QUICK NEWS, 9-20: WORLD’S BIGGEST WIND SET TO GO; FATCATS STILL FIGHTING U.S. OCEAN WIND; PRINCELY SUN & THE F-I-T; TEXAS TRANSMISSION SHENANIGANS
WORLD’S BIGGEST WIND SET TO GO
World's largest wind farm to open off Kent coast
19 September 2010 (Kent News)
"…[UK] Energy secretary Chris Huhne will unveil the [Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, made up of 100 Vestas V90 turbines]…12km off [County Kent, with] Øystein Løseth, president of Vattenfall, the Swedish power company behind the development…It will be a landmark moment for the renewable energy industry…[T]wo weeks ago the latest statistics from the National Grid revealed around 10 per cent of electricity was generated by UK wind farms.
"…[Thanet] will have a total capacity of 300 megawatts, generating enough electricity to supply heat and light to more than 200,000 homes…Vattenfall began work on the £800 million development in 2008 and the last turbine was installed in June this year…"
Connected to the UK grid by Siemens at Richborough (click to enlarge)
"The wind farm, located in water depths of 20-25m and covering an area of 35 sq km, will boost UK offshore wind capacity by more than 30 per cent."
Ready for its close-up. (click to enlarge)
"…Data from the National Grid showed [a historical record] 10 per cent of electricity delivered to consumers was generated by the farms."
Maria McCaffery, CEO, Renewable UK:] "We are expecting to see the contribution of electricity from wind gradually increase over the next decade to around 30 per cent…These figures underpin the strong contention that renewable energy - and wind energy in particular - is no longer alternative. It is on the scale and growing rapidly…If we added together all the wind energy projects in planning to the projects already existing and about to come on stream, we would be three-quarters of the way to reaching our 2020 targets…If we count in the potential of offshore wind, the plan of turning the UK into a net energy exporter does not seem unlikely."
FATCATS STILL FIGHTING U.S. OCEAN WIND
Turbine teardown hit; Critics blast ‘hidden costs’ of Cape Wind
Jay Fitzgerald, September 18, 2010 (Boston Herald)
"Cape Wind opponents and proponents within the business community traded rhetorical blows…over the costs of the proposed offshore wind-farm in Nantucket Sound.
"The controversial project’s latest flashpoint is the $66 million cost to ratepayers and taxpayers for the eventual dismantling of Cape Wind’s 130 turbines after the wind-farm ceases its planned operations in 25 years…"
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[Bob Rio, senior vice president, Associated Industries of Massachusetts:] “This is insanity, and just another example which shows all the hidden costs of this project…Let’s put a stop to this fiasco and spend ratepayers money on cost-effective renewables, not costly ones.”
"But Andrew Tarsy, executive director of the Progressive Business Leaders Network, hit back by saying Cape Wind is a worthy project needed to wean the state away from other forms of expensive power generation."
[Andrew Tarsy, executive director, Progressive Business Leaders Network: “Many business leaders support Cape Wind and reject the simple analysis of cost they keep reading because they never measure cost in a vacuum…And they know the cost of doing nothing big on renewable energy is too high and will choke the region’s economy over time.”
"Cape Wind Associates, the wind project’s developer, adamantly insisted…it will be responsible for the ‘decommissioning’ costs of Cape Wind…"
PRINCELY SUN & THE F-I-T
Let the power of the sun shrink your energy bills; A rise in domestic electricity generation has been stoked by a government pay-back plan plus offers of free solar panel installation.
Simon Read, 19 September 2010 (UK Independent)
"…Prince Charles – who has just completed two weeks of campaigning on green issues – was granted permission last month to install dozens of solar panels…The palace panels are expected to produce around 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – about the same as the electricity used by the average London household.
"Record numbers of householders are installing solar panels…[thanks to] a government scheme that pays you for generating your own energy…Under the [feed-in tariff] scheme, energy suppliers make regular payments to households and communities which generate their own electricity from renewable or low-carbon sources…[and] guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity generated…as well as a separate payment for any electricity exported to the national grid. The payments are in addition to any bill savings you make."
