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Permitting for the 550-megawatt gas-fired plant southeast of Fountain is underway, and officials with Invenergy, the company that wants to build the plant, hope construction begins in May with completion in 2009. The company will meet with environmentalists on Wednesday to discuss the plant. The Squirrel Creek Power plant would be able to augment energy from wind generation plants in eastern Colorado, said Doug Carter, vice president of development for Invenergy. “Once you get a plant like this, you can bring in more wind power,” Carter said. “When the wind is blowing, you can back the plant down. When it’s not, you can fire it up.”
BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. expects to begin construction on five U.S. wind power generation projects in 2007 across four states, including Texas. The projects — also located in California, Colorado and North Dakota — are expected to deliver a combined generation capacity of 550 megawatts.
BP’s year-old wind power business plans to launch a host of new projects by year’s end, showing how a major oil company can quickly move into the ranks of major wind companies. Power output from the individual projects, which the company will announce today, tends to be somewhat smaller than typical plants fired by natural gas or coal. But it’s another sign of the growing enthusiasm for renewable power. “This is a profitable business for us today,” said Bob Lukefahr, president of Houston-based BP Alternative Energy North America. “Finding resources and bringing them to market on a large scale is a core function of BP, so over time these will become even bigger projects.”
Wind turbines spin at sunset recently at the Emick Ranch south of Lamar. Most wind power is generated in rural areas, and there is a lack of sufficient transmission capacity to carry more power to Front Range cities.
Xcel Energy is ahead of schedule with construction of its wind projects, but the utility backed off several others because it can’t get the power to customers’ homes. The reason: a shortage of transmission lines.
The winds of change are a-blowing in northern Logan County, and residents want change done right. The Logan County Commissioners met over an extensive agenda Tuesday morning, mostly addressing expansion and upgrading of wind energy projects near Peetz. The major concern in the meeting was placement of a 230 kW transmission line, and its proximity to residences in the area.
So why is this higher mandate likely to hike your bills? Because when government creates an artificial market by fiat, shortages almost always follow (of turbines for wind power, for example), thus boosting the mandate’s cost. For that matter, if all forms of renewable energy could compete on their own, they wouldn’t need a mandate in the first place.
The report concludes with a dismissive quote from Douglas Lloyd, of Venture Business Research: “There’s too much money chasing too few opportunities. How is it possible that this many solar companies are going to succeed? They’re not.”
Greenblatt noted that while wind power could produce impressive amounts of peak energy during strong gusts, the biggest problem was wind power’s intermittency. The problem could be addressed by a process called compressed air energy storage, where excess energy could be used to pump compressed air into underground storage facilities that could include abandoned mines. When the wind was not blowing, he said, the compressed air could be tapped and combined with the burning of natural gas to create high-efficiency electrical generators approximating the efficiency levels of coal-fueled power plants.
Want wind power? Just walk to the nearest Whole Foods and buy a Wind Power card. Whole Foods, one of the nation’s largest wind power purchasers, will sell wind power cards beginning today. The cards, priced at $5 and $15, will be issued by Renewable Choice Energy, the same Boulder company that sells wind power to Whole Foods. “This represents a brand new step in allowing a point of entry for any residential customer around the country to start getting used to renewable energy,” said Renewable Choice CEO Quayle Hodek. For $15, a customer can buy a wind power card worth 750 kilowatt hours - enough to power an average home for a month. For $5, a customer can buy a card for 250 kilowatt hours.
When the country thinks about its energy problems, it often focuses on our dependence on foreign oil and the recent high prices of gasoline. Petroleum provides 40 percent of our energy and is particularly vulnerable to geopolitical swings in unstable regions of the world. But utility executives worry that Americans are failing to appreciate another aspect of the energy picture, namely that the power plants using coal, natural gas and nuclear power to produce electricity may soon not meet our growing needs. "My biggest fear is that we are running out of generation," said Michael G. Morris, chairman and chief executive of American Electric Power, with 5 million customers in 11 states. "That is an issue that the average person doesn't know a thing about. When we tell corporate America, they say, 'What do you mean you're running out of power?"' The executives' concern is echoed by the North American Electric Reliability Council, which last week said in its annual report that in two to three years, the margin between power supply and demand will drop below levels necessary for reliability in Texas, the Northeast and the Midwest. Other parts of the country could reach that point in the next decade.
