Sunday, May 28, 2006

Talk swirls of Great Lakes offshore windmills

Tilting at turbines: Talk swirls of Great Lakes offshore windmills TODD RICHMOND

ALGOMA, Wis. (AP) - Little red lighthouse. Beach boardwalks. The blue-green waters of Lake Michigan stretching to the horizon. Just another pretty-as-a-postcard day on the shores of this sleepy town of 5,700 about a half-hour east of Green Bay.

But changes could be in store for Algoma and other towns and cities that line the Great Lakes. Energy experts are set to meet in Madison and Toledo, Ohio, next month to talk about the prospects of implanting giant electricity-generating windmills in the Great Lakes.

Advocates say offshore wind turbines would be a power generation jackpot. Opponents are cringing, fearing the windmills' impact on the lakes' aesthetics, tourism and fishing.

"I'll fight this every way I can," said Algoma alderman Ken Taylor, chairman of the city's marina committee. "The beautiful view we have would be destroyed ... how many (tourists and fishermen) are going to come here if we have these things off our coastline?"

Offshore turbines would be a risky undertaking for any utility. To generate a sizable amount of power, a company would have to install rows of them, either anchoring them to the lakes' bottom in relatively shallow water or allowing them to float. Pricetags could stretch into the tens of millions of dollars.

The turbines would be huge, towering as high as 120 metres with blade spans wider than a football field, said Walt Musial, senior engineer and offshore programs leader for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy contractor. Musial is scheduled to make a presentation at a June 14 conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The payoff would come in increased energy production, Musial said. Winds over water are generally stronger, less turbulent and more consistent than on land. Major population and industrial centres such as Cleveland, Chicago, Gary, Ind., and Milwaukee sit on the Great Lakes' shores, reducing the need for long-distance transmission and providing an energy boost at the same time, he added.

"Offshore machines can make about twice as much as onshore," Musial said. "It's a potentially big resource for renewable energy. You want to generate the electricity close to where people are going to use it."

The concept isn't new. Several European countries, including Denmark and Great Britain, have developed wind farms in the North and Baltic seas, said John Dunlop, senior outreach representative with the American Wind Energy Association.

Houston-based Superior Renewable Energy plans to build a 170-turbine farm in the Gulf of Mexico about 16 kilometres off Padre Island. Another 50 turbines are planned off Galveston, Texas, and at least two other offshore projects have been proposed on the East Coast - one off Long Island and another off Cape Cod.

But the idea has been slow to catch on in the Great Lakes region.

Green Energy Ohio last fall built a wind-monitoring tower about five kilometres off Cleveland's Lake Erie shoreline to test the lake's potential for offshore turbines. But the state is looking toward land-based turbines, said Merle Madrid, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development.

"Offshore siting, particularly in fresh water environments, contains too many technical unknowns at this time, though we continue to be engaged in the research," Madrid said.

Officials with both the Michigan and Wisconsin public service commissions say they haven't seen any proposals for offshore wind in the Great Lakes.

Still, a 2004 report commissioned by the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program, a partnership between the state and utilities to promote renewable sources, to study Lake Michigan wind speeds and shallows found the southern coastline holds great promise.

Seventh Generation Energy Systems, a nonprofit engineering firm, built a $114,500-US tower three kilometres off Racine's Lake Michigan shoreline last August to monitor wind speeds for three years. The state chipped in $49,000 US for the project.

Seventh Generation executive director David Blecker said the firm has no interest in building offshore turbines, but would-be developers could use the wind-speed data.

"The Europeans have shown again and again it can make sense," Blecker said.

Anyone who attempts an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes would face formidable hurdles. Aside from the cost of construction - the Padre Island project is expected to ring in at $1 billion to $2 billion US - developers also would have to navigate a web of federal and state permits.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over structures in the lakes, said Steven Metivier, a corps biologist in Buffalo, N.Y. Developers also would have to lease tracts of lake bottom from the states, which hold the underwater property rights, Metivier said. Plus, state utility regulators would have to sign off.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Largest U.S. Wind Energy Event Ever

Largest U.S. Wind Energy Event Ever Will Bring Together Utility, National, and State Leaders
Press Release from American Wind Energy Association

May 22, 2006

WINDPOWER 2006 Conference & Exhibition Will Mark Wind Energy's Breakthrough Into Second-largest Source of New Power Generation in U.S., Present Plans for Advancement of Industry.
"These are heady times for the wind industry, with a record year in 2005, and 2006 looking even better."

