Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Wind Farms’

MendoCoastCurrent, March 14, 2011

Dear President Obama,

Continuing to hear comments that you, your administration and your cabinet members consider nuclear power as a clean, renewable solution is most alarming.

Mr. President, let’s consider the nuclear event occurring in Japan right now and learn the simple truth that any safe renewable energy portfolio DOES NOT include nuclear energy.

The ramifications of the current Japanese nuclear trauma will be felt worldwide as will the fall-out, for months and possibly years to come.

Mr. President, I strongly encourage your team to change course, hit the ground running in alternative, renewable and sustainable energy r&d right now.

Here’s a solution that may be started TODAY ~ http://bit.ly/t7ov1

I call it Mendocino Energy and am not attached to the name, yet very passionate about this important safe, renewable energy development concept. Time has come for us to get rolling!

Mendocino Energy ~ At this core energy technology incubator, energy policy is created as renewable energy technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing, refinement and implementation.

The Vision

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco, Silicon Valley. On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, utilizing a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site to innovate in best practices, cost-efficient, safe renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag/algae, smart grid and grid technologies, et al.

The process is collaborative in creating, identifying and engineering optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions with acumen.

Start-ups, utility companies, universities (e.g. Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford), EPRI, the federal government (FERC, DOE, DOI) and the world’s greatest minds gathering at this fast-tracked, unique coming-together of a green work force and the U.S. government, creating responsible, safe renewable energy technologies to quickly identify best commercialization candidates and build-outs.

The campus is quickly constructed on healthy areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre industry created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is underway.

Determining best sitings for projects in solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, algae farming, bioremediation; taking the important first steps towards establishing U.S. leadership in renewable energy and the global green economy.

With deep concern & hope,

Laurel Krause

Read Full Post »

JOHN UPTON, San Francisco Examiner, August 22, 2010

The view to the west from Ocean Beach could one day be cluttered with scores of spinning windmills, generating power.

San Francisco under Mayor Gavin Newsom has long explored the possibility of tapping alternative energy sources, including tidal, wave, solar, geothermal and wind power.

San Francisco is reviewing the environmental impacts of a planned project that would place underwater devices off Ocean Beach to harness wave power, which is a nascent form of renewable energy. The review and its approvals are expected to wrap up within a year.

City leaders are starting to think that construction of the wave power project could help them assess the viability of a more visually striking proposal: a wind farm.

Ocean Beach was found by UC Berkeley professor Ronald Yeung to have good potential for a powerful wave energy farm. Waves that roll into the beach are created by Arctic tempests.

The finding was confirmed last year by city contractors, who determined a facility could provide up to 30 megawatts of electricity — enough power for 30,000 homes.

Environmental review work under way involves studying sediment movement and tracking whale migration patterns to determine the best places on the sea floor to attach futuristic wave power devices.

Recent changes in federal regulations could limit San Francisco to working within three miles of the shoreline because offshore renewable energy projects now require expensive leases instead of less-expensive permits, although the process is clouded by uncertainty.

The federal Mineral Management Services agency has responsibility for regulating offshore renewable energy resources, including wave and power farms, but the agency is being overhauled in the wake of the Gulf oil spill disaster.

The recent regulatory changes could see offshore energy rights snapped up by deep-pocketed oil or utility companies under anticipated bidding processes.

On San Francisco’s clearest days, visitors to Ocean Beach can sometimes see the Farallon Islands, which are 27 miles west of San Francisco — nearly 10 times further out to sea than the three-mile offshore border.

After safe and potentially powerful locations have been identified, wave energy technology will be selected from a growing suite of options including devices that float near the surface, those that hover in midwater and undulating seabed equipment inspired by kelp.

The next step would involve applying for permits and installing the equipment.

Somewhere along the way, costs will be determined and funds will need to be raised by officials or set aside by lawmakers.

Once the wave-catching equipment is in place, it could be used to help determine wind velocities and other factors that make the difference between viable and unviable wind farm sites.

“What we really need to do is put some wind anemometers out there,” Newsom’s sustainability adviser Johanna Partin said. “There are a couple of buoys off the coast with wind meters on them, but they are spread out and few and far between. As we move forward with our wave plans, we’re hoping there are ways to tie in some wind testing. If we’re putting stuff out there anyway then maybe we can tack on wind anemometers.”

Partin characterized plans for a wind farm off Ocean Beach as highly speculative but realistic.

Wind power facilities are growing in numbers in California and around the world.

But wind farms are often opposed by communities because of fears about noise, vibrations, ugliness and strobe-light effects that can be caused when blades spin and reflect rays from the sun.

A controversial and heavily opposed 130-turbine project that could produce 468 megawatts of power in Nantucket Sound received federal approvals in May.

West Coast facilities, however, are expected to be more expensive and complicated to construct.

“The challenge for us on the West Coast is that the water is so much deeper than it is on the East Coast,” Partin said.

Treasure Island is planned site for turbine test

A low-lying island in the middle of the windswept Bay will be used as a wind-power testing ground.

The former Navy base Treasure Island is about to be used in an international project to test cutting-edge wind turbines. It was transferred last week to to San Francisco to be developed by private companies in a $100 million-plus deal.

The testing grounds, planned in a southwest pocket of the island, could be visible from the Ferry Building.

The first turbines to be tested are known as “vertical axis” turbines, meaning they lack old-fashioned windmill blades, which can be noisy and deadly for birds.

The devices to be tested were developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in cooperation with Russian companies. Five were manufactured in Russia and delivered to California earlier this year.

The wind-technology relationship, which was funded with $2 million in federal funds, grew out of an anti-nuclear-proliferation program started in 1993.

“The vertical machines should be good in gusty low-wind conditions, which are those which you expect in an urban environment,” lead LBNL researcher Glen Dahlbacka said recently.

The machines were designed to minimize noise and are easily built.

“They’re relatively easy to work up in a fiberglass shop,” Dahlbacka said.

Eventually, each device could be coupled with solar panels to provide enough power for a modest home, Dahlbacka said.

The team is not expected to be the only group to test wind turbines on the island.

San Francisco plans to provide space for green-tech and clean-tech companies to test their wind-power devices on the island to help achieve product certification under federal standards adopted in January.

The program could help San Francisco attract environmental technology companies.

“It’s an opportunity to attract and retain clean-tech companies,” Department of the Environment official Danielle Murray said. “We’ve just started putting feelers out to the industry.”

The proposed testing grounds might have to shift around as the island is developed with thousands of homes and other buildings in the coming years.

“We need to work with them with regards to where these things go and how they would interact with the development project,” Wilson Meany Sullivan developer Kheay Loke said.

— John Upton

Read Full Post »

Excerpts from Environmental Leader, April 10, 2009

windmapUS Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told participants at a summit meeting “that U.S. offshore areas hold enormous potential for wind energy development in all coastal metropolitan centers, and the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states could exceed electricity demand in the U.S.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has identified more than 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of wind potential off the Atlantic coast, and more than 900 GW of wind potential off the Pacific Coast. There are more than 2,000 MW of offshore wind projects proposed in the United States, according to the Department of Interior.

The total wind potential for the Atlantic region is 1024 gigawatts (GW), and 1 GW of wind power will supply between 225,000 to 300,000 average U.S. homes with power annually, according to U.S. Geological Survey-Minerals Management Service Report.

New Jersey is tripling the amount of wind power it plans to use by 2020 to 3,000 megawatts, or 13% of New Jersey’s total energy, according to AP. In Atlantic City alone, the local utilities authority has a wind farm consisting of five windmills that generate 7.5 megawatts, enough energy to power approximately 2,500 homes, according to the article.

The biggest potential wind power is located out in deep waters (see chart above) — 770.9 GW in the Atlantic, 891.4 GW in the Pacific and 67 GW in the Gulf, according to NREL. The laboratory assumes that about 40% of wind potential, or 185 GW, could be developed, to power about 53.3 million average U.S. homes.

But some believe Salazar’s estimates are too optimistic.

Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, pushing to build a wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., told the Associated Press that it would take hundreds of thousands of windmills with the average wind turbine generating between 2 to 5 megawatts per unit.

Read Full Post »

TYLER HAMILTON, CleanBreak.ca, February 17, 2009

humpback_finToronto-based WhalePower, maker of the tubercle-lined turbine blades inspired by humpback whale flippers, got the results back from its first independent study in the field. 

The blade design was tested on a 25-kilowatt Wenvor Technologies turbine at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada. The institude found that annualized energy production from the retrofitted blade increased by an estimated 20%.

You can find the data here and analysis here. “Rated power was attained at 12.5 metres per second versus the 15 meters per second previously published performance for the unmodified Wenvor turbine. (Caveat: it’s an estimate because the test of the retrofitted blade followed International Electro-Technical Commission standards, while the benchmark data did not).

“An improvement of just 1% or 2% in AEP is significant,” said Stephen Dewar, WhalePower’s director of R&D. “Here we have about 20% with low noise. We’re thrilled by this result.”

The next step is to perform a more comprehensive apples-to-apples test on a larger turbine. These results may help the company raise the capital it needs to take its testing to the next level. Perhaps at some point it will begin catching the attention of some of the bigger wind-energy players.

Read Full Post »

KATE GALBRAITH, The New York Times, February 4, 2009

imagesWind and solar energy have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting.

Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 – 50% declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government.

Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks.

“I thought if there was any industry that was bulletproof, it was that industry,” said Rich Mattern, the mayor of West Fargo, N.D., where DMI Industries of Fargo operates a plant that makes towers for wind turbines. Though the flat Dakotas are among the best places in the world for wind farms, DMI recently announced a cut of about 20% of its work force because of falling sales.

Much of the problem stems from the credit crisis that has left Wall Street banks reeling. Once, as many as 18 big banks and financial institutions were willing to help finance installation of wind turbines and solar arrays, taking advantage of generous federal tax incentives. But with the banks in so much trouble, that number has dropped to four, according to Keith Martin, a tax and project finance specialist with the law firm Chadbourne & Parke.

Wind and solar developers have been left starved for capital. “It’s absolutely frozen,” said Craig Mataczynski, president of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, a wind developer. He projected his company would build just under half as much this year as it did last year.

The two industries are hopeful that President Obama’s economic stimulus package will help. But it will take time, and in the interim they are making plans for a dry spell.

Solar energy companies like OptiSolar, Ausra, Heliovolt and Sun Power, once darlings of investors, have all had to lay off workers. So have a handful of companies that make wind turbine blades or towers in the Midwest, including Clipper Windpower, LM Glasfiber and DMI.

Some big wind developers, like NextEra Energy Resources and even the Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, a promoter of wind power, have cut back or delayed their wind farm plans.

Renewable energy sources like biomass, which involves making electricity from wood chips, and geothermal, which harnesses underground heat for power, have also been slowed by the financial crisis, but the effects have been more pronounced on once fast-growing wind and solar.

Because of their need for space to accommodate giant wind turbines, wind farms are especially reliant on bank financing for as much as 50 percent of a project’s costs. For example, JPMorgan Chase, which analysts say is the most active bank remaining in the renewable energy sector, has invested in 54 wind farms and one solar plant since 2003, according to John Eber, the firm’s managing director for energy investments.

In the solar industry, the ripple effects of the crisis extend all the way to the panels that homeowners put on their roofs. The price of solar panels has fallen by 25% in six months, according to Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who said he expected a further drop of 10% by midsummer. (For homeowners, however, the savings will not be as substantial, partly because panels account for only about 60% of total installation costs.)

After years when installers had to badger manufacturers to ensure they would receive enough panels, the situation has reversed. Bill Stewart, president of SolarCraft, a California installer, said that manufacturers were now calling to say, “Hey, do you need any product this month? Can I sell you a bit more?”

The turnaround reflects reduced demand for solar panels, and also an increase in supply of panels and of polysilicon, a crucial material in many panels.

On the wind side, turbines that once had to be ordered far in advance are suddenly becoming available.

“At least one vendor has said that they have equipment for delivery in 2009, where nine months ago they wouldn’t have been able to take new orders until 2011,” Mr. Mataczynski of Renewable Energy wrote in an e-mail message. As he has scaled back his company’s plans, he has been forced to cancel some orders for wind turbines, forfeiting the deposit.

Banks have invested in renewable energy, lured by the tax credits. But with banks tightly controlling their money and profits, the main task for the companies is to find new sources of investment capital.

Wind and solar companies have urged Congress to adopt measures that could help revive the market. But even if a favorable stimulus bill passes, nobody is predicting a swift recovery.

“Nothing Congress does in the stimulus bill can put the market back where it was in 2007 and 2008, before it was broken,” said Mr. Martin, the tax lawyer with Chadbourne & Parke. “But it can help at the margins.”

The solar and wind tax credits are structured slightly differently, but the House version of the stimulus bill would help both industries by providing more immediate tax incentives, alleviating some of their dependency on banks.

Both House and Senate would also extend an important tax credit for wind energy, called the production tax credit, for three years; previously the industry had complained of boom-and-bust cycles with the credit having to be renewed nearly every year.

Over the long term, with Mr. Obama focused on a concerted push toward greener energy, the industry remains optimistic.

“You drive across the countryside and there’s more and more wind farms going up,” said Mr. Mattern of West Fargo. “I still have big hopes.”

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 28, 2009
To Keep Momentum, AWEA Calls for Quick Approval of the Obama Stimulus Package

wind-energy1

Architect Laurie Chetwood's Wind Dam

The massive growth in 2008 swelled the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of some $17 billion into the economy, positioning wind power as one of the leading sources of new power generation in the country today along with natural gas, AWEA added. However, at year’s end financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle as layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector.

“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The U.S. wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector. Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs as we help make our country more secure and leave a more stable climate for our children.”

The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year, according to initial estimates, and will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off of the road.

The amount that the industry brought online in the 4th quarter alone – 4,112 MW – exceeds annual additions for every year except 2007. In all, wind energy generating capacity in the U.S. now stands at 25,170 MW, producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of close to 7 million household. Iowa, with 2,790 MW installed, surpassed California (2,517 MW) in wind power generating capacity. The top five states in terms of capacity installed are now:

  • Texas, with 7,116 MW
  • Iowa, with 2,790 MW
  • California, with 2,517 MW
  • Minnesota, with 1,752 MW
  • Washington, with 1,375 MW

Oregon moved into the top tier states with more than 1,000 MW installed, which now include Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado and Oregon.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 17, 2009

Here’s the post from MendoCoastCurrent in the Citizen’s Briefing Book at President-elect Barack Obama’s change.gov site:

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force

Immediately establish and staff a Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force chartered with exploring and fast-tracking the development, exploration and commercialization of environmentally-sensitive renewable energy solutions in solar, wind, wave, green-ag, et al.

At this ‘world-class incubator,’ federal energy policy development is created as cutting-edge technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing to refinement and implementation.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

If you wish to support this, please vote up this post at :

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Mendocino Energy:

Renewable energy incubator and campus on the Mendocino coast exploring nascent and organic technology solutions in wind, wave, solar, green-ag, bioremediation and coastal energy, located on the 400+ acre waterfront G-P Mill site.

Mendocino Energy may be a Campus in Obama’s Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.

Vision:

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley.  On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site shall be used for exploring best practices, cost-efficient, environmentally-sensitive renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag, among many others. The end goal is to identify and engineer optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions.

Start-ups, universities (e.g., Stanford’s newly-funded energy institute), the federal government (RED) and the world’s greatest minds working together to create, collaborate, compete and participate in this fast-tracked exploration.

The campus is quickly constructed of green, temp-portable structures (also a green technology) on the healthiest areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is currently being tested (one more sustainable technology requiring exploration). So, readying the site and determining best sites for solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, wave energy, etc.

To learn more about these technologies, especially wave energy, RSS MendoCoastCurrent.

Read Full Post »

PHILIPPE NAUGHTON, TimesOnline UK, January 8, 2009

th0_13120098web-turbine-7-1-09An investigation was under way today into how a 65 ft. blade was mysteriously torn off a wind turbine amid reports of “strange lights” in the sky.

The 300 ft. turbine at Conisholme in Lincolnshire was left wrecked after the incident. Local residents speculate that the damage could have been caused by a UFO.

Ecotricity, the company which operates the turbine, said it was investigating the unprecedented incident. A spokeswoman said: “We’re conducting a thorough investigation into what happened. This kind of thing has never happened to us before.”

The missing blade was found on the ground beneath the turbine, she said, adding that the company could not speculate on the cause of the damage. “An engineer has been on the site since it happened, early on Sunday morning, and is carrying out a sort of forensic investigation.”
Ministry of Defence scientists have concluded that UFOs have not visited the earth, in spite of the many sightings reported in Britain last autumn.

