As reported by EIA’s Energy in Brief

Worldwide wind power generation exceeded 200 billion kilowatthours in 2008, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of over 18 million average households in the United States. Wind generation increased by about 25% from 2007 to 2008, and has more than tripled since 2003. This growth is mostly due to capacity increases in the United States, China, India, and Western Europe. Despite this growth, the world still generated less than 1% of its total electricity from wind power in 2008.

Line chart showing the increase in wind electricity generation by region from 1980 - 2008. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Pie chart showing the contribution to global wind generation in 2008. United States 25.1%; Germany 18.5%; Spain 14.5%; India 7.2%, China 6.2%, United Kingdom 3.3%; Denmark 3.2%; Italy 3.0%; France 2.6%; Portugal 2.6% and Rest of World 13.9%. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Bar graph showing the share of total electricity generation from wind in 2008. United States 1.3%; Germany 6.5%; Ireland 8.6%; Spain 10.4%; Portugal 12.6% and Denmark 19.2%. Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics

Did You Know?

A feed-in tariff is a financial incentive that encourages the adoption of renewable electricity. Under a feed-in tariff, government legislation requires electric utilities to purchase renewable electricity at a higher price than the wholesale price. This incentive allows the renewable generator to achieve a positive return on its investment despite the higher costs associated with these resources.

Did You Know?

Because the wind does not blow 24 hours a day and because the timing of it cannot be controlled, electricity from wind is not available on demand. Although wind makes up a significant portion of Denmark’s generation capacity, the intermittent nature of wind has been mitigated by the connection of the Danish electrical grid to the grids of Germany, Sweden, and Norway. These interconnections allow Denmark to export electricity when wind power generation exceeds demand and import electricity when there is not enough wind.

The United States Generated the Most Wind Electricity in 2008

Overtaking the previous leader Germany, the United States led all other countries in wind power generation in 2008. The remaining top-ten wind power generators, listed in descending order, were Spain, India, China, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, and France. Although about 60 countries reported significant wind power generation in 2008, these top-ten countries accounted for more than 85% of all wind generation worldwide. Wind generation in China has grown an average of 70% annually since 2003, in spite of delays in bringing some of its new capacity online.

Denmark Generates the Highest Percentage of its Electricity Supply from Wind

Nearly 20% of Denmark’s electricity generation came from wind in 2008. The next highest levels of wind penetration are found in Portugal at 13%, Spain at 10%, Ireland at 9%, and Germany at 7%. No other country surpassed 5% penetration, including the United States, which generated over 1% of its electricity from wind in 2008.

Less than 2% of Global Wind Capacity is Offshore

According to the World and European Wind Energy Associations, installed global wind capacity reached 159,000 megawatts by the end of 2009, with only about 2,000 MW of that total located offshore. Offshore development lags behind onshore generally due to higher costs and technology constraints. Western Europe is home to nearly all existing offshore capacity — although prototype turbines for China’s first offshore farm were connected to the grid in 2009. As of June 2010, there are no operating offshore wind farms in the United States, although the 420-megawatt Cape Wind offshore project off the Massachusetts coast had secured local, State, and Federal approval as of April 2010.

Wind Power Generation is Expected to Continue Growing

Over the lifetime of the plant, electricity from wind power generally costs more than electricity from power plants burning fossil fuels.1 However, wind power is expected to continue to grow worldwide because of favorable government policies. Multiple types of government support exist, including a production tax credit and State renewable electricity portfolio standards in the United States, a feed-in tariff (see the “Did You Know” box on the left) in Germany, and wind capacity targets in China. According to EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2010, wind generation is expected to account for more than 3% of total world electricity by 2020.

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Joel Page for The New York Times

Turbine blades bound for a wind farm on Kibby Mountain, Me. The technology has changed, but energy turf wars are familiar.

By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: July 13, 2009

WASHINGTON — While most lawmakers accept that more renewable energy is needed on the nation’s grid, the debate over the giant climate-change and energy bill now before Congress is exposing a fundamental rift. For many players, the energy not only has to be clean and free of carbon-dioxide emissions, it also has to be generated nearby.

The division has set off a fight between Eastern and Midwestern politicians and grid officials over parts of the bill dealing with transmission lines and solar and wind energy. Many officials, including President Obama, say that the grid is antiquated and that thousands of miles of new power lines are needed to allow construction of wind farms and solar fields in the most promising spots. Many of the best wind sites are in the Midwest, far from the electric load in populous East Coast cities.

An influential coalition of East Coast governors and power companies fears that building wind and solar sites in the Midwest would cause their region to miss out on jobs and other economic benefits. The coalition is therefore trying to block a mandate for transcontinental lines.

