« 1/2/11 Our video of the day: What do wind turbines sound like to you? | Main | 12/30/10 VIDEOS OF THE DAY: Rock out to wind turbine construction AND then try to live with turbine noise AND Who cares about birds getting killed by wind turbines when there is so much money to be made? AND You break it, you pay: Wind project residents mandate property value guarantee AND Like a bad neighbor... Acciona is there »

1/1/11 Wind turbine videos of the day AND Big wind whistles through the loopholes and creates funny money AND (Not For) the Birds: How green is a killing machine?





SOURCE: www.magicvalley.com

January 1, 2011

By Laura Lundquist -

One Idaho wind company has a plan to get more green for each gust.

Idaho Winds LLC, representing eight local wind farms, has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve its unconventional plan to sell renewable energy credits in California.

In its Dec. 15 request, Idaho Winds proposed to sell wind energy and related renewable energy credits to a third party. The catch was Idaho Winds would instantly buy the power back, leaving just the credits, which the third party would sell to a California utility.

In essence, no energy would be sold — just California credits for wind power sold in another state.

The shell game is driven partly by California energy policy and partly by Idaho regulations.

California, along with most Western states, has a law requiring that renewable sources provide a certain percentage of the state’s energy needs. With every unit of renewable energy it buys or produces, a utility receives a renewable energy credit. At least 20 percent of California’s energy needed to come from renewable sources this year, with that percentage jumping to a full third by 2020.

As it stands, California utilities buy the energy and energy credits together. But after the initial purchase, the credits can be “unbundled” from the energy so utilities can just buy the credit. That’s the loophole Idaho Winds hopes to use.

Idaho Winds can’t sell the credits in Idaho because the state doesn’t have such a law, so its utilities don’t need credits.

Part of the reason for the petition was to ensure that, if the plan is approved, Idaho Winds will still qualify for small-project energy rates under the U.S. Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. It received approval for such rates from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission the same day it petitioned FERC.

FERC spokeswoman Barbara Connors said the petition may be a unique idea. Both state renewable standards and the renewable energy industry are just getting going, so very little has been tried.

“Basically, they’re saying to us, ‘This is how we read things and do you see it the same way?’” Connors said. “If this had happened before, they probably wouldn’t be asking us.”

If the petition is approved, it opens the door for other renewable energy producers in Idaho to follow suit.

Connors said one California utility has already intervened in the petition, an option allowed until Jan. 14. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says it would be affected by the proposal.

However, Idaho Winds’ petition may be unnecessary. The California Public Utilities Commission is reconsidering the bundling requirement after its latest rules pertaining to credits were challenged. Spokesman Andrew Koch said the CPUC plans to meet Jan. 13 to vote on a revision that allows for bundled contracts and credit-only contracts.

“We’re going to see if we can refine the whole process,” Koch said. “This may open up a different avenue.”



Bluefield Daily Telegraph, bdtonline.com

January 1, 2011


BLUEFIELD — Adding wind turbines to the obstacle course migratory birds face already creates one more challenge they do not need, naturalists with the American Bird Conservatory stated recently.

The issue of wind turbines returned to Tazewell County, Va., in mid December when Dominion Resources announced that it had purchased 100-percent ownership of 2,600 acres of property on East River Mountain for the purpose of creating the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm. Some county residents supported the project, citing potential for economic development, while others objected because they feared it would harm property values and damage scenery.

In other parts of the country, environmentalists have expressed fears that wind turbines could endanger birds.

Golden eagles, whooping cranes and greater sage-grouse are among the birds affected by poorly planned wind projects, conservancy members in Washington, D.C. said. Birds following East River Mountain, which crosses the West Virginia and Virginia border, on their routes could also be impacted, one member said.

“Most of those ridges in the east are used by migratory birds,” said Mike Parr, a spokesman for the conservancy. “There are two main areas. One is used by raptors, hawks and related birds that migrate during the daytime.”

These predatory birds include boardwing hawks, turkey vultures, sharp shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks, Parr said. Golden eagles also use such routes, but they are more common in the West than the East.

Another group of species using the mountain ridge routes is songbirds, which migrate at night instead of the daytime, Parr said. These include birds such as warblers and thrushes.

Mountain ridges are among the visual landmarks birds use while migrating. Birds of prey will use the updrafts around these ridges to help them gain altitude, he said.

Large wind turbines are required to have lights for the safety of pilots. This lighting can draw birds to them, putting them in danger of being hit by the blades, Parr said. White strobe lighting is better than steady lights, and not placing windmills right on the edge of ridges also helps.

Raptors are endangered by windmills because they tend to focus on searching for prey.

“Birds are not expecting stuff like this on the landscape,” Parr said. “There’s already an obstacle course. There are oil platforms, feral cats, cities with glass they can fly into, and communications towers. Most of the problems have to do with light pollution and infrastructure they’ve got to avoid.”

The conservancy is urging the adoption of standards to minimize the impact of wind turbines.

“Without strong standards designed to protect birds through smart siting, technology, and migration programs, wind power will soon affect millions of birds,” said Kelly Fuller, wind program coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy. “Given the subsidies paid to the wind industry by the government, many of the negative impacts to birds will be unwittingly funded by the American taxpayer. We understand the problem and know the solutions. American Bird Conservancy supports wind energy, and some operators are already working to protect birds, but we need to make all wind power bird smart now before major build out occurs.”

Posted on Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 04:06PM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend