NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: THE MANY LOCAL BENEFITS OF WIND

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE IMPACT ON REAL PEOPLE OF RISING POWER PRICES
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 22: SCHOOLS SAVE W/GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; BUILDING FOR NEXT-GEN U.S. BIOFUELS; ENERGY STORAGE MARKET EMERGING
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WHERE U.S. OFFSHORE WIND WILL CONNECT
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 21: SOLARCITY TO CROWDFUND WITH $1,000 BONDS; NEW JERSEY LOOKS AT OCEAN WIND; SMART LED LIGHTING MRKT TO DOUBLE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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  • Wednesday, October 03, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE MANY LOCAL BENEFITS OF WIND

    At Wind Speed: How the U.S. Wind Industry is Rapidly Growing Our Local Economies

    Hannah Druckenmiller, September 2012 (National Resources Defense Council)

    Introduction

    Over the last two decades, the U.S. wind industry has grown dramatically and is providing communities across America with tremendous benefits. More than 50,000 megawatts of wind power—the power equivalent of thirteen Hoover Dams—are installed in the United States. Meanwhile, American companies such as General Electric dominate the global wind turbine industry, and in almost every state are expanding to meet the increasing global demand for wind power. This report shows how wind power is rebuilding individual communities in America, while creating much-needed jobs, reducing pollution that harms our children's health, and cutting our dependence on dirty and limited fossil fuels.

    Americans like wind power and want our country to support even greater deployment of this clean, renewable resource. In some surveys, nine out of 10 voters say they support efforts to increase wind-power generation, and two-thirds of Americans say they think clean energy technologies, such as wind power, will be an important source of economic growth in the future…

    Surprisingly, while the benefits of a well-sited wind project or expanding wind manufacturer can be significant—from new jobs and local worker training programs to increased city tax revenues and more school funding—they are often overlooked or underestimated. This report seeks to rectify that. In an attempt to show fully the real-world benefits of the wind industry, this report focuses on four case studies in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and Oregon, drawing from accounts of the actual residents from those communities.

    Reaping the Community Benefits of Wind Power

    Sherman County, Oregon, has seen huge increases in revenues from local wind farms. Before the wind energy industry came to town, this rural community had few employment opportunities and a small tax base. As almost any Sherman County resident will tell you, since installing a swath of power-producing wind turbines, the county has reaped impressive benefits including increases in per capita income and the local tax base.

    Residents of Livingston County, Illinois, tell a similar story of economic development. There, the wind industry has boosted the local tax base, created new jobs, and provided lease payments to local landowners. Wind developers in Livingston County also pay fees that are dedicated to spurring local economic development and helping the county’s small businesses.

    Other towns are reaping the new economic benefits from companies that manufacture parts for the wind industry.

    In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, two wind companies helped create a renewable energy technician program at Kirkwood Community College that is now training workers for new, good-paying wind industry jobs. And, in Canton, Ohio, a wind company built the first wind energy research and development center of its kind.

    Lessons Learned from Wind-Boom Communities

    Across each of these case studies, there are a number of commonalities and overarching themes. Hence, while a limited sample size, several lessons can be taken from these efforts and serve as useful guidance to communities eager to participate in the growing wind industry:

    n Distributing the economic benefits of wind energy can ensure that all community members share in the wind wealth. While the wind industry benefits land owners and workers most directly, in both Sherman and Livingston Counties, a wide range of community members have prospered from wind farm development. Since the wind farms have moved into town, small businesses have seen increased activity, schools have secured more funding for students, and farmers have found new revenues from turbines planted in their fields. In addition, a compensation program in Sherman County directly distributes the revenue from wind farms to each household, awarding every resident an annual check for $590.

    n Reinvesting new revenue from taxes and special fees on wind farms in the community can ensure long lasting benefits of wind farm development and advance other priorities critical to communities. In Sherman and Livingston Counties, a substantial portion of the revenue from wind farms has gone to local school systems, allowing them to buy new equipment, hire additional teachers, and expand elective programs.