It is reported that flashing orange-yellow spheres had been seen by dozens of people in the area, including by Dorothy Willows, who lives half a mile from the scene of the incident. Ms Willows was in her car when she saw the lights.

“She said: “The lights were moving across the sky towards the wind farm. Then I saw a low flying object. It was skimming across the sky towards the turbines.”

The blade was ripped off hours later, at 4 a.m.

The Ministry of Defence said it was not looking into the incident. A spokesman said: “The MoD examines reports solely to establish whether UK airspace may have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised military activity. Unless there’s evidence of a potential threat, there’s no attempt to identify the nature of each sighting reported.”

But Nick Pope, a UFO-watcher who used to work for the MOD, called for an investigation. “There’s a public safety issue here, whatever you believe about UFOs. The Ministry of Defence’s standard line on UFOs isn’t good enough. The MOD and the Civil Aviation Authority need to investigate as a matter of urgency.”

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, January 7, 2009

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher today issued the following statement:

Today I announce my intention to step down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effective January 20, 2009. Although my term as commissioner does not end until 2012, I will also immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business, as I explore other career opportunities.  

Read Full Post »

SolanoCountyBusinessNews.com, November 27, 2008

aboutEscondido-based EnXco, a subsidaiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles Co., recently announced that it has closed on the project financing for the Shiloh II Wind Energy Project under construction in the Montezuma Hills area of Solano County, California.

Lenders to the projects are Nord/LB as lead administrative agent, Dexia and Credit Industriel et Commercial; equity arranged by JP Morgan as lead investor with Wells Fargo and New York Life rounding out the investor group.

Construction of the 150-megawatt wind farm, consisting of 75 REpower 2 MW turbines, began in May, with commercial operation expected in December 2008. Pacific Gas & Electric will purchase the power generated under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The Shiloh II wind farm will be operated and maintained by EnXco Service Corporation.

“Bringing the financing to completion during this current financial crisis is testimony to the quality of our projects as well as to the long-term relationship with our financial partners,” said Tristan Grimbert, president and CEO of EnXco in a press release announcing the financing deal. “Even though funding is scarce, this further confirms that first class, high-quality projects will succeed.”

EnXco, Inc. develops, constructs, operates and manages renewable energy projects throughout the United States.

Read Full Post »

Democrat & Chronicle, August 9, 2008

New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold two sessions related to Iberdrola’s disputed acquisition of Energy East this month in Albany.

The proposed $4.5 billion takeover of Energy East Corp. by Iberdrola SA of Spain will come before the NY PSC on August 20 and 27, 2008, the PSC announced Friday.

Energy East is the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric and Gas Corp., both headquartered in Rochester.

Iberdrola, a big international utility that specializes in wind energy development, proposed the acquisition of Energy East in June 2007. The deal has been approved by the federal government and by other states where Energy East does business.

New York’s consideration of the deal has been drawn out for months by disagreements between the PSC staff and Iberdrola. Foremost among the issues: Iberdrola’s ownership of wind farms in Energy East’s service territory, which the PSC staff opposes because control of both power generation and distribution might stifle competition and how much rate relief Iberdrola should give to RG&E and NYSEG customers.

Because of continuing disagreement, the PSC staff has recommended against approving the acquisition.

The August 20, 2008 PSC session is a regular meeting of the five-member board, while the August 27, 2008 session is a special meeting. Both will be at PSC offices in Albany.

Read Full Post »

ERICA GIES, eMagazine.com, May 2008

Wales, a beautiful corner of the United Kingdom on the western edge of England, helped fuel Britain’s industrial revolution, not to mention its pea-soup pollution “fogs.” The mining of vast quantities of coal from its southern valleys for two centuries enabled the British to go forth and conquer the world. Now, with global warming an increasing concern, Britain is shifting away from coal and toward renewable energy, striving for targets set in concert with other European Union (EU) member countries. Britain’s commitment to generate 15% of total energy—including electricity, heat and transport fuels—from renewables by 2020 sounds impressive in the absence of a national U.S. target. But 17 of the 27 EU countries have higher targets, including top-flight Sweden with 49%.

Since gaining some degree of autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1999, Wales is now setting more aggressive targets for itself. For example, it aims to be self-sufficient in renewable and low-carbon electricity by 2025. Such programs receive cautious welcome from environmental nonprofits, but they have concerns. According to Neil Crumpton, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth in Wales, “What ministers announce and what is likely to happen are two very different things…. The targets are usually not backed by policies and funding that will deliver.”

Environmental groups also say they’d like to see government put more resources into conservation as well as new sources of generation. And when it comes to the latter, they would give priority to home-based solar and wind devices, because it’s educational and encourages thriftiness. Critics gain ammunition to question focus and commitment because of the many layers of government bureaucracy—from Wales, the UK and the EU.

When discussing Wales’ commitment to make all new buildings zero carbon by 2011, Environment Minister Jane Davidson admitted that jurisdiction can slow things down. “Well, it’s one of these areas which is complicated by the fact that the majority of the responsibility for the area lies with the UK government,” she says. “So what we can do as a Welsh Assembly Government is relatively limited.”

Still, Wales perseveres. In an attempt to boost its knowledge economy, the Welsh Assembly Government has created 11 Technium Innovation Centers to drive enterprise and innovation in Wales. Companies accepted into a Technium benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities, university expertise, and business support. Some start-ups have found the program a lifesaver, while others complain it is bureaucratic or avoid it entirely. And Wales is launching a wide range of projects, from a 350-megawatt (MW), wood chip-fueled biomass plant to increasing offshore wind to 33 gigawatts by 2020 (requiring 7,000 turbines). There are also solar projects, wave and tidal energy and innovative waste reclamation for energy.

Robert Hertzberg, former Speaker of the California State Assembly, founded a solar company called G24i in Cardiff, and high-tech dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology started rolling off machines in November. G24i is the first company in the world to manufacture this technology in a flexible coating, and its first product is a cell phone charger sold in developing countries. However, Hertzberg plans to expand soon to building-integrated materials, putting solar inside light fixtures, window blinds, and more.

Hertzberg said he chose Wales because Europe is much more receptive to renewable energy than the U.S., but he largely avoided the state incentive plan because he believes in operating independently and wanted to get his company up and running quickly. “In all governments, you just get stuck in the morass of bureaucracy,” he says. “And if you accept a dollar, you have so many conditions. It’s not worth it.” With a new 2.5 MW windmill on the property, G24i has covered the company’s current energy usage and is planning an on-site learning center to teach people about renewable energy.

Harnessing the ocean’s restless energy has long been the dream of scientists, but making it a commercial reality has mostly eluded entrepreneurs. Iain Russell is the local manager of Wave Dragon, a floating, slack-moored wave energy converter composed of vertical turbines near the water’s surface. It’s stationed close enough to shore to transmit power to customers via underwater transmission lines. Wave Dragon is trying to get its 7 MW prototype into the water off Pembrokeshire for a test run. But as a small developer, it had to apply for a government grant and has been making its way through consultations, environmental impact assessments and approvals since 2005.

“There is no existing approval process for offshore wave energy installations,” says Russell. “Several years and millions of pounds may be OK for a 300 MW offshore wind farm, but for a small wave developer whose device will only be in the water for a year or two, the process is not proportional.” Several competitors around the world are working on and testing prototypes, and Wave Dragon has tested a prototype in Denmark. Another company permanently connected its device to the Italian grid from the Straits of Messina in 2006.

Wales’ Severn Estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world. The lure of exploiting that energy has called out particularly loudly in recent years due to global warming, energy security concerns and rising fossil fuel costs. But the estuary is also protected by several national and international wildlife designations, so the debate is on.

The British government is currently considering two tidal technologies. One, essentially a dam called a barrage, uses the energy difference between high and low tides. The other, a tidal lagoon, consists of offshore catchment pools that would channel energy without blocking the entire river. Although the currently study is looking at different sized facilities, the largest would supply 4.4% of Britain’s electricity, or 0.6% of its total energy. It would also reduce less than 1% of its carbon emissions for an estimated cost of $29 billion and not come online until 2022.

“Harnessing the Severn will produce a long-term renewable energy source for Wales and also the UK,” said Jane Davidson, Wales’ minister for environment, sustainability and housing.

Most Green groups are vehemently opposed, both because of the destruction of rare habitat and because they say the project is a boondoggle that diverts time and money from energy efficiency, conservation and less environmentally damaging renewable energy technologies that would come online more quickly.

Britain is also considering in-stream tidal projects, which Matt Lumley of the Nova Scotia Department of Energy says are like underwater windmills that harness kinetic energy and have environmental and economic footprints much lighter than that of barrage technology. A tidal-stream “farm” is planned off the coast of north Wales, near Anglesey, and subject to approval could be completed by 2011. Its seven turbines could power 6,000 homes.

Read Full Post »

Environmental News Service, July 22, 2008

Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, able to generate enough power for 320,000 homes, has been approved by the Scottish government.

Announcing the new wind farm approval ahead of the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow, First Minister Alex Salmond said the 152-turbine Clyde wind farm near Abington in South Lanarkshire is “another step towards making Scotland the green energy capital of Europe.”

“The Clyde wind farm will represent a very important step in the development of renewable energy in Scotland and in meeting shared European targets,” Salmand said on Monday.

Clyde will be built in two phases, with commissioning of the first phase set for 2010 and completion of both phases scheduled for 2011.

The Scottish government has set a target of supplying a third of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and half by 2020, said Salmond.

“Today’s announcement makes it virtually certain that the 2011 target will be met early and exceeded by the end of this Parliamentary term and represents a significant milestone on the way to achieving the 2020 target,” he said.

The Clyde wind farm application was submitted by Airtricity. It became part of Scottish and Southern Energy’s development portfolio when the company acquired Airtricity in February 2008.

The development is expected to require an investment of £600 million (US$1.195 billion). Scottish and Southern Energy, SSE, estimates that half of the total investment will be placed with Scottish companies.

SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said Monday, “Projects like Clyde are essential if Scotland and the UK are to have any hope of meeting legally-binding EU targets for renewable energy. Scottish Ministers aim to make Scotland the green energy capital of Europe, and giving the Clyde wind farm consent is evidence of a willingness to take decisions which are consistent with that ambition.”

The wind farm will be built in clusters of turbines on either side of the M74 motorway in southern Scotland.

Clyde will have a total capacity of up to 548 megawatts of power, more than double the biggest windfarm currently operating in Europe – the Maranchon wind farm in Guadalajara, Spain, which has a generating capacity of 208 megawatts.

Another large wind farm is under construction in Scotland but it will not come close to the generating capacity of Clyde.

Whitelee, on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, will consist of 140 wind turbines with a total capacity of 322 megawatts once it is completed next summer. It is expected to produce enough power for over 180,000 homes, more than 2% of the Scotland’s annual electricity needs, and will hold the title of largest wind farm in Europe until Clyde is completed in 2011.

“Clyde is clearly going to be a major project, with significant economic opportunities for the local community,” said SSE’s Marchant. During construction, the Clyde project is expected to create 200 jobs, with some 30 staffers employed when the wind farm is fully operational, he said.

“Scotland has a clear, competitive advantage in developing clean, green energy sources such as wind, wave and tidal power,” said Salmand. “We have put renewable energy at the heart of our vision of increasing sustainable, economic growth.”

Current installed renewables capacity in Scotland totals 2,800 megawatts, while installed nuclear generating capacity is 2,090 megawatts.

“Installed renewables capacity is already greater than nuclear capacity. But this announcement demonstrates that we are only at the start of the renewables revolution in Scotland,” the first minister said.

“Combined with the crucial announcement of a new biomass plant in Fife on Friday, the Clyde declaration today makes this weekend one of the biggest advances ever in energy technology in Scotland,” Salmand said.

On Friday, the first minister visited the future site of the 45 megawatt combined heat and power biomass plant in Markinch, Glenrothes, where he met with representatives from energy supplier RWE npower Cogen and papermaker firm Tullis Russell.

The joint venture will be built and operated by npower Cogen, the cogeneration division of RWE npower, a UK developer of industrial combined heat and power, often called cogeneration.

It will provide Tullis Russell with steam and electricity, reducing the papermill’s emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by around 250,000 metric tonnes each year.

Approval of the Clyde wind farm means that the total installed capacity of renewable power plants either built or consented and under construction will be 4.55 gigawatts – just 450 megawatts short of the five gigawatts needed to reach the Scottish government’s interim target of generating 31 percent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011.

The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 37 renewable project applications – 28 wind farms, eight hydropower projects and one wave power project.

Read Full Post »

Portland Business Journal, July 28, 2008

The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council gave its approval of the site of a wind farm billed to be the largest in the world.

The Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm, which would span Gilliam and Morrow counties in north-central Oregon, is proposed to have 303 wind turbines with a peak capacity of 909 megawatts (MW) — instantly doubling the state’s current wind-generated capacity of 889 MW, making it one of the largest wind farms in the country.

“This is a tremendous day for renewable energy in Oregon,” Michael Grainey, director of the Oregon Department of Energy, said in a news release.

The project is being developed by Caithness Shepherds Flat, LLC of Sacramento, California, which says Shepherds Flat will be the largest single wind farm in the world.

Currently, the largest operating wind farm in the United States is Horse Hollow in Texas at 736 MW. Texas oil and gas magnate T. Boone Pickens has plans to build a wind farm in Texas by 2014 that would reach 4,000 MW.

The Shepherd’s Flat project area is between highways 19 and 74 on privately owned land, about five miles southeast of Arlington. The power output of the facility would enter the Federal Columbia River Transmission System through Bonneville Power Administration’s Slatt Substation.

Other renewable energy projects currently under review by the Oregon Department of Energy include the 400 MW Golden Hills Wind Farm in Sherman County and the 143 MW Newberry Geothermal Project in Deschutes County.

Read Full Post »

AFP, July 29, 2008

MADRID (AFP) — Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa Energia, a sector leader, said on Tuesday its net profits soared during the first-half at a time when record high oil prices are fueling interest in alternative energy sources.

The company posted a comparable net profit of 93 million euros ($146 million US) during the first six months, a 69% increase on a directly comparable basis to the same time last year while pro-form first-half core earnings rose 43% to 235 million euros.

The results do not take into account the activity of Gamesa’s solar energy unit Solar which it sold to US private equity firm First Reserve in February for 261 million euros and the gains made with this operation.

When extraordinary gains from this operation are taken into account, net profit hit 198 million euros, a 314 percent increase over the same time last year, it said in a statement.

Sales rose in the first-half 34% to 1.88 billion euros.

In June the company signed a 6.3-billion-euro ($9.7 billion US) contract with a subsidiary of Spanish electricity generator Iberdrola Renewables to provide turbines for the company’s wind parks in Europe, Mexico and the United States.

Gamesa employs about 3,700 people across Europe, the United States, China and the Dominican Republic.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 9, 2008

Efforts to harness the energy potential of Earth’s ocean winds could soon gain an important new tool: global satellite maps from NASA. Scientists have been creating maps using nearly a decade of data from NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite that reveal ocean areas where winds could produce energy.

The new maps have many potential uses including planning the location of offshore wind farms to convert wind energy into electric energy. The research, published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, was funded by NASA’s Earth Science Division, which works to advance the frontiers of scientific discovery about Earth, its climate and its future.

“Wind energy is environmentally friendly. After the initial energy investment to build and install wind turbines, you don’t burn fossil fuels that emit carbon,” said study lead author Tim Liu, a senior research scientist and QuikSCAT science team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Like solar power, wind energy is green energy.”

QuikSCAT, launched in 1999, tracks the speed, direction and power of winds near the ocean surface. Data from QuikSCAT, collected continuously by a specialized microwave radar instrument named SeaWinds, also are used to predict storms and enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts.

Wind energy has the potential to provide 10-15%of future world energy requirements, according to Paul Dimotakis, chief technologist at JPL. If ocean areas with high winds were tapped for wind energy, they could potentially generate 500 to 800 watts of energy per square meter, according to Liu’s research. Dimotakis notes that while this is slightly less than solar energy (which generates about one kilowatt, or 1,000 watts, of energy per square meter), wind power can be converted to electricity more efficiently than solar energy and at a lower cost per watt of electricity produced.

According to Liu, new technology has made floating wind farms in the open ocean possible. A number of wind farms are already in operation worldwide. Ocean wind farms have less environmental impact than onshore wind farms, whose noise tends to disturb sensitive wildlife in their immediate area. Also, winds are generally stronger over the ocean than on land because there is less friction over water to slow the winds down — there are no hills or mountains to block the wind’s path.

Ideally, offshore wind farms should be located in areas where winds blow continuously at high speeds. The new research identifies such areas and offers explanations for the physical mechanisms that produce the high winds.

