Monday, July 25, 2011

Renewable Energy News, July 25, 2011

2 wind projects under way in Maine this summer
With four grid-scale wind projects already built in Maine and another two under construction, the state is poised to surpass an important milestone as it moves toward its 2015 wind-power generation goal.

After last week’s ribbon-cutting at the Rollins wind farm in Penobscot County, Maine has four major wind farms, including Kibby Mountain in Franklin County, Mars Hill in Aroostook County and Stetson Mountain in Washington County. Rollins will soon join the others in generating power.

Construction is under way at two more; Spruce Mountain in Woodstock and Record Hill near Rumford.

Power produced from all of the completed projects, along with an approved portion of another planned wind farm in Aroostook County, will put the state past 21 percent of the 2,000 megawatt wind power goal set by state law, said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association.
Less red tape on solar projects in California would mean more jobs, study says
Reducing government red tape for the California solar industry would create nearly 4,000 additional jobs statewide over the next decade, according to a new study.

SunRun, a leading San Francisco-based solar provider, said inconsistent government permitting processes in California add nearly $2,500 to the average cost of installing a residential solar power system, creating barriers to growth for the fast-emerging industry.

"You're trying to promote a 21st-century product by putting it through a 20th-century approval process," said Ethan Sprague, head of government affairs at SunRun.

"It's not a smart way to grow the economy."
From Governor Moonbeam to Governor Sunbeam -- Brown pushes for alternative energy in California
During his first two terms nearly four decades ago, Jerry Brown became famously known as Governor Moonbeam. Now he seems destined to become Governor Sunbeam.

With the epic battle over the state budget finally behind him, Brown's first major policy initiative aims to fulfill the ambitious goal laid out in his campaign: to develop a clean-energy economy in California.

Brown wants the state to produce 20,000 new megawatts of renewable electricity -- enough to power 20 cities the size of San Francisco and roughly one-third of the state's current peak use -- by 2020. That would nearly triple the amount of electricity that California currently gets from renewable sources.

The plan includes the fast-tracking of large, utility-scale renewable power plants. But 12,000 megawatts are to come from "localized electricity," small systems located close to where energy is consumed that don't require new transmission lines. A variety of technologies, from biogas to wind, will play a role. But solar panels -- on the roofs of commercial buildings and along the banks of state highways -- will be a dominant element.
New York City's solar power push
Nearly 80% of the one million rooftops in New York city are suitable for solar power.

If every one of those roofs had solar panels, when the sun shines the brightest the city could get half its electricity from solar power.

New York has a long way to go before becoming that solar utopia. The city currently only gets a tiny fraction of its power from solar. And until there's a good way to store the electricity generated during the day and release it at night, solar will likely continue to make up a modest part of the city's overall energy mix.

But even a small amount of solar can help the city in big ways. It can reduce the overall stress on the electric grid, eliminating the need to build expensive new transformers or lay underground transmission wire.
Solar power's future remains bright in Tennessee
It's a safe bet that no one in this quaint little railroad town, with its cotton-processing operations and Main Street cannery, ever expected to see a farm quite like the one sprouting a few miles down the road.

Located along Interstate 40 on 35 acres of newly cleared land that bakes under the July sun, the West Tennessee Solar Farm is growing into an otherworldly latticework of pilings and metal racks pointed southward.

By the end of this week, the contracting firm Signal Energy should begin mounting 21,000 solar panels onto the racks. And when work is finished early next year, it will be the largest utility-scale solar installation in the state and one of the biggest in the Southeast, producing enough clean, renewable power for more than 1,000 homes.

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