Renewable Energy Future Postcard

Hawaii at the Energy CrossroadsThe Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) has released a new paper, “Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads“. The report highlights the fight in Hawai’i to control and harness it’s vast renewable energy resources including solar energy. The paper demonstrates the choice between utility-promoted strategies and the distributed energy resources that are gaining ground on their own. The report also provides a “postcard” from the future for how other states can plan for a 100 renewable energy future.

Hawai’i pasted legislation early this year requiring all energy to be produced from renewable resources by 2045.

“More and more customers have easy tools to manage their own energy,” said John Farrell, director of Democratic Energy at ILSR. “Hawai’ians are demanding more opportunities to harvest and store the power of the sun on their own rooftops. Now, mainland leaders are looking toward the island state to decide whether to unlock the same opportunity.”

Ultimately, Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads shows how outdated utility business plans and corporate takeovers can affect a state’s energy market for years to come.

New York Most Energy Efficient State

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.14.57 PMOctober is National Energy Awareness Month and a great time for families and businesses to find ways to reduce their energy use. On average, a household spend nearly $2,000 a year on energy bills. To bring awareness of the impact of energy on American’s wallets, WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of the 2015’s Most and Least Energy Efficient States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.

WalletHub compared the efficiency of car and home energy consumption and hopes that the results will encourage consumers to conserve more.

Most Energy-Efficient States Least Energy-Efficient States
1 New York 39 Virginia
2 Vermont 40 Georgia
3 Minnesota 41 West Virginia
4 Wisconsin 42 North Dakota
5 Utah 43 Tennessee
6 Rhode Island 44 Arkansas
7 Colorado 45 Kentucky
8 California 46 Texas
9 Connecticut 47 Louisiana
10 Nevada 48 South Carolina

Some other interesting findings included: Utah’s weather-adjusted home-energy consumption is twice as efficient as Louisiana’s; and Florida’s car-energy consumption is twice as efficient as North Dakota’s. You can read the full report here as well as see how your state fairs.

BCSE Calls for Passage of Clean Energy Programs

More than 580 companies including the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) are calling for the passage of legislation that provides the extension of expired and expiring tax incentives designed to promote the growth of clean energy and clean energy technologies. The groups submitted a letter to Congress stressing to the federal lawmakers that,”Businesses and investors need stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies.”

“Businesses and investors need stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies. Allowing the lapsed clean energy tax provisions to languish undermines investor confidence and jeopardizes continued economic and environmental benefits,” said Lisa Jacobson, BCSE President.

2015FB_1According to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and BCSE, the use of lower and zero carbon energy sources has grown rapidly over the past seven years. BCSE says the clean energy tax provisions have a proven track record of helping scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies, thereby ensuring that market-ready technologies are deployed to their full potential.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) whose organization was also a signer of the letter, said of the need for these programs to have multi-year extenders, “American wind power is building momentum right now, but Congress has yet to pass these critical tax incentives, and the clock is ticking. The U.S. wind energy industry has rebounded from the loss of 23,000 jobs in 2013 due to policy uncertainty, and we can grow to support 380,000 jobs by 2030 with stable policy. That’s why we join hundreds of other voices in the business community to call on Congress to take action now.”

Kelly Speakes-Backman, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research at the Alliance to Save Energy and also a letter signer added, “Extension of the clean energy tax incentives is a bipartisan issue. This extension will bring stability to a growing private industry, while reducing pollution from the energy sector. The Alliance endorses this business-oriented approach to strengthen our economy and encourage energy efficiency and clean technology investments.”

WiSER Encourges More Women in Energy

Many initiatives were launched during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City including the launch of the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable energy (WiSER) Initiative. Founded by Abu Dhabil’s-based Masdar, a renewable energy company, and the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the goal is to empower women to be catalysts of innovation and the drivers of solutions to combat issues potentially aggravated by climate change including the need for renewable energy, clean water and access to food.