An example of one such high-wind mechanism is located off the coast of Northern California near Cape Mendocino. The protruding land mass of the cape deflects northerly winds along the California coast, creating a local wind jet that blows year-round. Similar jets are formed from westerly winds blowing around Tasmania, New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego in South America, among other locations. Areas with large-scale, high wind power potential also can be found in regions of the mid-latitudes of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where winter storms normally track.

The new QuikSCAT maps, which add to previous generations of QuikSCAT wind atlases, also will be beneficial to the shipping industry by highlighting areas of the ocean where high winds could be hazardous to ships, allowing them to steer clear of these areas.

Scientists use the QuikSCAT data to examine how ocean winds affect weather and climate, by driving ocean currents, mixing ocean waters and affecting the carbon, heat and water interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. JPL manages QuikSCAT for NASA. For more information about QuikSCAT, visit: http://winds.jpl.nasa.gov .

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 23, 2008

If the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities agrees next month to build offshore wind turbines, then projects covering as much as 40 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean could be built locally over the next several years.

Plans on file in the state BPU office here show most of the proposals favor building the projects in southern New Jersey – anywhere from three to 20 miles offshore, visible from most of the region’s beaches.

The state is seeking to get as much as 350 megawatts of power from the projects. By comparison, the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township produces about 214 megawatts. The proposals are meant to take stress off the grid that gets much of its energy from out of state, while replacing energy sources that emit thousands of tons of pollutants each year.

The Committee includes members from the state BPU, Department of Environmental Protection, NJ Governor’s Office, U.S. Department of Energy and the recently disbanded state Commerce Commission. But NJ officials refused to say who would be making recommendations for the $1 billion project.

While four of the projects would use wind turbines similar to those at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority site, one builder proposed a revolutionary design. Instead of spinning like a pinwheel, New York City’s Environmental Technologies LLC’s windmills would spin like a blender, the multiple long, flat blades rotating around a central pillar inside of an open, boxy enclosure. By placing them somewhere off Seaside Park, Ocean County, the plans say that 225 ‘blenders’ would generate 337.5 megawatts of power. Because they do not have giant spinning arms, each taking up about one acre, whereas traditional wind turbines use about 23 acres.

Three other plans would place wind turbines in sprawling rectangular zones.

Planners seek similar sites off Cape May and Atlantic counties. While the ocean seems limitless, plans show builders are boxed in by constraints that include shipping lanes, flight patterns, transatlantic cables, shipwrecks, fisheries, water depths and proximity to the shore.

The plan by Cape May’s Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey seeks to alleviate fishing concerns. Opposition by fishing groups undercut an unrelated proposal by the Long Island Power Authority.

Cape May’s Fishermen’s Energy wrote they would investigate whether special measures should be taken to conserve fish species. While the structures could overrun some habitat, the company did not expect long-term, negative effects.

The plan would put eight wind turbines about three miles off Absecon Island approximately between the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway and the Margate/Longport border, in hopes of rallying the region behind the project. The application noted the project would add to the Atlantic City skyline.

The second phase would put 66 wind turbines of twice the capacity about seven miles east from the Great Egg Harbor Inlet. They would all be operational in 2014. The plan also calls for creating a pair of nonprofit energy collectives to seek federal funds.

Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint effort by PSEG Renewable Generation and Winergy Power Holdings, would put their farm about 20 miles dead east of Avalon, generating 345.6 megawatts. The 96 turbines would be in an area 3.5 miles by 5.5 miles, but barely visible.

The plan said it could build in water up to 110 feet deep because of groundbreaking technology the company did not share in the public proposal. The company seeks $4 million, with $400,000 for development and $3.6 million for environmental monitoring. The company was one of the few to reveal the overall cost, $1.07 billion.

A fourth plan by Hoboken’s BluewaterWind would put 116 wind turbines 16 miles southeast of Atlantic City, generating 348 megawatts. The project would cover about 40 square miles, but outside of a 33-foot safety zone around the turbines, the firm said there would be no exclusionary zone around them. Like several other plans, it could be operational by the end of 2013. The plan touts the firm’s experience, saying team members helped construct wind turbines that generate 1,120 of the 1,193 megawatts generated worldwide.

It also said it is developing a 450 megawatt wind farm about 11 miles east of Rehoboth, Del., and was the financial advisor and manager of the ACUA’s wind park. The firm seeks $19 million from the state’s Clean Energy Program, paid over five years, based on the electricity delivered to the grid.

The BPU committee is expected to recommend one of the five plans at its Aug. 20 board meeting. The BPU allows groups filing proposals to redact certain sensitive information, typically involving financing, private agreements or aspects that could compromise the company’s financial standing.

Cuts have to be justified using the confidentiality claim. Only one firm, Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey, was the only company since March to justify their redactions. BPU Board secretary Kristi Izzo said she would ask the other firms to explain redactions in the coming days.

A final proposal by Bayonne’s Occidental Development & Equities, LLC, said it would generate 160 megawatts after a 578-day project. But the 22-page filing didn’t say how many windmills, how tall or in what arrangement. The company plan mentions two sites, but only specified they would be “off the coast within territorial waters.” The file raised more questions about the company than it answered. The company redacted information about the firm’s expertise. Satellite photos seem to indicate the company’s mailing address was in a Bayonne, Hudson County, residential neighborhood, and its state incorporation records do not exist.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 27, 2008

Finavera Renewables CEO Jason Bak provides this overview of 2008 activities to date and an outlook for the remainder of the year.

“The first half of 2008 has been an exciting period for Finavera Renewables,” commented CEO Jason Bak. “Our strategy [in] wind projects is to develop an approximate one gigawatt pipeline with partners that can provide balance sheet strength. Our plan is to maintain majority ownership interests that will provide us with revenues. We have seen significant interest in our British Columbia and Ireland wind projects and we are confident we’ll be able to enter into development agreements with partners that will not result in undue shareholder dilution. We will be focusing our efforts and resources on our most valuable assets in order to demonstrate their value to the market and move them towards production.”

Finavera Renewables’ wind projects have been the focus of much activity in the first half of 2008. Aggressively pursuing partners for projects in British Columbia, Canada and in Ireland. After assessing a number of various partners, a proposal letter has been executed from a potential investor for the equity financing of four projects in British Columbia to be bid into the upcoming BC Hydro Clean Power Call. In addition, in Ireland, preliminary discussions have identified a potential project partner following a detailed review of groups expressing an interest in the project pipeline. The strategy for all of these projects is to maintain a significant ownership interest in the projects in order to provide a revenue stream.

Progress is also being made in the ocean energy division. The planned development of the next generation of its wave energy converter, the AquaBuOY 3.0, is continuing in order to improve the power output and economics of the device. This includes an analysis of advanced composite materials in the manufacturing of the device and discussions with potential technology development partners in an effort to enhance the core hose pump technology. This continued technology development builds on significant progress in wave energy projects including the signing of North America’s first commercial power purchase agreement for a 2 MW wave energy project in California with Pacific Gas & Electric.

Highlights of selected Finavera projects and milestones for 2008:

Wind Project Updates

British Columbia, Canada

Discussions with a potential corporate investor, receiving non-binding indicative financing proposal, in connection with four wind projects currently being developed in the Peace Region of British Columbia, Canada. The proposal contemplates the investor would invest 100% of the equity requirements for each of the four projects awarded an electricity purchase agreement by BC Hydro pursuant to the BC Hydro Clean Power Call. Specific details of the proposal, including the name of the proponent, will be released on signing of a definitive agreement, yet expects to the agreement in place well in advance of the Clean Power Call bid submission deadline November 2008. Finavera is working to prepare bids for the call, and is confident in its ability to secure a contract from the call. Also continuing is the greenfield development of its other permitted areas in the Cascade Mountains area of south central British Columbia, and soon expects to install meteorological monitoring towers on those sites.

Alberta, Canada

Continuing to evaluate development options in order to extract the maximum value from the 75MW Ghost Pine wind project. All of the significant environmental field work has been completed on the project which is located approximately 150km northeast of Calgary. The field work included wildlife, vegetation and land use studies, historical resource investigations and approvals, avian and raptor surveys, and preliminary geotechnical surveys. The project’s final detailed design is close to conclusion. Permitting and interconnection provisions are in place to allow for construction and wind turbine erection would take place in 2009 with a targeted in-service date of December 2009. Wind resource assessment is underway for the nearby 75MW Lone Pine wind project, intending to make an interconnection application for this second Alberta project soon.

Cloosh Valley, Ireland

Discussions are ongoing with a potential partner in order to development prospects for the 105 MW Cloosh Valley wind project. The project has received planning permission for meteorological tower installation for wind data collection from Galway County Council. As well, an application for interconnection has been submitted to Eirgrid, the independent electricity transmission system operator in Ireland, and grid queue position has been established. The next stages of development include the submission of an application for planning permission to An Bord Pleanala, the Irish federal planning authority, under newly established streamlined guidelines for strategic infrastructure projects.

Ocean Energy Updates

Development continues on the next generation AquaBuOY 3.0 design in order to reduce the levelized cost of electricity production and move the technology towards commercialization. Now undertaking an advanced composite materials analysis to lower the construction cost of the device and provide a stronger, lighter housing for the core hose pump technology. Finavera is also in discussion with potential technology development partners in an effort to enhance the hose pump technology and acquire or develop additional IP related to the hose pump technology. The next state of the AquaBuOY design phase will build on the information gathered from the deployment of the prototype AquaBuOY 2.0 technology off the coast of Oregon in 2007. The mathematical and power output modeling was verified during the test phase. The exact timing of future deployments and specific development milestones will be released as research and development objectives are met.

Narrowing its project development focus to the West Coast of North America and South Africa to direct resources to the most valuable project assets. This enhanced focus will help provide clean, renewable and cost effective electricity by 2012 from the project in Humboldt County, California. A long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) has been signed with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for 2 MW wave energy project off the coast of California. This is the first commercial PPA for a wave energy project in North America.

“The second half of 2008 presents a tremendous opportunity for Finavera Renewables as we are poised to complete a number initiatives undertaken during the first half of the year. Our plan is to focus our efforts and resources on our highest value assets while investigating additional partnerships and joint ventures in the renewable energy sector,” said Jason Bak, CEO.

Read Full Post »

EuroWeekly News, July 24, 2008

The results of a study by business analysts DBK, which have just been released, show that the use of renewable energy resources is increasing rapidly here in Spain.

The energy generated from wind in 2007 rose to 13.8 Megawatts, with a projected increase to15.9 MW by the end of the year. The power generated from solar energy in 2007 totaled 623 MW, with a projection of 1,200 MW, an almost 100% increase, by the end of this year. A town of 10,000 people needs around 6.5 MW.

At the end of 2007, there were 574 wind farms in Spain and the number of solar generation installations has risen form just five at the end of the last decade to 19,000 at the end of last year, meaning the government’s objectives for power generated from the sun by 2010, have already been reached. Power generation from renewable sources formed a little over 10% of the electricity sold in Spain in 2007. Wind generated electricity sales were worth 2.100 million euros and those from solar energy came to 209 million euros – four times the amount made the previous year – and the projection for 2008 rises to 470 million euros.

Read Full Post »

ScienceDaily, July 16, 2008

Rock Port Missouri, with a population of just over 1,300 residents, has announced that it is the first 100% wind powered community in the United States. Four wind turbines supply all the electricity for the small town.

Rock Port’s 100% wind power status is due to four wind turbines located on agricultural lands within the city limits of Rock Port (Atchison County). The city of Rock Port uses approximately 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. It is predicted that these four turbines will produce 16 million kilowatt hours each year.

Excess wind generated electricity not used by Rock Port homes and businesses is expected to be move onto the transmission lines to be purchased by the Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities for use in other areas.

University of Missouri Extension specialists say that there are excellent opportunities for sustainable wind power in northwest Missouri.

There are currently 24 wind turbines in Atchison County, 24 in Nodaway County and 27 in Gentry County. MU Extension specialists say the wind farms will bring in more than $1.1 million annually in county real estate taxes, to be paid by Wind Capital Group, a wind energy developer based in St. Louis.

“This is a unique situation because in rural areas it is quite uncommon to have this increase in taxation revenues,” said Jerry Baker, MU Extension community development specialist.

The alternative-energy source also benefits landowners, who can make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 leasing part of their property for wind turbines.

Other wind energy companies are looking at possible sites in northwest Missouri, Baker said.

A map published by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that northwest Missouri has the state’s highest concentration of wind resources and contains a number of locations potentially suitable for utility-scale wind development.

“We’re farming the wind, which is something that we have up here,” Crawford said. “The payback on a per-acre basis is generally quite good when compared to a lot of other crops, and it’s as simple as getting a cup of coffee and watching the blades spin.”

“It’s a savings for the community in general, savings for the rural electric companies, and it does provide electricity service over at least a 20-year time period, which is the anticipated life of these turbines,” Baker said.

Baker said the wind turbines attract visitors from all over, adding tourism revenue to the list of benefits.

Read Full Post »

JOHN TAGLIABUE, The New York Times, July 22, 2008

The Rotterdam Journal — The Dutch are building windmills again. Up and down the coast, out from port cities like this one, you can see them: white and tall and slender as pencils, their three slim blades turning lazily in the North Sea breeze.

These generate electricity, of course, rather than grind grain. The government has already built one enormous farm of mills far off the coast, where they’re inoffensive to tourists, and there are plans for a second farm. Yet it is also building, and rebuilding, mills like the squat, homely ones that have seemingly always dotted the Dutch countryside, and reflect as much the nature of the country as do tulips or Gouda cheese.

“Revival might be a bit strong,” said Leo Endedijk, director of the Dutch Mills, a group that supports mill restoration. Yet last year the government, concerned that one of the foremost symbols of the Netherlands was about to disappear out of neglect, approved an $80 million program to build or restore 120 mills, of roughly 1,040 still standing. That has created a backlog of work for previously strapped mill restorers.

“We have special companies, very specialized mill makers and restorers,” said Mr. Endedijk, in an office in the shadow of De Gooyer, a soaring 18th-century mill now housing a popular brewery. “They would not have the capacity to restore 120 mills.”

The need to find renewable sources of energy is driving the Dutch to build the modern mills, which Mr. Endedijk insists be called turbines, not mills. “We as an organization don’t work with modern wind turbines,” he sniffed, adding, as if to underscore the gap between the traditional and the contemporary, that while the four blades of traditional windmills turn counterclockwise, the three of modern wind turbines go clockwise.

But the fast pace of change in the modern Netherlands is reviving interest in the old mills. As immigration changes the face of Dutch cities and globalization spreads its veil of uniformity over life in the Netherlands, many among the Dutch are looking for their roots. “It’s a little bit of national pride,” said Lukas Verbij, whose company, Verbij Hoogmade, is one of the leading mill builders and restorers.

Some of the renewed interest in mills is driven by the search for traditional food and drink. Patrick Langkruis, whose bakeshop, Het Bammetje, features 28 different kinds of bread and 35 different rolls, uses only flour ground by a traditional mill. “The taste is fuller, there’s more flavor,” he said. “It’s also because the grains are ground slowly.”

His supplier is Karel Streumer, who has been grinding out ordinary and exotic grains for the last eight years at his mill, De Distilleerketel, or distillery pot, in Delfshaven, on the edge of Rotterdam. He uses technology — huge mill stones and enormous wooden gears that make visitors feel they’re inside an immense and ancient clock — that has not changed since the mill was built in 1727.

Mr. Streumer, 54, his shock of curly white hair perpetually dusted with flour, is one of a growing number of millers who are taking over restored or rebuilt mills. In addition to wheat, he said, counting off his products on a dusty hand, he grinds familiar grains like corn, rye and oats, and some unfamiliar ones, like grain sorghum, or milo, and spelt (a kind of wheat). One customer arrives once a month from Frankfurt to pick up 55 pounds of mashela, or pearl millet, which is widely used in African cooking.

Curiously, though the revival of the mills is a back-to-the-roots thing, many customers are natives of a wide range of countries, Mr. Streumer said, including Ethiopia, Morocco and Turkey. “Eighty percent of my customers are not natives of the Netherlands,” he said.

One of them is Samson Tesfai, whose restaurant, the Taste of Africa, specializes in dishes of his native Eritrea, which he fled in 1986 because of the fighting between his homeland and Ethiopia. Each week, he said, he buys mashela, sorghum, ground corn and wheat flour from Mr. Streumer to use in the ethnic dishes he prepares. “We can find it elsewhere,” said Mr. Tesfai, 43. “But this is a good address, with a good product, so why go somewhere else?”

Neither the spread of ethnic restaurants, with increased immigration, nor the return to traditional tastes among the Dutch is enough to keep millers like Mr. Streumer in business. Without a crew of volunteers who help out on weekends, he said, the mill would not be profitable. “It’s hard to make the money to keep the mill in good shape, and to pay employees, too,” he said. “We are not professionals.”

