Benefits of Community Wind

U.S. DOE 2010 webinar series: Community Wind Across America Webinar - Sept. 15, 2010

U.S. Department of Energy Denver CO - As part of its 2010 webinar series, U.S. DOE’s Wind Powering America program is presenting Community Wind Across America. Windustry Executive Director Lisa Daniels will join other presenters in a discussion of the benefits of strategic partnerships.

Sept. 15, 2010, 10 a.m. to noon, MDT.

This webinar explores how consumer-owned utilities and the communities they serve can benefit from partnering with other utilities to gain economies of scale for wind projects.

Community wind projects bring together state and local economic development and policy makers with utilities and members of the agriculture and wind energy industries to advance opportunities for locally-owned clean energy production.

Consumers benefit from increased diversity and grid reliability, while utilities reduce the need for new transmission lines.

Some of the topics the agenda will cover include:

  • Local, regional and national policies
  • Business models
  • Financing Incentives
  • Equipment procurement
  • Construction Power purchase agreements
  • Operation and maintenance

Presentations and case studies will cover practical information on how to partner in putting together a community wind project.

The information focuses on such issues as how to choose a turbine, installation and rebates and grants.

The webinar will also serve as a preview for the regional Community and Small Wind Energy Conference series Windustry is sponsoring this fall. Those live events will take place in

  • Denver, Colo., Oct. 26 to 27
  • St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 15 to 16
  • College Station, Penn., Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

The main audience for the webinar is utility staff involved in developing and implementing renewable energy resource portfolios. Other stakeholders and interested parties who can benefit from the information include farmers, ranchers, rural landowners, economic development professionals, elected officials, business leaders, tribal representatives, investors, bankers, town planners and community leaders.

Although the webinar is free, you must register to participate. To register, e-mail your name, affiliation, address, phone and e-mail address to Guy Nelson.

You will recevie the webinar’s internet and phone access numbers by noon Sept. 13. By registering, you agree to allow your contact information to be shared with the supporters of the webinar.

Community Wind Across America Webinar is supported by Western, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Windustry, and Wind Powering America.

Rural Summit on Capitol Hill Seeks Sustainable Solutions

“Local ownership through Community Wind development not only provides initial construction jobs, but more importantly it provides long-term economic activity.”
—Dan Juhl, Chairman and CEO, Juhl Wind, Inc.

Washington, D.C., April 28, 2010 - U.S. Senators Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, and Debbie Stabenow were joined by former president Bill Clinton and wind energy developer Dan Juhl as they hosted a Rural Summit at the capitol. The event brought together stakeholders from communities around the country to focus on revitalizing rural America through economic development and job creation, and preserving the rural way of life for future generations.

“Today was all about finding ways we can work together to create a sustainable rural economy,” said Senator Lincoln, Chair of Rural Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus. “I have worked diligently with my Senate colleagues over the last year and a half to pass historic legislation that will benefit rural America. From the Recovery working toward passage of the toughest financial reform legislation in our nation's history to put the needs of Main Street over the interests of Wall Street—I am working to make sure that rural America is strong and successful.”

Panel discussions focused on creating jobs in rural America through investments in infrastructure and critical services, along with building a sustainable rural economy through increasing small business access to capital, small business development and workforce development.

In his keynote speech Clinton offered a positive assessment of the job creation opportunities that exist for rural communities as the economy recovers and moves forward, particularly in creating new and sustainable sources of energy. “Manufacturing will make a comeback in this country, mark my words,” said Clinton. “It's going to be an enormous opportunity for small towns to get manufacturing jobs.”

Dan Juhl
Dan Juhl, Chairman and
CEO of Juhl Wind, Inc.

Dan Juhl, Chairman and CEO of Juhl Wind, Inc. represented the wind power industry and extolled the benefits of Community Wind. “Local ownership through Community Wind development not only provides initial construction jobs, but more importantly it provides the long-term economic activity for 20 plus years as our wind farms are owned and operated by our farmer partners,” said Juhl. “While it may cost $4 plus million to install one 2 megawatt turbine, there is only about $500,000 of local construction activity. However, that same turbine derives $500,000 a year in revenue—or $10 million over each 20 year period. That is why we are so committed to ensuring that our wind farms our owned by the people of rural America vs. larger utility conglomerates based hundreds of miles away—and sometimes from other countries.”

Opportunity and Challenges for Renewable Energy and Communities

The energy sector is transforming from a “big” business structure driven by non-renewable environmental extraction to a sector built on accessible abundant and renewable energy to households and business of all sizes, according to a series of briefing papers by the Center for Social Inclusion. This change will bring exciting new entrepreneurship opportunities and the potential to transform socially and economically isolated communities into meaningful partners in their local and regional economies.

“Distributed generation provides new roles for communities to preserve and increase social equity, environmental quality, energy independence and wealth.”
—Center for Social Inclusion

According to the briefing paper Wind and Energy Generation at the Community Level, “Distributed generation provides new roles for communities to preserve and increase social equity, environmental quality, energy independence and wealth.” Distributed generation is cited as an emerging model that allows consumers, businesses, and landowners to become producers for the electric power grid. We hear a lot about a smart grid, but distributed generation would bring an array of benefits including both transmission efficiency and energy independence.

The briefing paper suggests that wind commercialization at the community scale has a moderate suitability rating for communities of color and a moderate level of entry risk to businesses interested in entering the segment. Communities need supportive public policy and technological assistance to get a toehold in the market for wind energy.

The paper points out that Windustry and other groups advocate using property tax financing programs to cover costs of installing and upgrading energy generation systems as a policy improvement that would gain major benefits:

  • First, access to credit can help cover much of the upfront costs, and during tough economic times this program offers an alternative to people who cannot tap into home equity lines or gain low-interest personal loans.
  • Second, the obligation to repay the loan stays with the property. Therefore, payments become the responsibility of whoever owns that property and is benefiting from the onsite electricity generation.

Windustry, in partnership with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), has released a study of "Property Tax Financing Authorization" policies in 11 states that encourage development of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Property Tax Financing programs provide a direct way for individuals to cover some, if not all, of the costs of energy efficiency upgrades and distributed generation systems.

The Minnesota Flip is one of the useful models in the paper for structuring equity partnerships between community-held assets or individual landowners and investors, as it supports economically successful, community-driven partnerships that benefit individuals and corporate interests. Minnesota is used as a model policy state with the following policy structures enabling renewable asset development:

  • Renewable Energy Production Incentive
  • Agricultural Improvement Loan Program
  • Value-Added Stock Loan Participation Program
  • Interconnection Standards Law
  • Standard Power Purchase

Overall, the paper concludes that “it will be important for communities to advocate for rules and policies that allow community based wind power producers to get equitable access to the grid.”

Black, Brown and Green, a program of the Center for Social Inclusion, explores the economic opportunities and hurdles for green business models in communities of color. Black Brown and Green offers resources to communities and companies to help them identify their needs and develop a strategy for entering the Green Energy Sector.

Rewards of Ownership

“Community-based renewable energy projects can produce big benefits,” according to Julie Curti and Justin Goetz in their article “Rewards of Ownership” in a recent issue of Rural Cooperatives Magazine, published by U.S. Department of Agriculture.

They review various business models and sample cases for community-based renewable energy from around the world, finding that “Community ownership empowers local decision-making and maximizes the local economic benefits of renewable energy projects, as more money stays in the community than when outside owners are involved.”

They cite four phases that comprise a successful community development strategic planning process:

  • Community assessment
  • Strategic planning
  • Implementation and benchmarking
  • Evaluation

The article is available in an online version of the November/December 2008 issue of November/December 2008 at the USDA web site:

Rural Cooperatives Magazine: Rewards of Ownership

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