• Treasury, Energy Announce $500 Million in Awards for Clean Energy Projects

    Washington, D.C. - Marking a major milestone in the effort to spur private sector investments in clean energy and create new jobs for America's workers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $502 million in the first round of awards from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) program that provides cash assistance to energy production companies in place of earned tax credits.

    The new funding creates additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and begin construction that may have been stalled until now.

    Created under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act, the program is expected to provide more than $3 billion in financial support for clean energy projects by providing direct payments in lieu of tax credits. These payments will support an estimated 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities in all regions of the country over the life of the program. As a result of this first round of funding, more than 2,000 Americans will have access to jobs in the renewable energy industry - both in construction and in manufacturing - while moving the nation closer to meeting the Administration's goal of doubling renewable energy generation in the next few years. 

    The Treasury Department opened the application process for the 1603 program on July 31, 2009 and is today making the first awards in half the statutorily mandated turnaround time of 60 days. The following is a chart of projects funded as part of today's announcement. Additional awards under the program will be announced in the coming weeks. 

    STATE PROJECT LOCATION AMOUNT
    CO Movement Gym PV System (Solar) Boulder, CO $157,809
    CT Solaire Development, LLC Danbury, CT $2,578,717.00
    ME Evergreen Wind Power V, LLC Danforth, ME $40,441,471
    MN Moraine II Wind Farm Woodstock, MN $28,019,520
    NY Canadaigua Power Partners, LLC (Wind) Cohocton, NY $52,352,334
    NY Canadaigua Power Partners II, LLC (Wind) Cohocton, NY $22,296,494
    OR Wheat Field Wind Farm Arlington, OR $47,717,155.00
    OR Hay Canyon Wind Farm Moro, OR $47,092,555
    OR Pebble Springs Wind Farm Arlington, OR $46,543,219
    PA Highland Wind Farm Salix, PA $42,204,562
    PA Locust Ridge II, LLC (Wind) Shenandoah, PA $59,162,064
    TX Penascal Wind Farm Sarita, TX $114,071,646
          $502,637,546

     

  • Municipal Wind Power in Minnesota

    AUGUST 2009, MN - The city of Chaska, Minnesota, will soon have an 80-foot-tall wind turbine generating clean, renewable electricity for local residents and businesses. The Pioneer Ridge Wind Turbine is just one of the eleven turbines that will be installed through the Hometown WindPower program created by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA). After holding an open house and a neighborhood meeting to gather citizen input, the Pioneer Ridge Middle School site was chosen after a variety of factors were considered including visibility, proximity to existing power sources, educational value, and impact to neighbors. Construction could begin as soon as September, 2009.

    "Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used."
    —Derick Dahlen, Avant Energy

    The Hometown WindPower program began in 2006, when MMPA began an ambitious program to locate wind turbines for their 11 member communities across the state of Minnesota. The Agency is owned by its member cities and governed by a board of directors with representatives from each community working together to provide competitively priced, reliable and sustainable energy to their local customers. Now, five of the member communities, Chaska, Anoka, Buffalo, North Saint Paul, and Shakopee, have entered the planning stage for their wind power projects this year.

    The program was designed by Avant Energy, a Minneapolis firm that provides services to municipal utilities and public power agencies. "Wind power is most efficient when it can be used at the point of generation, rather than being transmitted many miles away," says Avant Energy president Derick Dahlen. "Hometown WindPower will put power generation right into the community where it will be used, and it will happen using a clean, endlessly renewable source of power."

    A turbine in Anoka, recently approved by the city council with a 4-1 vote, will be located near the Anoka High School with construction slated to begin this fall. Buffalo has selected a site at Buffalo High School near the Buffalo water tower. North St. Paul has selected a site by a public works garage. The 165-kilowatt wind turbines with 80-foot towers and 35-foot blades are refurbished machines from California purchased for $300,000 each. Hometown WindPower will help MMPA meet its Minnesota state requirement to achieve a renewable energy standard (RES) of 25 percent by 2025.

    Willmar Municipal Utilities wind turbine
     
    Willmar Municipal Utilities
    wind turbine

    Municipal wind power projects are developed by small political subdivisions of cities and townships, rural electrification cooperatives, and other municipal entities or municipally owned corporations that provide electric transmission, distribution or generation services. Advantages of municipal wind power projects include the ability of a local government body to manage the regulatory process and to arrange for public meetings during the planning process along with the use of public lands for siting.

