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The PUC estimates the state will need an additional 75,000 megawatts in the next 18 years as older, less-efficient plants are retired. Statewide, some 20-25 gas-powered plants are being planned, along with three coal plants, and two or three nuclear plants. Wind farms are being added, but they still only provide about 5 percent of the state's electrical needs. Even if it were all the proposed plants were to come onto the grid, Texas might still be paying more for electricity than other states, according to Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission. "What sticks out is the fuel cost," he said. "Most plants in Texas use natural gas, and the price of natural gas is just soaring."
The project, proposed for Galloo Island, located in the Jefferson County Town of Hounsfield, would require power lines to come ashore off Lake Ontario in Henderson and travel south through Oswego County to Parish. Oswego County legislators have received telephone calls from angry constituents who received letters requesting the sale of right-of-ways or face eminent-domain proceedings. Upstate NY Power, the company sending the letters, has applied to install 77 wind turbines in Jefferson County. Legislators said they were caught off guard by their constituents because, until the calls, they had no knowledge about the proposed project.
A wind energy firm planning to develop turbine fields in Calumet County says it is no longer going through local regulation to get the project approved. Instead, Curt Bjulin, Wisconsin project manager for EcoEnergy, said his firm is seeking approval from the state Public Service Commission for the project in the towns of Chilton and Rantoul. This is the latest salvo in a battle that's gone on for nearly two years between wind farm developers and Calumet County residents who fear the effects dozens of 400-foot turbines will have on neighbors' lives and health.
Legislation that would have given the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin exclusive jurisdiction over the siting of wind energy turbines died in the state Senate on Wednesday. "We voted and there was an amendment to have a citizens' review committee, much like the farm siting bill," Sen. Alan Lasee, R-Rockland, said. Because of the proposed amendment, Lasee said the proposal -- in the form of Senate Bill 544 -- bill was sent back to committee, effectively killing it for this year. ...A wind energy firm planning to develop turbine fields in the town of Chilton and Rantoul in Calumet County has decided to no longer go through local regulation to get the project approved. Curt Bjulin, Wisconsin project manager for EcoEnergy LLC, said his firm is now going through the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to get the project approval.
Opponents to expanding wind energy on public land are voicing their opinions, and sometimes in a loud manner. About 50 of those opponents met Wednesday with OG&E Electric Services and Department of Wildlife Conservation officials to discuss concerns about expanding Centennial Wind Farm north of Fort Supply onto Cooper Wildlife Management Area. It is a scenario OG&E says will not happen. In light of growing local and statewide opposition and concern by wildlife organizations about the impact to the region's natural habitat, OG&E has declined to pursue the development of any wind energy on public land, officials said.
Whirling debate over a proposed offshore wind farm helped to chop up hopes Monday for broad agreement on Delaware's version of a multistate greenhouse gas control plan. Although rarely mentioned directly, the push for wind turbines off Delaware's coast plainly figured in disputes over how to invest an estimated $53 million to $209 million in proceeds by 2014 from the sale of power plant "allowances" for carbon dioxide emissions. Delaware agreed in 2005 to join the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program to cap and then reduce the amount of heat-trapping pollution released by large electricity generators across the Northeast.
Legislation to force the state to approve a proposed offshore wind farm to generate electricity was sent to the full House late Wednesday, after a committee hearing dominated by supporters of a 150-turbine project east of Rehoboth Beach. But the Energy and Natural Resources Committee also approved a measure calling for another bill that would spread Bluewater Wind's electricity costs beyond Delmarva Power's customers to all state electricity customers, a provision many believe would kill Bluewater's project. Prospects for quick action on either measure, House Concurrent Resolution 38 or HCR 4, was unclear. A Senate committee has been holding its own hearings on costs and alternatives to Bluewater's project since February, with a report expected in April.
Town of Union wind study committee chair Tom Alisankus said he thinks legislators heard citizens' calls to take a longer look at the issue. "People were actually no longer just listening to what was being told to them by the wind energy proponents," he said. "They were actually looking at things like the research we did, the actual facts that have been surfaced." Vinehout said it's time to bring the sponsors of the bill and its opponents together to revise the bill and develop a good policy and political decision.
Rep. John Quinn, a Democrat from Dartmouth, on Monday invited House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi on a boat tour of Buzzards Bay next month, in an apparent attempt to change DiMasi's mind about wind turbines in those waters. Quinn, who last month delivered perhaps the most restive floor speech of the DiMasi era, sent a letter to the speaker offering to take him around the bay to show the potential sites where Patriot Renewables, a Quincy-based affiliate of Jay Cashman Inc., plans to build wind turbines. South Coast legislators have objected to the quiet insertion of an amendment into the speaker's energy bill that would clear the way for a 120-turbine project developed by Jay Cashman, who is close friends with DiMasi.
