NJR Announces U.S. New Wind Project

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) has announced its fourth onshore wind project, Ringer Hill Farm. The 39.9 MW project is located along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and will consist of 14 GE turbines. The new wind farm is expected to be complete in early 2017.

njr-cleanenergy“Wind is an increasingly important segment of our nation’s energy mix and we are pleased to do our part to bring renewable energy to the marketplace,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Our investment in Ringer Hill further diversifies our distributed power portfolio, represents the continuation of our Company’s long-term growth strategy and provides value to our shareowners.”

NJRCEV is investing $84 million dollars in the project and expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits, which were recently extended. Once the project is completed, it joins wind farms in Alexander Wind Farm in Rush County, Kansas which began operating in December 2015; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, which came online in February 2015; and, the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm, which has been in service since June 2014.

Armow Wind Farm Powers Up

The 180 MW Armow Wind power facility in Ontario has powered up. The Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy Group project used Ontario-made products. Towers for the 91 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines were made in Windsor and the 273 blades were manufactured in Tillsonburg.

armow wind project“Samsung is proud to complete our fourth wind project under our Green Energy Investment Agreement with the government of Ontario,” said Steve Cho, Vice President, Samsung C&T. “Armow Wind created more than 350 jobs during peak construction and supported over 750 workers from our Ontario manufacturing facilities. Samsung and its partners are creating jobs and investing in the community which is benefiting real people in Kincardine and across the province.”

According to a press statement, Armow Wind is also bringing strong economic benefits to the Kincardine community, including more than $75 million over 20 years in property taxes, landowner lease royalties and community benefits. As part of a long-term Community Benefit Program, Armow Wind committed $13.6 million dollars to the Municipality of Kincardine. The program supports education and other initiatives.

“Armow Wind is a great example of how Ontario is changing the future of electricity. Armow Wind is a project that produces clean, renewable energy and that was built by Ontario workers with Ontario-made wind turbine components,” added Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development. “Armow Wind is now generating millions of dollars in local lease payments and property taxes, updating the local airport, and improving the community of Kincardine through our community benefits program. We want to thank the landowners, other community members and the municipality for their hard work and collaboration on this project. We are honored to become a part of this great community.”

The Armow Wind power facility operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

U.S. Wind Industry Celebrates Great Q4

The U.S. wind industry continues to gain power with 5,001 MW installed during the 4th quarter of 2015 – more installations than all of 2014. In 2015 there was 8,598 MW was installed, a 77 percent increase over 2014. U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report, published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), finds strong market activity is expected to continue. Going in to 2016, 9,400 MW were under construction.

AWEA_jan report graphics“The data released today show 2016 presents an extraordinary opportunity for American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The time has never been better for states and utilities to lock in low-cost, stably-priced wind energy to achieve their Clean Power Plan carbon reductions. Wind energy is on track to supplying 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.”

Wind installations during the fourth quarter of 2015 represent the second strongest quarter ever recorded with total installations across 2015 trailing only 2009 and 2012. Combined there is now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S. and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.

“Low-cost, stably-priced wind energy is a ‘no-regrets’ solution for states and utilities looking for the best way to meet the Clean Power Plan,” added Kiernan. “Texas ranchers and Iowa farmers know wind power costs one-third as much as it did six years ago. Analysis by the Energy Information Administration confirms that wind energy will make up the majority of states’ lowest-cost Clean Power Plan strategy.”

Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition Adds Solar

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has added solar energy to its lineup of renewable energy promotion and has changed its name to reflect the new addition: Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC). The Coalition’s goal is to support renewable energy technologies that among other benefits, help to put Americans to work in all 50 states.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.45.48 PM“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy and we are also encouraged by the recent growth in solar energy,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who just last week highlighted Iowa as one of the country’s leading wind power producers. “The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio represents a commitment to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said of the announcement, “I support the foresight of my colleagues to broaden the Coalition’s focus and include solar energy development as a policy priority. Wind and solar provide complementary benefits to the U.S. electric grid and will help diversify the country’s energy mix. The need for states to take a broader view of renewable power is clear.”

According to SNL Energy, wind and solar energy added 61 percent of all new generation capacity in 2015 through November. As states make plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, wind and solar power are expected to continue supplying large amounts new electricity in the years ahead.

“I am proud to work with governors from across the country, and both parties, to advance renewable energy. The exciting growth of both wind and solar energy provide our states with tremendous economic opportunities, as well as the ability to reduce emissions, protect public health, and build a more prosperous and sustainable American clean energy future,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power has surpassed the 70 gigawatt (GW) milestone of installed wind capacity. Per AWEA, if the pace continues, wind power can become one of the largest sources of electricity in the U.S. by supplying 35 percent by 2050. Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO noted the group has been very effective in getting policy results that help grow the wind energy industry, and said the decision to combine forces with solar energy reflects the economic and environmental value of diversifying the country’s electric grid.