They want the wind farms built in rural New England and offshore from Massachusetts to Delaware, and for now it appears that they may get a chance to do that. They are campaigning to keep a provision out of the legislation that would mandate a huge super-high-voltage grid, with the cost spread among millions of electric customers.

“While we support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist,” the governors warned in a May 4 letter to House and Senate leaders, “this ratepayer-funded revenue guarantee for land-based wind and other generation resources in the Great Plains would have significant, negative consequences for our region.”

Dan W. Reicher, an assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration who now leads energy initiatives at Google, said the debate exposed a conundrum. “The areas with the most attractive renewable energy resources often don’t overlap with the places where the push for job creation is strongest,” Mr. Reicher said.

For example, a wind machine in North Dakota would produce more energy than the same machine in some Eastern states — but energy projects tend to get built in places where they are most wanted.

The East Coast advocates may have won a crucial first round. When the House passed its sweeping energy and climate-change bill on June 26, it included a provision that lets the federal government overrule state objections to new power lines — but only west of the Rockies. Western states would be unlikely to oppose the new power lines in any case: the region has long been accustomed to huge generation projects built at a great distance from load centers.

But the bill would not give the federal government a mandate to overrule the Eastern states on transmission lines. The issue will be on the table again as the Senate takes up the bill in the next few weeks.

A two-year effort by transmission authorities in the eastern half of the country to draw up plans for a strong grid collapsed after grid officials in New York and New England pulled out, saying that the plans were too centered on moving Midwestern energy eastward.

In an interview, Ian A. Bowles, the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said he questioned “whether or not we need national transmission legislation at all.”

Mr. Bowles suggested that all Congress needed to do was impose a cap on carbon-dioxide emissions and mandate a national renewable energy quota. Then the market could determine whether resources should be in distant spots with long transmission lines or places closer to load centers, he said.

The debate echoes others in past years about whether to build conventional power plants locally or build stronger connections to distant conventional plants.

The governors’ concern, said James B. Robb, a senior vice president of Northeast Utilities, was not only the optimal cost and use of the electricity but also “any fringes that come along with it — the local tax base, local employment, all those kinds of things.”

For years, some planners have talked about a grid powerful enough to allow for “postage-stamp rates,” transmission charges that are small and independent of distance, so that power will be produced wherever it is most economical, even if that is half a continent away from where it is needed. But for local economic reasons some people resisted that idea, even in the days before tapping wind on the plains and sun in the desert became a national goal.

And a weak grid helps some electric companies. Local generators have often been able to charge more by being in the right place at the right time, with no competition because the long-distance lines are already fully loaded, experts say.

“When you have a constrained transmission system and you seek to unconstrain it,” said Mary Ellen Paravalos, the vice president for transmission at National Grid, a New York and New England company, some local parties stand to lose. This is true “even if the wider societal benefit is net positive,” Ms. Paravalos said.

Complicating the debate, many proposed power lines that could carry renewable energy to market could also end up carrying coal-fired power. An improved national grid would end the situation that prevails at many hours in the East today, when coal plants that can produce power cheaply sit idle while cleaner natural gas plants are running full tilt, able to sell their more expensive power because grid traffic is so bad that the coal power cannot reach the market.

That configuration costs consumers money but also reduces emissions of the carbon-dioxide emissions that cause climate change. So contrary to expectations, one effect of a stronger grid, although ardently sought by supporters of renewable energy, could be to push costs down but nudge coal-fired emissions up.

But the basic conflict remains distant energy versus local energy.

“Some states dealing with this issue see it not only as an environmental and least-cost-supply question but also as a potential economic development tool,” said Branko Terzic, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates some power lines.

Mr. Terzic added, “Those three goals are not always concurrent and could be in conflict.”

Thursday July 16, 2009

In just a few short years, the Garden State has become the Sunshine State

BY JOE TYRRELL
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

As Congress wrestles with national energy policies and gubernatorial candidates tout their plans here, New Jersey officials say the state deserves credit as a leader in promoting solar power.

In just a few years of coordinated efforts, New Jersey has gone from a non-factor to number two among the states in solar installations connected to the power grid. While far behind California, New Jersey currently generates about twice as many solar kilowatt hours as number three Colorado.

While applauding the gains, many in the industry also say the state, like the nation, has fallen well short of performance goals. New Jersey rose to the top of solar charts in a period when there was little competition from other states.

Now, as the federal government begins to pay attention to renewable energy, New Jersey is in the midst of a challenging transition away from an easy to understand program, which gave rebates to install solar power cells.

The new program shifts the focus away from consumers to utility companies and investors by creating a marketplace for renewable energy credits. The concept has its supporters, though many are more hopeful than confident.

