Tuesday, March 27, 2007

WIND ENERGY: Billionaire Tom Golisano says his new company will keep more money in host towns

WIND ENERGY: Billionaire Tom Golisano says his new company will keep more money in host towns

By Michael Regan/reganm@gnnewspaper.com
Amid references to his hockey team and jokes that fired up the nearly 200 in attendance, billionaire Tom Golisano, owner of the Buffalo Sabres and founder of the successful Paychex company out of Rochester, promoted his newest entrepreneurial endeavor, Empire State Wind Energy, on Monday night at the Albion Senior High School.

It wasn’t the first occasion politicians and residents of Orleans County had gathered to hear heads of companies pass on details related to the often controversial topic of wind turbines. But, according to Golisano and his business partner Keith Pitman, their plan is different.

“I don’t want to make the same mistakes as Niagara Falls,” Golisano said in reference to what he views as unfair distribution of funds yielded from the Niagara Power Project. “If it’s your energy and wind, why give it up? We started this company because we think we have a better idea.”

According to Golisano and Pitman, that idea includes giving local municipalities more of the profits from wind energy, while leaving an option for ownership. In their view, outside companies work their way into the region, leaving taxpayers with a pittance of what they deserve.

“Why are these folks coming from all over the earth to investigate wind power in upstate New York?” Pitman said. “Developers offer $8,000 per year per Megawatt of generation capacity. So we think that instead of a company in Europe capturing the money we keep it right here.”

Under his company’s blueprint, Pitman pointed to the potential for upwards of $125,000 a year profit for each turbine during the first 10 years and said after loans are paid off, that figure could more than triple.

But, their presentation wasn’t without questions as dozens in the crowd inquired about a wide-range of topics. Wendi Pencille of Shelby wanted to know how the turbines could affect birds passing through on a major migratory route. Tom Fuller, a county planning board member, asked how much of the profit would be shared with Empire Wind Energy. Others were concerned about noise, aesthetics and a turbine’s proximity to residential areas.

Golisano and Pitman said since the company was started last summer they have had similar conversations with a dozen municipalities across New York state. So far four of them have requested additional information and dialogue. Pitman alone made a similar pitch to the Town of Somerset in Niagara County a few weeks ago.

“It’s certainly been a mixed bag,” Pitman said. “It’s a town by town judgment. The last thing we want to tell you is here’s your project. The first thing we want to ask you is do you want wind energy, yes or no?”

Contact editor Michael Regan at (585) 798-1400, ext. 2226.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spain's wind energy generation reaches new high, exceeding all other forms

MADRID, Spain: Taking advantage of a particularly gusty period, Spain's wind energy generators this week reached an all-time high in electricity production, exceeding power generated by all other means, the nation's electricity network authority said Tuesday in a statement.

At 17.40 (1640 GMT) on Monday wind power generation rose to contribute 27 percent of the country's total power requirement, Red Electrica said.

At that moment wind power contributed 8,375 mega watts to the nation's power consumption of 31,033. Nuclear power, the second largest contributor, added 6,797 mega watts, while coal-fired electric generation came third with 5,081, the statement said.

National broadcaster TVE said it believed this may have been the first time wind power exceeded nuclear power's contribution to the power grid.

Over the course of last year wind power contributed nine percent of the nation's requirement while coal-fired power stations put in 24 percent and nuclear power 22 percent.

Spain has in recent years turned to harnessing wind power through the use of tall, slender electricity generating turbines on remote hillsides.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AMSC Signs Multi-Million-Dollar Contract to Develop Higher Power Wind Energy Systems for Chinese Market

AMSC Signs Multi-Million-Dollar Contract to Develop Higher Power Wind Energy Systems for Chinese Market

WESTBOROUGH, Mass.-(Business Wire)-March 13, 2007 - American Superconductor Corporation (NASDAQ: AMSC), a leading energy technologies company, announced today its wholly owned subsidiary, Windtec(TM), has signed a multi-million-dollar wind energy system joint development contract with Sinovel Wind Corporation Limited. AMSC also has a prior delivery right to sell future electrical components under the same conditions as other suppliers to Sinovel for the wind energy systems covered under the contract, creating a substantial follow-on business opportunity for AMSC. The order significantly expands Windtec's business with Sinovel. Since 2005, Sinovel has ordered electrical components from Windtec for 785 wind energy systems rated at 1.5 megawatts (MW).

