Commercial Scale

Seed Grants Available for Community Wind Projects in Minnesota

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is providing financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions (Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central).

All applications are due no later than 4:30pm, November 2nd, 2009.

The primary objectives of this funding project are to:

  1. Encourage the implementation of community‐based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and
  2. Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES).

Visit the CERTs website to learn more about this opportunity and to download the application materials. You can also read more about previous projects that were successful in receiving these funds.

Treasury, Energy Announce $500 Million in Awards for Clean Energy Projects

Washington, D.C. - Marking a major milestone in the effort to spur private sector investments in clean energy and create new jobs for America's workers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $502 million in the first round of awards from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) program that provides cash assistance to energy production companies in place of earned tax credits.

The new funding creates additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and begin construction that may have been stalled until now.

Created under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act, the program is expected to provide more than $3 billion in financial support for clean energy projects by providing direct payments in lieu of tax credits. These payments will support an estimated 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities in all regions of the country over the life of the program. As a result of this first round of funding, more than 2,000 Americans will have access to jobs in the renewable energy industry - both in construction and in manufacturing - while moving the nation closer to meeting the Administration's goal of doubling renewable energy generation in the next few years. 

The Treasury Department opened the application process for the 1603 program on July 31, 2009 and is today making the first awards in half the statutorily mandated turnaround time of 60 days. The following is a chart of projects funded as part of today's announcement. Additional awards under the program will be announced in the coming weeks. 

STATE PROJECT LOCATION AMOUNT
CO Movement Gym PV System (Solar) Boulder, CO $157,809
CT Solaire Development, LLC Danbury, CT $2,578,717.00
ME Evergreen Wind Power V, LLC Danforth, ME $40,441,471
MN Moraine II Wind Farm Woodstock, MN $28,019,520
NY Canadaigua Power Partners, LLC (Wind) Cohocton, NY $52,352,334
NY Canadaigua Power Partners II, LLC (Wind) Cohocton, NY $22,296,494
OR Wheat Field Wind Farm Arlington, OR $47,717,155.00
OR Hay Canyon Wind Farm Moro, OR $47,092,555
OR Pebble Springs Wind Farm Arlington, OR $46,543,219
PA Highland Wind Farm Salix, PA $42,204,562
PA Locust Ridge II, LLC (Wind) Shenandoah, PA $59,162,064
TX Penascal Wind Farm Sarita, TX $114,071,646
      $502,637,546

 

Municipal Wind Power in Minnesota

AUGUST 2009, MN - The city of Chaska, Minnesota, will soon have an 80-foot-tall wind turbine generating clean, renewable electricity for local residents and businesses. The Pioneer Ridge Wind Turbine is just one of the eleven turbines that will be installed through the Hometown WindPower program created by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). After holding an open house and a neighborhood meeting to gather citizen input, the Pioneer Ridge Middle School site was chosen after a variety of factors were considered including visibility, proximity to existing power sources, educational value, and impact to neighbors. Construction could begin as soon as September, 2009.

"Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used."
—Derick Dahlen, Avant Energy

The Hometown WindPower program began in 2006, when MMPA began an ambitious program to locate wind turbines for their 11 member communities across the state of Minnesota. The Agency is owned by its member cities and governed by a board of directors with representatives from each community working together to provide competitively priced, reliable and sustainable energy to their local customers. Now, five of the member communities, Chaska, Anoka, Buffalo, North Saint Paul, and Shakopee, have entered the planning stage for their wind power projects this year.

The program was designed by Avant Energy, a Minneapolis firm that provides services to municipal utilities and public power agencies. "Wind power is most efficient when it can be used at the point of generation, rather than being transmitted many miles away," says Avant Energy president Derick Dahlen. "Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used, and it will happen using a clean, endlessly renewable source of power."

A turbine in Anoka, recently approved by the city council with a 4-1 vote, will be located near the Anoka High School with construction slated to begin this fall. Buffalo has selected a site at Buffalo High School near the Buffalo water tower. North St. Paul has selected a site by a public works garage. The 165-kilowatt wind turbines with 80-foot towers and 35-foot blades are refurbished machines from California purchased for $300,000 each. Hometown WindPower will help MMPA meet its Minnesota state requirement to achieve a renewable energy standard (RES) of 25 percent by 2025.

Willmar Municipal Utilities wind turbine
 
Willmar Municipal Utilities
wind turbine

Municipal wind power projects are developed by small political subdivisions of cities and townships, rural electrification cooperatives, and other municipal entities or municipally owned corporations that provide electric transmission, distribution or generation services. Advantages of municipal wind power projects include the ability of a local government body to manage the regulatory process and to arrange for public meetings during the planning process along with the use of public lands for siting.