Still, at a time when solar businesses believe the technology is on the verge of a belated boom in the United States, recent New Jersey statistics wowed some attendees at a recent industry conference in Philadelphia.

“Making this even more remarkable is that in 2001 New Jersey had only six” solar cell installations connected to the power grid, compared to more than 4,000 today, wrote Bob Haavind of Photovoltaics World.

His report can be viewed here.

During the session, the state’s top regulator, Board of Public Utilities President Jeanne Fox, proclaimed that when it comes to government policy, New Jersey is “the best place to do solar in the country.”

Around the country, many in solar trade groups and businesses credit New Jersey for showing what a small, partly cloudy state can do to grab its place in the sun.

“Obviously what they have been doing has worked,” said Monique Hanis, director of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C.

“What makes New Jersey stand out is the specific language in the state’s energy master plan, calling for the generation of 2.1 percent of its electricity to be coming from solar in 2021,” said Neal Lurie, director of marketing and communications for the American Solar Energy Society of Boulder, Colo.

Closer to home, though, reactions are more muted.

The rebate program “came out of advocacy” by solar power proponents, “it was not a BPU idea,” said Delores Phillips, the society’s Mid-Atlantic executive director.

Even with improving technology and rising costs for fossil fuels, the cost of solar power remains higher than those dirtier energy sources. Solar advocates maintain other forms of energy benefit directly and indirectly from government subsidies, such as state funds to decommission nuclear facilities, or cleanups of coal ash landfills.

New Jersey’s small spurt of solar power materialized during a BPU rebate program that turned out to be too popular for the board’s limited financial commitment. The initial surge in applications eventually bogged down as the release of funds slowed.

So the board decided on an innovative approach, creating financial instruments, solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs. The idea is that investors buy credits from solar producers, each pegged to 1 megawatt of power. The investors help producers expand, while reaping benefits from energy sales to utilities.

“We’re all looking to see how it’s going to make out,” Hanis said.

Compared to the rebates, grants or tax credits offered elsewhere, New Jersey’s approach is more ambitious but “still a little bit vague for some people,” she said.

“It’s not really tried and tested,” Phillips said, adding it requires two inter-related factors to success.

To be attractive to investors, SRECs need to be based on reliable values, meaning utilities must contract for long-term power purchases, she said. To serve those utilities, the investments must finance enough power to meet their requirements for more clean power, she said.

Judged on that basis, “New Jersey’s program is good, but only half as good as they said it was going to be,” said Edward O’Brien, a partner in McConnell Energy Solutions of Wilmington, De. Last year, instead of a projected 90 megawatts of solar power, the state was at 45, the result of continuing uncertainty over credit values, he said.

The theory is simple, O’Brien said. While not completely supplanting the mom-and-pop approach to solar panels, securitizing the solar marketplace should put it on the same funding as other major energy sources.

“Why are you out putting solar panels up on your house, which is hard to do, instead of buying five kilowatts worth of solar power from some producer?” O’Brien said.

In practice, though, the SREC system “has not been fully thought out,” he said.

Added to the current recession, investors are cautious because of America’s patchwork of energy policies and regulations, which vary from state to state, O’Brien said. States have not helped by altering programs, he said.

“Every state is different, and every state has a bait-and-switch,” O’Brien said.

Still, he is optimistic that New Jersey will regain its momentum, and others in the field view the problems as a hiccough in the growth of solar power.

In the short-run, “there could be a shake-out” during the transition from rebates, said Rick Brooke of Jersey Solar in Hopewell. But 25 years in the business and a number of false dawns, this opportunity looks golden.

As long as the state SREC market allows small systems to participate, people who installed solar panels on the roofs of their homes or businesses still have a chance to participate, Brooke said.

Moreover, people in the industry are expecting good things from the energy bill making its way through Congress. Nearby states have launched incentive programs, whether inspired by New Jersey or California, which has roughly two-thirds of the nation’s grid-connected solar systems, Brooke said.

“It’s a good time to be in the business,” he said. “The state is committed to it, they have goals. People are moving ahead with it. Before, the interest came and went, but now it’s here.”

Rebates and SRECs are not the only way to support the growth of solar power. This month, Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie each highlighted their support for renewable energy.

Democrat Corzine was able to announce the availability $20 million in federal grants for projects at public institutions in the state. Christie promised to create a new agency to promote clean energy technology and jobs, and would remove those functions from the BPU.

The Republican’s approach seemingly echoes Phillips’ complaints about the board’s “antiquated” procedures and primary purpose to regulate rates. But she said members of her association “were very underwhelmed by Chris Christie’s plan,” because it looks at the big picture and avoids the nitty-gritty.

