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Boy, that Rand Paul is a piece of work huh?  I mean, it's as if he's a character from "The Colbert Report".  Stephen Colbert may sue Paul for copyright infringement.  I'm pretty sure Dr. Paul has no interest in renewable energy, since he feels BP has been treated unfairly by the President.  But plenty of us do, and this diary's for you.

Wind energy jobs are headed to Wisconsin:

Plans to build a sprawling factory that would make giant wind-turbine blades and create 600 jobs in north-central Wisconsin - the heart of the state's struggling paper industry - got a boost Tuesday when the state approved $45 million in bonding authority for the project.

Energy Composites Inc. also announced that it has purchased two pieces of land in Wisconsin Rapids to build the factory, which would make turbine blades for use in land and offshore wind farms.

The recovery zone bonds, created through the federal stimulus package, allow buyers of bonds issued in connection with the project to avoid federal taxes on the interest generated by the bonds, said Jamie Mancl, Energy Composites founder and president, in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch is going green:

Beer maker Anheuser-Busch has just announced the completion of a rooftop solar energy installation at its Newark, NJ brewery that will generate about 525,000 kilowatt hours a year. It’s the second installation for the company, which also uses solar power at its brewery in Fairfield, California. Given the flood of megawatt-scale renewable energy projects coming online, half a million kilowatts from a rooftop may sound like small potatoes but all those rooftops can add up when it comes to a giant of the manufacturing sector.

The Anheuser-Busch installation is significant because it helps set a standard for other global-scale brands. The company has almost half of the U.S. beer market and its global sales of Budweiser and Bud Light are world leaders. With its all-encompassing advertising, the iconic brewer has the potential to take solar energy squarely into the American mainstream.

Kentucky residents will have a chance to purchase green energy:

As part of the companies' Green Energy program, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company have issued a Request For Proposals for the supply of Renewable Energy Certificates created from renewable energy resources within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

A Renewable Energy Certificate, or REC as it's commonly known, represents the environmental benefits associated with the renewable electricity produced. A REC is issued for every megawatt-hour of electricity that is generated by a new renewable energy source. The request seeks proposals for up to 20,000 REC's per month for the period from June 2010 through December 2012...

Customers can join the LG&E and KU Green Energy program by voluntarily purchasing RECs in $5 blocks. Currently, the company guarantees it will purchase 300 kilowatt-hours for the $5. However, at the end of May, LG&E and KU will directly purchase the RECs and expects to increase the amount of RECs purchased per $5. Approximately 1,729 customers are currently enrolled in LG&E and KU's Green Energy program.

2009 saw a big increase in solar energy in the United States:

Despite the overall reduction in US electricity demand in 2009 – due to both the recession and to an increase in efficiency technology deployment; the top ten utilities in the nation added 66% more solar to the grid last year than the previous year, according to just released findings from the Solar Electric Power Association at the annual Utility Solar Conference.

The rankings included only utility-scale or aggregated distributed solar projects that were actually built or began construction in 2009, and several utilities that were directly involved in owning new solar projects. Installations on the utility side of the meter increased 267 percent from around 18 MW in 2008 to 65 MW in 2009 and made up 19 percent of the survey’s total, up from 9 percent the previous year.

A big wind energy project is headed to Washington:

Puget Sound Energy announced Wednesday it's beginning construction of its 343-megawatt Lower Snake River Wind Project in Garfield County, Wash.  The project will consist of 149 jumbo 2.3-megawatt wind turbines that will come from wind turbine manufacturer Siemens. When fully operational, they're expected to supply enough energy for 100,000 homes annually.

The project is not a one-site wind farm but--similar to the $1 billion wind energy complex in Texas--will be a connected system of turbines across various private lands.

About 40,000 acres of farmland will be utilized with farmers receiving energy royalty payments, as well as lease fees for the use of their land. Once the installation of the turbines is complete, 98 percent of the farmland on which the turbines sit will be able to be farmed as normal, according to PSE.

Recently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) asked GE to do a study on the impact of wind & solar energy in the western U.S.  The states involved were Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.  The results: Fuel and emission costs decrease as more wind and solar are added. Using 35 percent wind/solar will decrease fuel costs by 40 percent and carbon emissions by 25-45 percent by 2017, depending on the price of natural gas. This is the equivalent of removing 22-36 millions cars from the road.  CO2 emissions decrease as more wind and solar are added and the emission reductions are even greater if coal is displaced.

The complete study can be found here.

Maryland has made it easier for residents to buy electric vehicles:

When the Chevy Volt goes on sale later this year, it will be sold in 3 primary markets: Washington, DC, Michigan and California.

Because of its proximity to the DC market, as well as its investment in plug-in vehicles via Fisker, Maryland will offer a $2000 excise motor tax credit, in addition to the $7500 federal tax credit, for plug-in vehicles registered in that state.

Likewise, Maryland will also offer special HOV access to plug-in vehicles as well.

For more good news on electric vehicles, see this diary.

More good news from Maryland:

Under the state’s renewables portfolio standard (RPS), two percent of the state’s electricity mix is supposed to come from solar resources by 2022. Maryland Senate Bill (SB) 277, just passed, will accelerate the timetable under which utilities are required to meet that goal. Between 2011 and 2016, utilities will have to install more solar generating capacity than was previously required under Maryland’s RPS mandate. Bottom line: this means more solar in Maryland, sooner. SB 277 also raises the penalty utilities must pay if they fail to meet their RPS obligations. Known as the alternative compliance payment (ACP), this rate will increase by a nickel per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2011 and 2012, and by a dime/kWh between 2013 and 2016. According to the DSIRE database, the 2010 ACP is $0.40/kWh.

