• Community Renewable Energy Deployment Projects Funded by DOE

    Washington, DC, January 21, 2010 - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the selection of five projects to receive more than $20.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support deployment of community-based renewable energy projects, such as biomass, wind and solar installations. These projects will promote investment in clean energy infrastructure that will create jobs, help communities provide long-term renewable energy and save consumers money. They will also serve as models for other local governments, campuses or small utilities to replicate, allowing other communities to design projects that fit their individual size and energy demands.

    "Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio."

    —Steven Chu, U.S. Dept.
    of Energy Secretary

    “Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio,” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help create jobs, expand our clean energy economy, and help us cut carbon pollution at the local level.”

    The selected projects will be leveraged with approximately $167 million in local government and private industry funding. DOE estimates that these projects will provide enough clean, renewable energy to displace the emissions of approximately 10,700 homes.

    Projects selected for awards include:

    City of Montpelier (Montpelier, VT)
    This project will further Montpelier's energy goals by supporting installation of a 41 MMBtu combined heat and power district energy system fueled with locally-sourced renewable and sustainably-harvested wood chips. The CHP system will be sized to provide heating to the Vermont Capitol Complex, city owned schools, the City Hall Complex, and up to 156 buildings in the community's designated downtown district for a total of 176 buildings and 1.8 million square feet served. By providing 1.8 million KWh of power to the grid, the system will maximize its operating efficiency and reduce thermal costs for users in the community. Montpelier will conduct outreach to encourage replication regionally and nationally through its project partners, the Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Veolia Energy North America. DOE share: $8,000,000 

    Forest County Potawatomi Tribe (Forest County, WI)
    The Forest County Potowatomi Tribe proposes to implement an integrated renewable energy deployment plan that will provide heating, cooling and electricity for the Tribe's governmental buildings, displacing natural gas and propane. The renewable energy installations will include: a 1.25 MW biomass combined heat and power facility that will provide heating, cooling and electricity; a biogas digester and 150 kW generation facility; three 100 kW wind turbines (788,400 kWh/year); and three dual-axis 2.88 kW solar PV panels (14,000 kWh/yr) located at the Tribe's Governmental Center. DOE share: $2,500,000

    Phillips County (Holyoke, CO)
    This project proposes a community-owned 30 MW wind energy project with an ultimate goal to build a 650MW wind farm within Sedgwick, Phillips, and Logan counties in Northeastern Colorado. This project will impact the local economy by sharing the project's revenues with local landowners and other project participants, by generating local jobs, substantial property taxes, and providing clean renewable energy for the area's primary communities. Plans for sharing this ownership model are part of the business plan and will be coordinated with DOE to increase national delivery of the message. DOE share: $2,500,000

     Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) (Sacramento, CA)
    SMUD will install the state's first-ever ‘Solar Highway', which will feature three PV system installations on 2 miles of highway right-of-ways (300kW of concentrating PV, and 400 and 800 kW of flat plate PV distributed at 2 sites), with total capacity of 1.5 MW. SMUD will also install a full scale co-digestion process of fats, oil and grease (FOG) and liquid food processing waste with sewage to produce biogas with estimated power recovery of 1 - 3 MW, and install two low-NOx anaerobic digesters fed by two dairy facilities that will produce 500 kW of combined heat and power, and generate 600 kW of electricity through a molten carbonate fuel cell. The projects will demonstrate that solar PV and anaerobic digesters can be readily implemented through collaborative partnerships, and avoid siting issues and transmission constraints that pose barriers to renewable energy capacity additions. SMUD will partner with the State of California (CEC, CalTrans, and CARB) and DOE to promote replication of their approaches, technologies and implementation strategies statewide and nationally. DOE share: $5,000,000

    University of California at Davis (Davis, CA)
    UC Davis' proposed Waste-to-Renewable Energy (WTRE) system is one component of a campus oriented mixed housing and commercial development venture. The system would generate power from a renewable biogas fed fuel cell. The organic waste will enter a receiving station in which it can be collected and prepared for digestion. Once the appropriate mix has been created in buffer tanks, the waste will flow to the reactor where methanogenic bacteria will generate methane and carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc. These gases will flow to the Bio-methane Upgrade System for hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide removal, so that cleanup is to a level appropriate for use in a fuel cell system, and the cleaned gas is stored. Housed alongside the WTRE system within the Community Energy Park will be an advanced storage battery and a 300kW fuel cell that will be fueled by the on-site biogas and provides electric power to West Village end-users. DOE share: $2,500,000 

  • CERTs Seed Grants in Minnesota

    The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) project has awarded CERTs seed grants of up to $11,000 to help projects garner further funding and bring communities together in identifying and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs received 122 proposals, of which 55 proposals were funded for a total granting amount of $280,000.

