WindAction Editorials filed under Energy Policy
Beware the wolf in green clothing. State and Provincial governments in the U.S. and Canada have been aggressively promoting legislation aimed at fast-tracking wind energy development and silencing the voices of those concerned about massive towers spanning the landscape. Windaction.org cites three examples of pending legislation below including commentary on the status of each.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 encouraged investment in electric transmission and provided the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with "backstop" siting authority under certain circumstances. Transmission operators responded by rapidly increasing their already aggressive transmission expansion efforts and incorporating "economic" projects in their plans. Economic transmission projects are those projects whose purpose extends beyond the ability to enhance reliability.
Frank Maisano, spokesperson for wind energy developers in the State of Maryland, wrote a letter to Maryland's Times-News paper calling on "anti-wind zealots" to "stop delaying the potential opportunities that provide such important economic and environmental benefits." In his letter, Maisano suggests that concerns expressed by Maryland residents relating to turbine safety, noise, and the environment are unfounded and that Maryland's "zealots" own sole responsibility for why the State is behind its neighbors, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, in numbers of turbines installed. Currently, Maryland has no operating wind facilities.
Last week, First Wind (formerly UPC Wind) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its newest wind farm in New England, the Stetson wind energy facility located in Danforth, Maine. The event celebrated completion of the 38-turbine (57-megawatt) facility and was attended by 100 state and local officials including Maine's Governor Baldacci, construction company representatives, and local business owners.
As the New Year begins, we thought it might be beneficial to our Windaction.org visitors and subscribers to take a look back at 2008 and see how the wind energy debate shaped up over the course of the last year.
New York’s ISO1 has a new person at the helm, Steve Whitley, whose long career spans decades in energy and electric generation. There is no question Whitley knows the energy market, what it means to plan for and deliver reliable electricity, and the factors which impact cost and dependability of the system.
Late Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act - H.R. 6899 .
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy released a report announcing wind power can provide up to 20 percent of the nation's total electricity needs by 2030. Based on projected increases in electricity demand, the report states wind power would reach 300,000 megawatts by 2030, a 290,000 MW increase over that installed in the U.S. by the end 2006. To achieve these numbers, over 7,000 industrial wind turbines would need to be erected across the country every year for the next 23 years. The report labels the 20% vision "ambitious", but "feasible".
Wind Powering America (WPA), part of the U.S. Department of Energy, is a governmental wind energy advocacy group committed to increasing the use of wind energy in the United States through funding of pro-wind non-profit organizations across the country. WPA released its 2007 annual summary report where it details its advocacy efforts and accomplishments by State. As part of this effort, Mr. Gary Seifert of DOE's Idaho National Laboratory Wind Power program and Wind Powering America travels the mountain states of Idaho and Montana advocating for large-scale wind development. Earlier this month Mr. Seifert -- "representing himself as a neutral party" -- showed up at public hearings held by the local Bingham County Zoning and Planning Commission. The proposal before the commission entails building 81 miles of road and erecting 150 wind turbines across the expansive Wolverine Canyon, an area designated as a Natural Resource/Agriculture district that does not permit industrial, energy-producing structures.
The lack of regional system planning coupled with the haphazard political approach to incentivizing renewables in New England may adversely impact the business of two renewable generation plants in the State of Maine.
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.
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing new directives pertaining to wind energy development on national forest system (NFS) lands. To date, there are no wind energy facilities on forest lands so this direction will set the rules for an entirely new public land use across all national forests and grasslands. The Federal Register notice and other information about this matter can be accessed at http://www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2007-09-24-E7-18715
By the end of 2005, Germany's installed capacity of wind energy connected to the grid represented 18,300MW. The control area for transmission operator E.ON Netz GmbH included close to 7,600MW or 41% of the total installed. According to E.ON Netz's report entitled Data and Facts Relating to Wind Power in Germany (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/11871), wind availability for 2005 was below average. This helps explain why the average wind power feed-in within E.ON's control area for that year was only 1327 MW, or 18%. The lowest feed-in for 2005 was 8MW (0.1% capacity) and occurred just after noon on May 5, 2005.