, Deepwater's CEO, notes it was important that the developer signed with a provider of direct-drive turbine technology.

"We think direct-drive is where the U.S. offshore wind industry is headed," he explains.

Under the new supply contract, Deepwater Wind says it made an initial multi-million-dollar payment in December 2013 that allowed Alstom to begin the manufacturing process for the turbines. Grybowski adds that most of the blade units have already been manufactured. Deepwater expects all of the blades to be completed and delivered to the company at a warehouse in Europe in April.

“This agreement represents a giant leap forward for the Block Island Wind Farm, and the start of turbine construction just last month marked a major project milestone,” says Grybowski. “We’re thrilled to have a company as renowned as Alstom as our turbine partner.”

He adds, “When combined with engineering and permitting work we already completed, we’re confident this payment puts us significantly over the required five percent ‘safe harbor’ for the [federal investment tax credit.]”

The Haliade 150-6 MW turbine features Alstom's Pure Torque design and a 150-meter-diameter rotor. According to Deepwater, Alstom’s technology will provide a greater energy output than the developer had earlier anticipated. The companies expect the project’s capacity factor to exceed 47%, compared to initial projections of 40%. In addition, Deepwater says that, at 589 feet tall, the Haliade turbines will be about 10% - or roughly 70 feet - shorter than the developer’s maximum height allowance provided for in its permit filings. Moreover, the rotors and nacelles of the turbines will be smaller than the permitted maximums.

“We are pleased to be able to provide Deepwater Wind an efficient and powerful turbine that is an ideal match for their exciting project,” says Andy Geissbuehler, general manager of Alstom Wind North America. “We look forward to continuing to participate in the development of the offshore wind industry in the U.S. by working with visionary companies like Deepwater Wind.” Under a separate agreement, Alstom will also provide long-term service and maintenance responsibilities for the turbines.

Deepwater says its partnership with Alstom will create a number of local jobs and boost economic activity in Rhode Island. In addition to operations and management positions the developer will fill to support the project, Alstom intends to base its long-term service operations in the state and to perform pre-installation work in a local harbor. Furthermore, Alstom will investigate opportunities to execute assembly activities in Rhode Island.

However, an Alstom representative declined to give specifics.

“At this point, there is no firm timeframe and or locations in mind,” says an Alstom spokesperson. “Those issues will come together as the project advances.”

The Block Island project could help Deepwater realize plans for a much larger offshore wind farm. Having won the U.S.' first-ever competitive lease auction for renewable energy development in federal waters last year, Deepwater is working to develop the Deepwater Wind Energy Center, a wind project with up to 1 GW of capacity, off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 10, 2014 – BayWa Commissions Brahms Wind Project in New Mexico

Wind developer BayWa r.e. Wind LLC has placed its 19.8 MW Brahms project in service.

Located in Curry County, N.M., the project comprises 12 units of 1.65 MW Vestas V82 turbines. The company says commissioning occurred four months after construction began.

In addition, BayWa notes it is preparing its next New Mexico project for construction later this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 10, 2014 – New Farm Bill Becomes Law, Includes Millions in Renewables Funding

On Feb. 7, President Barack Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. Among a variety of provisions meant to help support rural Americans, the legislation includes $881 million in mandatory funding for the Energy Title program.

The revamped Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), part of the Energy Title, will allocate $45 million in each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 to offer grants and loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including solar and small wind power systems.

Applications for REAP funding are to be evaluated under a three-tiered approach: projects costing $80,000 or less, those over $80,000 but less than $200,000, and those costing $200,000 or more. The Energy Title also provides funding for biofuel programs.

Renewable energy advocates have praised the Farm Bill's passage. For example, Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, says, “By making modest investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and renewable chemical technology, the five-year Farm Bill … will have major benefits for energy security, economic growth and environmental gains across the entire United States.”

Michael Brower, president and CEO of the American Council On Renewable Energy ACORE, notes that his organization salutes Congress for coming together and passing the bill.

“ACORE commends Congress for finding a way to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that leaves crucial components of the Farm Bill intact while continuing to fund important renewable energy programs and recognizing the importance of water conservation,” Brower says.

He adds that the programs under the Energy Title “have been and will continue to be important for farmers and small businesses working in the renewable fuels industry or looking to upgrade their facilities with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 10, 2014 – U.S. Renewable Energy Maintains Growth in 2013

Renewable energy provided 13% of U.S. electricity generation in 2013, up from 12% in 2012 and just 8% in 2007, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The report, produced for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, covers renewables, energy efficiency and natural gas.

The report also says renewable energy costs reached all-time lows in 2013, allowing clean energy, with the aid of incentives, to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the country. Small, distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry, the report adds.

Uncertain and chaotic energy policy in Washington was the biggest speed bump for clean energy in 2013, according to BNEF. For example, new wind power installations decreased dramatically last year due to the late extension of the wind production tax credit. Conversely, BNEF notes federal solar tax credits did not require renewal for 2013, which helped propel a dramatic 50% increase in cumulative solar installations.

“We urge legislators and policymakers to clarify and stabilize clean energy policies both at the federal and state levels in order to accelerate America’s energy transformation,” comments Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Clean energy technologies have made major gains in the last five years, and further growth will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve our energy security and strengthen the U.S. economy.”

BNEF notes that renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas are mainly responsible for the nearly 10% decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, taking the country more than halfway to President Barack Obama’s goal of achieving a 17% reduction in emissions by 2020.

“The changes unfolding in the U.S. energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt,” says Michel Di Capua, head of North American analysis for BNEF. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the U.S. produces and consumes energy continues.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 10, 2014 – Iowa Senator, Wind Energy Supporters Call for PTC Extension

Following news that U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will take over as new chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Iowa State Senator and Climate Parents member Rob Hogg plans to send a petition urging Wyden to take action by extending the production tax credit (PTC) immediately.

Climate Parents, a national organization of families advocating for climate change solutions, is spearheading the campaign and says that about 50,000 people have signed the petition.

“We must support wind power and renewable energy,” says Hogg. “Our children and our grandchildren are counting on Congress to act.”

The senator also notes, “Wind power currently provides 25 percent of Iowa’s electricity generation and has increased nationally by 30 percent per year over the past five years. The wind power tax credit made this possible.”

The petition is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 7, 2014 – Okla. Regulators Sign Off on Utility's 600 MW of Wind Power Contracts

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) has approved cost recovery for three wind power purchase agreements recently signed by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO).

The contracts, totaling 600 MW, are for NextEra Energy Resources' Seiling Wind project, TradeWind Energy's Goodwell Wind project, and Apex Clean Energy's Balko Wind project.

According to PSO, estimates show the agreements will reduce customer costs by $53 million in the first year, with annual savings growing over the 20-year length of the contracts.

“These contracts were based on extraordinary pricing opportunities that will provide substantial savings for our customers,” says Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer. “Another benefit is the diversity that an additional 600 MW of Oklahoma wind energy will bring to our fuel mix.”