    While these projects are much smaller than commercial wind farms with megawatt-scale tubines, they demonstrate how local government and public utilities can provide their own clean energy from sustainable resources. Hometown WindPower is a prime example of how Community Wind is being used in small communities to help keep energy costs stable by creating a long-term fixed price for the power, providing a hedge against rising fuel costs, such as coal and natural gas.

    Other Minnesota municipalities are using wind power for these benefits as well.

    Willmar Municipal Utilities recently completed construction of two wind turbines that will be used to power about 3% of the city's electric needs. These 262-foot, 2-MW DeWind wind turbines were manufactured in Round Rock, Texas, with blades made in Germany, and the steel tower sections built in Nebraska. The city of Willmar is using bonding to spread out the cost over a 10- to 15-year period. Over the 20-year life of the turbines, the projected cost for each kilowatthour of electricity produced is less than 5 cents.

    Capture the Wind Turbines in North Moorhead
    Capture the Wind Turbines
    in North Moorhead

    Moorhead Public Service (MPS) was a pioneer in 1999 erecting a .75-MW wind turbine, followed by a second turbine in 2001. MPS instituted a Capture the Wind program allowing residents and local businesses to help support the municipal wind project by paying additional fees of no more than a half-penny per kWh. This allows customers the opportunity to make a positive environmental choice to support clean, renewable energy by paying a little extra without impacting other customers who do not choose to support the project. The program was so popular that the subscription targets for both turbines were achieved within their first months of being offered, and customers went on waiting lists to join the program with extended offerings.

  • Loans for Community-Based Wind Projects in Northeastern Minnesota

    2009: Duluth, MN - The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) and the Northland Foundation have partnered to provide a revolving loan fund that will provide early-stage project development and feasibility analysis for community-based wind energy projects. The revolving loan fund will be available in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

    The revolving loan fund is part of the Rural Energy Development Initiative (REDI), a state-wide program addressing community-based wind energy development. REDI loan financing is limited to early stage project development and feasibility analysis for wind energy electric generation projects that intend to sell the electricity to an electric utility. Maximum loan size is $25,000 for any one project and/or borrower. ARDC functions as the regional REDI organizer for northeast Minnesota. The Northland Foundation is the acting loan partner for the revolving loan fund. 

    For more information regarding the revolving loan fund and/or the application for the loan fund, please see the website or contact Bonnie Hundrieser (ARDC) at 218-529-7527 or bhundrieser@ardc.org

  • Wind Energy Basics - New Edition

    Wind Energy Basics

    "Wind energy works and makes environmental sense—more so today than ever before—but consumers have to be on their guard," writes wind energy pioneer, expert, and advocate Paul Gipe in his newly revised Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems. Gipe has worked for over three decades in renewable energy, has authored seven books, and has lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part.

    Gipe is excited to see so much new interest in wind and solar technology, saying "Let's put a renewable energy plant in everyone's back yard. Let's create an energy system for life. Let's do it." But, he is also adamant in guiding people to the right technologies and strategies apart from those who would "seize on the public's fascination with wind energy and sell them wind turbines that perform poorly at high cost." He has tested and documented the performance of small wind turbines, so his updated Wind Energy Basics is an important guide for anyone considering use of wind energy for home, business, or community systems.

    "Paul Gipe is an independent, opinionated voice on wind energy, cutting right to the core on almost any wind energy topic. He analyzes the issues with uncompromising standards. He has no trouble sharing the story as he sees it, encouraging all to explore business models and policies that offer something more, something for all of us."

    —Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry 

    Gipe is a visonary who views wind power as a realistic replacement for the bulk of oil-, coal-, and natural gas– fired electrical plants in the U.S., and as a new fuel for most of the cars in the nation to run on electricity. In this wide-ranging book, Gipe not only covers the basics for understanding how wind turbine technology operates and how to plan a project using it, he makes a broad case for a clean energy future explaining how sustainable energy solutions are doable, can be accomplished much sooner than most realize, and how it will help resuscitate our industrial infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic opportunity.

    For those who are interested in supporting wind energy, Gipe details the advantages of Community Wind projects, offers advice for renewable investment strategies, and explains how government policy could better support energy independence. He doubts the ability of tax incentives and net metering to advance renewables, and he advocates for the adoption of feed-in tarriffs that would guarantee rates and grid connections for independent power producers, following the policies that have been successfully deployed in European countries. "If you pay for it, it [renewable energy] will come."

