Deepwater Wind will build off Long Island

The US offshore wind industry has been launched.

Deepwater Wind, which is completing the first US project off the coast of Block Island, has reached agreement with the Long Island Power Authority to build a 15-torbine (90MW) offshore wind farm east of Montauk Point. That’s near both the Block Island project and an additional tract of ocean that Deepwater has leased off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The LIPA board is expected to approve the agreement Monday.

Deepwater is one of three developers looking to build more than 10 times that amount of wind power in federal waters south of the Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. How much — likely somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 MW, will be determined by the final shape of an energy bill expected to be approved by the Legislature after differences between House and Senate versions are ironed out.

Offshore energy offers a vast untapped resource for the United States, with the US Department of Energy estimating that a total of 600 GW of offshore wind power — about six times the amount of power the nation now uses — can be captured off both coasts.

Massachusetts charting new course on clean energy

sailing-windgenerators-webBetween now and the end of July, Massachusetts will make history

The House of Representatives and the state Senate will appoint members to a conference committee that will recommend a final bill that will shape the Commonwealth’s energy policy for decades. The bill must be passed by the end of the current legislative session July 31 before going to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature.

The conference committee will reconcile differences between the two bodies over how much offshore wind power public utilities will be required to buy, as well as determine the role of other green energy sources like solar and hydro in the state’s energy portfolio.

In addition, the bill reflects growing concern about natural gas, which already accounts for about 63 percent of the state’s power. A study by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey last fall found that no new pipelines are necessary and that green energy offered a better, more affordable option in the future. One provision in the Senate’s version would forbid the utilities charging ratepayers for the up-front costs of new gas pipelines.

The local legislative delegation, led by state Rep. Pat Haddad worked effectively for two years to ensure that offshore wind would play a central role in Massachusetts’ energy future. Just a little more work to be done!

Senate bill would boost state’s reliance on renewable energy

Associated Press

Friday, June 24, 2016

BOSTON — Leaders in the Massachusetts Senate have unveiled legislation designed to ramp up the state’s reliance on renewable energy sources, including offshore wind and hydropower.

The plan, detailed Friday, establishes more aggressive energy targets than a similar bill approved by the House this month.

The Senate bill would set a goal for utilities to sign long-term contracts for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy, compared to 1,200 megawatts in the House bill. It also would set a goal of 1,500 megawatts from other sources of renewable energy, including hydropower, compared to 1,200 megawatts set in the House proposal.

Under the Senate bill, utilities would be encouraged to buy energy storage systems to help stockpile solar and wind energy. The bill would also look at ways to promote energy efficiency in homes.

The bill got mixed reviews from energy producers and environmental groups Friday.

Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association — a trade association representing competitive electric generating companies in New England — said the Senate legislation could lead to “a dramatic increase in electricity prices for Massachusetts businesses and consumers.”

Dolan said that by setting ambitious goals for hydropower and offshore wind, the bill could freeze out other, lower-cost sources of electricity production in the state.

“Proposals like this are a dramatic step backwards,” Dolan said in a statement.

Cathy Buckley, chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, hailed the bill, saying it aligns with a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that sided with environmental groups that sued the state for failing to meet the requirements of a 2008 state law by not setting strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our senators have also listened to their constituents, who are eager to transition quickly to our clean, local, renewable energy future,” Buckley said in a press release.

Democratic leaders in both chambers and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker have called the push for a comprehensive energy bill a top priority of the legislative session that ends July 31.

Massachusetts, which already has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, is facing a number of power challenges including replacing energy that has left or will be leaving the New England energy grid in the coming years. That includes the scheduled 2019 shutdown of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth.

In April, Baker signed a bill raising caps on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows homeowners, solar developers and municipal governments to sell excess power they generate back to the electricity grid in exchange for credit.

Baker has also been a vocal supporter of tapping into Canadian hydropower.

The Senate is expected to debate the bill next week.

Original Article Here:

Your View: Wind energy is already an American industry

By Paul Vigeant

June 26. 2016 2:01AM

We tend to think of wind power as something the Europeans do, but the United States has a robust and growing sector that leads the world in land-based wind energy.

More than 50,000 turbines stand along ridge lines, prairies and hilltops across the United States. Installed capacity recently surpassed 70 gigawatts — enough to power more than 19 million typical American homes — and is expected to double in the next five years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

In fact, the wind energy sector installed more electric generating capacity last year than any other energy source in America. The U.S. Department of Energy says wind is on track to supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.

While the supply of wind energy goes up, costs to the consumer go down. Today, energy supplied by the wind is as cheap or cheaper per megawatt hour than natural gas. And the cost of wind has shown a steady decline — 66 percent from 2009 to 2014, while volatile natural gas prices have brought consumers painful price spikes.

