November 16 , 2012
Voices multiplying in PTC extension push
Calls to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) reached fever pitch this week, with a bipartisan group of politicians, a diverse set of organizations, news outlets from around the country, and a prominent investor all urging that Congress take action.
The PTC, wind power’s primary policy driver, is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and jobs are already being lost as a result of the uncertainty. Here’s a run-down of what’s taken place during the last several days.
Governors, senator speak as one. On Tuesday a bipartisan group of four governors and a U.S. senator urged Congress to extend the PTC. Governor Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Capitol Hill in Washington for a news conference, which Governors John Kitzhaber (D-Ore.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) joined by conference call.
The leaders expressed optimism that Congress will approve an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy during the lame-duck session that began this week.
“Governors want to add perspective on the importance of extending the PTC,” Branstad said. “My state has directly seen the negative impact related to the PTC not being extended earlier. For example, Siemens recently laid off over 400 employees at its plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Clipper Wind Power laid off 100 workers at its plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”
Also on Tuesday, Branstad and Kitzhaber as leaders of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, sent a letter calling on Congress “to take swift action to extend the PTC before the end of this congressional session.”
Red State Renewable Alliance formed. The Red State Renewable Alliance, which describes itself as "an ad-hoc coalition of citizens and companies dedicated to promoting the wind energy industry and its role in cultivating jobs and revitalizing manufacturing," announced its launch this week in Washington, D.C. The Alliance's executive director is John Feehery, a well-known Republican strategist and former spokesman for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Tom DeLay.
“The PTC drives energy diversity by allowing developers to secure private financing for wind projects and bringing them to completion,” the alliance’s website notes.
In a news release concerning the launch, the group said, "The mission of the Red State Renewable Alliance is simple: to tell the full story of the success of clean renewable wind energy in traditionally conservative areas of the country and emphasize the importance of incorporating this resources as part of an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy in the United States.
The website highlights some noteworthy factoids with depictions of U.S. maps that are colored mostly red. A few of them:
- 75 percent of U.S. wind capacity is in congressional districts with GOP representatives.
- 67 percent of wind manufacturing facilities are in congressional districts with GOP representatives.
- 71 percent of congressional districts held by the GOP host either wind projects or wind-related manufacturing.
Udall picks up where he left off with Senate speeches. Last June Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) started speaking on the Senate floor urging extension of the PTC. He said he would keep it up until the job was finished, and he has done just that. Since then, he has been back at the podium just about every day that the Senate has been in session. With the Senate back in session after being in recess during the weeks leading up to the election, Udall’s speeches kicked in again. On Thursday in his 20th address, Udall again spoke about the need to extend the PTC (video here), this time focusing in part on the economic benefits of wind power to Wisconsin. Of course, he spoke more broadly as well, citing the “literally tens of thousands of jobs,” the injection of new life into American manufacturing, and the increased energy security brought by the industry. “That’s quite a trifecta of successes,” Udall pointed out.
Endorsements keep flowing in. Media outlets from around the country have been producing pro-PTC extension editorials for the better part of this year, but the pace picked up this week. Publishing such pieces were outlets including the Denver Post, Quad City (Iowa and Illinois) Times, Sioux City Journal, Topeka Capital Journal, and Greentech Media. Support also came from the financial world, via a show of support from investor Jeff Perkins.
Finally, in well-known Capitol Hill publication Politico, AWEA CEO Denise Bode wrote on what a true all-of-the-above energy strategy looks like, noting that wind power “should not be the only energy source without any federal incentive, as it would be if the PTC is allowed to expire."
Studies reflect public’s support. Survey results released this week from Yale University and George Mason University show that nearly all Americans (92 percent) say the president and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (31 percent), “high” (38 percent), or “medium” priority (23 percent).
In addition, a recently released Texas A&M University National Energy Opinion Poll found that 60 percent of Americans support "tax cuts for companies to develop renewable energy technologies.”
First Wind's Bull Hill project online and highlighting wind power's affordability
First Wind has another Maine wind farm under its belt, and it’s a project that once again highlights wind power’s affordability.