So the mills remain a matter of the heart, rather than the pocketbook. Except, of course, for builders like Mr. Verbij, 48. He represents the fourth generation of his family to run the company, which was founded in 1868 and employs about 20 master wood and metal workers.

“A wave of building is coming,” Mr. Verbij said, when the government releases its latest round of subsidies. “Every owner could apply,” he added. “It’s a kind of lottery.”

He just finished a $1.9 million project to rebuild with traditional technology a mill in the town of Soest that was destroyed in 1930. So attached were the townspeople to their mill, he said, one woman donated money from the sale of her home.

Not only the Dutch but all the world seems to love a windmill. Mr. Verbij has built four in Japan, beginning with one in Osaka in 1989. And despite the crush of work in the Netherlands, he now finds time to work on three mills in the United States, including restoration of the giant Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, one of the world’s largest, which was built in 1905 and is badly dilapidated.

“It’s our biggest project,” Mr. Verbij said. “It’s nice to see all those people happy at the sight of a windmill.”

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, July 21, 2008

On July 15, 2008 Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced launching an investigation into two companies developing and operating wind farms across New York state amid allegations of improper dealings with public officials and anti-competitive practices.

Subpoenas were served on First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind) and Noble Environmental Power, LLC. They are part of an investigation into whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions; and whether they entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.

In recent months, the Office of the Attorney General has received numerous complaints regarding the two companies from citizens, groups and public officials in eight counties alleging improper relations between the companies and local officials and other improper practices.

“The use of wind power, like all renewable energy sources, should be encouraged to help clean our air and end our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “However, public integrity remains a top priority of my office and if dirty tricks are used to facilitate even clean-energy projects, my office will put a stop to it.”

Read Full Post »

DAVID LAZARUS, The Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2008

When a guy heavily invested in natural gas and wind power says the answer to our energy woes is natural gas and wind power, it’s hard not to smirk at his Texas-size gumption.

But let’s not be hasty.

Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens unveiled a plan Tuesday to wean the United States from its dependence on foreign oil. By shifting to natural gas as a transportation fuel and increasing our reliance on wind power, he said, we could cut oil imports by as much as 38%.

“Our dependence on imported oil is killing our economy,” Pickens said in a statement. “It is the single biggest problem facing America today.”

He called the country’s oil purchases from places like Saudi Arabia “the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, sending billions of our dollars overseas to buy . . . a commodity that lasts 90 days until burned in our gas tanks.”

Pickens, a legendary oilman, said his plan could change things within five to 10 years “if we can get Congress and the administration to act quickly.”

That’s a big if. Another big if is getting the auto industry to play ball by manufacturing more vehicles that run on natural gas instead of gasoline. And yet another wild card is whether the oil industry would support new energy priorities.

“These are big question marks,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign and former head of the Sierra Club’s global warming program. “There are a lot of things out of Mr. Pickens’ control.”

The so-called Pickens Plan would first entail a hefty investment — more than $1 trillion — in wind farms on an unusually breezy stretch of countryside extending from Texas to North Dakota.

The wind power would replace the natural gas now used by power plants to generate electricity. The country currently gets about 22% of its juice from natural gas.

All that freed-up natural gas, in turn, would be applied to fueling millions of vehicles that now run on gasoline but would be converted — it’s not clear how, or on whose dime — to run instead on compressed natural gas.

I couldn’t reach Pickens to ask him these questions. But he told the Associated Press that he wasn’t guided by personal gain. “I’m doing it for America,” he said.

Well, that’s heartening. But the fact remains that he and his business partners are investing an estimated $12 billion to build the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. That facility, needless to say, would play a pivotal role in meeting the nation’s newfound demand for wind power.

Meanwhile, Pickens’ more-than-$4-billion hedge fund, BP Capital, is invested in a variety of natural gas companies. He also sits on the board of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., North America’s largest provider of vehicular natural gas.

“Mr. Pickens is a very intelligent man,” said Don Martin, vice president of Enmark Energy, a Texas oil and natural gas company. “People in the oil and natural gas business are rich for a reason. They know where the money is.”

But Becker at the Safe Climate Campaign said he didn’t begrudge Pickens’ turning a buck with the Pickens Plan.

“If he can find a way to make money and help the planet, I don’t have a problem with that,” Becker said.

However, he said, natural gas may not be an easy substitute for oil. Natural gas prices have been climbing in tandem with oil prices and are up 30% this year. Increased demand by the United States would push global natural gas prices higher, Becker said, thus mitigating any relief consumers might initially feel at the pump.

Moreover, we’d still have to import more than a third of our oil — assuming everything went according to plan — and would probably end up importing a greater share of natural gas as well.

Our friends in Russia are the leading natural gas purveyors, accounting for almost 15% of world exports.

“We really need to kick the tires on this and see what works,” Becker said.

For his part, Pickens said he’d be spending $58 million on a multimedia campaign designed to raise awareness of the country’s energy troubles and his plan for fixing them.

He’ll also try to prod the leading presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, to pay more attention to the issue.

“Sometimes it takes a crisis to awaken us from our slumber,” Pickens said. “But once aroused, the American people can accomplish miracles.”

That some may get even richer in the process shouldn’t necessarily deter us from trying.

Read Full Post »

TERRENCE DOPP, Bloomberg.com, May 9, 2008

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine wants his state to be the first in the U.S. Northeast to build an electricity-generating wind farm off the Atlantic coast.

Five companies are vying for $19 million in grants and the right to put as many as 200 windmills within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the Jersey Shore. The state plans to select a winner in August, said Lance Miller, chief of policy and planning for the Board of Public Utilities.

Offshore wind would help Corzine fulfill a plan for how the state should receive and use its energy. A draft of the proposal, released in April, calls for the state to get almost a quarter of its power from so-called renewable sources such as solar panels by 2020, including 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind.

“There’s a clear need to produce as much carbon-free energy as possible. If we’re successful, this is going to be replicated” elsewhere, Corzine said during an interview in his Statehouse office. “We have a real need that’s driving our interests.”

The U.S. wind energy industry installed more than 5,000 megawatts in 2007, increasing its total generating capacity by 45 percent to more than 16,800 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Texas has the most wind power capacity, followed by California and Minnesota.

More densely populated areas don’t have the land to build large wind farms and are looking off coast. The U.S. has no operating offshore wind farms. New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Massachusetts are among Northeast states considering projects.

Economic, Environmental Impact

Corzine, a first-term Democrat, says the state will balance the desire to move ahead on a timely basis, with the need for “thoughtful” economic and environmental studies. The state will try to avoid negative impacts on Jersey Shore tourism and fishing and will seek to ensure property values remain unharmed by the project, he said.

“This is going to be on balance positive for the environment,” Corzine, 61, said. “A lot of people are trying to do what I would say are back-of-the-envelope analyses, but we’re trying to do something that is more in-depth.”

A plan to build a wind farm off the coast of New York’s Long Island was scrapped last year because of its cost. In Massachusetts, a proposal to put wind turbines off the shores of Cape Cod has met with opposition from residents who say it will ruin their views.

The Massachusetts plan to build 130 wind turbines, each 440 feet high, would also threaten the habitat of the area’s endangered terns and right whales, said Glenn Wattley, head of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

“There is this euphoria around wind and solar power. It’s all good, but some of these offshore wind projects have a lot more issues than people let on,” Wattley said.

‘Tremendous Potential’

New Jersey, the most densely populated U.S. state, has installed 11 onshore wind turbines since 2001, including a facility in Atlantic City. Offshore wind energy “offers tremendous potential, while onshore wind energy resources appear to be limited,” the state said in its draft energy master plan.

State energy regulators last year solicited offers from companies to develop offshore wind with a capacity of 350 megawatts, enough to power 110,000 homes, Miller said.

The companies that submitted proposals are the renewable generation division of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., owner of the state’s largest utility, and partner Winergy Power Holdings LLC; Environmental Technologies LLC; Occidental Development & Equities LLC; Babcock & Brown Ltd.’s Bluewater Wind and Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey LL.C.

“We want to guide this process,” said Rhonda Jackson, director of research and communications for Fishermen’s Energy, a Cape May-based group of commercial fishermen. “People realize what is happening in the world and the timing is right for this. We really have to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

State Help

The subsidies and promise of state help in overcoming public opposition make New Jersey more attractive as a potential place to build a wind power facility, said Anne Hoskins, Public Service president of federal affairs and policy. The company’s proposal calls for placing 96 turbines 16 miles offshore.

“There’s really not a lot of land to put wind turbines on” in New Jersey, Hoskins said. “As we’ve seen in other states, there has been some opposition to wind, and it takes a lot of resources to overcome that.”

Jeff Tittel, director of the state chapter of the environmental group Sierra Club, said wind is a plentiful source of renewable energy as the state and nation look to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He said the turbines have advanced since early days, when migratory birds were killed by rotors, and finding a way to build the offshore facilities is necessary to reduce the demand for fossil fuel-burning power plants.

“The answer is going to be a series of cheaper and safer alternatives,” Tittel said. “The way we’re going to meet our energy demand over the next 20 years is through a mix.”

Read Full Post »

RedOrbit.com, July 8, 2008

Spanish clean energy firm Iberdrola Renovables and Bancaja have announced their participation in the wind energy plan for the region of Valencia, under the auspices of the regional government, in a bid to increase power generation in the province of Castellon.

Both companies suggested their proposal through a newly created company called Sistemas Energeticos de Levante, which is jointly owned by the renewable energy subsidiary of the Iberdrola Group with a 60% share, and Bancaja with a 40% share.

The project presented to the Direccion General de Energia by the joint venture company involves the installation of 304MW of power in the province of Castellon, distributed over 152 wind turbines.

In addition, Sistemas Energeticos de Levante has put forward various initiatives that would accompany the installation of the new wind turbines, such as the construction of a solar power plant in Valencia, or the commitment that at least 55% of the providers used for civil works are companies from the region.

Initiatives proposed by Iberdrola Renovables and Bancaja include the creation of an R&D program, pending agreement with the regional government of Valencia, and the adoption of corrective measures at a rural level established by the relevant environmental impact studies.

Read Full Post »

PeakOil.com, July 8, 2008

Sweetwater, Texas — Get ready, America, T. Boone Pickens is coming to your living room.

The legendary Texas oilman, corporate raider, shareholder-rights crusader, philanthropist and deep-pocketed moneyman for conservative politicians and causes, wants to drive the United States political and economic agenda.

“We’re paying $700 billion a year for foreign oil. It’s breaking us as a nation, and I want to elevate that question to the presidential debate, to make it the Number One Issue of the campaign this year,” Pickens says.

Today, Pickens takes the wraps off what he’s calling the Pickens Plan for cutting the United States’ demand for foreign oil by more than a third in less than a decade. To promote it, he is bankrolling what his aides say will be the biggest public policy ad campaign ever. You’ll find his plan at www.pickensplan.com.

Read Full Post »

EHUD ZION WALDOKS, The Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2008

A search through the Israel Patent Office library computer revealed recently that wind and wave energy patent requests are on the rise.

While it’s not a big market, requests have jumped in the last few years. There have been 38 patent requests relating to wind turbines in the last decade, half since 2005. Regarding wave energy, there have been 34 requests since 1998, and 17 since 2005. The earliest patent requests in those fields, according to computer records, were from 1969 and 1970.

Additionally pumps and turbines and environment technologies worldwide experienced an approximately 13% growth in applications from 2006 to 2007, according to statistics provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a division of the UN working to create a balanced international intellectual property system.

Patent requests are confidential, so little can be gleaned until a patent has been granted. The numbers could also be somewhat misleading as to the actual impact on the Israeli market, because overseas inventors sometimes file patent requests in Israel to protect their ideas here.

One such overseas businessman, Aloys Wobben, CEO of wind turbine company Enercon, has received patent protection in Israel for an unusual application for his product. In 2002, he filed a request to patent an idea that emerged out of the tragedy of September 11, 2001: to protect nuclear power plants from suicide airliners by erecting wind turbines all around the plant. According to Wobben, any plane targeting a nuclear power plant would either blow itself up when a wind turbine sheared into it, or the plane would be unable to change course fast enough to hit the nuclear power plant after lifting up over the wind turbines.

According to WIPO, Israel is among the top 15 countries in patent requests. Requests from Israel have also been on the rise since 2000, according to a statistical analysis of the first quarter of 2008.

Read Full Post »

SEVERIN CARRELL, The Guardian, June 27, 2008

Scotland is planning a renewable energy revolution that would trump the ambitious strategy announced yesterday in London by Gordon Brown – and without building any nuclear power stations.

Brown’s UK-wide strategy sets out how the nation as a whole could reach a target of 30-35% of electricity being generated from renewables by 2020. But ministers in the devolved government in Edinburgh said Scotland will reach this target within three years, and by 2020 would be at 50%.

To help achieve this, more than 40 years since the last big hydroelectric dams flooded glens across the Highlands, Scottish ministers, power companies and land owners plan a new wave of hydro schemes, and claim it will provide a rich source of cheap, green power.

This summer, the government-sponsored Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland is expected to call for scores of hydroelectricity schemes to be built, ranging from dams in northern glens to up to 100 projects harnessing power from rivers.

Next spring, the UK’s main hydroelectricity company, Scottish and Southern Energy, will switch on one of the largest green power plants being built in the UK – a 200MW hydro station buried in mountains at Glendoe near Loch Ness. Serviced by 10 miles of underground tunnels and a large dam, Glendoe will produce enough electricity to supply every house in Glasgow.

Four companies have been surveying the Highlands to find sites for other large hydro schemes, said Tom Douglas, a leading consultant with the engineers Mott MacDonald, and have been advised that up to a dozen hydropower stations could be built.

Separately, Scottish and Southern said it had identified three new sites in the Highlands able to generate up to 200MW in total, and is drafting plans for another new dam after Glendoe.

The hydropower will be sorely needed. Alan Ervine, professor of water engineering at Glasgow University, said rejecting new nuclear stations left ministers with a significant “black hole” to fill. Unlike English ministers, an SNP administration would not replace Hunterston B and Torness power stations once they close.

In 2006, the pair generated 26% of the 54 gigawatts of electricity Scotland produced, but SNP ministers will need to replace that, as well as hitting their 50% “green” power target, by 2020.

At present 12% of Scotland’s electricity is generated by the 70 or so existing hydroelectric dams.

Ervine believes this could nearly double, with dams capable of lasting for 100 years. “Hydro is a well-known technology,” he said. “It’s something we know how to do; we can power it up and do it effectively in Scotland, compared to the risk-taking which is involved with wind, wave and tidal turbines.”

Despite the intention to expand, power from the growing number of large new onshore windfarms will soon outstrip hydro. On Tuesday, ministers authorised two large windfarms able to supply 117,000 homes.

But in many areas of the Highlands, such as Perthshire, hydro is being embraced by anti-windfarm campaigners who are angry at the march of onshore wind turbines across the countryside.

Richard Barclay, a farmer and landowner in Perthshire, is installing a 1.4MW mini-hydro station on his local river. Enough to supply about 1,000 houses in nearby Kinloch Rannoch, it is a “run of river” scheme where the power plant is buried, using river water diverted via a weir and underground pipes, returning it downstream.

“It will fit very well into our local environment,” he said.

“Windfarms are much more controversial. Their visual impact is huge and the run of river scheme has no visual impact essentially because it’s underground. I haven’t met anybody who has a problem with mini-hydro.”

But other tensions are emerging. Strict European Union water quality and environment regulations make it more difficult to build hydroelectric schemes because of the potential damage to fish stocks, river habitats and water sports. But Martin Marsden, head of water policy at the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, which authorises hydro stations, said: “We recognise climate change is the biggest threat to the world, and we’ve no intention of undermining hydro.”

Jason Ormiston, chief executive of the Scottish Renewables Forum, said it was “entirely false” for anti-wind campaigners to believe that hydropower can replace onshore wind. “We have to be able to develop good projects whatever the technology as quickly as possible. We need hydro, we need wind, we need biomass, we will hopefully have wave and tidal,” he said.

Jim Mather, the Scottish energy minister, has described himself as “desperately enthusiastic” about hydro as part of a mix of energy sources. He said: “This is us as systems thinkers: to optimise the entire system called Scotland and not just maximise any one source of supply.

“We’re interested in developing a diverse renewable mix and Scotland has won the lottery of life in terms of on-shore wind, offshore wind, wave, solar, biomass, clean coal technologies, hydro and carbon storage.”

Read Full Post »

KELLY HARRINGTON, SNL Interactive, June 18, 2008

Spanish utility Iberdrola SA will reconsider its proposed acquisition of Energy East Corp. should New York regulators “impose unacceptable” conditions on the deal, the company said.