PSO issued a request for proposals in June 2013 seeking up to 200 MW of new wind energy resources. The utility says the decision to contract for an additional 400 MW was based on all-time-low prices for wind power. When deliveries of energy from the three new wind contracts commence in 2016, PSO’s total wind under contract will be 1.137 GW.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 7, 2014 – Illinois City Buys Wind-Generated Renewable Energy Certificates

JustGreen, a subsidiary of Just Energy Group Inc., has announced that the City of Joliet, Ill., has purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs) to help offset its greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use for the next three years.

According to JustGreen, the RECs purchased by Joliet are sourced from 100% U.S. wind power facilities and certified by Green-e Energy.

"Choosing electricity from renewable resources like wind gives us the power we need to grow, support job creation, cut greenhouse gas emissions and support additional clean, renewable resources in the U.S.A. Partnering with JustGreen to use green power is a smart choice for our community and our economy," says James D. Hock, Joliet’s city manager.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 6, 2014 – Canadian Wind Sector Sees Record Year in 2013

Canada recorded exceptionally strong growth in 2013 with a record of close to 1.6 GW of new wind energy capacity installed, placing it fifth globally, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).

The association says Canada sustains its position as a global wind energy leader, today ranking ninth in the world in total installed capacity with more than 7.8 GW of wind energy in operation - providing enough power to meet the annual needs of approximately 2 million Canadian homes.

"Many provincial governments are on the threshold of meeting their initial commitments to wind energy development," explains CanWEA President Robert Hornung. "This wide support presents new opportunities to create stable and sustainable markets in Canada for future wind energy development."

"Most notably, the governments of Ontario and Quebec made commitments in 2013 to secure a combined 1,400 MW of new wind energy capacity over the next few years, which is the first step in building the foundation for robust, long-term markets for wind energy in Canada," Hornung adds.

This year, CanWEA says it expects Canada to see a new record for annual installations of wind energy, as new projects are under construction across the country.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 5, 2014 – First Offshore Wind Farm Proposed for U.S. West Coast Wins Key Approval

The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has given the green light for Principle Power Inc. to submit a formal plan to build a 30 MW pilot project using floating wind turbine technology offshore Coos Bay, Ore.

"Today's announcement is consistent with President [Barack] Obama's commitment to take actions that will create jobs and develop clean, domestic energy that powers our economy," says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "This pioneering project would demonstrate floating wind turbine technology capable of tapping the rich wind energy resources in deep waters offshore Oregon. As we look to broaden our nation's energy portfolio, the innovative technology and its future application hold great promise along the West Coast and Hawaii."

Citing statistics from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the DOI says the West Coast holds an offshore capability of more than 800 GW of wind energy potential, which is equivalent to more than three quarters of the nation's entire power generation capacity. Total U.S. deepwater wind energy resource potential is estimated to be nearly 2,000 GW, the department adds.

Principle Power Inc. will seek to site its project within a 15 square-mile proposed lease area. The DOI says the project is designed to generate electricity from five floating "WindFloat" units, each equipped with a 6 MW offshore wind turbine. Sited in about 1,400 feet of water, the facility would be the first offshore wind project proposed in federal waters off the West Coast.

Principle Power, which received $4 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding for its demonstration project, submitted an unsolicited request to BOEM for a commercial wind energy lease in May 2013. As an initial step in the leasing process, BOEM issued a request for interest (RFI) in the Federal Register to determine whether there were other developers interested in constructing wind facilities in the same area. There were not.

Under the noncompetitive process for which Principle Power qualified, the company may now submit a plan for the proposed lease area to BOEM. BOEM will then complete a National Environmental Policy Act analysis, which includes opportunity for public comment, before making any final decision on lease issuance and plan approval.

"The WindFloat Pacific project is the latest in a series of lease initiatives BOEM has undertaken to move forward offshore wind energy development,” says BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “On the Atlantic Coast, the five commercial project leases we've issued, if fully developed, could generate enough renewable energy to power 1.4 million homes."

BOEM has issued two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). The DOI says the competitive lease sales generated about $5.4 million in high bids for about 277,550 acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The department also notes additional competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts are expected this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


February 3, 2014 – New Report Maps Out Potential RPS Markets for Renewable Energy Generators

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has released a new report that provides information regarding where a renewable energy generator in a particular state or Canadian province can possibly sell its renewable energy certificates in order to meet the demand created by a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The report was written by Ed Holt of Ed Holt & Associates and made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Foundation, the alliance says. In addition, CESA has released an interactive online map where users can select a state or province and see a list of potential RPS markets.

“This will be a valuable resource for project developers, state RPS administrators, and other people interested in renewable energy markets,” notes CESA Executive Director Warren Leon.

The full report and the interactive map are available for free on CESA’s website.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 31, 2014 – U.S. Wind Industry Has Record Number of Megawatts Under Construction

As many predicted, the fallout from policy uncertainty led to a big drop in new installed wind capacity in the U.S. last year. According to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2013 Market Report, the country saw 1.084 GW of wind come online in 2013. That is a 92% decrease from the 13.131 GW of new capacity installed during the record-breaking year of 2012.

However, the news isn't all bad. In fact, 2013 set a record of its own. At the end of the year, AWEA says there were more U.S. wind power megawatts under construction than ever in history: Over 12,000 MW (or, 12 GW) of new generating capacity were under construction in 2013, with a record-breaking 10.9 GW starting construction activity during the fourth quarter. The report notes the wind projects under construction could power the equivalent of 3.5 million American homes, or all the households in Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas.

AWEA explains that the start of 2013 for the wind industry was slowed by uncertainty over the production tax credit (PTC), which was allowed to expire momentarily on Dec. 31, 2012, then extended the next day by Congress and signed back into law on Jan. 2, 2013, as part of the fiscal cliff deal.

Historically, when the PTC has been allowed to expire, AWEA says the U.S. industry has faced a 70% to 95% drop-off in installations. The association warns that the huge decrease seen in 2013 is a pattern that could repeat unless Congress acts to extend the PTC, which expired again on Dec. 31, 2013.

Nonetheless, AWEA says that the industry quickly rebounded toward the end of the year, signing a record number of term power purchase agreements (PPAs) and getting projects under construction in the fourth quarter. Developers pushed projects forward to meet new eligibility rules in the PTC, which required the companies to either start construction or spend 5% of the value of their projects by Dec. 31, 2013. Of the 1.084 GW of new wind farms installed in 12 states plus Puerto Rico last year, 1.012 GW were completed in the fourth quarter.

“Our current growth demonstrates how powerful the tax credit is at incentivizing investment in wind energy,” says AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Now it’s up to Congress to ensure that growth continues by extending this highly successful policy.”

