Thursday, February 10, 2011

Renewable Energy News, February 11, 2011

DOE, Department of Interior Announce Offshore Wind Initiatives
DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) unveiled on February 7 a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy, including new funding opportunities for up to $50.5 million. The joint National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States is the first-ever interagency plan on offshore wind energy. The departments also named several high priority "wind energy areas" in the Mid-Atlantic that will spur rapid, responsible development of wind energy. The initiatives are part of DOI's "Smart from the Start" program, announced in November 2010 and designed to speed appropriate commercial-scale wind energy development. The plan includes deployment of 10 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 GW by 2030, enough energy to power 2.8 million and 15.2 million average American homes.
Maryland Gov. O'Malley readies offshore wind power mandate
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is circulating a proposal that would require state utilities to enter long-term contracts with offshore wind companies.

O'Malley, a Democrat, would have Maryland utilities enter into 20-year contracts to buy electricity generated by offshore wind turbines, according to a draft copy of the governor's bill obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday.

The bill would also rewrite state conservation laws to allow offshore wind companies to run transmission lines onshore. No wind turbines have been built yet in federal waters, although the Obama administration has placed a new emphasis on developing offshore wind.
USDA Guarantees South Dakota Wind Loans
A South Dakota wind farm will receive U.S. Department of Agriculture loan guarantees that will help build 100 wind turbines providing 151.5 megawatts of electricity.

This USDA press release says the money will help Basin Electric Power Cooperative build the PrairieWinds wind farm energy project in central South Dakota that will join the cooperative’s other electric generation projects to meet the needs of 2.8 million customers served by 135 distribution systems in nine states:

“The investment announced today will help us ‘win the future,’” said [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack. “Capturing and converting wind to electricity will create jobs, reduce our reliance on imported energy, and build a reliable source of renewable energy for generations of rural Americans.”
Large wind farm approved near Williams, Ariz.
Coconino County Supervisors have approved a large wind farm on state and private lands in northern Arizona.

NextEra Energy plans to begin construction this summer if it receives clearance from state agencies to install 62 405-foot-tall wind turbines. The site is 13 miles north of Williams and 50 miles south of the Grand Canyon.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports that county supervisors approved the project late Tuesday.
Wyoming House declines to reconsider wind tax bill defeat
The Wyoming House of Representatives decided not to reconsider a bill that would have tripled the tax on wind energy generation in the state.

The House on Wednesday voted 32-27 against reconsidering a bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Stubson, R-Casper. The bill had failed Tuesday on a tie vote.

The bill would have tripled the state's pending tax on wind power generation from $1 a megawatt to $3 a megawatt when the tax takes effect next year.
Wisconsin Legislature again considers tighter wind farm rules
Less than a month before new rules are set to go into effect, the state Legislature is reopening the debate over wind farm regulations and casting a shadow over the industry's future in Wisconsin.

The Legislature's joint rules committee heard more than seven hours of testimony Wednesday from both supporters and opponents of Wisconsin's wind siting regulations, which are official March 1.

The regulations, developed by the state Public Service Commission, were debated for nearly two years before a bipartisan group of lawmakers approved them in December. But last month Gov. Scott Walker proposed legislation to dramatically increase the distance between homes and wind turbines. The measure failed, but ultimately led lawmakers to revisit the rules.

"This isn't about shutting down the wind industry, it's about protecting homeowners," said Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, testifying before the committee Wednesday. "I urge you to send this back and do some more work on it."
Noise expert to testify in Vermont wind project hearing
A noise expert will testify about the sounds created by windmills at a Vermont Public Service Board hearing on the proposed Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell.

Robert McCunney, retained by project developers Green Mountain Power Corp. and Vermont Electric Co-Op, will testify Thursday in Montpelier. State utility regulators are weighing plans for a 20-turbine wind project that was approved by Lowell voters last year but is now being challenged by a group of opponents.

The $150 million project needs a certificate of public good from the state in order to begin construction.
Iowa Senators propose rebates for installing small wind turbines, solar panels
Democrats in the Senate are proposing $10 million worth of rebates for Iowans who install solar panels or small wind turbines to power their home, business or farm.

Dave Krejchi, president of Dalton Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Cedar Falls says over the past three years his company has installed solar-panel systems that provide the power for hot water heaters in seven homes in the Cedar Falls area.

“Our measurements show that the systems we have installed reduced energy for hot water consumption by 75 percent. That is a huge energy savings provided by the sun,” Krejchi says. “Based on our experience we believe solar is the growth industry for us and for Iowa.”

Those systems cost up to $10,000. Installing solar panels to provide electricity for an entire home can cost up to $40,000. Over 1300 individual Iowans and up to 400 businesses could qualify for the state tax credits Democrats propose. Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says it will help a “diverse group” of small businesses that are installing these small-scale solar and wind systems.
Colorado Senate committee kills three GOP bills aimed at rolling back renewable energy policies
Renewable energy backers today were buoyed by the defeat of three bills floated by Colorado Republicans aimed at rolling back clean energy policies passed largely by Democrats last legislative session.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee today struck down SB 71, which would have rolled back the state’s renewable energy standard to 2004 levels, SB 58, which would have mandated so-called “least-cost” resource planning for electric utilities, and SB 113, which would have overturned the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act. That bipartisan bill requires Xcel Energy to shut down or retrofit several coal-fired power plants to run on cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources.

“We simply cannot and will not turn back the clock on the progress that has been made with our state’s investment in renewable energy,” said state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass. “We aggressively pursued renewable energy economic development goals because our state is committed to a strong economy and healthy environment.”

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