“As vital members of society, women are essential to building stronger and healthier economies. Nowhere is this need more important than in achieving a sustainable economic, environmental and energy future,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, United Arab Emirates Minister of State Chairman of Masdar. “WiSER aims to be both a platform for dialogue, new thinking and thought-provoking ideas, as well as a pathway for women to gain real-world experience and to build the skills necessary to be leaders of industry, and drivers of commercial solutions.”

wiser_launch__cloudDuring the launch event at the Plaza Hotel, leadership from Masdar and the Zayed Future Energy Prize unveiled key elements of the WiSER initiative designed to promote the important role that women play in industries related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). WiSER also announced that the group will convene regularly in cities around the world to encourage participation in these fields.

“The WiSER initiative plays a critical role in connecting networks and building relationships across different communities to improve decision-making for sustainable development,” said Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD). “To meet the challenges facing the global economy, women must occupy more decision making roles in government, engineering and science in order to meet our needs.”

WiSER will partner with academic and research institutions, women’s networking groups and corporate interests in to create education and training opportunities. Masdar and the Zayed Future Energy Prize also announced the members of the WiSER Advisory Council, who will oversee the implementation of the programs under the WiSER Initiative. The Advisory Council will serve as a global reference for the initiative on women’s leadership and careers in sustainability, particularly related to energy, water and climate change.

ConEdison Assists “Renewable” Waste Treatment

The Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant located on Staten Island has been updated to include “renewable” energy to help power the waste treatment facility. Three new boilers – a combination of biogas and natural gas – along with a new exhaust system and a rootfop solar array. Biogas is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process and is now being captured and used to replace equipment from the 1970s that ran on heating oil. The solar array, installed by ConEdison Solutions, is expected to produce 1.6 million kilowatt hours, approximately 10 percent of the plant’s power needs. The project is part of OneNYC’s initiative to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

21218149303_ee1802d0ae_z“This $30 million investment in new technology at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant will significantly reduce pollution and result in cleaner air for New York City,” said New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “Our wastewater treatment plants require a tremendous amount of electricity in order to protect public health and the environment, and we’re focused on not only reducing their demand for electricity, but also capturing and maximizing their potential for energy production.”

In September 2014, New York City committed to the goal of achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 (80×50). With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s overall emissions, the City has implemented an initiative to retrofit all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting many private buildings to do the same. In addition, in order to reduce emissions from City government operations, an program was put in place to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

“ConEdison Solutions is proud to help the New York City Department of Environmental Protection promote sustainability through this ambitious solar installation,” added Michael N. Perna of ConEdison Solutions. “Throughout New York City, both public-sector and private-sector entities are learning how to utilize renewable power as a money-saving and energy-saving asset. With these significant improvements at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant, DEP is setting an outstanding example for other facilities throughout the region.”

Voith Hydro Completes WELP Expansion

The $900 million expansion of the 335 MW Waneta Expansion Limited Partnership (WELP), has been completed. Located near Trail, British Columbia, Canada, the project was executed by a partnership between Fortis Inc., Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust. Voith Hydro supplied two Francis turbines, generators, governors, exciters and various additional auxiliary systems for the project and served as the prime contractor.

Waneta Expansion Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting.

Waneta Expansion Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting.

“In 2010 when I was Energy Minister the first time, there was a vigorous debate within government about whether to allow the Waneta Expansion project to proceed,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines who officially inaugurated the expansion. “I am grateful that, as a Kootenay resident, I had the opportunity at the time to ensure that this tremendous project was allowed to proceed.”

Located immediately downstream of the Waneta Dam on the Pend d’Oreille River, the Waneta Expansion adds a second powerhouse that shares the existing hydraulic head, generating clean, renewable, cost-effective power from water that would otherwise be spilled. The project also included the construction of a 10 km, 230 kV transmission line.

