Monday, August 27, 2007

New York Sees Renewables Progress

The summary of a report on New York's Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) makes for some interesting reading. Some highlights:

  • Two solicitations for renewable energy have resulted in contracts for approximately 3 billion kilowatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy from 26 projects, totaling more than 800 megawatts (MW), or enough clean energy to supply approximately 400,000 average-size homes.

  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimates that more than $1.9 billion will be invested to build the New York-based renewable generation facilities awarded contracts under the RES. NYSERDA estimates that these investments have the potential to yield more than $720 million of in-state economic benefits over a 20-year period.

  • In addition to the significant economic benefits, the facilities awarded contracts under the RES could result in potential reductions of 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, 4,400 tons of sulfur oxides, and 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

    NYSERDA is planning a third solicitation this fall, and says, "Considering the large number of wind projects under development, a significant number of potential bidders are expected, and consequently, reasonably priced bids are anticipated."

    What is happening in New York is a good example of what can happen with strong leadership at the state level. Former Gov. George Pataki (R) and current Gov. Elliott Spitzer (D) deserve enormous credit for pushing this effort forward.

  • Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Greenpeace: Time to Build Cape Wind

    "It's time to build Cape Wind" is the tagline of a new 30-second TV spot from the environmental group Greenpeace. The ad calls on U.S. Rep. William Delahunt (D) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), both opponents of the project, to support it.

    Greenpeace has been a consistent Cape Wind supporter, as evidenced by this earlier video from the group.

    PennFuture Prize: Clean Wind Energy for Year

    Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), an environmental nonprofit, has launched a year-long contest for Pennsylvania residents in which it will give away six compact fluorescent bulbs each month to a monthly winner and a grand prize of one year's supply of clean wind energy. (Enter here.)

    Perhaps more importantly, every entrant in the contest will receive a free copy of a PennFuture brochure, "Ten Quick Actions to Help Stop Global Warming."

    Great idea, great to see.

    Burbank Mulls Wind Buy

    The City of Burbank, Calif., is scheduled this evening to consider buying wind power from the Milford wind project in Utah. If the purchase goes through, it will move Burbank closer to an already-established goal of obtaining 33% of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.


    Monday, August 20, 2007

    Kristof: Global Warming Outstrips Projections

    New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof looked at global warming science last week, and found it looking ominous:

    “Over and over again, we’re finding that models correctly predict the patterns of change but understate their magnitude,” notes Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

    Kristof's column focused on four specific items leading to this conclusion:

  • Arctic sea ice thickness has reached a new low--and there is still more than a month of the normal melting season left to go. (More info on this available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice extent at the moment is a whopping 16% below its level on the same day in 2005, when the previous record low was set.)

  • Annual ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica now is 125 billion tons, and growing.

  • Actual sea level rise is following the upper limits of previous projections, and is now forecast to be 0.5 to 1.4 meters by 2100.

  • Glaciers are melting more quickly than anticipated.

    In other words (my words, not Kristof's), the imperative for reducing global warming pollution and for carbon-free energy technologies like wind and solar power continues to grow.

  • Friday, August 17, 2007

    Duke Energy Sees Wind Potential

    Seeking Alpha, a financial analysis Web site, provides a transcript of a presentation by Keith Trent, Group Executive and Chief Strategy, Policy and Regulatory Officer of Duke Energy, one of America's leading utilities, before the Wall Street Analyst Forum August 16. Here are Mr. Trent's remarks on wind--interesting reading.


    Let me talk specifically about wind now. Wind energy is very much part of our strategy. We believe that the growing U.S. wind market presents an attractive opportunity for us. That market is projected to grow from approximately 12 gigawatts to approximately 50 gigawatts by 2015, as it continues to receive significant support from Federal and State regulatory bodies.

    Our wind strategy is straightforward. We plan to develop a standalone portfolio within one of our commercial businesses Duke Energy generation services acquiring a foothold in developing expertise there. As they execute our strategy, our focus will be on projects with favorable and steady cash flows.

    We took a major step in this regard in executing this strategy in late May, when we acquired the wind development assets of Tierra Energy, which was a leading wind power development company located in Austin, Texas. Three of the development projects, which totaled approximately 240 megawatts are located in Texas and Wyoming and are anticipated to be on-line in late 2008 or early 2009.

    We expect to spend approximately $400 million in CapEx through 2009 to complete these projects. The projects will be underpinned by long-term contracts and favorable tax benefits. As a result, we expect to begin seeing earnings from these wind assets in 2009.

    Also included in the purchase is the option to develop approximately 1000 megawatts of additional wind projects that are in the various stages of development in the western and southwestern United States. We will continue to review additional late-stage projects as part of our strategy for this growing business.
    Anti-Wind Site Uses Fuzzy Math

    When will they get the basic math right?

    From an anti-wind blog comes this excerpt:

    Dominion and Shell WindEnergy Inc (owners of the company, NedPower Mount Storm LLC) have announced the first phase of their project - 82 turbines producing 164 megawatts, or enough electricity for 41,000 homes - is under construction at a site near Dominion's Mount Storm Power Station. It is scheduled to begin operation in the fourth quarter of 2007 (see -

    Notice this a [sic] "nameplate" capacity rating - and typically wind turbines produce only 25% of rating - so that means 10,000 homes in reality - at a cost of 82 turbines @ $2M each = $164M, which is $16,400 per home.

    Well, oops, no, that's wrong. The company already allowed for the difference between nameplate rating and average production in calculating the number of homes.

    The math goes like this: 164 MW = 164,000 kilowatts (kW). Reasonably expectable average production is actually more like 33%, not 25%. 164,000 kW x 8760 hours in a year X .33 = 474 million kWh (caveat: this is my estimate, not an official projection from Shell WindEnergy). The average household uses a little over 10,000 kWh annually, so a figure of 41,000 homes seems reasonable.

    (I'm told that this sort of distortion has also been quite popular in the Palm Springs, Calif., area, where anti-wind groups insist that the statement by wind developers that one megawatt of wind generates electricity equivalent to that used by 250-300 homes should be further reduced by two-thirds. Wrong.)

    Wind Power Factory Watch

    August 16, 2007: DMI Industries announces that it is "looking for a few hundred good people" for its Tulsa, Okla., wind tower manufacturing plant.

    July 18, 2007: Danish wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber announces that it will open a manufacturing plant in Little Rock, Ark. that will employ more than 1,000 people.

    May 2, 2007: U.S. wind turbine tower maker DMI Industries announces that it will open a tower manufacturing plant near Tulsa, Okla., that will have half a million square feet of production space and ultimately employ up to 450.

    April 25, 2007: Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Acciona says it will open a turbine plant in West Branch, Iowa. The $23-million, 18,000-square-meter facility is expected to employ 109.

    March 20, 2007: Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas announces plans to locate a blade manufacturing plant in the northern Colorado community of Windsor. The plant is expected to begin production in early 2008, to be capable of producing 1,200 blades a year, and to employ 400 people.

    Wind power is shaping up to be a major engine of economic development in the 21st century, as America turns to clean energy sources to meet the twin challenges of global warming and steadily increasing electricity demand.

    Wind Power Factory Watch: DMI Hires for Tulsa


    Wind Tower Manufacturer Begins Hiring, Plans to Take On Up To 450 People

    West Fargo, N.D. (Aug. 16, 2007) – DMI Industries is looking for a few hundred good people.

    The West Fargo, N.D.-based wind tower manufacturer is opening a plant at 15300 Tiger Switch Road in Tulsa, Okla. and expects to eventually employ up to 450 people there. The company needs at least 200 employees to get started, and is holding a job fair at the Renaissance Hotel on Tuesday, August 21 to begin filling positions.

    “We’re extremely pleased to be in Tulsa, a community with a reputation for good, hard-working and dedicated people,” said DMI President Lars Møller. “We need a strong team to build state-of-the-art wind towers, to begin having a positive impact on the local and regional economies, and to continue improving service and lowering costs for our customers.”

    DMI began modernizing its Tulsa facility immediately after acquisition, and it is expected to be operational in early 2008. In addition to the positive impacts of construction and trade jobs for the plant’s renovation, the plant will provide substantial ongoing direct and indirect economic impacts in the Tulsa region. When it is economically feasible, DMI also will engage local and regional suppliers to meet the plant’s day-to-day operational needs.

    “DMI’s selection of Tulsa to expand its wind tower manufacturing is another great addition to our list of diverse industries,” said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor. “DMI is well-positioned in its marketplace with a prominent customer base, especially as regions across the nation expand efforts to increase utilization of ‘green’ energy sources.”

    DMI plans to hire the vast majority of employees locally, including welders, painters and steel plate rollers, as well as general management, supervisory, human resources and administrative personnel. Tulsa employees will be trained on site and in the company’s West Fargo and Fort Erie facilities.

    In addition to the city, Møller credited the Tulsa Metro Chamber, the Rogers County Industrial Development Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce with convincing DMI to locate in the Tulsa area.

