Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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Maine tidal project wins pilot license

Federal regulators have issued a pilot project license to a tidal energy project proposed in Maine's Cobscook Bay. Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order granting Ocean Renewable Power Company Maine, LLC an 8-year pilot project license to construct, operate, and maintain its proposed Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. As licensed, the 300 kilowatt project will be located in Cobscook Bay north and east of Seaward Neck and west of Shackford Head State Park in Eastport, Maine.

ORPC Maine applied for its pilot license in September 2011. Last month, FERC issued its Environmental Assessment of the Cobscook project, finding generally that licensing the hydrokinetic project with appropriate environmental protective measures would not constitute a major federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

FERC granted the pilot project license just 179 days after the license application was filed, a relatively quick timeline for hydropower permitting made possible by FERC's hydrokinetic pilot project licensing process. As envisioned by FERC staff, the ideal pilot project should be (1) small, (2) short term, (3) located in non-sensitive areas based on the Commission’s review of the record, (4) removable and able to be shut down on short notice, (5) removed, with the site restored, before the end of the license term (unless a new license is granted), and (6) initiated by a draft application in a form sufficient to support environmental analysis. In ORPC Maine's case, FERC staff agreed that the Cobscook project was a good fit for pilot project licensing process after reviewing the developer's application. 

Vt. won't make renewable energy goals

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Two key state lawmakers said Tuesday that Vermont won't meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and they're withdrawing their support for setting a new goal of 30 percent renewable power by 2025.

Reps. Tony Klein and Margaret Cheney, the chairman and vice chairwoman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, also said legislation passed three years ago to offer premium prices to renewable energy project developers had fallen far short of its goal of bringing 50 megawatts of new renewable power onto the Vermont electric grid. Cheney said just 7.1 megawatts worth of such projects had been built.

The two Democrats said they were surprised to learn recently from the state Department of Public Service, which regulates utilities, that the state likely would fall short of its 2017 goal. Of backing away from the more ambitious 2025 goal, Cheney said, "We don't want to put out a percentage because it sounds good and not be able to meet it."

First Wind Starts Construction of Hawaii’s Largest Wind Project.

First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, has celebrated the start of construction of its 69-megawatt (MW) Kawailoa Wind project on Kamehameha Schools’ Kawailoa Plantation lands on Oahu’s North Shore. Once complete, Kawailoa Wind will be the largest wind energy facility in Hawaii. The site’s thirty 2.3 MW Siemens wind turbines will have the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable wind energy to power the equivalent of approximately 14,500 homes on the island, or as much as five percent of Oahu’s annual electrical demand.

During a groundbreaking ceremony on the project site, First Wind officials were joined by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, State Senator Mike Gabbard and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, along with several other state and local leaders, who shared comments on the project’s significance.

“Clean energy projects are a priority for the City and County of Honolulu because they are a priority for our future,” said Mayor Carlisle. “When completed, the Kawailoa Wind project will be able to produce clean, renewable energy to power more than 14,500 Oahu homes. Projects like this will benefit and position our city for the future.”

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