Pattern Energy Completes Amazon Wind Farm

The 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, located in Benton County, Indiana has been completed and is fully operational. Pattern Energy Group’s wind farm will sell 100 percent of the energy produced to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power their datacenters.

“It’s a privilege to team with AWS on the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, demonstrating the strong and growing appetite for wind power from the country’s leading corporations,” Amazon Wind Farm turbinesaid Mike Garland, President and CEO of Pattern Energy. “This facility was completed on schedule and we are beginning 2016 with all 16 of our wind power facilities fully operational. Since our IPO we have grown the portfolio by 119%, underscoring the value of our strategic relationship with Pattern Development and our ability to execute attractive third-party acquisitions.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge consists of 65 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines with ‘Made in America’ components. The turbine blades, nacelles, towers, and transformers were manufactured in the United States. “Siemens is proud that workers at our factories in the Midwest produced the turbines for the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, which continues an exciting trend of technology companies and major corporations turning to wind power for their energy needs,” said Jacob Andersen, CEO Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), companies such as Amazon, are helping to boost wind power in the U.S. with direct wind energy contracts. In other examples, Microsoft and Walmart have both contracted directly with companies to build wind farms to generate electricity for their operations.

Jerry Hunter, vice president, Infrastructure at AWS said of the project completion, “AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint, and we continue to make progress towards this goal. We’re very excited to announce with Pattern Energy that the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge is now live and producing electricity, bringing a new source of clean energy to the grids that power our datacenters.”

Clean Power Plan A Top Energy Issue

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is among top issues that legislators will face this year in energy according to the Council of State Governments.

“Energy issues will continue to receive significant attention in 2016,” said Liz Edmondson, director of energy and environmental policy at CSG. “Market forces, governmental regulations and increasing technology are changing the way we generate, transmit and use energy. In light of these issues, state policymakers and regulators will need to work together to comply with new federal regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, and to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy reliable and affordable access to electricity.”

In addition to the Clean Power Plan, states will face a variety of policy issues related to an increase in natural gas production. Other top issues in energy and environment include electricity transmission, ratemaking and grid reliability; water quality and quantity; and the use of science-based decision making.

The CPP continues to be a hot button issue with coalitions coming together to sue the EPA in an effort to block the plan’s implementation. This week the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a stay requested by opponents.

“This is a huge win for protecting our health and climate from dangerous carbon pollution, said David Doniger, director of Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Court has brushed aside the polluters’ bogus bid to block the Clean Power Plan, and the electricity sector will continue the shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future.

“The decision greenlights work that most states have already begun to put the Clean Power Plan into action, and signals to others that there is no excuse for holding back on implementation. Cutting the largest source of carbon pollution fueling climate change should be Job One,” added Doniger.

61st Anniversary of 1st American Solar House

US Census Bureau logoThis week marks the 61st anniversary of the first house in America with solar heating and radiation cooling. Located in Tuscon, Arizona, the house featured a large, slanting slab of steel and glass that coverts sunlight into heat that was ducted into the house. Today, many homes use solar panels to capture the natural heat of the sun and solar is currently the power source for around 83,000 U.S. homes according to the U.S. Census Census Bureau.

While solar accounts for a .7 percent of the power fueling American homes, its growing. However, of the 117 million occupied housing unit, gas remains the most heating fuel, outpacing electricity – about 57 million to 44 million.

The January 17th edition of Profile America focuses on solar power using data gathered as part of the American Community Survey. The program is produced by the Center for New Media and Promotions of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Profile America Looks at Solar

Berkely Lab Study Finds RPS Policies Save Money

In 2013, there were $2.2 billion in benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and $5.2 billion came from reductions in other air pollution for states with renewable portfolio standards (RFS) according to a new study. “A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards,” evaluates the benefits and other impacts of RPS policies and was conduced by researchers from U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

RPS report from NRELRPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their energy output with eligible forms of renewable electricity such as wind and solar power.  The report finds there are 29 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C., with RPS policies in place and they have been a driver for renewable electricity generation in the U.S. over the past decade. Many states are currently considering whether to extend, eliminate, or otherwise revise existing RPS policies and the goal of the report is to help officials evaluate their programs.

“Our goal was to estimate the magnitude of RPS benefits and impacts at a national-level, using established methodologies, while recognizing that individual states can perform their own, more-detailed assessments,” said NREL’s Jenny Heeter one of the report’s authors.

