Wind Industry Commits to Reducing Bat Fatalities

The U.S. wind energy industry has announced a commitment to reduce bat fatalities caused by wind turbines by 30 percent or more. The news came leading up to National Wildlife Day and is an agreement between the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and 17 member companies. The agreement involves wind operators’ voluntarily limiting the operations of turbines in low-wind speed conditions during the fall bat migration season when research shows bats are most at risk. The new protocols are based on over 10 years of research by the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) and others.

dreamstime_xs_22720312“The adoption of this protocol to reduce impacts to bats is a continuation of our legacy of care for wildlife and the environment,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “American wind power is strongly committed to producing one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy, for people and wildlife. As we continue to strive to make the wind industry’s impacts as low as possible, we hope this step can serve to encourage other energy industries, and all businesses for that matter, to proactively take steps to reduce their impacts on the environment in their respective communities.”

AWEA said in a statement that despite the potential collective loss of millions of dollars in electric generation, the U.S. wind energy industry has voluntarily committed to changing how turbines are operated during the bats’ fall migration season, slowing blade rotations to fewer than 1-3 revolutions a minute, depending on blade length, thereby reducing the risk of collision. On-the-ground research over the past decade at a number of operating wind farms has shown this measures will significantly reduce the collision risk for bats in low wind speed conditions when they are most at risk. The expected reduction of overall bat impacts was calculated with data from the research by BWEC and the conservation and academic communities who worked with the industry to identify solutions.

“That this industry-wide best practice has been voluntarily adopted demonstrates how the U.S. wind energy industry holds itself to a higher standard,” said John Anderson, senior director, permitting policy and environmental affairs, for AWEA. “Our industry values all wildlife and habitat. By proactively employing this measure to reduce our already low environmental impacts further, consumers can have even more confidence in buying clean, affordable, and carbon-free wind energy.”

Representatives from the conservation community applauded the action taken by the industry. “Through common sense practices and a proactive spirit by the wind industry, it’s clear we can both move the nation toward a clean energy future, and protect wildlife,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation of the announcement.

This year, National Wildlife Day was celebrated on September 4th.

K2 Wind Farm Operating, Canada Exceeds 10GW

The K2 Wind Power Facility located in Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) in southwestern Ontario is official generating wind energy. The 270 MW facility was commissioned recently during an event hosted by Samsung Renewable Energy, Capital Power Corporation and Pattern Energy Group Inc. Canada now has more than 10 GW of installed wind energy capacity making it in the 7th country in the world to reach this lever of wind energy production according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

siemens-aerogeneradores-wind-turbines-672x372“On behalf of the Council of the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh I would like to congratulate everyone who had a part in this long and complex project that created one of Canada’s largest wind-energy facilities,” said Deputy Reeve Roger Watt. “We would especially like to thank K2 Wind for its commitment to the Community Benefit Fund. This will enable the Township to undertake infrastructure-improvement and community-development projects over the next 20 years that we otherwise simply would not be able to pursue.”

K2 Wind has created a Community Benefits Fund Agreement with the Township of ACW to deliver approximately $15 million in funding for community initiatives over the next 20 years. K2 Wind will also support local residents living near the facility through lease agreements and other benefits.

The facility’s wind turbine components were manufactured in Ontario. A total of 700 turbine tower sections were produced in Windsor by CS Wind and the 420 blades were built in Tillsonburg by Siemens, directly supporting over 800 manufacturing jobs in Ontario. K2 Wind expects to have approximately 20 full-time operations and maintenance employees, along with an additional 10 seasonal positions.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy added, “This event is to thank the community, the landowners and the local officials that worked to make this project possible. Going forward, K2 Wind will return many benefits to the community by providing ongoing funding for important community projects and initiatives at the same time helping to reduce pollution for Ontario and the globe.”

Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

Dems Webb & O’Malley Take the Soapbox

Democratic hopeful presidential candidates Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley both appeared on the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox yesterday afternoon speaking to hundreds of Iowans attending the Iowa State Fair. They have some fundamental issues in common, including both the need for better education and to bring the American dream, aka the economy, back to Americans. While Webb’s plans to do so were a bit more fluid, O’Malley pitched his 15 point plan to American prosperity. This includes tackling climate change and fostering global sustainably development.

Jim Webb at Presidential SoapboxIn terms of energy Jim Webb supports agriculture and renewable energy. He supports the pipeline and says that reports show environmentally the pipeline is neutral. He said he supports an “all above” energy strategy and that includes nuclear energy. He noted America has the safest, best managed nuclear program in the world and it is “totally” clean.

When asked if he supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) he replied that he supported renewable energy. He said Iowa is the perfect example of a place where it can work. He has visited a wind farm and an ethanol plant and said he was impressed with the technological advancements seen in the ethanol industry.

To learn more about why Jim Webb wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Jim Webb at the Iowa State Fair

Martin O'Malley at Presidential SoapboxDuring the question and answer portion of the speech, O’Malley was asked about renewable energy, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. He advocates for a clean energy grid by 2050 that he says will be “just in the nick of time”. He noted that in Iowa, 30 percent of electricity not only comes from wind energy, but highlighted the fact that multiple wind turbine components are manufactured in the state as well. He touted Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and California’s 50 percent goal.

O’Malley also stressed that Renewable Energy Portfolios (REPs/RES) and the RFS should not only stay in place, but they should be expanded. He stressed that these are the drivers of American ingenuity in technology development and the next generation of clean energy technologies.

To learn more about why Martin O’Malley wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Martin O'Malley at the Iowa State Fair

Officials Highlight Need for Stable Energy Policy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released new data showing the cost of wind energy has declined by nearly two-thirds over the last six years according to the report 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report. DOE Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz noted, however, that to keep the momentum going there must be stable energy policy.

64522_WindTechMrktRprt_cover“With declining costs and continued technological development, these reports demonstrate that wind power is a reliable source of clean, renewable energy for American homes and businesses,” Secretary Moniz said in a statement. “Through continued investments and the help of stable policies, we’re confident that wind power will keep playing a major role in creating jobs and shaping America’s clean energy future.”

In reaction to the report, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this success has been driven by performance-based renewable energy tax incentives that drive U.S. manufacturing and American ingenuity. The report finds that since 2009, costs have fallen 65.5 percent. This makes the U.S. the global leader in total wind energy production.

“While this report is good news, extending the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit remains critical for keeping Americans at work, reducing the cost of wind energy and continuing to scale up this homegrown resource through the end of this decade,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO AWEA. “Wind energy is increasingly cost-competitive in several parts of the U.S., but we need stable, predictable policy to continue bringing this consumer benefit to every corner of the country. Policy stability will keep this American economic success story going.”

There must be, called Kiernan, an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and said the near-uncertainty in these credits puts investments at risk. The last time the credits were not expanded the U.S. wind energy industry lost nearly 30,000 jobs and caused wind installations to drop 92 percent the following year. Kiernan concludes by noting that Federal policy plays a critical role in the wind industry’s decisions to make long-term investments in U.S. manufacturing facilities, research and development, and worker training to create the modern American wind industry, and thus, the credits must stay in place.

Arcadia Power Receives Green-e Energy Cert

Arcadia Power’s new wind energy renewable energy project is now certified by Green-e Energy, a certification by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) that validates renewable energy sold on the retail market, is in fact renewable energy.

Based in Washington, D.C., Arcadia Power offers its wind energy customers renewable energy certificates (RECs) sourced from wind energy facilities located across the U.S. By offering RECs Arcadia-Logofrom wind facilities, Arcadia Power said its customers have the ability to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use while helping provide wind facilities an additional income stream, stimulating growth in the U.S. renewable energy.