Colorado utility regulators are proposing to abolish Xcel Energy’s popular Windsource voluntary wind-energy program and instead have all ratepayers cover the slightly higher costs of the program. The staff of the Public Utilities Commission said in a filing that it no longer makes sense to charge a premium price for “green” power. The staff proposal says that spreading the Windsource costs among all ratepayers would create a “negligible” increase in rates, a small fraction of 1 percent. Customers who buy all their power from Windsource now pay an average of $58.55 a month, not including taxes and franchise fees. Typical customers using conventional power pay $52.58 a month.
Not yet a trend, not even a fledgling movement, small-scale wind power in urban areas is beginning to grab the attention of a handful of committed energy-efficiency enthusiasts and environmentalists. Last year, 8,400 small wind-powered structures were sold, compared with 4,700 in 2004, according to the American Wind Energy Association. But don't bother if you're simply looking to save money on your electric bill. Urban and suburban corridors in Colorado generally don't have the strong breezes found in rural areas of the state that would make small wind turbines pencil out.
BEAVER CREEK - While some of the world's leading geologists, physicists and investment bankers are saying a decline in oil production will soon change civilization as we know it, Scott Tinker recently told the Vail Valley there is no energy crisis. "We're never going to run out of oil," said Tinker, Texas' state geologist, as well as the director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. "The Stone Age did not end for lack of stones, and the oil age will not end for lack of oil. We'll run out of ideas before we run out of oil." Tinker and 15 others spoke about their views on energy in the region, state and world during Forecast for the Future, an energy forum hosted by the Vail Symposium last weekend at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.
DENVER — Mercury Cafe owner Marilyn Megenity, a self-styled energy activist, drives a biodiesel-fueled car, conserves electricity at her business and voluntarily buys wind power. But by the end of this month, she expects to have something rarely seen in Denver: two power-generating windmills atop her popular downtown restaurant. "I'm very concerned about our nation's energy use, and I want to do something about it," Megenity said. Not yet a trend, not even a fledgling movement, small-scale wind power in urban areas is beginning to grab the attention of a handful of committed energy-efficiency enthusiasts and environmentalists. Last year, 8,400 small wind-powered structures were sold, compared with 4,700 in 2004, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Wind farms in Kansas, Nebraska and California will play a role in Colorado Springs Utilities’ compliance with a voter-approved mandate on renewable energy. But homes and businesses in Colorado Springs won’t be getting electricity produced by harnessing wind in those places. Instead, renewable energy credits will be logged into Colorado Springs Utilities’ books.
A coalition including union representatives, farmers and environmentalists called Thursday for boosting renewable energy resources in Colorado. The Coalition for Colorado’s New Energy Future said it was urging lawmakers to adopt its recommendations to encourage more use of solar, wind and biofuel power.
Paccione also spoke about the country’s dependency on foreign oil, and said she would fight to extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit to give incentives to businesses pursuing renewable energy. The current tax credit for energy generated by wind turbines will expire in 2007.
TRINIDAD - Local ranchers and concerned citizens filled the Massari Performing Arts Center Thursday night to voice frustrations over the proposed Pinon Canyon expansion. While many came with the same complaints and ideas, a new kind of voice emerged from the crowd when one man suggested the area’s potential for wind energy could substantially increase land values. "If it has the potential to be a wind farm, that could bring in a lot of money for the county and the property owner," he said. "If that makes the land too expensive, the army might just decide to go elsewhere. The potential for wind energy could raise the cost of the appraisal value. If that’s added in, it will raise the bottom line."
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden is planning to build a multimillion-dollar wind- blade testing plant. But it won’t be in Colorado. Plans for the nation’s second wind research center include testing wind blades as long as 230 feet. Lack of adequate federal dollars and the difficulty of transporting long wind blades to an inland region such as Colorado are prompting NREL to build the plant somewhere else, possibly along the coasts or the Great Lakes easily accessed by ships and barges.