    “CERTs provides these seed grants with two primary objectives in mind: to encourage implementation of community-based clean energy projects across the state, and to provide an educational forum for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, community and ecological benefits,” said Lissa Pawlisch, CERTs Statewide Coordinator.

    Project funding will put Minnesotans to work by supporting technical assistance labor services, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor, for projects across the state in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central. 

    Four of the CERTS seed grants benefited Community Wind and small wind projects in Minnesota:

    Damstrom Farm: Wind Energy Project
    Alexandria, MN - Craig Damstrom is building a 3 MW community wind project outside of Alexandria, MN. Energy generated will power the Damstrom Farm's irrigation needs and will supply energy for use by the local community. After turbine installation, all wells and irrigators will be run by green power, with excess energy sold to the utility to power other local farmers irrigation needs, homes and businesses. The project will increase local knowledge of the benefits of wind energy, create jobs for local contractors working on the project, and offer green energy to co-op area customers. (Clean Energy; $3,750)

    Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative: Zephyr Wind Project
    Mahtomedi, MN - The Zephyr Wind Project seeks to bring renewable energy, future-focused educational experiences and a vision for a more sustainable community to the Mahtomedi area through the installation of a 10kW wind turbine. The project is a grassroots effort led by the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative, a volunteer citizen group that has been working together since 2006 to encourage enduring community commitment to sustainability. This will be MAGI's first renewable energy project and will pave the way for other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects aimed at bringing our community together around the common theme of reducing our carbon footprint and building a more sustainable community. The seed grant funding will be used for system installation and electrical and trenching labor, paired with fundraising efforts. (Clean Energy, Education & Research; $5,000)

    Mesabi Range Community & Technical College: Wind Energy Technology Turbine
    Eveleth, MN - The Mesabi Range Community and Technical College has secured funding for a Morphic ST-20 wind turbine that will provide students in the Wind Energy Technology and Electrical Industrial Automation Technology programs with hands-on training. The turbine will also provide continuing education opportunities for incumbent workers in wind power generation industries, as well community members interested in wind energy. (Clean Energy & Education; $2,500)

    Trulson Dental Clinic with HG Wind Power, Inc.: 10 KW Roof-Mounted Wind Turbine
    Stewartville, MN - The Trulson Dental Clinic will install a virtually silent, vibration-free wind turbine to generate clean energy for the building. This pilot project is the first of its kind in Stewartville, with the hopes that the magnetically-levitated, vertical-axis wind turbine will serve as a model to test the efficacy of capturing wind energy from a rooftop installation. (Clean Energy; $5,000)

    A list of all of the seed grant recipients by region can be found on the CERTs website at www.CleanEnergyResourceTeams.org.

  • Community Wind Across America Conferences

    Community Wind Across America

    National Partnering Sponsor

    Nordic Windpower

    U.S. Department of Energy

    with support from the
    U.S. Department of Energy

    Community Wind across America conferences showcase ordinary people who are doing extraordinary work for residential and commercial development on a local level. Meet and learn from energized experts and colleagues who can speak on practical “how to” information, permitting, local, state and national policies, new business models, and options for financing Community Wind and Small Wind.

    “The key goal in Community and Small Wind is to keep the economic benefits as local as possible while, as a nation, we change our energy sources.”
    — Lisa Daniels, Windustry Executive Director

    Chose from three networking and educational events focused on Community Wind and Small Wind development:

    Get Information about Rocky Mountain Region Event Get Information about Midwest Region Mid Atlantic Region Registration

    Who should attend Windustry's Community and Small Wind Energy Conferences

    Anyone interested in wind energy: rural landowners, farmers, ranchers, municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, elected officials, town planners, tribal representatives, economic development professionals, business leaders, investors, bankers, and community leaders. Each conference will cover the full range of what's needed to advance opportunities for locally-owned wind energy production

    Community Wind Conference

    Sponsorship Information

    Windustry seeks Sponsors for all three conferences in order to ensure a successful event with broad participation, while maintaining an accessible registration fee structure.

    Download the Sponsorship & Exhibit Information.

    For more information contact:

    Catherine O' Neill at 612-870-3477 or catherine.oneill@windustry.org

    Conference Media

    Visit the Windustry Media Center

    Conference News

  • Stimulus Incentives Benefit Community Wind

    A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals how the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) and cash grant equivalent have increased benefits for the development of Community Wind projects. “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects” analyzes the impact of new federal policies for wind farm investment incentives introduced this year as part of the U.S. economic stimulus program.