While the Corzine Administration has set laudable goals for increasing clean energy, Phillips said most of the growth in solar power can be traced to his predecessor, former Gov. Jim McGreevey. There’s been “some stagnation” in state efforts since then, she said.

“Everybody likes to talk about clean energy job creation, but nobody explains how they’re going to do it,” she said.

Whether the New Jersey approach catches on remains uncertain. Around the nation, some communities are coming up with their own answers. Many solar advocates are looking beyond America to more successful programs abroad.

For more information on state incentives for renewable energy, visit njcleanenergy.com.

Our Perspective:

NJ has made great strides to join the alternative energy evolution. Not to say it is perfect, but for the first time people can see an acceleraed return on their investment that makes sense.

Rebates for systems under 5okw and the REC program has allowed funding to help underwrite these investments. Add the Federal incentives of a 30% tax credit and accelerated depreciation and the market is positioned to take off.

Would you like to know more? Contact us 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com.

We can provide an overview of your return on investment and help to develop the opportunity and make it become a reality.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

ANGELA CHARLTON | May 28, 2009 05:01 PM EST | AP

PARIS — The top U.S. environment official says it’s time for the United States to shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.

After several years with a relatively low profile under President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “is back on the job,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday during a trip to Paris.

What the EPA does domestically this year will be watched closely overseas. Nations worldwide are working toward a major meeting in Copenhagen in December aimed at producing a new global climate pact. The U.S. position on curbing its own pollution and helping poor countries adapt to global warming is seen as key to any new pact.

Jackson was in Paris for international talks on how rich governments can include global climate concerns in overall development aid.

She dismissed worries that economic downturn was cutting into aid commitments or investment in new energy resources. She said the United States should take the lead on clean energy technology, recession or no.

“We have to get in the race now _ and win it,” she said. “I don’t expect a moving backwards because of recession.”

At climate talks in Paris earlier this week, European environment ministers welcomed greater U.S. commitment to environmental issues under the Obama administration _ but said it still wasn’t aiming high enough in its targets for cutting U.S. emissions.

Jackson said a shift in the American mindset is only beginning.

Talking about energy efficiency and saying companies should pay to pollute _ “that’s a revolutionary message for our country,” she said.

For a long time, she said, “People didn’t even expect the EPA to show up” at events, much less set policies that could be seen as examples for the rest of the world.

“Now it seems like every day we’re rolling back or reconsidering a Bush era policy on clean air,” she said.

She said it was time for the United States to take a more active role in limiting chemical pollutants, after falling behind Europe in that domain.

The U.S. also has lessons to learn from countries such as the Netherlands, she said, after visiting its low-lying, flood-prone lands to study ways cities like her native New Orleans can better manage water.

Our Perspective:

It is good to hear the administration making positive comments about our energy’s future. Alternative energy is a growth business and the correct path for insuring our future energy indepenence.

Let us know your thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com

Would you like to know more about the financial opportunities that drive this investment. Feel free to contct us.

May 15, 2009, 8:15 am

SolarKirk J. Condyles for The New York Times Not all homeowners associations approve of this sort of thing.

John Wood, a homeowner in Woodbury, Minn., wanted to put solar panels on his roof. Last month, his homeowners association rejected his application.

“I felt extremely disappointed,” Mr. Wood said by telephone.

He added: “It made me think that homeowners associations are in place to do only one thing, and that is to maintain the status quo, and they have no interest in any sort of change whatsoever.”

Al Rudnickas, the president of the board of the Wedgewood Association, the homeowners’ group, said that the board was open to less obtrusive technologies like solar shingles. But in this case, “The feeling of the board was that what was proposed wasn’t aesthetically pleasing in keeping with the standards of the community,” he said.

Mr. Rudnickas said that the association invited Mr. Wood to submit a modified application, but Mr. Wood — who is the first homeowner in the association to apply for solar panels — said he was not sure whether he will do so.

Mr. Wood’s case, first reported in the Woodbury Bulletin, has echoes around the nation.

 

In Somerset County in New Jersey, a homeowner was ordered to take down 28 panels.

In California, another homeowner, Marc Weinberger, sued his homeowners association last year after his efforts to put solar panels on his roof were rejected.

Mr. Weinberger and his lawyer, Michael McQueen, have since told Green Inc. that their motion for summary judgment was granted, and Mr. Weinberger installed a system early this year.

In another California case, Marty Griffin, a homeowner in Santa Clarita, applied to put solar panels on a hillside on his property. The association said no, but he went ahead anyway and got sued.

The litigation has been under way for more than a year. Mr. Griffin says the association did not respond in a timely way to his application; a lawyer for the association, Ricardo Cestero, told Green Inc. that Mr. Griffin “did not follow correct procedures.”