Under the terms of the new contract, Windtec and Sinovel will design and jointly develop 3 and 5 MW wind energy systems that Sinovel plans to market and sell worldwide. Sinovel will have the exclusive ownership and complete industrial and intellectual property rights for large-scale onshore and offshore wind turbines developed under this contract, enabling the company to compete effectively with established leaders in the market. Based in Beijing, Sinovel plans to begin series production of 3 MW systems during 2009 and 5 MW systems the following year.

"AMSC's Windtec business enabled Sinovel to quickly establish itself in the wind power market," said Han Junliang, Chairman and President of Sinovel. "We believe the 3 and 5 MW systems we will jointly develop with Windtec will allow Sinovel to grow its market share and position us as a technology leader in the industry. We look forward to benefiting from our expanded relationship with Windtec as we continue to implement our plan to manufacture 500 wind energy systems in 2007, 800 in 2008 and reach an annual capacity of 1,000 wind energy systems in 2010."

By December 2006, Sinovel had already signed more than US$1 billion in contracts to supply domestically made wind energy systems to help meet China's rising demand for clean energy. According to one of its customers and one of China's biggest power generation companies, China Huaneng, up to US$36 billion may be spent in China by 2020 to increase wind energy capacity to cut pollution. The Chinese government has mandated that at least 70 percent of equipment used in Chinese wind farms must be made in China.

"AMSC's business in the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow rapidly," said Greg Yurek, founder and chief executive officer of AMSC. "Sinovel has done a tremendous job of scaling its production capabilities and has emerged as a major wind system manufacturer. We are honored that it has chosen Windtec to aid in expanding its product offerings to 3 and 5 MW systems - a step that will help considerably to meet the renewable energy needs of China."

According to a recent report from the Global Wind Energy Council, China's installed base of wind generated electricity grew by 107% in 2006 alone to 2,600 MW. Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) stated: "Thanks to the Renewable Energy law, the Chinese market has grown substantially in 2006, and this growth is expected to continue and speed up. According to the list of approved projects and those under construction, more than 1,500 MW will be installed in 2007. The goal for wind power in China by the end of 2010 is 5,000 MW, which according to our estimations will already be reached well ahead of time."

About Sinovel

Sinovel Wind Co., Ltd is an industrial company that is engaged in developing, engineering and marketing high tech wind energy systems. The company is headquartered in Beijing and its manufacturing base is located in Dahlia, China. The company is in the process of opening new manufacturing plants in Inner Mongolia and Jiangsu.

About AMSC

AMSC (American Superconductor Corporation - NASDAQ: AMSC) is a leading energy technologies company. The company develops and sells a wide range of products and solutions based on power electronic systems and high temperature superconductor (HTS) wires that dramatically improve the efficiency, reliability and quality of electricity during its generation, transmission, distribution and use. The company is a dominant force in alternative energy, offering grid interconnection solutions as well as licensed wind energy designs and electrical systems. As the world's principal supplier of HTS wire, AMSC is enabling a new generation of compact, high-power electrical products, including motors, generators, power cables, grid-level surge protectors, and advanced transportation and defense systems. AMSC also provides utility and industrial customers worldwide with voltage regulation systems that dramatically enhance power grid capacity, reliability and security, as well as industrial productivity. The company's technologies are protected by a broad and deep intellectual property portfolio consisting of hundreds of patents and licenses worldwide. More information is available at www.amsuper.com. # # # #

American Superconductor and design, Revolutionizing the Way the World Uses Electricity, AMSC, Powered by AMSC, SuperVAR, D-VAR, DVC, PQ-IVR, PowerModule and Windtec are trademarks or registered trademarks of AMSC.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wind lab won't be placed in Ohio Finalists are Massachusetts and Texas

Wind lab won't be placed in OhioFinalists are Massachusetts and Texas

East Toledo won't get America's first laboratory for testing offshore wind turbine blades. It's a decision that likely has cost northwest Ohio a shot at numerous jobs in the renewable energy sector and likely will keep the Great Lakes region from assuming a leadership role in the development of offshore wind power.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today is expected to announce sites in Texas and Massachusetts as the two finalists for the $11.5 million project... "A lot of work went into it. It was very exciting. It was a good effort," Mr. Calzonetti said last night. "We don't know exactly the reasons why the DOE selected Texas and Massachusetts. We'll go forward from here." ...But Robert Kozar, a former NASA official who was hired in early 2006 as a special projects official in UT's research office, also said he had heard Texas and Massachusetts will be named as the two finalists.

