Articles filed under Impact on Economy

Ginning up green collar jobs

Democratic presidential candidates have been stumping for "green collar jobs," contending that workers need federally-funded training to help build the new energy economy and fill the avalanche of work coming to the burgeoning domestic clean-tech and alternative energy sectors. ...There is plenty of enthusiasm about the prospects of work in green industries, though everyone seems to have their own optimistic ideas about the types of work that will arise. ...But low-wage earners and unskilled laborers deserve some honest clarity about how much additional green they can expect to receive in their paychecks when they take those so-called green collar jobs with the lowest barriers to entry. Many of these positions are unlikely to afford them a bridge to high-paying, skilled work. Cleaning a house or hotel room with chemical free products is still working in the hospitality sector.
31 Jan 2008

Renewable energy and the economy

At the end of 2007, the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovations Index (NEX), a composite of 86 new energy companies covering wind, solar, biofuels, efficiency, and hydrogen, was up by 58%, year-on-year. As of yesterday, however, it was off almost 20% for 2008 so far, compared to a drop of about 8% for the S&P 500. Why would a sector so favored by politicians, environmentalists, and socially-conscious investors suddenly appear to have diminished prospects, just when it seemed perfectly geared for growth? Unfortunately, renewables and the entire alternative energy sector are vulnerable to two of the same principal factors undermining confidence in the economy as a whole: the availability of credit and higher inflation at the wholesale level.
25 Jan 2008

BPU rates lowest in Kansas thanks to coal energy

Wind energy and coal plants are two buzz phrases seeing plenty of play in Kansas newspapers lately. The perception seems to be wind and solar power are the cleaner alternative over coal, but coal, according BPU General Manager Rick Anderson, is what makes BPU's rates the lowest in Kansas. "BPU has a contractual arrangement with Westar Energy to provide electricity from our turbine generators and in turn Westar provides us with our energy," Anderson said. The arrangement has kept BPU's average rates to 3.8 cents per kWh, well below the average of 8.1 cents for nationally publicly owned utilities and 7.6 for Kansas publicly owned utilities. ...House of Representatives Speaker Melvin Neufeld touched on the need for a sound energy policy in his 2008 Republican Legislative Vision speech. "Alternative energies like wind and solar power can play an important role in our state's energy portfolio, but the simple fact is wind turbines and sunshine alone cannot meet our growing demand for electricity," Neufeld said.
19 Jan 2008

Wind energy industry picks up speed in Iowa

Wind energy is booming in Iowa, and backers say it's only the beginning. ...But the jobs could blow away, economists warn, just as other manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of competition and technological change. Other states want to attract manufacturers, too. Wind power depends on subsidies, and changes in government policies could dampen the enthusiasm for wind. ...John Solow, a University of Iowa economics professor, is cautiously optimistic about the future for wind generation and turbine manufacturing. Future policy decisions and technological innovations could change that, he said. A breakthrough in clean-burning coal, for example, could reduce interest in wind energy and biofuels, he said.
30 Dec 2007

RELEASE: Windfarms devalue land

Victorian Nationals Energy spokesman Peter Hall has called on the Government to acknowledge that windfarms devalue properties surrounding the land on which they are sited, and to review planning guidelines to reflect the drop in value. Mr Hall said that irrefutable proof of property devaluation was contained in conditions attached to a recent planning permit issued by South Gippsland Shire Council. The condition, attached to a permit to subdivide land adjoining the proposed Bald Hills wind energy facility, requires future land owners to be advised that "residents on the lots may experience detrimental amenity affects arising from the facility such as noise, blade glint and blade flicker." ..."The Government's renewable energy policies should be targeted at those renewables that have less negative environmental impacts such as solar, geothermal and bio-fuels," Mr Hall concluded.
17 Dec 2007

Cost of wind power could fall; Favorable report comes out days ahead of critical vote

The cost of offshore wind power could be cut in half if all Delmarva Power customers were required to participate, a state consultant said in a report issued Thursday. The report, which was mostly favorable toward the offshore wind project, could give Bluewater Wind momentum going into Tuesday's decisive meeting in Dover. And it could give a basis for the Public Service Commission to spread out the costs. The PSC will join three other state agencies to decide whether to direct Delmarva to sign a 25-year deal with Bluewater in an effort to stabilize prices and curb emissions. ...Onshore wind farms offer prices 24 percent to 36 percent lower than Bluewater's project, he said. Delmarva contends the savings would be about 45 percent. But he included a pointed caveat: As onshore wind developers build, they will use up the good sites. Developers will eventually focus on less windy sites, resulting in higher costs. When that happens, there will be a move to build offshore, he said.
14 Dec 2007

