Archive for April, 2008

Dumb as we wanna be

Posted on April 30, 2008. Filed under: Energy Policy, Solar, Wind |


From an op-ed by Thomas Friedman in The New York Times:

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy.

Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.

No, no, no, we’ll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars — burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?

The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”

Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.

But here’s what’s scary: our problem is so much worse than you think. We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite.

Are you sitting down?

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down, and Mr. Bush — showing not one iota of leadership — refused to get all the adults together in a room and work out a compromise. Stalemate. Meanwhile, Germany has a 20-year solar incentive program; Japan 12 years. Ours, at best, run two years.

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Utility gets OK to build Iowa wind farm

Posted on April 29, 2008. Filed under: Wind | Tags: |


From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. won approval from state regulators to build a wind farm in Iowa to help comply with a state mandate to increase its supply of renewable power.

The Crane Creek wind farm in Howard County, Iowa, is estimated to cost $251 million, and it will help the utility comply with a requirement that 2% of its power come from renewable sources. The mandate comes from a state law requiring utilities to sell more renewable power to their customers.

The approval means that WPS customers will be asked to pay higher prices than those the utility announced this month. WPS had earlier sought to raise rates by $107 million, or nearly 8%, in 2009. But wind farm costs are expected to add another $20 million to customers’ bills in 2009 and $34 million in 2010, WPS said in a filing with state regulators.

Members of the Public Service Commission said during a meeting Friday that WPS was taking the proper steps to comply with state renewable-energy mandates. State law requires that utilities boost their supply of power from wind turbines, solar panels and landfill and manure-to-energy systems in 2012 and again in 2015.

By 2015, under state law, 10% of the state’s electricity must be generated from renewable power sources.

WPS said it opted to build a wind farm in Iowa rather than Wisconsin because the winds are stronger there, enabling more power to be generated by each turbine. . . .

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Keep blowing wind power forward

Posted on April 28, 2008. Filed under: Wind | Tags: |


From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The exciting possibility of harnessing significant wind power using giant turbines offshore on Lake Michigan moved closer to reality last week.

State officials said three developers are contemplating various ways to erect hundreds of wind turbines on the water that could transmit clean energy back to land.

The plans are only conceptual. Yet state officials are wisely encouraged and seriously exploring several options, potential costs and hang-ups.

Wisconsin is not a windy state. And attempts to build giant wind turbines on land in the past have faced fierce opposition from some neighbors who don ‘t like the look or sound of them.

That ‘s what makes the prospect to putting turbines on lakes Michigan and Superior so appealing. The wind over the lakes is notoriously strong. And if positioned far enough off land, the turbines won ‘t be visible to shoreline property owners who might otherwise object.

Photo from the National Renewable Energy Lab.

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Critics say greedy farmers ‘sold out’

Posted on April 27, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


A letter to the editor of the Fond du Lac Reporter by Dale Grahl:

I am writing this letter in reference to the energy controversy feature on the front page of the Jan. 13 Reporter.

In that story we were labeled by critics as greedy farmers who sold out to easy money. As landowners before we “sold out,” we organized and looked at all the pros and cons of The Cedar Ridge wind farm. We traveled to another wind farm and talked to many people who have lived around these turbines. Not one had a negative thought.

Most of the landowners’ families date back to the breaking of the land and many still live in their 50- to 100-year-old farm homes.

It is these people who have been or are the volunteer firefighters, the first responders, the 4-H leaders, the little league coaches, and the ones who are active in all the local church activities. These are the people who have put the milk and meat on your table and have asked for little in return.

We feel that instead of sending our sons and daughters off to a foreign land to fight and die for “Energy Security” we are going to do something.

To the person who called us greedy, I would suggest that when you go to sit on your back porch with your cup of coffee to watch the sunset, you think about another sunset that will come to all of us.

Then I suggest you think about how you will answer when you are asked what have you done for the future and all the people who will come after you. Maybe then that magnificent white turbine slowly turning in the wind won’t look so ugly.

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Visit RENEW at Green Day, April 26

Posted on April 23, 2008. Filed under: General |


Look for RENEW at Isthmus’ Green Day event on April 26 at the Monona Terrace, booth #122.

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Alliant eyes offset for emissions in Iowa

Posted on April 19, 2008. Filed under: Carbon, Coal, Energy Efficiency, General, Generation Plants, Wind |


From an article by Jeff Richgels in The Capital Times:

Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility unit has announced a plan it says would help offset the carbon emissions from a proposed new coal plant in Iowa.Interstate Power and Light said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 800,000 tons a year by retiring two coal burning electricity generating units in Lansing and switching a Dubuque power plant from coal to natural gas when it opens the proposed $1.5 billion coal plant in Marshalltown.