- Randall Swisher, AWEA Executive Director From June 4 - 7, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) will bring together utility and business leaders, national and state policymakers, and renewable energy advocates at its largest conference and trade show ever, hosting more than 4,500 attendees at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

The WINDPOWER 2006 Conference & Exhibition will feature a spectacular Exhibition Hall with more than 280 companies demonstrating advanced products and technology, an awards banquet honoring over 20 individuals from across the nation for leadership in the development and promotion of wind energy, and plenary and educational sessions featuring state governors, U.S. administration leaders, and utility and wind industry executives tackling the industry's current challenges and presenting a vision for the future.

Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. In 2005, new wind farms were the second-largest source of new power generation in the U.S., after new natural gas power plants. In February, President George W. Bush asserted that wind energy could provide up to 20% of the nations electricity, up from less than 1% today.

"These are heady times for the wind industry, with a record year in 2005, and 2006 looking even better," said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "The industry is working overtime to keep up with the exciting growth and demand. Clean, renewable, domestic wind power is an important part of the solution to the ever-increasing public calls for energy sources that reduce our dependence on imported fuels and work for our economy, environment, and energy security."

Christine Real de Azua
Assistant Director of Communications
American Wind Energy Association
Direct phone: (202) 383-2508
Fax: (202) 383-2505

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Kansas's Largest Wind Energy Farm Dedicated to Power on the Prairie

Kansas's Largest Wind Energy Farm Dedicated to Power on the Prairie

LATHAM, Kan.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 11, 2006--Public officials and energy industry representatives joined hundreds of local schoolchildren and their families in central Kansas to dedicate on May 11, 2006 the state's newest wind energy farm, the Elk River Wind Power Project. The "Power on the Prairie" ceremony also included the announcement of $100,000 in funding for prairie chicken research at Kansas State University (KSU).

"The Elk River wind power plant represents a major step forward in the development of renewable energy in Kansas," said Raimund Grube, vice president of PPM WindPower. "The benefits of projects like Elk River are immense -- contributions to rural economies, jobs, and above all, clean, cost-competitive wind power."

Owned by Portland, Ore.-based PPM Energy (PPM), ScottishPower's (NYSE:SPI) competitive U.S. energy business, Elk River uses 100 GE 1.5 megawatt turbines to produce approximately 550,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually -- enough to power 42,000 homes.

The energy generated by Elk River is sold to Empire District Electric Company. "Our customers have enjoyed the benefit of the Elk River wind farm since we began receiving test energy last October," said Brad Beecher, vice president-energy supply, The Empire District Electric Company. "During the two and one-half months of 2005 when energy was available, Elk River provided our system about 75,000 megawatt-hours of power at a cost about 64 percent lower than we would have paid for purchased power from the market. That drove a reduction in costs of about $3.3 million. In the first quarter of 2006, a period when the plant was fully commercial, Elk River generated 142,595 megawatt-hours and contributed an estimated savings of about $4.2 million. The impact of Elk River has far exceeded our expectations and our customers and shareholders have enjoyed the financial benefits. We look forward to our continued relationship with PPM and the Elk River Wind Farm."

The impressive white wind turbines, standing in neat rows on cattle grazing land, take up less than two percent of the total land leased for the project.

"I am the fourth generation to ranch on this property," said Peter Ferrell, a local landowner. "My family has been here since 1888 and that weighs heavily on my decision to engage in practices that can be carried on generation after generation without depleting the resources. Both the grass and the wind will be here for generations."

Butler County Commissioner Mike Wheeler noted that many members of the next generation were in attendance and eager to learn. "I am excited to see the participation of more than 400 Butler County students today at the ceremony," said Wheeler. "They will be touring not only the towers, but also learning a little bit about the history of Beaumont. The Bluestem (Elementary) journalism class is capturing all the events with photography."

Dr. Robert Robel, a professor emeritus from KSU and an expert on prairie-chicken populations, praised the project parties for their cooperation. "This collaborative research effort is unique," said Robel. "Very seldom do you see developers, wildlife ecologists, federal agencies, state entities, and preservationists working together to examine a perceived problem. No matter what the outcome of the research effort, society will benefit from the scientific approach to the questions being addressed."

