General News

USDA Announces $13 Million in REAP Grants and Loans

USDA logo

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing more than $13 million in loans and grants for 233 renewable energy projects in 38 states under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The loan guarantees and grants will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses to conduct energy audits and feasibility studies for renewable energy systems, for renewable energy development assistance, and to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

“Rural businesses are the lifeblood of rural communities and their financial health is vital as we work to create jobs and expand entrepreneurship throughout the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The funding will help lay the foundation for economic growth in many communities, consistent with the Obama Administration's vision of rebuilding and revitalizing rural America.” 

An example of a project, Milford Wind Energy, LLC, Story City, Iowa, has been selected to receive a $1.8 million guaranteed loan and a $500,000 grant to build a 900 kilowatt wind turbine for energy generation. When complete, the turbine is expected to produce nearly 3.3 million kilowatts of electricity annually and generate more than $200,000 in electricity that will be sold to the local utility company. Construction of the turbine is expected to be completed next year.

The following links provide full information:

USDA REAP Funding Announcement & Project List
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Minnesota Transmisson Study Suggests Grid Upgrades for Renewable Energy

A new study released by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security shows that the state's power grid could accomodate 600 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity by making upgrades to electric transmission systems. A previous study had shown that another 600 MW could be added to the existing tranmission grid without impacting it's performance.

"Dispersed Renewable Generation Transmission Study Phase II" completes a two-part study chartered by the Minnesota legislature as part of the Minnesota NextGen Energy Act passed in 2007. The act calls for 25 percent of the total energy used in the state to be derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2025. In order to meet that goal, dispersed generation of the grid would allow many distributed power generators, such as wind farms, to add significant energy capacity to the system. Together, the combined studies created complex computer models designed to add 1200 MW of dispersed capacity by the year 2013.

Phase I, completed in June 2008, identified locations in the state transmission grid where a total of 600 MW of renewable energy projects could be developed with little or no changes required to the existing grid infrastructure. Although the study noted that dispersed generation can have impacts on the electric grid, it concluded that the majority of the 600 MW could be sited without disruptions at locations in southern Minnesota. In fact, in 2008 the state added 454 MW of commercial wind power with the vast majority sited in southwestern Minnesota.

Proposed DRG Phase II Sites

Phase II of the study sought an additional 600 MW and found that there were limited locations in the state that could accommodate 10-40 MW generation projects without incurring some amount of transmission investment. So, the study team focused on sites that could potentially accommodate generation with only minor transmission investments, not the construction of new high-voltage transmission routes. The total cost of the transmission upgrades were estimated to be $121 million. In comparsion, the CapX 2020 project for constructing three new high-voltage transmission lines across the state is estimated to cost $1.7 billion.

As a result of the studies, the Minnesota Office of Energy Security concluded that achieving the renewable energy goal calls for a dual strategy of:

  • Using our existing transmission infrastructure more efficiently, through increased energy conservation and efficiency, demand response, emerging efficiency technologies and dispersed renewable generation where it can be interconnected reliably, and
  • Significantly increasing high-voltage transmission capacity in the state.

The studies and explanatory recorded webinars are available from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security on the link below.

Tom Wind (Wind Utility Consulting) acting as a consultant to Windustry served as a member of the Technical Review Committee for both studies.

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. 

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


Minnesota Transmission Owners Notice of Public Meetings

Minnesota electric utilities with transmission lines in the state are required by law to conduct transmission planning and identify reasonably foreseeable inadequacies in the electric transmission system.  This process is particularly important for local government officials, but the general public is also encouraged to participate, and Community Wind advocates may want to pay particular attention as access to adequate transmission is often a key element for the success of a project.

In order to inform the public of the planning process and to solicit input from the public on possible inadequacies and activities that may affect demand for electricity, a series of webcasts will be held in mid-September.  Each webcast relaties to a discrete portion of the state.  Complete details for dates, times and access can be found in the attachments to this article.  

The Public Utilities Commission requires a report on this planning process every two years.  This is a reporting year, with the report being due November 1.  

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

Wind Energy Basics - New Edition

Wind Energy Basics

"Wind energy works and makes environmental sense—more so today than ever before—but consumers have to be on their guard," writes wind energy pioneer, expert, and advocate Paul Gipe in his newly revised Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems. Gipe has worked for over three decades in renewable energy, has authored seven books, and has lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part.

Gipe is excited to see so much new interest in wind and solar technology, saying "Let's put a renewable energy plant in everyone's back yard. Let's create an energy system for life. Let's do it." But, he is also adamant in guiding people to the right technologies and strategies apart from those who would "seize on the public's fascination with wind energy and sell them wind turbines that perform poorly at high cost." He has tested and documented the performance of small wind turbines, so his updated Wind Energy Basics is an important guide for anyone considering use of wind energy for home, business, or community systems.

"Paul Gipe is an independent, opinionated voice on wind energy, cutting right to the core on almost any wind energy topic. He analyzes the issues with uncompromising standards. He has no trouble sharing the story as he sees it, encouraging all to explore business models and policies that offer something more, something for all of us."

—Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry 

Gipe is a visonary who views wind power as a realistic replacement for the bulk of oil-, coal-, and natural gas– fired electrical plants in the U.S., and as a new fuel for most of the cars in the nation to run on electricity. In this wide-ranging book, Gipe not only covers the basics for understanding how wind turbine technology operates and how to plan a project using it, he makes a broad case for a clean energy future explaining how sustainable energy solutions are doable, can be accomplished much sooner than most realize, and how it will help resuscitate our industrial infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic opportunity.

For those who are interested in supporting wind energy, Gipe details the advantages of Community Wind projects, offers advice for renewable investment strategies, and explains how government policy could better support energy independence. He doubts the ability of tax incentives and net metering to advance renewables, and he advocates for the adoption of feed-in tarriffs that would guarantee rates and grid connections for independent power producers, following the policies that have been successfully deployed in European countries. "If you pay for it, it [renewable energy] will come."

Paul Gipe
Paul Gipe

Chapters include:
  • Technology
  • Wind Energy Basics
  • Estimating Performance
  • Siting
  • Off the Grid
  • Interconnection
  • Community Wind
  • Investing in Wind Energy
  • The Challenge

Listen to or read a transcript of an interview with Paul Gipe at The Oil Drum on the Weekend Energy Listening podcast episode Wind Power with Paul Gipe. For more information about Paul Gipe, his work, and his books, visit his web site

Loans for Community-Based Wind Projects in Northeastern Minnesota

2009: Duluth, MN - The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) and the Northland Foundation have partnered to provide a revolving loan fund that will provide early-stage project development and feasibility analysis for community-based wind energy projects. The revolving loan fund will be available in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

The revolving loan fund is part of the Rural Energy Development Initiative (REDI), a state-wide program addressing community-based wind energy development. REDI loan financing is limited to early stage project development and feasibility analysis for wind energy electric generation projects that intend to sell the electricity to an electric utility. Maximum loan size is $25,000 for any one project and/or borrower. ARDC functions as the regional REDI organizer for northeast Minnesota. The Northland Foundation is the acting loan partner for the revolving loan fund. 

For more information regarding the revolving loan fund and/or the application for the loan fund, please see the website or contact Bonnie Hundrieser (ARDC) at 218-529-7527 or

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

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.


Subscribe to General News