The just-finished, 34 MW Bull Hill Wind project in Hancock County has entered commercial operations, the company announced. Bull Hill Wind features 19 Vestas V100 1.8 MW wind turbines that can generate enough electricity for nearly 18,000 homes.
In August 2011, utility NSTAR and First Wind entered into a 15-year contract for the output from the project following NSTAR’s competitive solicitation seeking a low-cost source of energy. The cost savings due to the fixed-price contract are expected to save NSTAR ratepayers about $57 million over the life of the contract.
“The power from Bull Hill Wind is part of a diverse, responsible energy portfolio that includes renewable resources generated right here in New England,” said James Daly, vice president of energy supply at Northeast Utilities, parent company of NSTAR. “The Bull Hill project will help NSTAR meet our goal of providing renewable energy to homes and businesses as outlined by the Massachusetts Green Communities Act. We’re looking forward to delivering clean, renewable wind energy from this project to our customers for years to come.”
Now that the project has started operations, Hancock County and Eastbrook will receive an average aggregate tax payment of approximately $100,000 annually for the next 20 years and an additional $240,000 annually in community benefit payments—more than $7 million in total. In addition, First Wind is providing a public safety communication tower to Hancock County for improved communications for the safety and rescue departments in the county.
“We are very pleased to complete work on our Bull Hill Wind project, which represents our fifth project in Maine to achieve commercial operations,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor. “It is a testament to our partners across the state and region, as well as supportive business, citizen and local political leaders that we have been able to complete this project ahead of schedule. The Bull Hill Wind project will serve as a source of cost-competitive renewable energy and a boost to the local economy through tax revenues and ongoing operations.”
Construction on the Bull Hill Wind project started earlier this year and created an average of 200 construction-related jobs while generating significant revenue for the surrounding communities. Maine-based contractor Reed & Reed led the construction process and hired mostly Maine-based businesses and subcontractors to work on the project. In addition, First Wind worked with its turbine supplier to ensure that the turbine shipments, including towers, blades and other equipment went through nearby Searsport to maximize the economic benefits for the local community.
“Reed & Reed and our team of local subcontractors have worked on all of First Wind’s projects here in Maine. We are proud and pleased to see Bull Hill completed and in operation.” said Jack Parker, president and CEO of Reed & Reed. “We have seen time and time again how First Wind projects like Bull Hill positively impact the community and state. Along with the generation of clean, local energy, these projects have been among the most notable when it comes to economic development. Maine’s wind power projects have created hundreds of jobs, provided millions of dollars for important community projects, and they have directly lowered property taxes in a number of host communities. Bull Hill is an excellent example of how a project can support Maine people and local businesses.”
Google invests $75 million in RPM Access-owned Iowa wind farm
Continuing its push to green its expansive operations and tap the affordability of wind power, Google Inc., made a $75 million equity investment in RPM Access LLC’s Rippey Wind Farm in Iowa, where the technology giant has a data center.
The 50 MW facility, located in Greene County, was built by RPM Access, a project developer headquartered in West Des Moines. RPM Access remains the active partner and manager in the project, bringing its operational and management expertise in three other Iowa wind farms to the partnership.
The Rippey wind energy project, which recently achieved commercial operation, consists of 20 Nordex 2.5 MW turbines, manufactured at Nordex USA’s Jonesboro, Ark., facility. The energy produced by the wind farm has been contracted to Central Iowa Power Cooperative.
Google, which operates a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has been incrementally tapping homegrown electricity from wind to help feed its power-hungry data centers and operations. In 2010, Google entered into a long-term contract—more typical of one entered into by utilities—to purchase wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources Story County 2 facility in Iowa. And just in September, Google entered into a 48 MW power purchase agreement for output coming from Atlantic Power’s Canadian Hills project in Oklahoma, originally developed by Apex Wind Energy. Google also has a data center in Oklahoma.
Google’s global commitment to renewable energy projects is over $990 million, according to the company. “Over the past two years, Google’s investments have helped enable the deployment of hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy,” said Axel Martinez, assistant treasurer and head of capital markets at Google. “Our investment in the Rippey project is a further demonstration of our commitment to a clean energy future.”
