March 9, 2012
PTC gains supporters, detractors in transportation bill push
As the Senate began voting on several amendments to the transportation bill this week, two lawmakers introduced a pair of strikingly opposing Production Tax Credit-related amendments—one that would include an all-important, one-year PTC extension with numerous other energy provisions and another that would end the credit immediately, retroactive to the start of 2012. Both of those amendments are slated to be voted on Tuesday.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced Senate Amendment 1812, which would extend the PTC for one year, until the end of 2013, as well as extend the 1603 investment tax credit 48(C) manufacturing tax credit, in addition to including biodiesel and other provisions. Meanwhile, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced his own amendment (Senate Amendment 1589) that would, among other provisions, end the PTC immediately upon passage—meaning that even projects under construction right now would not be eligible for the credit. Notably, while the DeMint amendment claims to cut all energy subsidies—it’s the companion to the Pompeo bill in the House—it leaves untouched some $72 billion in oil-and-gas incentives.
The transportation bill has been seen as a potential vehicle, albeit somewhat of a long shot, for a PTC extension ever since Congress did not include an extension in the high-profile payroll tax. In that instance, wind industry members and advocates achieved the rather remarkable feat of keeping the extension in the legislation conversation until the final hours before a deal was reached among Members of Congress. In the end, no business tax extensions of any kind were included in the final package, and the near-miss was seen to add momentum to the PTC effort. Thus, as was the case with the payroll tax bill, the PTC remains in play in discussions concerning another piece of legislation that generally has been seen as having an outside shot of being a PTC vehicle.
The wind industry is working feverishly for every possible legislative opportunity for PTC inclusion because time is of the essence. While the PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, the wind industry supply chain and the manufacturing jobs within it, in particular, are already feeling the effects of the uncertainty.
"We are disappointed that tens of thousands of American jobs are being put in peril by partisan gridlock in Washington on broader energy policy issues,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a statement. “The clock is ticking and the stakes for an early extension of the Production Tax Credit could not be clearer. With every day that goes by, layoffs are occurring and further job losses and even plant closings will accelerate with each month we near expiration in December. Economic studies have shown that Congressional inaction on the PTC could kill 37,000 American jobs, shutter plants and cancel billions of dollars in private investment.
“In a divided Washington, support for American wind power has been one of the few things both sides can agree on. An extension of the PTC enjoys the support of 79 co-sponsors, including 18 House Republicans, as well as such groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Edison Electric Institute, and American Farm Bureau Federation.”
Southern Calif. Public Power Authority seeks 5,000 GWh
The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) is soliciting competitive proposals for renewable energy via facility ownership or power purchase agreements with ownership options.
SCPPA said it continues to seek cost-effective resources to support its members’ objectives under California’s renewable portfolio standard. Through the request for proposals, SCPPA is seeking to find a combination of projects able to deliver approximately 2,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year beginning in 2014 and an additional combination of projects able to deliver another 3,000 GWh per year beginning in 2017, for a total addition of approximately 5,000 GWh per year by 2020.
Responses are due at 4 p.m. (Pacific Prevailing Time) on November 30, 2012. The RFP is available on SCPPA’s website.
Thanks in part to technology, ERCOT wind power generation record shattered twice this week
The grid operator for most of Texas broke its wind power generation record twice this week. But what’s almost as notable is what was behind the record—besides the wind, that is.
Wind output reached 7,599 MW at 8:41 p.m., on Wednesday, exceeding the 7,403 MW record from the previous day by 196 MW and meeting a full 22 percent of the system’s electricity demand. At the time of Wednesday’s record, total system load was 34,318 MW. Prior to March 6, the record for wind output in ERCOT was 7,400 MW, recorded on Oct. 7, 2011. 7,599 MW is enough to fully supply about 6 million typical American homes at average usage levels.
As impressive as all those numbers are, however, just as noteworthy is how improved grid operating procedures were, in part, behind the record-setting generation.
“March is typically a high wind month for ERCOT, but these new records are also due in part to a new transmission analysis tool we started using this week that allows us to move more wind energy from the west zone,” said Kent Saathoff, director of grid operations and system planning. “The transient security assessment tool improves the accuracy of our transmission limits by improving our ability to establish the limits with the most current conditions available.”
ERCOT began using the new tool March 6 to calculate day-ahead and real-time west-to-north stability limits.
“In the past, we’ve had some slack built into some of our transmission limits because these limits had to be set well in advance,” Saathoff said. “The new tool runs an analysis on real-time conditions every 30 minutes so it gives us a more fine-tuned analysis.”
Studies have shown for a long time that wind can supply a significant amount of the nation’s electricity load with current technology, as long as new transmission is built and grid operating procedures are updated. A Department of Energy Report from 2008 confirmed that 20 percent wind power by 2030 is feasible, even with no technology improvements from that time going forward.
Wind provided 8.5 percent of ERCOT’s electricity last year. ERCOT increased its installed wind capacity last month by 9 MW with the addition of Trinity Hills Wind in Nueces County. More than 18,000 MW of wind generation projects are currently under review, according to the February system planning update. In addition, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission lines are expected to come online over the next two years, increasing the transmission capacity to move wind power from West Texas to load centers in the eastern part of the state and allowing approximately 9,000 MW of additional wind energy development.
Said AWEA Manager of Transmission Policy, Michael Goggin, “This new record shows that large amounts of wind energy are being reliably and cost effectively integrated onto the power system today. ERCOT’s record joins a number of other major wind accomplishments in the U.S. over the last few months, from Xcel Energy Colorado obtaining over 55 percent of its electricity from wind for a period last October, to the Midwest ISO and the Southwest Power Pool setting record wind outputs of 8,522 MW on January 1, 2012 and 3,927 MW on December 31, 2011, respectively. Texas has been leading the way in wind energy development, in part because the state has transmission and grid operating policies that make the power system work better for all users.”
Clean Line lines up cable supplier for big transmission project in Midwest
Announcing the deal at AWEA’s industry regional summit in the Midwest this week, Clean Line Energy and Southwire Co. have entered an agreement designating Southwire the preferred supplier for the overhead transmission cable for the Rock Island Clean Line—a transmission project that is expected to support manufacturing in Illinois and create some 1,450 construction jobs.
The 500-mile, modern high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line would carry 3,500 MW of renewable energy from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota to load centers in Illinois and other states to the east. The line would end near Morris, Ill., where it would interconnect with the PJM Interconnection, the transmission system covering much of the Mid-Atlantic.
Underscoring the importance of the transmission project both for renewable energy and job creation, on hand to help make the announcement was Governor Pat Quinn. “Illinois is a leader in the renewable energy sector, and agreements like these are helping make Illinois even more competitive,” said Quinn. “These cutting-edge projects will help maintain Illinois’s national leadership in wind energy and manufacturing, and create good paying, home-grown jobs.”
Southwire’s Flora, Ill., plant, which would supply the cable, has over 40 years of experience in the design and manufacturing of transmission cable. HVDC cable enables the delivery of much larger amounts of energy than does older wire technology. The expansion of the transmission grid is key to wind power’s growth; like wind power itself, transmission development creates jobs, as exemplified by the 1,450 potentially created by the Rock Island project. Construction of the Rock Island Clean Line could begin as early as 2014.
“Clean Line Energy is committed to sourcing as many of the needed materials as possible from local companies in the Rock Island Clean Line project area,” said Clean Line President Michael Skelly. “We are excited to work with Southwire on a project that will power Illinois homes and businesses with clean energy. We believe it is increasingly important to invest in energy infrastructure in order to contribute to local economies, create new jobs in America and improve energy security.”
Skelly added, “We look forward to continuing to work with Illinois authorities, state leaders and communities as our project moves forward.”
Bill to block Wisconsin siting rules sent back to committee
A bill in the Wisconsin senate that would repeal wind project state siting rules failed to garner enough votes for passage this week, sending the legislation back to committee with only seven days remaining in the legislative session.
If Senate Bill 50 does not come back out of committee before session’s end, the original siting rules will go into effect March 15. The original siting rules, developed by a wide range of stakeholders and deemed a major accomplishment by participants, were put in place by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in 2010 and were set to take effect in March 2011. The wind industry had embraced the rules because, while setting a high standard for siting, they provided the industry with the clarity needed to develop projects.
The original guidelines call for wind turbines to be set back from the nearest property line by 1.1 times the height of the turbine. They also require turbines to be no closer than 1,250 feet from the nearest residence. However, after the November 2010 elections, the rules were suspended and a bill was introduced to increase the property-line setback to 1,800 feet.
“If we can get through the last week of the legislative calendar, the industry will applaud the original siting rules taking effect,” said Brad Lystra, manager of state campaigns. “For Wisconsin wind power—and the jobs that go with it—statewide siting rules are key, as they will allow project construction to move forward. The outcome this week in the state senate is good news for Wisconsin, and it will keep our industry moving forward in the Badger State.”
500-MW Community Wind Project in Texas moves forward with Tri Global
Laying the groundwork for a 500-MW Texas community wind project , Tri Global Energy, LLC, has entered into a joint development agreement with Floyd County Wind Farm, LLC and Westerly Wind, LLC and closed on initial funding to form South Plains Wind Energy, LLC.