Texas and Massachusetts are well ahead of the Great Lakes region in terms of possible construction of offshore turbines. Texas on Monday announced it had the nation's first platform for collecting offshore wind ready to go out into the Gulf of Mexico from the Galveston shoreline.
Massachusetts is even further along with its Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, awaiting word on permits to build 130 turbines for what would become America's first offshore wind farm... Read the rest of this Toledo Blade story here.____________________________

Texas says Ted Kennedy may stop Mass. getting facility

Cape Cod TODAY has obtained the document below from the Texas General Land Office bragging about how Ted Kennedy may have prevented Massachusetts from being given a major, new Federal testing lab due to his efforts to stop Cape Wind.
The dicument reads in part, “Ted Kennedy has fought wind energy in Massachusetts, but Ted Kennedy is not from around here,” Patterson said.

“In Texas, we welcome wind power and the money that comes with it. I’m confident the Department of Energy will appreciate what we have to offer.”Wind is the fastest growing source of energy in the world today. And Texas is the top generator of wind power in the nation. Last year alone, Texas built nearly a third of the new wind power installed nationwide...

Here's the rest;

Texas is finalist for wind turbine research facility$80 billion international market for turbines at stake

AUSTIN — Texas will square off against Massachusetts in a showdown for a new, national large-scale wind turbine research and development facility, announced Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. The facility would replace the Department of Energy’s existing test center in Colorado.

“Ted Kennedy has fought wind energy in Massachusetts, but Ted Kennedy is not from around here,” Patterson said.

“In Texas, we welcome wind power and the money that comes with it. I’m confident the Department of Energy will appreciate what we have to offer.”
Wind is the fastest growing source of energy in the world today. And Texas is the top generator of wind power in the nation. Last year alone, Texas built nearly a third of the new wind power installed nationwide.

Under Patterson, Texas signed the nation’s first and second leases for the development of offshore wind power. And no coastal state has greater wind energy potential than Texas. Texas could generate as much as 10 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, according to resource assessments conducted by the University of Houston. The nation’s cumulative wind power capacity is currently 9,971 megawatts. The booming growth of the wind industry in Texas makes the state a natural fit for the testing of the huge turbine components required for future wind farms.

Patterson has likened the potential impact of the Alliance’s proposed National Large Wind Turbine Research & Testing Facility to that of NASA in Houston during the space race in the 1960s. A Texas-sized test facility will give the U.S. an advantage in getting a bigger share of the projected $80 billion annual international business in designing and building turbines.
“Anyone building wind turbines will want to be near this facility,” Patterson said. “A Texas facility will be a magnet for research and manufacturing. It will establish Texas as a worldwide leader in wind power for many years to come.” deep-water ports, strong gulf winds and political will to make our coast the perfect site for the new blade-testing facility,” Patterson said. “The only hard part here will be deciding where along our 367 mile coast to place it.”
Patterson made the announcement on behalf of the Land Office and the Lone Star Wind Alliance, a Texas-led coalition of universities, government agencies and corporate partners created to prepare the proposal for submission to the federal government.

Patterson has likened the potential impact of the Alliance’s proposed National Large Wind Turbine Research & Testing Facility to that of NASA in Houston during the space race in the 1960s. A Texas-sized test facility will give the U.S. an advantage in getting a bigger share of the projected $80 billion annual international business in designing and building turbines.
“Anyone building wind turbines will want to be near this facility,” Patterson said. “A Texas facility will be a magnet for research and manufacturing. It will establish Texas as a worldwide leader in wind power for many years to come.”