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"The feed-in tariffs give up to £758 a year for all the electricity generated from solar panels. On top of that, there is an additional £27 a year for electricity exported back to the grid and a £110 saving a year on electricity bills…[so] installing the panels could mean savings of almost £900 a year…[A]gainst that is the cost of installing the panels – around £12,500 for a typical home. But with the feed-in tariff set to be in force for up to 25 years, it means after around 12 years or so, the payments will have paid for the panels. So families could pocket the remaining income from the tariff plus savings, meaning they would be better off by around £12,500 after 25 years…
"…[Savings vary but] the cost benefits of creating your own energy are clear…[A] simple 1kWp (kilowatt peak) domestic system costing under £5,900 could pay you around £400 a year – or £10,000…Such a system will typically generate about 25 per cent of an average household's electricity requirements for free – and that can be maximised by using energy-guzzling appliances like washing machines and dryers during daylight hours when the input form the panels is at its highest."
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"If you're put off by the initial set up costs there is a cheap solution – pay nothing for the panels. There are several firms that will install the panels for free…[and] take all the cash from the government scheme. It means you would save the initial cost and benefit from the yearly savings on energy costs of £100-£200, but lose the £800 or so from the Government…
"…[Some experts say] people would be better off taking out a loan for the panels and then benefiting from the payments…[People should] understand their choices fully before signing a free-panels contract…[but] having a company cover all the costs, including the equipment, installation and maintenance of the panels, which could lead to savings for you of hundreds of pounds is an attractive option…"
TEXAS TRANSMISSION SHENANIGANS
Hill Country Electric Lines Spark New Power Struggle; Sen. Fraser, FPL & LCRA Press the Public Utility Commission
September 145, 2010 (Lobby Watch/Texans for Public Justice)
"…[T]he Public Utility Commission (PUC) could axe two massive transmission-line proposals to help move electricity from windy West Texas to big cities in the Eastern half of the state. How Governor Rick Perry’s PUC appointees handle the matter could free up—or bottle up—huge amounts of clean wind power. It also could save—or cost—ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
"The PUC awarded a staggering $5 billion in contracts to utilities in March 2009 to build a 2,300-mile network of high-powered transmission lines…Utilities will bankroll the projects and recover their investments from ratepayers. The PUC awarded $750 million in transmission contracts to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a public utility also governed by Perry appointees. The LCRA provides power and water to the Hill Country, which is becoming the third rail of transmission-line politics. Wealthy landowners in that area have mobilized unanticipated surges of resistance to building hulking power towers across their scenic horizons…Under pressure, the PUC repeatedly postponed action…"
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"Lobby Watch previously reported that [Republican Senator Troy Fraser] received $11,000 from FPL’s PAC and 15 company executives on a single day in 2008. Fraser later reported receiving another same-day FPL bundle worth $10,500 this January. FPL supplied almost one out of every 10 donations that the Fraser campaign received in the first half of 2010 (accounting for 4 percent of the money Fraser raised in that period).
"Many people who have not received thousands of dollars from FPL also would love to plug into West Texas winds without spending a fortune to erect menacing towers over some of Texas’ prettiest countryside…The viability of the FPL line may turn on two key questions… To what extent does it have technical capabilities comparable to the [proposed line, and]…what would FPL charge to integrate its proprietary line into the Texas grid?"
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"FPL’s NextEra Energy operates the 747-megawatt Horse Hollow wind farm West of Abilene. As with the $5 billion grid proposed by the PUC, Texas power lines typically are built by regulated transmission companies, which can pass their costs on to ratepayers and exercise powers of eminent domain. In a maverick move, wholesaler FPL built its own 200-mile, high-voltage line to connect Horse Hollow to the grid outside San Antonio. Unable to condemn land, FPL reportedly paid some owners top dollar for the right to cross their land…On the map, FPL’s line looks like a close geographic proxy for the southeasterly half of LCRA’s [proposed two 345-kilovolt lines]…
"LCRA estimates that it will cost $275 million…FPL estimated that it would cost $146 million to $211 million to upgrade its private line. Yet these estimates exclude a huge cost: The price that FPL would demand to incorporate its line into the Texas grid…[E]ven experts sympathetic to this FPL substitution said that retrofitting the line would postpone for perhaps three to five years the politically painful problem of where to erect bigger power towers in the Hill Country…Clean-energy advocates…want to push the lines all the way…[and] develop the state’s most promising solar region…With state unemployment hitting 8.2 percent, this is the time to put Texans to work building critical, long-term infrastructure. Hill Country landowners and their elected representatives have every right to protest…[but] the PUC commissioners are charged with drawing lines in the sand that can deliver loads of clean wind power to market…"