    Historically, the production tax credit (PTC) has been the primary incentive for wind farm development, but the PTC requires passive income that only certain equity investors can leverage. The ITC and cash grant equivalent now available to qualified projects have reshaped the financial landscape for renewable energy development by lowering the hurdles for investors to obtain tax credits as well as providing cash grant equivalents for upfront capital. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included provisions that eliminated the ITC's anti-double-dipping (or "haircut") provision for subsidized energy financing.

    “Many of these ancillary benefits circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

    -Mark Bolinger,
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    Mark Bolinger, the report's author, argues that while the stimulus changes were intended for the wind energy markets in general, they have been a blessing in disguise for community wind project development in the United States.

    “It stands to reason that community wind, which has had more difficulty using the PTC than has commercial wind, may benefit disproportionately from this newfound ability to choose among these federal incentives. This report confirms this hypothesis,” says Bolinger. “Just as important are a handful of ancillary benefits that accompany the 30% ITC and/or cash grant, but not the PTC. Many of these ancillary benefits—including relief from the alternative minimum tax, passive credit limitations, and certain PTC ‘haircuts’—circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

    The report compares two financing structures, the Strategic Investor Partnership Flip and the Cooperative LLC, finding that the “Strategic Investor Flip structure benefits significantly more from choosing the ITC over the PTC than it does from switching to the 30% cash grant. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for the Cooperative LLC structure, which does not benefit much from selecting the ITC over the PTC, but realizes a tremendous amount of value by choosing the 30% cash grant over the ITC.”

    This report, “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects,” and others are available at the Electricity Markets and Policy Renewable Energy Publications section of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory web site.

    Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry, served as a draft reviewer for this report.

  • Opportunity and Challenges for Renewable Energy and Communities

    The energy sector is transforming from a “big” business structure driven by non-renewable environmental extraction to a sector built on accessible abundant and renewable energy to households and business of all sizes, according to a series of briefing papers by the Center for Social Inclusion. This change will bring exciting new entrepreneurship opportunities and the potential to transform socially and economically isolated communities into meaningful partners in their local and regional economies.

    “Distributed generation provides new roles for communities to preserve and increase social equity, environmental quality, energy independence and wealth.”
    —Center for Social Inclusion

    According to the briefing paper Wind and Energy Generation at the Community Level, “Distributed generation provides new roles for communities to preserve and increase social equity, environmental quality, energy independence and wealth.” Distributed generation is cited as an emerging model that allows consumers, businesses, and landowners to become producers for the electric power grid. We hear a lot about a smart grid, but distributed generation would bring an array of benefits including both transmission efficiency and energy independence.

    The briefing paper suggests that wind commercialization at the community scale has a moderate suitability rating for communities of color and a moderate level of entry risk to businesses interested in entering the segment. Communities need supportive public policy and technological assistance to get a toehold in the market for wind energy.

    The paper points out that Windustry and other groups advocate using property tax financing programs to cover costs of installing and upgrading energy generation systems as a policy improvement that would gain major benefits:

    • First, access to credit can help cover much of the upfront costs, and during tough economic times this program offers an alternative to people who cannot tap into home equity lines or gain low-interest personal loans.
    • Second, the obligation to repay the loan stays with the property. Therefore, payments become the responsibility of whoever owns that property and is benefiting from the onsite electricity generation.

    Windustry, in partnership with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), has released a study of "Property Tax Financing Authorization" policies in 11 states that encourage development of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Property Tax Financing programs provide a direct way for individuals to cover some, if not all, of the costs of energy efficiency upgrades and distributed generation systems.

    The Minnesota Flip is one of the useful models in the paper for structuring equity partnerships between community-held assets or individual landowners and investors, as it supports economically successful, community-driven partnerships that benefit individuals and corporate interests. Minnesota is used as a model policy state with the following policy structures enabling renewable asset development:

    • Renewable Energy Production Incentive
    • Agricultural Improvement Loan Program
    • Value-Added Stock Loan Participation Program
    • Interconnection Standards Law
    • Standard Power Purchase

    Overall, the paper concludes that “it will be important for communities to advocate for rules and policies that allow community based wind power producers to get equitable access to the grid.”

    Black, Brown and Green, a program of the Center for Social Inclusion, explores the economic opportunities and hurdles for green business models in communities of color. Black Brown and Green offers resources to communities and companies to help them identify their needs and develop a strategy for entering the Green Energy Sector.