According to several MMS officials outside of the auditorium, the pleas of the fishing community were stronger here than they had been in South Yarmouth or on Nantucket. Rodney Cluck, MMS project manager for the Cape Wind development, offered that this is precisely why they hold these meetings. "The DEIS does not take into account the community impact. You can sit in your office for two years working on the science but then you have to get out and listen to what the community has to say." When asked whether or not public opinion could ultimately play a roll in the Interior Department's decision, Mr. Cluck replied that all relevant information would be taken into consideration and that "local knowledge" will contribute to the report made to the Secretary. Supporters were few and far between.
This extended news piece addresses efforts to bring renewable generation to northern New England.
The bill was effectively killed Wednesday when it was referred back to a scheduling committee. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said there were no plans to bring it to the floor today, the last day of the Legislature 's regularly scheduled session. Opponents said they wanted to include local governments and other groups more directly in writing the new state rules. Wind farms being proposed around the state include a plan to put six turbines in the town of Springfield in northwestern Dane County. The key dispute over the proposal -- by Sen. Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Ashwaubenon -- is how far wind farms should have to be set back from surrounding homes to protect property owners from
A public hearing on what would be the first merchant transmission line between Canada and the United States drew 100 residents to Great Falls on Tuesday, with economic development officials and elected officials singing its praises and farmers raising concerns. ...For the state to approve the project, the DEQ's Tom Ring said it must find that the line has a minimal impact on the environment and is consistent with regional plans for expansion of the electric grid, while serving the public's interest. The state has only denied one transmission project in the past. Como said MATL would be the first merchant line between Canada and the United States. There is one small line connecting Mexico and the U.S. Traditionally, transmission was constructed by regulated utilities, such as the old Montana Power Co. In the case of a merchant line, a company builds the transmission, and separate power generator entities pay to use it.
The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to release House Concurrent Resolutions 38 & 40 to the full House for a vote. Last December Controller Russ Larson, who represents the General Assembly, lead the vote to table a decision on the proposed wind farm project that would sit 11.5 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. HCR 38, if passed by the full House, would direct Larson to approve the project on their behalf. HCR 40 would spread the $1.6 billion cost of the wind farm to all Delaware energy users
Agricultural landowners along the western edge of Oswego and Jefferson counties will have the chance next week to learn more about a proposed electrical transmission line project at a meeting in Pulaski. ...Local landowners were contacted earlier this year, by agents representing Upstate NY Power, about selling rights-of-way for a proposed 230-kilovolt power line. The company is backed by Babcock & Brown, an international operation that owns 20 wind farms in nine states. Upstate NY Power has applied to install 77 wind turbines on Galloo Island, 12 miles off the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
The state Legislature is considering two bills aimed at standardizing wind power regulation by ordering Wisconsin Public Service Commission officials to approve statewide rules for turbine sites. The bills also would prohibit local governments from creating more restrictive ordinances. "It just seems like we're writing the PSC a blank check," Barry-Kawula said. "It seems to me like there wouldn't be any harm done to just slow it down." Assembly and Senate versions of the bill were introduced at the end of February, and each had a public hearing last week. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail approved the bill Friday, two days after its hearing.
Attorney General Mike Cox on Tuesday blasted legislation he said would significantly raise electricity prices, re-monopolize Michigan's market and not do enough to cap the cost of wind and other green power. Cox, a Republican, commended Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm for pushing renewable energy measures. But he said the effort shouldn't be tied to bills that would limit competition from alternative power companies and change the way big utilities raise electric rates and pay for new plants. No bill can become law unless the full package is signed. Cox also said Granholm is exaggerating the job-creation potential of a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which would require that 10 percent of the state's electricity come from green resources by 2016. "We're loading it up with Christmas lights and trying to say it's something more than what it is," said Cox, arguing than an RPS should be touted only for its environmental benefits.
The state Senate this week could take up a bill establishing statewide guidelines for wind farms, but it'll take a strong gust to get it to the governor's desk by Friday. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail passed the bill with a 4-3 vote Friday, following a long and contentious hearing Wednesday that prevented the committee from taking action. With the legislative session ending Friday, the wind farm bill is running out of time. The bill stipulates that any local regulations of wind farms be consistent with rules established by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
In the past year, several Wisconsin townships and counties established study committees to evaluate and recommend local ordinances for smaller renewable energy projects (as provided by State law for projects under 100 megawatts). Having carefully studied the State's draft Model Wind Ordinance, these committees found the Model to have serious flaws and unfounded recommendations, as revealed in this video segment.
Michigan's drive to renewable energy is generating concern about higher electricity prices. The issue: How, and at what price, will utilities or other energy providers build or purchase renewable power to meet a proposed state mandate that 10 percent of power come from renewable sources by 2015? "They really have to start going to town in a short period of time. And doing that, whether they're building or buying, there will be an additional expense that comes with it. And that's going to come back to the ratepayers," said Chuck Hadden, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association.