Greenlight Energy, the original developer of the Elk River Wind Farm, is pleased that the initial vision for the wind farm was fully realized when the project began generating power in December of 2005. "When we first began developing the project in 2002, we knew this was going to be a special project," said Matt Hantzmon, managing director of Greenlight Energy. "It was only through a team effort, which included the project landowners; Butler County, HMH Resources, and PPM Energy, among others, that we were able complete a project of this scale and quality."

Jeff Schlichting, president of HMH Energy Resources, Inc., summed up the significance of the day and of the project: "With the completion of the Elk River Wind Farm, Kansas became one of the top ten states in the US for renewable energy generation capacity. This project represents the culmination of efforts by many individuals and organizations, propelling Kansas into its rightful position of leadership in wind energy."

News media seeking sources may contact:

Jan Johnson, PPM Energy, 503-796-7070 / 503-799-6925

Amy Bass, Empire District Electric Co., 417-625-5114

Sandy Zieman, Butler County, 316-322-4300

Christine Real de Azua, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA),

Project Sponsors Include:

-- Butler County
-- Communities of Beaumont and Latham
-- PPM Energy
-- Empire District Electric Company
-- GE Energy
-- Augusta Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Tourism Bureau
-- USD 205 (Bluestem/Haverhill School District
-- Friends of the Beaumont Water Tower
-- Greenlight Energy

Western Wind Energy Wins Key FERC Decision

Western Wind Energy Wins Key FERC Decision
May 9, 2006

Coquitlam, British Columbia [] Western Wind Energy Corporation announced that the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a definitive decision in Western Wind's favor, allowing Western Wind to access a key transmission line.

"This order gives Western Wind an absolute right to build out its project right on schedule. Its goal was to deliver to the citizens of California, inexpensive, clean and reliable power, and deliver it as the company had expected."

-- Jeff Ciachurski, Western Wind Energy, CEO
The decision enables Western Wind to start work on its 120 megawatts (MW) power sales agreement with Southern California Edison. This agreement enables Western Wind to generate more than US $30 million per year in annual power sales, according to the company.

The FERC ordered the partners of the Sagebrush line, a 46-mile 230-kilovolt line, which runs straight through Western Wind's Windstar I project in Tehachapi, California, to interconnect and provide at least 50 MW, and up to 120 MW of transmission service to Western Wind's operating company in California. The two parties have 28 days to establish rates, terms and conditions.

Western Wind Energy had filed an action under Section 210 & 211 of the Federal Power Act, which allows a power provider to apply to the Commission for an order "requiring a transmission utility to provide interconnection and transmission services to the applicant."

"This order gives Western Wind an absolute right to build out its project right on schedule," said Jeff Ciachurski, CEO of Western Wind Energy. "Its goal was to deliver to the citizens of California, inexpensive, clean and reliable power, and deliver it as the company had expected. In addition, it's a great day for Western Wind's shareholders, who will now be able to enjoy the benefits of constructing a US $192 million state-of-the-art wind energy generating facility capable of delivering over US $600 million of electrical sales over a 20-year period."

Western Wind Energy is in a position to commence equipment procurement as soon as the interconnection agreement is finalized.

In other Western Wind Energy news, the company and Arizona Public Service have agreed to expand the terms of their current 15 MW agreement, to add an additional 25 MW of wind energy production, taking the total to 40 MW. If there is sufficient available capacity in the current transmission system, the agreement would go to 45 MW.

The added power will be generated from Western Wind's Kingman Steel Plant facility. The two companies have not yet agreed on final details on the extra capacity but Western Wind anticipates executing a formal agreement within the next 60 days.

Energy Department Signs Wind-to-Hydrogen Research Agreement

08 May 2006

Energy Department Signs Wind-to-Hydrogen Research Agreement
Project will compare producing hydrogen from wind power, electric grid

Washington – The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy, an electric power and natural gas utility, have signed a cooperative agreement for an innovative "wind to hydrogen" research, development and demonstration project.

Researchers will analyze and compare hydrogen production from wind power and the electric grid, according to a May 8 DOE press release.

The hydrogen will be produced through electrolysis – the process of using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. NREL is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research and development.

"One unique feature of this system is the direct connection between the wind turbine and the electrolyzer, which will make the system more efficient," said Ben Kroposki, senior engineer at NREL's Center for Electric and Hydrogen Technologies and Systems.

