• Small Wind Turbine Program Aimed at Furthering Small Wind Development in MN

    In 2011, with a grant from the USDA, Windustry and the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force launched a Small Wind Bulk Buy Program to help rural enterprises take advantage of the state's wind resources and net-metering laws.

    The program was supported by a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, and other funders to support small wind energy, and the consequent economic development in the region. It provided Small Wind 101 training sessions, as well as technical and logistical support, including wind resource evaluation, site selection, economic evaluation, turbine selection, and support with permitting. The program focused on machines ranging in size from 2.4 kW to just under 40kW.

    As of May, 2012, the funds from the USDA ran out and the application for renewal was declined. However, the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force still supports the program in a limited fashion; and the resources that were developed, in particular the Small Wind Guide and the Small Wind Financial Calculator, continue to be available below.

     

     

    This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have considered wind power to find out if it really makes sense for them. People will get an honest evaluation, and for those who want to move forward, the path will be made as smooth as possible.

    —Rich Huelskamp, Renewable Energy consultant, The Sun's Warmth

    Windustry Program Analyst Dan Turner: "Region Nine has learned a great deal about making this program work efficiently. Those in the region who can take advantage of it will be well served.

    It makes small wind turbines more attractive as investments both to offset electric bills and, in some cases, to generate revenue. Industry growth in the area engages a local workforce trained to install and maintain small wind turbines, stimulates supply chain business development, and keeps energy dollars local to maintain and build the rural economy."

     

    Download Small Wind Guide

    Download the Small Wind Guide for a basic overview about small wind electric systems to help you decide if wind energy is right for you.

    Download the Small Wind Financial Calculator for Minnesota Net Metering Situations, requires Microsoft Excel or compatible software.

     

  • Windustry Rolls Out New Curriculum for Installers

    Seventeen Minnesota community and technical college instructors recently took part in Train-the-Trainer sessions on a new curriculum for Small Wind Energy Systems and are now prepared to offer courses on the subject.

    The six-credit course material was produced by Windustry and written by experts, with support from the MN Office of Energy Security. It is the first of its kind in the country, designed to prepare installers for the written portion of the exam by North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

    Such training provides much needed workforce development for an expanding small wind industry. This course focused on energy systems with nameplate capacity of up to 100kW and are optimum for residential scale use.

    Certification in this field will quickly become the expectation and good training is needed. NABCEP Certified installers must be able to specify, configure, install, inspect, and maintain a small wind energy system

    —Alissa Harrington, Windustry Community and Small Wind Analyst

    The curriculum covers the entire installation process, from marketing to follow-up maintenance, and includes assistance in establishing an apprenticeship within Minnesota dealer networks. This is a key component, as Windustry staffer Alissa Harrington said the NABCEP test requires candidates be involved in four installations in a “responsibility” position.

    Curriculum authors Mick Sagrillo and Roy Butler are seasoned installers and instructors. They presented the material over two-weeks at the University of MN, Morris. They have also made it available for use by the instructors who teach in Albert Lea, Cloquet, Brainerd, Bemidji, and other areas across the State.

  • New Report Looks at New Business Models for Community Wind

    (January, 2011) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has released a 34-page report to the public: "Community Wind: Once Again Pushing the Envelope of Project Finance," by Dr. Mark Bolinger. The report describes innovative financing and organizational structures for five community wind projects constructed in 2010.

    Bolinger said the purpose of the report is two-fold: (1) to disseminate useful information on these new financial structures, most of which are widely replicable; and (2) to highlight the recent policy changes – many of them temporary unless extended – that have facilitated this innovation.

    In most cases, the projects are first-of-their-kind structures that could serve as useful templates for both community and commercial wind alike. Community Wind "has historically served as a 'test bed' or 'proving grounds' not only for up-and-coming wind turbine manufacturers trying to break into the broader U.S. wind market, but also for wind project financing structures," Bolinger stated.

    Fox Island Wind, Sugarloaves and Brown's Head Light by Ivan Storck
    Fox Islands Wind, Sugarloaves and Brown's Head Light, Vinalhaven, Maine, photo: Ivan Storck


    "In addition to its significance as an engaging story – i.e., a photogenic island wind power project that overcame significant logistical hurdles to reduce local electricity costs – the Fox Islands Wind project is also significant in the way it was financed," states the report. "Most notably, the 20-year RUS term loan is the first loan that the RUS has offered to a wind project on a project finance basis. It is also, therefore, the first time that a low-interest RUS loan has been combined with federal tax incentives and investors interested in those incentives. Combining these two historically separate instruments of finance – i.e., low-cost government debt and tax equity leveraging federal tax incentives – helped make even this relatively expensive project (at least on a $/MW installed cost basis) financeable."