While these projects are much smaller than commercial wind farms with megawatt-scale tubines, they demonstrate how local government and public utilities can provide their own clean energy from sustainable resources. Hometown WindPower is a prime example of how Community Wind is being used in small communities to help keep energy costs stable by creating a long-term fixed price for the power, providing a hedge against rising fuel costs, such as coal and natural gas.

Other Minnesota municipalities are using wind power for these benefits as well.

Willmar Municipal Utilities recently completed construction of two wind turbines that will be used to power about 3% of the city's electric needs. These 262-foot, 2-MW DeWind wind turbines were manufactured in Round Rock, Texas, with blades made in Germany, and the steel tower sections built in Nebraska. The city of Willmar is using bonding to spread out the cost over a 10- to 15-year period. Over the 20-year life of the turbines, the projected cost for each kilowatthour of electricity produced is less than 5 cents.

Capture the Wind Turbines in North Moorhead
Capture the Wind Turbines
in North Moorhead

Moorhead Public Service (MPS) was a pioneer in 1999 erecting a .75-MW wind turbine, followed by a second turbine in 2001. MPS instituted a Capture the Wind program allowing residents and local businesses to help support the municipal wind project by paying additional fees of no more than a half-penny per kWh. This allows customers the opportunity to make a positive environmental choice to support clean, renewable energy by paying a little extra without impacting other customers who do not choose to support the project. The program was so popular that the subscription targets for both turbines were achieved within their first months of being offered, and customers went on waiting lists to join the program with extended offerings.

Transmission Cost Allocation Proposal Threatens Wind Development

Washington, DC, August 13, 2009 - The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its regional partner Wind on the Wires (WOW) have filed a protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging rejection of a proposal from the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO).

MISO claims that current cost allocation rules produce inequitable results for a few transmission owners in some circumstances. In particular, the transmission system operator maintains that the existing cost-allocation method can introduce high costs to a small group of transmission owners with facilities in the vicinity of, but whose load is not proportionally benefited by, upgrades to the system necessary to accommodate interconnection requests from generators.

AWEA and WOW argue that the problem is impacting only a small fraction of transmission owners in the Midwest ISO’s footprint, but the proposal would overhaul the cost allocation for the entire region without any justification for removing costs from the vast majority of transmission owners and imposing them on generators.

“The proposed policy change is like requiring the next car entering a congested highway to pay the full cost of adding a new lane,” said WOW Director Beth Soholt. “Obviously such a policy is unworkable, which in our case means that wind projects will not be able to connect to the grid.”

“At a time when the wind industry is one of the few bright spots of the U.S. economy, having created 35,000 new jobs last year, this policy is saying the Midwest is becoming less friendly for the wind business, and that will clearly have an impact on not only wind development but manufacturing and supply-chain jobs throughout the region,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.

Read the filing of Protest of The
American Wind Energy Association
and Wind On The Wires
.

U.S. Treasury Now Accepting Applications

The United States Treasury is now accepting applications for the cash grant in lieu of tax credits that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Applications will be accepted online at https://treas1603.nrel.gov/

The statutory deadline for applications is October 11, 2011.

For more information about the program and how to access the guidance documents, application, and terms and conditions, visit Windustry's announcement.

Offshore Wind Potential in the United States

Floating Wind Turbine ConceptsIn June, a large-scale floating turbine was installed off the coast of Norway by companies StatoilHydro and Siemens. The floating turbine, dubbed the Hywind, is located in water that is about 700 feet deep. This is significantly deeper than previously installed offshore turbines whose fixed-bottom structures required a water depth of only about 100 feet.

The United States has yet to install any offshore wind turbines, partially because appropriate turbine designs, like the floating turbines, are still being researched, said Jason Jonkman, a senior engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"Offshore wind energy must progress in stages in the U.S.," he said. "Before deepwater floating wind energy can become a reality, we must ‘get our feet wet' so to say by first installing fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines in shallow water, less than 30m. Once we have experience with that technology, we can move to deeper water."

Another roadblock in U.S. offshore projects is inconsistent permitting practices. Since offshore ownership varies greatly from the east and west coasts, the Great Lakes, and the southern gulfs, leasing conditions have not been streamlined, said Katie Roek, an attorney with Stoel Rivers LLP who has extensive experience wind energy projects.

She explained that the east coast's Outer Continental Shelf is under jurisdiction of the Minerals Management Service, which has just recently finalized leasing licenses. The Great Lakes, however, do not have an agency like the MMS overseeing broad leasing regulations. It is instead each state's responsibility to develop their own leasing practices to use with the Lakes' main permitting agent, the Army Corps of Engineers. Until the states can establish their own leasing practices, the only offshore projects that can possibly go online in the U.S. are located on the Outer Continental Shelf.

"The Great Lakes are basically five to seven years behind the Outer Continental Shelf," Roek said. The controversial Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, for example, has now been approved by the MMS, while all projects proposed for the Great Lakes have stalled.