Europe has indeed demonstrated how offshore wind can supply clean, affordable and plentiful energy, but the United States has been building technology and know-how that can help launch this new sector on this side of the Atlantic.

A typical wind turbine has more than 8,000 components, and those pieces are manufactured in 500 plants in 43 U.S. states, AWEA reports. Manufacturing facilities in this country have the capability of producing about 10,200 megawatts of turbine nacelles, more than 10,000 blades, and more than 3,100 towers annually. Nearly 90 percent of the wind power capacity installed in the United States during 2015 used a turbine manufacturer with at least one United States production site.

As annual wind project installations grow — AWEA reports an average growth of 13 percent a year over the past five years — businesses will find more and more reasons to join the wind energy supply chain. Already, the sector is having an important economic effect.

We look overseas for examples of how wind energy can transform cities. And the examples of Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven in Germany and Hull, England, are impressive. But in the middle of our own country, Newton, Iowa, used wind energy to help reverse a trend of growing unemployment. In 2006, hundreds of workers lost their jobs when a major manufacturer shut its doors. Two years later, Trinity Structural Towers, a Texas wind tower manufacturer, started retrofitting 300,000 square feet of that plant to produce steel and concrete wind towers. Also that year, TPI Composites opened a 316,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Newton, employing 500 workers to produce fiberglass blades for the wind industry.

While workers are needed to produce turbines, others are required to install and maintain them. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the fastest growing occupation in the next 20 years will be wind turbine technician, a job that requires training, but no college degree, and paid a median annual salary of $51,050 in May 2015.

Offshore wind will benefit coastal populations and struggling port cities as a source of energy and jobs. In New Bedford, dwindling catches and tightening regulations have put fishermen out of work. But fishermen and other members of the region’s maritime workforce have skills that, with some training, could readily serve offshore wind. Similarly, workers in the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico are already working on the DeepWater Wind pilot offshore wind project being installed off of Rhode Island.

We should look to Europe for their experience in offshore wind. We can learn from their mistakes, benefit from their learning curve and see the potential of this renewable energy sector.

Joining that experience with U.S. know-how in onshore wind will create has a powerful framework for a new American energy industry.

Paul Vigeant is executive director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and vice president for workforce development for Bristol Community College.

Original Article Here

US already among world leaders in wind power

The offshore wind industry is in its infancy in the United States, but the United States already already has installed enough land-based wind farms to power 19 million homes.

And the U.S. Department of Energy says wind will supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.

 A typical wind turbine has more than 8,000 components, and those pieces are manufactured in 500 plants in 43 U.S. states, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Learn what that might mean for Massachusetts, which will be the home of the first industrial-scale offshore wind farm in the USW. Read New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Paul Vigeant’s take on the future of wind here.

Americans of all persuasions turning to renewable energy

The tide is turning in the United States on the subject of climate change, with significant majorities of both Democratic and Republican parties favoring limits on carbon dioxide pollution, establishing carbon taxes to reduce the federal income tax, and supporting research into renewable  sources of energy

In a report issued in March 2016, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is occurring — an increase of 7 percentage points from the year before.

The issue is most important to Democrats. Climate Wire says that liberals see climate change as more important than “race relations, gun control, terrorism and Supreme Court nominations.”

But Republicans also have come around, with 48 percent now saying they believe climate change is real, up from 28 percent two years ago. That said, it’s a back-burner issue for the GOP while the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Donald Trump, has said “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

While nearly two out of five people in the world have never even heard of climate change, despite having witnessed its effects, three out of four Americans believe the public schools should be teaching about it.

While registered voters are more likely to support a candidate who favors taking actions against climate change, conservative Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports such action.

Sens. Markey, Whiteside give offshore wind a boost

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey made good on his promise to push to extend the 30-percent investment tax credit for the new US offshore wind industry.

Markey joined fellow Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in filing the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development (WIND) Act, which would extend the tax break for offshore wind through 2025. Because offshore wind is a new industry and several projects in Massachusetts, New York and other East Coast states await legislative and/or regulatory approval, wind farm developers otherwise would not be able to take advantage of the investment tax credit, which is set to expire in 2019. The tax credit should help keep electricity rates for businesses and homeowners down by lowering initial developer

European Wind Farm Photo Courtesy: Siemens and Cape Wind

European Wind Farm Photo Courtesy: Siemens and Cape Wind

costs.

Great work by Sens. Markey and Whiteside. Building out a new industry that will be such a significant gain in the effort to build new sources of clean, renewable and affordable energy.

WEC’S Paul Vigeant: America waking up to wind power

Paul Vigeant, Executive Director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and Vice President for Workforce Development for Bristol Community College, recently attended the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Conference in New Orleans.