    The report and a Powerpoint presentation can be downloaded at no charge

  • In the News: Report on Windustry Conference in State College

    Reporter Kristine Allen, with NPR affiliate WPSU, produced an in-depth feature on the Community Wind across America Mid Atlantic conference, held in State College, PA, February 8 and 9, 2011. Allen says, "At this conference they're not talking about the huge wind farms you've seen on TV commercials, here the focus is on smaller scale projects that can be done by local communities or even by individual homeowners."

    The focus is on smaller scale projects that can be done by local communities or even by individual homeowners.The story includes interview comments with Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry; Jacques Beaudry-Losique, Director, Wind and Water Power Program, U.S. Department of Energy; Susan Stewart, Director, Penn State Wind Application Center, Pennsylvania State University; Jim Brasseur, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Mathematics; and John Franek, Zoning Officer, College Township, PA.

    Listen to "Community Wind Conference hosted by Penn State"

  • Windustry Attends Renewable Energy Roundtable with Senator Franken

    Senator Al Franken

    On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Windustry Executive Director Lisa Daniels and Program Analyst Dan Turner met with U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) and other notable Minnesotans including entrepreneurs, business executives, economists, and tax experts, in a roundtable panel discussion at the University of Minnesota Morris, to discuss how best to improve the federal policy environment for local renewable energy development.

    Senator Franken, who is now on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, planned the meeting with the seven other panelists. Topics discussed ranged from tax policy and renewable energy standards to smart grids, transmission, and barriers facing community wind development. The senator opened the meeting saying, "I'm here to listen," and he was true to his word, taking notes, asking questions of each of the other panel members, and showing that he already has a very strong grasp of the issues facing local renewable energy.

    Senator Al Franken and Windustry Staff
    Windustry Executive Director Lisa Daniels, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn), and Windustry Program Analyst Dan Turner
  • Financing Second Turbine in UMN, Morris took ingenuity

    Second Wind Turbine at University of Minnesota, Morris. Wind energy now provides an average of 70 percent of campus electricity
    Photo: Courtesy of Courtney Driessen '12, Blooming Prairie, Minn.

    A Second wind turbine began operating at the University of Minnesota, Morris, in March, 2011 - just south of the first public university large-scale wind research turbine in the nation, installed in 2005.

    The new turbine is 10 meters taller and delivers 10 percent more power than the existing turbine at West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC).

    Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson states, it “will further reduce the University of Minnesota, Morris’s carbon footprint, advance our goal of producing more energy than we consume, and fix our electrical costs for the next 20 years.”

    As staff Writer Jennifer Hill, points out in in the Novogradac Journal of Tex Credits, financing the second project went through a number of phases: Against the Wind: Smaller Projects Use Creativity to Secure Financing and Equipment

  • Small Wind Conference 2011 Look at What's New in the Industry

    The Small Wind Conference for installers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors returns to Holiday Inn Stevens Point Conference Center in WI, June 14 – 15, 2011

    The annual small wind conference brings together professionals with those new to the industry for honest dialogue, networking.

    Now in its seventh year, this event has proven to be the premier event for small wind-electric system installers, designers, manufacturers, educators and advocates, and for those involved in sales, specification, management, funding, and permitting of small wind systems. Nearly 400, from across the United States and nine countries, attended the 2010 conference.

    This year's keynote speaker is peak oil expert Randy Udall who writes and speaks widely on why "energy is an IQ test Americans tend to fail."

    The 2011 program looks at new wind turbines and equipment, presenting test results, updates and installer survey results that grade machines and their manufacturers.

    The question: “Why push something that we know the customer will not be happy with?” frames a presentation on the ramifications of short tower installations.

    Other sessions will focus on Small Wind business issues, certification, siting, zoning, and permitting. Case Studies will examine what works, what doesn’t, and why.

    The conference runs 8 am - 6 pm, June 14 – 15, with after-hour complimentary social events on both days.

    Other highlights include:

    • An opening social kick off among the exhibits and poster presentations on Monday, June 13
    • Monday also features two pre-conference sessions: Small Wind Zoning Summit 2011 and Fundamentals of Wind Energy and Small Wind Systems
    • A barbeque supper Tuesday evening at the “Bergey Que”, hosted at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, in nearby Custer, WI, includes libations and music from “The Honky Tonk Twisters."
    • The Annual Awards ceremony
    • A closing reception on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn’s Amber Grill with complimentary light food and drink.

    For more information, or to register, visit: www.windustry.org, email: smallwindconference@windustry.org, or call: 612-870-3477

    small wind conference

    The two-day conference will run from 8:00 am Tuesday, June 14 through 6:00 pm Wednesday, June 15. Conference fee includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks, along with complimentary evening social events.

  • Community Wind across America Regional Conferences Continue in 2011

    Community Wind and Small Wind Energy conferences provide necessary tools for locally-owned projects.

