• We Energies - Renewable Energy Feasibility Study Grant Program

    We Energies is offering Renewable Energy Feasibility Study Grants to its business and not-for-profit electric customers, as well as to organizations teamed with We Energies business and non-profit electric customers. This program helps to cover the costs of studying the feasibility of installing a renewable electricity generation project at a customer’s facility. Funds also can be used to conduct research on a renewable energy product or technology, or to help demonstrate or commercially advance a renewable energy product or technology into the marketplace.

    For more information, please visit www.we-energies.com/RE
    Applications are on a rolling basis, but will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis

  • Windustry Newsletter - Summer 2006

    Wind Energy in Higher Education
    Case Study: Carleton College Northfield, Minnesota

    CARLETON COLLEGE has a 350-foot tall mascot that is setting a new trend among universities by providing both revenue for the school and clean energy for the community. In September 2004, Carleton College dedicated the first college or university owned commercial-scale wind turbine in the nation to complement the college’s environmental statement, which aims to “be a model of environmental stewardship by incorporating ideals of sustainability into the operations of the college and the daily life of individuals.”

    The 1.65 megawatt (MW) turbine is located about a mile and a half east of Carleton’s Northfield, Minnesota campus and has become “a popular destination for runners and bikers,” according to Carleton student Dave Holman. “Students love it, the community loves it, and alumni double love it…because it makes sound economic, PR, and ecological sense.”

    A bit of friendly rivalry is common among schools, and other nearby universities are getting in on the action as well. Already, the University of Minnesota at Morris has installed a 1.65 MW wind turbine, and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN is anticipating commissioning a 1.65 MW turbine in July 2006. Holman encourages the rivalry “because when we compete to do good things for society, everybody wins…and tell Olaf that Carleton’s currently winning,” he jokes.

    Carleton College is a “local pioneer,” according to Bruce Anderson of RENew Northfield, demonstrating the economic and performance viability of wind development in the community. As the Project Manager f Facilities Planning and Management, Rob Lmppa says that this has been a “great learning experience.” And he is not alone. Already, Lamppa has given 50-60 tours of the turbine to school groups, individuals, and other bus loads of interested groups.

    Integrating Wind in the Classroom
    Many school wind projects are partially motivated by the educational opportunities in math, science, business, policy, and environmental studies, which are preparing their students with skills in a fast-growing industry. At Carleton, a variety of departments have been involved in various stages of the turbine project, such as, blade design, wind mapping for site assessment, and data conversion. For example, each month, the Carleton College Physics Department posts the wind production data in their building to keep tabs on the turbine electrical generation and revenue stream, over $384,000 to date.

    Laying the Groundwork for University Wind Energy

    Carleton’s installation of a 1.65 Vestas turbine was the culmination of approximately two years of planning and project development as well as an integral part of larger plans for greater Carleton campus sustainability and active renewable energy planning in the Northfield community.

    During the summer of 2002, local citizens group RENew Northfield helped to convene a Northfield community wind energy task force that included the City of Northfield, the Northfield School District, Carleton College, and St. Olaf College. The task force identified a windy site on a farm about 1.5 miles east of Carleton’s campus. The college’s Board of Trustees officially approved the project in February 2004 and the project proceeded on schedule, commissioning and dedicating its turbine in September 2004.

    Now that the local community has lived with the turbine for nearly a year and a half, Anderson says that there is generally “broad and strong support for the Carleton wind turbine.” A number of people have called his office at RENew Northfield just to say that they are thankful that the Carleton turbine is in their community. Anderson adds, “many view this project as a symbol of progress and pride in the community.”

    Wind Economics and Policy
    Electricity from the wind turbine is being sold to Xcel Energy for local use in the Northfield area. Xcel is paying 3.3 cents per kWh through a fixed 20 year contract, under the terms of Xcel’s standard small wind tariff (available for wind projects under 2 MW in Minnesota).

    In addition to selling electricity to Xcel, Carleton is receiving 1.5 cents per kWh generated from the State of Minnesota via the Minnesota Renewable Energy Payment Incentive (MN REPI) program. The $1.8 million project at Carleton also was aided by a $150,000 “Community Wind Rebate” from the state of Minnesota. The rest of the capital expenditure was provided from Carleton directly.

    The college expects to recoup its investment with interest within 10 to 12 years. After two semesters of independent study on the economics of the turbine, Holman suggests that “Carleton should invest in a wind farm as part of its endowment because it is an incredibly good investment. Wind for Carleton has the risk level of a bond, but returns like a stock with 8-12% per year. In addition to a yearly revenue stream of about $250,000, the PR value of the turbine has been immeasurable.”

    Campus Sustainability
    By generating wind power, the college offsets about 40% of its electricity use, significantly reducing harmful emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. Over the life of the turbine, the college will avoid producing 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is important to students at Carleton who view the turbine as “a very strong piece of their school’s identity,” according to one student.

    Paving the Way - St. Olaf and Others Follow Suit
    Carleton might find itself to be a trendsetter if other colleges and universities in the Midwest continue to follow through on their own plans to install wind turbines. St. Olaf College, the University of Minnesota at Morris, as well as some k-12 schools are catching on to the benefits of installing a wind turbine. St. Olaf College, located just across town in Northfield, received a $1.5 million grant from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development fund to install a turbine of their own to match Carleton’s machine. Commissioning is scheduled for July 2006. St. Olaf intends to use the energy directly for its campus rather than sell it to the grid, and expects to supply approximately 30% of the campus electricity demand with wind each year.

    St. Olaf also has plans to incorporate the turbine into curriculum with “a really cool set of courses called Campus Ecology I and II in our environmental studies program,” according to Pete Sandberg, Assistant Vice President for Facilities at St. Olaf. The turbine will also likely be integrated into an interim course looking at sustainable and renewable materials, in addition to, energy. “I think the educational uses will multiply pretty quickly beyond anything we can imagine right now,” says Sandberg.

    When asked if the college is pleased with the turbine experience thus far, Sandberg echoed the comments of many who have worked in wind project development: “It has been very challenging!”

    The community around St. Olaf has been generally supportive of the project. According to Pete Sandberg, Assistant Vice president for Facilities at St. Olaf, “we've had only positive feed back – no opposition, in fact, at the public hearing for the county conditional use permit, a Northfield realtor spoke, and said he believed that the value of properties with a view of the other turbine in Northfield were enhanced!”

    Why is a wind turbine such a good fit for schools and universities? “We generated most of our electricity for most of our history,” says Sandberg about the college as its own utility. “We see it as just another way we contribute to keeping the place going as efficiently as possible.”

    In the first quarter of 2006, St. Olaf College signed a turbine purchase contract with Vestas, and has installed the footings, transformer, and wiring in the new electrical equipment control room. Construction is scheduled for completion in July 2006. All of the work to date has been paid from college capital funds allocated to the project, which includes the first installment payment of $400,000 to Vestas.

    To the northwest, the University of Minnesota at Morris broke ground for its own Vestas 1.65 MW turbine in November 2004, and began producing electricity for the campus in March 2005. Installed at the University’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, the turbine is the first commercial-scale wind energy project at a public university. The turbine supplies the campus with 5.6 million kWh per year, which is more than half of its electricity needs. Many colleges and universities around the U.S. that don’t have wind resources enough for their energy needs are purchasing green power to support renewables on campus. View a list of universities purchasing green power on the Green Power Network.

    As has been demonstrated by multiple successful k-12 school projects in Minnesota and Iowa, wind turbines can be a great fit for educational institutions because they provide a clean energy, a new source of revenue and educational opportunities for students. Also schools sometimes have the option of using a wind turbine to directly offset their energy use, which can be a significant economic advantage.

    As more and more schools across the nation “go green” in a variety of ways, the Midwest is leading the way for wind.

