Saturday, April 29, 2006

Officials hope NorthWestern deal will boost wind power

Officials hope NorthWestern deal will boost wind power

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The Australian company buying NorthWestern Corp. is one of the world's biggest players in wind farms, and officials hope that will translate to greater renewable energy opportunities in the region.

Sioux Falls-based NorthWestern announced Tuesday it has agreed to be acquired by Babcock & Brown Infrastructure of Sydney, Australia, in a cash deal worth $2.2 billion.

Bob Sahr, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, met with company officials this past week to discuss the deal. Sahr said most of the questions focused on the company's commitment to the state and its utility customers, but he did ask whether there would be a connection between the utility and Babcock & Brown's other ventures in wind power and transmission lines.

"They indicated that they were intrigued by South Dakota's wind power potential, that they knew it was one of the best in the world, but they would evaluate it on a case-by-case basis and look for projects that would make sense," Sahr said.

Babcock & Brown officials made similar statements to Montana officials during a meeting in Helena.

Tristan Peniston-Bird, a spokesman for the company, said there are no existing plans to build wind farms across South Dakota, but such opportunities would be considered.

"It's not that they plan to or are, but certainly it's something they would certainly consider, whether it would be BBI directly or NorthWestern would draw on BBI's experience in doing so," Peniston-Bird said.

One of Babcock & Brown's wind projects sits on tribal land, and that's encouraging to Pat Spears, president of the Rosebud-based Intertribal Council On Utility Policy.

Babcock & Brown partnered with GE Energy Financial Services to invest in a wind farm on the Campo Indian Reservation near the California-Mexico border. The 25 turbines, which started turning in 2005, generate 50 megawatts of electricity for customers in nearby San Diego. The tribe makes money on its land-lease contract and royalties.

Spears, who helped put the first tribally owned wind station on Indian land in 2003, said he hopes the company will consider tribal ventures when looking at wind power development in South Dakota.

"You would hope that new investment and new ownership would explore all of their avenues for wind energy development, and certainly including those on tribal lands that we're working on," said Spears, a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's single 750-kilowatt turbine at its casino south of Mission can power 220 homes, and it's currently looking to expand the project into a 30 megawatt wind farm near St. Francis.

The utility council owns a majority interest in NativeEnergy, a privately held American Indian energy company. NativeEnergy and the council hope to build a series of small 10 megawatt wind farms on reservations across the Dakotas and Nebraska to create new revenue streams for the tribes.

Spears said the biggest challenge for tribes is finding a way to get the electricity to potential customers.

"Transmission capacity is limited out of South Dakota and North Dakota," he said. "That is the issue to move it to the urban markets."

Spears said he's hoping to get tribes and states behind wind energy development and request the federal government to fund a good transmission study.

Babcock & Brown Infrastructure has a 16.5 percent interest in Babcock & Brown Wind Partners, which has stakes in 15 wind farms in Australia, Europe and the United States, including:

--Two wind farms in Nolan County, Texas, with 86 turbines producing 129 megawatts to customers of TXU Energy and Austin Energy

--An 80-turbine wind farm in New Mexico, generating 80 megawatts of electricity for energy customers in the state

--A 45-turbine farm near Lawton, Okla., which generates 74.25 megawatts for Western Farmers Electric Cooperative members

--A 41-turbine farm in northeastern Oregon that sends 41 megawatts of energy to PacifiCorp customers

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Counties, cities seek wind bonds

Published on Thursday, April 27, 2006.
Last modified on 4/27/2006 at 12:27 am

Counties, cities seek wind bonds
Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- More than 30 Montana cities and counties filed applications Wednesday for interest-free federal financing for wind energy projects, with Yellowstone and Cascade county commissioners coming to Washington to submit theirs and to lobby on rural issues.

The local governments submitted applications to the U.S. Treasury Department for a total of $37.2 million in renewable bonds for wind projects. A total of $800 million has been appropriated for the new program nationwide.

Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy said the county requested slightly more than $4 million to build 18 wind turbines that would produce 4.5 megawatts of power.

That would be enough to power all of the county buildings, including MetraPark, the courthouse and the detention facility, he said. It costs $250,000 to pay for electricity at MetraPark annually, Kennedy said.

