Crews install solar arrays at Fort Hunter Liggett in California in 2011. More military bases are moving toward energy independence. (Photo via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
In November 2013, President Obama issued an executive order that has steered the United States military onto a course for climate change resiliency.
The Army National Guard’s base at Fort Custer, about 15 miles east of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is one of the leading installations in the country preparing for the effects of climate change and could serve as a model for others. In October, it was one of three sites selected by the Department of Defense to launch a climate resilience pilot project.
Officials there are preparing a climate adaptation plan that centers around natural resource management. A component of that will be renewable energy development: $1.4 million worth of wind and solar rated at roughly 500 kW of capacity.
The military’s national security approach to energy independence also has a practical side: lower electricity bills frees up money in a defense budget for other resources.
A wind turbine and solar panels show advanced energy in action at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, where Ohio’s Energy Future Tour kicked off. FirstEnergy Stadium is in the background. Photo by Kathiann M. Kowalski.
According to a variety of industry and community leaders, Ohio still has a bright future ahead of it for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
That is the message of Ohio’s Energy Future Tour, which kicked off its first public forum earlier this week with a bright outlook for 2015 and beyond.
Companies have already invested millions of dollars and provided thousands of new jobs for the state, and Ohio has the potential to be a leader in multiple technologies, reported speakers at the December 15 program at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.
Nonetheless, political setbacks in 2014 have placed Ohio at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis other states, speakers said, and uncertainty about energy policies could further limit the state’s prospects.
A wind farm near Worthington, Minnesota. (Photo by Seward Inc. via Creative Commons)
A new report suggests Minnesota could supply more than 50 percent of its power needs through renewable energy by 2030 while creating more jobs and meeting federal carbon targets.
The Wind Energy Foundation’s “Powering Up Minnesota: A Report on The Benefits of Renewable Electricity Development” offers a scenario in which Minnesota could produce 6,884 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity under a more aggressive high growth scenario.
The report noted Minnesota has long been a player in sustainability, with $11 billion having been invested from 2004 to 2013, according to a Department of Employment and Economic Development study.
An infrared image from an energy audit. (Photo by prc1333 via Creative Commons)
There’s at least one bipartisan piece of legislation moving through Michigan’s lame-duck session: A streamlined loan program for residential customers looking to install renewable energy or efficiency systems on their property.
The Municipal Utility Residential Clean Energy Program Act is modeled after the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy financing law of 2010, bringing to homeowners a similar loan program that until now has only been available to commercial and industrial property owners.
However, the law would apply only to residential customers of municipal utilities — about 260,000 households, according to the Michigan Municipal Utility Association. The law would apply to residents in cities such as Lansing and Traverse City after local governing board approval.
“It gets down to the fact that energy efficiency is common sense: It reduces energy waste and saves money,” said Jack Schmitt, deputy director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “This legislation allows for and promotes greater opportunities for energy efficiency throughout Michigan.”
(Photo by Joel Rivlin via Creative Commons)
Whether a wind farm is opposed or embraced by neighbors depends a lot on where it is built.
And a new study finds that for rural Midwestern communities that often are confronted with dwindling populations and revenues, wind farms are seen primarily as a welcome economic development — even if developers’ promises don’t completely pan out.
“In other places, you see a lot of opposition to wind energy, and projects are being blocked,” said Jeffrey Jacquet, an assistant professor of sociology at South Dakota State University, and one of the researchers. A study done a couple years ago found that proposed wind farms encountered resistance in about 45 percent of cases, according to Jacquet. In a community on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, he said, people “are vigorously trying to block a wind farm from being constructed.”
Clean Line transmission projects aim to carry energy from wind farms in rural areas like western Kansas to supply loads to the east. (Photo by Joseph Novak via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Jeffrey Tomich
A $2.2 billion project that would connect yet-to-be-developed wind farms in southwest Kansas to the nation’s largest power market is on trial in Missouri this week.
Just to the east, Illinois regulators are poised to decide whether to allow a $2 billion sister project that would link wind-rich northeast Iowa to the same power grid.
(Photo by Angelo Mercado via Creative Commons)
For private entities, renewable energy can appear to be a straightforward way to save money and achieve environmental goals.
Whether utilities can — or will — accommodate those projects is another question entirely, as a small Iowa college recently found out.
Earlier this month Grinnell College formally abandoned its vision of building a 5.1-megawatt wind farm that would meet about half of the college’s electrical needs.
However, Alliant Energy, which serves the college, said it likely would have to curtail much of the project’s energy production because another wind developer had applied for an interconnection agreement first. The combined production, according to Alliant, likely would overload the local distribution circuit.
Sheerwind’s demonstration project in Minnesota. (Photo by Rwsweene via Creative Commons)
Cross-posted from the Great Lakes Echo.
By Qing Zhang
The Michigan National Guard is spending $1.5 million on two new machines to generate electricity from wind at Camp Grayling near Grayling and the Fort Custer Training Center near Battle Creek.
Unlike traditional windmills, the system captures wind from all directions, concentrating and accelerating it before sending it through a turbine on the ground, according to its designer, Chaska, Minnesota-based Sheerwind Co.
Sheerwind calls the design INVELOX, which stands for INcreased VELocity. The company says that the system generates six times more electrical energy than conventional wind turbines and can work at wind speeds as low as 2 mph. And it’s cheaper to build and operate.
Some wind power experts say that’s too good to be true.
Iowa State University engineer Sri Sritharan is developing a modular system that he says will enable wind turbines to be built taller. (Photo by Bob Elbert/Iowa State University)
If wind turbines stood 20 or 40 meters taller than they typically do today, they would produce more energy and possibly make wind energy economically viable in areas where it currently is not.
An Iowa engineer says the solution to provide the necessary growth spurt is to switch from steel to concrete.
Sri Sritharan, the Wilson Engineering Professor at Iowa State University, is developing a wind-turbine tower constructed of modular concrete blocks that can be assembled to any height and any width. He believes it would address one of the major factors now limiting the height of wind-turbine towers: the overhead clearance between highways and their overpasses.
The currently prevailing 80-meter towers typically are transported cross-country in three segments on a costly truck built especially for the job, Sritharan said. The laws of physics prevent a tower from getting taller without also getting wider at the base, and a base wider than the currently-prevailing 14 feet won’t clear the vertical space between a roadbed and bridges that cross over it, according to Sritharan.
“When the tower gets wider, you cannot transport it. Period,” Sritharan said.
Opponents of a proposed We Energies rate plan largely outnumbered proponents at a Milwaukee hearing Wednesday. (Photo by Kari Lydersen)
MILWAUKEE – More than 200 people packed a public hearing on We Energies’ proposed rate restructuring in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon. And that was before the brass band played in the parking lot and an evening hearing that brought a new crowd.
“Are they having a party here? Is the news coming to cover the pool players?” asked one local walking up to the senior center where the hearing was held.
The attention to the normally obscure rate-making procedure (docket number 5-UR-107) is because We Energies’ proposal is seen as an attack on renewable energy that could nearly halt rooftop solar development in the area and chill distributed generation in general, including small wind projects and farm biogas digesters.
If the Public Service Commission approves We Energies’ plan, it would mean the fixed charges all consumers pay each month would go up by 75 percent while rates for energy consumption would go down, greatly reducing the incentive for installing rooftop solar or other distributed generation.