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3/28/11 Was it the regulatory environment or "Naked-Wind Farm" situation that caused Invenergy to cancel Brown County project AND Big Wind+Big Money+The Mob = True Love AND Why a stroll in the prairie might be a bad idea

Note from the BPWI research nerd: In wind-industry speak, a wind project that does not have a power purchase agreement with a utility is known as a "Naked Wind Farm"

 Use of term “Naked wind farm”:

"NextEra Energy Inc., the largest U.S. generator of wind power, said it hasn't been able to obtain multiyear contracts for about $1 billion in turbines capable of generating 612 megawatts of electricity. These so-called naked wind farms increased as cheaper natural gas and the lack of a federal clean-energy mandate reduced pressure on utilities to buy renewable power.

SOURCE: Stamford Advocate"

Without a utility committing to a long term power purchase agreement, financing for a large wind project becomes very difficult. Was this the real reason Invenergy pulled out of the Brown County wind project?

Although Invenergy claims it's Wisconsin's regulatory environment that caused them to cancel the project, in the same letter to the PSC they make it clear they will continue development of other wind projects in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Invenergy and wind lobbyists push a media spin on the story that does not stand up to scrutiny.

Examples of spin on Invenergy’s cancellation of wind project

Now Wisconsin Loses a Wind Farm – CleanTechnica: Cleantech ... <http://cleantechnica.com/2011/03/26/now-wisconsin-loses-a-wind-farm/>

Large Wisconsin Wind Farm Killed By Politics | EarthTechling <http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/03/large-wisconsin-wind-farm-killed-by-politics/>

Wind Power Wilts in Wisconsin, Surges in North Dakota <http://cleantechnica.com/2011/03/27/wind-power-wilts-in-wisconsin-surges-in-north-dakota/>

Developer Pulls Plug on Wisconsin Wind Farm Over Policy .. <http://solveclimate.com/news/20110323/wisconsin-wind-energy-renewable-portfolio-standard>

Teamster Nation: Developer cancels plan for WI wind farm because of Walker  <http://teamsternation.blogspot.com/2011/03/developer-cancels-plan-for-wi-wind-farm.html>

Regulatory Flux Blamed for Canceled Wisconsin Wisconsin Farm ... <http://midwest.construction.com/yb/mw/article.aspx?story_id=157119321>

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ruins everything, including wind power ... <http://www.grist.org/article/2011-03-25-wisconsin-gov.-scott-walker-ruins-everything-including-wind-powe>

Better Plan noted that reporter Thomas Content did not mention Invenergy's plans to continue development of wind projects in our state when he first reported the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. We are glad to say he has included this critical piece of information in the following story:


SOURCE: Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com

March 27, 2011

By Thomas Content  

State energy regulators would be asked to go back to the drawing board to develop statewide rules governing wind power projects, under a bill to be considered this week.

The Legislature’s joint committee for review of administrative rules voted earlier this month to temporarily block a wind farm site rule developed by the state Public Service Commission.

But that action was only good for 30 days. To keep the rule from taking effect Friday, the committee will meet again Tuesday to consider a bill that would send the issue back to the PSC and direct the agency to develop revised guidelines within six months.

After the rule was suspended, Chicago wind energy developer Invenergy LLC dropped its plan to build a large wind farm near Green Bay.

Invenergy’s proposal would have included setbacks of 1,000 feet, which is less than the 1,250-foot minimum sought by the PSC in its rule. The PSC rule that’s been blocked from taking effect also would have provided specific noise and shadow flicker requirements for wind farm turbines.

A property rights bill introduced in January by Gov. Scott Walker and supported by wind farm opponents and the Wisconsin Realtors Association would restrict development unless a turbine is placed 1,800 feet from a neighbor’s property line.

That bill threatens to stall wind power development in the state but was welcomed by a citizens group that has fought the Invenergy proposal.

The Brown County Citizens for Responsible Energy said it was pleased that the Invenergy proposal was dropped. Group spokesman Steve Deslauriers said the 1,000-foot setbacks were “irresponsible” and would have harmed nearby homeowners.

The local group mobilized against the Invenergy Ledge Wind energy project, and residents near the Invenergy project were well represented at public hearings earlier this year on wind farm siting.

The property rights group is seeking an even stricter statewide standard than that sought by Walker – 2,640 feet, Deslauriers said.

“Our hope is that real world experience of existing wind project residents be heard and addressed in the new statewide wind siting rules,” he said.

Invenergy’s decision “will benefit the taxpayers and ratepayers of Wisconsin, as well as preserve the health, safety, and property values of those who would have been forced to live within the industrial turbine project,” the Brown County group said.

The organization said it “will continue to work vigilantly to prevent the irresponsible development of industrial wind projects.”

