UTILITY BUYING MORE WIND, THANK THE RES
Want to know how important a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) can be?
The CEO of a company that is planning to build 2,000 megawatts of wind capacity around the world yearly for the next 3 years said in an interview earlier this year that if he had to choose between a 10-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and a national RES, he would choose the latter because it would create a longer period of stability and allow business to evolve “…the most cost-efficient way of meeting the standard…”
Case in point: Duke Energy. Before North Carolina passed its RES in 2007, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers talked quite astutely about the importance of putting a price on emissions and about how important it would be to shift to New Energy sources but his company made almost no move except toward efficiency. Since the RES became a fact of life, Mr. Rogers can’t seem to stop selling, buying and installing New Energy generating capacity. (See DUKE BUYS MORE SUN and DUKE BUYS WIND)
Though Duke presently obtains only 1% of its power from wind, it expects to have 500 megawatts in operation and 5000 megawatts in development by the end of this year.
One last point about the state RESs (and the national RES if it should miraculously survive the current energy legislation fight): They could save the New Energy industries in 2009. If Congress fails to extend the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC), the RESs will continue driving utilities to install New Energy capacity. It will, however, make New Energy a more expensive proposition. The extra cost, of course, ends up on ratepayers' bills.
Just like corn ethanol? Wind energy’s detractors have suggested the rising acceptance of it is much like an earlier enthusiasm for corn ethanol that proved a folly. While the rising acceptance is similar, wind has fought for every inch of approval it has gained, a sort of bottom-up process by which it proved itself worthy. Corn ethanol’s acceptance was the result of a top-down campaign funded by Agrobusiness to get at more and bigger government subsidies.
The wind energy industry is now indeed demanding subsidies and support in the form of a national RES and an appropriate level of incentives. They are necessary for wind to take its place in a fossil fuel world and provide proven, vitally needed, clean energy. But wind has shown it is capable of cost competitive, utility scale production and a positive energy-returned-on-energy-invested (EROEI).
Corn ethanol did neither of those things before winning subsidies. It was little more than a way for Agrobusiness and Big Oil to conspire to keep petroleum necessary while creating the appearance of “going green.” The amount of land necessary for corn ethanol to provide a significant portion of U.S. transportation fuels would essentially preclude the use of corn as a food product.
Several European nations have demonstrated and are demonstrating that wind can provide a substantial portion of the electric grid’s energy demand. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this year affirmed the wind industry’s capacity to provide 20% of U.S. power by 2030. Nobody who ran the numbers ever expected any such thing of corn ethanol.
Finally, before it won massive subsidies from the Bush administration, the only substantial investment in corn ethanol came for its use as a petroleum fuel additive. Investments in wind by utilities like Duke Energy speak volumes about its substantiality.
click to enlarge
Duke Energy expanding wind energy business
September 9, 2008 (AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Duke Energy expands renewable energy unit
September 9, 2008 (AP via CNN Money)
Duke Energy expands wind-energy program
September 9, 2008 (Triangle Business Journal)
Duke Energy Expands Wind Business
September 9, 2008 (Duke Energy)
Duke Energy (Jim Rogers, CEO); Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS), Duke’s New Energy division (Wouter van Kempen, president; David Marks, senior vice president for wind energy); PacifiCorp; GE Energy
Duke has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with PacifiCorp to provide wind energy-generated electricity from its Campbell Hill Windpower project and also signed a contract with GE Energy for the purchase of more turbines.
Duke didn't make last year's list but - with the N.C. RES in place - Duke's plans could take it to #1. (click to enlarge)
- The Duke-PacificCorp PPA is a 20-year contract.
- Construction on the Duke Energy Campbell Hill Windpower project that will fulfill the PacificCorp PPA will begin early in 2009 and begin generating by late in the year.
- PacifiCorp serves customers in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California.
- Duke Energy is based in North Carolina.
- GE Energy is based in Connecticut.
- Duke will build the wind installation that will provide PacificCorp’s power near Casper, Wyo.
- Duke will build a 66-turbine wind farm to fill the PacifiCorp. Contract.
- Duke will purchase 100 GE Energy industry-standard 1.5-megawatt turbines for installation in its U.S. wind projects.
- 1-megawatt of wind energy-generated electricity capacity serves 250-to-300 homes.
In the U.S., it has become the industry standard. (click to enlarge)
- Wouter van Kempen, president, DEGS: “Today’s announcement strengthens our commitment to investing in wind energy beyond 2008…”
- David Marks, senior vice president for wind energy, DEGS: “Soaring interest in wind energy has translated into growing demand for turbines and a tightening supply…Securing wind turbines in a very competitive environment provides Duke Energy with the resources it needs to fulfill our commitment to clean, renewable energy…The execution of power purchase agreements and the acquisition of cutting-edge technology are two of the key ingredients needed to commercialize our portfolio of development projects…We’re on the way to making that vision a reality.”