The company’s statement comes a day after Administrative Law Judge Rafael Epstein recommended that the Public Service Commission not approve the deal. The proposal, he wrote, “does not satisfy the ‘public interest’ requirement of Public Service Law.” However, if the PSC decides to approve the deal, Epstein said it should do so with several conditions, including one for Iberdrola and its affiliates to exit the generation business in New York.

An Iberdrola spokesman June 17 said the administrative law judge has issued a recommendation and not a ruling and that the company hopes there will be a positive outcome when the full commission makes its decision.

“We hope that will be next month at the July session,” he said.

Iberdrola’s main areas of concern with the recommended decision are the provisions pertaining to the recommended level of “positive benefit adjustments,” and one that would preclude Iberdrola from owning, operating or developing renewable energy that would be interconnected with Energy East’s New York subsidies New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and Rochester Gas and Electric Corp.

Iberdrola has outlined a business plan to invest $2 billion in wind energy development in New York, some of which would be connected to those utilities’ systems, he said.

“As Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sánchez Galán has said, Iberdrola will reconsider this transaction and seek other options in the United States if the final PSC ruling imposes unacceptable conditions on the transaction in these two key areas,” he said.

In his recommendation, Epstein said that NYSEG and RG&E customers should be credited with positive benefit adjustments of $646.4 million, including $201.6 million initially upon completion of the merger transaction. This would result in NYSEG and RG&E delivery rate reductions of $54.8 million, or 4.4%, initially, according to the recommendation.

Iberdrola in June 2007 said it would acquire Energy East, including its operations in New York, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, for about $4.5 billion. Including the assumption of debt, the transaction is valued at about $8.5 billion.

FERC and regulators from Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire have already approved the deal. New York regulators have yet to rule on the proposal. During the review process Department of Public Service staff have outlined concerns about the deal.

New York Gov. David Paterson also weighed in on the recommendation. In a June 17 statement, Paterson said the PSC is not bound to the recommended decision. The governor said he trusts that the commission will keep in mind “significant statewide and ratepayer benefits” from the deal, including Iberdrola’s plan to invest $2 billion in wind energy and its pledge to offer $200 million in ratepayer benefits.

“Although this amount is less than suggested by the administrative law judge, I hope the commission will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to ratepayer benefits,” Paterson said. “I look forward to a discussion of benefits in a broader context to capture the full range of future opportunities this acquisition can bring about. Creative solutions to address the issues surrounding utility ownership of limited wind resources can be found and defining ratepayer benefits more broadly to encompass capital investments in clean energy are among the things the commission should look at in deciding to let this important acquisition move ahead.”

Read Full Post »

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, International Herald Tribune, June 17, 2008

ALBANY: An administrative law judge advised state regulators on Monday to block a Spanish energy conglomerate’s bid to buy Energy East, a Maine-based utility with operations in four states, including New York, citing anticompetitive concerns.

The recommendation by the judge, Rafael Epstein, largely sided with an earlier recommendation by staff members of the Public Service Commission, which must approve the acquisition of Energy East by the conglomerate, Iberdrola. The commission’s five-member board will have the final say.

Iberdrola’s bid has the enthusiastic support of key members of the state Legislature and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who point to the company’s plan to invest at least $2 billion in building wind power facilities in New York if it is permitted to acquire Energy East, which is the parent company of two other utilities in upstate New York and already owns wind turbine facilities. Governor David Paterson also says he supports the deal as long as Energy East’s customers are protected from unfair pricing.

But regulators say that the merger would give Iberdrola a virtual monopoly on wind power generation in the state while also providing the company with transmission and distribution lines, running afoul of state laws that prevent the generation, transmission and distribution of power by a single company.

In his decision, Epstein noted that “Iberdrola’s wind generation ownership also has engendered an unusual amount of commentary by editorial boards and public officials, uniformly opposing ownership restrictions as contrary to the state’s interests and even ‘stone-headed.”‘

But he appeared unpersuaded by Iberdrola’s promise of investment, writing that “the economic benefits of competition are no less real than an immediate infrastructure investment.”

Epstein also recommended that the board impose numerous conditions on Iberdrola, should it ultimately approve the sale. They include limits on the company’s ownership of electric generating plants in New York and rebates worth hundreds of millions of dollars to customers of the companies being acquired.

A spokesman for Iberdrola said the company was reviewing the judge’s recommendation.

Read Full Post »

NICOLAS CONFESSORE, The New York Times, June 4, 2008

ALBANY — One of the world’s largest energy companies proposed on June 3rd to build hundreds of wind turbines in New York, significantly raising the stakes in a nine-month battle with state regulators over its intended purchase of a power company.

Executives of the company, Iberdrola S.A., of Spain, said it would invest $2 billion in wind turbines upstate if the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in New York, approves its purchase of Energy East, which has three million customers in five states, including New York. The new turbines would more than double state energy production from wind and make New York one of the larger producers of wind power in the country.

“Iberdrola has helped many countries meet their renewable energy goals and benefit from our high-tech investments and ‘green-collar’ jobs that result from this kind of investment,” said Xabier Viteri, the chief executive of Iberdrola’s renewable energy division.

The purchase of Energy East has been approved by federal regulators and officials in other states. But in New York, where Energy East owns two utilities, Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas, Iberdrola has run afoul of state rules meant to discourage what is known as vertical market power, when a single company owns power-generating plants as well as transmission and distribution lines.

In negotiations over the last several months, the commission staff has extracted several concessions out of Iberdrola, including a promise of $201 million in rate subsidies to existing Energy East customers to ensure that they do not pay more for electricity as a result of the sale.

But the commission staff is also insisting that Iberdrola agree to sell off Energy East’s existing wind turbine facilities, arguing that owning them would violate the vertical power rules.

An administrative law judge is expected to issue a recommendation on the deal within weeks, though neither the judge’s recommendations nor those of the commission staff are binding on the five-member commission itself.

James Denn, a spokesman for the commission, said the added investment would not allay the commission’s concern, adding, “On this deal, they would be able to produce, transmit, and distribute power within their region.” . Mr. Denn also noted that Iberdrola had not formally submitted the new proposal to the commission; the current plan has the company making only a binding commitment of $100 million worth of investment in the state.

The commission staff also wants Iberdrola to increase the subsidies, known as ratepayer benefits, to $644 million, as well as to agree to provisions in the merger that would insulate any New York facilities from potential financial problems at Iberdrola.

Iberdrola is one of several foreign-owned energy companies that have entered the United States market, where rising gas prices and a spate of state laws requiring more energy from renewable sources have made wind, solar and hydroelectric power increasingly attractive.

The company’s acquisition of Energy East — and the promise of clean power in an era of high demand — has drawn support from leading business and environmental groups, as well as lawmakers of both parties, though the state power producers association has filed a brief supporting the commission staff.

In a statement on Tuesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the commission to allow Iberdrola to acquire Energy East without divesting its wind power holdings, while keeping careful watch on whether rates increased as a result. Mr. Schumer and some other critics believe that the rules against simultaneous production, transmission and distribution, which date back to efforts in the 1990s to break up the state’s energy market, have failed to help lower energy costs.

“The Public Service Commission ought to get out of the way when it comes to investing in renewable power, and instead concentrate on making sure consumers don’t get burned by rate hikes as a result of this merger,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, June 13, 2008

Iberdrola Renewables and Gamesa Energia have signed the largest turbine supply contract ever in the wind power industry representing a total capacity of 4,500 megawatts (MW), for delivery between 2010 and 2012. The investment for wind power projects to which the turbines will be assigned is approximately €6.3 billion, a figure that includes the turbines and other costs such as transport, civil works and interconnections, both those at the wind farms themselves and to the grid.

Under the terms of the agreement, Iberdola will assign the turbines to its wind power projects in Spain, the rest of Europe, the United States and Mexico. The contract covers installation and startup of the turbines, as well as operational services and maintenance during the life of the guarantee.

As a result of this important agreement, Iberdola will be able to meet its turbine supply needs during the coming years for its wind power project portfolio, which currently stands at 43,280 MW, not including projects to be incorporated from Gamesa, and thereby avoid one of the major uncertainties in this business by assuring the installation of a significant portion of its projects for the medium term. More than 70% of its requirements will thus be met up to 2012.

The dimensión of this contract, the largest turbine supply agreement ever signed, has enabled the Company to achieve optimum pricing and conditions. It follows another signed with the same company in 2006 for 2,700 MW in capacity, and those signed recently by Iberdrola with General Electric (300 MW), Mitsubishi (300 MW), Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation (700 MW) and Ecotècnia (310 MW).

Strategic Agreement to Develop Wind Farms

Iberdrola Renewables and Gamesa Energía have also signed a strategic agreement to pool their businesses in promotion, development and exploitation of wind farms in Spain and continental Europe, which will increase its potential for future development and growth. For this purpose, they are creating two joint companies, one in Spain and the other abroad, to which they will assign the businesses of promotion, development and exploitation in those territories from the closing of the agreement.

In Spain, Iberdrola will hold 77% of the new company operating there and Gamesa 23%, while in the other international company the shareholdings will be 76% and 24%, respectively.

The strategic agreement, subject to the corresponding approvals from the competition authorities, establishes that Gamesa can increase its shareholding in the Spanish company up to 32% in relation to the number of additional megawatts that correspond to new wind farms adjudicated to it after the agreement takes effect.

Iberdrola and Gamesa have agreed to not sell their stakes before 31 December 2010, and from 1 January 2011, through a mechanism of matching options, Iberdrola will have the option to buy from Gamesa Energía its shareholding in the joint companies envisaged under the agreement and Gamesa Energía can sell its stake in these companies Iberdrola.

In the event that Iberdrola decides to sell its total shareholding in any of the companies from 1 January 2011, the Company has granted Gamesa Energía a joint transmission right to third parties (tag along) and a first option right, subject to certain conditions.

At the same time, the Company will within one month buy Gamesa’s wind power projects in the United Kingdom, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, with a total capacity of 900 MW, for approximately €65 million.

This agreement reflects the two companies’ interest in jointly developing wind power projects, given their experience and know-how in the sector and the advantages of pooling their respective businesses. The complementary nature of their businesses will favour greater creation of value for shareholders of the two companies.

The goal of this agreement is to bring together the two world leaders in wind farm development and consolidate their positioning in existing markets and in those identified in the strategic alliance. Iberdrola will be able to enter new markets where established businesses exist, minimizing the risks relating to geographical diversification, maximizing value creation and achieving economies of scale.

Read Full Post »

Summary:

Audubon strongly supports properly-sited wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming. Wind power facilities should be planned, sited and operated to minimize negative impacts on bird and wildlife populations.

Rationale:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly stated that the impacts of climate change are here now and will get worse. Scientists have found that climate change has already affected half of the world’s wild species’ breeding, distribution, abundance and survival rates. By mid-century, the IPCC predicts that climate change may contribute to the extinction of 20-30% of all species on earth.

In order to prevent species extinctions and other catastrophic impacts of climate change, scientists say we must reduce global warming emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Reducing pollution from fossil fuels to this degree will require rapidly expanding energy and fuel efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels, and changes in land use, agriculture, and transportation. To avoid catastrophe, we need to do all of these.

Wind power is an important part of the strategy to combat global warming. Wind power is currently the most economically competitive form of renewable energy. It provides nearly 15,000 megawatts of power in the United States, enough power for more than 3 million households, and could provide up to 20% of the country’s electricity needs. Every megawatt-hour produced by wind energy avoids an average of 1,220 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. If the United States obtains 20% of its electricity from wind power by 2020, it will reduce global warming emissions equivalent to taking 71 million cars off the road or planting 104 million acres of trees. Expanding wind power instead of fossil fuels also avoids the wildlife and human health impacts of oil and gas drilling, coal mining and fossil fuel burning.

Protecting Birds and Wildlife:

While Audubon strongly supports wind power and recognizes it will not be without some impact, production and transmission facilities must be planned, sited and operated in concert with other actions needed to minimize and mitigate their impacts on birds and other wildlife populations. Several federal and state laws require this and the long-term sustainability of the wind industry depends on it. Wind power facilities impact birds from direct collisions with turbines and related facilities, such as power lines. Wind power facilities can also degrade or destroy habitat, cause disturbance and displacement, and disrupt important ecological links. These impacts can be avoided or significantly reduced, however, with proper siting, operation and mitigation.

Audubon supports the adoption of federal and state guidelines on the study, siting, operation and mitigation of wind power. Guidelines should provide developers, permitting agencies and conservation groups with the legal, technical and practical steps needed to minimize impacts on birds and other wildlife. Guidelines should provide the following essential elements:

  • Minimum pre-permitting study requirements and guidance on study methods, frequency and acceptable data sources to ensure that wind power is sited in appropriate locations
  • Clearly delineated siting criteria that designate areas where wind power should not be allowed, such as Important Bird Areas, major migratory corridors, wilderness areas, national parks, wildlife refuges, and other sensitive habitat such as wetlands and riparian corridors
  • Clearly defined monitoring and mitigation requirements in permits, with periodic reviews and requirements for adaptive management if impacts significantly exceed levels allowed by permit
  • Guidance on cumulative population impacts assessment and mitigation.

Audubon also encourages wind developers and permitting agencies to consult with wildlife experts, including Audubon staff and local chapters, to help inform study and siting decisions.

Read Full Post »

JOHN VIDAL, The Guardian, June 6, 2008

From a distance the bizarre structures sprouting from the high Alentejo plain in eastern Portugal resemble a field of mechanical sunflowers. Each of the 2,520 giant solar panels is the size of a house and they are as technically sophisticated as a car. Their reflective heads tilt to the sky at a permanent 45 degrees as they track the sun through 240 degrees every day.

The world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm, generating electricity straight from sunlight, is taking shape near Moura, a small town in a thinly populated and impoverished region which boasts the most sunshine per square metre a year in Europe.

When fully commissioned later this year, the £250m farm set on abandoned state-owned land will be twice the size of any other similar project in the world, covering an area nearly twice the size of London’s Hyde park. It is expected to supply 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes.

Portugal, without its own oil, coal or gas and with no expertise in nuclear power, is pitching to lead Europe’s clean-tech revolution with some of the most ambitious targets and timetables for renewables. Its intention, the economics minister, Manuel Pinho, said, is to wean itself off oil and within a decade set up a low carbon economy in response to high oil prices and climate change.

“We have to reduce our dependence on oil and gas,” said Pinho. “What seemed extravagant in 2004 when we decided to go for renewables now seems to have been a very good decision.”

He expects Portugal to generate 31% of all its energy from clean sources by 2020. This means lifting its renewable electricity share from 20% in 2005 to 60% in 2020, compared with Britain’s target of 15% of all energy by 2020. Having passed its target for 2010 it could soon top the EU renewables league.

In less than three years, Portugal has trebled its hydropower capacity, quadrupled its wind power, and is investing in flagship wave and photovoltaic plants. Encouraged by long-term guarantees of prices by the state, and not delayed by planning laws or government indecision, it has proved a success. Firms are expected to invest £10bn in renewables by 2012 and up to £100bn by 2020.

However, Portugal says it wants to develop a renewables industry to rival Denmark or Japan. When the government invited companies for tenders to supply wind, solar and wave power, it demanded they work with manufacturing companies to establish clusters of industries.

This is a great success, say regional governments. In northern Portugal, where the world’s biggest wind farm, with more than 130 turbines, is now being strung across the mountainous Spanish border, a German firm employs more than 1,200 people building 600 40-metre-long fibreglass wind turbine blades a year.

The turbines are earmarked for Portuguese farms first, but orders are being taken from Britain and other countries. Half the workforce are women who once worked in the declining textile industry.

It is Portuguese plans for wave power that are prompting the most interest in Europe. The world’s first commercial wave farm is being assembled near Porto. Three “sea snakes”, developed by the Edinburgh-based company Pelamis, will shortly be towed out to sea and will start pumping modest amounts of electricity into the grid later this year.

It is the start of a potentially giant global industry with Portuguese firm Enersis planning to invest more than £1bn in a series of farms that together would power 450,000 homes.

Pinho dismisses nuclear power. “When you have a programme like this there is no need for nuclear power. Wind and water are our nuclear power. The relative price of renewables is now much lower, so the incentives are there to invest. My advice to countries like the UK is to move as fast as they can to renewables. With climate change and the increase in oil prices, renewables will become more and more important.

“Countries that do not invest in renewables will pay a high price in future. The cost of inaction is very high indeed. The perception that renewable energy is very expensive is changing every day as the oil price goes up.”

He added: “Energy and environment are the biggest challenge of our generation. We need to develop a low-carbon model for the world economy. The present situation is dangerous.”