Supporters of wind energy development say the state of flux on wind rules will stall development, leading to a loss of jobs tied to wind turbine construction as well as revenue for host property owners and local governments.

The PSC rule would not have applied to large wind farms like Invenergy’s, although Walker’s bill would have. Utility observers expect the PSC to adopt consistent standards for all wind projects.

In its most recent wind farm decision, the PSC ruled that 1,250-foot setbacks be required for We Energies’ Glacier Hills Wind Park, now under construction in Columbia County.

Alissa Krinsky, Invenergy spokeswoman, declined to say whether the 1,250-foot setback imposed in the We Energies case would have been acceptable for the Brown County project.

Invenergy said last week it would increase its development efforts outside Wisconsin, in light of regulatory uncertainty here. At the same time, Invenergy said it planned to develop other in-state projects that “do not require as significant an investment during an unstable climate.”

Jeff Anthony, vice president of business development at the American Wind Energy Association, said he realized there was significant opposition to the Invenergy project, but he said the state’s regulatory climate likely proved to be “the last straw” for the Chicago firm.

“This is not rhetoric. This is real, in terms of lost opportunity for jobs and economic development in the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of compromise, Anthony said wind developers already compromised during the drafting of the PSC rule. Along with the setbacks, the noise and shadow requirements set by the PSC “were going to be very tough rules to meet” but provided the industry a framework to proceed with projects, he said.

Next Story


SOURCE: Hawaii Free Press

Monday March 28, 2011

by Andrew Walden

Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind stood comfortably with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep Mazie Hirono, and HECO CEO Dick Rosenblum at the grand opening of the Kahuku Wind energy project on Oahu’s North Shore Thursday.   As he should. 

First Wind–formerly known as UPC Wind--got its start in wind energy by launching Italy’s IVPC--a company now subject to a record breaking asset seizure by Italian police.  The Financial Times September 14, 2010 explains:

Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.

Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.

General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen.

Until his arrest last November, Mr Nicastri, based in the inland hill town of Alcamo, was Sicily’s largest developer of windfarms, arranging purchases of land, financing and official permits. Some projects were sold through intermediaries to foreign renewable energy companies attracted to Italy by generous subsidy schemes….

The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned….

Mr Nicastri sold most of his windfarm projects to IVPC, a company near Naples run by Oreste Vigorito, also president of Italy’s windpower association. Mr Vigorito was also arrested last November on suspicion of fraud and later released. He denied wrongdoing.

Of course the folks who started IVPC know nothing about any of this.  Reacting to an earlier round of arrests, First Wind founder Brian Caffyn told the November 15, 2009 Boston Herald: “I read about it in the papers, and I was very surprised.”

Will Hawaii’s windfarms actually work?  The “Clipper Liberty” wind turbines installed at Kahuku and on Maui are made by a company founded by a former Director of Enron Wind.  Clipper Liberty Vice President of Engineering is also an Enron Wind veteran.

Gaynor and Caffyn were once much more public about their corporate ties to Vigorito’s IVPC.  First Wind was originally known as UPC.  The UPC Solar website touts “Mr. Caffyn personally oversaw the establishment and construction of the largest wind energy company in Italy — Italian Vento Power Corporation.”

IVPC’s english-language website states:  “The Group came to light in 1993 from an idea of Oreste Vigorito who formed the company I.V.P.C. S.r.l. on behalf of UPC, an American company which operates in the wind sector in California.”  (Emphasis added.)

The UPC Solar website explains: “UPC’s earliest wind farm developments were built in 1995 in Italy. At the time UPC sold IVPC, its Italian wind business, in 2005, it had built approximately 650MW of capacity representing over 50% of the total installed Italian wind capacity.”

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute News Summer, 2005 reports on the activities of WPI alumnus Gaynor: 

"...As president and CEO of UPC Wind Management, located in Newton, Mass., Gaynor was tapped to bring the success of the parent company, UPC Group, to North America. In Europe and North Africa, UPC affiliates—including Italian Vento Power Corporation—have raised over $900 million in financing and installed some 900 utility-scale wind turbine generators (WTGs), with a total capacity of more than 635 megawatts. UPC subsidiary companies, positioned across the United States and in Toronto, are currently pursing some 2,000 megawatts in projects from Maine to Maui..."

In March, Gaynor secured financing for a $70 million project on the island of Maui. [The project is a joint venture with Makani Nui Associates, which owns 49 percent.] The 30-megawatt wind farm at Kaheawa Pastures will be Hawaii’s first utility-scale project to be put into service since the 1980s. Plans call for 20 towers, 180 feet tall, with 1.5-megawatt General Electric turbines. Construction is expected to begin this summer, and the project should be completed by the first quarter of 2006. When operational, the wind farm will supply up to 9 percent of demand to customers of Maui Electric Company.