The Consortium’s proposal to DOE enjoys the full support of the Texas Congressional delegation, as well as leadership at the state level including Governor Perry, Speaker Tom Craddick and several Texas State House and Senate members.
“We are thrilled that DOE has included Texas in the final round of competition for the new facility,” said Ray Flumerfelt, Dean of the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. “Our proposal, as well as the Lone Star Wind Alliance, will only get stronger as we move forward. I am confident that the new wind facility will be housed along the Texas coast and we look forward to working with DOE to that end.”

In May, the Department of Energy announced it is seeking partners to build a new facility capable of testing blades up to 70 meters long. In addition to Texas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia submitted applications for the test facility.
Texas brought together a coalition of its best academic minds, industry leaders and public servants to focus on this bid, which was submitted to the Department of Energy by the University of Houston. Austin-based Good Company Associates is coordinating the coalition’s efforts.

The Lone Star Wind Alliance includes the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, the Houston Advanced Research Center, Stanford University, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, Old Dominion University, the Texas General Land Office, the State Energy Conservation Office, the Texas Workforce Commission, Governor Rick Perry and Good Company Associates.

It looks like wind power is going to be in our future

It looks like wind power is going to be in our future
Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's not going to be pretty, and the sight and sound of spinning turbines is going to grate on some nerves, but wind energy is in West Michigan's future. Next year, the first of 90 planned wind-to-energy machines may start up their propellers in Oceana County.
That much is clear following the announcement of Mackinaw Power President Rich Vanderveen that 35 leases have been secured from area farmers in four Oceana County townships: Weare, Elbridge, Hart and Crystal. The four townships are near the knobby peninsula sticking out along the shoreline of West Michigan due north of the Muskegon County line.
It is here that winds blow with particular energy across the Big Lake and into Oceana County. As the winds blow, they power the turbines, which spin like the windmills of old to generate the power that comes from nature's free energy source. Environmentalists say natural energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal heat from underground are the key to reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

In addition to his Oceana project, Vanderveen has plans for other areas within the state where his research shows that wind power is reliable enough to be feasible for a turbine site. Areas in Muskegon County in the White Lake region have also been eyed by Vanderveen and others.
It is only a matter of time, we think, before limitations of supply and rising costs force energy customers to look elsewhere for power. As stated earlier, there are indeed tradeoffs whatever sources are used. However, it's best that supply and demand be given its opportunity now while there's still time to adjust to the great energy challenges ahead for America and the world.

Company plans to build Nebraska's largest wind farm

Company plans to build Nebraska's largest wind farm

A company specializing in renewable energy plans to build a wind farm in northcentral Nebraska that would be the state's largest wind power operation.

Mike Donahue, executive vice president of Midwest Wind Energy LLC, confirmed Friday that a 100 megawatt wind farm is in the works for Holt County. The project would cost $160 million.

One megawatt of electricity is roughly enough to power 250 to 300 American homes for a day. The planned wind farm would generate enough power for 40,000 Nebraskans, according to Midwest.

The Chicago-based company is affiliated with Edison Mission Group Inc., a subsidiary of power company Edison International. Eighteen wind farms are in operation or are under construction by the partnership.

Donahue said Midwest has formed Holt County Wind LLC to oversee the Nebraska wind farm. It hopes to sell the power to Nebraska Public Power District.

"NPPD has had some high-level discussion with them regarding this project," spokeswoman Beth Boesch said Friday.

She said officials there have received little information on the wind farm so far, and it was too early to comment on the proposal.

NPPD already owns and operates a 60-megawatt wind farm south of Ainsworth and two turbines near Springview.

The 36-turbine Ainsworth complex, which opened in 2005, is the state's largest wind farm. It produces enough electricity annually to provide power to 19,000 homes.

NPPD provides power to about 1 million Nebraskans through retail service and wholesale service to other power companies.

The power district gets about 1 percent of its power from renewable energy. David Rich, NPPD's renewable energy manager, said recently that the goal is to generate about 5 percent of its power from renewable energy.

"This proposal offers an opportunity for a public-private partnership to achieve NPPD's objectives for developing more renewable energy," Donahue said Friday in a news release.

The site for the planned operation is 11,500 acres near Atkinson that was owned by members of the Keating family. The family confirmed the plans.

