New York Shines with Solar Support

The state of New York is a shining example of what solar support can do for the industry. NY Governor Andrew M Cuomo recently announced the additional commitment of $108 million in funding over the next two years for the his NY-Sun initiative. The funds cover for residential and commercial solar energy projects and bring the two-year budget to $216 million for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Long Island Solar Farm“Solar power is critical to making our environment healthier and our energy system more resilient,” said Governor Cuomo. “The funding approved today will expand the use of clean, renewable power across New York State and ensure we continue to be a national leader in solar energy. Today’s announcement highlights the ongoing success of NY-Sun, attracting the economic benefits of a vibrant solar industry, creating more jobs, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Governor Cuomo launched the NY-Sun initiative in 2012 in an attempt to increase the amount of solar power installed each year in New York State. Since its inception, the NY-Sun initiative, which brings together and expands existing programs administered by NYSERDA, New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), has installed or funded development for a total of 299 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity. This is more than was installed in the entire prior decade.

The funding was approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Chair Audrey Zibelman said of the decision, “The Commission recognizes the substantial opportunities that solar power offers residential and commercial customers to reduce electricity bills and improve the environment. We fully support the solar power goals set by the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative.”

With this decision, the PSC authorizes NYSERDA to plan a transition of its current solar programs to a regional megawatt block structure that includes a longer-term schedule for incentive rebate levels that change according to a predetermined set of targets. In essence, as more solar megawatts are installed, the per-megawatt rebate level falls. Also, as part of this transition, NYSERDA will continue to set aside $30 million to increase solar installations in the downstate regions. The remainder of the $108 million will be allocated based on regional budgets and market conditions.

“At a time when many of our political leaders are failing to address the need to transition to clean energy sources, Governor Cuomo continues to position New York as a leader in solar energy,” said Shaun Chapman, president, New York Solar Energy Industry Association. “Through the NY Sun Program, which the Public Service Commission has responsibly acted upon, our industry is now empowered to deliver jobs and clean, low cost, renewable energy to all New Yorkers.”

Cogeneration Explained

WASILENKOFF headshot-1The country is beginning to hear a lot about cogeneration, or cogen, but what it is exactly? How is it different, then say, a traditional electricity plant? To get the low-down on cogen I spoke with Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper whose company has been working with cogeneration and recently put its first cogen project online.

Q: Can you explain how cogeneration is different than a traditional electricity plant? For example, “wind” can provide power to the grid but is not considered cogen.

A: Wind will run a turbine and produce electricity similar to cogeneration. The difference is cogen also produces energy mechanically with steam to turn the turbine but also uses the thermal energy produced in the industrial process for additional energy needs. In conventional systems the heat is an unused byproduct of energy production. Cogen can also uses waste material as the energy source and in our case residual biomass from the paper making process.

Q: Obviously, cogeneration is not a new idea. Why do you think there is such a small rate of adoption/use of cogeneration in North America?

Cogen OutsideA: Cogeneration plants are capital intensive and the costs involved have to be balanced with the costs of other energy sources in the area. For industrial installations cogen works well for operations that use a lot of power, steam and heat. Cogen also tends to be more suitable in areas where the heat can be utilized. An example is Denmark where some cities get 95 percent of heat from cogeneration sites. There are also some small scale cogeneration units on the market for the individual homeowner.

Q: The potential for cogeneration is quite large. For cogen to reach its full potential, what would need to happen? Would there need to be legislation, tax credits, etc?

A: Yes assistance with financing, preferential pricing tax credits etc. would all help cogen to reach its full potential. Cogeneneration is already part of many plans for expanding renewable energy, According to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Q: Fortress Paper has made a significant investment in cogen at your Fortress Speciality Cellulose Mill in Thurso, Québec where you have constructed a cogen facility. Can you give the readers of DF more information about this project?

A: The Fortress Specialty Cellulose mill capex for the Cogen Plant was over Canadian $120 million and included a new turbine and generator with cooling tower and condenser, new biomass boiler, and new water treatment system among other items. Continue reading

All They Want for Christmas Is a Biogas Generator

Franklin, Vermont farmers Denna and Mike Benjamin were heading into the holidays with a big wish: natural gas to start their anaerobic digester to convert the methane fro their cows’ manure to electricity. The project was partially funded by a federal grant, and if the digester was not operating by year’s end they would lose a major portion of the money.