Mr. Griffin details his saga, including legal documents, on his Web site.

For solar installers, the roadblocks can be frustrating. John Berger, the chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, a Houston-based firm that designs and installs solar systems for homes, said that the homeowner associations’ prohibitions had already cost him more than $1 million in business.

“It is a big problem,” he said.

Lawmakers in Texas are considering a bill that would prevent homeowner associations from banning solar panels, and similar laws are already in place in a dozen or more states, according to the Database of State Initiatives for Renewable Energy — including Arizona, Colorado, Florida and California, among others.

Mr. Wood said he planned to contact his state legislators in the hopes of enacting this type of law in Minnesota.

The laws, however, are rarely comprehensive, as some of the California cases suggest.

Rusty Haynes, a project manager at the North Carolina Solar Center, which manages the D.S.I.R.E. database, said that some applied only to new construction, and others might be vague or limited in scope.

In Arizona a few years ago, a homeowner was challenged over the color of her panels (they were apparently too dark), despite a state law intended to smooth the process.

Has this happened in your community? Is this an issue for you? Feel free to comment below, or e-mail george@hbsadvantage.com

by Brian T. Murray/The Star-Ledger

Sunday April 05, 2009, 7:12 AM

The relicensing last week of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, guarantees that nuclear energy is here to stay in New Jersey, for at least a few more decades, even as state officials continue to push alternative sources of energy.

The Garden State draws about 53 percent of its electricity from four nuclear plants — a reliance on nuclear energy far above the national average of about 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Along with Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, which was cleared by federal regulators for a new license on Thursday to operate another 20 years, the state’s electricity flows from the Hope Creek and the twin Salem Creek reactors in Salem County.

 

“Right now, one of every two households in New Jersey gets its electricity from nuclear energy. If you take nuclear energy off line, where will the energy come from?” said David Benson, a spokesman for Oyster Creek.

Gov. Jon Corzine has vowed to have 30 percent of the state’s electricity produced through wind and solar power by 2020 — an initiative that even his supporters call ambitious.

Renewable sources, including solar, wind and landfill gases, currently provide only 3 percent of New Jersey’s electrical energy. Coal-burning plants generate 20 percent, natural gas generates 21 percent and petroleum plants generate 16 percent.

Even critics acknowledge that New Jersey’s nukes are not about to be replaced.

“We know it will take at least 20 years, maybe longer, for us to generate enough power to replace them. We would like it to be quicker, but we know they are not going away anytime soon. … Our issue is, we need to find cleaner, safer, more reliable sources,” said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Sierra and the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group allege Oyster Creek is unsafe because of corrosion found in the late 1980s in the drywell liner or shell that encases the reactor. Federal regulators contend the problem has been repaired and the plant is safe.

Regardless, NJPIRG contends renewable power is safer — and that all four nuclear plants could be replaced by 2,139 windmills.

“That being said, efficiency improves every year in wind turbine technology, unlike nuclear generation, and over the next decade will increase dramatically, making it highly unlikely that we would need anywhere near that number,” said Jacob Koetsier of NJPIRG.

“In 2005, Congress passed a subsidy bill that included $5.7 billion in operating subsidies for the nuclear industry and $2 billion to insure companies for costs in delays in getting licenses for six new reactors. If that kind of money had been switched to renewable energy back then, we’d already be up and running,” he added.

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

But windmills require miles of space, and plans to begin erecting about 300 of them off the Jersey Shore have divided even environmental groups, with some organizations fearing a negative impact on marine life. The potential costs pose a greater obstacle.

“The Department of Energy’s own numbers estimate the cost of offshore wind will be more than twice that of coal, twice that of advanced nuclear, with or without government subsidies. There is reason you don’t have a lot of wind power — it is more expensive,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington, D.C. research group that supports free-market models for energy production.

The statistics were cited as projected consumer costs in the Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2009. While market prices on energy may fluctuate, Kish said windmill power also faces the added financial complexities of bringing the new electrical power into the nation’s existing power grid — the national system by which power is delivered to households and businesses.

The problem is being realized in Texas, which is leading the nation in developing renewable energy sources, but must expand its grid to deliver it.

“To anybody who believes New Jersey is going to be 30 percent on solar panels and wind power by 2020, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. It’s just not going to happen,” Kish said.

Additionally, the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. That raises concerns about what is known in the energy industry as “baseload” — the ability to constantly generate electrical energy, as do nuclear and coal plants.

“But that is more of an issue for land-based wind-turbines,” Tittel countered. “The further offshore you go, which New Jersey plans to do, the steadier the wind. The efficiency increases 60 percent offshore, as opposed to 30 percent on land.”