Cascade County Commission Chairwoman Peggy Beltrone said her county's application totaled $3.6 million that would finance 16 100-foot-tall towers that would produce 4 megawatts.

"Montana has one of the best wind resources in the nation, and yet we have had a slow start in wind energy," she said. "It will show people in Montana across these many jurisdictions ... that it can be done, that wind energy is possible. It's possible in our hometowns, possible in our home counties."

The pair met yesterday with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who crafted the program, called Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, that passed Congress as part of the 2005 energy bill.

Baucus said he's confident that Montana will do well in the approval process.

"The legislation was written in a way so that smaller projects are at the head of the line," he said.

The program will run for two years under existing legislation, but Baucus said he is working to extend it for three more.

Claud Matney and Mike Costanti of Matney-Frantz Engineering in Bozeman handled all the applications and came to Washington to submit them. The company has been working on energy projects since the 1970s.

Kennedy and Beltrone came to Washington as part of the annual legislative fly-in of the National Association of Counties Rural Action Caucus, which Kennedy chairs this year.

Caucus members from across the country came to Capitol Hill to meet with more than 30 members of Congress and with domestic policy assistants at the White House on rural issues.

Kennedy said the issues they covered included Community Development Block Grants, funding for methamphetamine prevention and law enforcement, funding for a rural schools act, and payments that rural counties with large tracts of federal land receive in lieu of taxes they could collect if that land were private.

Beltrone said she was also in town to pick up an award for Cascade County for its wind energy marketing program.

Montana counties applying for the wind grants are Big Horn, Blaine, Carbon, Cascade, Chouteau, Fergus, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith, Basin, Liberty, Meagher, Musselshell, Park, Pondera, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Wheatland and Yellowstone.

Towns applying are Big Sandy, Big Timber, Chester, Chinook, Columbus, Conrad, Hardin, Harlem, Harlowton, Lavina, Lewistown, Livingston, Red Lodge, Roundup, Ryegate, Stanford and Three Forks.

Friday, April 21, 2006

India adds 1,702 MW wind energy capacity in FY06

India adds 1,702 MW wind energy capacity in FY06

April 20, 2006

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India added 1,702 megawatts of wind energy capacity in the year to March 2006, taking its total capacity to 5,300 MW, an industry association said on Thursday.

With this, India now has the fourth largest capacity in the world only behind Germany, Spain and the United States, the Indian Wind Energy Association (INWEA) said in a statement.

With a capacity of around 59,000 MW at the end of 2005, wind energy accounts for around 1 percent of global electricity generation.

INWEA said India's growth was largely driven by increasing energy shortage and shorter gestation periods for installing wind energy plants.

The country boasts of equipment manufacturing capacity worth 2,000 MW and expects exports to grow exponentially as the global wind energy market is seen expanding to 25,000 MW by 2010.

Led by key listed wind energy companies such as Suzlon Energy and NEPC India, India is set to become the manufacturing hub for wind energy machines.

MidAmerican to boost wind energy

MidAmerican to boost wind energy
Published: 04/21/2006 09:14 AM

By: Associated Press - Associated Press

DES MOINES, IA - Iowa's largest energy company plans to double its wind-generated electricity and has state approval to eventually nearly triple its output.

MidAmerican Energy Company, which accounted for most of Iowa's new wind capacity last year, received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board this week to add 545 megawatts of wind energy.

MidAmerican operates 360.5 megawatts of wind energy facilities in northern Iowa, and officials say the company will at least double that number in the coming years.

The state approved the plan on the condition that MidAmerican not raise its electricity rates in Iowa until 2010.

Iowa has more than 830 megawatts of wind energy capacity, ranking it third in the country behind California and Texas, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

In 2003, Gov. Tom Vilsack issued a challenge for Iowa to have 1,000 egawatts of renewable energy in Iowa by 2010. MidAmerican would operate more than 1,000 megawatts of wind, biomass and hydroelectric energy in Iowa if it adds the maximum 545 megawatts.

Vilsack said the expansion plan will have "a huge impact" on the state's energy industry.

A 545-megawatt wind project would result in the avoidance of up to 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually -- the equivalent of eliminating 279,000 vehicles, company officials said.