    In addition, Livingston County has dedicated the $6 million fee collected on Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm to spurring economic development in the region. With many city, county, and state budgets currently constrained, these new revenue streams can help communities maintain and advance other critical priorities. Such investments in the future also ensure that the economic boosts to these rural communities will last for years to come.

    n The extent of the wind energy supply chain creates potential for clustering in communities participating in the wind industry. Where there is wind farm development, a range of businesses—including management firms, construction companies, and fuel suppliers—are needed to support the industry. Moreover, communities involved in wind energy manufacturing can become hubs for renewable energy. For instance, in Canton, Ohio, the success of one large wind company has created new opportunities for local businesses to join the wind energy supply chain. It also resulted in the creation of a Wind Energy Research and Development Center, generating hundreds of American manufacturing jobs and making the city a center for technological innovation.

    n Training programs developed in partnership with the wind industry benefit local students and wind companies alike. Wind farms create hundreds of jobs in manufacturing, construction, and operation. Communities can help ensure these jobs stay local by creating wind energy technician training programs. Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s new Energy Production and Distribution program at Kirkwood Community College, for instance, trains both seasoned manufacturing hands and young students to participate in the quickly growing wind manufacturing sector. In Sherman County, Columbia Gorge Community College’s renewable energy technician program teaches local residents to be wind turbine operators, creating a new base of skilled labor in the rural community. These training programs benefit wind companies by giving them access to skilled workers trained on the very equipment they will manufacture and operate, and communities by enhancing the existing skills of local workers and providing students with new training and job opportunities.

    Extending Important Incentives to Build on Wind-Powered Returns to Communities

    It is important to point out that smart policies and incentives have played a critical role in producing all the gains that come with wind power. We need to ensure that these means to advancing the wind industry are preserved and expanded. Unfortunately, critical federal incentives, such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which provides a tax credit to wind projects for the clean renewable power they generate, is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Across the nation, the PTC has played a valuable role in leveling the playing field for wind power and growing an industry that now provides jobs to 75,000 Americans. The PTC has encouraged innovation and better wind technologies that have led to a 90 percent reduction in the cost of wind power since 1980.

    Extending the PTC could create another 17,000 new wind energy jobs; letting it expire could cost 37,000 Americans their jobs. In previous years when the PTC expired, there have been massive drops in wind installations. In 2000, for instance, when Congress declined to extend the PTC, new wind installations fell 93 percent…

    The communities of Sherman and Livingston Counties, Canton, and Cedar Rapids represent powerful cornerstones of a growing American manufacturing and innovation resurgence—where we learn how to most effectively produce clean, renewable energy like wind power and use it to help our citizens, our schools, our workers, and our children.

    Only by insisting that our lawmakers continue to support renewable power with important programs like the PTC can we help ensure that the wind industry—and the communities and residents that benefit from it—keep growing.

    Conclusion

    Wind energy is an important part of our future. As we replace our aging energy infrastructure and look for ways to both rebuild our economy and compete in new global industries, all while minimizing pollution, renewable energy resources like wind power can provide the secure, reliable, and clean energy options that Americans of all political stripes want. As this report shows, moving forward and embracing clean, renewable energy that is found in the United States has the ability to transform our communities in dramatic ways.

    Each of the communities profiled in this report have been on the frontlines of the growing wind industry. While the details may differ, the story remains the same: wind development, when pursued sustainably, with strategic reinvestment, and a broad distribution of benefits, can be immensely helpful to communities around the country. A community can leverage its historical advantages, the existing skillsets of its residents, and its local resource base to support wind manufacturing and an accompanying supply chain. Or, a community with good wind resources can harness that wind energy and use the accompanying financial returns to reinvest in their schools, their roads and local economic development.

    Unfortunately, all of this gain is under threat, due to the increasing uncertainty of not extending important support for clean, renewable energy like wind power. Passing an extension of the PTC and preserving and bolstering other successful federal and state policies would help American communities in all sorts of ways, from keeping and creating local jobs, to cleaning up local air and water, to increasing government revenues that can be reinvested in schools and roads, to growing local industries that can benefit the entire area. On the other hand, allowing the PTC to expire will block the wind industry's growth, and could hinder other communities from seeing the kinds of benefits outlined in this report.

    Ultimately, the choice is ours. We can ignore the considerable benefits from wind power or we can move forward and invest in this new, and exciting clean energy future, bringing these benefits to communities across America.

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