    More information:
    Community Wind website - wind in schools
    Carleton College - history of the wind turbine RENew Northfield
    Clean Energy Resources Teams Case Study
    St. Olaf's turbine

    Windustry Updates

    Community Wind Conference Wrap Up
    Thank you to everyone who participated at the second national Community Wind Energy Conference in March 2006 in Des Moines, Iowa. Over 500 people from 32 states and 3 countries joined the discussion to advance community wind energy development.
    The conference proceedings are now available online.

    Windustry is growing!
    Windustry brought 3 new staff members on board in the past year to continue expanding the scope and depth of our work. Brian Antonich was an intern with Windustry for two summers before joining full-time as Small Wind Program Analyst. Brian received his Masters Degree in 2005 from the University of Washington in Electrical Engineering, focusing on wind energy systems. Cole McVey moved from North Carolina in October 2005, where she worked with the Appalachian State University Energy Center and Small Wind Initiative, to Minnesota to work as Program Associate with Windustry. Dave Tidball joined Windustry in June of 2005 to help expand the number and range of projects with administrative support. Lisa Daniels and Sarah Johnson remain fixtures on the Windustry team.
    About the Windustry team

    Windustry Membership
    Join Windustry today. Help us continue to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities and provide sound information and technical support. Becoming a member of Windustry builds a strong base of advocacy for public policy that supports community wind. As a non-profit organization, Windustry depends on the support of foundations, government contracts, and people who use our information and services. If you appreciate our work and would like to support our development, become a member of Windustry today!

    Windustry’s Networks Expand
    With our growing team of staff and support, Windustry has been able to expand our programs as well:

    Home and Farm Windustry
    WINDUSTRY HAS ADDED a home and farm-scale wind energy program to our menu of resource offerings. Also known as small wind, this program will focus on technical and policy issues for turbines under 100kW in size. Contact Brian Antonich at 612/870-3465, or visit: www.windustry.org/smallwind

    Community Wind Listserv
    When we talk about community wind, we are generally describing commercial-scale wind turbines and projects that feature local ownership and participation and are generally larger than 100 kW. To join this active wind discussion group to keep posted on today's most current news and issues surrounding community wind development!

    Women of Wind Energy (WOWE) a group of individuals who support and encourage the participation of professional women in the wind energy industry by providing networking opportunities and student sponsorships. WOWE, formed in 2005 and housed at Windustry, has an online listserv and website.

    We also maintain our Wind Farmers Network, an online forum for farmers, landowners, and others to ask questions, discuss current issues, and share experiences with wind energy development. Windustry launched the Wind Farmers Network in 2004, and now has over 1,100 members joined in the dialogue. If you would like to join the Wind Farmers Network, visit www.windfarmersnetwork.org, or call Windustry at (612)870-3461 with questions.

    Visit Windustry at the Minnesota State Fair
    AUGUST 24 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2006.
    Windustry will host hands-on and interactive exhibits in the new EcoExperience Building on the State Fair Grounds.
    MN State Fair

    Wind Energy News

    WINDPOWER 2006
    Windustry staff joined 5,000 other members of the wind industry in the annual American Wind Energy Association conference. At this year's event, June 5-7 in Pittsburgh, PA, Windustry participated hosted the Community Wind Update Meeting, Women of Wind Energy Networking Luncheon, and participated in the Small Wind Stakeholders Meeting and the Wind Powering America All States Summit. It was a marathon week for Windustry in PA, but we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
    AWEA 2006 Conference website

    Clean Renewable Energy Bonds
    Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) are a new financing tool released by the United States Treasury, to provide an incentive for publicly-owned renewable energy projects that do not qualify for federal Production Tax Credits (PTCs). The $800 million available between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007 is for any governmental entity (including tribal governments) or electric cooperative company that applied by the April 26th, 2006 deadline. Stay tuned to hear how CREBs turn out for public wind energy projects. More information on CREBs at the Environmental Law and Policy Center Site.

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Fall 2002

    Minwind I & II: Innovative farmer-owned wind projects

    In 2000, a group of farmers in Luverne, Minnesota began to hatch a plan to build farmer-owned wind turbines in Rock County. Their goal was to find an investment that would generate new income for farmers and have economic benefits for the local community. The rapid growth of the wind industry around the country and the great success of wind farming on the nearby Buffalo Ridge made developing wind energy a natural choice. “We wanted a farmer-owned project that would bring economic development, get farmers a return on their investment, and could use local businesses and contractors to do the work,” said Mark Willers, a project leader and farmer from Beaver Creek, Minnesota.

    “We are trying to get farmer ownership of wind projects to the forefront and it has been a challenge, but with dedicated people like Mark Willers and Tom Arends we’re making great strides.” –Dave Kolsrud, Corn-er Stone Farmers Cooperative.

    To develop their idea of farmer-owned commercial wind turbines, the group did extensive research and settled on forming two limited liability companies (LLCs), Minwind I and Minwind II. This format was the best option because it maximized the companies’ ability to use tax credits and other incentives for wind energy while maintaining some principles of cooperatives such as voluntary and open membership, democratic member control and concern for the greater community.

    Sixty-six investors from the region eagerly snapped up all the available shares in both companies in only 12 days. All of the members are from Minnesota and are also investors in Luverne’s ethanol plant (Corn-er Stone Farmers Cooperative), although that was not a requirement for membership. The two companies are carefully structured to give farmers the best return on their investment in the most democratic way possible. Eighty-five percent of the shares must be owned by farmers, leaving the rest available for local townspeople and non-farmers who could someday inherit shares. Each share gives the owner one vote in the company and no single person can own more than 15 percent of the shares.

    Two companies were formed to take advantage of a Minnesota renewable production incentive that provides 1.5¢ per kilowatt-hour payment for wind projects up to two MW for the first ten years of production. Although they coordinate closely, they are governed by separate boards of directors, have different groups of investors and maintain separate financial books. Willers serves as president of Minwind I and Tom Arends, another local farmer based in Luverne, is president of Minwind II. Both groups have also relied heavily on expertise from consultants to develop the actual wind project negotiate the power purchase agreement, and a team of lawyers to determine the business structure.

    After the shares were sold, the companies had enough capital to begin developing two nearly identical 1.9 MW wind projects. Construction is underway on both Minwind projects, the foundations were poured in mid-July and the turbines will be fully installed by the end of October. Each project consists of two Micon 950 kW turbines and all four turbines will be located on the same farm seven miles southwest of Luverne. The site was chosen because the group wanted to use land owned by one of the project’s investors, and this particular farm had the best combination of wind resource and access to transmission lines.

    According to Willers, the most difficult step in these projects was not finding capital for the hardware, consultants and legal fees because farmers were enthusiastic about investing from the very beginning. He believes that it is a myth that farmers do not have the money to finance projects on this scale (Minwind I and II will cost about $1.6 million dollars each and will be paid off in ten years). The biggest obstacle, rather, was negotiating a power purchase agreement, a crucial step to moving any wind project forward. The group not only had to find a power company that believed they were serious about building these wind turbines, but one that was willing to buy the power they would generate. Discussions with the local rural electric cooperative were fruitless due to many issues including interconnection requirements, cost, and a long-term exclusive agreement with another power supplier. Eventually, after months of negotiation, they entered a 15-year contract with Alliant Energy, which will use the power to help satisfy renewable energy standards in Iowa or Wisconsin. As with any power generation project, establishing a market for the power and negotiating a contract was crucial to allowing these two projects to move forward.

    Minwind I and Minwind II are as much about economics and promoting farmer-owned enterprises as they are about developing wind energy. The companies are consciously using local materials and contractors for everything possible, including purchasing concrete from a local business and contracting with a Lake Benton, Minnesota company to service the machines. Thus, according to Willers, the whole region will see economic development, while farmers get a real return on their investment.

