• Minnesota Passes New C-BED Legislation

    New Law Passed to Advance Community Energy Projects
    Next Generation Energy Act Helps MN Farmers and Small Businesses Build Renewable Energy Projects

    St. Paul, MN – (5/25/07) Today Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Next Generation Energy Act (SF145), which includes critical provisions that will help rural communities build wind farms, biomass power plants and other renewable energy facilities.

    The legislature passed the bill on Sunday with strong bipartisan support.

    This community-based energy development (C-BED) legislation helps rural communities plan, build and own renewable energy facilities themselves, thereby keeping energy dollars in local economies. A number of studies have shown that local ownership of wind farms at least triples local financial benefits relative to ownership of wind facilities by large outside companies (see references, below). “This legislation keeps Minnesota at the cutting edge of community wind energy development nationwide,” said Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry. She added, “Currently, Minnesotans own more wind power projects than residents of other states.” Thirty percent (275 MW out of 895 MW) of Minnesota’s wind energy capacity is community-based.

    Andrew Falk, a wind developer near Benson Minnesota said, “First, we must thank State Representative Aaron Peterson for his incredible work and leadership on this important issue. Communities want to take an active role in meeting the energy needs of the 21st century with locally owned renewable energy resources. This piece of legislation assists the utilities and the regulatory agencies in comprehending the value of community-based energy development (C-BED) projects. A key provision in the bill prevents wind energy development companies from buying wind rights from landowners and then not developing them within a reasonable time. “All over the country, wind energy is hot so large companies are buying up wind rights before the competition drives up prices,” noted Daniels. “The law protects landowners in this exploding market by requiring developers to finish building projects within seven years or renegotiate their deals with landowners.”

    The legislation also makes it easier for local governments to own wind energy projects, and it allows counties, rather than just the state government, to permit projects as large as 25 MW. “These changes in law will help cities, counties, school districts and other local agencies develop, own and benefit from wind farms,” said David Benson, Nobles County Commissioner. He added, “Local ownership of wind projects helps ensure that a broader spectrum of Minnesotans benefit financially from renewable energy and it also helps make rural communities more energy independent.” “Farmers all over the state want to earn more hard dollars from wind farms,” added Daniels, “but, our current regulatory and tax system makes entry into this new business opportunity needlessly cumbersome. This new law removes some barriers and will help us deal with future ones.”

    The legislation includes provisions that:

    • Allow counties to take over permitting authority to site wind energy facilities up to 25 MN in size, up from 5 MW, and impose higher standards than state law.
    • Allow local governments to own wind energy projects with more than two turbines without partnering with other entities.
    • Require utilities to study the amount of renewable energy that can be connected to existing local transmission lines and substations with minimal upgrades, thereby using existing utility infrastructure more efficiently and delaying the need for new large transmission lines.
    • Require that developers finish projects within 7 years or renegotiate land development agreements with landowners to extend these agreements.
    • Require the Department of Commerce to consider the C-BED economic benefits that flow to all local interests, not just the project developer, when approving C-BED projects.
    • Allow C-BED developers to negotiate market-based rates unhindered by an out-of-date price cap.
    • Require utilities to consider contracting with C-BED projects to comply with the Renewable Energy Standard adopted by the State in February.
    • Allow utilities to partner with C-BED projects.
    • Require a variety of studies on emerging community energy issues.

    For information about the economic benefits of community wind relative to other development, go to:
    http://www.windustry.org/community/default.htm#Why%20Community%20Wind
    For the text of and other information about the Next Generation Energy Act, SF 145, go to:
    http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/revisor/pages/search_status/status_detail.php?b=Senate&f=sf145&s
    sn=0&y=2007

    Windustry is a non-profit organization working to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities by providing technical support and creating tools for analysis.

    ** Media Contact: Lisa Daniels 612-870-3462 **

  • Wind Energy Forum-Hayfield, MN

    Learn about commercial scale wind energy, wind rights & development options, land leases & agreements, Rural Energy Development Initiative and more at this seminar for landowners and community leaders who want to know more about navigating the commercial scale wind energy arena!

    Meeting will be held Saturday, December 6th, 2008 from 1-5 pm at the American Legion Club, Main Street, Hayfield, MN

    Please RSVP to Beth Lecy at 507-545-0112

     

  • Grant Oppurtunities

    Below are a couple of possible grant oppurtunities for wind projects:

    1) Economic Development:
    The U.S. Department of Commerce requests proposals for Economic Development Assistance Grants in the following program areas:  Public Works, Planning, Local Technical Assistance, and Economic Adjustment Assistance.  Proposals accepted through 9/30/09.  For more info, including Regional contacts, go to:
    http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&flag2006=false&oppId=42952

    Refer to Sol# EDA10012008EDAP. (Grants.gov 10/1/08)

    2) Environmental Education Grants
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requests proposals for Environmental Education Grants.  This program supports environmental education projects that promote environmental stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers, and citizens.  $3 million expected to be available, up to 95 awards anticipated.  Responses due 12/18/08.  For more info, including Regional contacts, go to:  http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/grants.html. Refer to Sol# EPA-EE-09-02.  (Grants.gov 11/6/08)

  • Requests for Proposals (RFP) from Northern Indiana Public Service Company

    NIPSCO issued its 2008 RFP for Renewable Energy and Demand Side Management (DSM) for the purposes of identifying and negotiating contracts for renewable energy and/or DSM resources for a delivery period commencing as soon as January 1, 2011.

    The goal of this RFP is to provide NIPSCO with renewable and/or DSM resources that meet NIPSCO's long-term projected needs with a reliable, low-cost, stable-priced, and diversified resource portfolio. NIPSCO projects a need of up to 300 gigawatt hours per year of incremental, long-term, renewable resources. A portion of that need may also be met by energy conservation DSM resources.

