Archive for December, 2008

RENEW responds to cows vs. wind column

Posted on December 31, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Wind |


A column by Mike Nichols in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel seems to present an either/or dicotomy between wind-generated electricity and digester-generated electricity. Nichols wrote:

This is something to ponder as we head into a new year – and a new era. We are developing huge wind farms in Wisconsin. People are talking about setting turbines out on our Great Lakes. Breaking wind could be the key to the future. The only question now is “What kind?”

Do we harness our skies or our pies?

The Journal Sentinel published the following response from RENEW’s executive director Michael Vickerman:

The statement that Wisconsin can generate more electricity from manure than from windpower is not supported by the numbers.

To make biogas from manure, a dairy farm operator has to keep the cows inside and under a roof at all times. Only in a confined setting is it possible to collect cow manure and break it down in an oxygen-free digester that results in methane. Of Wisconsin’s 1.3 million dairy cows, only one-eighth of them live in confined animal operations. The average dairy cow here is part of a small herd and spends a considerable amount of time in pasture.

As stated in the column, Wisconsin is well ahead of other states in capturing energy from dairy cow manure and generating electricity with it, and there is certainly room for growth. Bear in mind, however, that takes more than 2,000 dairy cows to produce enough methane to equal the output from one commercial wind turbine. Yes, Wisconsin now boasts about two dozen biogas generation systems attached to dairy farms. But compared with the output from the 251 wind turbines installed this year at four different projects, their electrical production is quite modest.

Though other locally available resources–solar, small hydro, woody fuels and biomethane—will certainly play a larger part in contributing to Wisconsin’s electricity mix, wind energy will remain the renewable energy workhorse for the foreseeable future.

Finally, the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force recommended a raft of policies to achieve a renewable energy goal of 25% by 2025, no small undertaking I can assure you. If we are serious about achieving that goal, we must accept expanded contributions from all eligible resources. We do not have the luxury of playing favorites.

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U.S. edges out Germany as world wind power leader

Posted on December 30, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


From an article posted on Environmental News Service:

WASHINGTON, DC, December 26, 2008 (ENS) – The national trade association of America’s wind industry says in 2008 the industry had another record growth year – the third record year in a row and generated more than $18 billion in revenues.

This year, the United States passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation, said the American Wind Energy Association in its year-end report.

AWEA says that this summer, the U.S. wind industry reached the 20,000-megawatt installed capacity milestone, doubling installed wind power generating capacity since 2006.

By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 megawatts of wind capacity up and running. Germany had 22,300 megawatts, but U.S. windpower developers sprinted to the end of the year while German wind development slowed.

“With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth,” AWEA said in its report.

That 21,000 megawatts of capacity are expected to generate over 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes.

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Manure digester summit set for January 13

Posted on December 29, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters |


From the announcement of the Manure Digester Summit:

Whether you have less than a 100-head herd or a large herd, digesters can work for you. Come to the seminar to hear how Dane County and Richland County are using community digesters as well as how to implement a manure digester on a 50-head farm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
9:30AM -3:00PM
Room B-30 West Square Building
505 Broadway
Baraboo, Wisconsin
Cost: $20.00 and includes lunch

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Pot of Gold or Real Solution?

Posted on December 26, 2008. Filed under: General |


Dennis Briley, RENEW board member and former board president, sent an article by Jenna Kennedy from the Daily Yonder. The article won the Missouri Farmer Union’s 2008 student contest.

It may not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but there are financial gains to be had in wind power. Wind power, also known as wind energy, is the conversion of wind energy into useful form such as electricity using wind turbines. Wind energy is renewable, clean, widely distributed, plentiful, and reduces green house gas emissions, unlike fossil fuels.

The placement of wind turbines is critical in the economic development of wind power. Many factors are considered in the placement site of a wind turbine, such as the availability of wind, the cost of land acquisition, land use consideration, the availability of transmission lines, and the value of energy to be produced. Offshore locations offset higher construction cost with higher annual load factors. This reduces the cost of energy produced. A “water pumping windmill” is powered by wind to keep storage tanks flowing with non-polluted water. The development of the “water-pumping windmill” was a major factor in allowing the ranching and farming of broad areas of North America that were empty of accessible water.

Recently, I visited King City, Missouri, where wind turbines are in use at this time. As I did more research and asked more questions to people that had a lot of information for me, I learned that the environmental effects of wind power are minor. Often the main complaint about the installation of wind turbines is the danger to bats and birds. However studies show that the number of birds killed by a wind turbine is insignificant compared to the number that die from other human activities.

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Menasha installation to be Fox Valley’s largest solar system

Posted on December 23, 2008. Filed under: Solar |


From an article by Michael King in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

TOWN OF MENASHA — George Dearborn believes the town will become a renewable energy leader by example with the installation of a large solar system next spring.

Dearborn, the town’s community development director, said last week’s action by the Town Board to award a $240,453 contract to Energize LLC, Winneconne, will give the town three large solar installations on the west side.

“We’re anxious to make this happen,” Dearborn said.

Energize owner Jim Funk said the 25.2-kilowatt system would be the largest in the Fox Cities and one of the largest solar installations north of Milwaukee.

Earlier this year, two town businesses, Neuroscience Group of Northeast Wisconsin and SCA Tissue, installed large solar energy systems on their rooftops.

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PSC presentation summarizes Wind on the Water

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


From a presentation about Wind on the Water by Deb Erwin, program and planning analyst, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:

The Governor’s Task Force on Glocal Warming recommended:

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) and other state agencies complete a study of the feasibility of generating electricity from off-shore wind resources in the Great Lakes by the end of 2008. [In response,] the PSC created an external Study Group to examine the feasibility of Great Lakes wind projects.