Donahue said Holt County Wind has already bought the land and secured the necessary permits. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

Midwest said eight full-time jobs would be created to be operate the wind farm.

Nebraska ranks sixth in the nation in terms of the potential for wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

But there aren't nearly as many wind turbines in Nebraska, which is the nation's only all public-power state, as in neighboring states. Nearby states, including Iowa and Minnesota, are both among the top five wind energy-producing states, with California producing the most.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Two oil giants plunge into the wind business Shell, BP intend to play major role

Two oil giants plunge into the wind business
Shell, BP intend to play major role
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff March 2, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Two of the world's leading oil producers have almost overnight joined some of the biggest players in wind power in the United States, accelerating a trend of large corporations investing in the rapidly growing alternative-energy field.

As global warming and clean fuels have gained more attention, Shell Oil Co. and BP have accumulated impressive credentials. Shell is one of the nation's top five generators of wind power, while BP's Alternative Energy group -- launched 16 months ago -- aims to develop projects that produce 550 megawatts of electricity this year, one-sixth of the projected US wind energy output in 2007.

"Shell and BP see wind as an increasingly important part of the energy industry. They are looking to continue to grow," said Randall Swisher , executive director of the American Wind Energy Association , a Washington-based industry group. "They want to look for new opportunities, and wind is clearly in their sights."

The oil companies bring enormous cash reserves, years of experience in large projects, and a can-do spirit to an alternative-fuels industry that has largely been driven by speculators, small developers, and utilities. Though environmentalists largely praise the interests of the two oil giants, they harbor suspicions of whether the energy giants are adding renewable sources to their portfolios as a way to enhance their reputations with consumers rather than to combat global warming.

BP and Shell executives acknowledged that their investments in wind -- and to a lesser extent solar power -- may enhance their public images, but said their primary goal is to make money and reduce their companies' carbon outputs, if only slightly. Scientists have identified carbon dioxide gases as the leading contributor to global warming, a phenomenon that threatens to progressively increase the temperature of the planet.

Graeme Sweeney , Shell's executive vice president for renewables, hydrogen, and CO{-2} , said most forecasts predict that by 2050, renewable energy will make up a third of the world's power sources.

"We need to take a position on whether you wait to see what happens or whether you play. We'd like to play," Sweeney said in an interview. "We see a clear opportunity in the wind business. "
The United States is third in the world in wind power production behind Germany and Spain, the historic leaders, although in 2006 the United States created the most wind power in the world: 2,454 megawatts, enough electricity to power nearly 700,000 homes.

Robert Lukefahr , president of BP Alternative Energy North America , said all trends point toward a "more carbon-constrained world. The concerns about climate control are rising. Energy security issues will cause many communities to seek indigenous supplies of energy."
With 41 percent of US carbon dioxide emissions coming from power plants -- coal-fired plants by far produce the most greenhouse gases -- renewable energy must become a larger part of the power mix, Lukefahr said.

"All the stars are aligning in a way that supports alternative energy," he said.
Some environmentalists oppose wind power, concerned that the clusters of giant turbines used to produce it could threaten birds and bats. They also consider wind farms to be eyesores planted on near-pristine landscapes.

Opponents of the Cape Wind project -- a plan to build several 417-foot-high turbines off the coast of Cape Cod -- as well as projects planned for the tall-grass prairies in Kansas and the ridgetops of Vermont and New Hampshire, cite aesthetics as one of the major drawbacks of wind power.

Tom Natan , research director of the National Environmental Trust , a Washington-based advocacy group, said he believes that wind power's benefits outweigh the negatives and that the involvement of heavyweights such as BP and Shell -- regardless of their motives -- is necessary to accelerate development of wind power.

"Some people fear it will be used to green-wash [the oil companies'] reputation," Natan said. But if the demand for electricity substantially increases in the coming years, especially with more hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, Natan said, "it's not a huge stretch of imagination to see why these companies are going into renewable energies."

Swisher, who has been head of the wind power association since 1989, said the industry has changed dramatically in recent years. At this year's annual meeting in June, he expects 6,000 people to attend and 300 companies to have exhibits.