The Kaheawa Pastures site is situated on state conservation land, between Ma’aleaea and Olowalu, at elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet.

Makani Nui is also a partner in the Kahuku Wind project.

Business Week reports that Caffyn is a Director or Partner in dozens of Limited Liability Corporations tied to wind energy projects.  These include Hawaii’s Kaheawa Wind Power, LLC, Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC, Hawaii Wind Construction, LLC, and UPC Hawaii Wind O&M. 

Caffyn is also listed as a Director or Partner of Italian Vento Power Corporation (IVPC), Srl, IVPC 4, Srl. (Italian Vento Power Corporation), IVPC 6, Srl, IVPC 2000, Srl., IVPC Energy B.V., IVPC Energy 3 B.V., IVPC Energy 4 B.V., IVPC Energy 5, B.V., IVPC Energy 6, B.V., IVPC Energy 7, B.V., IVPC Gestione, Srl, IVPC Management, Srl, IVPC Management 2, Srl and IVPC Marche, Srl. Mr. Caffyn served as Director or Partner of IVPC Marche 2, Srl., IVPC Puglia, Srl, IVPC Service, Srl, IVPC Service 2, Srl, IVPC Service 3, Srl, IVPC Service 4, Srl, IVPC Service 5, Srl, IVPC Service 6, Srl, IVPC Sicilia, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 2, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 3, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 4, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 5, Srl., IVPC Sicilia 6, Srl., IVPC Umbria, Srl., IVPC Wind, Srl.

The UK Independent September 16, 2010 reports:

After decades of drug-running, extortion and prostitution, the Mafia appears to have found a rather more ecological way of laundering their money: green power.

And if the assets of the Italian police's latest target are any indication, the Mafia is embracing the renewable energy business with an enthusiasm that would make Al Gore look like a dilettante. The surprising revelation of organised crime's new green streak came as Italian police said yesterday they had made the largest recorded seizure of mob assets – worth €1.5bn (£1.25bn) ($2.1bn US) – from the Mafia-linked Sicilian businessman Vito Nicastri, who had vast holdings in alternative energy concerns, including wind farms.

Organised crime in Italy has previously been notorious for trading in environmental destruction – principally earning billions of euros by illegally dumping toxic waste. But most of the newly seized assets are in the form of land, property and bank accounts in Sicily, the home of Cosa Nostra, and in the neighbouring region of Calabria, the base of the rival 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

So naturally, First Wind is very comfortable with Hawaii politicians and business leaders. 

THE FUTURE: Wind Energy's Ghosts

The list First Wind owned companies (some inactive) registered in Hawaii includes the following:




BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Bolt failures caused a wind turbine's rotor and blades to fall from a tower in north-central North Dakota, and six other turbines have been shut down while their bolts are replaced, a state regulator said Thursday.

Members of North Dakota's Public Service Commission, which oversaw the development of the 71-turbine wind farm, said Thursday they would seek more detailed information about how widespread the problems may be.

"That's a fair bit of equipment concern that I would have, quite frankly," Commissioner Kevin Cramer said.

The wind project, which was dedicated last October, is located near Rugby in Pierce County. It is capable of generating up to 149 megawatts of electricity.

It is owned by Iberdrola Renewables Inc. of Portland, Ore., which is a unit of Iberdrola Renovables SA of Valencia, Spain. The turbines themselves were manufactured by Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., a unit of Suzlon Energy Ltd., based in India.

Spokeswomen for Iberdrola and Suzlon did not immediately reply to telephone and email requests for comment Thursday. Suzlon has previously described the accident as an isolated incident.

Jerry Lein, a commission utility analyst, said Iberdrola officials told him that bolts that attached the wind turbine's rotor and blades to a power shaft had failed. The shaft transfers the energy generated by the turning blades to an electric generator.

No one was injured when the rotor and blades toppled from the tower March 14 and crashed to the ground.

Lein said the wind farm was shut down and its turbines inspected. The turbines that did not need bolt replacement have been restarted, he said. The damaged material has been sent to a lab for analysis.

"They want to look further into the mechanism there that was failed before," he said. "They said that, specifically, they're replacing the bolts that hold it together."

The bolts are normally checked every six months, Lein said.

Commissioner Brian Kalk said the agency should seek to examine the wind farm's maintenance records. He wants to hear more information from the companies within two weeks, Kalk said.

"I'd like (the companies) to get back in front of us as quickly as possible ... and give us their best estimate of what is going on," Kalk said.

The commission's president, Tony Clark, said the agency should hold an informal hearing on the incident.

"Nobody has a greater incentive to find out what went wrong than the company does," Cramer said. "But, at the same time, the citizens of Pierce County, they're probably a little bit concerned too. ... You might not want to go hiking in the prairie for a while." 

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