With the American wind market showing record growth and offshore wind farms gaining support, a new report commissioned by the Department of Energy shows that the bulk of this increased capacity is coming from a small-scale, local, decentralized sector known as distributed wind power. The report, prepared by DOE and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), takes stock of the growth in distributed wind power in 2012, which is used independently of utilities to power smaller facilities like farms, small businesses and homes.
The Iowa Utilities Board has approved a $1.9 billion project from the state’s largest utility to install hundreds of wind turbines by the end of 2015, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday. Branstad called the Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy Company’s plan a “win-win” for the state.
id American Energy said Monday it plans to build its new Iowa wind energy farms, costing up to $1.9 billion, in Madison, Marshall, Grundy, O’Brien and Webster counties. The utility company’s announcement of the sites follows an order issued Friday by the Iowa Utilities Board that allows it to develop up to 1,050 megawatts of additional wind energy in Iowa by the end of 2015. “We are excited about this. It is a huge project, and it is a win-win for everybody,” Branstad said.
Timothy Danyliw is the type of guy whose truck has a “No farms, no food” bumper sticker, who owns a T-shirt proclaiming “Renewable energy is American security,” and who moved into a weathered, wood-framed house in the Berkshires for a quiet life amid nature. His friend Larry Lorusso, a river guide and photographer, is much the same. His car runs on biodiesel, he’s a fan of solar panels, and he heats his home with wood gathered from the forest around his house.
While last month’s heat wave forced utilities in New England to crank up generation of power from expensive and dirty sources, at least two wind farms in Maine and Vermont were forced to reduce the amount of electricity they produced. The weak rural system that links wind turbines to the power grid causes wind companies to be routinely taken offline or have their output scaled back.
With Congress deadlocked, a huge chunk of the action on clean energy in the United States is happening at the state level. Some 29 states and Washington D.C. have renewable standards requiring utilities to get a chunk of their power from sources like wind or solar. Over the past year, conservative groups have made a big push to try to repeal these laws, arguing that the mandates drive up electricity prices (since wind and solar can be pricier than coal or natural gas in many cases). What’s surprising, though, is that these attempts have been so unsuccessful — even in deeply conservative red states. As Matt Kasper of the Center for American Progress documents here, repeal efforts by one major group have failed in every state so far
Former members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday hit back at an editorial in The Wall Street Journal calling President Obama’s pick to lead the agency a radical who will attempt to circumvent Congress to impose an anti-carbon and pro-renewables regime.
A federal judge’s decision this week that New England electric transmission companies should make less money on power line projects has triggered concern among wind and solar generators hoping to see a revitalization and expansion of the country’s aging grid. Administrative Law Judge Michael Cianci Jr. issued an initial decision that would reduce the return of transmission owners’ investments from 11.14 percent to 9.7 percent in New England states like Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. The decision now goes before the full Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where the commissioners can reject the decision entirely, approve it or make changes.
During the height of last month’s heat wave, millions of people in northern New England were urged to conserve energy, and some utilities fired up expensive, dirty sources of power to meet demand. But at the same time, at least two wind farms in Maine and Vermont were ordered to reduce the amount of electricity they provided. Even when the energy is needed most, weakness in the rural system linking wind turbines to the power grid mean wind companies are routinely taken offline or have their output reduced.
It has taken less than half a decade for the concept of cybercrime to migrate from the realm of science fiction into the boardrooms and bureaus of major U.S. institutions. A rash of intellectual property thefts, the recent hack into servers at the Department of Energy and a number of high-profile cyberattacks overseas have put both the private sector and national security services on alert.