AWEA adds that the record growth for wind energy at the end of 2013 resulted not only from the PTC (which provides upfront tax relief of $0.023/kWh for the first 10 years of a project), but also from investments in technological advancements that have driven down the cost of wind energy by 43% in just four years.

Other highlights from AWEA’s report include the following:

  • At least 60 PPAs for nearly 8 GW were signed by utilities and corporate purchasers, of which 5.2 GW have not yet started construction.
  • Some of the states poised for major growth in wind energy in coming years include Texas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and Michigan.
  • There are now over 5.6 GW of turbine orders placed, with major manufacturing facilities active in regions such as Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota.

According to AWEA, the momentum and excitement toward the end of 2013 will carry over into 2014 as factories fill orders for turbines and construction continues at wind farms, but the association emphasizes that uncertainty over the tax policy again looms and will deter new project development.

AWEA’s full report can be found here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 31, 2014 – U.S. Energy Department to Fund Wind Tower Research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $2 million in funding meant to help develop taller wind turbine towers. The department says these projects will help strengthen U.S. wind turbine component manufacturing, reduce the cost of wind energy and expand the geographic range of cost-effective wind power in the U.S.

While utility-scale wind turbines in operation today average 90 meters, the DOE says projects supported by this funding will engineer design concepts for fabricating and installing turbine and tower systems with a minimum hub height of 120 meters. As described in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Analysis of Transportation and Logistics Challenges Affecting the Deployment of Larger Wind Turbines, enabling cost-effective deployment of wind turbines with hub heights up to 140 meters will unlock an additional 1,800 GW in wind power resource potential across 237,000 square-miles of the U.S., or an area roughly the size of Texas, the DOE adds.

The department notes this effort supports its broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to increase the efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector and ensure that clean energy technologies continue to be made domestically.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 31, 2014 – Obama Nominates Norman Bay as New FERC Chairman

President Barack Obama has nominated Norman C. Bay to become the new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Bay, who has served as director of FERC's Office of Enforcement since 2009, would take over for Cheryl A. LaFleur, who the president named acting chairman in November 2013.

Prior to his current position, Bay was a professor of law at the University of New Mexico from 2002 to 2009. He was also the U.S. attorney for the District of New Mexico from 2000 to 2001 and held various law-related positions before that.

The nonprofit association WIRES (Working group for Investment in Reliable and Economic electric Systems) has welcomed Obama’s nomination.

WIRES Counsel Jim Hoecker, a former FERC chairman, says, “Acting Chairman LaFleur has maintained FERC’s focus on key electric power issues, enabling Mr. Bay, if confirmed in timely fashion, to hit the ground running. We are confident that the leadership of the commission will continue to appreciate the risks and challenges facing utilities and other developers of critical infrastructure.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 31, 2014 – Grain Belt Express Transmission Project Signs Deals with Mo. Suppliers

Clean Line Energy Partners has announced agreements to source products and services from Missouri-based manufacturers ABB Inc., General Cable and Hubbell Power Systems Inc. (HPS) for its Grain Belt Express Clean Line project.

The Grain Belt project is an approximately 750-mile overhead, direct-current transmission line that will deliver up to 3.5 GW of renewable power from Kansas to communities and businesses in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and states farther east. Clean Line says ABB, General Cable and HPS employ a total of nearly 1,000 Missourians, and the project represents an approximately $500 million investment in Missouri.

Clean Line designated ABB in 2013 as the preferred supplier to manufacture alternating-current transformers for the Grain Belt Express transmission collector system, where new wind farms will connect to the project in Kansas. ABB plans to manufacture the transformers at its St. Louis, Mo., facility.

General Cable will manufacture the steel core for the transmission line conductor and manage ongoing inventory and logistics at its Sedalia, Mo., facility. Clean Line says General Cable supports its goal of developing a local supply chain and will purchase aluminum rod, made in Missouri, for the Grain Belt Express conductor by partnering with Noranda Aluminum.

HPS has been designated as the preferred supplier of insulators and hardware for the Grain Belt project. HPS will manufacture the hardware and the core of the polymer insulators at its Centralia, Mo., facility and establish a supplier base within the project area to source raw material from local businesses, including companies in Illinois and Indiana, according to Clean Line. To support Grain Belt Express, HPS will invest over $9 million in its Centralia plant.

“Clean Line Energy is committed to sourcing as many of the needed materials as possible from local companies in the Grain Belt Express project area,” says Clean Line President Michael Skelly, adding, “We believe it is increasingly important to invest in energy infrastructure that will contribute to local economies and create new jobs in communities across Missouri and the region.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 30, 2014 – House Passes Farm Bill With $880M in Renewables and Energy Efficiency Provisions

The Agricultural Act of 2014 - popularly known as the farm bill - passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, paving the way for $881 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

The legislation includes the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which offers grants and loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including solar and small wind power systems. The so-called energy title also provides funding for biofuel programs.

The REAP provisions, described under Title IX, specify that $45 million be allocated in each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy. Applications for REAP funding are to be evaluated under the three-tiered approach, representing projects costing $80,000 or less, those over $80,000 but less than $200,000, and those costing $200,000 or more.

The bill passed with a vote of 251 to 166. A majority of Republicans voted in favor of the bill while a majority of Democrats voted against it. Defecting Democrats were reportedly peeved that the legislation trimmed 1% from the food stamp program. Nevertheless, congressional agriculture committees’ members have voiced their support for the five-year farm bill, which was hung up last June when House Republicans opposed spending on agriculture subsidies and food stamps.

Senate approval of the reconciled legislation is considered a formality. The NY Daily News reported that the White House has signaled that President Barack Obama would sign the bill when it crosses his desk.

In November, eight senators signed a letter urging members of the House and Senate conference committee to include a strong energy title in the reconciled farm bill it was developing. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., one of the signatories of the letter and an author of the energy title, has praised the House for passing the farm bill on a bipartisan basis.

In a statement, Franken says, "This bill gives farmers and ranchers badly needed certainty, and it contains several measures I fought for to help Minnesota's rural communities, including my energy provisions that will create jobs and boost our rural economy. Now it's time for the Senate to act quickly, pass the bill and send it to the president's desk."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 28, 2014 – Home Furnishings Retailer IKEA Makes Global Renewables Push

Big-name companies are increasingly embracing wind power and other sources of renewable energy. Ranked among green investors such as Google and Walmart, home furnishings retailer IKEA is on track to spend about $2 billion on its own wind and solar programs up to 2015. In addition, the company recently announced plans to buy its first North American wind energy project, currently under construction in Alberta.

Brendan Seale, sustainability manager of IKEA Canada, speaks with NAW about IKEA’s global renewable energy progress and ambitions.

According to Seale, the IKEA Group is aiming to become energy independent by 2020 by offsetting all of the electricity it consumes worldwide with company-owned renewable energy. Considering IKEA has stores in more than 25 countries, that means a whole lot of power. The company has a midterm goal to reach 70% renewables by 2017, and IKEA is about a third of the way there.