    According to Dave Kolsrud, manager of Corn-er Stone Farmers Coop, there is great potential for this project to lead to many more farmer-owned wind enterprises. “Wind energy is changing the landscape of rural America and we’re trying to make farmer ownership of wind energy become significant enough for wind to be considered another crop,” he said. And, according to Tom Arends, “wind turbines are one of the best cash crops to come along for farmers looking for new sources of income.”

    After the current two 1.9 MW projects are installed, Willers says that there is so much interest from area farmers and other potential investors that they have already begun researching more potential sites and the possibility of doing much larger projects. Willers hopes expansion will allow many more farmers to participate in this innovative model for wind development. “This model is a way for farmers to take advantage of economies of scale in developing wind, just like the big companies do,” said Willers.

    Willers, Arends, and many others have invested countless hours in developing the Minwind projects, but they believe their efforts have been worthwhile. “We’ve spent an incredible amount of time on this, but we needed to do it for our community and our friends who are farmers,” said Willers.

    To learn more about Minwind I and II and other innovative wind projects, attend Wind Energy: New Economic Opportunities on November 21-22, 2002 in Minneapolis. Visit www.windustry.org/conference or call 612-870-3461 to receive a brochure and registration form.

    Update (December 2004):
    Minwind Energy recently dedicated Minwind III-IX, seven new 1.65 MW wind turbines. Admiring the new turbines at Minwind's December 3, 2004 Open HouseThese turbines are owned by approximately 200 local investors, following the same principles as the original Minwind I and II projects. For more information, please visit the community wind section of our website or visit the Wind Farmers Network to view a photo album from the December 3, 2004 Minwind Open House.

    Something for everybody at Wind Conference
    Wind Energy: New Economic Opportunities
    Windustry, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and a diverse steering committee are organizing a large wind energy conference to be held November 21-22, 2002 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The conference will have four tracks: Utility projects large and small, green pricing and credit trading will be addressed in Advancing Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Objective. An overview of wind energy and a discussion on building a wind industry in the Midwest will be part of the Economic Development track. Many aspects of distributed wind generation will be highlighted in Community-based Wind, such as what makes a good wind site, financing wind projects and how to build community support. The practical ‘how to’s of wind projects will be covered in the Citizen and Landowner Workshops.

    The conference is intended for a wide audience of rural landowners, interested citizens, tribes, utilities, developers, regulators, elected officials, economic development professionals, state agencies and advocates. The full program for the conference was recently published and is available by contacting Windustry or visiting our website. Anyone with an interest in wind energy and economic development is welcome and encouraged to attend.

    Wind Workshops/Events
    November 14, 2002 -- Wind Symposium on Small Scale Systems, Cleveland, Wisconsin. A one day event for rural homeowners, farmers, and small businesses at Lakeshore Technical College. Contact: Ron Fromm, Focus on Energy, 800-598-4376

    November 18-19, 2002 -- Ohio Wind Power Conference and Trade Show, Dublin, Ohio. A forum to explore primarily small wind systems Contact Green Energy Ohio at 1-866-GREENOH, or visit www.greenenergyohio.org.
    February 10-11, 2003 –- Harvesting Clean Energy Conference III, Boise, ID. A conference for rural landowners, tribes, rural electric utility representatives, rural economic development leaders, elected officials, and local, state and Federal Agencies. Contact Diane Gasaway at diane@wreca.coop or 360-943-4241.

    About Windustry
    Windustry builds collaborations and provides technical support to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for economic development. Windustry is affiliated with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, an organization that promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

    Wind Farmers Network
    The purpose of the Wind Farmers Network is to bring together a broad range of landowners, farmers and ranchers to exchange their experiences in wind development and educate others who would like to begin farming the wind. If you would like to join the network, please send your contact information and a brief sentence describing your wind energy interests to Windustry or join online at www.windustry.org/about/join.htm. Your information may be shared with other wind farmers within the network only. The network is currently under development.

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Spring 2003

    Reading, Writing, Wind Energy & Arithmetic Construction of the Eldora-New Providence wind turbine

    Case Study: Eldora, Iowa
    From his office in the small central Iowa town of Eldora, Eldora-New Providence Community School District Superintendent Bill Grove can see the money his district is saving in energy costs every day by tracking the performance of the wind turbine standing on the grounds of the high school.

    The 750 kW NEG Micon turbine was installed last fall after years of talks, negotiations, setbacks and planning with the school board and the local utility. The idea of the Eldora-New Providence school district producing its own electricity from wind power was conceived in the mid-1990s when school officials were brainstorming ways to save money. The first step was a meeting with the local utility, IES Utilities, Inc. (now part of the Madison, WI based Alliant Energy), that turned out to be crucial to the ultimate success of the project. “The utility vice president’s jaw hit the floor when he realized that we weren’t making any demands, just asking if we could all work together. They’re not used to being approached like that and it really set a positive tone that served us all well in the end,” said Grove.

    The original plan for the project called for installing a 250 kW turbine at the high school, which would have closely matched the electricity needs of that building, the district’s largest electricity user. However, the first interconnection agreement offered by Alliant would not have produced a positive revenue stream for the school district, creating the first of many hurdles for the project. Eventually, by going through the Iowa Utilities Board, the district secured an arrangement where the wind turbine’s electricity would offset the high school’s electricity use, extra energy would be sold to Alliant at the avoided cost rate, and any additional energy needed by the high school would be purchased from the utility at retail rate.

    With the legal issues settled, Grove and the school board hoped to move forward quickly with constructing the wind turbine. They hired wind energy consultant Tom Wind to do a feasibility study and recommend the best site for the turbine. However, the project’s second major obstacle appeared when the district did not receive a single bid for installing a 250 kW machine. They discovered that most wind turbine manufacturers were moving toward larger, more profitable machines and were phasing out the 250 kW turbines.

    With all the plans revolving around buying a 250 kW turbine, the project easily could have fallen apart with this setback. However, the spirit of cooperation established in that very first meeting with the utility reemerged to save the project. Alliant offered to allow the Eldora-New Providence schools to use the electricity generated by a larger turbine to offset all of the district’s electricity use, rather than just the high school’s consumption. Grove was careful to point out that the utility might not offer this particular arrangement to everyone, but that the benefits of working cooperatively with the utility for this project could be a lesson for other schools.

    With this new agreement, Tom Wind performed a new feasibility study for a 750 kW wind turbine. The numbers still looked favorable for the revised plan, thus in late 2001, the school district tried again to request bids, this time for the larger turbine. The second try proved more fruitful than the first and by March 2002 the district contracted with NEG Micon and had a turbine installed on October 21, 2002.

    Grove expects the new turbine to generate enough electricity to offset the entire school district’s electricity bill and sell some power back to the utility. The energy savings and the extra revenue from selling electricity should be more than enough to cover the $97,729 annual loan payment. When the loan is paid off in ten years, all the savings and revenue will simply be extra money for the Eldora-New Providence schools. So far, the turbine is meeting and even exceeding these expectations.

    Eldora wind turbine economics
    The school district borrowed a total of $800,000 to finance the project– including the cost of the turbine, consultant and attorney fees, interconnection fees, and an extended 5-year warranty– and expects to pay off the loans in ten years. Part of the financing came through a $250,000 no interest loan from the Iowa Energy Bank, an energy management program run by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Energy Bureau. The remaining $550,000 was borrowed from the local Hardin County Savings Bank of Eldora at 5.5 percent interest. A slightly lower rate was available from a Des Moines bank, but the school board felt it was important to support the local business. Combined with the no interest loan, the average annual interest is only 2.1 percent. For the first 5 years, the district will also pay $8,000 for a maintenance contract with NEG Micon, but Grove hopes the district will have its own maintenance crew trained by the end of that time. This low-interest financing package combined with the area’s decent, but not outstanding wind resource made this project economically viable.