The challenge they were facing was not living near a natural gas pipleline and a “shot of pure gas” was needed to get the biogas generator going.  So the Benjamins called NG Advantage, a company that trucks compressed natural gas (CNG) to very large industrial NGA starting farmers methane producer 2013 6customers not located on gas pipelines. The company brings several tractor-trailer loads of gas each day to their large customers, whose factories run their boilers 24/7. These isolated facilities save an estimated 20-40 percent on their fuel bills and emit 26 percent less CO2. The Benjamins hoped that NG Advantage could bring them the much-needed natural gas to get their digester operating.

Even though the Benjamins did not need a trailer full of gas, NG Advantage worked with the Benjamins’ engineer, John Forcier of Forcier Consulting Engineers PC, Christopher Herrick, the Chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team, Mike Raker of the Green Mountain Power Renewable Development Fund, Robert Achilles of the Vermont State Agency of Agriculture, and a Canadian company Bio-Methatech, to make a small delivery of gas available to the Benjamins within two days of the phone call. General Transportation of Bridge Water, MA (NG Advantage’s hauler) provide the use of their tractor at no charge to help reduce the cost.

NG Advantage’s VP of Operations and Safety, Gerry Myers, organized the holiday rescue team. He explained why the company went out of its way to help the Benjamins, “Environmental stewardship and embracing the needs of our community at large are embedded in our company’s daily operations. Helping the Benjamin family and Riverview Farm achieve success with their digester project was the right thing to do.”

Denna Benjamin described why it is important for them to build a digester at the Riverview Farm by saying, “We, as other farmers, are looking for ways to diversify our income steam so that we can keep farming. This project seemed like a way to do that and to improve the environment at the same time.”

The Benjamins built the anaerobic digester to use the manure from their cows to create electricity that they can sell back to the grid, to generate heat their farm, and to create a byproduct that provides dry bedding for the cows. By using the methane from the manure to generate electricity, they also eliminate the substantial release of greenhouse gas that would have otherwise naturally occurred. Continue reading

ACCIONA Turbines Selected for Wind Farm

ACCIONA has signed a contract to supply 34 turbines for a 102 MW wind farm in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The company will carry out the construction, internal electrical infrastructures and assembly, and will also undertake the operation and maintenance of the facility.

The South Canoe wind farm, which will be the largest in Nova Scotia, has been developed by three local companies: Oxford Frozen Foods, Minas Basin Pulp and Power and the utility company Nova Scotia Power, to which the power generated will be sold. It will use ACCIONA Windpower AW3000/116 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 3 MW, hub height of 92m, and a rotor diameter of 116 metres.

ACCIONA_parque-eolico-canada-pThe facility will supply electricity equivalent to the consumption of 32,000 homes and will help the province of Nova Scotia reach its renewable energy targets.

“ACCIONA was able to deliver what the South Canoe Project team asked for: a complete solution including highly-reliable and high-capacity turbines, construction services and operations and maintenance,” said Ilya Hartmann, CEO of ACCIONA Energy North America. “We’re pleased to apply our full range of wind energy services to provide the best value for this project.”

ACCIONA Windpower North America CEO Enrique Teruel says the company “is proud to be part of the South Canoe Wind Project and to continue expanding the track record of our AW3000 turbine in North America.”

To date, orders for the AW3000 turbines amount to 1,491 MW and the wind turbines are destined for wind farms in nine different countries. Nearly half this figure corresponds to wind farms in North America, and 78 percent of the total capacity will be supplied to customers outside the ACCIONA Group.

Largest Solar Plant in Texas Online

What is believed to be the largest solar farm in Texas has gone online in San Antonio. The 41MW Alamo I solar farm, comprised of more than 167,000 solar panels expanding 450 acres, is the first phase of the 400MW development. When completed, the state is expected to be one of the top solar producing states in the U.S. Alamo I will generate energy for 6,600 homes powered by CPS Energy.

“By 2020, 65 percent of our community’s electricity will come from resources that are low- or no-carbon emitting — reducing emissions in an amount that’s equal to removing more than OCI SOLAR POWER SOLAR PANELSa million cars from local roads,” said CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby. “Reducing pollutants in the air we breathe is a no-brainer, and we’ve been pleased to partner with OCI Solar Power in our efforts to make that happen.”