The agreement supports the President Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, which seeks to develop the hydrogen, fuel cell and infrastructure technologies needed to make it practical and cost-effective to use fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

The new wind-electrolysis system will be at NREL's National Wind Technology Center, where hydrogen will be produced, compressed and stored to be used as a vehicle fuel or to generate electricity.

The project will compare electrolyzer technologies and researchers will examine issues related to system efficiency, integration, compression, storage, cost and the use of a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas.

This partnership combines NREL's expertise in renewable energy and hydrogen with Xcel Energy's expertise in energy conversion, transmission, distribution and use. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy plans to add 1,200 megawatts of wind energy capacity in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas by the end of 2007.

Xcel Energy will invest more than $1.25 million in the project; NREL and DOE will invest about $750,000.

For additional information on renewable energy resources, see Washington File articles on solar energy, hydrogen fuel cells, biomass and wind power.

For information on U.S. policy, see Energy Policy.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Pan-European Wind Energy Grid Proposed

Pan-European Wind Energy Grid Proposed
May 10, 2006

Airtricity announced plans for an undersea power grid that would connect a host of wind projects, including a new proposal for a 10 GW project.

Photo: Bonus Energy

[] As more wind energy projects go online in Europe, concerns remain that additional generation will require backup generation from other electricity production to balance out times when the wind doesn't blow. One of the world's leading wind energy developers believes it has an answer that could help avoid concerns over backing-up intermittent wind power while also offering a more efficient, dynamic electric grid.

"The Supergrid offers a unique opportunity to Member States to improve their security of energy supply. The power generated will be a common European rather than a national asset. Wind energy is a continental resource and thanks to the Supergrid it will be the common property of all the Member States."

-- statement from Airtricity Ireland-based Airtricity this week unveiled plans to create a pan European undersea energy grid, or so-called Supergrid, that would link a series of wind farms from as far ranging locations as the Mediterranean, up to the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic and all the way up to the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

"The scale of this undertaking means that when fully operational Europe will have access to wind energy at all times because the wind will always be blowing somewhere on the grid," said Airtricity's Chief Executive, Eddie O'Connor.

The company will formally introduce the ambitious plan at a Parliamentary reception for MPs in Westminster today. In conjunction, the wind energy developer will also outline a proposal to build a Euro 22 billion, 10 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind energy project that would cover a wind expanse in the North Sea between the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

The company's Supergrid concept will play an important complementary role for the project that would greatly eclipse by size any current wind project, offshore or terrestrial. As many as eight million European homes could be powered by a project this size.

ABB Ltd. will be the project partner on the transmission side of the Supergrid. Trevor Gregory, Managing Director of ABB said they have established an advanced transmission technology called HVDC light which, among a number of applications, is used for demanding offshore applications. HVDC Light not only feeds electricity to platforms but it also connects and supports the integration of electrical networks.

Since the project will require the approval of the EU, and involves multiple countries across almost the entire span of the European continent, Airtricity pitched the plan as an energy proposal for the wider European Union, not to specific nations.

"The Supergrid offers a unique opportunity to Member States to improve their security of energy supply," said the company, in a statement. "The power generated will be a common European rather than a national asset. Wind energy is a continental resource and thanks to the Supergrid it will be the common property of all the Member States.

Airtricity has plenty of wind energy experience, operating, among others, the Arklow Bank wind farm, the first real-world test of GE Energy's large 3.6 MW offshore wind turbines. The company is currently expanding operations into Scotland, England, and parts of the U.S. It currently has several thousands of megawatts of capacity in the planning and construction stages.


US wind energy on track for another record year

US wind energy on track for another record year
Wednesday, 10 May 2006
The US wind energy industry is on track to installing a record-breaking 3,000MW this year the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its First Quarter Market Report.

Construction is under way on a number of facilities scheduled for completion in 2006. Over 400MW of new plants have already been brought online since January. More of these positive outcomes could be held up, however, by concern over potential effects on civilian or military radar. Action by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional offices and the Department of Defense (DOD) has effectively halted development of several pending wind energy facilities and the potential exists for more such shutdowns. Installation of the vast majority of proposed projects is on schedule, but a total of at least 500MW due for completion this year and next is now under a de facto moratorium, according to initial AWEA estimates, and that number could grow if the issue is not swiftly and appropriately resolved as part of the project siting process.