Plans to build wind turbines in north central Iowa and implement energy efficiency initiatives to reduce customers’ electric usage are expected to reduce emissions by another 2.57 million tons per year, the company said.

All of those actions would more than offset the 3.1 million tons of carbon dioxide that could be released from IPL’s portion of the proposed Marshalltown plant.

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New WPS coal plant produces electricity

Posted on April 18, 2008. Filed under: Coal, Generation Plants |


An article by Richard Ryman from the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

Wisconsin Public Service Corp.’s new coal-fired power plant near Wausau produced its first electricity Thursday [March 20].The power plant is in the start-up and testing phase, but produced 18 megawatts of electricity when it was brought up to full speed and connected to the transmission grid Thursday night.Start up and testing will take about two more months, after which the plant will be put into service, the company said.

Construction on the 583-megawatt plant began in October 2004.

From a press release issued by Wisconsin Public Service:

Wausau, Wis. — The newly constructed Weston 4 Power Plant has produced its first megawatt of electricity to power businesses and homes in Wisconsin. During the normal routine start-up procedure, the steam turbine electrical generator was slowly ramped up to full speed; then the generator switch allowed the initial megawatt (1,000 watts) to connect to the existing electrical transmission system. The new generator produced about 18 megawatts at 7:22 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, 2008, and was kept on line for about 30 minutes in its initial start up.

The new power plant is still in the start-up and testing mode and will be for another two months, according to Kelly Zagrzebski of Wisconsin Public Service.

For the first time, the 583-megawatt generator’s initial output was transferred to the new electrical substation on the power plant site and loaded onto the existing electrical system.

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Company seeks to install electricity-generating hydro-turbines in Mississippi River

Posted on April 16, 2008. Filed under: Hydroelectric |


From an article by Jeffrey Tomich in the La Crosse Tribune:

ST. LOUIS — For more than a century, the Mississippi River has been one of the nation’s most important transportation corridors, a muddy, winding pathway for moving bulk commodities such as grain and coal and other goods.

Now, a New England startup company wants to harness the mighty river for a secondary purpose — generating electricity.

The company, Free Flow Power Corp., is pursuing a $3 billion plan to install thousands of small electric turbines in the river bed, reaching from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico, that would collectively generate 1,600 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 1.5 million homes.

Gloucester, Mass.-based Free Flow Power is among a number of developers of so-called hydrokinetic projects, defined as those that produce electricity from river currents or ocean waves and tides — not dams.

Like the dozens of young companies building wind farms across the Great Plains or putting solar panels on roofs in California, interest in hydro-kinetic projects is a response to a growing appetite for renewable energy as the nation tries to wean itself off crude oil and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, and what’s really driving this is the need to develop alternatives to fossil fuels,” said Daniel R. Irvin, 48, the company’s chief executive.

 

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Utility-scale Projects: The Trends We See

Posted on April 15, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


From a presentaton by Mark Osten, Director of Business Development, RMT WindConnect, at the 2008 Renewable Energy Summit:

2007 U.S. Wind Investment U.S.
– $12 Billion invested
– 30% of all U.S. generation additions
Wisconsin Wind Investment
– ~$400 Million invested
– ~1% of all U.S. generation additions

Alliant Energy Cedar Ridge Site
• 41 Vestas V82s = 68 MW
• 138 kV ATC interconnection
• 104 landowner agreements
• 9 miles of access roads
• 24 miles of collector lines
• Production = 204,500 MW-hrs/year (~17,000 homes)
• NCF = 34.5% at mean wind speed of 7.3 m/s
• All underground facilities in-place
• Above ground to commence

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Wisconsin’s solar electric installations reach 1 megawatt

Posted on April 13, 2008. Filed under: Solar | Tags: , , |


From a press release issued by Focus on Energy:

MADISON, Wis. (March 27, 2008) – On March 1, 2008, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, achieved a combined generation capacity of 1 megawatt (MW) with its 330th co-funded solar electric system. The 330 residential and commercial solar electric systems were installed with the help of Focus on Energy and have a combined value of $9 million dollars. The 330 systems should continue to generate clean solar power through the year 2045.

“The renewable energy industry is booming — In fact, Focus on Energy co-funded installations are growing by 80 percent each year,” said Niels Wolter, solar electric program manager for Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program. “At this rate we should reach 2 MW in just over one year.”

Wolter went on to explain that the growth of renewable energy projects has a parallel effect on Wisconsin’s job market, as the number of solar electric installers and site assessors grows too.

The influence of these solar electric systems on Wisconsin’s energy landscape is significant as they are expected to generate enough electricity to power 138 average Wisconsin homes a year, that’s the equivalent of removing 221 cars from the road. In addition, collectively the systems will offset the burning of 685 tons of coal each year (the equivalent of 2,693 barrels of oil), preventing more than 3 million pounds of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere per year.

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