While building windmills may have obstacles, so does a future reliance on nuclear energy, experts say.

The nation’s 104 existing plants are operating at about 90 percent, and no new ones are being built largely because federal officials have not determined where to bury the radioactive waste and there is a 30-year-old federal prohibition against reusing it.

There also is the growing price-tag on building new reactors — $7.5 million for a 1,000 megawatt facility such as the ones in Hope Creek and Salem Creek, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission figures released last year.

Austin, Texas, is getting closer to its self-imposed goal of using more renewable energy, and creating jobs in the bargain. The Texas-sized solar plant being planned would be the largest in the Unite States, according to Austin Energy.

The Council approved an agreement under which the City’s municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy, will purchase all of the electricity produced over a 25-year term by a 30 megawatt (MW) solar project to be built on city-owned property located about 20 miles from downtown Austin.
Gemini Solar Development Company, LLC, one of 15 companies competing for the massive project, will construct, own and manage the solar facility. The project of photovoltaic solar panels will span approximately 320 acres, producing energy each year sufficient to power about 5,000 homes. Austin Energy will pay about $10 million per year for the power.

The solar project represents a major step towards fulfilling a Council goal to develop 100 MW of solar capacity for Austin by 2020. The Council also has set a goal that 30 percent of the power delivered to customers by Austin Energy by 2020 will come from renewable resources. Construction on the project is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2010 and completed by the end of that year. The project will result in at least 600 local construction jobs.

 

The Austin American-Statesman said that critics remain — they’re worried about the financial
aspects of the plan, like how much the power will cost.

By unanimous vote, the council approved a partnership with Gemini Solar Development Co. to build and operate the facility and sell all its power to Austin at $10 million a year for 25 years. City officials say it would help them get closer to the city’s goal of using more renewable energy.
Other questions remain that critics said they would raise at the meeting. The city won’t say how much the power from the plant would cost, although most estimates are around 16.5 cents a kilowatt hour — more than most other types of power. Even that calculation is foggy, though, because federal tax credits could reduce the construction cost, thus making the electricity cheaper. But the city isn’t sure how much cheaper. The credits weren’t factored into Gemini Solar Development’s pitch.

As reported in NJ Biz Written by Shankar P

Vineland and Ocean City are implementing ambitious programs to attract investments in renewable energy, particularly solar power, and their city administrations are leading by example. Investors from across the world are showing interest in their projects, according to municipal officials in both cities.

New Jersey has the second-biggest solar energy program in the country, according to Mark Sinclair, executive director of the Montpelier, Vt.-based Clean Energy States Alliance, an organization of 20 states with renewable energy programs.

Vineland is the state’s only city with its own electricity-generating plant, but the 100-megawatt facility uses coal and oil as fuels, and needs replacement, said James Lelli, the city’s director of economic development. The city plans to replace the plant with one operating on solar power, and also build a 60-megawatt natural gas generator, financed by a $60 million bond issue, by 2012.

Five companies have shown interest in building a solar panel farm to supply the city’s needs, including one from China, Lelli said. The city is negotiating with some of the interested parties, and expects to make an announcement soon. Power generated at the plant would be sold to the regional grid, he said.

One of the proposals is to build a 50-megawatt solar panel farm at a cost of some $150 million, Lelli said. About 300 acres would be needed to generate that much power; the city already has earmarked 100 acres for the farm and a 100,000-square-foot plant building, he said. All that land would cost the prospective investor $4.5 million at the prevailing market rate of $45,000 an acre, he added.

Vineland has kept the site shovel ready, with utility infrastructure and an industrial zoning status, Lelli said. He expects to have a deal by the year’s end, and the solar farm up and running nine months afterward.

Vineland also last week signed a deal with utility company Conectiv to build a 4-megawatt solar farm in the city, Lelli said.

Ocean City, another old hand at implementing green projects, is also exploring a plan to band together business owners who might want to install solar panels on their premises. Together, they would be able to justify the investment in solar panels that might otherwise not be feasible, said Jim Rutala, Ocean City’s business administrator.

Rutala said over the past month, the city has been in talks with several businesses about solar energy plans, and that Nicholas Asselta, commissioner of the state Board of Public Utilities, is helping in the process.

Ocean City, in fact, has one of the state’s largest municipal solar energy projects, Rutala said. In February, it completed an ambitious project to install 1,800 panels on five city-owned buildings, providing 550,000 kilowatt-hours. It plans to extend panel installation to another half-dozen buildings, he added.

The city chose Entech Solar Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, through a competitive bidding process to install the required infrastructure, he added. The solar project deal allowed Ocean City to lower its energy costs as Entech earns a return on its investment, Rutala said; the city sells leftover power to the regional grid.