“We’re delighted to be partnering with Google on this project,” said Steven Dryden, founder and principal of RPM Access. “Their investment enables RPMA to grow as a company, to invest further in our existing projects and to pursue future development opportunities—this is a dream come true for a small group of wind entrepreneurs.”
Juwi Wind taps DZ Bank AG for Minnesota project financing
Developer juwi Wind has secured financing for the Community Wind South project, a 30 MW wind farm in southwestern Minnesota that’s currently under construction and set to be completed by the end of the year.
The output will be sold to utility Xcel Energy under a long-term purchase agreement. The project features 15 REpower MM92 turbines with 100 meter towers, the tallest in Minnesota, to date.
Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftbank, or DZ Bank AG, the fourth biggest bank in Germany with a large branch in New York, served as the mandated lead arranger while providing construction, ITC cash grant bridge and term loans. KfW IPEX also joined the transaction as a lender.
"Juwi's long standing relationship with DZ Bank in Germany since the late 1990s aided in the completion and terms of this deal for one of our USA projects," said Michael Rucker, juwi Wind USA CEO.
Jeff Chester from Kaye Scholer and his team represented juwi Wind, and Rob Goldberg from Mayer Brown and his team represented DZ Bank AG.
Garden State Offshore Energy deploys buoy off of Atlantic City coast
Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE) this week deployed a next-generation research buoy that will measure atmospheric and sea conditions as part of the company’s evaluation of its potential offshore wind farm off the New Jersey coast.
The 25-ton buoy, equipped with sophisticated meteorological measurement devices, is now in position 23 miles off the Atlantic City coast and will provide data for up to two years. Dubbed “NJORD” for “New Jersey Offshore Research Device,” the buoy was developed by GSOE, a joint venture between Deepwater Wind and PSEG Global to develop offshore wind farms off the New Jersey coast. The buoy was built by U.K.-based marine engineering firm SeaRoc. The project is partially funded by a $3 million grant from the state.
“The NJORD buoy is an important advance for the offshore wind industry because it provides a cost-efficient method to gather vital data at sites located 20 or more miles offshore,” said Deepwater Wind President Chris van Beek, the NJORD project manager.
The NJORD is much less costly to deploy than a traditional, fixed meteorological mast and far more flexible since it’s not anchored permanently to the ocean floor, as are traditional met masts, according to GSOE.
Prior to its deployment off of New Jersey, the NJORD buoy was deployed off of the coast of Block Island, R.I. (site of another offshore project under development) for an eight-week validation period. During validation, the results of the wind-measuring LIDAR mounted on the buoy were compared to the results from a fixed met mast located on land less than a mile away on Block Island. The correlation between the two wind measuring devices was over 99 percent, confirming that the buoy-based LIDAR mounted on the NJORD is comparable with traditional equipment for reliability in measuring wind speeds.
Vestas recruits Chris Brown for top Americas post; Deepwater Wind gets new CEO
Vestas announced this week that energy industry veteran Chris Brown will take the post of president of Vestas Americas and Vestas group senior vice president. Brown will succeed Martha Wyrsch, who has decided to leave Vestas in early December.
Brown, 52, is an energy industry leader with decades of experience running electric utility and independent power operations. He most recently served as COO for the city of Detroit. Brown’s energy background includes time in the offshore wind industry, senior executive at a large U.S. utility and managing director at an international utility.
“I recognize there are many challenges in the U.S. wind industry,” Brown said. “However, Vestas has tremendous potential and strength. This is evident in the management team, in the brand, and most important, in the many talented people who work at Vestas. I look forward to meeting the people behind the company’s success in the next few weeks and months.
“My approach will be to understand what we need to continue to do well and address those areas in which we can improve our operations. I’ve learned that building healthy relationships with customers, employees and the community is an important component to success.”
Wyrsch began at Vestas in 2009. From 2010 to 2012, she directed record financial, sales and installation performance for the company in the U.S. and Canada. In her tenure, she led a team that increased its installed base of wind turbines in the region by more than 4.7 GW. By the time she leaves Vestas, the company will have more than 6,100 turbines under service agreements in the region.