“By offering its residential and business customers access to renewable energy generated across the U.S., Arcadia Power is helping build the market for renewable energy while giving its customers the option to green their power with Green-e certified renewable energy,” said CRS Communications Director Jeff Swenerton.

Ryan Nesbitt, co-founder and President of Arcadia Power added, “We’re excited to be working with CRS and Green-e to ensure that our customers are getting 100% certified Wind Energy as part of our mission to change the way America consumes energy.”

Green-e Energy is a leading renewable energy certification and verification program in North America. In 2013 nearly 717,000 total retail customers purchased 33.5 million megawatt-hours, enough to power over a quarter of U.S. households for a month.

Wind Can Play Big Role in Clean Power

As states begin to put their Clean Power Plans (CPP) into place, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has conduced analyses on potential optimal energy sources as part of a state’s electricity  mix. The leader: wind.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind’s role has not been widely discussed. As it relates to wind energy, the EIA found (as detailed in a report from AWEA):

  • Wind energy plays the largest role in the lowest cost energy portfolio for CPP compliance, with significant wind energy deployment in nearly all regions.
  • Recent declines in the cost of wind energy, coupled with the wind’s role in protecting against increases in the price of natural gas, make wind energy the lowest cost compliance options for nearly all regions.
  • Using zero-emission wind energy provides states with valuable flexibility that allows for less dramatic changes to the generation mix than using a resource with some emissions.
  • Based on EIA’s analysis, wind energy should be viewed as a “no regrets” solution for meeting the CPP.
Michael Goggin, Senior Director of Research, American Wind Energy Association.

Michael Goggin, Senior Director of Research, American Wind Energy Association.

In an interview with Michael Goggin, senior director of research for AWEA, he said that states are already forming regions and they are in the process of developing their plans and wind energy is playing a role in these plans. AWEA has provided a handbook for states to use as a guide for incorporating wind into the CPP plans.

Today, he noted, wind energy is being transferred from one region to another; however, improving transmission lines will be an important factor for states as they continue to add more renewable energy to their mix and replace aging infrastructure.

Using EIA’s analysis as a guide, Goggin explained that by 2030, the energy generation mix is expected to be: wind (57%), natural gas (10%), solar (14%) and energy efficiency (19%) while the costs of wind significantly declines and in the last four years, wind energy prices have declined by 60 percent along. However, he noted that wind opportunity identified by the EIA is conservative and does not account for changes that the EPA has proposed to the CPP rule that are expected to expand wind energy’s role even further. He added that their costs are outdated and about 15 percent higher than actual wind costs today, so in the future, wind is likely to be even more cost-effective than indicated.

Wind will play a role in all regions, said Goggin, even those that don’t generate the wind electricity themselves. He along with the AWEA team are working with regions to help them develop their plans. The EPA is expected to issue final rules in August.

To learn more about wind’s role in the Clean Power Plan, listen to my interview with Michael Goggin here:AWEA's Michael Goggin Talks Wind, CPP

Wind Energy Zoning Needs Improvement

Tthe Center for Rural Affairs has released a report, “Zoned Out: An Analysis of Wind Energy Zoning in Four Midwest States,” that finds zoning need improvement. According to Alissa Doerr, Center for Rural Affairs legal extern and author of the report, Zoned Out analyses different approaches to zoning commercial wind energy systems in four different Midwest states – Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The report also broke down the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, and what makes for effective zoning standards.

Center for Rural Affairs Logo“Wind energy zoning remains generally uncoordinated and subject to state and local regulations, resulting in a piecemeal approach where zoning standards vary between states and within states,” Doerr said. “In order for wind energy development to continue increasing, there must be an effective approach to wind energy zoning implemented that reduces inconsistency and unpredictability caused by the patchwork approach that is currently in place.  The key is finding the right balance between local and state control.”

Doerr noted that as more wind energy projects are developed, members of local communities continue to have questions including how it will affect the community and what role the community plays in the development process. She added that zoning authorities must aim for efficient and effective standards, incorporating considerations from the local areas where wind development would take place.