The project partners say the project resulted in the largest economic development agreement between a municipal utility and private company. The partnership will bring manufacturing, 800 permanent jobs and an annual economic impact of $700 million to Texas. To date, the partnership is responsible for creating more than 150 permanent jobs and 600 temporary construction jobs in the area and the project has had the opportunity to hire several veterans.

“Alamo I is an interesting milestone because it’s now the largest solar farm in Texas, but it’s still a small part of what is to come,” said OCI Solar Power President and CEO Tony Dorazio. “Alamo I is only step one to Texas’ rise as a big player in solar.”

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro added, “San Antonio is fast becoming a leader in the New Energy Economy by combining economic development with environmentally sound practices. This solar farm expands our clean energy portfolio while adding hundreds of 21st century manufacturing jobs to the local economy.”

Another solar project, Alamo II, will bring an additional 4.4MW to San Antonio upon completion in early 2014.

Methane Digesters Providing Reliable Electricity

Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, has announced that its two methane digesters are producing renewable energy. The methane-to-electricity project kicked off in 2012 between Circle 4 Farms located in Milford, Utah (Murphy-Brown’s livestock production subsidiary) and Alpental Energy Partners when the two companies entered into a partnership to convert hog manure to electricity.

Today, the energy produced is connected to the electricity grid and is providing electricity for residential and commercial customers in Utah.

Smithfield logo“Murphy-Brown is excited to be the engine driving this latest form of renewable energy that will allow citizens to turn on the lights in their Utah homes, while at the same time protecting the environment from greenhouse gases such as methane,” said Jim Webb, director of environmental and public affairs for Circle 4 Farms.

“On a personal level, our Milford project is very gratifying for all of us at Smithfield Foods, Murphy-Brown and Circle 4 Farms. Anyone who has observed our actions during the past decade is familiar with our commitment to sustainability. We are committed to reducing our impact on the land, water and air resources that we use in our operations,” Webb added.

Webb explained that the two methane digesters installed at Milford convert some of Circle 4′s hog manure to energy, providing enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes and businesses. The manure-to-energy project has had a significant positive impact on Circle 4′s lagoons because the solid waste that is typically stored in the lagoons, is reduced.

Brady Olson, vice president of Alpental Energy Partners said of the project, “It’s a pleasure to be part of this special project. We are thrilled about our partnership with Smithfield Foods, Murphy-Brown and Circle 4 Farms, and we are looking forward to getting this project fully ramped up and to provide another source of electricity for the citizens of Utah.”

Marshall County Wind Farm Begins Construction

Laurel MorningMarshall Wind Energy LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM Access LLC, has begun construction of its 74 MW wind farm in Marshall County near Beattie, Kansas. The company executed a high voltage transmission interconnection agreement with Westar Energy and Southwest Power Pool in mid-2011. Under the terms of this arrangement, the two companies are coordinating their efforts to pursue all design, engineering and construction activities related to the Westar 115kV Marshall County Wind Farm Switching Station and the Marshall Energy Rock Substation. Energization is scheduled for August 2014 with wind farm commercial operations expected by year end 2014.

A contract has also been signed with Mortenson Construction to provide balance-of-plant design and construction management activities. Marshall Wind has established a local business office in Beattie. An on-site construction management office and equipment have been mobilized to support construction of access roads to wind turbine locations along with substation site grading and foundation work activities that are now underway.

Renewable energy generated by the project will be purchased by multiple entities via long-term contracts. In September, Marshall Wind signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 20 MW with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC). The project will qualify for current renewable production tax credits (PTCs). Located within the Southwest Power Pool market region, Marshall Wind in 2014 is ideally positioned to offer for sale under long-term contract(s) the remaining available capacity.

The project is anticipated to create more than 150 jobs during the construction phase and approximately four permanent positions. The wind farm will also benefit the community by strengthening the local economy and providing a steady flow of revenue to Marshall County.

Hydro-PV Hybrid Project in China Connects to Grid

What is believed to be the world’s largest hydro and PV hybrid project has been connected to the grid and is now supplying power from the Longyangxia Dam in Qinghai Province, China. Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, who supplied 15 MW YGE series photovoltaic (PV) modules for the project congratulated the project team for its successful efforts.

Longyangxia DamWith a total capacity of 320 MW, the project began construction in March 2013 and started grid connection and commissioning last week. During its 25 years lifetime, the hyrdo-solar project is expected to deliver 498 million kWh of electricity per year to the grid.

“We feel delighted about the successful grid connection of world’s largest hydro and PV hybrid project,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “In addition to this hydro and PV hybrid project, the company has also been acting proactively in integrating PV with architecture, agricultural, and other fields. For example, the Power Valley International Hotel – world’s first five star hotel with BIPV application applied our curtain wall Series PV modules, integrating solar power generation into the overall design and making the building more environmental friendly.”

Miao added, “The Company also focuses on the innovative applications of PV modules with traditional agriculture, promoting the development of eco-agriculture. Besides, we installed more than 20 MW PV modules on our factories, parking lots, and other facilities, which will provide approximate 23 million kWh solar electricity per year for the company’s production and operation. This will help the company to reduce CO2 emission and increase renewable energy consumption.”

U.S. Solar Energy Industry Breaks Records

Solar Report Figure1.1_0GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have released the “U.S. Solar Market Insight: 3rd Quarter 2013,” the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S., with strategic state-specific data for 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

According to the report, the U.S. installed 930 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics (PV) in Q3 2013 is up 20 percent over Q2 2013 and 35 percent over Q3 2012. This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations. The report finds that even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than 15 years that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany, according to GTM Research forecasts.

“Without a doubt, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “We’ve now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity. This unprecedented growth is helping to create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution nationwide. When it comes to preparing for America’s future, clean, dependable and affordable solar energy has become the ‘Little Engine That Could,’ defying expectations and powering economic growth – and, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential.”

Solar Report Figure2.1_4The report finds that the residential market continues its rapid growth. Through Q3, residential PV installations were up 45 percent year-over-year, driven largely by increasingly attractive economics and by fair net metering policies. The non-residential (commercial) market has seen the most difficulty this year with installations forecasted to stay flat over last year. The utility market continues its consistently strong installation numbers and is forecasted to exceed 1 gigawatt (GW) of installations in the fourth quarter, including Abengoa’s Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) plant with a 6-hour thermal energy storage system. This will be the first time any individual market segment has hit that mark.

“Solar is the second-largest source of new electricity capacity in the U.S. this year, trailing only natural gas,” said Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM. “As solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, efficiency improvement and regulatory clarity. But already the groundwork has been laid for a mainstream solar future.”

DuPont Starts Solar Project on Landfill Site

DuPont has commissioned a 548kw solar installation located on five-acres of former Superfun landfill site in Newport, Delaware. The solar farm will produce enough electricity to power 60 homes and will generate approximately 729,000 kilowatt hours of power per year.

NewportPVSiteAfter successfully completing remediation at the Newport site, and with the support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Delaware Division of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC), DuPont collaborated with Tangent Energy Solutions to put develop the solar project. Greenwood Energy owns the project and solar panels were provided by DuPont Apollo.

During a celebration event held at DuPont’s Photovoltaics Application Lab, Delaware Governor Jack Markell said of the new project, “The DuPont Solar Power Project complements Delaware’s commitment toward using clean, renewable energy sources. Generating solar energy benefits the residents of Newport, and positively impacts our state – increasing our competitiveness, reducing air pollution, improving public health and creating jobs.”

Linda Fisher, vice president – DuPont Safety, Health & Environment & Chief Sustainability Officer said to the crowd, “We’re very excited about this project because it is the first time we’ve utilized solar on a former landfill. The project will reduce DuPont’s greenhouse gas emissions by 350 tons a year and reuse a portion of a federal Superfund site that had been considered to be unusable land. This is a great example of what we’re trying to do at DuPont around the world: working collaboratively to help meet the growing demand for energy with renewable fuels.”

This represents the 11th solar installation on DuPont land to date, and the fourth in Delaware.

“Under the RE-Powering America Initiative, EPA encourages renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site,” added Shawn Garvin, regional administrator – EPA Mid-Atlantic Region 3. “When we work together to turn an environmental problem into an opportunity, we create the best of what is possible – here solar energy will serve the families of Newport and inspire others to re-power America with alternative energy solutions.”