Bottom line: this raises the relative price competitiveness of solar energy technologies, like solar panels. The Maryland Clean Energy Incentive Act of 2010 (House Bill 464) extends a clean energy tax credit through 2015, which will be a great boon to buyers interested in residential solar or commercial solar installations. The credit is based on production — that is, on the amount of kWhs generated by solar panels or other qualifying renewable energy systems. HB 464 not only extends the Maryland solar tax credit, it also: (1) ensures that buyers don’t receive an initial credit worth less than $1,000, and (2) makes the credit refundable, which means buyers will get back any remaining unused credit in the form of a check. Bottom line: the Maryland solar tax credit has been resurrected for a few more years and it’s worth taking advantage of.

A big solar investment is coming to the southwestern U.S.:

BrightSource Energy has raised $150 million to fund the construction of large solar power plants in the southwest U.S. over the next six years, the company said Thursday.  The money will be used to develop a planned 2,610 megawatts of solar power under contract from utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The company also plans to expand internationally.

In all, BrightSource Energy plans to build 14 power plants between now and 2016 in the desert areas of the southwest U.S., where its concentrating-solar technology works best. The plants would provide enough electricity hundreds of thousands of U.S. homes.  The company expects to start construction later this year of the Ivanpah solar project in California, for which it received a $1.37 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

BrightSource Energy technology uses the sun's heat to make steam, which is passed through a turbine to generate electricity. Its plants are made up of fields of ground-mounted mirrors that reflect light onto a tower, which heats up a liquid to make steam.

The greening of the U.S. military continues:

In addition to adding solar-electric systems to bases throughout the nation, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are installing solar water heating as well.

Military housing developer Actus Lend Lease and solar company FLS Energy have announced the largest residential solar thermal initiative in the continental U.S.: a project to add solar water heating to 900 homes at the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Generating hot water typically accounts for about one-fourth of the annual energy usage in a four-person U.S. household. The Camp Lejeune project is expected to provide for about 75 percent of the hot-water demand for homes with these systems in the community.

Wind energy is expanding in the northeast:

The Vermont Public Service Board gave the go-ahead yesterday for power deals for Green Mountain Power (GMP) and Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) to source renewable energy from the Granite Reliable Wind project.

The wind farm in Coos County, NH, is set to comprise 33 Vestas wind turbines, each rated to produce up to 3MW output.
CVPS will purchase 30.3% of the wind farm’s output from developer Noble

Environmental Power, while GMP will purchase 25%.
The agreements run for 20 years, starting April 1, 2012, and are expected to provide about 4% of each utility’s annual energy supplies.

Wind energy jobs are headed to Arkansas:

Another wind energy company has decided to set up shop in Arkansas, with Osceola the potential beneficiary of up to 500 jobs.

Beckmann Volmer announced Thursday (May 20) it’s plans to build a manufacturing operation that will supply turbine frames to the Nordex wind-turbine manufacturing plant in Jonesboro.

Beckmann said it will invest $10 million in the new plant and initially employ 300 at an average wage of $18 per hour.

Iowa continues to be a leader in wind energy:

Efforts to bring a wind blade manufacturing company, TPI to Sioux City are moving right along after tax incentives were approved by the state today.

Now it's all up to the company if they want to build a new plant in town.
Plans for a wind blade manufacturing plant currently in the works for the Southbridge Development Area could bring in more than 500 jobs and further development for the entire area.  With so much at stake, the first steps of the project becoming a reality came down to a vote this morning.

"The department of economic development board this morning approved the exciting wind energy project for Sioux City!" Said Iowa Governor Chet Culver during a campaign stop in Sioux City.

Senator Mark Udall of Colorado has authored solar energy legislation.  It includes:

The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act would make it easier for schools to access grants and programs allowing them to utilize new energy sources. The grants and programs are currently available through several different agencies, but Udall’s measure would create a "one-stop-shop" through the Department of Energy. "I hear from school officials frustration that they can’t easily find ways to save on energy costs," Udall said yesterday during a conference call with reporters. "If you’re a school principal or school superintendent, if you can save energy, that money goes right to the bottom line like it does for any business Ń you can use it for any number of other needs."

The Electric Consumer Right to Know Act would simply allow consumers with Smart Meters to access electrical meter readings. Udall said he’s heard from constituents with Smart Meters that they are trying to save energy by monitoring energy use, but that their electric companies won’t provide them with access to the meter readings.  Smart Meters are advanced meters that identify consumption.

Udall also announced the Renewable Energy Market Access Program (REMAP) Act, which aims to assist businesses sell their new energy products abroad by allowing trade associations to enter into cooperative agreements providing marketing and trade assistance. The assistance could come in the form of helping with language barriers to educating foreign buyers about U.S. new energy products.

And finally, a new study (PDF) claims that the American Power Act, AKA Kerry/Lieberman, would have a dramatic impact on our economy.  From the NYT:

Senate climate legislation unveiled last week would spark a decade of multibillion-dollar investments to help overhaul how the nation produces and consumes energy, adding 200,000 jobs per year in the construction of new power plants and through greater demand for biofuels, according to a nonpartisan study (pdf) released today.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics said in its 18-page report that the bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) creates the new jobs between 2011 and 2020 because of its mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, which will prompt $41.1 billion in investments per year as the nation shifts away from traditional fossil fuels like coal and oil and toward new nuclear power and renewables.

eKos Earthship

Originally posted to mark louis on Fri May 21, 2010 at 02:51 PM PDT.

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