Sure, going green helps a company improve its public image, but Seale maintains there are other, more important motivations at play. IKEA considers three main benefits: sustainability, cost savings and the availability to continue to improve its core business.

“We really see it as a win-win-win,” he explains. “Obviously, there’s a clear sustainability benefit to increasing the availability of renewable energy around the world. IKEA wants to contribute and take a lead in doing that. But it also enables us to control our costs and manage our cost profile in a really smart way as we move forward.

“Going from a net consumer of energy to a net producer, you could imagine the impact that could have long term on our books,” Seale continues. “It allows us to continue to invest in our business and really translate that into benefits to our customers, which is providing home furnishing solutions that are high quality at low prices. That’s really what’s driving it.”

IKEA is employing several cleantech solutions - including biomass, energy efficiency, and even electric-vehicle chargers - but Seale says the company is looking to make investments primarily in solar and wind power.

To date, IKEA has either installed or committed to install a total of about 765,000 solar panels on its buildings worldwide. Altogether, the panels are expected to produce approximately 120 GWh annually. Because IKEA has rooftops on which to build it, solar makes a lot of sense. So, the bigger question is, why bother with wind power?

“Wind projects generate a lot of energy, comparatively speaking,” Seale notes.

“We look at opportunities on a case-by-case basis,” he adds. “In some markets, wind is a prudent investment to make. In other markets, solar is a more prudent investment to make. And in some markets, both are prudent.” Nonetheless, he says the two resources are highly beneficial.

Seale reports that IKEA either owns or has committed to own 157 wind turbines worldwide. The machines, representing 346 MW in total capacity, are expected to produce about 900 GWh each year. The company has invested in wind farms throughout Europe; however, it recently entered its first North American wind deal.

Located in Alberta, the Oldman 2 project will feature Siemens SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines and is being developed by Mainstream Renewable Power. Once the 46 MW wind farm is operational this fall, IKEA will acquire the project under an agreement announced in November 2013. Notably, IKEA and Mainstream previously signed a similar deal for the 7.65 MW Carrickeeny wind farm, which is slated to enter service soon in Ireland.

Seale explains that IKEA does not necessarily use the company-owned wind energy to power its stores. Rather, IKEA sells the wind power to a local utility or another party and makes a profit.

“The commitment that we’ve made is to produce as much or more renewable energy as the energy we consume. In the majority of cases, the physical electrons are feeding the local grid in the markets where we’re operating our stores but may not be directly feeding the stores,” he says, later adding, “It’s kind of an offsetting, as well as smart business.”

Looking ahead, Seale says, “We’re evaluating renewable energy projects all the time. You can expect that IKEA will make further investments and further announcements.” He will not, however, comment on which specific technologies or markets could be next.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 27, 2014 – New U.S. Renewable Energy Capacity More Than Triples Coal, Oil and Nuclear Combined

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, accounted for 37.16% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during calendar-year 2013 for a total of 5,279 MW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group the SUN DAY Campaign notes that is more than three times that provided for the year by coal (1,543 MW - 10.86%), oil (38 MW - 0.27%) and nuclear power (0 MW - 0.00%) combined. However, natural gas dominated 2013, with 7,270 MW of new capacity (51.17%). Waste heat provided the balance of new generating capacity - 76 MW (0.53%).

Among renewable energy sources, the FERC report says solar led the way in 2013 with 266 new "units" totaling 2,936 MW, followed by wind with 18 units totaling 1,129 MW. Biomass added 97 new units totaling 777 MW, while water had 19 new units with an installed capacity of 378 MW and geothermal steam had four new units (59 MW).

For the two-year period between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec.31, 2013, renewable energy sources accounted for 47.38% of all new generation capacity placed in service (20,809 MW). In addition, renewables now account for 15.97% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water - 8.44%, wind - 5.20%, biomass - 1.36%, solar - 0.64%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.25%) and oil (4.05%) combined.

"Renewable energy sources are leaving coal, oil and nuclear power in the dust as new sources of electrical generating capacity while challenging natural gas' current dominance," comments Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "The growth of renewables is likely to accelerate as the costs for new solar and wind, in particular, continue to drop, making them ever more competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power."

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 24, 2014 – New Nevada Transmission Line Delivering Renewable Energy

The One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) is now operational and transmitting up to 600 MW of electricity, including energy from renewable resources throughout Nevada.

The 231-mile line integrates Nevada's grids and is viewed as the transmission backbone that brings renewable energy from northern Nevada to the major load areas, including Las Vegas. ON Line is carrying renewable energy from seven geothermal projects, two solar projects, one large wind farm and a small landfill gas-to-energy project.

ON Line was developed by LS Power Associates. NV Energy provided construction services and serves as operator and purchaser of the line’s transmission capacity. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office (LPO) provided a $343 million loan guarantee for the project.

"Through a successful public-private partnership, the One Nevada Transmission Line is an important step in our efforts to modernize the nation’s transmission infrastructure and increase the safety, reliability and security of our electricity grid as we move toward a clean, low-carbon future,” says Peter Davidson, executive director of the LPO.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 24, 2014 – Kansas Wind Generators Provide Feedback on Clean Line Transmission Project

Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC, an affiliate of Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, says a recent request for information (RFI) issued to wind generators has shown there are high-quality wind resources in and around western Kansas. According to the developer, its overhead, direct current transmission project could help the state realize its full wind power potential.

The company says the data from the RFI shows wind developers in the western Kansas region are developing projects with the capability to produce over 13.5 GW. These projects demonstrate the need for new transmission capacity to access areas with a strong demand for renewable power, the company adds, noting the 13.5 GW of proposed projects represent more than three times the 3.5 GW delivery capacity of the Grain Belt Express.

While pricing details will not be made public, Grain Belt says the proposed costs of energy submitted through the RFI were in line with other wind energy power purchase agreements recently signed in this region.

Grain Belt Express is a public utility in Kansas and Indiana and received an order from the Kansas Corporation Commission in November 2013, granting a siting permit to construct the 370-mile Kansas portion of the line.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 23, 2014 – Could the Global Share of Renewable Energy Double?

The global renewable energy share can reach and exceed 30% by 2030 at no extra cost, says the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in a new report.

According to the group, the study maps out a pathway for doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix based on the technologies that are available today. The report finds energy efficiency and improved energy access can advance the share of renewables in the global energy mix up to 36%.

“There is a strong economic case for the renewable energy transition. When considering climate change mitigation, health impact and job creation, the transition practically pays for itself,” says Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general. “More renewables in the energy system provide greater flexibility, increase energy independence and make the system more resilient.”

The study further says the deployment of modern renewables - sources that exclude traditional use of biomass - needs to grow more than threefold, and a rethinking of energy taxes and subsidies is critical to the economic case for renewable energy. In addition, the study says a reduction of fossil fuel subsidies will facilitate the uptake of renewables. Subsidies for renewable energy can even disappear altogether, if green house gas emissions and other air pollution are reasonably priced, the study adds.