"I remember at my first annual meeting we were in a seedy hotel in San Francisco with 10 tabletop exhibits, maybe 300 people, and there were more ponytails than I had seen in a long time," Swisher said. "But we're talking suits at this annual meeting. It's serious business."
In his meetings with BP and Shell -- he traveled to Texas to meet representatives of both companies last month -- Swisher said that "sitting in a room with some of these people and talking about where the industry is going, you sense the excitement they have in what they are doing. You can tell they are not doing this for show. They are looking to do a significant amount of business."

The largest US wind power investor is Florida Power & Light , including many projects far from the state. Other big investors include JPMorgan Chase and Babcock & Brown , and some power companies are creating their own alternative energy units as well as investing in existing ones.
The big issues facing the industry are whether the federal government will extend clean-energy tax credits beyond 2008 -- the industry wants at least a five-year extension -- and whether Congress will pass a bill to mandate that 15 percent of the nation's power comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Senator Jeff Bingaman , a New Mexico Democrat and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is the bill's chief sponsor.
Swisher said he believes the larger companies such as BP and Shell are poised to make much larger investments in wind, especially with those incentives.

"If you are serious about wind, the only way to get there is to rely on companies that have significant access to capital and industrial capability," he said.

Shell's Sweeney said he believes the concerns over global warming will be the biggest impetus for wind power investment. "We need to remember that fossil fuels are not going away. They will be with us for most of this century," he said. "We need to meet the energy challenge and do it an environmentally responsible way."

John Donnelly can be reached at donnelly@globe.com.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Westar Announces Plans to Acquire 500 Megawatts of Renewable Energy

Westar Announces Plans to Acquire 500 Megawatts of Renewable Energy
Westar Energy is answering the governor's call for to make Kansas a leader in wind energy. The utility announced it would acquire up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2010 with the most likely source being wind power.

By doing so, Westar would more than double the amount of the state's energy comes from windmills and would be a significant step towards the governor's goal of 10% of the state's electricity coming via wind power.

Kansas currently ranks among the top three states in utilizing wind energy, however still only comprises 3.5% of its energy production.

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson cites the Westar announcement as validation of the states collaborative approach to encouraging wind power, working with utilities rather than mandating utilities build wind farms.

American Wind Energy Association Applauds Proposed Incentive For Home, Small Business Wind Systems

Move by Senator Ken Salazar and co-sponsors opens way for federal tax credit for consumers purchasing a small wind systemFebruary 28, 2007 --

The American Wind Energy Association today praised Senators Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) for introducing legislation that would allow purchasers of a small wind system to receive a credit on their taxes for a portion of the turbine’s cost.

The “Rural Wind Energy Development Act” (S. 673) would provide a federal tax credit of $1,500 per ½ kilowatt (kW) of capacity to purchasers of small wind systems nationwide. This five-year credit would apply to all wind systems with capacities of under 100 kW used to power individual homes, farms, or small businesses. Joining Salazar and Smith as original co-sponsors of the bill were Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

“There is a great satisfaction in generating your own electricity, and doing so in a way that reduces global warming emissions and strengthens the country’s energy security,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “The bill proposed by Senators Salazar and Smith empowers consumers and is good energy policy.”

AWEA Small-Wind Advocate Ron Stimmel noted that the bill’s introduction is a positive development for small wind. “This would be the first federal incentive in 20 years to help individuals – homeowners, farmers, and small business owners - buy a small wind turbine,” said Stimmel. The credit would help bring down the up-front cost of purchasing a system and spur a market that is growing, but remains well below what industry experts believe is its full potential.

The bill would also allow the credit to be carried over—meaning that in the event that using the credit reduces the consumer’s taxable income below the minimum threshold, the unusable excess credit would be carried over to the next tax year. This provision essentially allows a consumer with a low annual income to take full advantage of the credit. The bill would also provide for an accelerated depreciation of three years for small wind turbines.

AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. The association's membership includes turbine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals. More information on wind energy is available at the AWEA web site: www.awea.orgSource: AWEA

Monday, February 26, 2007

Proposed wind farm near Cut Bank may double in size

Proposed wind farm near Cut Bank may double in size
Tribune Staff Writer

Construction of the state's largest commercial wind farm would be part of billions of dollars of investment in wind projects in Montana and Alberta over the next few years, which renewable energy developers say will result from a deal announced Friday.