The deal also allows the city to purchase its power at a concessional price of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, said Jim Bryan, commercial and municipal markets manager at Entech in its Ewing offices. That price could go down to as low as 2.5 cents after factoring in the value of tradable renewable energy certificates the city gets, he said. The prevailing price of such electricity would be between 12 and 18 cents a kilowatt-hour, he said.

Entech makes its money in the turnkey construction of the solar energy project, and was helped by a $1.5 million BPU rebate, Bryan said. But New Jersey now is moving away from rebates, to a more market-based mechanism to power such projects.

Our Perspective:

This is a big step. We have clients in Vineland and I have read the story about this proposed conversion.

This makes perfect sense. Solar is a true Clean Energy Alternative that can help support Vineland’s Municipal Utility sustainability.

Should you like to know more about the proper financial structure needed for these initiatives, you may call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com.

We will show you how to properly structure the deal and take advantage of all the Federal and State initives that will lower your ROI.

HBS….Tomorrow’s Clean Energy…Today!

New Jersey is commited to alternative energy development. Below is an outline of the updated rebate program.

Should you want to know more about structuring your investment in alternative energy, contact Hutchinson Business Solutions

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Last DSIRE Review: 02/02/2009  

Incentive Type: State Rebate Program
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Anaerobic Digestion, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Nonprofit, Schools, Local Government, State Government, Tribal Government, Fed. Government, Institutional
Incentive Amount: $0.15 – $5/W DC (varies by technology, capacity and applicant type); bonus rebate of $0.25/W is available for New Jersey sourced systems and equipment.
Maximum Incentive: Determined by capacity and rebate amounts for PV;
60% of eligible costs for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems up to 10 kW;
30% for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems greater than 10 kW;
For wind energy systems, 120% of estimated system performance at a reference wind speed of 11.4 mph
Eligible System Size: Residential PV: 10 kW DC maximum
Non-residential PV: 50 kW DC maximum
Fuel Cells and Sustainable Biomass: 1 MW AC maximum
Wind: 750,000 kWh annual energy production maximum
Output should not exceed 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) consumption.
Equipment Requirements: Systems must be new, UL-listed (PV), in compliance with all applicable performance and safety standards, and must carry a minimum 5-year warranty on all equipment.
Installation Requirements: Installation must comply with all federal, state and local codes; must meet detailed siting criteria specified in program guidelines
Program Budget: $47,297,167 (new 2009 funding for all technologies)
Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Remains with project owner
Funding Source: New Jersey Societal Benefits Charge
Expiration Date 2009 Program Opening Date: 02/03/2009
Closing Date, First Cycle: 04/30/2009 (funding cycles only apply to PV)
Project Review/Certification OCE has a right to inspect all systems prior to issuing rebate
Website: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/
renewable-energy/programs/renewable-energy-incentive-program
Authority 1: N.J. Stat. § 48:3-60 (2008)
Date Enacted: 1999
Effective Date: March 2001 (for rebate program)

 


Summary:

  Note: The incentive amounts listed below are available for 2009 program year applications. Systems that are not eligible to receive rebates remain eligible to generate Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and may be eligible for specialized programs based in the SREC market.  
 
New Jersey’s 1999 electric restructuring legislation provides for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy through a “Societal Benefits Charge” (SBC) collected from all customers of electric public utilities. In March 2001, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved funding for renewable-energy programs, including a customer-sited renewables rebate program for homes, businesses, institutions and non-profits.  
 
Eligible technologies include fuel cells, photovoltaic (PV) systems, small wind-energy systems and/or sustainable biomass-energy technologies. Systems must have at least a five-year, all-inclusive warranty. Eligible systems should be sized to produce no more than 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) amount of electricity consumed at a system’s site. It is important to note that system capacity limits and rebate amounts (including those for system additions) are calculated on a “per site” basis. In other words, for program purposes multiple systems on the same parcel or located on adjacent or contiguous properties under common ownership are aggregated together as a single system.  
 
In addition, effective January 28, 2008, all agricultural, commercial, industrial, non-profit and SUNLIT customers must apply for a receive a Tax Clearance Certificate from the New Jersey Division of Taxation in order to be eligible for financial assistance under this program. The objective of this new requirement is to ensure that all recipients of taxpayer funded support are in full compliance with their state tax obligations. This mandate does not affect residential customers.  
 
PV Systems  
PV systems (also known as solar-electric systems) are eligible for incentives based on the rated DC capacity of the system installed and the applicable sector. Under the 2009 program residential systems up to 10 kW and non-residential systems up to 50 kW are are eligible for incentives. In the past rebates have been reduced by 15% for owner-installed systems, although this distinction does not appear on the 2009 applications. Residential customers that participate in the OCE Home Performance with Energy Star or the Residential New Home Construction programs are eligible for slightly higher incentives.  
 
