General News

National Farmers Union Supports Community Wind

National Farmers Union (NFU) expressed support for Sen. Chuck Grassley’s, R-Iowa amendments, that would make permanent the wind production tax credit (PTC), and urged the committee to support Grassley’s efforts.

NFU President Tom Buis said Grassley’s efforts would provide the means to reach our nation’s greatest potential for generating significant amounts of clean, renewable energy from wind and biomass. Buis went on to urge Grassley to expand the amendment by making the PTC applicable against active income, not just passive income, and fully refundable for community-based projects.

“Many potential community-based projects are at an economic disadvantage, lacking sufficient levels of passive income necessary to fully utilize the PTC,” Buis said. “Additionally, it has become increasingly difficult to procure wind generators and associated equipment for community wind projects due to their relative small size and the shift toward large-scale development processes.”

“Renewable electricity generation from rural communities is a largely untapped resource,” Buis said. “With the potential to supply significant amounts of U.S. energy needs within the near future, federal policies such as Grassley’s amendments, are necessary to foster the development of locally-owned and community based renewable electricity projects.”

Both the US House and Senate have included PTC extensions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Support for Grassley's extension of the PTC also comes from the American Corn Growers Association. For more information read "Grassley works to bolster wind energy production."

Over 8,000 MW of Wind Energy Installed in 2008

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced yesterday that in 2008 alone over 8,000 MW of wind energy was installed. This increased the nation's wind energy capacity by 50% and created an investment of $17 billion into the economy.

The United States now has a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW of wind energy. Minnesota is ranked 4th nationally with 1,752 MW installed and Iowa has exceeded California and is now 2nd with 2,790 MW.

AWEA's press release also urged policy makers to maintain the momenutm from 2008 and support smart policies that will help grow the wind industry. You can read the entire press release here.

South Dakota Wind Energy Association

The South Dakota Wind Energy Association (SDWEA) elected a Board of Directors, named an Executive Director and set goals for 2009 at its first official meeting on January 13.

The group will work to support the development of wind energy as a sustainable economic and environmentally-friendly resource for South Dakota and its citizens. Board President Jeffrey L. Nelson commented on South Dakota’s wind energy opportunity, “South Dakota has the fourth best wind in the country and many people want to further maximize this potential.” Nelson said, “We look forward to SDWEA advancing the opportunities for South Dakotans as further wind energy is developed throughout our state.”

Click here to read the SDWEA press release.

Brookings County-Hampton Transmission Line Project Application Review

The CapX2020 utilities filed a permit on December 29, 2008 for the Brookings County-Hampton 345kV transmission line project at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

As required by law the application contains two route options for the approximately 240-mile transmission line and associated substations. The MN Public Utilities Commission will decide on a route and issue a permit after a public process that includes public input through meetings and hearings.

The permit application is available to view online as well as at one of the following local libraries:

  • Brookings Public Library
  • Redwood Falls Public Library
  • New Ulm Public Library
  • Bird Island Public Library
  • Carver County Library
  • Henderson Public Library
  • Chippewa County Public Library
  • Scott County Library - Shakopee Branch
  • Granite Falls Public Library
  • Northfield Public Library
  • Montgomery Public Library
  • Heritage Library
  • Ivanhoe Public Library
  • Farmington Library
  • Marshall-Lyon County Library
  • St. Peter Public Library
  • Hutchinson Public Library

For more information and to view this route application online please click here. For more information on all the CapX2020 activities, you can visit their website at CapX2020 consists of 11 utilities that own transmission lines in Minnesota and the surrounding region.

Nominations for 2008 Wind Co-op of the Year

Nominations for Wind Cooperative of the Year for 2008 are now being accepted. All electric cooperatives that are members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association are eligible, and there is no cost to nominate.

The Wind Cooperative of the Year Award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.

The 2008 winner will be recognized at the NRECA TechAdvantage Conference in New Orleans, La., Feb. 11-14, 2009. All nominations are due by close of business on Jan. 5th, 2009.

Download the application here (MS Word 57KB)

New energy grant could help jump start rural Kansas in renewable energy and energy efficiency

As Ray Hammarlund, director of energy programs at the KCC, explained to CEP, the grant money will be used to help rural Kansas entities apply for existing federal funds to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The focus will be applying for CREBS and 9006 grants.

CREBs stands for Clean and Renewable Energy Bonds - basically interest-free loans for financing qualified energy projects. They are funded by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, through the federal Production Tax Credit for wind and solar. Rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, and government entities (including tribal councils) are eligible. (If the PTC is not renewed these funds are in jeopardy.)

9006 rural development funds come through the Farm Bill. They provide grants and loans to agricultural producers and rural small business for assistance with renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Rural areas with populations of 50,000 or less (and that’s most of KS, except for about six or seven counties, right?) are eligible.

The one-time funds are a first step in Hammarlund’s larger plan - to make such applications a long-term part of the Kansas Energy Office.

“These are established federal funds,” he says. “Kansas is not claiming its share. We can’t let that happen.”

Other neighboring states have filed far more applications, and reaped much larger awards per grant.

“Last year Kansas filed 12 applications for a total of $232,000,” Hammarlund says. “Nebraska filed 102 applications for $12 million. Iowa filed 55 applications and was awarded $17 million. Kansas absolutely needs to get in on these programs.”

Part of the grant funds will go to hiring a person to be a go-between Kansas applicants and the federal funding entities. The job will also include analyzing other states’ successful applications, and strategizing how the grant and loan funds can be tailored to Kansas’s own energy situation. Hammarlund is already interviewing candidates for the job.

“Our office has so many great partners who are helping this program off the ground - Department of Commerce, Small Business, K-State Research and Extension - there’s so many,” Hammarlund said. “The key will be getting this expertise centralized, with one person dedicated to tracking it and then helping Kansas applicants take advantage of the fantastic resources that this state already has in terms of energy.”

What does a successful application look like? While Hammarlund wants to wait on some of the analysis before he fully answers this question, he does have a pretty good idea already. Community wind projects are a definite possibility. Solar projects might be right for some communities. Energy efficiency is also important.

“Energy efficiency - saving energy - is always low-hanging fruit,” Hammarlund said. “Some of the smaller areas don’t have as many resources to make these programs happen. Getting grants or loans could really jump start their programs.”

Interested in knowing more, or being one of the communities that applies for these grants? Call the KCC at 785-271-3100 and ask for Ray Hammarlund.

Phase I of Minnesota Dispersed Renewable Generation study available

The passage of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 by the Minnesota State Legislature and Tim Pawlenty requires a study of the potential for dispersed renewable generation statewide. The study consists of two parts, Phase I and Phase II, which focus on installing a total of 1200MW of new dispersed renewable energy projects with a minimal impact on the transmission grid. As determined by the legislation, project sizes under consideration are limited to between 10 and 40MW. For the study the state is split into six regions while focusing on the five out-state regions - the NW, NE, W-C, SW and SE - for potential for dispersed generation The Minnesota utilities affected by the 25x25' (25% by 2025) renewable energy standard are performing the analytical work with oversight by the projects Technical Review Committee (TRC).

On June, 16th 2008 the results of Phase I of the study were released. The first phase of the study, the appendices, and the presentation slides for the study's release can be found at the Minnesota Department of Commerce page.

Xcel Energy RFP for C-BED projects now available

On June 17, Xcel Energy (through Northern States Power) released their 2008 request for proposal (RFP) for Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) projects.

Here's what it says on the Xcel Energy website: "As a part of Xcel Energy’s Community-Based Energy Development (C-BED) program, Xcel Energy is soliciting proposals for Community Based Wind Projects. In 2005, the Minnesota Legislature directed that each utility establish a tariff for the purchase of C-BED wind energy. The purpose of the tariff is to encourage and promote broader local participation in wind energy development.

Beginning June 17, 2008, Xcel Energy will be accepting proposals for new Minnesota wind generation resources to be in commercial operation by Dec. 31, 2009. Xcel Energy will seek approvals for any resulting Renewable Energy Purchase Agreements from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The submission deadline is July 11, 2008."

Click here to go to the Xcel Energy website and download a complete copy of the 2008 RFP.

"Renewable Energy Payments in the US" from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute

Europe has a very successful feed-in tariff program for renewable energy. Under this type of program priority of interconnection to the grid is given to energy produced from renewable sources, premium rates are paid to generate a reasonable profit for investors of a renewable energy project and standardized 20-year term contracts. Germany is the leading country in this type of payment program and has dramatically increased its renewable energy production so much that it had met its 2010 renewable energy goal by 2007. Germany is now the world’s largest market for photovoltaic and wind energy.

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute had a conference on this type of payment program as a likely candidate to increase the renewable energy production in the United States. The presentations and audio of the conference are available here, including a comprehensive paper detailing the European system and the various legislative proposals by the states as well as a Federal tariff proposal, available here.

Community Wind Energy 2008 Conference Proceedings Now Available

Windustry’s Community Wind Energy 2008 was a national conference bringing economic development, agriculture and wind energy together to advance opportunities for locally-owned clean energy production. Over 400 attendees from 36 states, 4 provinces and 5 countries shared experiences and information to harness the growing momentum for new models, new policies and new projects.

The conference featured dynamic plenary sessions and eighteen exciting and informative breakout sessions covering both Community Wind and Residential and Small Scale Wind.

Presentations topics included everything from policy to new markets to the basic how-to of putting up a wind turbine.

On the proceedings disc, you’ll find more than 28 hours of MP3 audio recordings of the sessions and speakers, including question and answer sessions. You’ll also find PDF copies of presenters’ slides.

If you were a registered participant in the conference, a copy has been mailed to you. If you were unable to attend the event, you may still purchase a copy.

Click here to see the conference program.


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