In all, 7,200 representatives of the wind energy sector attended the three-day event – the biggest turnout ever. And news that the Massachusetts House of Representatives released legislation calling for 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy created lots of buzz.

We caught up with Paul to get his impressions about the conference and where wind energy is today in the United States.

Q. Tell us a little about the conference.

  1. All of the major land-based wind energy companies were in attendance. My first impression is how wind energy is no longer just this cool experience or a lark. It is real business. It is emerging as a real energy player in the United States and the world.

Q. That’s interesting. We think of Europe as the leader in wind energy.

  1. Europe is the leader in offshore wind energy, no question. But in land-based wind, the United States is the dominant player in the whole world. The U.S. has more than 50,000 land-based turbines with 70 gigawatts of installed capacity. That’s a lot of power and it continues to grow.

Q.  How does offshore wind fit into the picture?

  1. A lot of the technology used for land-based wind is transferable to offshore wind. We manufacture wind turbines right here in the United States. In fact, the combination of the European experience with offshore wind — they’ve made a lot of mistakes that we can learn from — and the know-how of our existing wind industry provides is pretty powerful foundation for a new industry.

Q. Was anyone paying attention to the Massachusetts energy bill that calls for 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy?

  1. The news was a little slow to leak out. But then it made the newsletter that they produce for the conference, and it created a lot of buzz. People recognize that this is the dawn of a new industry in the United States and that they can be part of it. It’s not just the wind people who see this. People who work on the oil and gas rigs in the Gulf have skills that can be used in offshore wind. In fact, they already are working on the DeepWater project off of Rhode Island.

Q. How does all this relate to New Bedford and efforts to establish this industry on the South Coast of Massachusetts?

  1. In the next 20 years, the fastest growing occupation in the country will be wind turbine technician, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But it’s not on anyone’s radar. There is no consistent training or certification or even an agreement about what a properly trained wind turbine tech needs to know. At BCC, we have a wind energy program and we can help lead the way in workforce development. Also, we already have the workers. The maritime workforce in our region has the skills needed to operate and maintain offshore wind turbines.  All they need is the right training.

Add your voice in support of offshore wind

A recent study by the University of Delaware found that a commitment by Massachusetts to build 2,000 MW of offshore wind power is likely to mean a 55-percent drop in price within a decade.

The UD Special Initiative on Offshore Wind concluded that “costs will be far lower than previously contracted prices for offshore wind in the New England region and that costs will continuously lower throughout a build-out during the decade, due to ongoing technology and industry advances and the effects of making a Massachusetts market visible to the industry.”

But the key to the savings is quantity, which is why the study suggests 2,000 MW — more than either the amount now supplied by the Pilgrim Nuclear or Brayton Point power plants — is essential for the offshore wind industry to achieve maximum efficiency and savings. That’s true in everything manufactured. The cost per car is a lot cheaper if you build a million of them instead of just one or two.

The Massachusetts Legislature will debate new energy legislation to combat climate change and replace obsolete coal and nuclear plants. That bill in the House currently includes 1,200 MW of power. Various business and environmental groups are pushing the legislative leadership and Gov. Charlie Baker to increase the amount of offshore wind included in the final legislation to at least 2,000 MW to achieve the maximum environmental and economic benefits.

We hope you will consider writing a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo at State House, Room 356Boston, MA 02133 or a quick email to Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov. We also ask that you send that letter to Senate President Stan Rosenberg, State House Room 332Boston, MA 02133 or email Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov. Please ask them to agree to raise the threshold for offshore wind to 2,000 MW. In doing so, you will be advocating thousands of new jobs for this new American industry, starting right here in New Bedford. And you’ll also help remove 3 million tons of carbon dioxide from our air each year!

Do wind turbines threaten bird populations?

Are offshore wind turbines a danger to bird populations?

Worries about the effect of turbines on marine wildlife, especially birds, have been voiced by some skeptics. So, what are the facts?

Researchers have conducted a number of studies and found that while wind turbines do account for some bird deaths — estimates run from 20,000 to more than half a million in the entire United States — even the most dire estimates suggest that wind turbines are responsible for only a fraction of the number of bird deaths caused by other factors, including collisions with buildings.

In Toronto alone, as many as 9 million migrating birds are killed in collisions with buildingsBird_mortality.svg, according to a study by the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP). In the U.S. collisions with buildings kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S.

Hunters kill from 100 million to 120 million birds annually in the U.S., while transmission lines kill about 175 million. Meanwhile, feral and domestic cats may kill as many as 3.7 billion birds in the U.S. each year, according to a study by British scientist Benjamin K. Sovacool.

Other research has found that the gravest danger is from continued release of greenhouse gases and the resulting climate change. Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut wrote, “If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, 16 percent of species will be threatened with extinction due to climate change by the end of the century.” He based that on an analysis of 131 separate studies on the topic.

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