    “Today’s announcement takes another prime property off of the available list in Tulsa,” said Mike Neal, Chamber president and CEO. “It also is another example of the Chamber’s efforts to recruit progressive, high-quality jobs to the metro region. The economic impact of approximately 450 jobs with DMI will support an additional 540 indirect jobs in the metro region and generate a total economic impact of $157 million in goods and services.”

    The Tulsa plant will feature half a million square feet of production space. With it and the company’s two existing plants, in West Fargo and Fort Erie, Ontario, DMI’s annual combined tower production will support more than 3,000 MW of installed wind project capacity, based on today’s tower and turbine technologies and designs.

    The Oklahoma facility is the second new plant acquisition for DMI in two years. The company acquired its Fort Erie facility in 2005 and it became fully operational in May 2006. It currently employs 540 people in Fort Erie and West Fargo.

    DMI, an operating company of Otter Tail Corporation, is a heavy steel wind tower manufacturer. The company also has capabilities to produce equipment for a wide variety of industries, including agricultural processing; ethanol production; oil and gas extraction, processing and refining; and water and waste water processing. For more information, visit or

    Otter Tail Corporation has interests in diversified operations that include an electric utility, plastics, manufacturing, health services, food ingredient processing, transportation and construction. Otter Tail Corporation stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol OTTR. The latest investor and corporate information is available at Corporate offices are located in Fergus Falls, Minn., and Fargo, N.D.

    Forward-looking Statements

    Except for historical information, all other information provided in this presentation consists of “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These “forward-looking statements” are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, anticipated, or implied. The most significant of these risks and uncertainties are discussed or identified in Otter Tail Corporation’s public filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Otter Tail Corporation undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

    - 30 -

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    N.Y. Agency Backs Wind Power

    The New York Public Service Commission Aug. 15 gave its approval to a proposed 127.5-megawatt wind project in Steuben County.

    It was a big win--there's been a lot of local opposition to the project, which will generate as much electricity from clean, renewable energy as 40,000 homes use. Thanks and a tip of the hat to Yes! Wind Power for Cohocton, which has been supporting the proposal.

    First Wind Turbine at Ski Area Spins

    The Berkshire Mountains ski resort of Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts yesterday became the first ski area in the U.S. with an operating utility-scale wind turbine on site. The link includes a TV news station video clip. Jiminy Peak also provides background information on the project on its Web site. The 1.5-megawatt turbine cost about $3.9 million to install and is expected to pay for itself in seven years in reduced electricity costs. It will generate 4.8 million kilowatt-hours annually, which Jiminy Peak says "will permanently eliminate the need for 383,000 gallons of diesel-fuel-generated power."

    I mentioned recently that many U.S. ski areas are taking a leadership role in supporting clean energy and fighting global warming, which presents a clear threat to their future business (not to mention the planet). Jiminy Peak's new turbine is an elegant symbol of that leadership.

    Nice TV Report on Small Wind

    From Fox News in Detroit. The American Wind Energy Association's Web site has extensive background on small wind turbines for residential and small business use.

    Renewables, Efficiency Sweep Mass. Poll

    I mentioned recently that a new poll of public sentiment on wind and clean energy in Massachusetts was to be released soon. Here are the results, quoted in full from the sponsoring organization's press release. Note in particular comments by Civil Society Institute President Pam Solo, who points out that despite the news media's insistent focus on controversy over Cape Wind, the public actually stands united in support of clean, renewable energy sources.


    Survey: Leadership on Cape Wind, Other Clean Energy Solutions to Global Warming Seen as Path to New 'Massachusetts Miracle'

    Clear Majorities Statewide - Including Cape/Islands Residents - Support Cape Wind, Other Clean Energy; Rep. Markey Urged to Push for Even Higher Federal MPG Standard.

    BOSTON, Aug. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Will creating and putting in place clean energy solutions to the global warming crisis and America's addiction to foreign oil spark a new "Massachusetts Miracle?" In a major new statewide survey, solid majorities of Massachusetts residents -- including Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those who live on the Cape and on the Islands -- said they want the Bay State to emerge as a national leader in alternative energy, including wind power projects such as Cape Wind. The new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) poll for the Newton-based Civil Society Institute also looks at the attitudes of state residents about coal-fired power plants, nuclear power, and the federal vehicle fuel-efficiency standards that Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey is now shepherding through Congress.