Task was not to determine whether offshore wind is in the best interests of the state, rather to determine whether or not off-shore wind in the Great Lakes is possible.

Meetings were open to the public and documents were shared.

Materials are available on the PSC website.

Click here for the complete presentation in PDF.

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MREA supports rules to require certified installers on solar electric projects

Posted on December 19, 2008. Filed under: Solar |


training-roof-to-post1Two visitors at the MREA Energy Fair in June 2008 check out a solar oven on display in front of the MREA’s solar training structure.

From a statement of the Board of Directors of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) concerning proposed rulemaking by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce regarding Act 63, relating to a state electrical wiring code; regulation of electricians, electrical contractors, and electrical inspectors:

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) would like to point out that it is in the best interests of the people of Wisconsin for the Department of Commerce to take steps to ensure that renewable energy systems that generate electricity:

1. are installed in a safe and reliable manner;
2. are properly & efficiently configured to maximize energy production, and equipment lifespan;
3. are not unduly burdened with unnecessary labor and installation costs. . . .

Based on the collective experience of the solar professionals at the MREA, the best way to ensure the safety of Wisconsin’s citizens (with respect to solar electric systems) would be for the Department of Commerce to require that all solar electric systems be installed by NABCEP certified installers or persons who are legitimately in the final stages of NABCEP certification as recognized by the Wisconsin Focus On Energy program. We believe that requirements of Act 63 can be fulfilled by having a licensed electrician make the final connection to the AC power system.

Our many years of experience have shown that the Department could allow NABCEP certification to suffice for the installation and connection of solar electric systems without any compromise to the safety of the people of Wisconsin, if Act 63 allowed such leeway.

Installation of safe and reliable small wind power systems (up to 100 kW), also requires a very specialized set of skills that are not taught to electricians. Unfortunately, NAPCEP certification does not yet exist for the installers of small scale wind systems, although it is likely that a certification system will be in place by 2010. When this certification standard is available, Department of Commerce adoption of this standard will be the best route to ensuring safely installed small wind systems. Presently, utility-scale wind systems usually are installed in custom engineered systems by licensed electricians, but utility-owned systems are already exempt from Act 63.

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Farm Bureau members favor wind standards

Posted on December 18, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


From an article in The Country Today:

WISCONSIN DELLS – Wisconsin Farm Bureau members approved a resolution Dec. 8 that calls for state standards for siting of wind turbines, similar to the standards that officials approved several years ago for the siting of livestock facilities.

The wind turbine resolution was among policies considered by Farm Bureau members at the organization’s annual meeting. Delegates adopted the organization’s overall policy with resolutions submitted by farmers from across the state.

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Transmission poses obstacle to wind power

Posted on December 18, 2008. Filed under: Transmission, Wind |


From an article by Philip Brasher in the Des Moines Register:

Washington, D.C. – The political winds are right for making wind power in Iowa. The problem is getting that power to the big cities that can use it.

President-elect Barack Obama wants to use a massive economic stimulus program to create a green economy, and he’s promised a “two-year nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation” by, among other things, building wind farms and solar power.

Environmentalists this week proposed that the package include a $30 billion, five-year extension of the federal tax subsidy for wind turbines, an idea Obama promoted during his campaign.

But industry officials – and Obama himself – say that building more wind farms won’t be enough, that the nation needs a new superhighway of long-distance transmission lines. “If we’re going to be serious about renewable energy,” Obama told an MSNBC interviewer during the campaign, “I want to be able to get wind power from North Dakota to population centers, like Chicago.”

Companies such as ITC Midwest, which moves electricity for Interstate Power and Light Co., and Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. are working on plans for high-voltage lines that would carry power from Iowa and the Dakotas to Chicago and beyond.

“The system today is just plain inadequate,” said Doug Collins, executive director of ITC Midwest.

ITC Midwest has drafted rough plans for a set of lines that would run from South Dakota through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa to Chicago. AEP has suggested a line that would snake around the Dakotas and extend across Iowa and Illinois to near Chicago.

But industry experts say it’s difficult to build new lines for a variety of reasons: With some exceptions, the federal government generally can’t decide where lines go or decide how the project costs will be shared among the customers and states that would benefit from the power. High-voltage lines can cost $3 million a mile to build.

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Study says wind turbines meet all established noise limits

Posted on December 17, 2008. Filed under: Wind |



From the “Post Construction Noise Survey Report” by Hessler Associates, Inc., Principal Consultant: George F. Hessler Jr.
Report Number 061608-1

The following text is taken from pages 5 and 6 of the 34-page report.
The complete report is public record and available on this PSC website link:
http://psc.wi.gov/apps/erf_share/view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=102715

“The test engineers did not observe any adverse character or tones from the wind turbines at the measurement locations near residences. The author did not witness any often described ‘whoosh-whoosh’ character except when very close (50 ft) from a turbine. The whoosh-whoosh is observed when each blade visually passes the 9:00 o’clock position.

It is clear from the plots that the Blue Sky Green Field wind turbines do not generate significant LFN.” (low frequency noise)

3.0 Conclusions
Based on the presented data and analysis, we conclude that the BSGF wind turbine project meets all established noise limits and design goal for the project. Health effects in the form of sleep interference and low frequency noise level issues are addressed and it is concluded there should not be adverse response caused by these issues. Annoyance to low-level, but audible noise is not predictable and may depend on non-technical factors in addition to measured sound levels.”

Report Prepared by:
Hessler and Associates, Inc.
Consultants in Engineering Acoustics
3862 Clifton Manor Place Suite B
Haymarket, VA 20169
http://www.hesslernoise.com

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