Somers-based Great Plains Wind & Energy LLC, the developer of a proposed wind farm in Montana, was sold to the much larger Naturener, which is based in Spain, with its North American headquarters in San Francisco.


Naturener's first announcement was its intention to more than double the size of the proposed McCormick Ranch Wind Park from 120 to 300 megawatts. That would make the project in Toole and Glacier counties even bigger than the 135-megawatt wind farm in Judith Gap, the state's sole wind farm producing at a large commercial level.

Great Plains had been developing the McCormick project since 2005, but on a smaller scale.
With the expansion, it would feature some 200 turbines spread across 20,000 acres, which the developer, now Naturener, would lease from landowners. Leases have been secured from all the landowners, said Bill Alexander, one of the original owners of Great Plains.

The $500 million wind farm is proposed for 10 miles west of Shelby between U.S. Highway 2 and the Marias River, in Toole and Glacier counties.

"This is a considerable expansion and we only had to secure a little bit more land to accommodate that expansion because the winds are so good in Montana," Alexander said.

Alexander has joined Naturener as chief development officer for North America. The other owner of Great Plains, Dave Dumon, will manage Montana projects for Naturener. The company's new name is Naturener USA, LLC.

Naturener also announced Friday that it had purchased another wind energy developer, Energy Logics (now Naturener Energy Canada, Inc.), which is in southern Alberta.

Combined, the Alberta and Montana companies were planning 1,800 megawatts of wind power. And both had purchased capacity on a proposed power line between Great Falls and Lethbridge that will ship wind-generated electricity to customers in Montana and Alberta. Naturener now owns that capacity. The company also says it plans to invest $3 billion in developing the full 1,800 megawatts by 2012.

Naturener is owned by a Belgian industrial group, a savings bank based in Spain and a private New York investor, according to the company.

With the purchase of Great Plains and Energy Logics, it's now entered the North American wind energy market. It's already developed hydroelectric, solar and wind energy in Spain.

Naturener has enough investment capital to tackle large projects that Great Plains couldn't handle, said Alexander, who declined to disclose terms of the deal. "The sale was a really beneficial move for us," he said.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said that utility lobbyists typically dismiss wind power as being "fine for hippies living on a mountaintop smoking marijuana."

He called the Naturener plan "true economic development for Eastern Montana." The McCormick project, he added, would increase the state's commercial wind-power production by 200 percent.

Whether that project proceeds will depend on whether the 218-mile electricity transmission line is constructed from Great Falls to Lethbridge. At times, the line will carry 600 megawatts of renewable energy, 300 in each direction, to homes and businesses.

The line, planned by Calgary-based Montana Alberta Tie Ltd., is expected to spawn wind farms along it and the McCormick project is one of them.

Besides Naturener, other companies that own capacity on the line are Invenergy, the owner of the Judith Gap wind farm, and Wind Hunter LLC, which is proposing a 170-megawatt facility in Valley County. Invenergy has said it's considering construction of a large wind farm north of Great Falls.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is expecting to release an environmental impact statement on the merchant transmission line within a few weeks, said Bill Williams, a Montana-Alberta Tie vice president. The Canadian National Energy Board also is expected to render its decision on the project in a few weeks.

The company hopes to break ground on the transmission line by this summer.

"Without that Montana-Alberta line none of (the wind-power projects) will happen," said Shelby Mayor Larry Bonderud, who also serves on the Toole County economic development agency.

Both the city and county have worked closely with Great Plains on the McCormick wind farm and support the acquisition by Naturener, he said. In addition to capital, the larger company brings expertise in renewable energy development to the state, he said.

Local officials envision an entire bank of wind farms from northcentral Montana to the Canadian border, representing billions of dollars in investment. Bonderud said the proposed McCormick wind farm would triple the tax base in Toole County.

"These wind projects have the potential to lower the taxes on every farm, every ranch and every main-street business and every household," he said.

Local officials have negotiated an agreement with the McCormick developers to offset the impact of the large project, which includes payments of several hundred thousand dollars a year to local governments, he said. Landowners will receive lease payments and even more compensation if turbines are put up on their property, he said.