“Many governments are underestimating the potential of renewables in their planning the for energy transition. To reach the goal of doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030, additional efforts are needed, particularly in the building, industry and transport sectors,” says Dolf Gielen, director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, Germany.

“We identified five areas of national action: Planning realistic but ambitious transition pathways; creating an enabling business environment; managing knowledge of technology options and their deployment; ensuring smooth integration of renewables into the existing infrastructure; and unleashing innovation.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 23, 2014 – Mercom Charts the Top Global Wind Energy Deals of 2013

Last year, total global funding into the wind sector reached $28.1 billion, according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group. This includes venture capital (VC) funding, public market financings, debt financings and announced project funding deals.

The report says VC funding increased to $455 million in 2013, compared to $315 million in 2012. In the fourth quarter, such funding came to $93 million in six deals, compared to $135 million in four deals the previous quarter.

According to Mercom, there were seven downstream companies that raised a combined $374.3 million in 2013. Six small wind turbine manufacturers raised $68.8 million, one wind component company raised $6.2 million and three monitoring software companies raised $5.5 million.

The report says the top VC-funded company in 2013 was ReNew Power, an Indian wind project developer, which raised $135 million, followed by Mainstream Renewable Power, an independent renewable energy project developer, which raised $133 million. NSL Renewable Power, also a project developer from India, raised $60 million, and Ogin (formerly FloDesign), a manufacturer of small wind turbines, raised $55 million. Green Infra, a renewable power producer from India, raised $25 million.

Public market financings accounted for $5.8 billion in 17 deals in 2013, including six initial public offerings (IPOs) totaling $2.3 billion.

The report adds that announced large-scale project funding in 2013 amounted to $18.1 billion in 114 deals, compared to $14 billion in 72 deals in 2012. There were a total of 150 investors that participated in project funding last year. Mercom says the most active project funding investors were KfW IPEX-Bank with nine deals, followed by the European Investment Bank with seven deals, and Nord/LB with six deals. Announced large-scale project funding in the fourth quarter ($4.9 billion in 32 deals) increased compared to the third quarter ($3.9 billion in 21 deals).

According to the report, the fourth quarter was very active for large-scale project development activity around the world. Mercom tracked about 104 project announcements totaling almost 10.7 GW in various stages of development.

In addition, the company says 2013 was a strong year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the wind sector, with 33 transactions, 18 of which were disclosed for a combined $2.6 billion. By comparison, 2012 saw 35 transactions.

Of the 33 M&A transactions in 2013, the report says wind downstream companies accounted for 20 of them, wind component companies accounted for six, service providers and manufacturers accounted for three each, and balance-of-system companies accounted for one transaction.

Mercom says the top M&A transaction in 2013 was the $1.25 billion acquisition of Kaydon Corp., an industrial manufacturer and supplier of wind turbine bearings, by SKF Group, a global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and other services.

This was followed by the acquisition of the Polish onshore wind business of DONG Energy, a company involved in procuring, producing, distributing and trading in energy and related products, by two Polish power utilities - Polska Grupa Energetyczna and Energa - for $314 million.

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, an operator of pure-play renewable power platforms, acquired vertically integrated renewable energy production company Western Wind Energy for $182 million. Private-equity firm Actis acquired 60% of Atlantic Energias Renovaveis, a Brazilian renewable energy company, for an initial commitment of $169 million. Rounding out the top five transactions was the acquisition of wind energy developer Salus Fundos de Investimento em Participacoes by Brazilian utility Copel for about $128 million, the report adds.

Disclosed project acquisitions increased in 2013, with 116 transactions - compared to 72 transactions in 2012 - representing over 16 GW that changed hands. There were 37 project acquisitions in the fourth quarter compared to 26 in the third.

The report says the top five large-scale wind project acquisitions in 2013 included the $577 million acquisition by SEAS-NVE of an 80% stake in the 207 MW Rodsand II offshore wind project from E.ON; Portland General Electric’s acquisition of Puget Sound Energy’s 267 MW Lower Snake River Phase II Wind Project for $535 million; Blue Energy’s acquisition of the 177 MW RidgeWind portfolio from HgCapital for $392 million; Scottish and Southern Energy’s acquisition of the 99 MW Dunmaglass Wind Project from Renewable Energy Systems for $305 million; and Iberdrola Renewables Polska’s sale of 184.5 MW of wind projects to Polish companies Energa Hydro and Polska Grupa Energetyczna for $265 million.

Announced debt financing amounted to $3.8 billion in 10 deals in 2013, compared with $12.5 billion in 16 deals in 2012, the report continues. There were 34 new cleantech and wind-related funds announced in 2013 - 14 were announced in the fourth quarter.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 23, 2014 – Patrick Administration Announces Progress in New England Energy Infrastructure Initiative

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has announced he is joining New England's governors to seek support from ISO-New England, operator of the region's electric grid, for expanded clean energy electrical transmission and natural gas pipeline capacity.

In a letter requested by the governors, the New England States Committee on Electricity asked ISO-New England to assist the states as they request proposals for transmission infrastructure to deliver at least 1.2 GW and as much as 3.6 GW of electricity from clean energy sources into the grid, as well as to develop a funding mechanism to support investment in pipelines that bring natural gas into the region.

“Our regional energy infrastructure partnership is a big step forward in our effort to provide residents with more affordable, reliable and cleaner power,” says Patrick. “Diversifying our energy mix will help ensure adequate supplies and end our reliance on fossil fuels that come with volatile prices.”

The letter builds on the New England governors’ agreement in December 2013 to work on a collaborative approach to expand energy infrastructure in the region.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 22, 2014 – Former Gov. Ritter Heads Effort to Offer Obama Comprehensive Clean Energy Plan

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who founded and directs the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University, has released a report offering more than 200 ideas on how President Barack Obama could help curb climate change with a clean energy economy.

The CNEE says the report was developed over eight months with the help of more than 100 CEOs, energy experts, academicians and thought leaders who participated in a series of roundtables last year. Ritter notes that not every participant agreed with all of the ideas, but the report reflects the recommendations that received the strongest support.

“The president has led the nation on clean energy and climate change since he took office, including the initiatives in the climate action plan he announced last June,” Ritter says. “In the face of congressional inaction, the new recommendations are intended to help the administration continue to lead.”