    Paul Gipe
    Paul Gipe

    Chapters include:
      • Technology
      • Wind Energy Basics
      • Estimating Performance
      • Siting
      • Off the Grid
      • Interconnection
      • Community Wind
      • Investing in Wind Energy
      • The Challenge

    Listen to or read a transcript of an interview with Paul Gipe at The Oil Drum on the Weekend Energy Listening podcast episode Wind Power with Paul Gipe. For more information about Paul Gipe, his work, and his books, visit his web site Wind-Works.org.

  • Wind Energy Promotion Act Introduced in Congress

    Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Tim Walz and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson have introduced the Wind Energy Promotion Act, which will make it easier for individuals and small groups to take advantage of tax incentives that encourage wind energy production. Walz, a freshman member of the Agriculture Committee, said he heard about the need for the legislation while he was holding a series of Farm Bill forums throughout southern Minnesota in February and April.

    Rep. Walz visits the Bingham Lake Wind Farm to discuss energy policy.
    Rep. Walz (4th from left) visits the Bingham Lake
    Wind Farm to discuss energy policy.

    "Raising capital for wind energy projects is difficult, because many residents of rural America do not qualify for the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is one of the major incentives to promote wind energy production," said Walz. "This legislation will expand renewable energy production by leveling the playing field for individuals in rural America who are looking to enter the industry. Everyone wins if we pass this legislation."

    "We think it is unfortunate that our tax code makes it easy for corporations to receive the Production Tax Credit, but not for individuals in rural America who wish to do the same," said Chairman Peterson. "I'm pleased to join Congressman Walz in introducing this legislation to make our tax code fairer and to bring the benefits of renewable energy investments to more of our rural citizens."

    Currently, the PTC provides a 1.9 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for individuals who invest in wind energy generation. However, only passive income—such as income from investments—may be offset by the PTC; someone who merely invests in a wind farm cannot receive the PTC unless they have other sources of passive income to offset.

    The practical effect of this passive loss restriction is that currently, PTCs are only useful to corporations and to individuals with large amounts of taxable investment income. As a result, most wind energy investments today are made by foreign multi-national companies and not by groups of Americans who want to join together to produce renewable energy.

    The Walz-Peterson Wind Energy Promotion Act would make it easier for Americans to invest in wind energy projects by expanding the eligibility of who can receive benefits from the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit. This legislation would not limit the ability of the current beneficiaries of the PTCs to continue receiving them.

    The Wind Energy Promotion Act would amend the tax code to allow up to $40,000 of the PTC to be used against ordinary income. This "passive loss exemption" is similar to a $25,000 passive loss exemption that currently exists to encourage investments in oil and gas development and real estate.

    The Wind Energy Promotion Act also addresses the relationship of the PTC to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Because allowing the PTC to apply to ordinary income will force some middle-class taxpayers to file for the AMT, this legislation would change the tax law to eliminate the effect of the AMT on income derived from using the PTC.

    Details of the Wind Energy Promotion Act are available in the document links below.

  • DOE Announces $22 Million for Community Renewable Energy Projects

    Washington DC, July 15, 2009 - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced plans to provide up to $22 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the planning and installation of utility-scale community renewable energy projects in up to four communities nationwide. This funding opportunity directly supports the Obama Administration's goals of developing clean, renewable energy supplies, and creating new jobs and economic opportunities.

    Secretary of Energy Chu
    Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

    "American families and businesses are struggling in a recession and an increasingly competitive global economy. The Recovery Act was designed to rescue the economy from the immediate dangers it faces while rebuilding its fundamentals, with an eye toward new industry and opportunity," Secretary Chu said. "To help meet these challenges, the Recovery Act invests significant dollars to put people to work to spur a revolution in clean energy technologies."

    The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will provide technical assistance to selected recipients, including concepts, best practices, planning, financial approaches, policy guidance, and recognition to help communities rapidly plan and deploy utility-scale renewable energy systems that provide clean, reliable and affordable energy supplies for their communities, while creating jobs and new economic development opportunities. The projects will demonstrate how multiple renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal systems, can be deployed at scale to supply clean energy to communities.