    Today, the 160 foot tall turbine stands in a field just behind the high school where students and teachers see it every day. The physics class tracks the electricity production and uses the data for projects and to illustrate many ideas and concepts. “We’ve gotten just what we wanted,” said Grove, citing the school’s new role as an innovator in both education and environmental protection. And perhaps even more importantly, he said, “We have an inflation-proof investment for the next 25 years.”

    Eldora-New Providence School District is the latest of half a dozen school districts in Iowa to invest in wind energy. Many more schools in Iowa, Minnesota and around the Midwest are exploring using wind power to reduce their energy costs. Grove alone has received more than a dozen inquiries about from other school districts. The Spirit Lake School District in northern Iowa was the pioneer for this kind of project, installing the first of its two wind turbines in 1992. For more information about wind energy and schools or other community-based wind projects, visit www.windustry.org/community.

    Turbine Performance Data
    The Eldora-New Providence School District is now posting its wind turbine performance data online:

    http://www.eldora-np.k12.ia.us/enpdistrict/index.html

    Wind Energy News
    $23 million available for renewable energy and energy efficiency
    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) in April inviting applications for the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grant Program, created in the 2002 farm bill. The program offers grants for renewable energy systems (including wind turbines) to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. The grants can be used to pay up to 25 percent of the cost of an eligible project. Next year the program will be expanded to include loans and loan guarantees if it does not fall victim to budget cuts. More information is available at www.windustry.org/resources/farmbill.htm or by calling your state’s USDA Rural Development Office. The deadline for applications is June 27, 2003.

    Minnesota PUC approves Buffalo Ridge area power line
    The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission significantly advanced wind power in Minnesota by ordering Xcel Energy to proceed with building a new set of power lines and power line upgrades designed to bring wind power from southwestern Minnesota to the Twin Cities. In the March 11th Order, the PUC requires that the timeline for building the power lines match Xcel’s timeline for building wind turbines in the area, ensuring that the power line will be used to carry wind-generated electricity. Another condition requires Xcel to purchase up to 60 MW of wind owned by local farmers, communities and small businesses.

    New Midwestern wind projects
    Iowa: Iowa’s largest utility, Mid-American Energy, announced plans to build a 310 MW wind project in the state, which would be the largest land-based wind farm in the world.

    North Dakota: Fergus Falls, Minnesota-based Otter Tail Power announced plans to purchase 21 MW of wind power capacity from a project to be owned by FPL Energy and built near Kulm, North Dakota by the end of 2003.

    South Dakota : The first Native-American owned utility-scale wind turbine was installed on the Rosebud-Sioux reservation in South Dakota February 27, 2003.

    November Conference Proceedings Now Available
    Audio recordings, presentation visuals and links to additional information are available for nearly all of the 90 presentations made at Wind Energy: New Economic Opportunities conference in November: www.windustry.org/conference/proceedings.

    Wind Energy Workshops/Events
    May 18-21, 2003, Austin, Texas: WINDPOWER. The American Wind Energy Association's annual conference. Visit www.awea.org or call 202-383-2500.

    June 19, 2003 – Oklahoma Wind Power and Bioenergy Conference, Norman, Oklahoma. For more information, contact Kylah Kissinger at 405-447-8412 or windgirl@ou.edu or visit www.seic.okstate.edu/owpi.

    June 20-22, 2003 – Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair, Custer, Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.the-mrea.org or contact the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at (715) 592-6595 or info@the-mrea.org.

    About Windustry
    Windustry builds collaborations and provides technical support to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for economic development. Windustry recently incorporated as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, but remains partnered with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, another non-profit that promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

    Wind Farmers Network
    The Wind Farmers Network now has financial support for development in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Watch www.windustry.org for more information in the coming months. The purpose of this initiative is to bring together a broad range of landowners, farmers and ranchers to exchange their experiences in wind development and educate others who would like to begin farming the wind. If you would like to join the network, please send your contact information and a brief sentence describing your wind energy interests to Windustry or join online at www.windustry.org/about/join.htm. Your information only may be shared within the network.

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Fall 2003

    Native Americans Breaking Trail for Green Power


    “An overnight success that took eight years” is a description often applied to the first Native American owned utility-scale wind turbine by people involved in the project. Officially dedicated in May, the 170 ft 750 kW NEG Micon turbine now stands on a hill above the Rosebud Hotel and Casino in south central South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux reservation. Patrick Spears (left), Robert Gough (right), Rosebud wind turbine (middle). Photo courtesy of Intertribal COUP.

    Wind energy has long been an attractive possibility for tribal communities partly due to simple geography– tribal lands in North Dakota, South Dakota and other Great Plains states happen to include some of the best wind resource areas in the world. However, motivations for pursuing a wind project were much more complex for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Concerns about how electricity generation affects the health of the air, land, water and people, the growing threat of global climate change, and a deep-seated interest in expanding economic opportunities for community members played major roles. And this project is only the beginning. The Rosebud tribe purposefully experimented with models and the planning process for this project with the intention of gaining enough knowledge and experience to make future wind projects, bigger, more efficient and more profitable.

    The suggestion that this project was almost deliberately made into a long, challenging process is not hard to believe considering that the original groundwork was laid as far back as 1994, the year the Rosebud Sioux established a Tribal Utility Commission (TUC) to expand their capacity to manage energy issues. At that time the most pressing issue was obtaining an allocation for hydropower electricity from the Western Area Power Administration. (WAPA is a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy charged with selling and transmitting electricity from federal hydroelectric power plants.). Part of the TUC’s job was to develop an integrated resource plan, which required studying all possible energy sources, both renewable and traditional. This lead to the installation of the first wind-monitoring tower to measure what the tribe already suspected was a promising wind resource. Rosebud turbine under construction. Photo Courtesy of Intertribal COUP.

    As many Missouri River basin tribes were facing similar energy issues at that time, a coalition of northern Great Plains tribes chartered the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (Intertribal COUP) to create a common forum for utility policy discussions. Over the next few years, Intertribal COUP focused on WAPA allocations, but also started exploring ways to integrate their own energy resources. Intertribal COUP and the Rosebud TUC began to grow their knowledge base by organizing and hosting a series of meetings and conferences to explore the feasibility of wind power and building connections with groups from other states with more wind experience.

    During the process of learning about wind energy possibilities, the Rosebud TUC became a champion of bringing these opportunities home to the Rosebud reservation. Many members of the commission became tireless advocates for both the economic and environmental benefits of wind power. Particularly remembered are the contributions of the late Alex “Little Soldier” Lunderman, the first president of the utility commission for whom the turbine was named at the May dedication. Ronald Neiss, another former utility commission president, told Wind Powering America last year about Lunderman’s vision that continues to guide the commission today: “He believed we could use modern technology as well as our resources in a way that is compatible with our history, our philosophy, and our cultural and spiritual values. With the Rosebud Wind Project, we are trying to make his vision a reality by using the tremendous wind resource on the reservation in a good way.”

    This first turbine is a demonstration project that's breaking trail for future, bigger projects.The current TUC President, Rod Bordeaux, sees the growing potential for tribal wind power as a positive direction for Great Plains Tribes, “ Energy has a steep learning curve, but people are beginning to understand where this is going. ”

    By the late 1990s, it was clear that the Rosebud Sioux had an excellent wind resource, and an interest in using a clean, renewable, native natural resource to generate power. However, the question of how to finance a large wind energy venture remained. Part of that question was answered in 1999, when Rosebud was the only tribe to receive funding ($508,000, half the cost of the turbine) for a utility scale wind turbine in the Department of Energy’s first round of Tribal Renewable Energy Grants. Soon after receiving the DOE award, the tribe began negotiations with the Rural Utilities Service to borrow money for the rest of the project, which, at the time, had never worked with either tribes or renewable energy. (RUS is a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that makes loans to rural utility service providers.) The effort paid off in 2002 when the Rosebud tribe secured a loan for the second half of the turbine installation costs and a little extra to set up some new wind monitoring stations.