The newly formed South Plains Wind Energy, LLC will receive initial development funding from Westerly Wind, LLC to accelerate the development of the project, located in Floyd County. The South Plains project involves a landowner/community investor model owned jointly by Floyd County Wind Farm LLC, and Westerly Wind, and managed jointly by Tri Global Energy and Westerly Wind. The project is strategically located adjacent to the new Competitive Renewal Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines that are now under construction and scheduled to be complete in 2013.
CREZ is a state initiative to connect windy, rural parts of the state with load centers. The multi-billion dollar transmission lines project will significantly increase the capacity of the ERCOT grid to support additional wind power generated in West Texas. The CREZ lines are projected to support an increase from 10,000 MW to more than 18,000 MW of installed capacity as more wind farms are added to the grid. The South Plains Wind Energy farm will be capable of generating up to 500 MW when fully developed.
“Our landowners and community investors who provided seed money to initiate the wind farm with Tri Global Energy are pleased with the involvement of Westerly Wind,” said Keith Billington of Floyd County Wind Farm, LLC, a West Texas landowner and local realtor said. “Their financial support and industry know-how are sure to accelerate the development of the project. Our wind farm and others like it will benefit West Texas with much needed new jobs and a wider tax base.”
Tom Carbone, president of Tri Global Energy, said he foresees more landowner/community investor wind farms in the future for rural West Texas because of the excellent wind resources available in that part of the state.
Tri Global Energy is currently developing utility-scale community wind power projects throughout West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. The company said it has 13 projects in its wind energy portfolio, several of which are in the late stages of development, with wind resource studies and permitting having been completed.
SDG&E achieved 20 percent renewables in 2011
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) reported this week that 20.8 percent of the electricity it delivered to retail customers last year came from renewable energy sources, with wind power comprising 60 percent of the renewables contribution.
In addition to wind, the investor-owned utility, which reported its results to the California Public Utilities Commission, used renewable energy sources including geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric and solar. To reach the 20 percent threshold, SDG&E’s renewables penetration increased by 9 percent, the biggest leap for the utility yet. In 2010, the company reported renewable energy deliveries representing a total of about 12 percent of its retail sales.
The 9 percent increase reported to the state regulators was due to the delivery of power from agreements involving wind and geothermal energy. In 2011, SDG&E signed 17 new power contracts with mostly wind and solar energy sources, representing 1,482 MW. The contracts put SDG&E in a position to maintain California’s 20 percent renewable portfolio requirements in the 2011 to 2013 time frame and achieve the 25 percent renewable power requirement by 2016, the utility said. SDG&E’s renewables position also puts it on track to meet the state’s landmark target of 33 percent by 2020.
“We have a very robust, creative and aggressive power purchasing team at SDG&E whose ongoing goal is to obtain competitively priced renewable power for our customers,” said James P. Avery, SDG&E senior vice president of power supply.
In 2012, SDG&E expects five new renewable energy projects within its energy portfolio will become operational. A key factor contributing to the 2012-2013 development of new renewable power projects in California’s Imperial Valley is the anticipated completion of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line later this year.
Tour of Suzlon training facility caps AWEA regional conference in Midwest
AWEA’s 2012 Regional Wind Energy Summit for the Midwest held in Chicago wrapped up Wednesday with a tour of Suzlon’s state-of-the art Wind Turbine Training Facility in Elgin, Ill., where participants had the opportunity to see North America’s only fully operational turbine dedicated exclusively to training. Both the center and turbine have a strong emphasis on safety culture.
Visitors included developers and other industry members getting a firsthand look at the impressive facility, vendors expressing interest in engaging Suzlon as a training resource, and students pursuing a career in wind.
Members of Suzlon’s training management team accompanied the guests from the beginning, giving participants ample question-and-answer opportunities with experts in the field of training. The event included time in a classroom that is outfitted with cutting-edge interactive learning tools, a safety rescue training demonstration, and—capping off the two-hour tour—a seven-foot ladder climb into the nacelle, for those wishing to get an up-close view of Suzlon’s S88-2.1 MW turbine.
Commented one participant, “[Standing] inside the wind turbine for the first time has certainly changed my perspective on wind farms. Wind power feels more tangible and less a theoretical project on a piece of paper.”
Other participants echoed that sentiment and expressed appreciation for Suzlon’s “hospitality that, combined with your outstanding facility and personnel, made the visit a great experience.”
Paul Woodin, community wind expert, passes
The community-wind segment of the wind power industry this week mourned the death of Paul Woodin, facilitator and advocate of community wind power and Vietnam veteran, who passed away on March 2 at the Oregon Veterans’ Home. He was 64.
