Senate Jeff Bingaman, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, signaled he's determined to see a national renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") passed in the Senate before the members recess for the fall campaign season. Joined by majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and twenty other co-sponsors including three Republicans: Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Susan Collins of Maine and John Ensign of Nevada, Bingaman introduced new RPS legislation that will require retail suppliers of electricity to secure a percentage of their generation from renewable energy resources.
Last November, the island community of Vinalhaven Maine celebrated the commissioning of the Fox Islands community wind energy facility, a 3-turbine project with an installed capacity of 4.5 megawatts. The $14.5 million project was overwhelmingly supported by residents on the island. But before the celebratory speeches concluded, those living within a mile of the facility made it clear the pulsating noise reverberating in- and outside their homes was unbearable.
Last week, Windaction.org looked at some of the adverse effects of wind energy development on traditional farming in the State of Illinois. In this second essay we explore the relationship between wind developers and farmers and test the concept that wind "farming" is helping farmers stay in business.
We're frequently reminded that wind energy and agriculture are compatible land uses. Farmers who lease sections of their crop land for wind development can continue working the soil right up to the towers and earn extra revenue for farming expenses. A win-win business opportunity, right? Not so fast. In this two-part series (part 2 here), Windaction.org examines the wind-farming relationship in the State of Illinois and tests the claim that the two are a good fit. As with so many topics involving wind energy, there is another story behind the story.
This week, Wisconsin's Wind Siting Council submitted its final recommendations for the proper siting of wind energy facilities to the Public Service Commission. The standards promoted by the Council are some of the weakest Windaction.org has reviewed, especially for a State with a history of turbine complaints reported by its residents.
Acciona Energy's Waubra wind farm, located in western Victoria, Australia is the largest operating wind facility in the southern hemisphere. The site's 128 turbines (192 megawatts installed) started generating electricity in Spring 2009 and were fully energized by that July.
"Bottom line, the program has raised electricity prices, created a slush fund for each of the member states, and has had virtually no impact on emissions or on global climate change."
Dr. Carl V. Phillips, an expert in epidemiology and related health sciences, submitted this important testimony to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in reference to the Commission's effort to establish siting standards for large-scale wind turbines.
Wind energy development in the United States and worldwide has been touted over the last few years as a key economic engine necessary to move us out of recession and back into a growing market. While energy policy has become a priority at all levels of governance, the focus has shifted away from meeting demand needs in favor of job growth. Governors around the country are pledging millions in public dollars to attract project development, including the chance to become a manufacturing center for wind turbine components.
The Northumberland County Council (UK) is preparing to grant planning permission for the development of a self-contained eco-holiday complex to be located in a rural region of the county. The high-profile park and equestrian center is expected to attract high-spending tourists, create numerous direct and indirect jobs, and provide a vital revenue stream for the area. The complex will be sited on sixteen acres of fields surrounding the original Waterfalls farmhouse with open countryside visible in all directions.
Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) disapproved the terms of the a power purchase agreement negotiated between utility giant National Grid and Deepwater Wind LLC. Deepwater proposed to construct a pilot wind project in shallow water off Block Island consisting of 6-8 turbines and a nameplate capacity of up to 30 megawatts.
They have names: Ann and Jason Wirtz, Gerry Meyer, Wendy and Perrin Todd, Barbara Ashbee-Lormand, Jane and Julian Davis, Rene Taylor, Carol Cowperthwaite, Phil Bloomstein, Sally and David Wylie, Cherly and Art Lindgren, Peggy Lowrey, Tom Shea, Gail Mair, Noel Dean, Jessica, Hal Graham, Tim Yancey, Daniel & Carolyn d'Entremont, Colette McLean, Charlie Porter, Todd Hutzell and hundreds more.
Last summer, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NHSEC) voted unanimously to permit construction of the highly controversial Granite Reliable Wind Energy facility, a $275 million, 99-megawatt project proposed by Noble Environmental Power. The project is to be sited along three peaks in the State's northern-most Coos County.
Kevin Kawula distributed his letter below to environmental organizations throughout Wisconsin in hopes of raising awareness about the shockingly high bat mortality discovered at operating wind energy facilities in the State. Windaction.org shares Mr. Kawula's concerns and thought it appropriate to feature his letter in this week's Wind Alert!
Several stories in the press this week caught our attention which we felt deserved responses.
After nine years of debate and millions of public and private dollars, the decision to permit America's first offshore wind project fell on the shoulders of one man, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar. Hindsight notwithstanding, there was no chance Salazar could disapprove the Cape Wind application. Does anyone doubt the Obama administration would dare to ignore the tsunami of political favoritism already bestowed on the project, no matter how unjustified? And given the administration's stated goal to nurse the U.S. economy back to health through the green movement, a denial of the permit would have unleashed a public firestorm virtually impossible to contain.
In August 2007, First Wind, LLC received approval from the Vermont Public Service Board to erect sixteen 2.5 megawatt wind turbines in Sheffield, Vermont. Residents of Sheffield, neighboring Sutton, and others in the region fought the project from the beginning. And when First Wind was issued a NPDES storm water permit in 2009 from the State, the permit was appealed . The appellants argued that First Wind failed to identify the full extent of the area of disturbance, impacts to streams and stream biota, and violated the VT Water Quality Standards.
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transmitted its final set of recommendations on how to minimize the impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and its habitat to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. In the press release that accompanied the document, the Service claimed the recommendations represented the consensus of "22 diverse members of the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee".
Significant bat mortality at wind energy facilities first became widely known in the United States in 2003 when research scientists observed alarming numbers of bats killed at FPL Energy's Mountaineer wind energy plant in West Virginia. The forty-four turbine site located along the forested Backbone mountaintop was found to be slaughtering bats at annual rates of over 50 bats per turbine with some estimates placing the count at close to 100 bats. High mortality was also observed that year at the Meyersdale wind farm in Pennsylvania, another FPL project.
Energy policy in the United States calls for the aggressive deployment of renewable generation within this decade. This policy has led to an explosion of renewable resources that operate largely off-peak, off-season and intermittently, and are located in rural areas with limited transmission. Conversely, there has been only limited development of renewable generation which operates largely on-peak, on-season, reliably or near load centers.