County attorney tasked with negotiating contract for Fairfield wind project

“I’m not sure everyone knows what they are voting on,” Bono, District 11, said prior to the vote. ...information included guidelines for the contract negotiation, which include a proposal for a payment in lieu of taxes of $8,000 per megawatt, for a total of $640,000 on an 80 megawatt project. The information also said that the county would receive a one-time payment of $360,000 to $400,000 in its general fund for use on other projects such as the construction of a new county correctional facility. “One of my main concerns is how can I justify an 85 percent tax break for this company and not for anyone else,” Bono said. “We want to attract businesses to Herkimer County, but we cannot give 85 percent tax breaks to everyone. We need to continue to work with the numbers.”
14 Dec 2007

Wind farms face obstacles; Despite high taxes, companies still pursuing wind energy in Illinois

If wind farm developers looked only at the bottom line, Illinois likely would be one of the last places they'd try to erect hundreds of wind harnessing turbines. Property tax rates are among the highest in the region. The permitting process varies from county to county, and roughly half of the petitions put forth so far have resulted in litigation with opposition groups. The strength and steadiness of the breeze is good but better elsewhere. ..."There's a tremendous wind resource, a tremendous renewable energy standard. . . . It's kind of a perfect storm right now," Link said. "(Illinois) truly is going to be a leading state when it comes to wind energy capacity."
14 Dec 2007

Q&A: Offshore wind farms

Offshore wind farms cost significantly more to build and maintain than their onshore equivalent. And because they involve new and untested technology they also suffer from "first of a kind" costs. But the industry is confident that those costs will fall over time. It is difficult to compare the cost of electricity obtained from a wind farm rather than a conventional energy source like gas. This is because it involves assumptions about future construction costs, the cost of carbon emissions, and the cost of gas. However, right now offshore wind farms are significantly more expensive than thermal generation and require a government subsidy to make them economic.
10 Dec 2007

Wind farmer looking to harvest a windfall

Michigan’s first commercial wind farm –a collection of 32 towering turbines that conjure visions of H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”—is scheduled to begin operating in a few weeks, spurring for some a near-gold rush mentality in this sparsely populated area. Thousands of dollars in a guaranteed annual harvest comes with each windmill placed on a farmer’s land, and that lure has gone a long way toward interrupting the horizontal sameness of vast corn and bean fields. “I can’t wait ‘til they get going,” said Bob Webber, who turned over easement rights to a portion of his property in Huron County for a proposed second wind farm, with 42 turbines. ...The support, however, is not unanimous. In the northernmost part of the county, along the shoreline of Lake Huron, critics have raised objections about the windmill’s potential impact on birds and property values. This is a lake resort area, popular in the summertime. It’s an eagle nesting site and part of the migratory path of thousands of tundra swans. “Our township is unique because it is resort and agricultural,” said Louis Colletta, the planning commission chairman for Lake Township. The township last month rejected DTE’s request to set up testing towers to measure the speed and consistency of the wind.
10 Dec 2007

Windmills will blight Searsburg ridge lines

About "getting used to the turbines," I live under the existing eyesores. I have not, nor will I, get used to them. They are noisy, with constant whirring and intermittent clunks that I first mistook for gunshots. I can hear this inside my house with the windows shut. The proposed expansion will, by the developers' estimates, put the average noise level at my house at 44.9 dBA. The World Health Organization defines 45 dBA as unfit for human habitation. Several acres of my property, and that of dozens of neighbors, will be above this limit. I doubt that I would get used to that. Would you? ...There are better alternatives for electricity production. One is located right in Somerset. Vermont leads the nation (by a large margin) in percent of energy consumption from renewable sources. Adding more wind turbines would not alter that ratio, for reasons stated above. The turbines will not help our energy needs and don't belong in the National Forest. Let's keep it a forest.
6 Dec 2007

Investment banks seek fees and returns from renewable energy sector investment bank Lehman Brothers agreed to advise and finance the $700m Cape Wind project, the US’s first offshore wind farm located near Nantucket Island and a landmark cause for many environmentalists. This March, Goldman Sachs sold its investment – redubbed Horizon Wind Energy – to Portugal’s largest utility, EDP, for more than $2.1bn, making a profit of $900m. But Lehman Brothers’ project, despite early state-level approvals, has been stuck in bureaucratic purgatory from which it is unlikely to emerge soon. The problem: Nantucket’s millionaire residents oppose the wind farm, which they claim would ruin their ocean views. The contrast between the outcome of the Zilkha investment and the Cape Wind project illustrates the unpredictability of the clean technology sector. “There is no doubt in my mind that renewable energy is like other tech start-ups, where some will succeed and many will not.”
4 Dec 2007

