Phase-Out of the Federal Wind Tax Credit a Good Thing?

Date: 14 Jun 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 4 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Energy and Environment News has a very long story on a new angle for the federal wind tax credit debate: a phaseout. This article raises several issues, apart from that policy strategy, that are worth a quick discussion. 1. Why Would Wind Compete with Natural Gas? The article waxes long about the trials of the wind … Read More

Could Securitization Democratize Solar Power?

Date: 14 May 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 1 Facebooktwitterredditmail

After Wall Street popularized the term “mortgage-backed securities” in their destruction of the economy in 2008, you could be forgiven for thinking “solar securities” are a pyramid scheme.  But in truth, they may hold the key to democratizing the financing and the ownership of distributed renewable energy. Right now, financing solar typically means looking for a … Read More

Local Solar Could Solve ‘Massive Supply-Demand Imbalance’ in Renewable Energy Financing

Date: 1 May 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In the next two years, the U.S. may get a lot less solar and wind power than it could. It’s not a shortage of solar panels or the cost of turbines.  Rather, it’s a problem of the perverse nature of federal incentives for renewable energy.  Right now, the owner of a solar or wind energy project … Read More

History is Repeating Itself: Trash Burner Proposals Proliferate

Date: 27 Mar 2012 | posted in: waste - anti-incineration, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Proposals for large-scale garbage incineration are proliferating throughout the US, just as they did 30 years ago. They claim to be new and improved with some companies offering ‘state-of-the-art’ technologies such as plasma arc, gasification, and pyrolysis. Once again citizens, small businesses and elected officials are saying “No.”… Read More

Ontario Feed-in Tariff Prices Drop, Germans Still Far Cheaper

Date: 23 Mar 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Ontario just completed a revision of their landmark feed-in tariff program and rates for renewable electricity generation and prices fell sharply: 30% for solar and 15% for wind power. This continues a trend of falling costs for renewable energy around the world. As a bit of background, Ontario’s feed-in tariff gives wind and solar producers (and … Read More

Distributed Generation Hits Sweet Spot in Cost v. Transmission

Date: 24 Feb 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Update 3/27/12: added clarification to text and chart that prices include federal tax incentives If the cost of electricity were the only factor in energy discussions, we’d probably have a lot more coal and a lot less renewable energy.  But the truth is that renewable energy can compete on cost and distributed renewable energy has a … Read More

Citizens Make an Example of Minnesota “Community Wind” Project

Date: 23 Feb 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Community wind promises to expand the economic opportunity of transitioning the electricity system to cleaner energy, and engage local communities.  Unfortunately, there’s “community wind” and community wind, as one Minnesota project starkly illustrates. Goodhue Wind was first envisioned as a “community wind” project by National Wind in 2008 as a 78 megawatt (MW) wind power plant … Read More

Test Case: Can Cash Payments Win Over Locals to Wind Project?

Date: 1 Aug 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

84 Pipestone County Wind TurbinesA 50-turbine wind farm in Goodhue County in southeastern Minnesota has met with stiff local resistance, a frequent tale in the wind industry.  Recently, the project developer won a key court case to move forward, after making concessions about the distance (“setback”) between the wind farm and local homes.  However, many residents remained unconvinced that the project was in their best interest.

But today the project developers offered $10,000 payments (over 20 years) to about 200 local residents to try to win them over.  The concept might work, although the payments – $500 per year – aren’t particularly large. 

In a recent European study, researchers found that citizens generally have two priorities for renewable energy projects: avoiding environmental and personal harm and sharing in the economic benefits from their local energy resources. The $10,000 checks could go a long way toward satisfying local residents that they aren’t being simply colonized for their wind resource. 

Will it work?

The wind project had already been certified as “community-based” under a 2005 state statute, but local opponents contested that a wind farm development by a company owned by Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens hardly qualified.  It remains to be seen whether a more significant a direct benefit for nearby residents is enough to buy their support.

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