Posts Tagged ‘potential’

Green power credits hot top topic in Helena « WINData LLC

A silver inverter box in the basement of First United Methodist Church in Great Falls will take direct current from electricity generated by photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and turn them into alternating currents suitable for the power grid and powering the church.

Excess energy the system generates will cause the meter to spin backward, and NorthWestern Energy, the state’s largest utility, will purchase it from the church. Ken Thornton, an early backer of solar energy and the church’s building manager, led the project, with the PV panels installed in the summer. It will begin working next month.

“It’s funny, this is where they used to store the coal,” said Thornton one day last week, pointing out a nearby room where circles still remain on the ceiling indicating manholes where coal from wagons was once dropped into the facility and burned in boilers.

Power generation at the church is evolving thanks in part to net metering, a billing system in which surplus energy generated by a customer’s solar, wind or hydro-power system goes back on NorthWestern’s electric system with the customer receiving credit at retail rates. The 8-kilowatt rooftop solar system at First United will save an estimated $1,500 a year in energy costs.

Net metering has been around in Montana since 1999. It’s designed to encourage rooftop solar and other small renewable power generators that are easier on the environment. In Montana, customers of investor-owned utilities, such as the church can take advantage of it.

Expanding it to spur even more solar, wind and hydro projects at residences, farms and ranches, housing, businesses and even neighborhoods is a hot topic at the 2015 Legislature, spurred in part by the plummeting cost of solar.

“Renewable energy standards are kind of old hat,” said Kyla Maki, clean energy program director for the Montana Environmental Information Center, of the green power standards that dominated past energy policy discussions at the Capitol. “We’re now talking rooftop solar.”

The benefits of increasing net metering, Maki added, will go to the increasing number of people who are interested in investing in renewable energy systems on their property.

Some Republicans are joining conservation groups and companies in the renewable energy business in supporting an expansion of net metering in Montana.

“This is a freedom bill,” said Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman. “It would allow for energy freedom, so you don’t have to buy power from a monopoly utility that decides how they are going to generate it. You can decided how you are going to generate your own power.”

Wittich is sponsoring a bill that would increase the allowable output of a renewable energy system eligible for net metering credits from the current 50 kilowatts to 1 megawatt.

Businesses that sell solar and wind systems see an opportunity to boost their businesses, create jobs and install more renewable systems at farms and ranches and multi-unit housing.

“You have to strike while the iron is hot,” said John Foster, a community wind specialist for Moodie Wind Energy in Great Falls, a subset of Moodie Implement, who sells wind and solar systems. “That’s really it. And net metering hasn’t been upgraded here in Montana since its inception.”

The legislation would provide incentive for farmers and ranchers to install larger systems that generate more power, making upfront investments more economical, Foster said. And allowing larger turbines will open up new geographic markets for him because they are more cost-effective even in areas with less wind, he said.

Foster also is a big supporter of a bill that would allow a customer generator participating in net metering to carry forward remaining unused kilowatt-hour credits from a solar or wind system and apply excess credits to separately metered accounts.

This bill is important to farmers and ranchers who often have several meters on their land for their home, out-buildings or water pumps for irrigation and stock water, Foster said. Right now, only a single meter can receive credits.

Efforts to expand net metering were shot down in 2013, Foster noted, but the “political climate is right” this session with more conservatives on board.

NorthWestern Energy, which has 345,000 electricity customers in Montana, sees the expansion as corporate welfare, said John Fitzpatrick, chief lobbyist for NorthWestern Energy.

Last week, Fitzpatrick told a legislative committee that net metering had grown to industrial proportions in other states with big box stores such as Walmart becoming the largest beneficiaries.

“Net metering is not a business plan,” Fitzpatrick said. ‘It’s a welfare program, and it’s the worst kind of welfare Democrats hate.”

About 1,200 residential and small business customers of NorthWestern currently have net meters, and the utility has been instrumental in the installation of net-metered systems in Montana over the past two decades, NorthWestern spokesman Butch Larcombe said.

“If anybody says we’re opposed to net metering, that just isn’t accurate,” he said.

Each customer of the utility pays a universal system benefits (USB) charge as a result of the original net metering legislation in 1999, he said, and that funding is used for a number of programs, including providing grants to those who install renewable energy systems, he said.

As a result, many of the people who have installed solar panels on their roof, or a wind turbine, are being subsidized by other NorthWestern customers, Larcombe said. Moreover, he added, when they use the electricity they generate to get a credit, it reduces what they pay to maintain the power grid even though they continue to use it, shifting the costs to other customers.

