This January 2008 policy brief from the New Rules Project of ILSR highlights how several European countries, and more recently the Canadian province of Ontario, have adopted a simple yet powerful strategy to expand renewable energy and benefit local economies. It is called a feed-in tariff: a mandated, long-term premium price for renewable energy paid by the local electric utility to energy producers. Evidence shows that a feed-in tariff achieves greater results at a lower cost than do other strategies like tax incentives or renewable electricity standards.
This report from Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory was released in September, 2007. The report, titled "Wind Project Financing Structures: A Review & Comparative Analysis," was authored by John Harper (Birch Tree Capital, LLC), Matt Karcher (Deacon Harbor Financial, L.P.), and Mark Bolinger (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program.
The rapid expansion in the U.S. wind power industry over the past few years has required the mobilization of a tremendous amount of capital. In 2007 alone, for example, an estimated $6 billion will be invested in new wind projects in the U.S. To attract this kind of capital, the wind power sector has, in recent years, developed multiple financing structures to manage project risk and allocate Federal tax incentives to those entities that can use them most efficiently. These structures are the underlying focus of this report.
Specifically, the purpose of this report is three-fold: (1) to survey recent trends in the financing of utility-scale wind projects in the United States, (2) to describe in some detail the seven principal financing structures through which most utility-scale wind projects (excluding utility-owned projects) have been financed from 1999 to the present, and (3) to help understand the impact of these seven structures on the levelized cost of energy from wind power.
The seven structures -- which range from simple balance-sheet finance to several varieties of all-equity partnership "flip" structures to leveraged structures -- feature varying combinations of equity capital from project developers and third-party tax-oriented investors, and in some cases commercial debt. Their origins stem from variations in the financial capacity and business objectives of wind project developers, coupled with the investment risk tolerance and objectives of the tax-oriented investors and debt providers.
The full report (including an executive summary) can be downloaded from:
In addition, a high-level PowerPoint summary of the document is available at:
[Text of this item is adapted with minor changes from from a 09/2007 LBNL press release.]
"Property Taxation of Wind Generation Assets," North American Windpower, May 2006, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 31-34. This article, written by Warren Ault, summarizes research he did for Windustry in 2005 into the actual and potential local economic benefits of wind power, focusing particularly on a survey of the varieties of approaches throughout the United States to the use of local property taxes. Click on the link below to download a PDF copy of the article.
This publication was released by Farmer's Legal Action Group in August 2007. According to the FLAG website, "This book serves as a guide to the many legal issues faced by farmers and rural landowners who seek to develop wind energy projects.
The Farmers' Guide to Wind Energy: Legal Issues in Farming the Wind provides legal information for individuals developing wind projects, regardless of size. This includes farmer-owned large utility-scale wind farms as well as smaller on-farm or residential wind turbine projects. Legal issues covered in this guide include negotiating wind property agreements, siting a wind farm, liability risks associated with developing and operating wind turbines, project financing, choice of business structure, government incentives for wind development, and the tax consequences of these efforts."
The Minnesota state legislature, recognizing that distributed generation will play an integral roll in our energy future required that a standardized set of rules, procedures, and technical criteria for interconnection of distributed generation within the state. To find out more about the ongoing process visit the site listed above which has links to distributed generation rule making and resource planning in other states as well.
The Utility Wind Integration Group has developed online tools to aid distribution planning engineers in determining the technical impacts of commercial scale wind turbines that are connected to distribution feeders on power quality, fault current and line loading.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is interested in promoting Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) projects in the state of Minnesota. The Department has encouraged the CapX utilities to undertake a study of the West Central Transmission Planning Zone to determine if C-BED projects can be interconnected the the transmission system utilizing existing transmission and distribution infrastructure. The CapX C-BED Interim Report was released in June 2006. You can also view a PDF of the West Central C-BED map and Southeast C-BED map here. The C-BED 800 MW generation map and C-BED 1400 MW generation map are also available for download.