    While working on the financing, the TUC also began to tackle other hurdles such as obtaining permission to interconnect the turbine to the power grid and finding a market for the electricity. They used this process explore many markets that could also be viable for future, larger wind projects. Students and teachers gathered at the turbine dedication. Photo courtesy Clean Air- Cool Planet.Among the considerations: working with the owners of the transmission and distribution lines, plugging into the federal market for renewable energy, and the possibility of selling wind energy as premium green electricity.

    The result of the extensive negotiations is a multi-faceted arrangement for selling and transmitting the wind turbine’s electricity (see chart). A long-term deal was made to provide electricity directly to the Rosebud Casino, but the contract allows the tribe flexibility to explore other options. For example, for the first few years (up to 5) Rosebud is providing "green power" to Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, SD by coordinating with Basin Electric Power Cooperative, WAPA, and Nebraska Public Power. The tribe is also working with NativeEnergy, a Vermont based company that agreed to buy the remaining lifetime output of green tags from the project. Consumer demand for cleaner electricity has driven the development of a market for the environmental attributes of wind-generated electricity (referred to as green tags) and NativeEnergy has tapped this market by selling green tags from the Rosebud turbine to thousands of individuals and environmentally minded companies such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, a Rolling Stones climate change concert and a recent Dave Matthews Band tour. A consumer buying green tags can think of it as way to offset pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with their own electricity use. 2003FallNews_chart.gif (62357 bytes)

    Gough described this first wind turbine as a learning tool, that is “breaking trail” for more and bigger tribal wind energy projects. While recognizing the pioneering efforts of other Great Plains tribes in smaller scale wind power (such as Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain in North Dakota, the Upper Sioux and White Earth Chippewa, and the Blackfeet in Montana), Patrick Spears, President of Intertribal COUP, said, “Rosebud has taken the lead among tribal nations of the northern plains in realizing the potential of large scale wind energy development. And this turbine is only step one, the next phase of Rosebud’s plan is a 30-50 MW project.”

    Rosebud and Intertribal COUP have also joined in developing a road map for an 80 MW project to be distributed in clusters across eight Great Plains reservations. “This project would provide a way for a number of tribes to share the risks and benefits involved of a large wind project to capture the economies of scale necessary to be economically feasible and secure each reservation a place on the WAPA grid as a clean energy generator. Ten megawatts on each reservation would likely be absorbed on the local distribution system, and have little impact on an otherwise constrained transmission grid” noted Gough. To date, four Intertribal COUP tribes have begun the necessary planning and data collection to participate in this effort.

    The incentive for Great Plains tribes to pursue wind power goes beyond the great promise of economic development. Wind is an opportunity for tribes to control their own energy resources and the impact of their energy use. Reservations are seen as permanent homelands for tribal communities, and the residents realize that depleting the natural resources is incompatible with that idea. “The Lakota people have always had great respect for the power of the wind,” said Spears, and now they can use that power to produce clean energy and economic development.

    MORE INFORMATION Rosebud Wind Project
    * NativeEnergy Photos
    * First Rosebud Wind Turbine Generates Support: An Interview with Intertribal COUP Secretary Robert Gough- Cultural Survival Quarterly, Fall 2003
    * Wind Powering America: Rosebud 750-kW Wind Turbine Installed
    * Tribes Find Power in Wind, by Winona LaDuke, YES!, Summer 2003 * Wind Powering America: Wind Stakeholder Interview- Rosebud Reservation
    * Rosebud Casino and Hotel

    Green Power Markets
    * Windustry: Wind Energy Markets
    * NativeEnergy- national marketer of renewable energy credits or green tags.
    * Green Power Network - Clearinghouse for information on the electric power industry's green power efforts.

    Resources for Tribal Wind Energy Projects
    * U.S. Department of Energy Tribal Energy Program
    * Wind Powering America: Native American Anemometer Loan Program
    * Wind Powering America: Case Studies on Native Americans Using Wind Power

    Other Resources
    * Western Area Power Administration
    * U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service
    * Basin Electric Power Cooperative
    * National Renewable Energy Laboratory: South Dakota Wind Map

    WIND ENERGY News
    USDA Grants announced
    The first round of grant awards for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program was announced August 25, 2003. Over $21 million was awarded for 131 projects in 24 states. Minnesota lead all states with $4,678,632, followed by New York, Illinois, and Ohio. Many grants will support wind projects, including small residential-scale turbines, farmer-owned utility-scale turbines, and rural electric cooperative wind projects. For more information: www.windustry.org/resources/farmbill.htm.

    Large farmer project wins bid
    In August, Great River Energy announced that it will begin contract negotiations for 100 MW of wind power with Trimont Area Wind Farm, LLC. Trimont Wind is a coalition of local citizens from the project area (south central Minnesota) that answered Great River Energy’s request for proposals to develop a renewable energy supply resource to be ready by 2005. It will be the largest locally owned wind project in the nation. According to GRE, the project was chosen for its competitive price, its access to transmission line interconnections, its location within the coop’s service territory, and its appeal as a locally owned project.

    MN Community Wind Rebate
    The Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Office announced a new Community Wind Rebate program available to non-taxable entities (such as schools, non-profit organizations, or government units) in Minnesota outside of the southwest portion of the state. Projects can receive rebates of up to $150,000 by applying before the November 13, 2003 deadline. For more information, visit www.windustry.org or contact Mike Taylor at 651-296-6830 or mike.taylor@state.mn.us

    WINDUSTRY Updates
    WindProject Calculator
    The Windustry WindProject Calculator has been updated with new turbines and improved with a more user-friendly format. It is available at www.windustry.org/calculator.

    Windustry Grows
    The Windustry staff expanded to include Wes Slaymaker who is taking on the role of Windustry Project Engineer. He is a certified professional engineer with more than three years experience developing wind energy projects in the Midwest. He brings a new level of practical and technical expertise to Windustry. Welcome Wes!

    WIND ENERGY Workshops/Events
    November 11 - 13, 2003 – AWEA Wind Financing Workshop, Palm Springs, CA. Contact the American Wind Energy Association at (202) 383-2500 or visit www.awea.org/seminars.html.
    November 14, 2003 – Minnesota's Renewable Energy Research: Status and Opportunities, Brooklyn Center, MN. Presented by Energy Alley. Contact Erik Pratt at 612-334-3388, ext. 102, or visit www.mn-ei.org/ea/research03.html.

    About WINDUSTRY
    Windustry is a non-profit organization that builds collaborations and provides technical support to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for economic development. We are partnered with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
    WIND FARMERS Network
    The Wind Farmers Network is now in development for landowners, communities and others interested in investing in wind energy to exchange information and experiences. Visit www.windustry.org/farmer or contact Windustry for more information or to join the network.

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Spring 2001

    Kas Brothers Plant 25-Year Cash Crop This Season: Wind Power
    From one perspective, Richard and Roger Kas of Woodstock, Minnesota are typical Midwestern farmers who have grown up farming the family land with their father, William Kas. But this family has something unmistakably unique taking place on their farm. They have seventeen modern wind turbines on their land, generating enough electricity to power 4300 households, and they’re about to put up two more. What is even more unique is that the Kas brothers will own these two new commercial-scale wind turbines. This is the first project of its kind in Minnesota, and possibly in the whole Midwest. Kas Brothers Wind Farm

    The wind development came about pretty quick in Southwest Minnesota when the legislature mandated that Northern States Power, now called Xcel Energy, contract 425 MW of wind generated electricity by 2002 in exchange for allowing nuclear waste to be stored outside the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant. Landowners signed leases giving the utility and wind development companies rights to put wind turbines on a portion of their land. The Kas family was part of this group of landowners. But they chose their developer carefully.