Doerr further explained that the key to effective wind siting and zoning regulation is to strike the right balance between local and state control, avoiding some of the pitfalls for either approach, while trying to capture the benefits. Authorities at the state and local level must consider the pros and cons that can result from difference ordinances. The ideal balance should be focused on consistent standards that still allow for local autonomy.

“As wind power continues to play a bigger role in meeting our energy demands, it’s important that we craft regulations that incorporate local preferences and address local concerns, while also providing clear and consistent standards for developers,” Doerr concluded.

Nature Conservancy Looks to Bird Friendly Wind

The Nature Conservancy has installed the first phase of a bird friendly wind power project. The project is taking place in Palmyra, a national wildlife refuge located in Hawaii, where more than a million nesting seabirds call home. With low wind speeds, traditional wind turbines would have low output, plus, says the Conservancy, conventional wind turbines pose a risk of bird strikes. Thus, the group selected INVELOX, a funnel-based wind power technology developed by SheerWind.

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

The custom system is designed to mirror an hourglass laying on its side. Extending 83 feet horizontally with a big wind scoop at one end, an exhaust on the other, a Venturi section in the middle increases wind speed potentially three to six times. Nets over the intake and enclosed blades keep it bird friendly. The first phase of the installation includes a single turbine inside the Venturi, allowing for two additional to be installed.

The first phase of the INVELOX project is successfully charging batteries at night, says The Nature Conservancy, and on cloudy days to supplement the photovoltaic system also installed on Palmyra.

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

“With a goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, SheerWind’s INVELOX was the only viable solution for the multiple restrictions including height, wind speeds, and of course bird populations. This solution works and helped bring the goal to reduce fossil fuel use a reality,” said The Nature Conservancy’s David Sellers, who is the driving force behind the design solution and details of the INVELOX installation.

Palmyra Atoll is located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii in the vast equatorial Pacific, and hosts spectacular coral reef and tropical island ecosystems, but is a challenge for humans to inhabit. There are no commercial flights to this remote outpost, which is co-owned and managed as a scientific research station and national wildlife refuge by The Nature Conservancy and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Until the recent installation of wind and solar, Palmyra was run on diesel fuel generators. These installations reduced its dependence on fossil fuels by 95 percent according to The Nature Conservancy.

“We are grateful for David Sellers and The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to installing the first commercial system in an extremely challenging location. We are pleased we were able to contribute to this important achievement and hope this is an example to be duplicated globally,” added Dr. Daryoush Allaei, founder and CTO of SheerWind.

U.S. Senate Votes to Extend Federal Tax Credits

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has voted 23-3 to extend over 50 tax policies through 2016, including the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that helps to encourage the development of more renewable energy projects including wind. To qualify for the credits, construction of a product must begin while the tax programs are in place.

The credits has expired at the start of this year, and according to Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the action threw “the future of American wind energy into doubt once projects currently under construction are completed”.

© Hongtao926 | Dreamstime.com - Wind Turbines Photo

© Hongtao926 | Dreamstime.com – Wind Turbines Photo

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Kiernan. “We applaud the committee’s vote because it recognizes that the vast majority of American voters support these policies and want them continued. We urge the full Senate and the House of Representatives to follow the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan lead, and quickly pass this tax extenders package, which will continue to grow American jobs and heavy manufacturing, and support rural economic growth.”

Kiernan said the federal PTC and ITC are predominant drivers of new wind farm development, and have helped lower the cost of American wind power by more than half over the last five years, while making the U.S. number one in the world in wind energy production.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the hearing regularly acknowledged the strong sense of bipartisan support for renewing the tax extenders package. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dan Coats (R-IN), and Rob Portman (R-OH) withdrew amendments opposing the PTC, while Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) made the senators aware of the tremendous amounts of economic benefits and jobs wind power has created in Colorado. Continue reading