He also noted that NorthWestern is overpaying net metered customers because it buys the power at retail, which is a higher cost than the cost the utility would pay for the power on the market or the cost of generation.

A broader conversation is in order about the state’s net metering policy to make sure it’s fair to everybody, and that’s why NorthWestern opposes the legislation, Larcombe said.

Gary Wiens of the Montana Rural Cooperatives’ Association also brought up concerns about cost shift to a legislative committee last week.

Wittich doesn’t buy the cost shift argument.

Increasing the net meting cap means people could build larger renewable systems and get credit for them, he said. And ore people want to use solar at business, apartments, neighborhoods and residences, yet the criteria to take advantage of the credits is arbitrary, Wittich said. Right now, he said, only a fraction of the electricity produced in the state is “homegrown energy,” and that’s low compared to other states.

Wittich’s bill increasing the cap on the size of the home grown energy systems that could receive credits is just one of 10 or so bills aimed at expanding net metering in one form or another.

Based on lobbying for and against the bills, Wittich says net metering is among the top 10 issues of the legislative session.

The bill that would allow credits to be applied to separate meters is sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls.

Fielder told members of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee that she had taken an interest in homegrown renewable energy systems because they help Montanans become self-reliant.

“It promotes self-realization and energy independence for the little guy,” she said.

Mike Huber, a 45-year-old rancher who lives south of Great Falls, said he’s investigated putting up a wind turbine. But he’s refrained because right now he could only receive credits for one meter if he invested in a renewable system. But he has six meters alone at one address and “obviously I can’t afford to put a solar or wind generator at each one.”

He supports legislation allowing excess credits to be applied to additional meters.

Rep. Randy Pinocci, R-Sun River, is sponsoring legislation that also would increase the cap on the size of renewable systems that could receive credits in territories served by rural electric cooperatives.

Pinocci said he decided to take action in the Legislature because he wanted to put a larger wind turbine on his property, but couldn’t because of a cap under the current rules. He called the cap “a joke” because smaller turbines do not produce enough energy for farming and ranching operations to justify the investment.

“The bigger your wind turbine, the easier it is to pay for it, and the more money you make,” he said.

Renewable energy has been seen a Democratic issue, Pinocci said, but Republicans are getting involved now and he doesn’t care whether it’s a Republican of Democratic issue. In his view, limits on the size of renewable energy projects in areas served by rural electric cooperatives is discouraging investment in renewable projects in rural areas. Pinocci, a freshman, said lawmakers shouldn’t be influenced by lobbying from NorthWestern or rural cooperatives.

“If any representative votes against my bill, I believe the constituents are going to say, ‘No way, what you did was a mistake,’” said Pinocci.

Conservation groups such as MEIC, the Northern Plains Resources Council and renewable energy organizations are rallying the troops in support of the legislation. The Helena-based Alternative Energy Resources Organization, or AERO, put out an “action alert” about a hearing today in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee about a bill from Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman.

The Montana Neighborhood Net Metering Act would allowed neighborhood energy facilities to connect to a utility’s distribution system. Businesses and individuals could then buy into the system.

First United Methodist Church installed the 8-kilowatt PV panels this past summer . In the future, Thornton hopes to put more panels up to increase the output to 25 to 30 kilowatts, which would cover the church’s yearly electricity bill of $5,000. The cost of the first phase was $15,000.

Over the past five years, the price of solar panels has dropped 80 percent as the result of the recession and competition from China, Thornton said. That and innovations in the manufacturing processes has resulted in less expensive and more efficient solar panels, he said.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” said Thornton, 60, who holds a mechanical engineering technology degree from Montana State University. “So at this point, it’s becoming real economical to put solar panels on buildings.

The church’s roof sits at a 45-degree angle, and it faces south. The ideal slope for catching the sun’s rays in Great Falls is 47 degrees.

“Oh, it’s perfect, Thornton said.

The amount of electricity generation allowed under the current net metering system for NorthWestern customers is adequate, he said. The church does not need to install a larger system to meet its electricity needs, Thornton said. He wants to make sure Montana doesn’t lose the net metering it already has for residential and small commercial systems.

But Thornton supports the neighborhood net metering legislation, and the bill that would make it easier for net metering projects in rural areas.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Karl Puckett at 406-791-1471, 1-800-438-6600 or kpuckett@greatfallstribune.com. Twitter: @GFTrib_KPuckett.

via Green power credits hot top topic in Helena « WINData LLC.