  • Community Power Conference in Ontario Has Global Reach

    The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) hosted it's first Community Power Conference on November 15-16 with international speakers, 450 conference delegates, and over 2,500 trade show attendees. The conference was chaired by Dr. David Suzuki, the well-known scientist, host of The Nature of Things, and author of many books including the recent The Big Picture: Reflections on Science, Humanity, and a Quickly Changing Planet.

    "Our goal was to capture the momentum of Ontario's new Green Energy Act and work towards 100% sustainable energy," said Kristopher Stevens, executive director of OSEA. Ontario's Green Energy Act of 2009 was intended to create a stable investment environment for renewable energy through a Feed-In-Tariff along with other regulations to streamline approval processes and to encourage locally owned development.

    Speakers and panel participants included renewable energy experts from around the world including Dr. Josef Pesch of the German Wind Energy Association, Stefan Gsänger of the World Wind Energy Association, renewable energy expert/advocate and author Paul Gipe, and Miguel Mendonca of the World Future Council.

    A new International Community Power working group was launched at the conference by OSEA and the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). "This new International working group with WWEA will work to document and share best practices while strengthening the worldwide network of local sustainable energy leaders," said Stevens.

    "This will allow for renewables to become centralized via Community Power projects. We have more renewables than we need and they are presently decentralized, so this partnership will instigate greater success worldwide, " said Dr. Pesch, who co-founded the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) and is managing director of Fesa, a German company that develops citizen participation projects for renewable energy.

  • Treasury Allocates $2.2 Billion in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds

    The U.S. Department of Treasury has allocated $2.2 billion in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) for 805 recipients across the country. Funded by the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, these energy bonds help government agencies, public power providers, and cooperative electric companies obtain lower cost financing for clean energy development projects.

    The Treasury Department allocates bond authority to governmental agencies, public power providers, and cooperative electric companies involved in clean renewable energy development and production. These bonds function as tax credit bonds which allow investors to receive federal tax credits in lieu of the payment of a portion of the interest on the bond. For CREBs, the federal tax credits will cover 70 percent of the interest on the bonds.

    "The Recovery Act's innovative bond programs provide communities around the country with financing to jump start important development projects," said Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin. "Because of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds awards, energy developers will be able to access lower cost credit to help make the shift to clean renewable energy production, benefitting both our economy and our environment."

    A complete list of recipients receiving awards of bond authority to issue CREBs can be found here

  • International Day of Climate Action

    350.org

    October 24, 2009 - Citizens, scientists and world leaders in 181 countries are taking to nearby streets, mountains, parks, and reefs today to demand strong action on climate change, in what will be the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history.

    More than 5,000 rallies and creative demonstrations are taking place, all of them centered on the number 350, to draw attention to 350 parts per million (ppm), which an overwhelming number of scientists now insist is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Windustry is partnering with wind farm sites across the country to show support by displaying ‘350’ banners and flags on wind turbines, demonstrating that wind energy is part of the solution to reduce carbon emissions by providing clean sustainable energy, and wind power installations are competitive and cost-secure compared with other power technologies. We'll post photos as they come in.

    Hull Wind I
    Hull Wind I, Hull, Massachusetts

    Hull Wind I is 164-foot-tall  660-kilowatt Vestas turbine on "Windmill Point" in the small town of Hull, Massachusetts, across the bay from the city of Boston, installed in 2001 by Hull Municipal Light Plant (HMLP), a municipally owned utility. In 1998 a group of citizens eager to see a locally owned wind energy project formed themselves into C.A.R.E. (Citizen Advocates for Renewable Energy), selected officers Malcolm Brown and Andrew Stern, and petitioned Hull Light to take the project on.

    Based upon the success of Hull I, a second larger turbine was considered. By May of 2006, Hull Wind 2 was commissioned (a Vestas V80, rated at 1.8 megawatts).  In its first year it produced 4,088,000 KWh's, and townsfolk showed considerable pride in the results.  Six state and national awards had meantime accumulated.   One commissioner joked “we have run out of wall space in our the Light Plant's offices to hang our award plaques—some will have to be moved to Town Hall.”  Over 10% of the town's entire consumption of electric energy is being supplied by this pair of turbines.

    North American Wind Research and Training Center
    North American Wind Research and Training Center, Tucumcari, New Mexico

    Picture taken at North American Wind Research and Training Center (NAWRTC) on Mesalands Community College campus in Tucumcari, New Mexico. From left to right are Jim Morgan, Director of North American Wind Research and Training Center, John Hail Jr., Director and Instructor of the Wind Energy Technology Program, and Troy Carpenter, Instructor of the Wind Energy Technology Program. In the background is the GE 1.5 megawatt turbine used for the training program. The program offers a one-year certificate and a two-year degree in wind energy technology.

