QUICK NEWS, 6-13: SIERRA CLUB DEFENDS WIND; TURTLE OK WITH BIG SUN; CHINA MAKES PEACE WITH WTO; THE GREENEST CITY
SIERRA CLUB DEFENDS WIND
Time to confront the anti-wind fear campaign
June 9, 2011 (Sierra Club Canada)
"…[Reposted after legal attacks caused its temporary withdrawal,] Sierra Club Canada's report The Real Truth About Wind Energy…brings together the best science on the alleged health impacts of wind turbines…"
[John Bennett, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada:] "People want to know the truth. We will not be deterred from speaking out by bullying, intimidation or attacks on our reputation…"
Wind's enemies claim it is an inordinate cause of avian mortality. False. (click to enlarge)
"Sierra Club Canada is just the latest target of anti-wind energy groups who appear to be out to destroy the reputations of those who do not share their views."
Wind's enemies claim its capacity factor is lower than traditional forms of generation. False. (click to enlarge)
[Bennett:] "We have been accused of being paid-off by government and industry - which is simply not true…," said Bennett. "Even our youth wing has been smeared…The real public health risk is from climate change and air pollution. This week the United Nations reported that in 2010, over 42 million people lost their homes due to natural disasters, including climate change-related storms, floods and drought…That's 17 million more than the year before."
"Sierra Club Canada believes rural Ontarians are being frightened and confused when it comes to wind energy…Sierra Club Canada remains strongly supportive of wind turbines but notes the importance of locating them away from residences, known migratory bird flyways and other sensitive areas…"
TURTLE OK WITH BIG SUN
Construction to resume on parts of solar project
June 11, 2011 (AP via Atlanta Constitution Journal)
"Construction can resume on a massive Southern California solar energy project after wildlife officials determined it will not jeopardize the threatened desert tortoise…The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the next phase of construction on the nearly $2 billion Ivanpah project located in eastern San Bernardino County, about five miles from the Nevada border.
"In April, federal officials ordered BrightSource Energy Co. to halt construction on two-thirds of the project after a federal assessment showed that more than 3,000 desert tortoises would be disturbed, and up to 700 of the young turtles would be killed during construction."
At long last, peace between the desert tortoise and the solar power plant (click to enlarge)
"But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a new assessment, known as a Biological Opinion, for moving the tortoises, as well as new ways to protect them from predators and increased monitoring and fencing…[It] allows the project to move forward without jeopardizing the tortoise…
"The project, to be built in stages on the 5.6-acre Ivanpah Valley site near Primm, Nev, is slated to have three generating plants including 346,000 billboard-sized mirrors that focus the desert sun on steam turbines. The 100 megawatts operation will produce enough electricity for 140,000 homes…It's one of about a half-dozen solar projects federal officials approved last year for public lands in California and Nevada."
CHINA MAKES PEACE WITH WTO
China agrees to end domestic wind power subsidies
Richard Wolf, June 7, 2011 (USA Today)
"China has agreed to stop subsidizing wind power companies that use domestically produced components rather than imports, a victory for U.S. manufacturers. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk plans to announce China's action Tuesday, seven months after the United States launched an investigation following a complaint from the United Steelworkers.
"The action is significant because of intense competition between U.S. and Chinese manufacturers of clean energy technology. Whether it will lead to other such actions involving questionable Chinese trade practices remains unclear…"
click to enlarge
"The World Trade Organization prohibits government programs that give preferences to companies using local products, such as China's program of "indigenous innovation." The wind power grants ranged from $6 million to $22 million, Kirk's office says…
"China is the United States' biggest competitor in terms of energy innovation. Among emerging markets seeking to compete in manufacturing new technologies, it has by far the greatest resources to invest…"
click to enlarge
"James Bacchus, a former World Trade Organization chief judge and member of Congress, … notes that other forms of trade protectionism are common among nations seeking to help domestic industries. As an example, he cites the Buy American provisions of the 2009 economic stimulus law that require the federal government in most cases to use domestic iron, steel and manufactured goods."
[Eswar Prasad, Cornell University:] "[The agreement is] symbolically very important…Whether it opens the floodgates to a broader set of commitments remains to be seen…I think it is premature to declare victory, but it is certainly a hopeful step."
THE GREENEST CITY
Xcel: Boulder could be 'most green city worldwide' by 2020 under new franchise; Utility to offer details of new electricity deal to Boulder City Council
Heath Urie, June 6, 2011 (Boulder Daily Camera)
"If Boulder renews its contract with Xcel Energy instead of becoming a municipal utility, the company claims Boulder will be the "most green city worldwide" by 2020…But that could come at a cost of higher utility rates…until wind power becomes cheaper than coal or natural gas.
"Xcel officials…are prepared to offer the city an energy plan that would provide up to 70 percent renewable energy to Boulder within the first year of a new 20-year franchise agreement…By 2020, the company claims Boulder would reach 90-percent renewable energy. Currently, an average of 10 to 15 percent of Boulder's electricity comes from renewable sources."
Xcel in Colorado (click to enlarge)
"…David Driskell, Boulder's executive director of community planning and sustainability, said…the city welcomes Xcel's ideas…Steve Pomerance, a former Boulder councilman who actively has participated in the city's "Energy Future" campaign, said he's skeptical…[because] it appears to be only a wind purchase deal with an unclear pricing structure…[and not] a comprehensive solution…including efficiency, local solar, demand management and…emerging technologies…[Leslie Glustrom, a longtime utility watchdog who has also been tracking Boulder's energy options closely, expressed similar concerns]…
"Boulder officials have been considering whether to renew the city's now-expired franchise agreement with the utility giant -- which is worth about $100 million a year -- or pursue becoming a municipal utility. Either way, the city wants a greater mix of renewable and reliable energy…Xcel representatives will provide details about the proposal…before the council votes…"
Xcel has a lot of wind in Colorado (click to enlarge)
"…Xcel would meet the city's ambitious renewable-energy goals though a 20-year power-purchase agreement that involves the renewable energy credits from an already planned expansion of Xcel's wind farms in southeast Colorado…Renewable energy credits allow a company -- or a city -- to claim ownership of renewable energy such as wind or solar power. In other words, Xcel would go ahead with its plans to add wind power to the grid, but Boulder would get to claim the benefits…
"Xcel's plan would have Boulder pay the difference between the cost of the wind energy and Xcel Energy's savings from having the wind energy on its system…At some point, Xcel expects wind power to become less expensive than fossil fuels, so Boulder would [then get money back]… Boulder would pay Xcel for the cost of integrating new sources of wind power into its system, the cost of supplementing wind power when it's not available and a premium to show the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that there is a benefit to all Xcel customers…"