“The grand opening of Waneta is the culmination of many years of hard work to complete one of British Columbia’s largest infrastructure projects,” said William Malus, CEO of Voith Hydro in Canada. “With Waneta’s expansion now operational, customers across British Columbia will see even more benefits from reliable, affordable, and renewable hydropower generation.”

To celebrate WELP’s expansion, an inauguration ceremony took place that included a First Nations welcome and prayers by Chiefs and Elders of Ktunaxa Nation and Okanagan Nation, the unveiling of plaques by Minister and ribbon cutting, a powerhouse tour of the intake, the control room and walkway to service bay.

Survey Finds Support for Clean Energy

ClearPath Clean Energy Poll“Support for clean energy is both strong with the overall electorate and with the conservative Republicans that form a core constituency for many Republican elected officials,” according to a new survey commissioned by ClearPath. Jay Faison, ClearPath founder, noted that the survey demonstrates that, “the big, myth-busting news was how wide and deep support for clean energy policy is among conservatives.” The organization is dedicated to developing support for market-based clean energy solutions.

Key findings include:

  • 84% of registered voters, including almost three-quarters of Republicans, favor taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States.
  • Energy independence, less pollution, and job growth are viewed by GOP voters as the “big 3” of clean energy benefits.
  • Solar policy enjoys enormous support among Republicans, with rooftop solar (82%) and net metering (86%) scoring highest among seven clean energy policy ideas tested.
  • Most voters – including a majority of Republicans (56%) – think the climate is changing and human activity is playing a role.
  • Among different approaches that win over voters on the issue of climate and clean energy, positive messages that emphasize what America can achieve are the most effective.
  • In particular, Republican and independent voters favor a candidate who says regardless of the debate over climate we should expand the use of clean energy because of its benefits and to mitigate risk.

The survey was conducted by Kristen Soltis Anderson of Echelon Insights in collaboration with Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies and Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion Research.

Soltis Anderson said of the survey findings, “Voters are looking for leaders who want to solve problems and go beyond party politics. Voters, including Republicans, want to take a step back from the politicization of energy and climate issues and pursue clean energy on its own merits.”

Senvion Canada Produces Longest Turbine Blade

Senvion Canada has begun the production of the longest blade in Canada: the 55.8 metre blade that is destined for the Senvion 3.2M114 Cold Climate Version (CCV) 3 MW turbine. LM Wind Power will produce 45 sets of blades all equipped with Senvion’s anti-icing system, adapted for harsh winter climates, such as that in Quebec.

csm_2012_32M114_StMichaelisdonn_397_7a1085d078All blades will be delivered to the the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n (MU) wind farm, a project that involves a 50-50 partnership of the three Mi’gmaq Nations of Quebec (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg et Listuguj) and developer Innergex. The project includes installation of 150 MW of the 3.2M114 type turbine with 100 metre towers. Official construction of the project has begun, and the wind farm will be operational by December 2016.

At the occasion of the inaugural ceremony, Helmut Herold, CEO of Senvion in North America said, “For me, it is always impressive to see this technology up close. The serial production of the 55.8 metre blade with the anti-icing hot air system, is of tremendous significance for the advancement of turbine technology in Quebec’s wind industry. Not only are we seeing shifts in the cost competitiveness of wind, in comparison to any new hydro installation in the province, but with such a shift comes the ability to technologically innovate,”

“Furthermore, said Herold, “blades with the anti-icing system are perfect for communities, such as the three Mi’gmaq Nations, who want to benefit from wind energy but have to work through Quebec’s cold climate. In short, what we are producing here is community friendly technology.”

Troy Jerome, the executive director of the Mi’gmawei Maiwomi Business Corporation added, “The Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm project is a testament of how the Mi’gmaq people and our Mi’gmaq government can contribute to the greater Quebec economy and more specifically to the economy of the Gaspésie region. Through our partnership with Innergex and Senvion, we are pleased that LM Wind Power can deliver on the latest technology required to meet the extreme weather conditions of the Gaspésie region. This project is one great historic achievement, both for being able to achieve an agreement with the Quebec government on a large energy project and also for bringing together our Nation, the people of Gaspésie, German technology and of course LM Wind Power with this huge sweeping blade which will help us create beautiful clean green energy.”