In addition to evaluating environmental benefits, the study also assessed other impacts. The research estimates that RPS policies supported 200,000 renewable energy-related jobs in 2013, saved consumers up to $1.2 billion from reduced wholesale electricity prices and another $1.3 to $3.7 billion from reduced natural gas prices.

This work was a follow-up and complement to an earlier study by the two labs that focused on the costs of state RPS programs to-date and that noted the need for a full understanding of the potential benefits, impacts, and costs of RPS programs. To that end, this most recent study provides a point of comparison for estimates of RPS program costs. The researchers are planning a follow-up effort for the coming year to evaluate the costs and benefits of RPS programs prospectively, considering scheduled increases to each state’s requirements as well as potential policy revisions.

Wind Power Gains Speed in Canada

Wind power is gaining speed in Canada. At the end of 2015, the country was the seventh largest in the world for total installed energy capacity with 11,205 MW and sixth in the world for the amount of capacity added in 2015 according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). In total for 2015, Canada added 1,506 MW of new wind capacity through the commissioning of 36 projects, 23 of which involved Aboriginal Peoples, municipal or local ownership. Wind energy supplied nearly 5 percent of the country’s electricity demand.

“Not only has the wind energy industry continued its five year trend as the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung, “the industry in Canada has demonstrated a five year annual average growth rate of 23 per cent per year (an average of 1,438 MW per year).”

20160112_C2542_PHOTO_EN_596921Ontario lead the way again in 2015 in market size and growth, adding 871 MW of installed capacity in 2015 for a new total of 4,361 MW. Between contracts signed and planned new purchases through the province’s new Large Renewable Procurement process, there remains more than 2,000 MW of wind slated to be built in Ontario in the next few years.

Quebec, Canada’s second largest wind energy market, was also the second largest contributor of new installed capacity in 2015, adding 397 MW for a total of 3,262 MW. This included the largest multi-phase project commissioned in Canada to date – the 350 MW wind farm in Riviere du Moulin. The first phase with 150 MW was commissioned in 2014 and the remaining 200 MW was commissioned in 2015. The province has another 700 MW due to come online in the next two years.

Six wind turbine manufacturers (OEMs), all CanWEA members, supplied the technology for the new wind capacity commissioned in 2015 in Canada. Siemens Canada Limited led installations with close to 50 percent, followed by Senvion Canada Inc., GE Renewable Energy, ENERCON, Acciona Wind Energy Canada and Vestas Canada. Continue reading

Missouri Can Meet Clean Power Plan with Policies, Efficiency

Missouri can meet targets under the Clean Power Plan (CPP) through clean energy policies and better power plant efficiency according to an analysis from World Resources Institute. Under the CPP, the state has a mass-based emissions reduction target of 29 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. The analysis shows that if Missouri achieves its MO_fig_1current energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and makes more efficient use of its natural gas and coal fleet, the state can get 90 percent of the way towards its target. However, if Missouri expands its renewable energy standard, the state can exceed its target, achieving 34 percent reductions below 2012 levels by 2030.

“Missouri has already taken steps toward meeting its Clean Power Plan goals,” said Sam Adams, director, U.S. Climate Initiative, WRI. “Missouri’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are creating jobs and spurring in-state investment. If Missouri expands on the progress it’s already making on energy efficiency and renewable energy it can seize important economic opportunities while complying with the Clean Power Plan.”

The analysis finds that Missouri’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies already benefit the state. For example:

  • In 2014, the energy efficiency sector in Missouri employed 32,000 people, a number expected to grow if efficiency programs are expanded;
  • According to the American Wind Energy Association, Missouri’s wind industry has generated $1.4 million in annual land lease payments and $1 billion in total capital investment as of 2014, in addition to employing 6,000 workers that year;
  • Meeting the existing renewable energy standards could create 30,000 new jobs by 2021 and provide over $1 billion in new income to residents;
  • According to analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, new energy efficiency initiatives in Missouri, including utility programs and building codes, could save consumers $6.1 billion and create 8,500 new jobs.
  • Currently, Missouri spends about $1.3 billion per year on importing coal from other states. By investing in efficiency and renewables, Missouri can reduce its imported coal consumption and keep more of its energy investments in-state.

“Missouri can come close to its Clean Power Plan emissions reductions target by following through on its renewable energy standard and voluntary energy efficiency goals and making smarter, more efficient use of fossil fuel power plants. And by expanding its renewable energy standard, the state can go even further,” said Rebecca Gasper, research analyst, WRI. “Missouri can use its existing clean energy policies to ensure the state continues toward a low carbon future while bringing economic benefits to its residents and businesses.”