    The scientific survey by ORC of 600 state residents found that nine out of 10 Massachusetts residents (93 percent) -- including 78 percent of those who live on the Cape and on the Islands -- agree that the state should be "a national leader in using cleaner and renewable energy on a large scale by moving ahead with offshore wind power" and other clean energy initiatives. The statement is supported on a bipartisan basis by Republicans (94 percent), Democrats (93 percent), and Independents (93 percent).

    More than four out of five Massachusetts residents (84 percent) -- including 58 percent of those who live on the Cape and on the Islands -- explicitly support "the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm that would involve wind turbines being placed in Nantucket Sound about five and a half miles from the Town of Hyannis." These numbers are virtually unchanged from a June 2006 Civil Society Institute (CSI) survey that posed the same question and found 81 percent support statewide and 61 percent in Cape Cod/the Islands (the latter of which is within the survey's margin of error). Republican support for Cape Wind is at 82 percent, Democrats at 86 percent and Independents at 81 percent.

    Another key finding: Almost nine out of 10 Massachusetts residents (88 percent) think that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick should follow the lead of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "when it comes to state government leadership on global warming solutions and the promotion of clean, renewable energy." About two out of three state residents (65 percent) expressed strong support for such an approach and only 9 percent said no. Support for this leadership role being taken by Governor Patrick was strongly supported across the political spectrum: Republicans (82 percent); Democrats (93 percent); and Independents (80 percent).

    Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: "I would encourage Governor Patrick, Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, Representative Markey and the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to look closely at these survey findings. The notion that wind power and the other clean energy sources are dividing lines in Massachusetts either in terms of politics or region ... or both ... is an entirely mistaken and counterproductive idea. Instead, what we see in this survey is a clear example of Massachusetts citizens 'leading the leaders.' State residents want action now on clean, safe renewable energy sources, including Cape Wind, and also higher federal fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles. They want the state to get out in front as a true national leader solving the threats posed by global warming and our addiction to foreign oil."

    Opinion Research Corporation Senior Researcher Graham Hueber said: "One of the most striking aspects of this survey is the clear sense that state residents have of a potential 'Massachusetts Miracle' if their leaders decide to take a front-and-center role on clean energy solutions to global warming. It is very telling that a very strong 91 percent of state residents see a parallel to the Route 128 tech boom of the 1980s and now want the state to emulate California 'in seeking to create new jobs and industries by becoming a national hub for new energy technology development.'"

    Commenting on the survey, Barbara Hill, executive director, Clean Power Now, Hyannis, MA, said: "This past spring Governor Patrick and his administration took an historic step forward by determining the Cape Wind Project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as adequate, moving us closer to realizing significant public benefits such as improved air quality, energy reliability and economic growth. The development of this project as proposed will advance the Commonwealth's energy policy goals and help make Massachusetts a world leader in the development and production of clean energy."


    -- More than nine out of 10 state residents (91 percent) agreed with the following statement: "In the 1980s, Massachusetts' Route 128 was famous as the rival to California's Silicon Valley when it came to incubating new high-tech companies and emerging computer technologies. More than 20 years later, California is taking the lead with renewable energy. Should Massachusetts follow California in seeking to create new jobs and industries by becoming a national hub for new energy technology development?" There is strong bipartisan support for such leadership among Republicans (90 percent), Democrats (92 percent) and Independents (90 percent).

    -- More than four out of five constituents (84 percent) of Rep. Ed Markey say "yes" when asked: "Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey will be a leader in the U.S. House of Representatives about what Congress decides to do on global warming in his role as chair of the special U.S. House committee on global warming. Do you think Congressman Markey should use his role to push for Congress to enact a higher 40 miles per gallon standard by 2010 in order to reduce dependence on Middle East oil and also cut global-warming pollution?" Over half (55 percent) said "definitely" yes and only 13 percent said "no." (Rep. Markey is currently proposing lower federal fuel-efficiency standards that would take considerably longer to go into effect than the 40-MPG-by-2010 standard outlined in the survey.)

    -- Over three out of four state residents (78 percent) -- and 61 percent of those living on the Cape and on the Islands -- support wind as the best energy resource to provide electricity to Cape Cod and the Islands. Statewide, the support for other alternatives was as follows: nuclear (10 percent); coal (4 percent); and other (5 percent). Wind power is supported by 74 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents. These support levels are up slightly from 2006: 74 percent statewide and 57 percent for the Cape/Islands.