Wind Resource Assessment » WINData LLC

WINData conducts wind resource assessments to determine the meteorological and climactic characteristics of a site and from this analysis can estimate the potential power production and the impact to the project’s bottom line.

WINData provides met program design, data collection, data summaries, wind power output summaries, wind site analysis and professional meteorological certified reporting as per client requirements. Preliminarily, WINData can often determine a site’s seasonality and wind quality through a combination of a site visit, maps, and any existing site or regional data.

WINData site analysis is conducted using wind speed, wind direction, temperature, pressure and regional air density data gathered at or near the site’s location. Typically, wind flows vary over the complex terrain in a project area and it is crucial to have an experienced analyst conduct a topographically appropriate site study.

WINData wind site assessments provide project owners and designers with:

The average wind speed over all the turbine locations for the project

The maximum mean wind speed at the turbine location

Mean Wind Speed

Weibull Parameters and

Turbulence Intensity

Other factors examined to determine the environmental conditions at the site include:

Annual average ambient temperature

Extreme minimum ambient temperature

Extreme maximum ambient temperature

Days of temperature below –17° C

Days of temperature above 30° C

Average relative humidity

Height above sea level

The Weibull scale parameter and mean wind speed are used to determine the IEC Classification of the site and the subsequent classes of turbines that are suitable. The lower Weibull shape parameter indicates a large mean wind speed. The air density at the site is lower than at sea level, which will reduce the fatigue caused by the large mean wind speed.

If the temperatures on-site are very low, Low Temperature Option package are required from the turbine manufacturer and will be necessary for the best performance of the wind turbines at the project site. WINData uses the met data analysis to determine the size, number and manufacturer of wind turbines that will be used.

For each turbine, the following information is considered:

Power Curve

Technical specifications

Tower type and proposed hub height

Design life

Level of certification achieved

IEC design wind class (I, II or III)

Summary of performance guarantees and warranty provided

WINData can lead the process for final wind turbine selection and generate turbine recommendations for the project site. As the turbine selection process proceeds, WINData can go out to the list the potential turbine vendors to determine the availability and delivery schedule and other aspect of the turbine supply process, and further, obtain firm pricing bids and negotiate TSA’s and MRO’s for equipment and for warranty, service, and maintenance agreements with the manufacturer.

via Wind Resource Assessment » WINData LLC.

WINDataNOW « WINData LLC

WINDataNOW

THE WINDATANOW HIGH FIDELITY MET TOWER DATA SYSTEM

Renewable energy, responsible natural resource management, and energy independence have become hot topics in politics, the marketplace, and on Main Street. Wind energy has long been the cornerstone of the renewable energy movement, and is easily the most visible and tangible of all the emerging renewable energy sources.While the prospect and promise of wind energy is attractive, the realities of effective energy production lie beneath the purview of the public’s eye. To help make wind energy a more viable component of the United States’ energy portfolio, the current administration has created grant programs to help spur innovation across a wide spectrum of wind energy topics. These include prospecting, equipment and farm design, forecasting, and energy management.

WINDataNOW Technologies, LLC (“WINDataNOW”) believes that significant opportunity exists for improvements in the operation of existing wind farms. Through the application of modern instrumentation and data collection techniques,

WINDataNOW believes that significant design and operating advantage can be achieved by developing a more rigorous understanding of how a wind resource behaves. From selecting the right location to maximizing the power output and stability of the grid – a detailed understanding of a wind resource and return significant efficiency and equipment availability gains in addition to insulating an operating company from the inherent penalty risks associated with bidding into today’s power markets.

Customer companies use WINDataNOW’s technology to get the meteorological data they need to make critical operating and resource assessment decisions with confidence. Applications of WINDataNOW’s technology are far reaching and include:

Optimal site selection and characterization

Using detailed meteorological data for reduction in forecast uncertainty to improve scheduling, planning, and operations

Understanding the wind turbulence profile of the site

Creating the ideal wind farm design for a particular site

WINDataNOW’s technology leverages the significant advantage of being able to fit in-place with existing systems and works right alongside all the usual operating information from industry standard SCADA systems. Using WINDataNOW’s technology, operating companies gain unparalleled insight into their operations on a minute by minute basis and can more predictably participate in their utility market.

via WINDataNOW « WINData LLC.

High Fidelity Data Systems

Real-Time Data for Enhanced Operations

WINDataNOW! real-time meteorological tower technology is pioneering the next generation of data acquisition systems. WINData’s systems allows operators to collect high fidelity data to provide better forecasting and enhanced operations for improved power production and better plant economics.

AppSrv_web_(250_x_197)

High fidelity equipment reveals hidden characteristics of wind data

11% difference in estimated power density projections

WINData has created the next generation met tower wind data logging technology using industry standard components and standards. The WINData logger, in partnership with OSIsoft, Inc. (makers of the PI System), allows for very high fidelity wind speed data to be captured from met tower applications. This high fidelity wind data gives WINData customers deeper insight into their site’s potential.

Wind data from WINData’s real time data logger can be stored on site for extended periods of time or be streamed live to WINData’s central servers or your own PI System infrastructure.This gives you the information you need to make sound decisions, and puts met tower data right alongside SCADA data for wind farm operators.

The real-time data logger is able to operate either in a connected or disconnect fashion, and will catch up WINData’s central servers in case of connectivity outages. The WINDataNOW! data logger operates completely off the grid and has minimal power requirements.

Data can be made available to users in many different ways. From a real-time web-portal, to a daily, weekly, or monthly assessment of your sites. WINData analyses and custom analyses that you provide can all be used in conjunction with the wind data hosting services of WINData.

The wind speed data collected by WINData’s real-time logger is an asset that becomes an integral part of your site’s power production. Development and operating companies will use this archived wind speed data later for warranty and performance assessments long after the site has been developed. Due to the fact that the logger is based on the PI System from OSIsoft, your data will fit seamlessly into any operating company’s operations infrastructure.

Because of the wind data’s high fidelity, wind scientists and WINData experts can perform more detailed analysis on your site’s wind patterns and discover hidden information that 10 minute average data obscures. Greater understanding of multi-level turbulence, wind direction shifts, and ramp event effects are all made possible by collecting better, high fidelity data.

Contact WINData today to discover how your met tower installation can be powered by the PI System and WINData’s expertise.

View our handout:“Getting high fidelity met data into OSIsoft’s PI System”

Read more about our high-fidelity met systems at WINDataNOW.com

 

Wind Resource Assessment

Wind resource map of site

WINData conducts wind resource assessments to determine the meteorological and climactic characteristics of a site and from this analysis can estimate the potential power production and the impact to the project’s bottom line.

WINData provides  met program design, data collection, data summaries, wind power output summaries, wind site analysis and professional meteorological certified reporting as per client requirements. Preliminarily, WINData can often determine a site’s seasonality and wind quality through a combination of a site visit, maps, and any existing site or regional data.

WINData site analysis is conducted using wind speed, wind direction, temperature, pressure and regional air density data gathered at or near the site’s location. Typically, wind flows vary over the complex terrain in a project area and it is crucial to have an experienced analyst conduct a topographically appropriate site study.

WINData wind site assessments provide project owners and designers with:

  • The average wind speed over all the turbine locations for the project
  • The maximum mean wind speed at the turbine location
  • Mean Wind Speed
  • Weibull Parameters and
  • Turbulence Intensity

Other factors examined to determine the environmental conditions at the site include:

  • Annual average ambient temperature
  • Extreme minimum ambient temperature
  • Extreme maximum ambient temperature
  • Days of temperature below –17° C
  • Days of temperature above 30° C
  • Average relative humidity
  • Height above sea level

The Weibull scale parameter and mean wind speed are used to determine the IEC Classification of the site and the subsequent classes of turbines that are suitable. The lower Weibull shape parameter indicates a large mean wind speed. The air density at the site is lower than at sea level, which will reduce the fatigue caused by the large mean wind speed.

If the temperatures on-site are very low, Low Temperature Option package are required from the turbine manufacturer and will be necessary for the best performance of the wind turbines at the project site. WINData uses the met data analysis to determine the size, number and manufacturer of wind turbines that will be used.

For each turbine, the following information is considered:

  • Power Curve
  • Technical specifications
  • Tower type and proposed hub height
  • Design life
  • Level of certification achieved
  • IEC design wind class (I, II or III)
  • Summary of performance guarantees and warranty provided

WINData can lead the process for final wind turbine selection and generate turbine recommendations for the project site. As the turbine selection process proceeds, WINData can go out to the list the potential turbine vendors to determine the availability and delivery schedule and other aspect of the turbine supply process, and further, obtain firm pricing bids and negotiate TSA’s and MRO’s for equipment and for warranty, service, and maintenance agreements with the manufacturer.

%d bloggers like this: