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While there are some small hydroelectric generation projects in Colorado, the bulk of renewable energy is provided by wind turbines. Under the law, solar electric is required to meet at least 4 percent of the renewable energy for investor-owned utilities. "The problem is, the wind doesn't blow all the time and the sun doesn't shine all the time," said Gary Schmitz, chief economist for the Energy Forum. "The purpose of the study was to look at how many of these will we have to build to get that amount of energy." The answer is somewhere between 1,700 and 2,000 more wind turbines that produce between 1.5 and 2 megawatts each, or roughly five times current numbers. Solar capacity would have to increase about sixfold from current levels. Power providers say they can reach those levels without much economic disruption, although requiring larger amounts of renewable energy would begin to strain financial resources, Smith said.
Xcel's voluntary wind power customers in Colorado will be hit with higher bills beginning next year. But regular customers will benefit from lower electric bills, according to Xcel filings with regulators late Tuesday. The utility says fully subscribed customers of WindSource will have to pay higher premiums - about $13 more per month compared with regular customers - because they aren't benefiting from declining natural gas prices enjoyed by regular customers. Fully subscribed customers get all their electricity from wind power. Also, savings from wind power seen in past years, when wind farms were replacing old and costly natural gas-fired power plants, are declining as wind farms are replacing newer and more efficient power plants. ...However, wind industry advocates said the current lower price of coal and natural gas does not reflect their true price. Also, those fuels likely will pay a carbon tax in the near future that would make them a more expensive source of power generation compared to wind, a freely available source.
A major blade manufacturing plant in east Windsor appears to be only a starting point for global wind-power giant Vestas Wind Systems. The company, based out of Denmark, announced Thursday that it now has intentions to build a research and development center in the United States. "Today, Vestas is a technology enterprise. If we want to be market leaders, we have to be present and drive the development, where the market is. And that is, amongst other places, in the U.S.," said Finn Strom Madsen, president of Vestas Technology R&D in a press release. The center is expected to be operating in 2009 and could employ up to 80 people at full capacity in 2010.
Despite Colorado's drive to develop renewable energy, the state will still need the equivalent of 13 new 350-megawatt plants to satisfy its power needs by 2025, according to a report by an independent research group with ties to the energy industry. The Colorado Energy Forum says even with additional power from wind, solar and other renewable sources, the state could need up to 4,500 megawatts of electricity 18 years from now. ..."There's probably a sense out there that people need to do something about climate change and with all the talk about renewable energy this year we're concerned that people will say, ‘Boy, I'm glad we got that taken care of,"‘ Bruce Smith, former director of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and executive director of the group said Wednesday. "Even with those (renewable energy) contributions, there's still a large amount that we've got to get yet."
Reserve generating capacity, normally 10 percent to 15 percent, could be down to 1 percent or zero percent in some places, and Yale professor Charles Perrow, who follows power-supply shortfalls, says "I'm prepared to see many more blackouts occurring. . . . it's really going to be a freight train running into disaster." This is not an encouraging scenario, to say the least. ...Here is one decisive piece of realism: Coal supplies more than 50 percent of U.S. electricity and more than 80 percent of Colorado's electricity. Due to its abundance and price stability, coal will - and must - continue to be a major source in meeting U.S. and world electricity demand for decades to come. While proponents of alternative energy are often adamant in their rejection of coal as a continued long-term energy resource, reality dictates otherwise. To dismiss this reality is simply dangerous - dangerous to long-term energy supply and price stability.
This paper investigates the impact of the passage of Colorado's expanded Renewable Energy Standard (RES) on the state's energy and generation capacity needs. In September 2006, the Colorado Energy Forum (CEF) issued a report which found that, in order to reliably meet Colorado's anticipated customer electricity needs, 4,900 MW of new electric capacity is required by 2025.
Rather than enjoying his role as an REC pioneer, Schendler felt increasingly anxious. In private, he pushed REC brokers for hard evidence that new wind capacity was being built. Their evasiveness gnawed at him. ...The trouble stems from the basic economics of RECs. Credits purchased at $2 a megawatt hour, the price Aspen Skiing and many other corporations pay, logically can't have much effect. Wind developers receive about $51 per megawatt hour for the electricity they sell to utilities. They get another $20 in federal tax breaks, and the equivalent of up to $20 more in accelerated depreciation of their capital equipment. Even many wind-power developers that stand to profit from RECs concede that producers making $91 a megawatt hour aren't going to expand production for another $2. "At this price, they're not very meaningful for the developer," says John Calaway, chief development officer for U.S. wind power at Babcock & Brown ..."It doesn't support building something that wouldn't otherwise be built."
Peetz Table Wind Energy needs to cross Logan County roads in 50 places, installing control cables that relate to the operation of the wind towers. ...The Logan County Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement with Peetz Table Wind Energy to allow the right-of-way crossings.
Claiming to be "100 percent wind-powered," as do local companies including Illegal Pete's, La Sportiva and Spyder Active Sports - which all purchased RECs - helps companies promote themselves as green and may make their products more appealing to the increasingly environmentally conscious consumer. But because renewable-energy credits are a relatively cheap and easy way to absolve a company's negative environmental impacts, even when other measures as simple as recycling or energy efficiency may not be used, customers are going to quickly become desensitized to wind-power claims, says Darrin C. Duber-Smith, president of Green Marketing Inc. in Nederland. "We call it 'greenwashing,'" said Duber-Smith, who also teaches classes on sustainability at the Metropolitan State College of Denver and CU. "There's going to be a big backlash to greenwashing coming up real soon. If a company is buying wind credits and then they don't recycle - come on, consumers notice this."
Now something else catches your eye on the horizon, and as you edge closer to the Clear Creek Wind Farm, you'll see white turbines with three huge helicopter-like blades dotted all over the landscape. Plans for those blades raised the concerns of biologists who aren't fooled by the appearance of wasteland in northeastern Weld and know how important the habitat is to raptors and the occasional ground bird. There was good reason for their concerns: When the first experimental wind farm was erected years ago in California, hundreds, even thousands, of raptors were wiped out by the blades. And the area Cedar Creek creators chose was prime raptor habitat.
Because of wind variability, there is no way of predicting exactly how much energy the wind turbines will produce at a specific time on any given day. Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley at the Denver office said Xcel adjusts for this variability with its Heat Rate Exchange Program, a centrally located part of the company's computer system. The program reads the input from Xcel's various power generating plants, from wind farms to coal- , gas- and water-powered plants. When the wind farms are going strong, the computer system will cause the most expensive power source to "back down." This will probably be one or more of Xcel's gas-fired power plants, Henley said. Coal-fired plants, such as the Pawnee Power Plant at Brush, won't be turned down. They are cheaper to operate than gas-fired plants, and also would take longer to get fired back up to full power when the input from the wind farms dropped. A gas-powered plant can be fired back up in as little as half an hour, Henley said.
Geothermal, or earth energy, is perhaps the most underutilized renewable source of energy. Whether using the earth's naturally stable temperature to provide heating and cooling, or harnessing extreme heat from deep below the earth's surface to generate electricity, the potential of geothermal energy has until now been largely untapped. But the geothermal marketplace is growing fast. Understanding the current technologies involved and the economics behind them can help building designers, business executives, and homeowners to take advantage of this renewable, clean and efficient energy source. There are two types of energy under the geothermal category, each markedly different from the other.
The United States is expected to be home to an anticipated 49,000 MW of installed wind-power capacity by 2015, making it the world's largest wind-power producer, according to a recent report. Developers are expected to invest more than $65 billion between 2007 and 2015 in wind-power facilities, researchers say.
Southeastern Colorado held its own economically for decades. But in recent years, the region has seen population dwindle and the economy shrivel at the hands of a drought and other curses of Mother Nature. While the numbers of farmers and ranchers have been on a steady decline over the years, hardy people who stayed to weather the storm have been adapting with a new friend -- the relentless wind.
El Paso County commissioners will hear plans today for a major power transmission project that will sweep the southeastern corner of the county. The Eastern Plains Transmission Project aims at constructing 1,000 miles of power lines reaching as tall as 14 stories that could eventually link power on Colorado's eastern plains to southwestern Kansas. It would cut across some of the best wind-energy generation sites in the state, project managers say, and have the capacity for future conversion to such renewable energies.
As the Senate continues consideration of H.R.6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, the Senate Finance Committee approved June 19 a broad package of energy tax incentives, several of which were driven by Senator Salazar. The Finance Committee energy tax package helps further America's progress towards energy independence and includes two Salazar-authored renewable energy incentives which will benefit farmers, ranchers, small businesses and homeowners.
SEI, the school for renewable energy and sustainable housing technology, won approval June 4 from the Board of County Commissioners for its bid to erect a 106-foot-high tower on its year-old Paonia campus. The tower will support an electricity generating turbine with blades spanning 12 feet to be used for class instruction and to produce power for the school's use. The BoCC, sitting with commission chair Jan McCracken absent, voted 2-0 in favor of the schools proposal after hearing comments from neighbors both in support and opposition of the plan.
On remote land near New Castle, wind turbines spin, helping power a plant that produces ethanol, perhaps also with the help of electricity from solar panels. The plant also could tap methane from the coal-rich Grand Hogback and convert it to ethanol. In addition, the plant would make ethanol from biodegradable materials at area landfills, from solid waste from municipalities and septic service companies, and from switchgrass grown by local ranchers. The windmills even could be used to pump water into a nearby reservoir, essentially storing energy that could be tapped through hydroelectric turbines when the water later is released downstream. These are among some ideas being floated by a mix of local investors and out-of-state companies seeking to capitalize on a growing demand for alternative sources of energy.
So you plant your feet in the gritty soil beneath the whirring monsters that seem to brush the blue sky and you feel the hot wind dancing from the south and for a long time you just stare. This is wind energy. And one day, many scientists believe, it will drive the world. Of course, not everyone has that sense of awe over the whole thing. Take rancher Bob Emick. Inside his home, which sits smack in the middle of 98 of the science fiction-looking turbines...He leans on one elbow, glances out a window and watches a rotor spin. "I guess," he said, "you just get used to them."
The view brought mixed emotions to the Riters. "To be honest, I was shocked when I first saw them," said 66-year-old Karl Riters, who enjoys hiking, backpacking and volunteering with the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. "I saw them from maybe eight miles away and I started hoping that as I got closer they wouldn't be that apparent. But the closer we got, the worse it looked. I'm all for reducing carbon emissions, but when out in a desolate area like this, you don't want to see that." Lori Bell, the grasslands' acting district manager, said she has received numerous complaints about the turbines. She said there is nothing the U.S. Forest Service can do because the wind farm is on private land.