The possibility of radar interference has been known for a long time, and a variety of solutions already exist: wind turbines and radars function successfully in areas at home and abroad where wind turbines are in operation (including on military bases such as Guantanamo Bay and Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base). AWEA recognizes and respects the paramount importance of any concerns relating to security, and supports resolving legitimate problems as quickly as possible.

Pennsylvania Invests $10 Million for Clean Energy Projects

Pennsylvania Invests $10 Million for Clean Energy Projects
May 12, 2006

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania [] Governor Edward G. Rendell announced Pennsylvania will create jobs in the alternative energy industry and provide affordable, reliable energy for Commonwealth businesses and residents by investing $10 million in new clean energy projects.

Eligible Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) projects include solar energy, wind, low-impact hydropower, geothermal, methane gas, biomass, fuel cells, waste coal, integrated gasification combined cycle, recycled energy and energy recovery, energy efficiency and load management, and alternative fuels for transportation. "Pennsylvania is changing the way clean energy is produced and distributed," Governor Rendell said. "This $10 million investment will continue the Commonwealth's leadership in one of the most important issues of our time: energy security."

Governor Rendell made $5 million in grants available for the third round of Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) funding. PEDA has awarded $15 million in grants and loans for 41 clean energy projects that will leverage another $200 million in private investment. The projects will create 1,558 permanent and construction jobs. Research projects could net more than 300 full-time jobs.

The Governor also announced $5 million in available grants for the fourth round of funding under the Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program. Since 2003, this program has awarded $15.9 million and leveraged another $43.7 million in private funds for more than 100 clean energy projects.

Eligible PEDA projects may include solar energy; wind; low-impact hydropower; geothermal; biologically derived methane gas, including landfill gas; biomass; fuel cells; coal-mine methane; waste coal; integrated gasification combined cycle; demand management measures, including recycled energy and energy recovery, energy efficiency and load management; and clean, alternative fuels for transportation. PEDA project priorities include solar, distributed generation for critical public infrastructure and clean, alternative fuels for transportation.

Pennsylvania's commitment to wind production provides enough clean energy to power about 70,000 homes. Gamesa, the second largest wind energy company in the world, is investing $84 million in Pennsylvania for four manufacturing facilities and its North American headquarters. As many as 1,000 jobs will be created over five years.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wind Farm to Be Built Off Texas Coast

May 11, 2006, 6:27PM
Wind Farm to Be Built Off Texas Coast

By LYNN BREZOSKY Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Texas officials announced plans Thursday for the nation's largest offshore wind farm, consisting of as many as 170 windmills out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston-based Superior Renewable Energy will build and operate the project, which will be situated within about 10 miles of Padre Island. It is expected to cost $1 billion to $2 billion and should be ready in five years.

Its 400-foot turbines would generate a total of 500 megawatts of electricity, or enough energy for 125,000 homes.

"The wind rush is on," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said. "We want to be No. 1. We want to attract the businesses that build the turbines, that build the blades."

Some environmentalists said the spinning blades could kill countless rare birds that migrate through the area each year on their way to and from winter grounds in Mexico and Central America.

"You probably couldn't pick a worse location," said Walter Kittelberger, chairman of the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, an environmental group named for the strip of water between the mainland and Padre Island.

John Calaway, Superior's chief executive, said the company would do everything possible to reduce the threat to migrating birds. "Of course there's going to be some mortality, but we don't think it will be significant," he said.

Patterson said the wind farm would be situated off a remote, unpopulated part of Padre Island National Seashore. People who are concerned about the farm obstructing the ocean view "shouldn't have a problem," he said. "There's nobody there to look at it."

The offshore farm is the second announced in less than a year for the Texas coast, joining 50 wind turbines planned off Galveston.

Jerome Collins of the Sierra Club said his and other groups support wind energy and hoped to work with enery producers to prevent bird deaths and protect the scenic landscape.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. produces 9,149 megawatts of wind power, enough to power 2.3 million homes annually. The largest U.S. wind farm is the Stateline Wind Energy Center on the Oregon-Washington line, producing 300 megawatts of electricity.

The Texas announcement comes amid a bitter fight over a proposed 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., where residents fear the turbines will be unsightly.