Colorado’s biggest power company this week signed onto an unprecedented settlement agreement on renewable power and customer billing that environmental advocates say could be a turning point in ushering cleaner energy onto the grid. Xcel Energy Inc., which provides power to two-thirds of the state’s residential customers, will no longer pursue a proposal to add a fixed grid-use charge to customers’ bills, which solar advocates feared would slow renewable power development. Instead, it will look into two other types of billing based on power use.
Deepwater Wind LLC is on the verge of completing the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, a milestone for an industry that has struggled for a more than decade to build in North America. Workers have installed blades on four of the five 589-foot turbines at the site off the coast of Rhode Island and construction may be complete as early as this week, according to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Grybowski. The 30-megawatt, $300 million project is expected to begin commercial operation in early November. “We will finish in advance of our original schedule,” Grybowski said in an interview at a dock on Block Island. “And we are in-line with our budget.”
The Obama administration yesterday took a significant step toward the first wind development off the coast of California. Billing the move as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sought to gauge public interest in a lease request for a 765-megawatt offshore facility. Trident Winds LLC in January submitted its request to lease the approximately 68,000-acre area about 33 miles northwest of Morro Bay near San Luis Obispo.
A project to install hundreds of wind turbines in the Fosen peninsula area of Norway at one point was shelved as unfeasible. The strong breezes that whip off the sea can shift and swing unpredictably, while the soaring cliffs and steep drop-offs create turbulence that wears out expensive equipment. The venture was rescued with a lot of help from the mathematical calculations of Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish wind power company. Vestas used data to figure out how to use more powerful turbines for the project, and precisely where to place them. That meant the utility developing the facility could buy fewer turbines, helping cut costs and balancing the economics of the $1.2 billion project.
The United States ranks second in the world for total wind power capacity but lags behind other countries like Turkey and Poland in terms of the national percentage of electricity generated from wind, according to a new federal report examining the U.S. industry’s cost, performance, employment and generation trends. The annual “wind technologies market report” from the Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that the U.S. wind industry installed almost 8.6 gigawatts of capacity in 2015, the largest of any electricity source. Nationally, 41 percent of new-electricity capacity last year came from wind. Globally, the United States ranked only behind China in terms of annual capacity additions.
Britain on Tuesday approved plans to expand an offshore wind farm project that could ultimately have more than 600 turbines spread across an area of the North Sea more than twice the size of London. The Hornsea Two windfarm project, to be built by DONG Energy, is part of Britain’s push to invest in new electricity generation capacity needed to overcome a squeeze on power supplies in the next decade.
Kansas state Rep. Tom Sloan is the rare Republican who voices some support for the Obama administration’s climate rule and still wins elections. The moderate from a split district in Douglas County has held the seat since 1995. Before that, he also served as a chief of staff to leaders in the Kansas Senate. His district, which includes the college town of Lawrence, is about one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third independent, he said. Voters there have re-elected him for 11 terms, including in 2014, when he faced a GOP challenger who criticized his opposition to repealing renewable energy standards.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is still working with lawmakers to authorize state-run carbon auctions through 2030 in the waning days of the state’s legislative session. Brown’s administration has offered language that would expressly extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through 2030, The Sacramento Bee reported yesterday. The language would amend S.B. 32, which as currently written would merely authorize overarching greenhouse gas targets, rather than a specific method of reaching them. The 2030 goal would be 40 percent below 1990 emissions levels, in line with an executive order Brown signed last year.
A commercial wind project in southern Vermont that’s been delayed for seven years is finally moving ahead. The Public Service Board has approved an agreement between Iberdola Renewables and the Agency of Natural Resources that will protect bear habitat near the site. Developers now say construction on the Deerfield Wind project will start within the next few months.
Opponents of a planned transmission line across Arkansas and parts of Oklahoma and Tennessee said Friday they have filed a federal lawsuit objecting to the U.S. Department of Energy’s participation in the project. Golden Bridge and Downwind, two organizations representing landowners who oppose the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project, said they filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. The suit was not available on the court’s website Monday evening, and the groups did not immediately provide a copy to the Arkansas News Bureau.