"We are again adding renewable energy ... in a way that makes sense for our customers, our company and the state," said Todd Raba, president of MidAmerican Energy.

Most of MidAmerican's electricity is generated by burning coal. But last year, the company completed a $386 million, 257-turbine project in two northern Iowa sites, increasing its total generation from renewable sources to 9 percent. Iowa law requires at least 2 percent come from renewable sources.

This year, the company plans to complete a 99-megawatt expansion in Carroll and Crawford counties in west central Iowa. MidAmerican officials said the location of other projects and the amount the company will invest has not been determined.

MidAmerican is based in Des Moines and provides electricity to 706,000 customers and natural gas to 687,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

| Wind Power Contract Secured for Prince Edward Island

Wind Power Contract Secured for Prince Edward Island
April 19, 2006

Norway, Prince Edward Island (PEI) [] With construction of the $18 million, 9-megawatt (MW) Norway Wind Park expected to begin this year and commissioned in the spring of 2007, Ventus Energy signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with PEI Energy Corp. to sell wind power.

"Private sector investments like these show the confidence that the private sector has in the growth potential for our economy, particularly in renewable energy. I look forward to this development and the positive spin-offs it will bring to our community."

-- Gail Shea, Transportation and Public Works Minister, PEI The Ventus Energy Norway Wind Park is to be built on the northwest tip of PEI, south of the Atlantic Wind Test Site at North Cape. The price for the 20-year term of this PPA is set at the feed-in tariff price established by the Government of PEI of $0.0775 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

A 12-month formal wind assessments study is completed and an environmental assessment study is well under way, expected to be completed this summer. Dr. Marina Silva and her team at the University of Prince Edward Island are completing the environmental work. The formal public meeting was held in June 2005 and terms of an interconnection agreement with Maritime Electric Corporation Limited are being finalized.

"We are delighted to make this announcement at this time. All of the hard work of the many talented people at Ventus Energy is beginning to pay off," said John Douglas, Ventus Energy's Chief Executive Officer. "The Norway Wind Park represents a substantial milestone in the development of Ventus Energy as an independent power producer. The Government of PEI has shown tremendous leadership in the renewable energy sector. We firmly believe that a fixed price tariff is the way to build a sustainable renewable energy industry in PEI," Douglas added.

"This investment by Ventus Energy is a great step forward for renewable energy development in West Prince," said Gail Shea, Transportation and Public Works Minister. "Private sector investments like these show the confidence that the private sector has in the growth potential for our economy, particularly in renewable energy. I look forward to this development and the positive spin-offs it will bring to our community," said Shea.

The 9 MW Norway Wind Park will generate an estimated 31,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of green power -- enough to power almost 5,000 PEI homes and displace the equivalent of nearly 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Ventus Energy is developing more than 5,000 MW of potential wind power projects on 25 sites in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. It has secured the rights to more than 17 million acres of land to conduct this wind energy development. Formal wind studies, interconnection and environmental assessments and other permitting activities are well underway at all sites. Ventus believes that this portfolio represents the largest portfolio of potential wind energy projects in Canada.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Prince Edward Island Wind - Hydrogen Village

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rules clarified for offshore wind power

Thu 30 Mar 2006

Rules clarified for offshore wind power
LONDON (Reuters) - The offshore wind power industry got a boost on Thursday as the government clarified rules on financing connections to the mainland grid, the wind industry and the government said.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, ending months of uncertainty, said the cost of linking offshore wind turbines to the onshore grid should be financed through regulated charges levied by National Grid, mirroring arrangements for onshore connections.

Doubts about financing methods for offshore power lines, which are expected to cost billions of pounds, has hampered the growth of offshore wind, analysts say.

"This is an important step for Britain's offshore wind energy industry as the measures I am announcing will increase its viability by spreading grid connection costs over a number of years," said Wicks in a statement.

The government wants wind projects, especially off the coast of Scotland, to boost the use of green energy and help tackle climate change.

Earlier on Thursday the government said emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, rose last year, the third annual increase in a row.

"The industry is delighted that the Government has finally settled the regulatory framework for offshore transmission," said Richard Ford, Head of Grid and Technical Affairs at the British Wind Energy Association.

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