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 … Read More
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 … Read More
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 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 … Read More
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 … Read More
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 … Read More
New York Times 9/6/11 – Wind Industry Lobbies for Tax-Credit Extension The production tax credit program allows owners of wind projects that sell renewable energy to a utility to take a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the … Read More
A 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.
A serialized version of our new report, Democratizing the Electricity System, Part 5 of 5. Click here for: Part 1 (The Electric System: Inflection Point) Part 2 (The Economics of Distributed Generation) Part 3 (The Political and Technical Advantages of … Read More