    DOE anticipates each project will leverage significant investment, including public and private sector investment in renewable energy systems.  The projects funded under this FOA are expected to create jobs and avoid 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

    Up to $22 million in DOE funding is available for these awards in fiscal year 2010.  DOE anticipates making up to 4 awards totaling up to $21.45 million, and expects matching funds from public and private investment of $22 million or more.

    Successful applicants will be awarded financial assistance to support the implementation of an integrated renewable energy deployment plan for a community, and the construction of renewable energy systems.

    Completed applications are due September 3, 2009. DOE will select awardees by the end of November 2009.

    To access the application form and the official funding opportunity announcement:

    1. Go to the FedConnect web site.
    2. Click the Search Public Opportunities link.
    3. Enter "DE-FOA-0000122" as the Search Criteria Title.
    4. Click Search.
    5. Click on the Title link of DE-FOA-0000122
  • Department of Treasury Releases Cash Grant Guidelines

    Washington, D.C., July 9, 2009 - The United States Treasury Department posted guidance documents for the cash grant program created in section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) including:

    • Program guidance document
    • Terms and conditions
    • Sample application

    It is expected that the Section 1603 program will temporarily fill the gap created by the diminished investor demand for tax credits. In this way, the near term goal of creating and retaining jobs is achieved, as well as the long-term benefit of expanding the use of clean and renewable energy and decreasing our dependency on non-renewable energy sources. Details are available on the Treasury web site:

    www.ustreas.gov/recovery/1603.shtml 

    Interested applicants please note:

    The election to receive the cash grant is an irrevocable election that prohibits an applicant from also receiving the Production Tax Credit (PTC) or the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). For more guidance on electing the ITC or cash grant in lieu of the PTC, see the IRS Notice 2009-52:

    www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-09-52.pdf

    Identifying whether the PTC, ITC or cash grant will be most financially beneficial to a particular project depends on a number of factors and will require a thorough financial analysis of a project. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issued a report analyzing the various benefits of the PTC versus the ITC. That report assumes the value to the developer of the ITC and the cash grant are the same. You can download a copy of the report from the Windustry web site:

    www.windustry.org/news/ptc-itc-or-cash-grant-which-should-a-developer-use

  • American Clean Energy and Security Act

    Bill fights global warming and helps farmers and landowners

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), designed to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy, is expected to be brought to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, June 26, prior to Congress's Fourth of July recess. The bill includes a cap-and-trade system requiring companies to buy carbon emissions permits from the federal government, and it sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent in 2020, by 42 percent in 2030, and by 83 percent in 2050.

    UPDATE:  On Friday afternoon, June 26, 2009, the U.S.  House of Representatives passed the Clean Energy bill as proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) with a vote of 219 for and 212 against.

    U.S. Representative Collin Peterson U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
    U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle),
    chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

    The bill has gained support from utilities, energy companies, labor unions, environmentalists, and farm groups. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) led negotiations for a shift in agency oversight of rural carbon offset programs from the EPA to the USDA, which would pay farmers and  landowners for environmentally friendly projects.

    "We have an agreement finally after all these days. We have something that I think works for agriculture." said Representative Peterson. "A lot of the work we did was getting this offset program so it would work. Energy and Commerce and EPA did not get what farmers do.... We really believe that the ag people are the ones that know the most about this and are the ones that should do this."

    Peterson said farmers will be able to mitigate higher energy prices by selling pollution offsets earned by tilling and conservation practices that keep carbon dioxide stored in the soil. Another revision to the bill that Peterson negotiated would give rural electric cooperatives, and other small utilities that have under 4 million megawatts of capacity, a portion of the pollution allowances that businesses would use to meet the bill’s cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

    An analysis by the Center for American Progress and University of Massachusetts projects that the bill, combined with the clean-energy investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, could generate $150 billion in annual public- and private-sector clean-energy investments. The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy report projects that those investments could create 1.7 million new jobs.

    "We all know why this is so important," said President Barack Obama about the Clean Energy bill. "The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century's global economy. That's what this legislation seeks to achieve—it's a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation. And that's why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it." 

    Read more about the Clean Energy bill with these resources from the Center for American Progress:

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act Myths and Facts

    The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy

    Climate Progress blog discussion on the Clean Energy act

    Eight Reasons for Farmers to Support Global Warming Actions

     

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