PPL Doubles Capacity of Hydroelectric Facility

PPL Holtwood has announced completion of a new, 125-megawatt powerhouse at its Holtwood hydroelectric facility along the Susquehanna River in south-central Pennsylvania. The powerhouse is part of a $440 million expansion project to boost the plant’s generating capacity and improve fish passage over the century-old dam. The integrated improvements to the fish lifts and water flows are expected to better attract fish into the lifts and ease their migration along the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

The new powerhouse sits adjacent to the century-old powerhouse and more than doubles the plant’s generating capacity from about 108 megawatts to more than 230 megawatts. The additional capacity is enough to power about 100,000 homes.

PPL GENERATION HOLTWOOD PLANT NEW POWERHOUSE“This project, one of the largest expansions of its kind in the U.S., represents a major investment in clean, reliable, renewable energy,” said Victor Lopiano, senior vice president of Fossil & Hydro Generation for PPL. “I thank everyone who was involved in design and construction of the new powerhouse. This project highlights the potential to upgrade existing hydroelectric facilities and expand capacity without the need to build new dams. The new facility’s two 62.5-megawatt turbines are capable of generating more electricity than the 12 existing turbines, combined.”

Lopiano said the hydroelectric expansion further strengthens the diversity of PPL’s competitive generation fleet within the mid-Atlantic. The fleet includes hydroelectric power, nuclear power, natural gas and coal-fired power plants, along with other forms of renewable energy.

China’s Offshore Wind Power Industry on Track

During the 18th Congress of Chinese Communist Party meeting, a call was made to create a “Biological Civilization” strategy that would encompass a plan for more use of green energy including offshore wind. On June 4-6, 2014 Offshore Wind China 2014, Wind Farm O&A China 2014 and Distributed Generation China 2014 are simultaneously taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Center and Shangri-La’s Kerry Hotel Pudong.

Optimale Bedingungen / Ideal conditionsThe organizers of the June events include Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Committee, China National Renewable Energy Centre and Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd. The groups have announced they will focus on the seven topics for the conferences in an effort to move the offshore wind industry and green energy industries forward.

1. Experience Wind Power Industry’s Turn-around through Release of Latest Progress on Offshore Wind Projects. Offshore wind power developers along with planning and design organizations will be invited to deliver speeches on progress of offshore wind power projects.

2. Catch New Industry Trends by Bringing together Leading Wind Turbine Manufacturers. Key offshore wind turbines manufacturers, including Vestas / Mitsubishi, Goldwind, Gamesa, United Power, Sinovel, Shanghai Electrics / Siemens and Ming Yang will gather to present the advanced offshore wind technologies.

3. Capture Future Market Opportunities in Sector of Wind Farm Operation and Maintenance. The event features Wind Farm O&M Market to explore life-cycle management and after-sales services of onshore and offshore wind farms.

4. Provide Full-range Solutions with Focus on Offshore Installation and Construction. With a focus on offshore installations and construction, leading offshore installation companies including CCCC Third, ZPMC, Jiangsu Longyuan Zhenhua, CCCC Fourth will gather at this event to showcase installation equipments and share practical experiences.

5. Join Hands with Leading Wind Power Nations to Share in Advanced Experience. Attendees will meet with associations and delegations from developed countries including U.K., Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and U.S. to have exchanges with overseas firms.

6. Improve Trade Mechanism by Expanding On-site Communications and Negotiations. The event will further enhance the trade mechanism to hold “On-Site Match-making Meetings between Turbine Manufacturers and Components Suppliers”.

7. Witness Offshore Mega Project by Visiting Offshore Wind Farm under Construction. Attendees will have opportunity to visit East Sea Bridge Offshore Wind Farm (Phase II) during its construction stage, and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the first of its kind in China.

Ecosphere Receives U.S. Patent for Ecos PowerCube

Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. has announced that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has approved U.S. Patent No. 8,593,102 for Ecosphere’s Ecos PowerCube® – a portable, self-contained micro-utility that uses solar power to provide electricity in the most remote, off-grid locations. Designed to meet the growing demand for off-grid energy, with a unique array of stacked solar panels, the Ecos PowerCube maximizes the total amount Ecos PowerCubeof solar power generation possible in 10’, 20’ and 40’ standard ISO shipping container footprints. With power generation capabilities up to 15 KW, the technology can be transported by land, air, or sea and is ideally suited to support off-grid military, disaster relief, humanitarian and mobile communication efforts.