Born in Illinois and raised in New York state, Woodin developed a base of knowledge applicable to wind energy by graduating from Florida Air Academy in 1965 and St. Louis University’s Parks College of Aeronautical Technology in 1972. It wasn’t until after stints at Lockheed in Burbank, Calif., and a Martin Marietta Aluminum plant in Goldendale, Wash., however, that Woodin found his wind power calling. When the aluminum plant closed, Woodin started his own business assisting community wind projects and most recently worked with the Community Renewable Energy Association of Oregon.
Woodin was heavily involved in working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in defending and implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) in the Pacific Northwest. PURPA remains the prevailing federal policy enabling community wind projects to interconnect to utilities at avoided cost in the Western Interconnect. At the time of his death, he was active in advocating for PURPA reform to facilitate community wind project development.
AWEA Deputy Director for Distributed and Community Wind Larry Flowers, who attended the memorial service, said the event was filled with stories of Woodin’s accomplishments and victories on behalf of community wind in the Northwest. “But what touched me most,” said Flowers, “was the respect and love that this family expressed about a caring, involved, and nurturing dad and husband. Paul fought the good fight, with determination and commitment, a role model for all of us.”
The playing of “Taps,” as well as a presentation-of-the-flag ceremony, provided “the proper tribute of a decorated Vietnam veteran,” said Flowers.
Woodin is survived by his wife Katie Woodin, daughter Erica Woodin, son John, sister Roberta Cabot and grandson Jonah Frank.
WindTV: Missouri manufacturing company grows with wind power
Able Manufacturing’s recent past encapsulates that of the entire wind power industry. The same can be said about the company’s present and future.
In the latest segment of WindTV, AWEA’s vehicle to highlight how wind works for America, CEO Jim Schwarz tells of how his wind energy supply chain manufacturing company went from zero employees in 2008 to 25, as well as of plans for adding another 10 to meet demand in what is expected to be a big year for wind energy development. Able Manufacturing, a Missouri company that produces composite parts for wind turbine nacelles and blades, has doubled its wind energy sales every year since 2008, the year it got into the business. Schwarz’s company is emblematic of what industry data has shown to be a trend for the last several years: the wind energy supply chain continues to grow deeper and farther-reaching roots across America. Wind power manufacturing can be found in every part of the nation; the industry supported jobs in every state in the U.S. in 2011.
But question marks loom beyond this year for the wind power industry. Since Able Manufacturing resides deep within the industry’s wind turbine supply chain, the company can already feel its section of that chain rattling with the uncertainty of a federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) that’s set to expire at the end of the year. “We have orders through about August,” says Schwarz. “But the orders in September and October are near zero, or none.”
The PTC is wind power’s primary policy driver. A recent study found that extending the PTC will create and save 54,000 jobs, while allowing it to expire will kill 37,000 jobs. Wind powers as many as 1,000 Missouri jobs at more than seven wind power manufacturing facilities across the state. Missouri wind farms, meanwhile, provide a second cash crop to the state’s farmers and a vital source of support for rural communities in the form of more than $1.3 million a year in land lease payments and $2.6 million in annual property tax payments.
Yet the paychecks of Missourians and workers across America hang in the balance because Congress has yet to pass a PTC extension. After hiring workers to meet demand this year, “We’re going to see that uncertainty, and then [business is] going to drop back down for us,” says Schwarz, referencing the blank order sheets for the fall. “What do you do with those workers? How do you rearrange for them?”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To hear more about Able Manufacturing and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV.
Thinking of attending WINDPOWER 2012, but need supervisor approval?
WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition
June 3-6, 2012 > Atlanta, GA
Attendance at WINDPOWER 2012 could be pivotal to your company’s further success in the wind industry, and if you need senior management's approval for travel and training expenditures, it's worth it to develop a proposal so you can attend WINDPOWER 2012 in Atlanta.
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AWEA Wind Finance & Investment Seminar 2012
April 12 - 13, 2012 > New York, NY
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Decipher FERC Order 1000 at AWEA Wind Power Transmission Seminar
AWEA Wind Power Transmission Seminar
March 21-22, 2012 > Indianapolis, IN
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Keynote Speaker Highlight: FERC Commissioner John R. Norris
We are pleased to announce FERC Commissioner John R. Norris as a keynote speaker at the Welcome & Opening session of the AWEA Wind Power Transmission Seminar this year.
Session Highlight: FERC Order 1000: Monumental, Moderate, or Somewhere in Between for the Wind Energy Industry?
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Volume 29, Issue 1474
|Wind Energy Weekly is a publication of the American Wind Energy Association and a service to its Members.
Upcoming AWEA Events:
AWEA Wind Power Transmission Seminar
March 21 - 22, 2012
AWEA Wind Finance & Investment Seminar
April 12 - 13, 2012
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WINDPOWER® 2012 Conference & Exhibition
June 3-6, 2012
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