Ritter presented the report and briefed members of Obama’s cabinet and senior policy staff at the White House last week. Among its many recommendations, the report urges the president and his administration to do the following:

  • Carefully compare the full life-cycle benefits and costs of each energy resource as Obama’s national energy policy is implemented. According to the CNEE, the report points out that additional opportunities exist to distinguish carbon-rich and low-carbon resources consistent with the president’s goals for minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions most responsible for climate change.
  • Direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to review and improve how it counts “green jobs” and to resume reporting the number of those jobs in the economy. The CNEE says the BLS suspended its reporting on green jobs last year after it was criticized for its methodology.
  • Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue clear preliminary guidance to states as early as possible in the regulatory process to encourage early adoption of new energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, as well as to explain how they will be credited in state implementation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants.
  • Direct the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to review and, if necessary, improve its methods for projecting the growth of renewable energy technologies in years ahead. According to the CNEE, the EIA has been criticized for underestimating renewable energy’s contribution to the nation’s energy mix.
  • Direct federal agencies to work with the nation’s electric utilities and utility regulators to update regulations that are getting in the way of clean energy technologies. The CNEE says utility executives told it that outdated regulations are making it difficult to accommodate new energy resources and technologies such as wind energy and rooftop solar systems.
  • Request that the Internal Revenue Service use its existing authorities where possible to issue rulings and interpretations of the tax code that increase incentives for private investors to capitalize clean energy technologies. “The idea is not to make the tax system more complex,” Ritter says. “It’s to make it more fair by offering clean energy the same investment tools and tax benefits now given to fossil fuels.”
  • Issue even more aggressive goals for the government’s use of third-party financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in federal operations.
  • More clearly define the president’s criteria for “responsible” natural gas production and require that oil and gas companies use best-available production practices on federal lands.

The full report, titled “Powering Forward: Presidential and Executive Agency Actions to Drive Clean Energy in America,” is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 21, 2014 – NREL Finds Wind Turbines Can Boost Grid System Readiness Through Active Power Control

Wind energy technology can support and enhance reliability of the U.S. power grid by controlling the active power output being placed onto the system, finds a new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The rest of the power system's resources have traditionally been adjusted around wind to support a reliable and efficient system; however, NREL says the research that led to its report challenges that concept.

The national lab conducted the study, "Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps," with partners from the Electric Power Research Institute and the University of Colorado.

The report also finds that it often could be economically beneficial to provide active power control, and potentially damaging loads on turbines from providing this control is negligible. NREL says active power control helps balance load with generation at various times, avoiding erroneous power flows, involuntary load shedding, machine damage and the risk of potential blackouts.

“Utilities and independent system operators are all seeking strategies to better integrate wind and other variable generation into their electric systems,” says NREL Analyst Erik Ela. “Few have considered using wind power to support power system reliability.”

The study included a number of different power system simulations, control simulations, and field tests using turbines at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The lab says the study developed proposals for new ancillary services designs in U.S. wholesale electricity markets, studied how wind power affects system frequency in the western U.S. with and without active power control, and tested the use of active power control at the NWTC to better understand the performance and structural impacts on wind turbines when providing active power control to the electric system.

“Although many of the control strategies have been proven technically feasible and are used in many regions of the world, only a limited number of wind turbines in the United States are currently providing active power control,” Ela explains. “The reason is that the stakeholders - system operators, manufacturers, regulators and the plant owners - all have different goals and perspectives.”

According to NREL, wind is one of the fastest-growing sources of power generation - supplying up to 20% of electricity in many areas of the world. In some regions of the U.S., wind sometimes provides more than 50% of the electric power. However, NREL says the challenge with integrating high concentrations of wind power into electric systems is that it is a variable, uncertain resource, commonly considered “non-dispatchable.”

The forms of active power control considered in this study are synthetic inertial control, primary frequency control, and automatic generation control regulation. For wind power to provide active power control services, NREL says three things must happen:

1) The wind power response needs to improve power system reliability, not impair it.

2) It must be economically viable for wind power plants as well as electricity consumers. Because power plants may incur additional capital costs for the controls and reduce the amount of energy it sells to the market, there must be an incentive to provide the service.

3) Active power control should not have negative impacts on the turbine loading or induce structural damage that could reduce the life of the turbine.

NREL says the comprehensive study analyzed timeframes ranging from milliseconds to the lifetime of wind turbines, spatial scopes ranging from turbine components to entire regions, and study types ranging from economics to power systems engineering, to control design.

“The study’s key takeaway is that wind power can act in an equal or superior manner to conventional generation when providing active power control, supporting the system frequency response and improving reliability,” Ela concludes.

The full report is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 21, 2014 – Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits for New Hampshire

Existing wind energy production in New Hampshire is providing significant environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released by Environment New Hampshire.

The report says that New Hampshire's wind energy is avoiding more than 157,267 metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking 32,764 cars off the road, while it also saves 70,265,000 gallons of water per year, enough to meet the needs of 2,567 people. In addition, the report shows wind energy in the state is avoiding 148 tons of nitrogen oxides and 183 tons of sulfur dioxide.

According to Environment New Hampshire, wind energy is now providing 260,000 MWh of electricity, and the state’s recent progress on wind is the direct result of its renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to provide 24.8% of their power from renewable energy by 2025, as well as federal incentives for wind power.

The full report is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 20, 2014 – Environmentalists Call on Obama to Abandon 'All of the Above' Energy Policy

Eighteen environmental, environmental justice and public health advocacy groups have sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on his administration to embrace clean energy and climate action and abandon its "all of the above" energy policy.

"We believe that continued reliance on an 'all of the above' energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation's capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption," say the groups in the letter.

“With record-high atmospheric carbon concentrations and the rising threat of extreme heat, drought, wildfires and super storms, America’s energy policies must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, not simply reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” the letter continues.

Ultimately, the coalition says the energy policy is “a compromise that future generations can’t afford.”

The groups include the Sierra Club, Environment America, American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Energy Action Coalition, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Population Connection, and Voices for Progress.

The full letter is available here

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 20, 2014 – Maine Offshore Wind Prototype Stands Up to Tough Winter Conditions

The University of Maine's (UMaine) Advanced Structures and Composites Center notes that its small-scale, floating offshore wind turbine prototype off the coast of Maine has survived harsh winter storms and weather. According to an Associated Press report, the center is now confident that full-scale versions of the technology will fare well if and when they are deployed.

The UMaine-led DeepCWind Consortium flipped the switch on the 65-foot-tall VolturnUS 1:8 turbine in June 2013, making it the first grid-connected offshore wind turbine in North America. The program serves as a stepping stone for UMaine and partners to build and deploy two 6 MW floating turbines for the 12 MW Maine Aqua Ventus pilot project. The Maine Public Utilities Commission recently signed off on Maine Aqua Ventus’ term sheet, which lays out the provisions of a potential long-term power purchase agreement.

According to the AP report, the Composites Center’s Habib Dagher said the 1:8 prototype’s ability to withstand big waves and high winds illustrates the viability of the larger-scale turbines.