    Windustry continues the Community Wind across America conferences series with an event for the Mid Atlantic Region, February 8-9, 2011. It follows 2010 events in the Rocky Mountain and Midwest regions.

    Jacques Beaudry-Losique
    Jacques Beaudry-Losique
    Wind and Water Program
    Manager, U.S. DOE

    The conferences cover Community Wind and Small Wind in a two-track program, providing the full range of what's needed to advance opportunities for locally-owned wind energy production. The Mid Atlantic program includes a keynote address from Jacques Beaudry-Losique, Wind and Water Program Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy, former CIA Director James Woolsey, a renewable energy and energy security advocate.

    The conferences are for anyone interested in. benefiting from wind energy production: Rural landowners, local investors, and community leaders, farmers, municipal utilities, elected officials, town planners, tribal representatives, economic development professionals, business leaders, educators, investors, and bankers. Attendees will:

    • Gain breadth of knowledge on distributed energy.
    • Learn about economic development from local involvement in wind power.
    • Hear about landowner options for wind energy and new business models.
    • Develop an essential network of industry experts.

    Said Lisa Daniels, Windustry Executive Director:
    "Our Community Wind across America conferences are for people interested in commercial and residential development. The key goal is to help keep the economic benefits as local as possible while, as a nation, we change our energy sources. We need a diverse set of solutions for a robust economy and diverse society and we want everyone interested to join the conversation."

    Two Days - Two Tracks
    Practical information is provided along two tracks: how to put together a Community Wind project and topics on Small Wind such as how to choose a turbine, installation, and rebates and grants.
    Community Wind Track
    sessions cover: Financing, policy, emerging business models, and incentives for community-own wind; case studies on innovative utilities and public power, project development; landowner options; how the characteristics of mid-sized turbines with a capacity rating of 100-1000kW meet the needs of Community Wind projects, and best practices on successfully introducing a wind project to a community. Small Wind Track sessions will address how to get started, present examples, give an overview of the wide variety of new machines available and talk about the importance of Small Wind Certification.

    A film screening of Wind Uprising is also planned. The documentary follows the turbulent path and final success of a Utah wind farm developer and engineer.  

    Response from conferences in Rocky Mountain and midwest regions:

    "Speaking one on one with attendees and presenters was very valuable. I was able to get personal responses to specific question."

    "The speakers were top notch; they went into the detail I was hoping to hear, and it was a perfect environment to get answers and make good connections. Well done!"

    "Overall excellent event, great overview and I made some important contacts. The Wind Uprising film was good."

    "The sessions that showed practical experience and alternative financing structures very strong."

    Support for Community Wind across America comes from U.S. Department of Energy funding and national partnering Nordic WindPower. REGISTRATION is available at www.windustry.org or by phoning Catherine O' Neill at 612-870-3477.

  • Wesley Clark tells conference goers Community Wind is the "sweet spot"

    General Wesley Clark deleivering keynote address at Community Wind across America Midwest conference, 2010
    General Wesley Clark at
    Community Wind across America

    A four star general, a former CIA director, and a U.S. senator each brought messages for a national energy policy to the regional Community Wind across America Midwest conference, held in St. Paul, MN, this past fall.

    Link: Slide show of event highlights

    The Midwest event marked the second in a series of Community and Small Wind conferences presented by Windusty, with support of the U.S. Department of Energy. Wesley Clark delivered a keynote address during the two-day event, which focused on wind energy development with the highest benefit for residents of the region. The retired general called for a stop to America’s massive spending on foreign fuel. “We can’t import oil at the expense of the American economy. The money has to stay here. It is the difference between 4% growth and creating jobs and 2% growth and losing jobs,” said Clark. He went on the say that Community Wind is the “sweet spot” for creating new energy sources, as that power can plug into the current transmission grid.

    National security and distributed energy framed an address from former CIA director James Woolsey, delivered by video. The longtime proponent of alternative energy said our best security strategy is “to move away from oil,” which currently funds enemy states, and lays Americans vulnerable to possible terrorist strikes and disruptions in supply. He argued for America to develop all forms of renewable energy, and supportive legislation to encourage investment and advancement of it.

    U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) stated that it is incumbent upon legislators to establish a Federal Renewable Energy Standard, and add further incentives that would bolster Community Wind development. Franken was in session at the time and his letter was read by a representative from his office.

    At the regional level, 300 attendees from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South and North Dakota learned the needed details for how to develop wind energy with the highest benefit for area residents. Among them were Community Wind industry leaders, developers, turbine manufacturers, utility representatives, and government officials provided details around permitting, overcoming transmission grid limitations, and turbine selection.

    Said an attendee. "Speaking one on one with attendees and presenters was very valuable. I was able to get personal responses to specific question."

    The conference was also supported by national sponsoring partner Nordic Wind Power.

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