Logan’s Gap Wind Farm Up & Running

The Logan’s Gap Wind facility located in Comanche County, Texas is up and running. A majority of the power created from the 200 MW wind farm will be sold to Walmart via a long-term power purchase agreement.

Siemens SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines“Logan’s Gap Wind is our fourth operational wind power facility in Texas and we are now serving three different regions throughout the state,” noted Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy, who built the wind farm. “We continue to bring new facilities online both on time and on budget, demonstrating our ability to execute on our growth strategy. We are pleased to be working with one of the leading corporations in the world as it acquires renewable energy and lowers its carbon footprint. We are increasingly partnering with America’s leading companies as they recognize that wind power, which continues to decline in cost, is both good for the environment and good for business.”

The facility will sell 75 percent of the electricity produced to Walmart and a financial institution. Walmart has a 10-year power purchase agreement to acquire 58% of the expected output from the facility. Seventeen percent of the expected output will be sold under a 13-year fixed price agreement with a A-/Baa2-rated financial institution. The remaining 25 percent of expected output will be sold at ERCOT spot market prices.

“Walmart has a goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and sourcing from wind energy projects — like the Logan’s Gap Wind Facility — is a core component in the mix,” added Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. “The energy we’ll procure from this facility represents nearly one-fifth of the U.S. portion of our goal to source seven billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020. That’s a significant leap forward on our renewable energy journey.”

Fuel Cell Tax Extenders Act Introduced

Congressman John LarsonThere are a few in Washington, D.C. who have not forgotten about fuel cell technology. The Fuel Cell Tax Extenders Act of 2015 has been introduced by Representative John Larson (D-CT) with co-sponsors Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Chris Gibson (R-NY). If passed, the bi-partisan bill would extend federal incentives for residential, commercial and vehicular fuel cell use as well as extend and expand credits for hydrogen infrastructure. In response, companies like Plug Power have come out in support of the bill and stressed that the passage will provide certainty for fuel cell manufactures and investors.

“Fuel cell technology continues to grow and improve, supporting thousands of jobs and supplying clean energy to more and more Americans,” said Larson in a press statement. “Extending incentives for businesses, homeowners, or those purchasing new cars will make it easier to develop and use fuel cell and hydrogen technology—and provide the certainty that such investments remain affordable and accessible for all. These incentives are already in place. As the technology continues to improve, it just makes sense to ensure more Americans have access to this clean, affordable energy.”

The current tax iScreen Shot 2015-09-24 at 4.26.18 PMncentives for fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure are set to expire at the end of this year, while the fuel cell investment tax credit for material handling and stationary fuel cells will end on December 31, 2016. This legislation will extend all of the credits through the year 2021. And, said Plug Power, The Fuel Cell Extenders Act of 2015 helps to level the playing field, enabling customers of all sizes to invest in new business-improving technology like hydrogen fuel cells.

“The existing tax credits have been very successful in sparking great interest and demand for hydrogen and fuel cell solutions, thus passing this bill now will help keep that momentum strong,” said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. “I commend Representatives Larson, Tonko and Gibson for their steadfast support for hydrogen fuel cell technology adoption and for Plug Power’s continued growth.”

Congressman Tonko, one of the bill’s co-sponsors said of the proposed bill, “Fuel cell technology has gained widespread traction because of the efficiency and productivity gains that are realized. This is something everyone can get on board with,” said Congressman Tonko. “This legislation extends a critical and robust tax credit that will provide the incentive for large-scale conversions to this clean technology at manufacturing and distribution centers across the country, which will ultimately lead to new jobs. I thank Congressman Larson for his commitment to encouraging innovation and making energy efficiency our fuel of choice.”