"We feel very confident now that we have something we can build that will survive a 100-year storm in the state of Maine,” said Dagher. “So am I worried about the 'perfect storm' coming in and wiping out offshore wind farms? No, I'm not. I think we're in good shape.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 15, 2014 – Google Invests $75 Million in Another Texas Wind Farm

Internet giant Google has announced its second wind energy investment in Texas. In an official blog post, the company reveals it is investing $75 million in Pattern Energy Group's 182 MW Panhandle 2 project. This announcement follows Google's previous $200 million investment in EDF Renewable Energy's Spinning Spur wind farm, located in Oldham County, Texas.

Currently under construction in Carson County, Panhandle 2 will comprise Siemens wind turbines and is slated to be online by year-end. Google says the project represents the company’s 15th investment in renewable energy. Furthermore, the Panhandle 2 and Spinning Spur projects are not the only wind power efforts Google has made in Texas: The company is also buying all of the output from the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind farm, which is being developed by Chermac Energy. Located outside Amarillo, that project is slated to be operational later this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 13, 2014 – President Obama Orders Quadrennial Energy Review

President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. federal government to undertake a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), with the first multi-agency report scheduled for Jan. 31, 2015.

Unlike the long-standing Quadrennial Defense Review, a legislatively mandated report of U.S. Department of Defense priorities and strategy, the QER is an executive order that creates a task force that essentially includes all executive departments and agencies with any effect on energy policy, production or consumption.

According to the White House, the initial focus for the QER will be the U.S. energy grid. The executive order says the nation's infrastructure for transporting, transmitting and delivering energy is increasingly challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets and patterns of end use. Moreover, issues such as aging, capacity, the impacts of climate change, and cyber and physical threats are to be addressed in the first QER report.

The presidential memorandum establishing the QER casts a wide net. In addition to mandated federal input, the QER task force is instructed to seek the views of state and local governments; nongovernmental, environmental, faith-based, labor and other social organizations; and academic and nonprofit sectors.

Obama says the interagency QER task force will develop an integrated review of energy policy that builds on his energy security blueprint of March 2011 and last June's Climate Action Plan.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released a statement regarding the directive.

"We welcome the next Quadrennial Energy Review and the process to engage multiple agencies and stakeholders,” says Rob Gramlich, AWEA's senior vice president for public policy. “So much has changed in the last four years - including an over 40 percent drop in the cost of wind energy - that it is time to review the nation's energy strategy and find ways to make the nation's considerable clean, affordable, and homegrown energy available to all Americans.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 13, 2014 – Harvard Team Sets Sights on Cheap Energy Storage of Wind and Solar Power

The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) says a team of university scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new flow battery that could help make energy storage of renewables, such as wind and solar power, more economical and reliable.

SEAS says the metal-free flow battery relies on the electrochemistry of inexpensive, small organic molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals, rather than on costly metals or chemicals.

“The intermittent renewables storage problem is the biggest barrier to getting most of our power from the sun and the wind,” comments team leader Prof. Michael J. Aziz. “A safe and economical flow battery could play a huge role in our transition off fossil fuels to renewable electricity. I'm excited that we have a good shot at it.”

Aziz says the next steps in the project will be to further test and optimize the system that has been demonstrated and bring it toward a commercial scale. By the end of the three-year development period, project collaborator Sustainable Innovations LLC expects to deploy demonstration versions of the organic flow battery contained in a unit the size of a horse trailer.

Under the OPEN 2012 program, the Harvard team received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) to develop the grid-scale battery and plans to work with ARPA-E to catalyze further technological and market breakthroughs over the next several years.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 13, 2013 – Wind Power Assists New York Grid Operator with Beating the Cold

Last week, wind power helped utilities, such as the Nebraska Public Power District, and grid operators, such as the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), across the U.S. fight extremely cold weather and meet related boosts in energy demand.

Specifically, the NYISO says it successfully met a new winter record peak demand for electricity of 25,738 MW on Jan. 7. The previous record of 25,541 MW was set on Dec. 20, 2004.

On Jan. 7, the operator says it had the benefit of more than 1 GW of wind power throughout much of the day. The NYISO notes it also relied on initiatives such as demand response programs and interregional cooperation.

“Record-low temperatures in many portions of the nation resulted in a challenging day for electric system operators in New York, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-West,” says NYISO President and CEO Stephen G. Whitley. “However, thanks to excellent regional cooperation and coordination, the expertise of our operators and the performance of New York’s generation owners, utilities and demand response partners, we successfully managed those challenges and maintained system reliability.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 13, 2013 – ACCIONA Windpower Inks 93 MW Contract in Brazil

ACCIONA Windpower has signed a contract to supply 31 3-MW turbines for Brazilian wind farms that are jointly owned by Voltalia, CHESF and Encalso.

The 93 MW deal comprises AW125/3000 and AW116/3000 machines, which the company says have the largest swept area designed by AWP and are mounted on 120-meter-high concrete towers. The agreement also covers the supply and installation of the turbines in the field and the operation and maintenance of the site for a period of 15 years.

ACCIONA says this is its fourth contract signed in Brazil, where it has already supplied - or has orders for - 423 MW, all with 3 MW wind turbines.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 10, 2014 – Wind Power to Supply 100% of N.Y. Boarding School's Electricity Needs

Through a deal with Connecticut-based renewable energy firm Viridian Power Co., The Storm King School (SKS), a New York-based boarding school, has begun consuming electricity that is entirely generated by local wind farms.

Viridian Independent Associate Eric Stewart says that the school is on the vanguard of using alternative energy to power its facilities. While New York State has allowed an open electricity and natural gas market for many years, Stewart notes it has recently seen an increase in the number of companies offering alternative energy sources.

SKS is acquiring electricity powered by U.S. wind farms, which include the High Sheldon Wind Farm in Strykersville, N.Y. The school has also enrolled in Viridian’s “Simply Right 100” natural gas plan that provides for 100% carbon offsets - i.e. the replacement of all of the carbon it expends in producing the natural gas. One of the offsets includes planting trees in places such as the Amazon.

“I think it’s incumbent on us as a 21st-century school to do it, to teach our kids about it, to be consistent with the movement to create a sustainable planet,” says SKS Headmaster Paul Domingue.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 9, 2014 – Study Finds Wind Turbines Do Not Hurt Massachusetts Property Values

An independent analysis has found no statistically significant evidence that proximity to a wind turbine affects home values in Massachusetts.

The report - commissioned by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and written by researchers from the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - examined 122,000 Massachusetts real estate transactions between 1998 and 2012. It compared transactions within a half-mile of constructed wind turbines to similar transactions between one half-mile and five miles away.

As the MassCEC explains, Massachusetts has expanded the number of wind energy projects in the state from just 3 MW and three turbines installed in 2007 to more than 100 MW and dozens of turbines installed now throughout the commonwealth.

The center says the study compares the relationship between wind turbines and residential home values to those of factors previously shown to affect home prices, such as high-voltage transmission lines, landfills, highways, protected open space and proximity to beaches.