But that doesn't mean Great Lakes offshore projects won't happen. Michigan, for instance, already has a joint process for putting structures like barges in the Great Lakes, so they could adapt that permitting process for wind turbines, Roek said, rather than creating a new process from scratch.

Ohio is probably furthest along with tapping the Great Lakes' wind resources, since their offshore potential in Lake Erie could generate more than 100 percent of their electricity needs, Roek said. One of the biggest steps Ohio and other states must take is establishing incentives for utility companies, since the average cost of installing an offshore turbine is double that of onshore. This, along with conducting preliminary zoning work to determine the best locations for offshore turbines, will help the Great Lake states make offshore projects more feasible.

Examples of proposed U.S. offshore projects:
 

CAPE WIND - Nantucket Sound: Massachusetts 

Project: Proposes 130 turbines on Horseshoe Shoal about 5 miles south off the coast of Cape Cod.
Current status: Waiting on permitting - The final Environmental Impact Statement by the Minerals Management Service was released in January and found no serious environmental hazard, but the MMS still needs to issue its formal record of decision before Cape Wind can move forward.
What's next: Federal Aviation Administration must still give clearance, and mandatory consultations with Wampagnoag tribes and historic agencies must be conducted.

OFFSHORE WIND PARK (Developed by Bluewater Wind) -  Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware

Project: Hopes to install 150 turbines approximately 14 miles from shore.
Current status:
In June, the Secretary of the Interior issued an exploratory lease to build a meteorological tower that will collect information on wind speed, direction and intensity to determine feasability.
What's next: Developers hope to build a meteorological tower during the winter and begin ocean operation in spring 2010.

RADIAL WIND - Lake Michigan: Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana

Project: Calls for 390 turbines about 18 miles east of Milwaukee in the area known as the Mid-Lake Plateau, which is shallower than the rest of the lake (about 130 to 260 feet, opposed to 600-plus feet elsewhere).
Current status: On hold because of lack of technology for mounting turbines in 200 feet of water.
What's next: Developers hope to secure permitting in spring 2011, with a ground breaking the following year.

View full size diagram
Illustration: U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory
 

Introduction to Landowner Wind Energy Associations

Have you been approached by a wind developer? Are you interested in leasing your land for wind development but want to make sure you are getting a fair deal?

This Introduction to Landowner Wind Energy Associations (LWEA) provides an overview to this model of landowner participation. A landowner wind energy association bridges the gap between full ownership participation and simply leasing your land. This model allows landowners to come together and combine their resources, which provides greater negotiating power with the developer. The association model can also be used to provide financial benefits to all landowners in the association, not just those who host the turbines. Download the two-page handout to learn more.

Wind Energy Growth in 2008

In 2008 U.S. wind energy grew by over 8,500 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity, increasing the nation’s cumulative total by 50% to over 25,300 MW, pushing the U.S. above Germany as the country with the largest amount of wind power capacity installed, according to a new report from the American Wind Energy Assocation (AWEA). Iowa surged past California into second place in the U.S. adding nearly 1600 MW to more than double its wind power generating capacity, with Texas still the leader in wind project capacity.

The top five states in terms of capacity installed are:

  • Texas, with 7,118 MW
  • Iowa, with 2,791 MW
  • California, with 2,517 MW
  • Minnesota , with 1,754 MW
  • Washington, with 1,447 MW

Both Iowa and Minnesota now get over 7% of their electricity needs from wind, with Minnesota ranking first with 7.48% followed closely by Iowa with 7.1%. Oregon moved into the club of states with more than 1,000 MW installed, which now numbers seven: Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.

"The wind energy industry today generates not only clean energy for our economy, but also hope and opportunity for American workers and businesses,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.  “Whether it is building or maintaining a wind project, or producing wind turbine components, you’ll find people employed in wind power in nearly all 50 states today."

Wind projects boost local tax bases, helping to pay for schools, roads and hospitals, according to the report. Wind projects also revitalize the economy of rural communities by providing steady income to farmers and other landowners. Each wind turbine contributes $3,000 to $5,000 or more per year in rental income, while farmers continue to grow crops or graze cattle up to the foot of the turbines.

The American Wind Energy Association Annual Wind Industry Report for 2008 is available at the AWEA web site.

Iowa Wind Farm Photography by Edith OSB, Some rights reserved.

Office of Energy - Minnesota Department of Commerce

The Office of Energy at the Minnesota Department of Commerce is working to move Minnesota toward a sustainable energy future, managing energy assistance funds, advocating in the public interest on energy utility rates and facility siting. We provide information and assistance to residents, builders, utilities, non-profits and policy-makers on home improvements, financial assistance, renewable technologies including wind energy information, policy initiatives, and utility regulations.

Pages

Subscribe to Commercial Scale