EU Renewable League

Top

  • Sweden 2005 39.8%, target by 2020 49%
  • Latvia 34.9%, target 42%
  • Finland 28.5%, target 38%
  • Austria 23.3%, target 34%
  • Portugal 20.5%, target 31%

Bottom

  • Cyprus 2.9%, target by 2020 13%
  • Netherlands 2.4%, target 14%
  • Ireland 3.1%, target 16%
  • Netherlands 2.4%, target 14%
  • Belgium 2.2%, target 13%
  • UK 1.3%, target 15%

Read Full Post »

COSMO CATALANO, Matter Network, May 28, 2008

News about the advantages of switching to clean, renewable energy sources is everywhere these days. Reduced pollution, higher quality of life, lowered dependence on foreign sources and less disruption caused by fluctuating prices often top the list. But frequently, the transition from older fossil fuels is seen as a premium paid for the luxuries of cleaner air, and knowing that local energy supply treads as lightly on the Earth as possible. Certainly, given current economic conditions, that makes the changeover far less appealing to many cash-strapped communities.

But the town of Lackawanna, New York, is looking to change all that. Lackawanna was a boom town in the early part of the 20th century, driven by a massive steel industry and fueled by several important railway connections. But as in much of the rest of the Rust Belt, the past few decades have not been kind, with plant closures, recession, and other problems hitting hard. Indeed, until very recently, the Lackawanna was best known as an environmental hazard, rather than an environmental leader.

But the Steel Winds energy project, but on a brownfield once home to the massive Bethlehem Steel plant, may have marked a turning point for the beleaguered city. As Lackawanna mayor Norman Polanski told The New York Times, “It’s changing the image of the city of Lackawanna. We were the old Rust Belt, with all the negatives. Right now, we are progressive and we are leading the way on the waterfront.” The wind farm, the largest ever built in a city, transforms the city’s image from one of decay to one of modernity and efficiency. And as the city tries to redevelop its massive waterfront complex, that’s no small step.

Though Steel Winds will never replace the tax revenue or employment provided by the old steel plant, the project has still been received positively. The turbines deliver 56,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to local consumers and utilities, and the existing eight turbines generate at total of $100,000 in yearly revenue for the city. The project has been so successful that at a recent city council meeting, Steel Winds II, with an additional 13 wind turbines, was granted approval.

With so many middle-American cities, from Detroit to Buffalo, suffering from the economic and environmental consequences of a past too deeply rooted in heavy industry, the success or failure of the Steel Winds project is being monitored very closely. Though it’s clear the shores of Lake Erie will still require a significant economic presence outside the green energy industry, wind turbines like those erected in Lackawanna could provide both the power—and the modern edge—to help the Rust Belt shine again.

Read Full Post »

MendoCoastCurrent, June 8, 2007

New York – CIT Energy, a provider of commercial and consumer finance solutions, today announced that it provided $62 million in financing to Noble Environmental Power, a U.S. based wind developer. The financing was secured in part by turbine supply agreements between Noble and GE.

This transaction is CIT Energy’s second with Noble Environmental Power and represents Noble’s first corporate-level loan. In December 2006, CIT Energy served as the Lead Arranger of a $133 million Senior Secured Wind Turbine Facility.

“This additional financing will provide Noble with the added liquidity it needs to continue development of its extensive pipeline of projects” said Brooks Klimley, President of CIT Energy. “The renewables sector is an important part of the energy mix, and we are pleased to continue our partnership with Noble. ” Peter Capitelli, Vice President of Project Finance at Noble Environmental Power said “Noble values CIT’s commitment to finding the right solutions – as provided through both transactions – in implementing our aggressive project portfolio and further solidifying our position as one of the leading wind developers in the United States.”

Read Full Post »

JENNIFER YOUSFI, Money Morning on Seeking Alpha, May 16, 2008

T. Boone Pickens made his fortune in oil. But now the Dallas oilman and famed former corporate raider is betting $2 billion that he can have the same success with a new source of energy – wind.

Pickens’ Mesa Power LLP yesterday (05/14/08) unveiled the first phase of an eventual $10 billion alternative energy project that has the potential to become the world’s largest wind farm.

“You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you’ve got to find another one to replace it,” says Pickens. “It can drive you crazy. With wind, there’s no decline curve.”

Mesa Power will purchase 667 wind turbines from General Electric Co. Each turbine can produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity. The first phase of the project will produce 1,000 megawatts, enough energy to power 300,000 homes. GE will begin delivering the turbines in 2010, and current plans call for the project to start producing power in 2011.

“T. Boone Pickens’ commitment underscores the ability of wind technology to help meet the country’s need for diverse sources of energy,” said Jeffrey R. Immelt, GE’s chairman and CEO. “As America’s demand for energy escalates, it is clear that wind can and will play a bigger part in meeting that need. We’re excited to partner with an energy visionary like T. Boone Pickens to bring our wind technology to the marketplace.”

Ultimately, Mesa Power plans to have enough turbines to produce 4,000 megawatts of energy, the overall project is expected to cost $10 billion and be completed in 2014.

Mesa Power has leased sparsely populated land in the Texas panhandle, where the wind often blows during daylight hours when energy needs are highest. Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zones [CREZ] transmission lines will deliver what Pickens hopes will be “cost effective and reliable electricity generated by renewable energy power projects.”

“We have had a great response to this project,” Pickens said. “We are making Pampa the wind capital of the world. It’s clear that landowners and local officials understand the economic benefits that this renewable energy can bring not only to landowners who are involved with the project, but also in revitalizing an area that has struggled in recent years.”

Read Full Post »

Mass High Tech, May 9, 2008

Wind farm developer Noble Environmental Power LLC has filed documents with the SEC for a $375 million initial public offering.

The Essex Conn.-based company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol NEPI. Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan are serving as co-lead underwriters. A date for the offering has not been set.

Noble Power currently operates 282 megawatts of wind power and expects to have more than 4,000 megawatts under management by 2012. The company’s current and future projects are located predominantly in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Minnesota and Michigan.

Though founded in 2004, the company’s first wind parks, in upstate New York, did not begin operations until March 2008.

As of the end of 2007, the 152-person firm had generated no revenue, but posted a $42 million loss for 2007. The firm expects to generate revenue from the sale of power and capacity to power companies, as well as through the sale and trading of renewable energy credits.

The company has been financed by almost $927 million in long-term debt from a variety of sources, including The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and JPMP Wind Energy, a private equity division of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Noble Environmental Power has also signed more than $1.5 billion worth of purchase agreements with GE Energy to buy more than 870 1.5 megawatt turbines.

Read Full Post »

LESTER HAINES, The Register, April 21, 2008

The Scottish Government has turned down an application to build a 181-turbine wind farm on the Isle of Lewis, the BBC reports.

The decision confirms a report by the BBC’s Gaelic news service Radio nan Gaidheal back in January, which predicted a red light for the £500m project, proposed by Lewis Wind Power (LWP).

Although the plan was approved in February 2007 by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) members, who voted 18 to eight in favour, and attracted local business support, 11,000 objections nudged the Scottish Government to decide the scheme “did not comply with European law protecting sensitive environments”.

Campaigners had warned of “irreversible damage” to one of the country’s “most important wetland sites”. Scottish ministers agreed, and declared the farm “would have a serious impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is designated under the European Commission (EC) Birds Directive and protected under the EC Habitats Directive”.

Energy Minister Jim Mather confirmed: “The Lewis Wind Farm would have significant adverse impacts on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is designated due to its high value for rare and endangered birds. This decision does not mean that there cannot be onshore wind farms in the Western Isles.

“I strongly believe the vast renewables potential needs to be exploited to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of new development can be shared across the country in an equitable fashion.”

LWP, which insisted the development would create more than 400 jobs, described itself as “bitterly disappointed” with the knock-back. It said in a statement: “The local authority and all of Scotland’s major business organisations fully recognised the huge benefits that this proposal would have delivered.

“The economic benefits included the creation of around 400 local jobs, 680 jobs across Scotland, during the construction process, as well as providing much needed investment to the Arnish Yard* to make it a global competitor for other projects.”

It added: “The wind farm would have contributed 650MW of renewable energy to help the fight against climate change and paved the way for an interconnector to the mainland to encourage more investment in other renewable technologies. “Sadly all of this has been lost because of the government decision which, we believe, represents a huge missed opportunity.”

LWP concluded it would be “considering the Government’s response in detail before deciding on our next move”.

Read Full Post »

BBC, May 8, 2008

Centrica, one of the UK’s biggest energy generators, has warned that the prospect of making money from wind farms is looking “marginal”.

The company says that the rising cost of off-shore wind farms could end up ruining the government’s renewable energy targets. The comments come a week after Shell withdrew from a project that was set to become the world’s largest wind farm. The government wants 33 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity built by 2020.

Mr Sambhi, Centrica’s director of power business unit, says the firm is still planning to build three new wind farms in the UK, but believes that current conditions are making the government’s renewable plans look very ambitious. “The economics at the moment make the returns marginal.” “The worrying trend is that if the manufacturing costs continue to increase, then I think that the wind target is under threat,” said Mr Sambhi.

Wind Farm Expansion

This week Centrica’s Lynn and Inner Dowsing project will deliver power to the National Grid.

The opening of the wind farm comes at a time when the economics of off-shore wind generation are coming into question. But the wind farm off the coast of Skegness has doubled in price in the last three years because of the rising cost of steel and copper. There are effectively only two companies that produce wind farms for the UK market – Vestas of Denmark and the German company Siemens. Both have a huge order book, with Vestas alone having nearly £4bn worth of orders yet to be delivered. The turbine manufacturers point to the rising cost of raw materials and the difficulty they have in securing the parts they need.

Big Projects

Uncertainty over the future of the 1,000 megawatt London Array wind farm off the coast of Kent has increased tension in the industry.

Shell, one of the three major partners in the London Array – meant to be the world’s largest wind farm, last week pulled out of the project.

Lynn & Inner Dowsing Facts:

  • Each turbine can power 2,500 homes
  • Turbines are 100m high and nearly 100m in diameter
  • Each turbine weighs approximately 260 tonnes
  • The 54 turbines have a combined generating capacity of 180 MW

After Shell’s decision, one of the other partners – E.ON – said that the economics of the project were “marginal at best”. The cost of the project is thought to have doubled since 2003, when it was estimated at £1bn.

The BBC has learnt that just one turbine manufacturer made a tender for the project, increasing the impression amongst some in the industry that manufacturers are able to choose their price for the projects they take on. High costs have forced the energy companies to look elsewhere for funding.

Centrica is aiming to build another three wind farms with a total capacity of around 1250 megawatts but does not want to fund the projects alone. In a bid to keep the projects on track the company is looking for investment from City institutions, including from private equity firms.

Government Policy

But this innovative tactic might not have the desired results according to Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy at Oxford University. “Investors are saying that the current policy for wind energy in the UK is not fit for purpose.” “Unless the government wants to revamp and rebase its wind structure, it isn’t going to get what it wants from wind,” said Mr Helm.

This view is echoed by Charles Anglin from the British Wind Energy Association, who says that a lack of clarity has affected investment. “The fact that the government was slow to wake up to the opportunity of wind did push up uncertainty, and that has affected prices and meant that manufacturers have delayed investment,” he said.

But the government believes that the future for wind power in the UK is secure. It says that there are financial incentives in place to encourage energy companies to invest in wind farms. It also points to the fact that Britain is due to over take Denmark as the largest wind energy generator by the end of the year.

Read Full Post »

[MendoCoastCurrent Edited], The Star-Gazette, May 8, 2008

Criminal Investigation of Wind Developers & Public Officials Sought

Steuben County’s District Attorney John C. Tunney gave no comment on Wednesday to a demand from a local citizens group, Cohocton Wind Watch, for a criminal investigation of wind turbine projects in the county and a Grand Jury Investigation of suspected criminal conduct by wind developers and public officials.

The May 5, 2008 Cohocton Wind Watch letter to D.A. Tunney claims “several residents and property owners of Steuben County have information of suspected criminal conduct.” The list of alleged criminal activities includes making false claims and filing false statements, bribery of public officials, larceny and fraud.

The public officials named in the document are James P. Sherron, Executive Director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, and J. Harold McConnell, Supervisor in the Town of Prattsburgh.

The document says “constructive fraud has occurred by Mr. Sherron, SCIDA and numerous town officials and town boards.”

It also alleges that “the recent passage of an Eminent Domain Resolution by the Town Board of Prattsburgh provided additional proof of the unlawful conduct by Supervisor J. Harold McConnell.”

Sherron did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. McConnell said he could not respond because he had not seen the letter.

The letter, written by Cohocton Wind Watch spokesman James Hall, alleges that Wind Developers have “knowingly provided and submitted false statements and false instruments.”

Hall added that there is a “clear and consistent pattern on the part of the Developers to improperly influence public officials through a number of schemes, including cash bribes.”

In a number of situations, Hall wrote, “Developers seeking to obtain leases for wind turbine sites or easements for access roads and transmission lines have relied on lies and deceptions to convince landowners to sign away their rights. These falsehoods are felonies under Penal Law Article 155 and other statutes.”

First Wind of Newton, Mass., formerly known as UPC Wind and the developer of the Prattsburgh Wind and Cohocton Wind projects, issued the following statement Wednesday:

“We have a policy of not commenting on allegations made against us by third parties, but we conduct ourselves in accordance with the law and hold ourselves to high standards of conduct when developing our projects,” said John Lamontagne, Director of Corporate Communications for First Wind. “We’re excited about our wind energy projects in western New York and the promise it can bring to the development of the region and the growth of renewable power in New York.”

Hall’s letter to Tunney calls for both a criminal investigation and the impaneling of a Grand Jury to consider criminal charges. It also seeks a meeting with Tunney to discuss the charges and the evidence the group has compiled.

Tunney did not indicate whether he plans to meet with Cohocton Wind Watch.

“Based upon the predominance of evidence from paper trails, video tape documentation, individual testimony and publicly filed documents, your office needs to convene a Grand Jury,” Hall of CWW wrote.

Hall said there are active investigations of wind farm developments in Franklin County and Delaware County.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

Read Full Post »

DOUG WILLIAMSON, The Windsor Star, May 8, 2008

The prospect of wind energy development in Essex County received mixed reviews Wednesday during a public meeting to hear comments on the county’s proposed policy for commercial wind farms.

Visual and noise impact, whether or not wind energy is a viable solution to global warming and other issues dominated the session attended by about 300 people, as well as county councillors.

Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi warned that wind turbine developments are not public utilities, and if they go bankrupt the cost of decommissioning them could be borne by the municipality.

“In that case you will be left with these turbines,” he said. Leardi said turbines should be prohibited in favour of other forms of renewable energy, but if they are approved, there should be conditions such as a height limit of 100 feet.

“It is based on the topography of this county,” Leardi said. “One hundred feet may actually be dangerous.”

Joy Purdy of Harrow cited possible adverse environmental effects of the proposed turbines.

‘NO ADVERSE EFFECTS’

But Raymond Duhamel of Jones Consulting, which is working with the county on the proposed wind energy policy, said policy-makers are trying to avoid those.

“We hope these policies will ensure there are no adverse effects,” he said.

Colette McLean of Harrow questioned whether wind energy really can have an impact on global warming, and said the turbines are “the definition of adverse effects. It affects all of us as taxpayers.”

Joe Ouellette of Amherstbug questioned the impact of turbine electricity generation on microwave transmission and airport radar, and said companies should be notified in advance of plans for wind turbines.

“Essex County must adopt a comprehensive policy,” he said. “If a link (from turbine generation to microwave transmission) is found … I do believe notification should be given to the company.”

One of the few speakers to totally support the wind turbines was Ted Gorski, a Harrow farmer and businessman.

“We live in some very challenging times,” he said, citing global energy concerns. “I am in favour of wind farms. Renewable energy is a must. If we don’t act we won’t be able to afford it.”

Duhamel said the county has to consider several factors in developing a wind energy policy, including natural resources and “cultural” assets such as winery routes. He also acknowledged the subject is controversial.

“This issue has become very divisive wherever I go.”

Bob Sylvester, deputy mayor of Lakeshore, warned that the new energy production may have infrastructure problems.

“The most unappealing parts of wind farms was the transmission lines,” he said of his own tours of wind energy sites in the province.

County council is to deal with it renewable energy policy on May 21.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

Read Full Post »

MARK CARDWELL, The Gazette, May 7, 2008

The smallest of the 15 wind-farm bids accepted by Hydro-Québec on Monday could end up generating more political current than all of the other projects combined.

A French-backed energy consortium is proposing to build 37 wind towers on a mountain near Lac-au-Sable, a popular fishing, hunting and hiking spot for locals and tourists next to one of Quebec’s most popular provincial parks in the picturesque Charlevoix region east of Quebec City.

“No one here is in favour of it,” said Charles Roberge, who is president of the UNESCO-recognized Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve and head of a regional coalition against the Lac-au-Sable project.