Of the impacts studied, landfills and transmission lines have the greatest negative impact (or disamenity) on home prices, while beachfront and proximity to beaches were found to have the greatest positive impact (or amenity) on home prices. The MassCEC says the study found that operating turbines have a +0.5% amenity, which falls within the study’s margin of error.

“Properly sited renewable energy projects like wind turbines can deliver clean energy for our citizens and boost our local economy,” says MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton. “This report is designed to provide fact-based research to inform decision-makers on potential impacts wind turbines could have on nearby property.”

The full report is available here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 9, 2014 – Bullfrog Partners With Municipal Utilities to Bring Nova Scotia Wind Project Online

Bullfrog Power, a Canadian provider of green energy, has announced an agreement with Alternative Resource Energy Authority (AREA), a partnership between the Towns of Berwick and Mahone Bay, to source electricity from a proposed wind farm in Nova Scotia.

AREA has proposed the seven-turbine wind farm, located near Ellershouse, and hired Minas Energy to develop the project. Power generated by the wind farm will be delivered to the Towns of Berwick and Mahone Bay with the option of other municipal electric utilities to join in the future. Through the agreement with AREA, Bullfrog Power will purchase surplus renewable energy certificates generated by the project.

"Since Bullfrog Power launched in the Maritimes back in 2009, we have been actively seeking renewable energy development projects to partner with in Nova Scotia," says Holly Bond, national sales director at Bullfrog Power. "Bullfrog is proud to be working with the municipalities of Berwick and Mahone Bay on this project to help increase the amount of clean power produced by and for Nova Scotians."

Pending regulatory approvals, the project is expected to begin construction later this year.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 8, 2014 – Wind Power Helps Nebraska Utility Meet Record-High Energy Demand

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) says customers drove up their energy use to battle frigid temperatures on Jan. 6, causing the utility to set a new all-time winter peak for generating electricity. Wind power was there to help.

Between the hour of 7 and 8 a.m., NPPD generated an estimated 2,256 MW of electricity to meet customers' demand. The utility's previous all-time winter peak was 2,219 MW set in December 2009.

“NPPD was able to meet this highest level of demand, in part, due to our steady and stable supply of power generated by our nuclear and coal-fired facilities,” says President and CEO Pat Pope. “But the wind also worked in our favor yesterday, contributing more than 216 MW for NPPD during the time of peak demand.”

NPPD notes it also has hydropower resources and a natural gas, combined-cycle plant; however, due to widespread extreme cold and the high demand for natural gas for home heating and other purposes, the utility says it did not operate its natural gas generation because the fuel costs were up more than 300% over typical prices.

“Nebraskans benefit from NPPD’s diverse portfolio of generating resources,” adds Pope. “Using a combination of fuels means we deliver electricity using the lowest-cost resources while maintaining high reliability for our customers.”

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 8, 2014 – KCP&L to Nearly Double Wind Power Portfolio with New Purchases

Kansas City Power & Light Co. (KCP&L) has announced plans to purchase 400 MW of power from two new wind facilities in the Kansas City region. The company says the agreements will increase its total wind energy portfolio to 939 MW.

The first renewable energy facility will be built and operated by EDP Renewables near Waverly, in Coffey County, Kan. The second facility will be built in Holt County, Mo., and constructed and operated by Element Power. Each facility will be capable of producing up to 200 MW of electricity, and both are expected to be online and producing power by the beginning of 2016.

“These two new wind projects will nearly double the amount of clean, renewable generation in our energy portfolio,” says KCP&L President and CEO Terry Bassham. “This addition will be another step in diversifying our generation mix, which has already seen significant reductions in emissions from recent environmental upgrades made at several of our power plants.”

According to the company, these facilities will be economically beneficial to its customers over the lifetime of the 20-year agreements. While wind turbines cannot yet replace base-load generation like KCP&L’s larger power plants, the company says these wind farms will be a cheaper option to supplement base-load generation than purchasing power from other locations.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 3, 2014 – Poll: Ohio Clean Energy Initiative Enjoys Wide Support

A new poll shows the proposed Ohio Clean Energy Initiative, which would provide $13 billion over 10 years for cleantech projects, enjoys strong support from the state's residents. According to the group Yes for Ohio's Energy Future, the ballot initiative needs 385,247 signatures by July 4 to go before voters in November.

The poll of 884 Ohio voters conducted by Public Policy Polling shows 64% of respondents were likely to vote for the initiative versus 29% who were unlikely, with 7% saying they were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

If passed, the initiative would create a constitutional amendment to allocate funds from state general obligation bonds for energy-related public infrastructure projects using wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid and other technologies.

Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by the independent reviewers at the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission, which is accepting a limited number of early project proposals under a fast start program.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


January 2, 2014 – Consumer Survey Finds Big Upswing in Favorability Toward Clean Energy

Public attitudes toward clean and renewable energy concepts have tended to fluctuate and, in several cases, decline. According to a new consumer survey from Navigant Research, however, favorable attitudes for a number of these concepts - particularly wind energy, solar power, hybrid vehicles and electric cars - have rebounded significantly from their 2012 levels.

The survey, which polled 1,084 U.S. adults in fall 2013, found that wind energy was viewed as either favorable or very favorable by 72% of respondents - up from 66% in 2012. Wind was only slightly less popular than solar energy, which held the top spot at 79% favorability - an increase from 69% in 2012.

Notably, Navigant found that just 7% of respondents held unfavorable opinions of wind power, and approximately one in five respondents was neutral or had no opinion on the energy resource.

From a demographic perspective, Navigant says there was a 9% difference in favorability toward wind energy between men and women, although this difference was close to the margin of error in each direction. Consumers with incomes of $75,000 or higher, respondents 45 years of age and older, and those with four-year college degrees and graduate school held more favorable views of wind as well, the research firm adds.

Navigant says the similarly high levels of favorable views toward solar and wind energy indicate that consumers are generally supportive of the more established renewable energies that harness naturally occurring power sources. Since these two concepts have retained their most favored status year after year, the firm asserts that consumers consider these renewable energies to be important pieces in the power generation portfolio of the future.

Overall, the average favorability rating for the 10 concepts that fall under the categories of clean energy, clean transportation, smart grid and building efficiency rose to the highest level seen in Navigant Research’s annual survey since 2010. The rating rose from 44% in 2012 to 51%.

"Between 2009 and 2012, there were steady declines in favorability for some clean energy concepts, particularly the most favorable concepts, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hybrid and electric vehicles," says Clint Wheelock, managing director at Navigant Research. "[2013] saw statistically significant increases in favorability for seven of the 10 concepts, and a decline for only one - nuclear power."

Navigant Research’s white paper regarding the consumer survey can be found here.

(Reposted from www.nawindpower.com with permission, Copyright © 2014 Zackin Publications Inc., All rights reserved. For North American Windpower's latest news headlines or a free subscription, please visit www.nawindpower.com.)


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