    Roger thought, “I didn’t want my land tied up without a project going on it. Once you sign something you can’t do what you want. “ He felt that, “if someone comes to me and is ready to put a wind project on my land then let’s sit down and talk.” Otherwise he just felt it was a waste of time to tie his land up for two or three or five years on the option agreements. “I don’t know why someone would want to do that. If you have a good wind resource it’s good to be sure that a project will actually go up.”

    The first 17 turbines on their land were developed by Dan Juhl of Danmar Associates, and have been up and running for two years. Roger said, “Dan Juhl was here the first. And we talked, but we had an agreement that if someone else came up with a project first and made us a good offer we would go with them. There were no exclusive agreements.”

    While Juhl was working to put his project together he kept the Kas family up to date on the different aspects. The process took a long time. It was 1993 when Juhl installed an anemometer tower to measure the wind on the Kas farm. And it was 1999 when the 17 machines were completely installed and producing power. The machines take six acres out of crop production, on the 320 acres or half section. The life of the machines is expected to be about 25 years and power purchase agreement is 25 years.

    If a Wind Developer knocks on your door, it's up to you to know the score...

    *Consult an attorney on all contracts
    *Consider all development options:
    * get together with individual landowners and collectively negotiate wind rights for the broad area
    * partner with a wind developer
    * own and operate a wind farm
    * form a value-added wind cooperative
    * partner with the electric cooperative or municipal in your region

    Roger stayed with it and paid attention to the how the project came together on his land. He may not have had an equity position in the Juhl project, but he certainly had an interest in its success since his wind easement annual payments are based on a percentage of the gross revenue from each machine. “Farming the wind is not right for everyone. We’re here everyday feeding the cattle and taking care of the farm, and we see the wind turbines as just a few more machines for us to take care of.” In that respect, you need to learn about the machines and take care of them just as you need to know how to take care of your crops and livestock. Roger has worked in construction on and off all his life. While Dan Juhl’s project was being installed on the Kas farm, the turbine manufacturer, Vestas hired Roger, for six months to work on construction and machine maintenance. Roger believes that, “If you want to farm the wind, you should have the knowledge of how it all works.”

    Over time their business relationship grew and now the Kas brothers and Juhl have completed the planning and financing for a project which the Kas family will own. Juhl led the way on the key pieces to the Kas project like permitting, power purchase agreement, turbine selection and financing. In part because he had done it before and knew the path. But also, to help forge the way for a different type of project - one that is farmer owned and farmer built. Juhl said “This is possible on a small individual scale, but this is a commercial venture, it’s not a hobby.” There is no project without the power purchase agreement (PPA). This is what the capital financing is based on.

    They had to give extra information and special attention to the local bankers to bring them along and get them interested in the wind project. It was all new to the lenders. They have put 20% down and 80% was financed with the PPA as the loan guarantee. The multiple years of wind data and Juhl’s project performance were evidence of for the strength of the wind resource. “Every place is going to be different and you have to work it out.” Says Kas. “Some land is better for raising corn and soybeans; some land is better for wheat and other places for rice. In the same way, some land is better for wind.” The wind resource has to justify the capital investment.

    Kas knows he is forging the way with his project and knows that some things will be much easier for the next guy to put up a wind project. He insists that “I am not giving anyone any advice now. I can’t give any advice until mine is up and running.”

    Wind Farmers Network
    The purpose for the Wind Farmer Network is to bring together a broad range of landowners, farmers and ranchers to exchange their experiences in wind development and to educate others who would like to begin farming the wind. If you would like to join the network, please send your contact information and a brief sentence describing your wind energy interests to Windustry. Your information may be shared with other wind farmers within the network only.

    Wind Farmers Network Online
    The Windustry website now hosts a section called “Wind Farmer Feedback” in which wind farmers and potential wind farmers from around the country can share their ideas, questions, concerns, and advice. Please post your thoughts at www.windustry.org/farmer.

    South Dakota has Wind Power
    The Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Energy Project broke ground early this spring for a single 750 kW turbine expected to be on line by the end of the summer. The Rosebud Casino and Convention Center will be the main customer of the wind generated electricity. The excess power will be available through a "green tag" program which still has green power available for subscription. Contact: Bob Gough, ICOUP, 303-492-3125, Rpwgough@aol.com

    East River Electric Coop offers the Prairie Winds program.
    Members can choose to subscribe to wind generated electricity by paying a green premium. Basin Electric Power Cooperative will own the project and market any power that is not subscribed by East River. The project is expected to start producing power this October. The two 1.3MW Nordex turbines will be located two miles north of Chamberlain. Contact: Dan Ziebarth at East River Coop, 605-256-4536 or ziebarth@erepc.com

    Amazing News from North Dakota
    Congratulations go to North Dakotans for their grassroots support of wind power as three new bills supporting wind energy development were recently signed into law. This is a great comeback after the 1999 session, where there was not enough support for even a wind study. The bills are: 1) Personal Property Tax Reduction - puts wind farm owners on par with ND lignite-fired plants and with neighboring states. 2) Income Tax Incentive - a reduction on ND income tax of 3% per year for 5 years, of the installed cost of a wind farm. 3) Sales and Use Tax Exemption - applies to wind generating equipment installed in ND. Contact: Look at 2001 legislation, www.discoverND.com

    Colorado PUC Points to Wind
    In March, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission formally directed Xcel Energy to add a wind power project to its resource plan. After public hearings and testimony, the PUC decided that the wind plant was more cost-effective when compared to natural gas-fired generation. Wind energy beat natural gas on economics alone. The PUC ordered Xcel to enter negotiations for a 162 MW wind power plant to be located near Lamar, Colorado. Contact: Colorado PUC website, www.dora.state.co.us/puc/new.htm#dated .

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Spring 2002

    2002 Farm Bill Makes History with New Energy Title
    The 2002 Farm Bill’s Energy Title is being hailed as a victory for farmers, the rural economy and the environment. Title IX of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, approved by congress and signed by President Bush in May, provides $115 million to assist farmers and ranchers in developing renewable energy projects and making energy-efficiency improvements. Another $290 million will fund new biomass energy research, biodiesel fuel education and the existing Commodity Credit Corporation subsidy program for the production of biodiesel and ethanol, bringing the Energy Title’s totalFarmer harvesting the wind appropriations to $405 million through 2007.

    The Energy Title is new territory for Federal farm legislation, reflecting the growing importance of farms in our nation’s energy system. A coalition of Midwestern farmer, environmental, and rural economic development groups, including Windustry, worked hard to frame the energy provisions and gather broad-based support. At his signing ceremony, President Bush acknowledged the growing importance of farms in the nation’s energy system, saying “Farming is the first industry of America - the industry that feeds us, the industry that clothes us, and the industry that increasingly provides more of our energy.”

    The money allocated for clean energy in the farm bill could be a tremendous boost for farmers and rural communities interested in developing wind energy. Under the new bill, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will have $115 million over five years to make low-interest loans, loan-guarantees and grants to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. The money will be available to those who demonstrate need under criteria to be established by the USDA. The grants cannot exceed 25 percent of the cost of a project, and a combined grant and loan or guarantee cannot exceed 50 percent of the cost of a project. The USDA will consider a variety of factors, including the type of renewable energy system, the quantity of energy likely to be generated, the environmental benefits, and the reproducibility of the system when determining the amount of a grant or loan.

    The new legislation should help encourage wind projects in states like North and South Dakota where huge wind resources have barely begun to be developed. Herb Manig, Executive Vice President of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, said, “The Energy Title comes at a timely juncture as our nation's consumers are increasing their demand for "clean" forms of energy, and as our nation's farmers struggle with abundant crops and low market prices. Not only will it assist farmers with their own needs for energy efficiency, it can help farmers develop and market alternate forms of energy. It will help protect our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and bring greatly needed income to agricultural producers.”