The opposition includes everyone from the local chamber of commerce and the Tourisme Québec office to Nature Québec and the local regional government.

The Charlevoix reaction is an example of the social and political pitfalls that await the Quebec government as it pushes into the unchartered field of sustainable economic activity and energy development.

“Nearly everyone in Quebec is for green energy like wind power,” said Jean-Louis Chaumel, an economist at the Université du Québec à Rimouski and co-founder of the Wind Energy Group, an international body of French-language professors and graduate students that studies the impact of wind farms.

“But when you put wind parks in areas that are sensitive (because of) high population densities or natural beauty, you have the potential for multiple sources of social activism against them.”

Roberge puts it more bluntly: “Basically, it’s a stupid idea.

“We’re all for sustainable development,” he said. “But from what we’ve seen and heard, we’ll only be getting the bad sides of the green energy they hope to produce here.”

A primary concern is the environmental and aesthetic impacts the wind farm will have on a region that is famous for its breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence and the Laurentians, but Roberge and others are also angry about the process that led to Monday’s announcement.

“(The Quebec Liberal government) is making the same mistakes it did with Sûroit and Mont Orford, in that they are thrusting this thing on people too quickly,” he said, referring to government-sponsored projects that were stopped after the public reacted against them.

“We don’t know why, for example, this project is being given to a private company instead of Hydro-Québec. And if it has to be private, why isn’t a local company involved?”

Proposed to Hydro-Québec by St-Laurent Énergies, a Montreal-based consortium that is comprised of Hydromega Services, RES Canada and EDF Energies Nouvelles, which is a subsidiary of France’s EDF, the Lac-au-Sable or “Charlevoix-Est” wind farm is expected to generate 74 megawatts of wind power if and when it is completed by 2015.

That represents about 3.6 per cent of the total of 2,004 megawatts the 15 projects are expected to generate, and 7.7 per cent of the 954 megawatts allotted to St-Laurent Énergies, which emerged as the big bid winner on Monday.

According to the consortium’s project manager, Stéphane Boyer, more than half of the $2 billion needed to build the five sites will be spent in Quebec, including the manufacture of blades, towers and power converters.

He said the Lac-au-Sable site, located in a provincially-owned, 368-square-kilometre “Controlled Exploitation Zone,” is the perfect location for a wind farm.

“When you look at the map (and) all the criteria we look at — wind, accessibility to (existing Hydro-Québec power lines and grid), remoteness from people, the presence of intense forestry operations — it is an excellent place to produce electricity at a competitive cost,” he said.

Despite the consortium’s arguments, Roberge said locals are particularly worried that the wind farms will be visible from the Parc des Hautes-Gorges, a provincial park 12 kilometres away that attracts 100,000 people a year.

“In return we get what, a few temporary jobs?” he asked. “The profits all go elsewhere. There are very few economic benefits for our region.”

For his part, Boyer said consortium officials were “surprised and disappointed” by the Charlevoix coalition’s public attacks against their project.

“But I think we can sit down with and discuss their concerns, find some compromises,” he added. “I mean, we’ve got until 2015, so there’s lots of time.”

Compromise, suggested Chaumel, is indeed the key.

“The best way to go is to get social acceptance for a project beforehand,” he said, adding that the Quebec government has “put the cart before the horse” with the Charlevoix project.

“It’s clear there is no expertise yet in knowing how to arrange pertinent agreements in terms of social acceptance,” he said.

Part of the problem, he said, has been the Quebec government’s fear of getting in bed with promoters who can’t deliver what they promise — a fear that might have been partly allayed with the granting of several projects backed by a giant like ENF.

“The Quebec government has dramatically reduced the number of promoters it was dealing with (and) was clearly disappointed with,” said Chaumel, referring to a number of Quebec companies that failed to win contracts. “They wanted to work with companies that had solid experience and financing and could deliver projects in a pertinent, fast and clean manner. “They’ve done that by accepting baskets of projects from the best developers,” he added. “Now it’s up to those promoters, like the ones in Charlevoix, to sit down with the locals and figure things out (by) explaining things and maybe sharing benefits.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

Read Full Post »

DENISE A. RAYMO, May 7, 2008, The Press Republican

NEW YORK – A Burke official with an option to lease land to a wind farm company lost his court battle and must answer a subpoena from a Franklin County grand jury.

Town Council member David Vincent must turn over all correspondence, contracts, receipts, leases, purchase agreements, options or communications he has had concerning Noble Chateaugay Windpark, Noble Energy, Jericho Rise Windpark and Burke Wind Power.

“The grand jury is apparently investigating allegations of possible criminal conduct in the siting of wind farms in Franklin County,” wrote St. Lawrence County Supreme Court and Acting Franklin County Supreme Court Judge David Demerest.

Vincent “is a member of the Town Board in the Town of Burke and, according to recordings in the County Clerk’s Office, has entered into a contract with a developer of wind energy to lease some of his land,” Judge Demerest stated.

Vincent attempted to have the subpoena quashed, claiming District Attorney Derek Champagne was conducting “a fishing expedition” by asking for a broad range of papers and information.

Vincent said that turning over the paperwork might violate his right to privacy and his right to avoid incriminating himself.

But, in making his ruling, the judge said Vincent did not show any proof that the information sought had “no conceivable relevance” to the grand jury probe, nor did it appear as though the subpoena was issued in bad faith, as claimed.

Demerest said a grand jury must be given wide powers when making an inquiry.

“Here, the inquiry appears to be whether or not wind-energy developers are improperly interacting with local government officials,” he wrote.

Vincent “has been linked to a developer through a search of public records, and it would appear that any writings that he might possess in relation to that transaction could have relevancy to the overall investigation,” the ruling states.

Demerest also turned aside the argument that Vincent could incriminate himself if disclosures were made.

“Other than bald assertions by the petitioner that the production of these documents might tend to incriminate him, there is nothing before me that supports that assertion or that any other constitutional rights have been violated,” the judge wrote.

“The documents sought involve negotiations leading to a public conveyance of a property right. They are legitimate business records.”

Vincent could not be reached for comment Wednesday, nor could Chief Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty, who represented the DA in the case.

But Champagne said he was “pleased with the judge’s decision,” adding that it was “an important one. It strikes at the heart of our system.

“A grand jury — not just this one — needs to have the ability to investigate, and you cannot curtail or limit the power of a grand jury. They have to have the ability to receive evidence to decide if there needs to be an investigation.”

Vincent’s subpoena challenge, made in March, came about the same time Champagne asked the County Legislature to create a board of ethics to advise municipal officials who may be unsure whether some of the business they conduct would or could be a conflict of interest.

Champagne said at the time that an investigation by his office has turned up “several contracts, easements, lease-option agreements, cooperation memoranda and other types of documents” where elected officials’ duties and third-party interests overlapped.

In some cases, the actions could constitute bribery of a public official, he said.

The DA forwarded the information to the New York State Attorney General’s Office for further investigation, but he did not name specific people who may be part of the probe.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

Read Full Post »

ScottishPower Renewables, April 25, 2008

ScottishPower Renewables has submitted a Section 36 application to the Scottish Government for an extension of Whitelee Windfarm on Eaglesham Moor by a further 36 turbines – developing the site beyond the 140 turbines that are currently being constructed as part of Europe’s largest on-shore windfarm project.

If approved, the new turbines will increase the output of clean green energy from Whitelee by up to a maximum of 130 megawatts – enough on its own to power up to 73,000 homes – taking the total output from the windfarm up to 452MW.

Simon Christian, Project Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Whitelee is an excellent location for a windfarm development and we believe that there is scope to extend what is already an ambitious renewable energy project. Not only is it sited exceptionally well for good wind conditions, it is also close to grid connections, transport links and will be able to directly serve the nearby large population centres of west central Scotland.

A full consultation process is now underway, which will involve presenting the development plans to local community groups and engaging statutory consultees such as Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB.

Under Scottish Government guidelines, the process for considering the application should take approximately nine months, with a decision therefore expected to be made early next year.

There are currently 22 wind turbines at Whitelee already connected to the grid, generating enough green energy to power over 30,000 homes. The initial 140 turbine construction phase of the project is scheduled for completion in Summer 2009. ScottishPower Renewables also recently announced plans for a multi-million pounds Visitor Centre at Whitelee, which will also open in Summer 2009. All 36 turbines on the extension site fall in the East Ayrshire Council administrative area.

Read Full Post »

Agence France-Presse, April 22, 2008

The Scottish government has rejected plans to build one of Europe’s biggest onshore wind farms due what it said was the “significant adverse impacts” on the local environment.

Ministers in Edinburgh decided that the 500-million-pound (one-billion-dollar, 625-million-euro) project would have threatened rare and endangered bird populations and damaged peatland on the remote Isle of Lewis, northwest of the Scottish mainland.

The proposals were turned down on the grounds that they did not comply with European Union law protecting sensitive environments.

The Scottish government has a number of powers separate from the British government in London, including planning and environment policy.

Lewis Wind Power, a consortium of AMEC and British Energy, had proposed constructing 181 turbines, with a capacity of 651.6 megawatts — enough to meet the average domestic electricity requirement of more than 20 percent of Scotland’s population.

“The Lewis wind farm would have significant adverse impacts on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is designated due to its high value for rare and endangered birds,” said Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather.

“This decision does not mean that there cannot be onshore wind farms in the Western Isles. That’s why we will urgently carry out work on how to develop renewable energy in the Western Isles, in harmony with its outstanding natural heritage.”

The Lewis peatlands are regarded as one of the most extensive and intact such areas on Earth.

Golden eagle, merlin, red throated diver, black throated diver, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank populations in the area are subject to special protection under a European birds directive.

Stuart Housden, director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland called it Tuesday “an extremely commendable decision” that was “absolutely right for Scotland”.

Lewis Wind Power said it was “bitterly disappointed” and would consider the government’s verdict in detail before deciding their “next move”.

Read Full Post »

SAN FRANCISCO, April 10, 2008

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing efforts to ensure a reliable supply of electricity for the state, today approved a 10-year contract for Southern California Edison Company to purchase up to 455 megawatts of capacity and energy, beginning August 1, 2010, from CPV Sentinel, LLC.

“Our actions today are demonstrative of our efforts to get customers and Investor-Owned Utilities, Community Choice Aggregators, and Energy Service Providers ahead of the curve and add energy resources to the supply mix before the need reaches a critical state,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. “Our approval of this contract is another step toward continuing to provide a reliable, cost effective energy supply for California’s consumers while minimizing potential environmental impacts.”

On July 20, 2006, the CPUC issued a decision (D.06-07-029) designed to encourage the development of new electric resources for system reliability. The decision established a mechanism for allocating the benefits and costs of new generation to all benefitting customers in an Investor-Owned Utility’s service territory, including Investor-Owned Utility customers, Direct Access customers, and Community Choice Aggregation customers. Southern California Edison has elected to apply this cost allocation mechanism to the CPV Sentinel contract.

Read Full Post »

RAY HENRY, March 11, 2008, BusinessWeek

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Environmental regulators want to ban construction of offshore wind turbines and wave energy developments in Rhode Island for at least one year, arguing there are no state rules in place to govern projects like the 100 turbines Gov. Don Carcieri has proposed building off the coast.

The ban, being considered Tuesday night, would greatly hamper Carcieri’s already longshot plan to get 15 percent of the state’s electricity from wind power in three years. And environmentalists say with electricity prices rising and global warming worries growing, now is not the time to shy away from alternative energy projects.

“This is the time to be getting going,” said Cynthia Giles, an attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, which opposes the moratorium.

The Coastal Resources Management Council was scheduled to hear testimony and possibly vote on the moratorium during a meeting Tuesday evening.

The council’s staff wants the delay to create a zoning plan for the ocean, similar to how cities and towns designate land for businesses and homes, agency spokeswoman Laura Ricketson-Dwyer said. Finding an appropriate place for wind farms could minimize public opposition similar to protests that have delayed for years a major wind turbine project proposed for Nantucket Sound in neighboring Massachusetts.

“We want to make sure if it’s a public or private company that comes in and wants to put in wind farms, we can say, ‘OK, this is where they could go,'” Ricketson-Dwyer said.

But wind power advocates — including the governor — fear the moratorium could cause unnecessary delays.

Besides restricting big projects, the moratorium also could stop wind power developers from setting up offshore stations that collect wind information, Giles said. Developers generally need at least one year of data before deciding whether to build.

New Englanders pay some of the most expensive electricity bills in the nation, largely because the region depends heavily on expensive natural gas. Rhode Island lacks a single, major wind turbine but political leaders here have called for harnessing the wind that ripples along the coastline as a cheap and pollution-free energy source.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly unveiled bills this month to stimulate renewable energy development by forcing National Grid, the state’s largest energy company, to buy electricity from wind turbines and other renewable sources.

Carcieri also has proposed building enough offshore wind turbines to generate about 15 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2011, a deadline his chief energy adviser has said is nearly impossible to meet. The moratorium would apply to state waters up to three miles off the coast, a zone that includes about three-quarters of the potential wind farm sites identified by Carcieri’s administration.

Carcieri plans to send his top energy adviser to argue against the moratorium.

“The signal we want to send is that we are moving full speed ahead on developing these renewable energy projects,” Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal said. “A moratorium sends a conflicting message.”

Read Full Post »

PETER B. LORD & NATALIE GARCIA, The Providence Journal, March 5, 2008

The agency that regulates Rhode Island’s coastline has proposed a one-year moratorium on wind farms and wave generators in the state’s coastal waters so it can develop a special management plan that will determine where such projects will be allowed.

Governor Carcieri and two environmental groups are opposing the moratorium.

Yesterday, Jeff Neal, Carcieri’s spokesman, said he’s concerned the decision will slow the state’s progress toward developing renewable energy sources. A moratorium, he said, would also send the wrong signal and might scare off potential proposals.

“Governor Carcieri wants to remain out front developing wind and wave energy sources,” Neal said. “He doesn’t believe a moratorium will be helpful.”

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, the agency proposing the temporary ban, disagrees. Even without a moratorium, it would take about two years to conduct research and collect wind-energy data needed to create an ocean zoning plan, according to the agency. No projects could go forward before that work is complete.

A spokesman for Allco Renewable Energy Group, which last September proposed erecting hundreds of wind turbines off Rhode Island’s coast, said his company does not oppose the moratorium as long as the CRMC develops a plan that will streamline the approval process.

“We believe a properly executed special-area management plan is a better road to go through than a full-blown environmental-impact statement process with the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Bill Fischer, Allco’s spokesman in Rhode Island.

The first major wind project in the region, Cape Wind’s proposal for Nantucket Sound, has been bogged down for years while work proceeded on a multi-million-dollar environmental-impact statement.

The moratorium was announced by the CRMC last month in a legal advertisement. The agency did not issue any press releases on the subject. Public comments could be submitted only until March 2, and only one was submitted, signed jointly by two environmental groups.The agency will have a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Narragansett Bay Commission offices in Providence.

Spokeswoman Laura Ricketson said the agency doesn’t routinely issue press releases when it proposes changes in its regulations. “This is how we do things,” she said. “It is advertised.”

The Conservation Law Foundation and Environment Rhode Island support CRMC’s goal of developing a special management plan for the coastal waters, but they are concerned about the proposed moratorium. In a letter sent Monday to CRMC director Grover Fugate, they outlined three concerns:

•The agency has not given enough details about the proposed management plan.

•It is not clear how Fugate plans to spend $6 million he reportedly said is needed to install a data gathering tower and to develop the management plan.

•The agency has not specified exactly what tower, experimental projects or other data collection will be needed.

“A well-crafted approach to ocean planning might justify a one-year moratorium,” wrote CLF’s director, Cynthia Giles, and Environment Rhode Island’s advocate, Matt Auten. “However, no information has yet been provided that would yet support that conclusion.”

Ricketson said CRMC plans to develop the management plan with experts at the University of Rhode Island. She said it will be a long, complicated process. The goal, she said, is to develop “permit-ready” sites with state and federal partners.

“To develop an ocean special-area management plan in a year would be putting it on the fast track,” Ricketson said. “That would be a huge success.”

Should URI create the state’s zoning plan, the total cost is estimated at $6.5 million, said URI ocean engineering Prof. Malcolm Spaulding, who heads the project.

Spaulding supports developing an ocean zoning map that will determine which areas should be reserved for shipping and boating navigation routes, aquaculture, wildlife habitat and unobstructed ocean views. That would simplify the process and eliminate sites where alternative energy projects, such as wind farms, would not be appropriate, he said.

“It will regularize the system and give strong incentives for developers,” Spaulding said. “It takes some of the risk out.”