    -- Clean renewable energy is widely supported over nuclear power in Massachusetts, including on the Cape and on the Islands. State residents would prefer to see solar (91 percent), more conservation (90 percent), and wind power (89 percent) used first before resorting to more nuclear power. On the Cape and on the Islands, the views were very similar, with strong support for wind power (75 percent); conservation (81 percent); and solar (84 percent).

    -- More than three out of four Massachusetts residents (78 percent) favor a "five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants on the East Coast and the rest of the United States if there was stepped-up investment on clean, safe renewable energy -- such as wind and solar -- and improved home energy-efficiency standards." This statement was supported strongly by 50 percent of state residents and opposed by only 19 percent. 76 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Independents support the notion of a moratorium on more coal-fired power plants.

    -- A nearly unanimous 94 percent of state residents support efforts in Massachusetts such as that undertaken by Cambridge, which "has announced that it will be the first energy-efficient city in the U.S." Nearly three out of four state residents (73 percent) strongly support such steps and only 3 percent oppose them. Interestingly, likely 2008 voters are somewhat more supportive of such an approach in the state than are non-voters (95 percent v. 89 percent).

    -- More than four out of five state residents (83 percent) agree that "President Bush and Congress should increase the federal fuel-efficiency standard NOW to 40 miles per gallon," rather than waiting to achieve a lower MPG standard over a longer period of time. Over half of state residents (56 percent) feel strongly about the need for quick action versus a total of 14 percent who oppose it. Quick action on federal fuel efficiency standards is supported across the political spectrum: Republicans (80 percent); Democrats (84 percent); and Independents (82 percent). When framed in this way, the shift to a higher MPG standard on a quick basis is supported by 84 percent of the constituents of Congressman Ed Markey.

    -- More than three out of four state residents (84 percent) think that a "significant portion" of the gasoline tax funding the Federal Highway Trust Fund should be used "to accelerate research and development into alternative fuel and energy sources that could reduce dependence on Middle East oil and also cut global-warming pollution." More than three out of five state residents (63 percent) said that the federal gasoline tax should "definitely" be used for such purposes versus 15 percent who said "no." The earmarked gas tax concept is particularly popular with 18-24 year olds at 90 percent. The approach also is supported by 77 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents.

    -- Nearly nine out of 10 state residents (87 percent) "favor enhanced home energy-efficiency standards in Massachusetts and the rest of the United States in order to decrease heating and cooling energy consumption and related bills for consumers." Nearly three out of five state residents (59 percent) expressed strong support for such an approach.

    -- Three out of four state residents said they are "aware of the public discussion about Cape Wind, the offshore wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound." About one quarter (24 percent) said they had no awareness. Among the Cape/Islands portion of the respondents, 93 percent are aware of Cape Wind versus 7 percent who are not.

    -- The political party identification of the Massachusetts survey respondents breaks down as follows: Republican (12 percent); Independent/lean Republican (11 percent); Independent (17 percent); Independent/lean Democratic (25 percent); and Democratic (31 percent).

    -- 92 percent of state residents said that they are likely to vote in 2008.

    For full survey findings, go to on the Web.


    Survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of 600 adults aged 18 and over living in private households in the Massachusetts. Interviewing was completed by Opinion Research Corporation during the period of July 25 - August 2, 2007. Completed interviews of the survey adults were weighted by two variables: age and gender, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total adult population, including a subset of residents of the Cape/Islands. About nine out of 10 respondents (89 percent) said that they live in Massachusetts somewhere other than the Cape and on the Islands versus 10 percent who said that they do live on the Cape/Islands. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the complete sample of 600 adults. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.


    The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute is a Newton, MA-based think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. CSI has conducted more than 15 major national and state-level surveys since 2003 on energy and global warming issues. CSI is the parent organization of and the Hybrid Owners of America.

    SOURCE Civil Society Institute, Newton, MA

    -0- 08/15/2007

    /NOTE TO EDITORS: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at as of 6 p.m. EDT on August 15, 2007. Related newspaper and radio ads also are available at the same URL./

    /CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, +1-703-276-3266,, for the Civil Society Institute, Newton, MA/

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Caledonian-Record Blows It on Wind

    The recent approval of a 40-megawatt (MW) wind project in Sheffield, Vt., occasioned this
    outburst from the Newport, Vt., Caledonian-Record. Now, I have nothing against folks who dislike wind--well, OK, maybe I do have a little something against them--but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how misguided. But I do take exception when that opinion is published in print and is obviously based on falsehood, which is unfortunately the case here.