Westar seeks rate hike for wind power

Westar is seeking the rate approval to recover $282 million for ownership of turbines at two proposed wind farms and for costs in purchasing energy from a third farm. The 300 megawatts of electricity would come from the Central Plains Wind Farm in Wichita County; Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County and Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County. ...Westar expects energy demand to continue growing among customers and while new wind energy can put off purchase of new "baseload" or constant power sources, for now, the utility expects it will need to build a new power plant between 2016 and 2018. ...Moore told commissioners Westar would walk away from the wind projects if they weren't allowed to earn at least a small profit from them.
4 Dec 2007

SEP head ‘cautious’ on green energy

Paterson said although alternative energies would undoubtedly become very important in years to come, there was "little clarity" in the sector at the moment. Many fundamental questions remain about how to best capture and transmit energy from natural sources, making it difficult to assess the potential effectiveness of new innovations. However, Paterson said the biggest barrier was the fact that the sector is heavily regulated and influenced by government. Much of the current interest in alternative energies is being driven by strong support from Europe, the UK and the Scottish Government. "But from an investor's point of view, we have got to think about the long term," Paterson said. "What happens if the government changes, or priorities shift?"
30 Nov 2007

NEW DEAL: Ottawa, Invenergy split difference on zone pact

The Ottawa City Council and Invenergy, developer of the Grand Ridge wind farm, have split the difference concerning the fee the city will receive as administrator of the enterprise zone being expanded for Invenergy's estimated $5.2 million benefit. ...The benefit to Invenergy would be an estimated $7.5 million exemption to state sales tax on project construction materials. The new deal gives the city an estimated minimum of $375,000 more than proposed in an agreement placed on file last Wednesday. Originally, Ottawa stood to benefit from a fee equivalent of up to 20 percent of the sales tax savings. But that was with the understanding the Ottawa Fire Department was to be the "first responder" to calls at wind farm construction sites -- which would mean ones in other fire agency jurisdictions. Under the revised agreement, Ottawa's share was to drop to 10 percent with the other 10 percent to be divided up among fire protection agencies in the expanded enterprise zone area.
28 Nov 2007

Wind energy has support; rates cause worry

... Westar's proposal [is] to add 300 megawatts of wind energy -- about enough to power 90,000 homes -- at a cost of $830 million over the next 20 years. The Kansas Corporation Commission is expected to rule by year's end on how to allow Westar to recover the cost. If approved, Westar's plan would add about $2.25 a month to the average customer's bill. ..."Something tells me there are going to be cost overruns and the capacity they're expecting won't be there and we'll get stuck with the bill,"
28 Nov 2007

Delmarva Power's overall estimate of wind power deal was incorrect

Delmarva Power recently discussed in the media an estimated figure of more than $20 billion in relation to the cost of a proposed offshore wind farm and backup power generation facility in Delaware (The News Journal Sunday Perspective, Nov. 18). ...Correctly stated, this figure represents the potential total cost of power supply for all Delmarva Power standard offer service in Delaware for 25 years -- rather than the total cost to customers for just the wind farm and a backup provider.
28 Nov 2007

Winds of change blow into Roscoe, Texas

There's a new sound out on the green grid of cotton fields that make up what West Texans affectionately call the "Big Country." Joining the hum of a seemingly ever-present wind is the rhythmic whoosh of spinning carbon-fiber blades on dozens of huge wind turbines. ...Climate change experts say projects like the Roscoe wind farm could be essential to slowing climate change. They note the electricity generated by an 800-megawatt wind farm is essentially pollution-free. But people here aren't spending a lot of time thinking about how they're saving the planet. In fact, a lot of them are dubious of the whole concept of global warming. ...Out here, the excitement over the wind farm is all about another kind of green [money].
27 Nov 2007

WisBusiness: PSC to hear new rate request

WPSC joins several other utilities that have already sought rate hikes to recover costs for anticipated increases in fuel prices. They include Wisconsin Power and Light, We Energies, WI Gas and Northern States Power. The greatest increase is being sought by We Energies, which is asking for electric rate hikes of about 7.5 percent for 2008 and 7.5 percent for 2009. The company says the money is needed to help pay for its investments in the Blue Sky Green Field wind project in eastern Wisconsin, significant air quality control equipment at the company's existing power plants, new electric generating units at Port Washington and Oak Creek, and construction of transmission upgrades and additions by the American Transmission Co.
26 Nov 2007

Let's not give up fireplace

Evidence is everywhere, though, that the population of California is growing and will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. If we do not create more energy, the per capita amount available will decline. ...Proposed alternate sources of energy - wind, solar or bio-sourced - have their virtues and their shortcomings. To imagine that they would somehow supplant current sources of energy or might be sufficient to supply future demand, is the product of a fervent puerile imagination. (The technical term for this kind of thinking is "scientific sciolism,") ... To date, the execution of the alternate energy resource program has distorted market realities, causing consumer prices to go up directly and indirectly.
25 Nov 2007
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