“We are grateful to Martha for her leadership these past several years,” said Juan Araluce, chief sales officer for Vestas. “Martha has led an ambitious effort at a time in which wind power growth is especially important. Under her leadership, we have safely and successfully managed a record installed base in two major countries committed to the benefits of clean, renewable and affordable wind power. As Martha informed me of her decision to continue her journey outside Vestas, we began searching for a strong profile to continue and enhance our efforts in North America. I am happy to have found a candidate that matches our expectations and I look forward to now working with Chris to continue our efforts.”
Grybowski named CEO at Deepwater
Deepwater Wind this week announced additions to its leadership team as the company moves toward construction of its path-breaking Block Island Wind Farm and advances its plans for utility-scale offshore wind farms to power states along the East Coast.
Jeffrey Grybowski, who has led Deepwater Wind’s regulatory and business strategy as chief administrative officer, has been named CEO. Grybowski has been responsible for the successful development of Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm and has helped to guide the company’s overall business strategy since 2008. The Block Island project may be the U.S.’s first offshore wind facility.
Grybowski succeeds William M. Moore, who served as CEO from 2009 to 2012. Moore will join the company’s board of directors, where he will continue to provide strategic advice to the company’s management. Company president Chris van Beek remains in his role, managing the construction and operational aspects of Deepwater’s strategy.
Paul Gaynor, a member of Deepwater Wind’s board, has been elected chairman. Gaynor is the CEO of developer First Wind, an investor in Deepwater Wind.
Scholarship honoring Paul Woodin established
A new scholarship for Northwest students will honor regional visionary Paul Woodin, advancing his focus on innovation, education and clean energy solutions.
Renewable Northwest Project this week officially announced the establishment of the Paul Woodin Memorial Scholarship Fund with the Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) Foundation. The fund will grant scholarships to students enrolled with the nationally renowned CGCC Renewable Energy Technology program.
Paul Woodin passed away on March 2, but he leaves a legacy as a leading innovator, advocate and renewable energy facilitator. Woodin was a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, and a veteran of the Northwest region’s aluminum-smelting industry. Woodin recognized the renewable energy industry as an opportunity for his region’s workforce and a solution to economic challenges, including in rural communities like his Goldendale, Wash., home. Through his involvement with the Community Renewable Energy Association, Woodin was a leader among peers and a mentor for emerging renewable energy professionals. His voice and ideas reached nationally, resounding with industry groups and Washington, D.C. policymakers.
A natural educator, Woodin was a supporter of the CGCC Renewable Energy Technology program. The CGCC Renewable Energy Technology training program began in 2007, the first program by any West Coast community college to provide comprehensive training in the wind energy field.
“Just as Paul Woodin enjoyed science and engineering, he enthusiastically shared ideas with future leaders,” said Dan Spatz, chief institutional advancement officer at CGCC. “One way to preserve and expand some of the momentum he brought to the field is to support aspiring renewable energy professionals.”
The CGCC program was among the first three U.S. training programs to receive AWEA's Seal of Approval for technician training. In addition to wind energy, the curriculum focuses on diverse renewable energy technologies, all with a strong basis in math and electronics.
“We are grateful for the renewable industry successes spurred by Paul Woodin’s unwavering vision,” said Rachel Shimshak, executive director at Renewable Northwest Project. “We encourage local and global clean energy supporters to donate and continue his legacy by supporting tomorrow’s leaders.”
The Paul Woodin Memorial Scholarship Fund will be implemented through the CGCC Foundation. Individuals and organizations interested in donating may visit the Renewable Northwest Project website: www.rnp.org or CGCC Foundation, www.gorgefoundation.org. For more information about the CGCC Renewable Energy Technology program, go to www.renewableenergycareers.org.
Supply Chain Connections
EDF Renewable Services signs O&M agreement with Detroit Edison
EDF Renewable Services, formerly enXco Service Corp., signed a multiyear operations and maintenance agreement with Detroit Edison for two wind projects having a combined 222.4 MW of generating capacity. The 110.4 MW Thumb Wind Project and the 112 MW Echo Wind Project, located in Huron and Sanilac counties, Mich., consist of GE 1.6 MW turbines. The two projects join the 102.4 MW Gratiot Wind Project, currently under contract with EDF Renewable Services, for a total of 324.8 MW.
Key component for large wind farm provided by Winergy
Winergy noted this week it supplied its compact PZFB 3494 gearbox combined with its ARPEX ARV4 coupling for one of the worlds largest wind projects, Caithness Energy’s 845-MW Shepherds Flat facility in Oregon.
Both Winergy components have been in serial production since 2008, with more than 2.4 GW of installed capacity globally, the company said. The project features 338 GE 2.5 MW wind turbines. Winergy, therefore, supplied 338 of its 2.5 MW gearboxes and couplings.
Winergy’s American production plant was founded in 2001 and is with more than 7,000 gearbox installations the largest gearbox manufacturer for wind turbines in North America.
Regional Wind Energy Summit - Southwest
The Wind Industry Outlook for the Next Four Years
With the election behind us, we must forge ahead to tackle important obstacles in front of wind energy expansion in the United States. This event shares regional market trends, opportunities and post-election impacts on wind in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) service areas. Hosted in a state that leads the nation in overall wind installations, the Summit boasts timely information from regional wind energy experts, policy makers, and the industry's foremost company leaders.
Dec. 5-6 in Houston. Learn more.
AWEA Wind Environmental Health & Safety Seminar
Anticipate and prepare for today's safety challenges.
By definition, wind project operations and maintenance workers are constantly confronted with environmental, health, and safety issues—and just one accident can have a significant impact on productivity, absenteeism, and your overall business.
Wind technicians, managers, supervisors, engineers, and other wind energy professionals benefit from anticipating and preparing for these challenges. The AWEA Wind Environmental Health & Safety Seminar provides the knowledge and tools to build the foundation for a safe work environment.
June 16-17 in La Jolla, Calif. Learn more.
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Northwest
Whether you’re conducting investment research to decide on entering this market or are already highly involved in U.S. wind project development, you can’t miss this event, which provides a comprehensive analysis of current/near-term market conditions and opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. The session topics cover these key takeaways:
- Evaluate niche market plays for wind power in an increasingly competitive environment.
- Participate with regulators in a state policy roundtable on what's hot in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
- Understand what is driving demand for wind power by hearing from key policymakers.
- Examine electric utility perspectives on securing a cost-effective wind energy supply.
- Discover successful strategies to gain community acceptance.
- Explore the latest siting, transmission expansion and grid operations issues.
Feb. 19, 2013 Portland, Ore. Learn more.
Mexico WindPower 2013: Register at early bird rates before 31 December
Registration is now open for Mexico WindPower, which will take place Jan. 30-31, 2013 in Mexico City. This second edition will include a full exhibition together with a two-day conference that will cover the most topical issues faced by the wind industry in Mexico today. Participate in the conference to learn about ongoing projects in Mexico, the developments underway in wind farm construction and maintenance, and the most recent innovative technologies.
There are still a range of sponsorship opportunities available as well as booth space in the 5,000 sq. meter exhibition area. GWEC members are entitled to a 15 percent discount on exhibition space and delegate fees, in addition to the early bird reductions available.
Mexico WindPower is jointly organized by AMDEE (Mexican Wind Energy Association), GWEC and E.J. Krause.
More information can be found on the Mexico WindPower website [http://www.mexicowindpower.com.mx].
Volume 29, Issue 1509
|Wind Energy Weekly is a publication of the American Wind Energy Association and a service to its Members.
Upcoming AWEA Events:
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Southwest
December 5-6, 2012
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - West
January 14, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Project Operations, Maintenance & Reliability Seminar
January 15-16, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Environmental Health & Safety Seminar
January 16-17, 2013
La Jolla, Calif.
AWEA Wind Power on Capitol Hill
February 5-6, 2013
AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Northwest
February 19, 2013
AWEA Wind Project Siting Seminar
Febuary 20, 2013
AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition
May 5-8, 2013
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