    Establishment of NAWRTC began in October 2008 with the installation of the 1.5 megawatt wind turbine at Mesalands to give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the operation and maintenance of wind turbines. Construction of the training center is the next phase in developing the wind energy technology program at the college. Mesalands, through NAWRTC, also expects to conduct research related to operations maintenance and reliability with Sandia National Laboratories. The proposed training center is approximately 30,000 square feet and will contain a display area, lecture hall, classrooms, offices, and hydraulic and electric labs. Construction is expected to be complete in November 2010.

    Iowa Lakes Community College
    Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, Iowa

    The Iowa Lakes Community College Wind Energy Club hung a 350 flag from the Vestas 1.65 megawatt wind turbine that provides both electricity for the campus and a hands-on training opportunity for students. Pictured from left to right are Mike Gengler, Mike Sauch, Kevin Klein, Tim O'Brien, Dion Higgins, Melissa Radmaker, Loma Roggenkamp, Tim Moon, Landon Baker, Chris Nemmers, and Holland Gilmore. The Wind Energy and Turbine Technology Program at Iowa Lakes Community College is the first in the state of Iowa, with both a diploma program and a Associate in Applied Science degree. Since the number of wind turbines in the state of Iowa is growing quickly, Iowa Lakes Community College is working to help meet the growing demand for skilled technicians who can install, maintain, and service modern wind turbines.

    UpdateIowa Lakes wind students promote 350.org, Estherville Daily News


    Banner funding provided by the Jan & David Blittersdorf Foundation.

  • Connecting Renewable Energy to a Smarter Grid

    Transmission Linemen
    Transmission Lineman
    photo: mnorri, some rights reserved

    There are many hurdles for connecting renewable energy projects to the existing electric power grid. Transmission lines already operate near full capacity. Substations may not handle new interconnections. Regulatory processes span state and federal authorities, and interconnection standards vary from state to state. Plus, it's not clear how to best allocate costs for infrastructure improvements between utilities, energy developers, and rate-payers.

    The good news is that both industry and government groups have invested in research on how to better connect renewable energy projects to the grid and how to construct a smart grid that can support a clean energy future. While there is clearly need for technology improvements, much of the research points to improved policies, consistency in standards, and adoption of best practices. Here are recently released reports on these topics.

    The sixth edition of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's (IREC) Connecting to the Grid Guide provides a comprehensive introduction to a span of topics that relate to grid-tied renewable energy sources. The sixth edition has been revised to include information on IREC's recently updated model procedures, alternative billing arrangements for net metering, energy storage and several other emerging issues in the field. This guide is designed for state regulators and other policymakers, utilities, industry representatives and consumers interested in the development of state-level interconnection and net metering policies.

    The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory system, hosts a Modern Grid Strategy web site that regularly issues whitepapers. The Transmission Smart Grid Imperative outlines the technologies that are ready to be deployed while considering the complexities of building consensus for new transmission construction. Accomodates All Generation and Storage Options defines how a smart grid can be powered by small distributed energy resources (DER) which include both distributed generation and storage, as one of seven "Smart Grid Principal Characteristics" identifed by NETL.

    Perspectives for Utilities & Others Implementing Smart Grids by The Smart Grid Stakeholder Roundtable Group represents the outcome of meetings with a range of stakeholders including state agencies, consumer groups, environmental groups, commercial and industrial consumers, utilities and public utility commissions. The report was sponsored by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability with the goal "to help utilities and other smart grid project developers better communicate how and why they think smart grid technologies will benefit consumers and the environment, as well as the overall electric system in general."

    Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), partnering with DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has "primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems..." The NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0 is a draft of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems. NIST has currently identified 16 initial standards and is considering an additional 46 potential standards. 

  • Landowner Associations Can Help Market South Dakota Wind

    "You'll find that a lot of wind-energy developers are reluctant to come to South Dakota because they don't know anyone and they don't know about our resources," says Steve Wegman of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association

    in the article "Landowners advised: Consider wind-energy development" in the Madison Daily Leader.

    "Landowner associations help undeveloped areas get noticed. It's an opportunity for them to get their flag up in the air," says Wegman, who explains that landowners can invite utilities and developers to consider their wind resources by organizing together.

    Get more information about the South Dakota Wind Energy Association.

    Get more information about landowner associations.

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