    Other sections of the farm bill, including the Rural Development Title and the Conservation Title, also have provisions that should prove to be beneficial to wind. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a voluntary program for agricultural landowners that encourages land conservation, was amended to allow wind turbines and biomass harvesting on CRP lands. Wind projects will be subject to USDA approval based on site location and consistency with the soil, water and habitat goals of the CRP program.

    Under the Rural Development Title, renewable energy systems were made eligible for grants under the Value-Added Grant Program and the Consolidation Farm and Development Act was amended to allow loans and loan guarantees for wind systems and methane digesters.

    The Energy Title is a relatively small portion of the overall bill (it allocates $405 million over six years, while the full bill is estimated at $190 billion over ten years) and has not gain nearly as much attention as the increased crop subsidies and the conservation measures. However, it might be the bill’s most important provision for the future of American agriculture.

    “The Energy Title is one of the strongest components of this bill. It builds on the stuff we’ve been working on, making the nation’s energy supply domestic, diverse, decentralized and renewable,” said Larry Mitchell, Chief Executive Office of the American Corn Growers Association. While the rest of the farm bill increases subsidies for traditional crops, the Energy Title creates an opportunity for farmers to diversify and supplement their incomes.

    According to Tom Sloan, Vice Chair of House Utility Committee, Kansas House of Representatives, creating new sources of income for farmers also might help preserve family farms and the rural way of life. “Wind Power is an exciting new industry and if there is an annual income from wind turbines then it’s more incentive for the youngest generation to remain on or return to the farm - which really changes the demographics of rural counties.”

    “The Energy Title establishes energy policy as an integral part of agricultural policy which will create a bigger market for farm-based energy that will benefit rural communities,” said David Benson, farmer and Nobles County Commissioner in Southwest Minnesota.

    Windustry is looking forward to the speedy implementation of the Farm Bill and will work to ensure that the Energy Title provisions foster clean and economically advantageous renewable energy for rural communities and for the nation. You can follow the process on a new USDA website: www.usda.gov/farmbill.

    Where is the Wind?
    The first step toward developing wind energy is finding where the best wind is. New wind resource maps are now available from Wind Powering America: www.windpowermaps.org/windmaps/states.asp

    * Idaho (released April 2002)
    * Montana (released April 2002)
    * Oregon (final version TBA)
    * Washington (released January 2002)
    * Wyoming (released April 2002)
    * Selected Portions of California, Nevada and Utah (released March 2002)

    Wind resource maps are available for many other states from: www.eren.doe.gov/windpoweringamerica/where_is_wind.html.

    Links to new maps are also available from the Renewable Energy Atlas of the West project at: www.energyatlas.org. This project is working to compile information on wind, biomass, solar and geothermal resources from eleven western states into a single Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database.
    Progress on Capital Hill

    Senate passes Renewable Portfolio Standard
    In April, the U.S. Senate passed an Energy Bill that includes a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a provision requiring ten percent of electricity generation in the United States to come from renewable sources by 2020. A national RPS is the single most powerful way to vastly expand the market for wind energy. The House energy bill passed last year does not contain an RPS and the two bills have yet to be reconciled.

    Production Tax Credit
    In other good news for wind, congress renewed the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy in March as part of a long-delayed economic stimulus package. The inflation-adjusted 1.5 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity generated with wind turbines was extended through 2003, allowing hundreds of wind projects to get back on track. The PTC is critical to making wind projects economically viable. A provision to extend the credit through 2006 is part of the energy bill passed by the Senate in April. A national RPS and a longer-term extension for the PTC are essential elements for growth and financial stability in the wind industry. Where do your state’s representatives stand on renewable energy development?

    Wind Workshops/Events
    June 21-23, 2002 -- Midwest Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair, Custer, Wisconsin. Contact: Midwest Renewable Energy Association at (715) 592-6595 or visit www.the-mrea.org.

    July 13, 2002 -- Sustainability Fair 2002, Livingston, Montana. Rotary Park next to historic Depot Center downtown. Contact: Jody Allen at (406) 222-0730 or info@northrock.org.

    August 12-23, 2002 -- Wind Energy Workshop, Carbondale, Colorado. A hands-on workshop to learn everything from how to measure the wind to designing a system to doing an actual installation. For more information, contact Solar Energy International at www.solarenergy.org.

    November 21-22, 2002 – Minnesota Wind Conference, Minneapolis Minnesota. Save the date for a conference on reaching Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Objective.

    About Windustry
    Windustry builds collaborations and provides technical support to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for economic development. Windustry is affiliated with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

    Windustry Evolves and Expands
    Windustry has doubled in size this spring with the hiring of a new Program Associate, Sarah Johnson. She is a former intern at Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy and holds a degree in geology from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Also, Windustry’s office has officially moved to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis. With this expansion, look for more frequent newsletters and updates to our website.

    Wind Farmers Network
    The purpose of the Wind Farmers Network is to bring together a broad range of landowners, farmers and ranchers to exchange their experiences in wind development and educate others who would like to begin farming the wind. If you would like to join the network, please send your contact information and a brief sentence describing your wind energy interests to Windustry or join online at www.windustry.org/about/join.htm. Your information may be shared with other wind farmers within the network only. The network is currently under development.

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Winter 1999

    Winter 1999 Newsletter

    Wind Energy Sails into the Next Millennium

    The White House and Congress reached an accord just before Thanksgiving to renew several expiring tax incentives, including an extension of the Federal Wind Energy Production Tax Credit. The original Production Tax Credit (PTC) provided a 1.5 cent per kilowatt-hour credit for energy produced from a new facility brought online after December 31, 1993 and before July 1, 1999. The annual payment goes for the first ten years of the facility's existence. The PTC was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) to support investment in an emerging sector of the energy industry. The tax payment is a significant component in setting the price of wind energy contracts with utilities.

    As you can see from the tables below in 1999 there was a great deal of wind activity in Minnesota to get wind facilities completed and officially online before the PTC expired. Most of these projects had been in planning and permitting stages for close to two or three years. The PTC was just extended for new facilities coming online from July 1, 1999 through December 31, 2001. The PTC 1.5 cent per kilowatt-hour is indexed annually for inflation and is currently at 1.7cents. The deal also would extend a tax credit for electricity produced not only from wind but also biomass and for the first time would allow the credit for electricity produced from chicken waste. Now is the time to let the lawmakers know they did the right thing this session, and start to encourage them in the next session to make the PTC permanent and not wait until this extension expires. You can call the Congressional Information Operator at 202/225-3121 to ask for your member of Congress or Senators.

    Minnesota Projects Prior to 1999 (Please see attached pdf for table)

    Minnesota Projects that Started Producing Electricity in 1999 (Please see attached pdf for table)

    Wind Powering America

    Announced in June, Wind Powering America is a new initiative designed to increase US wind power capacity to 5% of the nation's electricity supply by 2020. Through policy measures and new partnerships to address the current challenges of wind development, US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said the Administration "is taking steps to make wind a permanent presence in the nation's energy portfolio."

    The three main goals for wind power development are:

    1) Provide at least 5% of the nation's electricity with wind energy by 2020
    – install 5,000 MW by 2005
    – install 10,000 MW by 2010

    2) Double the number of states with 20 MW or more wind capacity to 16 by 2005, and triple that number to 24 states by 2010;

    3) Increase the wind energy component of the federal government's use to 5% by 2010.

    This commitment to dramatically increase the use of wind energy in the United States is also intended to help establish new sources of income for farmers, rural landowners and Native Americans; and to help meet the growing demand for clean sources of electricity.

    For more information: http://www.eren.doe.gov/windpoweringamerica

    New Home, New Work, New Sponsors - A Note from the Director

    This wind energy information project has grown and developed in many different ways in the past few months. A team of wind energy experts and enthusiasts have volunteered time and ideas over the last few months and I would like to extend a great big THANK YOU for their efforts.

    *Rory Artig, Energy Division, MN Dept. of Commerce
    * David Benson, Farmer, Nobles County Commissioner
    *Jim Boerboom, MN Dept. of Agriculture
    *Margaret Donahoe, Office of the late Senator Janet Johnson
    *Michael Noble, Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy
    *Brian Parsons, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    *Lola Schoenrich, Minnesota Project
    *Christopher Reed, Moorhead Public Service
    *Janet Streff, Energy Division, MN Dept. of Commerce

    I am very pleased to report that the Windustry Project has new partnerships in sponsoring its work. This newsletter and the up coming town meetings listed to the right are now being sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, formerly part of the Dept. of Public Service (DPS). The purpose of this work is to provide rural landowners and community leaders with technical assistance and the latest information on wind energy development. Also, I am excited to announce the Windustry Project is newly in association with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. This is a non-profit organization that does research, education, and advocacy work to address agriculture and rural community issues on local, national and international bases. Recognizing the potential economic, environmental and social benefits of wind power for such communities, the Institute has welcomed the chance to sponsor the Windustry Project. We have already begun to integrate our wind power agenda into the Institute's vision for sustainable rural communities.

    I will still be a partner of the SEED coalition, that I have been working with for the past 4 years. The SEED coalition is working to identify and promote opportunities for renewable energy and economic development.

    I look forward to continued work with citizens and rural communities helping create new ways that wind energy can be a strong economic component in the rural economy.

    With warmest regards for the Holiday Season,
    Lisa Daniels, Director

    Click on the link below for a pdf version.

  • Windustry Newsletter - Winter 2000/2001

    Winter 2000/2001 Newsletter

    Cultivating a U.S. Wind Energy Vision

    This year, more than ever, the issue of wind energy has surfaced in an extensive array of new venues. Broad wind energy forums have been held in many states including Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska. Regional meetings with wind as the central theme were held this year in Wisconsin and West Virginia, and one is planned for Washington State in January 2001.

    Windustry has participated in and learned about numerous local town meetings in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. A major new initiative called Wind Powering America has been sponsoring many of these meetings by working collaboratively with local partners and reaching out to new audiences — farmers and ranchers, rural community leaders, elected officials, Native American tribal leaders, clean energy advocates, large and small utilities, state, regional and national administrators and anyone else interested.

    Wind has also made its way into the mainstream media. Substantial articles have featured wind power in publications ranging from the New York Times and the Smithsonian magazine to local rural dailies. The articles relate a variety of perspectives including wind as a new resource competing with traditional fossil fuels and other new generation; wind as the fastest growing energy industry in the world; wind as a compatible land use with ranching; and wind turned from curse to blessing as farmers reap benefits.

    All of the gatherings and press coverage have helped those who live with the wind to envision new wind power projects and have empowered new participants in wind energy development. As a result, a wide range of new wind energy has been installed and planned in various regions throughout the U.S. While some projects are baby steps, others are major wind power plants. Some wind projects are rate-based with their cost spread evenly to all utility customers. Others depend on volunteers to subscribe to higher premiums to pay for investments in wind energy. Much of the new capacity has been spurred by state legislative requirements such as Renewable Portfolio Standards in Texas, Systems Benefits Charge in California and mandates in Minnesota and Iowa.

    The wind blowing across the U.S. has the potential to generate six times as much electricity as the entire country currently uses. However, there are a few barriers to overcome. The electricity produced from the large modern machines is too great to store with today’s technology so it must go direct onto the electrical grid. Transmission lines with unused capacity are scarce and building new ones is difficult and expensive. Also, wind energy is an intermittent resource. Even though experts predict that up to 20% of our electricity mix can be supplied by wind without compromising reliability, utilities are not embracing it. Modern wind turbines regulate power well, and thousands of installations worldwide have demonstrated that utility systems are capable of accommodating the changing wind power just as they modify their output to follow changing demand. “Wind is now a serious player in the energy market-place,” says national wind advisor Ed DeMeo of Renewable Energy Consulting Services.

    Utility survey after survey has shown that wind energy is a preferred source of electricity. As traditional fuel sources fluctuate in price or become limited in supply, and as the global warming debate heats up, the U.S. will harvest its wind resource at an ever increasing pace. While less than 1% of the electricity used by American house-holds is currently produced by wind, the existing U.S. wind capacity may well double to 5,000 MW by the end of 2001. As shown on the map above, states in the West/Southwest and Midwest regions are the nation’s wind industry leaders, and distributed installations are gaining significant footholds even in regions without large-scale projects.

    People across the country are exploring the potential for wind energy development as they work through the challenges. They are carefully and thoughtfully negotiating land leases with wind developers, they are pooling their capital and putting up their own utility scale machines, they are putting up residential or farm/small business sized wind turbines, and they are pledging contributions to wind programs. New partnerships and alliances to foster wind energy are emerging. Rural community members in particular have begun asking their utilities to install wind turbines and are contacting their elected officials in support of wind incentives and statutes to help build wind power markets. Everyone is wrestling the transmission issues which are the vital farm-to-market roads for this new crop.

    Map of US Wind Capacity (to view the map use the pdf link at the bottom of the page)

    Northwest/Northern Rockies
    Distributed: 32 MW
    Large-Scale: 85 MW
    31,000 Households

    West/Southwest
    Distributed: 30 MW
    Large-Scale: 1,786 MW
    690,000 Households

    Midwest
    Distributed: 74 MW
    Large-Scale: 471 MW
    150,000 Households

    Southeast/Atlantic
    Distributed: 11 MW
    3,000 Households

    Northeast
    Distributed: 25 MW
    10,000 Households

    More than 170 MW of "distributed" wind generation capacity (single wind turbines and small clusters, both residential and utility-scale) are installed in the 35 states denoted above. Five states with the largest arrays of turbines — California, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, and Wyoming — are hosting another 2,340 MW in large-scale wind farms. Together approximately 14,000 wind turbines across the U.S. are currently generating enough power to serve the annual electric needs of nearly 900,000 households. This figure was calculated based on each state's 1999 residential customer usage rate and assuming an average 30% turbine capacity factor, which represents an average hub height wind speed of 16 mph.

    Washington's first large-scale project approved!

    After successful negotiations between FPL Energy and Blue Mountain Audubon Society, Walla Walla County in Washington State issued a conditional use permit last month for approximately half of the planned 300 MW "Stateline Wind Project". In a state with a history of wind facility siting challenges, FPL gained support from local environmentalists by agreeing to withdraw a few groups of turbines and to continue monitoring the sites for avian activity before applying for a second permit for the additional turbines next spring. Construction will begin in January; the full project is expected to be online by the end of 2001. For more information: www.rnp.org.

    Moorhead Wants More Wind Power

    In the no-nonsense, brisk pace of four weeks, Moorhead Public Service (MPS), a municipal utility in North-west Minnesota, signed up enough customers to buy a second community-owned 750 kW wind turbine. Due to the popularity and enormous success of its initial one turbine offering in their Capture the Wind program, MPS announced plans for Phase II in October. For just a half-penny more per kilowatt hour (kWh), MPS residential or business customers can choose to purchase either all or part of their electricity from the project. With 13,000 customers, MPS' total of nearly 900 Capture the Wind members represent a 7% participation rate, one of the highest among all green power programs across the nation. Each Capture the Wind customer who uses 1,000 kWh of electricity per month will prevent 8,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air, which has the same effect on the environment as planting 1.2 acres of trees or removing one car from the road each year. For more information: Capture the Wind hotline at (218) 299-5199 or www.mpsutility.com.

    Click on the link below to read the pdf version.

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