    The minimum project size for most renewables including landfill gas, bio-derived fuel, biomass, and wind is 5 megawatts. NIPSCO's preference is for in-state proposals and for renewable energy delivery with the associated and certified Renewable Energy Credits.
    NIPSCO's preference for the location of the facilities is defined by the following hierarchy: 1) directly connected within the NIPSCO service territory, 2) State of Indiana, and 3) Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (ISO) territory.

    A non-mandatory bid conference was held on November 12, 2008. Relevant information from the bid conference will be posted on the RFP Web site at http://www.nipsco2008rfp.com/. The RFP and all associated documents are also available at this location.
    Bidders should submit a non-binding Notice of Intent to Bid (NOIB) no later than 4:00 PM (CST) on November 30, 2008 via e-mail to nipsco2008rfp@ventyx.com. Submitting a NOIB does not commit a prospective bidder to submit a proposal. Bidders who do not submit a NOIB will not be sent any further correspondence regarding this RFP.

    Proposals must be received on or before 4:00 PM (CST) on January 15, 2009

  • Community Wind Report for New Brunswick Released

    The Government of New Brunswick released a preliminary report addressing the potential for community wind energy development in New Brunswick.  The report recommended that Government of New Brunswick implement a community wind energy program with the initial allocation of 100 MW of projects within the province.
    The full report can be found at:

    A COMMUNITY WIND ENERGY PROGRAM FOR NEW BRUNSWICK

  • Study Finds No Impact of Wind Projects on Property Values

    A new study answers a long-nagging question of whether property values will decline due to nearby wind energy development. The answer is no, according to a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: "The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis."

    "Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,"

    —Ben Hoen, report author
    A overwhelming majority of Americans support wind farm projects over other types of new power sources that might be built in their community [U.S. Saint Index© survey]. However, concerns over property values can arise when residents learn of plans for nearby wind farm projects. While such concerns are not unreasonable, given property value effects that have been found near high voltage transmission lines, landfills, and other electric generation facilities; the impacts of wind energy facilities on nearby home sales had not previously been investigated thoroughly.

    "Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes," says report author Ben Hoen, a consultant to Berkeley Lab. "No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back - no evidence of widespread impacts." 

    The report concludes that there are no measurable impacts on residential property values due to the three characterizations studied:

    • Area Stigma: A concern that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
    • Scenic Vista Stigma: A concern that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
    • Nuisance Stigma: A concern that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have a unique adverse influence on home values.

    The team of researchers for the project collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states, and that occurred between 1996 and 2007; the closest home was 800 feet from a wind facility. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models.  The hedonic pricing model is one of the most prominent and reliable methods for identifying the marginal impacts of different housing and community characteristics on residential property values.

    The final report can be downloaded:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html
        
    A presentation summarizing key findings is available:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/emp-ppt.html

  • Seed Grants Available for Community Wind Projects in Minnesota

    The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is providing financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions (Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central).

    All applications are due no later than 4:30pm, November 2nd, 2009.

    The primary objectives of this funding project are to:

    1. Encourage the implementation of community‐based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and
    2. Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

    Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES).

    Visit the CERTs website to learn more about this opportunity and to download the application materials. You can also read more about previous projects that were successful in receiving these funds.

  • U.S. Treasury Now Accepting Applications

    The United States Treasury is now accepting applications for the cash grant in lieu of tax credits that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    Applications will be accepted online at https://treas1603.nrel.gov/

    The statutory deadline for applications is October 11, 2011.

    For more information about the program and how to access the guidance documents, application, and terms and conditions, visit Windustry's announcement.

  • PTC, ITC or Cash Grant? Which Should a Developer Use?

    Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have released a combined report that may help wind project developers understand which federal incentives will be most economical: PTC, ITC, or Cash Grant? An Analysis of the Choice Facing Renewable Power Projects in the United States.

    The report takes a close look at key provisions in the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These key provisions could have a significant impact on how renewable energy projects are financed in the near future.

    Included in these provisions is an extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). Another provision allows for projects that are eligible for the PTC to elect to receive a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) instead of the PTC. An even more intriguing provisions allows for a project that qualifies for the ITC (or the PTC but elects to receive the ITC) to receive the value of that credit as a cash grant from the Treasury.

    The authors analyzed a number of technologies in the report including wind, open- and closed-loop biomass, geothermal and landfill gas projects. The purpose of the analysis is to both quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the choice between the PTC and ITC (or cash grant) from the project developer perspective. Only two technologies showed a clear preference for one incentive over the other: open-loop biomass gets more value from the ITC across the board, while geothermal gets more value from the PTC.

    For wind energy, the authors looked at a range of installed costs from $1.500/kW to $2,500/kW and a range of capacity factors from 25% to 45%. They did not include the potential influence on project costs due to nameplate capacity in the presence of economies of scale. These quantitative results showed the PTC provided more value in approximately 2/3 of the cases analyzed.

    The authors also looked at qualitative factors that can also influence the decision of which incentive a developer wants to use. These factors include: the option to elect the cash grant; performance risk; tax credit appetite; liquidity; subsidized energy financing; power sale requirement; and the owner/operator requirement. Combining the quantitative and qualitative considerations, the authors found that most wind projects may benefit more from the ITC than they will from the PTC.

    As the report concludes, whether a particular project chooses the PTC or ITC or cash grant will depend on any number of factors that will be weighed by each project according to their priorities, and the fact that these choices for federal incentives now exist (temporarily) is a step in the right direction to broaden the participation base in renewable energy.

    Click here to download and read the full report (19 pages)
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