Spaulding said more information should be collected before Carcieri promotes these projects. No measurements of offshore wind potential, for example, have been systematically collected in Rhode Island, he said. Optimistic accounts of wind resources have been based on model predictions.

The lack of data, Spaulding said, should not discourage investors and wind energy proponents. But it means that banks will want about two years of observable data before backing any offshore wind projects.

Who will pay for developing the CRMC management plan is still not clear.

The governor wants private businesses to pick up some of the costs, and CRMC and URI are talking about handling the project alone, relying on public money.

So far, at least one company has offered to help pay. Allco has said he will fund the tower that would be set up to gather meteorological data.

“I think the state should let the private sector bear the costs, especially with the state budget problems that exist now,” Fischer said.

Spaulding cautioned against allowing private companies to gather the data, warning that they might not be willing to disclose the information to the state and competing investors or guarantee the validity of the findings.

Spaulding said having the state generate the plan is worth the cost because it will offer clear guidelines for all offshore energy projects, so environmental impact work would not have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The alternative, he said, would force companies to repeat the same research, increasing the cost of the projects and slowing them considerably.

The Office of Energy Resources Commissioner, Andrew Dzykewicz, Carcieri’s energy advisor, did not return calls for comment yesterday.

“What happens with these things, they can easily get bogged down in controversy,” Spaulding said. “This approach will avoid the cost and long delays experienced by Cape Wind. This would revolutionize the way these things are done in coastal waters.”

Read Full Post »

KURT RENTMEESTER, Door County Advocate, February 20, 2008

The Forestville Town Board became the latest municipality to enact a one-year moratorium for large wind turbines – and questioned whether Door County’s recently approved wind energy ordinance should take effect there.

“We don’t want the county to impose its wind ordinance on us because we want more information on it,” Forestville Town Chairman Edson Stevens said Monday, Feb. 18, at the regular board meeting.

According to the moratorium, wind turbines exceeding 170 feet cannot be built for one year in the town of Forestville.

Two weeks ago, the Gardner Town Board approved a one-year interim control ordinance for wind turbines of at least 170 feet.

Last April, the Clay Banks Town Board established a similar one-year moratorium after Community Wind Energy LLC proposed three turbines be built there.

The town board there also established a five-member committee to study the issue and create a stricter local ordinance to supersede the county measure.

Stevens and Supervisor Gerald Uecker said they voted for a moratorium in the town of Forestville because they have questions about noise levels and setbacks in residential areas. Supervisor Marilyn Uecker was not at the meeting.

However, resident Monica Nelson questioned the town board’s decision, after the Door County Board of Supervisors approved a revised wind energy ordinance two weeks ago.

The county board’s revisions were based on a detailed and unbiased study of wind energy made by the Door County’s Resource Planning Committee, she said.

“The county spent a year studying this ordinance,” ehe said. “Where are you going to get your information from? Are you going to get information from Clay Banks?”

But Stevens said the moratorium also would give the town a “safety belt” and allow residents to learn more about the issue.

“If people in the town really want windmills – and after all, it’s what the people want – I don’t see anything in this (one-year moratorium) ordinance that would keep that from happening,” Supervisor Gerald Uecker said.

Forestville town treasurer Dena Schmidt said she doesn’t want to see the issue remain on hold for a year. If energy derived from wind turbines offers economic benefits and tax relief to property owners, she said, it should be investigated.

Nelson, who also heads the town’s Plan Commission, said that group’s input should have been sought on the issue before going to the town board.

Stevens said he wants to hold some public informational meetings on the matter. But he said the town board needed to address the issue before the county’s ordinance goes into effect.

In other business, the board tabled resident Todd Weckler’s request to set up two house trailers side by side and connect them with a 4-foot addition to establish a single residence on Mill Road.

The board tabled action until March when it will have more information on what Weckler plans to do there.

The town’s mobile home ordinance allows occupants to obtain a building permit for one mobile home per parcel, Town Clerk Ruth Kerscher said. But the board may make an exception in this case because the two trailers would serve as a single residence.

The house trailers are among six that are located in the former mobile home park in the village of Forestville. Forestville Village President Tom Tostrup asked Weckler to remove all of the trailers this spring.

All six house trailers would be brought to Weckler’s 5-acre parcel on Mill Road.

While two would be remodeled as a single residence, workers would dismantle the remaining four between May and September and dispose of that wood, metal and other building materials.

The board also will give Jason Jorns a class A alcohol license permitting him to sell enclosed wine and provide samples at his farmer’s market-type store near Maplewood.

Jorns will be giving out wine samples when he opens Maplewaupee Market in May along state Highway 42 in an area north of the community of Maplewood.

Customers would not be permitted to consume alcoholic beverages on premises of a business with a class A liquor license.

However, Kerscher said a state official told her samples of wine can be given.

If alcoholic beverages are consumed on-site, Kerscher said the proprietor would be required to obtain a class B license. The town’s two class B licenses are being used.

Read Full Post »

DONNA HOFFMAN, Local Contributor at statesman.com, February 14, 2008

Texas needs smart energy solutions. We must transition our economy toward increased efficiency and greater reliance on renewable energy sources – wind, solar, and geothermal in order to address climate change, air pollution, and high fuel cost.

The wind industry is leading this transition. Nationwide, wind power grew by 45% in 2007. For the past two years, Texas has ranked number one in wind power with 4,356 megawatts at wind farms in West Texas and the Panhandle. Wind projects under construction will add another 1,238 megawatts.

The State of Texas should encourage and promote this growth in wind power, and it should also take measures to assure that the wind industry avoids negative impacts to wildlife populations and habitat.

Any industrial activity, even a wind power project, presents the potential for negative environmental impacts, but appropriate regulations or guidelines and technological advances may eliminate or reduce those impacts.

Wind turbine technology has improved greatly since the days when turbine designs were deadly to bird populations. The National Wind Coordinating Committee has mediated national discussions between the wind industry and wildlife biologists that have produced best practices for siting and operating wind projects. Nineteen states have voluntary wind project guidelines. Several states refer to the thorough U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Guidelines that are presently undergoing industry challenge. One state, Hawaii, requires permits for wind projects.

In Texas, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has been in negotiations between wind industry representatives and conservation groups to create voluntary siting guidelines. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been coordinating negotiations. In order to satisfy investors and attorneys, wind companies would consult with TPWD and adhere to the guidelines.

The Sierra Club recommends the guidelines include: pre-construction research linked to habitat sensitivity criteria, data sharing for wildlife studies, pre-construction mitigation, post-construction research, and operational mitigation.

Unfortunately, the negotiation process is currently at a stalemate.

Conservation groups believe that guidelines are necessary to address concerns about: large, diverse migratory and residential bird populations and sensitive habitats along the Gulf Coast; bat habitat in the Texas Hill Country; and unique wilderness viewsheds like Enchanted Rock.

The lack of guidelines became an issue in September, 2005 when the General Land Office announced its first offshore wind lease – 11,355-acres, seven miles off Galveston Island. This first offshore wind farm in Texas, was set to be built in the most populated migratory bird corridor of North America! The developer Wind Energy Systems Technologies (WEST) has placed a meteorological tower on the site and are said to be collecting wind data. The company contracted a bird study design from a well-respected bird scientist for this project, but has not begun the study. WEST has since leased four more offshore sites in the Gulf from offshore of the southern tip of the state to offshore of the upper coast.

Last year, wildlife groups (including American Bird Conservancy, which has been highly supportive of wind energy) joined the King Ranch to form the Coastal Habitat Alliance (CHA). CHA is concerned about two wind farms — Babcock & Brown and PPM’s projects in the sensitive wetlands of northern Kenedy County. The CHA has filed suit in federal court to force the State of Texas to abide by its agreement with the federal government not to build energy generation facilities in the Coastal Management Zone without a permitting process.

Guidelines based on site sensitivity could steer the wind industry away from problematic sites early in the scoping process and save wind developers time and money.

The Sierra Club has developed a Wind Siting Advisory and will continue to work for voluntary guidelines at TPWD. If that process does not succeed, then prospects for an enforceable permitting process will increase.

The wind industry in Texas needs to make a choice: Do they reject reasonable guidelines for project siting and operation and risk continued controversy and perhaps restrictive regulations? Or do they make a good faith effort to negotiate guidelines that will allow the industry to progress while addressing valid concerns?

We hope the wind industry will choose to remove the albatross by accepting and adhering to meaningful siting and operations guidelines in Texas.

Hoffman is the communications coordinator of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Read Full Post »

BETH DALEY, The Boston Globe, February 15, 2008

Large wind farms could be constructed in state waters under legislation passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives Wednesday that critics said could aid a controversial wind energy project in Buzzards Bay.

The only pending project directly affected by the legislation is the 120-turbine wind farm proposed by developer Jay Cashman. Cashman is a friend of House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who failed last year to get passed a similar measure that would have helped the farm to be built.

“There is only one project on the table that this affects right now,” said John F. Quinn, a Democrat from Dartmouth. He said he wants more public input before any permanent changes are made to ocean regulations, in part because there could be similar projects proposed along the state’s coast. “This is a dramatic change – let’s not slip it in.”

The wind farm provision is part of the Oceans Management Act, a wide-ranging bill that would guide the location of renewable energy projects and other activities in state waters.

Most of Massachusetts waters are designated ocean sanctuaries, and structures in them are prohibited unless state environmental regulators agree they are needed by “public necessity and convenience.” The ocean protection legislation passed this week is designed, in part, to clarify that renewable energy projects are allowed in these waters.

The Senate passed a version last year that most environmentalists applauded, allowing for the construction of small-scale wind power projects in most state waters, but only if they are consistent with a yet-to-be-developed Ocean Management Plan that would map out the best places to put them. Under the Senate bill, that plan would have to be completed in 24 months.

But the House version is vaguer, critics say, allowing any wind project in state waters and not requiring that they be consistent with an Ocean Management Plan. The House version also sets no deadline for the ocean plan, they say.

“This is the first time in the nation any state has contemplated a comprehensive plan to manage development of the oceans,” said Priscilla Brooks of the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston-based environmental advocacy group. The House version, she said, gives little teeth to any Ocean Management Plan.

Supporters of the House version say the language in no way was meant to give Cashman any advantage to build his wind farm, and point out that any wind farm project has to undergo environmental review. The Cashman wind farm was denied in 2006 because the state environmental secretary at the time said it was forbidden under the Ocean Sanctuaries Act and it could threaten an endangered bird species.

DiMasi spokesman David Guarino said that the speaker was aware of the language in the bill but that its sole focus was to “encourage renewable energy.”

Representative Frank Smizik, a Brookline Democrat who is House chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, said the House version would allow needed renewable energy to be built in state waters as soon as possible. He said he didn’t want projects to go through the same seven-year permitting process that a proposed 130-turbine wind farm in federal waters in Nantucket Sound has endured.

“We wanted it to be a little less tight” than the Senate version, Smizik said. “Our view is the [ocean management plan] is a blueprint, not a zoning law. We need wind farms.”

House and Senate negotiators will meet in coming weeks to come up with compromise language. If both chambers agree, the measure would then land on Governor Deval Patrick’s desk.

Ian Bowles, state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said despite the differences between the Senate and House versions, it is important to note the state is on its way to having one of the first planning documents to guide ocean development.

“This legislation represents an important leadership opportunity for the Commonwealth,” Bowles said. “Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to enact a comprehensive ocean planning law.”

Read Full Post »

FIONA HARVEY & REBECCA BREAM, The Financial Times, February 7, 2008

More than half the world’s new wind farms were built outside Europe last year, the first time this has occurred.

Research by the Global Wind Energy Council showed that, although Europe remains the world’s biggest generator of wind energy, its position is being eroded as growth speeds up in the US and China.

“Europe used to be the only real market in the world for wind energy but other regions have caught up,” said Mortimer Menzel, partner at Augusta and Co., an investment bank.

The report found that, while Germany still has the most installed wind energy capacity in the world, the US is set to overtake it by the end of next year. Spain is hard on the US’s heels, and India and China are far ahead of many developed countries, in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, warned recently that the US was overtaking the EU on renewable energy technologies, for which Europeans have long held the crown. He said: “The US are more advanced than we are in this field.”

The GWEC described the growth of the Asian markets as “breathtaking”. A quarter of the wind energy generation capacity built in 2007 was constructed in Asia, chiefly China and India.

Bosena Jankowska, team leader of sustainability research at RCM Global Investors, said: “China is certainly starting to become much more visible on the radar screens of alternative energy. There is lots of potential for wind in China, for instance in Inner Mongolia.”

China is likely to become the world’s top manufacturer of wind turbines next year, according to the GWEC, which estimated the global market for wind generation equipment at $36bn (€24.5bn, £18.34bn) per year.

The market for global wind energy is still tiny compared with that of fossil fuels, at about 1% of power generation.

Ms. Jankowska pointed to Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology, a Chinese turbine manufacturer that had “come from nowhere” to a flotation on the Shenzen stock exchange last year, when its shares soared by 264 per cent on the first day.

India’s Suzlon, another turbine maker, has made two large overseas acquisitions in the past two years. Last year it bought Repower, a German turbine company, which it won in a bid battle with Arriva, the French energy technology company, for €1.3bn. In 2006 it bought Hansen, a Belgian gearbox maker, for $565m.

Read Full Post »

VINCE VERSACE, Daily Commercial News, January 30, 2008

Lifting Ontario’s offshore wind farm moratorium is just what the wind farm industry needs to help promote further construction in this field, a West Coast-based offshore wind development firm says.

“What really needs to happen is that developers need to demonstrate that offshore wind can be part of the [energy] solution and at relatively competitive costs,” says Sara MacIntyre, public affairs and communications director for NaiKun Wind.

“Wind is a large and viable resource [and] the Ontario announcement is positive because it grows capacity to build [in it].”

Ontario constructors and project developers in the field have weighed in with varying opinions on the viability of building offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes. Some officials point cautiously to construction costs and logistics, which are currently unknown for building in the Great Lakes.

However, Trillium Power, which proposes a 140-turbine project near Prince Edward County, believes construction challenges can be overcome because local expertise exists to build construction capacity in this field.

NaiKun says that its team is ready to tackle construction of its project’s first phase located in Hecate Strait, between Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Prince Rupert. One of its construction directors has been involved in almost every offshore wind project in Europe, notes MacIntyre.

NaiKun also secured $35.5 million last year to help fund early development, which will allow it to purchase “early equity requirements” such as turbines and underwater transmission cables.

NaiKun is building in the Haida Energy Field which has some of the strongest, most consistent winds in Canada. NaiKun secured a 550-square-kilometre permit area where it plans to build the first phase of their wind project, a 320 megawatt offshore wind farm. MacIntyre estimates the wind turbines will occupy 36 sq. km. of the strait.

“The size of the turbines will really dictate how construction goes forward,” explains MacIntyre. “The logistics depend on the turbines — offshore turbines are larger than land-based ones.”

In September, 2007 NaiKun installed its $2.5 million marine meteorological station, designed to help measure and collect data on atmospheric conditions, wave and current climate, wind speed and direction and air and sea temperatures. These measurements are an important piece in determining the pre-engineering of the project and deciding on the best location for the wind turbines.

“We have not settled on a turbine supplier and there is the possibility to buy and manufacture the towers in B.C.,” says MacIntyre.

NaiKun has teamed with Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution to help in the development, construction and operation of the transmission system for the project’s first phase.

The project’s Environmental Terms of Reference were approved in late 2007 and it now is in the pre-application environmental assessment process with the province.

Read Full Post »

A plan to build the largest wind farm in New England has received final approval by Brittany Sauser, January 7, 2008

On January 3, Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission approved the final design of the Stetson Wind Project–a 38-turbine wind farm to be built on Stetson Mountain, in Maine’s Washington County. The $100 million project is headed by UPC Wind of Newton, MA, and will be the biggest source of wind energy for New England

 

 

  

An illustration of the Stetson Ridge with wind turbines. Credit: Natural Resources Council of Maine.

The wind farm is expected to generate 57 megawatts of electricity annually, a number comparable to the yearly electricity use of roughly 27,000 Maine households. Each turbine tower will stand 262 feet tall with a blade diameter of 253 feet. Power from the wind farm will flow into the New England Power grid.

A 42-megawatt, 28-turbine wind farm already exists in Mars Hill, ME, but with rising oil prices and the push toward renewable energy sources, the Stetson project proposal received little resistance from residents and lawmakers. Additionally, the largest wind farms in the United States can be found in Texas, California, and the Midwest. According to the American Wind Energy Associations annual U.S. wind-power rankings (as of December 31, 2006), Texas has installed 2,763 megawatts of wind energy, California follows with 2,361, and Iowa with 936.

Overall, the United States ranks third in the world, behind Germany and Spain, with a total installed wind-power capacity of more than 11,600 megawatts.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »