Posts Tagged ‘renewable’

MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal

MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal

December 28, 2014 7:00 am

Even as one of the biggest wind energy projects in Montana broke ground near Bridger this month, the state’s Public Service Commission was deciding to deny a contract between NorthWestern Energy and the developers of a new wind power project. That decision, if allowed to stand, bodes ill for new wind development in Montana in the immediate future.

Greenfield Wind is proposing a 25-megawatt wind-power project near Fairfield. The agreement between NorthWestern and Greenfield would allow the energy company to buy power from the wind farm for $54 per megawatt-hour for the next 25 years. That, as reports have pointed out, is less than the cost of power from the 11 hydroelectric dams NorthWestern bought earlier this year.

The PSC approved that purchase, which will provide power at a rate of about $57 to $58 per mWh — even though the deal could cost ratepayers as much as $800 million in excess costs, according to one expert analysis, and will mean a direct rate increase for NorthWestern’s electric customers of more than 5 percent.

With that recent history, it was perplexing to see the PSC get hung up on the wind power agreement on a 3-2 vote. Apparently, the three commissioners who voted against the deal have concerns that NorthWestern was putting itself on the hook to purchase energy it may not need. NorthWestern, not surprisingly, disagrees with the commissioners’ conclusion.

What is somewhat surprising is that the PSC’s own staff, after reviewing the agreement, noted that adding the wind energy from this contract to NorthWestern’s portfolio would actually result in lower costs for consumers. It’s also worth mentioning that even as the PSC was deciding against this deal, wind power developers across the nation were seizing an opportunity afforded by Congress in the final days of the session through a wind production tax credit. The credit applies only to new projects started this year, and with only a few days left in the year, developers are hurrying to get their shovels in the ground.

The developers of the 120-turbine Mud Springs Wind Ranch in Carbon County were among them. Thanks to the tax credit, the $550 million project stands to recoup 2.3 cents for every kilowatt hour of power it produces.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen Jon Tester, D-Mont., was among those calling for a long-term extension of wind production tax credits starting in the new year. He seems to understand that such incentives help encourage new wind power development, and that Montana, as one of the places in the nation with the most wind potential, is in a prime position to gain from increased wind development.

This kind of activity at the state and federal level helps point which way the wind is blowing. But even setting all that aside, PSC Commissioners Bob Lake, who represents the region that includes Missoula, and Travis Kavulla found nothing in the duly negotiated contract between NorthWestern and Greenfield worth killing the deal; rather, they found that the mutually beneficial settlement to be in the best interests of NorthWestern’s 340,000 ratepayers in Montana.

Greenfield officials have said they plan to ask the PSC to reconsider its decision. This time, the three commissioners who voted to deny the deal — Roger Koopman, Kirk Bushman and commission chair Bill Gallagher — ought to pay closer attention to the information provided by their own staff and the arguments of their colleagues on the commission.

via MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: PSC should approve wind power deal.

North American Windpower: Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Again

Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Againin News Departments > New & Noteworthyby Joseph Bebon Tuesday July 29 2014print the content itemCanadian province Alberta broke its wind generation record not once, but twice, last week. Between 11 a.m. and noon on Thursday, July 24, Alberta produced an average of 1,188 MW of wind power. The province then surpassed that on Friday, July 25, peaking at an average of 1,255 MW between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Before last week, the previous record was set on May 29, with an average of 1,134 MW.Angela Anderson, a spokesperson for the Alberta Electric System Operator AESO, explains that the most recent records were due to a combination of very windy days and new wind farms. Specifically, she says the 300 MW Blackspring Ridge project, which went online in Vulcan County in May, “allowed the system to produce more wind than ever before.”According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association CanWEA, Alberta is home to over 1.4 GW of installed wind capacity and ranks third among the country’s provinces. Tim Weis, the association’s Alberta regional director, says the new wind production records are certainly noteworthy.“This is significant, not only because it was just this past April that Alberta broke the 1,000 MW plateau for the first time, but [also because] Alberta’s electricity system is showing that it can integrate large amounts of wind energy seamlessly,” states Weis.He also mentions that the AESO lifted a 900 MW threshold for installed wind capacity in Alberta in 2007, and now wind production has peaked at over 30% more than that original limit.Furthermore, it appears wind power is poised for growth in Alberta. “There is a lot of interest in wind development in the province, and that’s expected to continue over the coming years,” comments Anderson. She says the AESO currently has 15 active wind projects totaling about 2.1 GW in the grid operator’s connection queue.Overall, the AESO anticipates wind capacity to nearly double over the next 20 years from approximately 1.4 GW to 2.7 GW. “In fact, by 2034, we are forecasting Alberta will have more wind power than coal-fired generation on the system.”Nonetheless, Weis says most new power generation in the province will likely come from natural gas, not wind. “Alberta is facing two issues simultaneously,” he explains. “First of all, federal regulations require that coal units retire when they reach their 50th birthday. Alberta’s market is over 60 percent coal, and the first units will start to hit their 50th birthday this decade.“At the same time, Alberta’s system operator is forecasting significant growth in electricity demand over the next two decades, largely as a result of the growing oil sands industry. Several independent forecasts suggest that the vast majority of new electricity supply will come from natural gas to fill this gap.”Weis points out that the price of wind power isn’t the reason, though, as the AESO estimates wind energy within 7% of gas costs. The truth is, natural gas is simply easier to build in Alberta’s electricity market because “it can more easily bid into the market and respond to changes in future costs.”But there’s a problem: Weis says forecasts suggest a big switch to natural gas will eventually undo the environmental benefits gained from closing down coal plants, with greenhouse-gas emissions starting to increase again in just over a decade.Weis argues that although the AESO has proven it can handle more and more renewable energy on its grid, the province still needs “a new policy framework that recognizes the benefits of renewables so that we can continue to see wind grow in Alberta.”

via North American Windpower: Alberta Breaks Wind Power Record, Then Does It Again.

Climate Parents | Senator Wyden: Restore support for wind power!

I just signed a letter calling on U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Congress to renew the vital tax credit for wind and other sources of renewable energy. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) helps wind energy compete with highly subsidized fossil fuel industries, attracts investors for new wind projects, fosters innovation and employs tens of thousands of Americans in the clean energy economy.

Because of wind energy’s growing success, dirty energy billionaires, like the Koch brothers, campaigned to kill the renewable energy credit program. Congress is at a crossroads.

Will they support policies and industries that increase carbon pollution, fueling climate-related disasters? Or will they take action to promote safe, clean energy that will allow us to stabilize the climate?

As incoming Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Wyden will play a major role in deciding which direction Congress goes.

Please join me in telling Senator Wyden to renew the renewable energy tax credit now: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/wind-credit_Wyden/?referring_akid=.227975.zAnFDm&source=taf

By signing the letter, you will send a message the future of our kids and and the stability of our climate are priorities that deserve urgent attention. Thank you for taking action!

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION via Climate Parents | Senator Wyden: Restore support for wind power!.

Products « WINData LLC

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WINData sells and installs tilt-up, guyed lattice and SSV met towers to suit each customer specification – met towers up to 100 meters are available for either permanent or temporary installation.

WINData’s “WINDataNOW! SuperDuty® data collection towers” are available for sale, delivery and installation throughout continental North America. WINDataNOW!® towers are manufactured using high strength galvanized steel and are available in heights up to 60-meters.

Meteorological “Met” Towers

WINDataNOW! SuperDuty® data collection towers are available for sale and installation throughout continental North America. WINDataNOW!® towers are manufactured using high strength galvanized steel and are available in heights of 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60-meters.

WINData® installs NRG NOW systems in 50M, 60M and 80M heights and offers Second Wind towers systems and instruments.

WINData® is a registered reseller, distributor and installer of Mega80 (formerly AAT – Groupe Ohmega) 60M, 67M and 80M Met Towers.

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Wind and Climatological Sensors

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Data Loggers

Industry standard loggers available for met tower installations from WINDataNOW!®, NRG, Second Wind and Campbell Scientific.

via Products « WINData LLC.

Wind farm breaks ground: Completion of $19M project near Choteau expected in June of 2014 | Great Falls Tribune | greatfallstribune.com

Groundbreaking has begun on a new wind farm that will soon rise above the wheat fields of Teton County.

When completed, the $19 million Fairfield Wind project will include six utility scale turbines standing 398-feet tall, with a combined total of 10 mega watts of generating capacity.

“It has broken ground, and we expect to complete commissioning by June of 2014,” said John Pimental, president of Foundation Windpower, a wind energy engineering and development company based in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Fairfield Wind project is jointly owned by Foundation Windpower and WINData, a wind energy consulting and project management firm located in Great Falls. The general construction contractor for the project is Dick Anderson Construction, also of Great Falls.

During construction, the project is expected to employ 50 to 60 workers. Foundation Windpower has already inked a power purchase agreement with NorthWestern Energy, which will begin accepting electricity from the turbines in 2014.

Fairfield Wind may have the distinction of being one of the last wind energy projects initiated in Montana under the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) program. Enacted in 1992, the PTC program encourages investment in renewable energy by lowering an energy development company’s overall tax liability.

As currently structured, the PTC offers 2.3 cents in tax offsets per kilowatt of electricity generated to owners of new wind energy facilities. Credits are offered for the first 10 years that a wind energy facility is in operation. Proponents of the program argue that investment in renewable energy would be negligible without these types of government incentives.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind energy now constitutes 3.91 percent of total energy generation in the United States, up from 0.27 percent 10 years earlier.

Critics of the PTC argue the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the energy industry, and that wind energy is less economical than other sources of electricity.

The PTC was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but Congress extended the tax credits for another year as part of the fiscal cliff legislation.

The program is expected to hand out $12.1 billion in tax credits to the wind industry over the next 10 years.

Foundation Windpower and WINData will be able to take advantage of PTC because construction on the project began prior to the Dec. 31 program deadline.

“The rules require construction to start in 2013, but the project can be completed in 2014 and perhaps later,” Pimental said. “We organized the construction schedule to allow us to start this year.”

Pimental said selection of the wind farm site on the Bole Bench, east of Freezeout Lake between Fairfield and Choteau, was based upon several factors including the wind resource, proximity to existing transmission lines and the ability to minimize the biological and habitat impacts.

“Every wind project looks at those three factors,” he said.

Teton County Commissioner Joe Dellwo said the county wholeheartedly endorses the Fairfield Wind project. On Oct. 3, commissioners granted three county road encroachment permits to allow the general construction contractor to improve road access to the development site.

“It’s a no-brainer for us because it’s going to increase the tax base,” Dellwo said. “They’re moving dirt as we speak. I think their plan is to begin pouring cement in November. They’re going to be well underway by next month.”

According to Pimental, similar wind power production products could become a rarity if Congress declines to extend the PTC beyond the 2013 deadline.

“We certainly think it would be wise public policy to extend those tax credits,” Pimental said. “They are an important consideration for developers who put time, money and risk into trying to develop these projects. Without those supporting subsidies, renewable energy project development would come to a grinding halt in America.”

via Wind farm breaks ground: Completion of $19M project near Choteau expected in June of 2014 | Great Falls Tribune | greatfallstribune.com.

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