Beginning in 2009, incentive levels will be decreased as certain installed capacity benchmarks (6 MW per block) are reached. The standard incentive decline is expected to be $0.20/W at the end of each capacity block, although this may be adjusted based on how rapidly the capacity benchmarks are reached. In order to avoid the creation of lengthy application queues, the program will operate using 4-month funding cycles. Applicants that do not make it into a funding cycle must reapply once the next cycle opens. Below are the initial rebate levels for new 2009 applications:

  • Standard Residential (10 kW maximum): $1.55 per watt  
  • Residential w/energy audit (10 kW maximum): $1.75 per watt  
  • Non-residential (50 kW maximum): $1.00 per watt  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Sustainable Biomass and Fuel Cell Systems  
These systems are currently eligible for incentive levels beginning at $5 per watt (up to 60% of a system’s cost) for systems up to 10 kW in capacity. Larger systems receive incrementally lower rebate amounts, with a 30% maximum. (Single-family rebate applications are limited to the first 10 kW of project capacity.) The rebate schedule is as follows:

  • $3.00 per watt for the first 10 kW for systems greater than 10 kW  
  • $2.00 per watt for the next 90 kW of system size  
  • $1.50 per watt for the next 400 kW of system size  
  • $0.15 per watt for system capacity in excess of 500 kW, up to 1 MW  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Wind Energy Systems  
Effective beginning with the 2008 calendar year, wind energy systems will receive rebates based on expected performance rather than nameplate capacity. The Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) rebate will be calculated according to the estimated first-year annual energy output, which itself is based on the estimated 50 meter wind speed at the site, the proposed tower height, and the performance curve of the proposed turbine. The per kilowatt-hour ($ per kWh) value of the rebate is determined by the estimated output as follows:

  • $3.20 per annual kWh for the first 16,000 kWh of estimated energy production.  
  • $0.50 per annual kWh for estimated energy production between 16,000 kWh and 750,000 kWh.
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

The incentive is capped at 120% of the of the estimated system specific performance at a reference speed of 11.4 mph. A performance calculator tool and a list of eligible wind energy systems will be available shortly on the program website.  
 
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program web site provides all application materials, complete funding schedule and information about current incentive levels. Click here for the latest statistics on the number and types of projects supported through this incentive program.


 
Contact:

  Public Information – Renewable Energy Program
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Office of Clean Energy
c/o Conservation Services Group
75 Lincoln Highway
Iselin, NJ 08830
Phone: (866) 657-6278
Web site: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/home/home

New for 2009

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy Program offers the new Renewable Energy Incentive Program for 2009.  The program provides incentives and support services needed for participants to build onsite renewable energy projects using solar, wind and biopower technologies. The new program is part of New Jersey’s efforts to reach its Energy Master Plan goals of using 30 percent renewable energy by 2020. The program includes financial incentives to owners who install qualified clean energy generation systems in New Jersey.  The Renewable Energy Certificates  (RECs) Program is also available to help finance projects that do not qualifiy for rebates.  Renewable energy systems enable you or your organization to produce clean energy, help protect the environment, and reduce utility costs.

Why get involved?  For a variety of reasons, such as a desire to:

  • reduce pollution
  • stabilize electric costs
  • lessen dependence on fossil fuels
  • increase self-reliance
  • increase local jobs & economic development
  • preserve natural resources
  • make a long-term commitment to the planet’s future
  • strengthen energy security & long term affordability

Program applications will be accepted February 3, 2009.  Please review the attached chart for available incentives and rebates.

The Renewable Energy Incentive Program Guidebook provides details about operations and procedures for the program.  The program provides incentives for onsite renewable energy projects using solar, wind and biopower technologies.  The processes and procedures contained in the guidebook are subject to periodic revision, review and approval by New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program and the Board of Public Utilities.

The Board of Public Utilities is planning to launch a new program in 2009 to support large-scale renewable energy projects, also called grid supply projects.  These projects produce energy that goes directly into the electric grid, without any energy being used for on-site consumption, so they are not eligible for REIP upfront incentives.  More information on the Grid Supply Pogram will be released soon.

In 2009 New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program has developed a new funding model.  The new program will have three funding cycles.  Each funding cycle has its own budget, and when the money is completely committed for each funding cycle all applications will be returned.  Applicants will have the opportunity to reapply when the next funding cycle opens.  The three funding cycles are January 1, May 1 and September 1.

To view charts and more info click on link below

http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/programs/renewable-energy-incentive-program