    I'll set aside several questionable statements and quote just one outstanding passage:

    Next, the wind towers will produce power for only about 11 percent of the time. The rest of the time, the wind isn't there, and the power that isn't produced by them will have to be replaced by current, allegedly inefficient, global-warming plants. Net benefit to energy efficiency? None.

    First, 11% just ain't so, and any reporter or editor worth her or his salt would be able to find that out. A wind project at a Vermont site should be producing electricity 50-80% of the time, which is consistent with the wind developer's projected production for the Sheffield wind farm (115 million kilowatt-hours annually). (To be more specific, generating 115 million kWh would require the wind farm to operate a minimum of 33% of the time. Since it will often be operating at less than full power, it will have to run a higher percentage of the time to achieve that output.)

    Second, when the wind turbines generate, fossil-fueled power plants will throttle back and use less fuel, emitting less global warming pollution. If the wind turbines were not there, the same plants would be running more and emitting more CO2. This is a straightforward concept that shouldn't be hard to grasp.

    The Caledonian-Record, not surprisingly, declares its determination to stand behind a local anti-wind group in efforts to block the project. It's a good thing that the Vermont Public Service Board, which approved the Sheffield wind farm, is more open to the facts in this case.

    Wind Power's Place in Maine

    A thoughtful editorial in the Bangor Daily News concludes that there is a place for wind power in Maine, a state which has seen some heavy-duty siting battles recently. Though the newspaper shies away from saying more, instead passing the responsibility on to a blue-ribbon siting panel appointed recently by Gov. John Baldacci (D), it does a public service by pointing out that many other energy projects (including even solar panels!!) have drawn flak in the state. Even more welcome, however, would have been an effort to draw a more direct comparison between wind's modest environmental impacts (and substantial benefits) and those of other energy alternatives.

    Intones the Daily News,
    The governor’s task force will be most helpful if it can produce a plan for siting wind turbines for the largest energy gains with the least environmental harm.

    Who could disagree with that? I question, though, whether any wind plan will really involve net environmental harm once the reduction of global warming and other pollution is weighed in the balance--which would seem to be the real issue.

    Vail Daily Sees Growing Environmental Concern

    Nice editorial in the Vail Daily about growing concern for the environment among local residents. It congratulates the Vail ski resort for buying wind power, Eagle County for buying hybrid vehicles, etc. Ski areas, which stand to see their business devastated by global warming, have been among the first companies nationwide to connect the dots between climate and renewable energy use. Vail ranks among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Top 25 green power buyers.


    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Jobs in Renewable Energy

    Ned Sullivan provides some basic, but strategic, thoughts on "green collar" careers in a recent commentary on The Daily Green. He's right--one of the great unreported news stories about renewable energy is the difficulty wind companies are having in finding qualified people. For more information on finding employment in this booming industry, try the American Wind Energy Association's Careers in Wind Job Board.

    Using Wind as a Fuel Price Hedge

    Yesterday saw a very strong recognition of wind power's ability to protect against volatile natural gas prices, as European financial giant Fortis agreed to buy 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-generated electricity over the next 10 years from a 63-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Texas that is owned by Enel North America, a subsidiary of a major Italian utility. According to the Wall Street Journal blog, Fortis will sell portions of the hedge to power and financial companies.

    End Energy Subsidies: Wind Proponent

    David Weiss of New York Farmers' Windpower, LLC, provides a thoughtful perspective on energy subsidies in a letter to the Albany Times-Union. Says Weiss, in part:

    Renewable energy needs no subsidies at all. What it does need is a level playing field -- government policies that remove all subsidies from nuclear power and fossil fuels, forcing them to compete fairly and openly with wind, solar, biomass, increased efficiency and all the other renewable energy that can carry its weight in this country.

    It's time we had a level playing field in energy, so we can watch the economy turn green.

    Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. The most important subsidy for fossil fuels is an invisible one: allowing fossil fuel mines, wells and power plants to emit air, water and global warming pollution into our common environment at less than the full cost of cleanup. Until that changes, as Weiss suggests, renewable energy sources will continue to face an uphill battle.


    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Poll to Probe Wind's Popularity

    Results of a statewide poll of Massachusetts residents on energy issues will be released Wednesday, according to Cape Cod Today. Should make for interesting reading, especially in light of the Daily Show's recent toasting of the opposition to the Cape Wind offshore project (see below).


    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    Jason Jones Reviews Wind Power

    Well, the big event of the past week has to be the Daily Show's investigation of the opposition to the Cape Wind project, conducted by the redoubtable, inimitable Jason Jones. Stick around for the ending, which is truly priceless in its symbolism.