Bloomfield, Iowa could save millions on utility costs through increased efficiency and renewable energy, according to a new study. (Photo by Pete Zarria via Creative Commons)
A pair of Iowa studies found that both utilities and their customers in small towns can substantially cut costs if they invest in deep efficiencies and, to a lesser extent, in renewable sources of generation.
The analyses, done by energy consultant Tom Wind and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities with some funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, explored whether the communities of Bloomfield and Algona could become energy independent.
The conclusion: in about 15 years, Bloomfield could get to net-zero — generating as much energy as it consumes over a year — but not necessarily always at the times needed.
Algona could get about half that far, cutting current electricity use by about 50 percent.
People in Iowa, which leads the Midwest in wind energy, are the least likely to believe that wind turbines impact human health, according to a recent survey. (Photo by tumblingrun via Creative Commons)
Science has frequently rejected arguments that wind turbines pose a threat to human health. And now the verdict is in both in the courts of legal and public opinion on the matter, according to a recent study and poll.
A bipartisan poll on energy issues released earlier this week found that in six Midwestern states — Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — only 14 percent of respondents believe wind turbines harm human health.
The survey of 2,477 voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3 on behalf of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.
Among the states surveyed, the lowest percentage of people who believe wind turbines cause health problems (7 percent) was in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in proportion of energy from wind.
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Jeffrey Tomich
MONROE CITY, Missouri — A plan to string high-voltage transmission lines 200 miles across the state of Missouri got a chilly reception from area landowners during the first public airing of the project Tuesday.
Over the course of several hours, farmers, business owners, politicians and organized labor representatives aired opinions about the $2.2 billion project, which aims to deliver 3,500 megawatts of cheap wind energy from the southwest Kansas plains to more populated areas hundreds of miles to the east.
The hearing was the first of a series of public meetings on the project being held across the state. While some in attendance support the jobs, taxes and clean energy that developers promised, coalitions of landowners opposed to the project, most of them wearing neon green T-shirts or stickers that said “Block GBE,” dominated the hearing.
Solar panels outside Springfield, Illinois. (Photo by Jeanette E. Spaghetti via Creative Commons)
While the cleantech industry is still largely concentrated on the coasts, a new report shows Illinois is emerging as a national leader.
In Clean Edge’s new 2014 Clean Tech Leadership Index, which ranks states according to multiple factors, only one Midwestern state, Illinois, broke into the top 10 this year.
Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, says Illinois’s success is due to a strong foundation of policy and capital.
Minnesota, which was in the top 10 in previous years, has dropped to a lower tier.
In the technology section of the index, wind catapulted a few Midwestern and Great Plains states to high rankings.
Rich Vander Veen’s collaborative approach helped get Michigan’s largest wind project off the ground with little controversy. (Photo courtesy Michigan Environmental Council)
He doesn’t particularly like the moniker, but he goes along with it.
Rich Vander Veen, the developer behind Michigan’s largest wind project, has been called by one clean-energy advocate the “wind godfather.”
But now the godfather is working on a sequel.
Earlier this month, Vander Veen was honored for his “vision and action” in his role developing renewable energy in the state, particularly for the nearly 213 megawatt, 133-turbine project in Gratiot County, about 50 miles north of the state Capitol. He recently received the Helen and William Milliken Distinguished Service Award by the Michigan Environmental Council, the state’s top environmental award.
“He saw the potential for wind energy in Michigan and made it a reality,” MEC Executive Director Chris Kolb said during the honorary presentation. Vander Veen’s mid-Michigan project “became a model for how you build a local wind farm,” Kolb added.
Yet Vander Veen isn’t resting on his laurels. In an interview with Midwest Energy News, he outlined his plan for branching into solar, a renewable sector met with a lukewarm welcome from major utilities, but which renewable advocates say has plenty of untapped potential.
Workers for Michigan Solar Solutions complete an installation in Flint; owner Mark Hagerty says the panels doubled the value of the home. (Photo courtesy Michigan Solar Solutions)
A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers has introduced a bill package meant to encourage renewable and distributed energy development for utility customers.
The four-bill package, dubbed “Energy Freedom” by its sponsors, tackles issues like net metering, microgrids, fair-value pricing and community renewable-energy gardens.
Its sponsors, which include 12 Democrats and five Republicans, say it’s a different approach to expanding Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio, doing so on a small-scale level rather than a statewide mandate to be achieved by utilities. Utilities here are on track to meet the state’s 10 percent renewable standard by 2015.
After being considered for roughly a year between legislators and experts, both of the bills were introduced in mid-June and have been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Technology.
“I just want to make sure we do everything we can to promote renewables and clean-energy development in Michigan,” said state Rep. Jeff Irwin, a southeast Michigan Democrat who is either sponsoring or co-sponsoring all four of the bills. “An (RPS) number isn’t the only thing I’m looking at. I’m particularly interested in fighting for some consumer-side benefits, making changes to the law that make it easier for citizens and business owners to plug into the grid and make it work.”
(Photo by eXtension Farm Energy via Creative Commons)
A policymaking storm is brewing in Michigan as state officials and lawmakers simultaneously devise a plan to comply with proposed federal carbon rules and also revisit the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that expires next year.
It appears regulatory officials and lawmakers are attacking the two issues separately — the Department of Environmental Quality recently appointed an official to lead the process of complying with President Obama’s rules; meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee has a task force studying a new RPS.
Somewhere in the middle will likely be a debate over ramping up renewable energy production and considering other non-renewable power sources to lower emissions. Michigan may have the added benefit of tackling the two issues at the same time, as each process could inform the other.
Wind turbines planned for Lake Erie will share engineering technology with wind farms in the North Sea. (Photo by Martin Pettitt via Creative Commons)
Developers of an Ohio offshore wind energy project say it will proceed despite losing out last month on one of three $47-million 4-year grants from the Department of Energy (DOE).
The money would have let Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) build its 18-MW Icebreaker pilot project and have it in operation by 2018.
Nonetheless, DOE has agreed to give LEEDCo at least $3 million to complete engineering and other studies. The funds are in addition to approximately $4 million awarded by DOE in 2012.
“The most important thing is that we’re still moving forward,” says LEEDCo president Lorry Wagner.
Blue Creek Wind Farm in Ohio. (Courtesy Iberdrola Renewables)
With little discussion or fanfare, Ohio legislators have essentially put a stop to new wind farms in the state, industry experts say.
Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 483 on Monday, just days after signing another bill that freezes and alters Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. HB 483 includes revised setback provisions that will likely make new projects economically unfeasible.
The bill “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio,” says Eric Thumma, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
Iberdrola’s Ohio wind farm projects include the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding County. About ten of its Ohio projects are fully permitted, but not yet constructed. The new law lets already-permitted projects continue, but only if no amendments to the permit become necessary.
Exelon’s Byron Generating Station in Illinois. (Photo by Michael Kappel via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Nathanael Massey
Energy giant Exelon Corp. announced this week that it avoided 18 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, meeting its carbon reduction goals seven years ahead of schedule.
The goal, first established in 2008, aimed to reduce 15.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. It was met and exceeded by shutting down old power plants, by improved performance in its sizable nuclear fleet and by energy efficiency measures on both the customer and supply sides of the meter, among other measures.