The company says electricity generated by the Ecos PowerCube can be used to power various onboard systems including satellite communications, Internet connectivity, and mobile water treatment systems. The system can also be used to supply military or disaster relief teams with life-sustaining, mobile infrastructure modules, such as hospitals, command centers, sleeping quarters, and temporary schools.

Dennis McGuire, Chairman and CEO of Ecosphere Technologies, said, “We are pleased to finally announce the U.S Patent Office’s decision to grant our Ecos PowerCube patent and the commercial launch of the Ecos PowerCube product line. We believe the Ecos PowerCube addresses significant infrastructure deficiencies in remote field camp installations or when responding to large-scale disasters. Consistent with Ecosphere’s business model, we are seeking to license the Ecos PowerCube to a wide range of entities, including branches of the U.S. and global armed forces, as well as corporations that provide equipment for the military and a wide variety of disaster relief agencies worldwide.”

With the Army embracing renewables to make the business of war safer for soldiers, Ecosphere believes the Ecos PowerCube system is ideal for the military. In May 2013, the Army announced plans to spend $7 billion buying electricity generated by solar, wind, geothermal and biomass projects over the next three decades.

“The Army’s target is to install 1 gigawatt of renewable capacity in the U.S. by 2025 and to reduce non-tactical fuel consumption 30 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels,” said Dean Becker, director and intellectual property strategist for Ecosphere. “The Ecos PowerCube is the world’s most powerful mobile solar powered generator that can ship in standard 10 to 40 foot ISO container dimensions. It can be shipped by truck, rail, air, and sea – just like a standard shipping container.”

Becker added, “When you ship and deploy an Ecos PowerCube, there is no assembly required. Press a button and the solar panels deploy, producing power from the sun. It is a revolutionary solar design that the U.S. Patent Office recognized as being unique and patentable. Unlike conventional solar arrays systems that are placed on the ground or on top of containers, Ecosphere’s patented solar arrays can be retracted to protect the panels in the kind of inclement weather that is prevalent in war zones or disaster relief type scenarios.”

Global Effort to Bring Clean Energy Amps Up

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have announced a concerted effort by governments, international agencies, civil society and private sector to mobilize financing to deliver universal access to modern energy services such as lighting, clean cooking solutions, and power for productive uses in 567790-uncity-1bdeveloping countries, as well as scaled-up energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

After a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), which they co-chaired, they welcomed the growing momentum. “Energy powers growth and opportunity,” said the UN Secretary-General. “We count on all actors to lead by example in scaling up and accelerating action that will provide clean, efficient and sustainable energy for all. Today’s many announcements are a testament to the resolve of partners to chart a path forward.” Continue reading

Alliant Energy Cuts Energy Efficiency Goals

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today approved Alliant Energy’s plan to scale back energy efficiency goals at the same time the utility is pursuing a new $920 million plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. According to the Environmental Law & Policy Center Alliant is punting on a chance to lead on energy efficiency and ensuring the utility’s Iowa customers will pay higher electric bills for years.

Alliant-Energy“At a time when Iowa is defining its energy future, the IUB could have advanced Iowa’s leadership on energy efficiency, but instead it put that leadership in doubt,” said Josh Mandelbaum, staff attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, part of a coalition of environmental groups who intervened in the proceedings. “Energy efficiency creates jobs and is the most cost effective way to meet demand for power, but instead we are taking the expensive path of new power plants.”

The new goals represent less than half the efficiency progress possible through cost-effective means even under the utility’s own analysis, commissioned in 2012. The decision comes at a time when many states in the Midwest and nationally are increasing the amount of energy saved, not reducing those savings.

“It is disappointing that the Board approved savings goals for Alliant Energy that leaves significant amounts of cost-effective energy efficiency on the table,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director at the Iowa Environmental Council. Energy efficiency is most valuable when new generation is needed, and a precursor to approving plans for a newer power plant should be to ensure that we are implementing all of the available cost-effective energy efficiency.”

Under the new goals, Alliant will attempt to save 1.1 percent in retail sales each year over the next five years. This is a sharp reduction from both the utility’s current goal of 1.3 percent or its recent performance of 1.4 percent. Continue reading