2005 Wind Summit Notes

Day 1 Plenary Sessions

Larry Shirley, Director of NC State Energy Office:

This was the first wind summit for the region.  There is great potential for wind in NC (specifically).  There are possibilities of ~1000 MW of wind energy in mountains and 1500 MW off-shore.  This wind potential jumps significantly if you include areas that are limited (sounds and further off-shore).

Phil Dougherty, National Coordinator of Wind Powering America

Wind is the fastest growing source of potential energy.  Wind projects equal economic development, but the incentives to build wind plants are not nearly as great as other sectors.  Wind developers and advocates must have an open mind to utility companies (coal, natural gas, oil producers)- these are the ones with the money and ability to develop wind.  Wind is still gaining rapid access in the US- tax credits were extended until the end of 2007, which is good, but there needs to be a more permanent solution.  The continual sun-setting results in uncertainty for many.  Wind can lead to greater economic development- jobs in construction, operations and maintenance, manufacturing.  There really is a multiplier effect when wind springs up.  

Challenges for Wind:

  1. Interconnection and access to transmission
  2. Net metering
  3. Community acceptance
  4. Fair rate for power produced
  5. Environmental impact (avian issues)

Goals:

  1. 6% of all electricity by 2020
  2. 32 states with greater than 20 MW production by 2015
  3. 5% of federal sector electricity by 2010

Ken Mancini, PJM Interconnection

PJM has done several things to assist wind:

  1. expedited procedure for generators that are less than 20 MW
  2. collaborated with wind experts
  3. formed intermittent capacity resource working groups
  4. offers capacity credits for wind

PJM has approximately 442MW in service throughout their service area, and approximately 452MW under contract.  PJM has integrated wind through giving renewable credits to utilities.  In North Carolina, the utilities would have to be involved.

Website:  http://www.pjm.com

Rick Carson, TVA

Buffalo Mountain, just north of Knoxville, has 18 operational turbines.  This was a Green Power program that began in 1999 and, originally, was focused on three main components- solar, wind, and digester gas.  They expect to see an excess in supply in the near future.  Generation Partners (a company) allow residential or business customers to provide up to 50 kw of green power.  Lightning strikes, while not common, severely strain the technicians- it takes about 2 weeks to get a turbine running again after a strike.  

Avian mortality (all numbers disputed later though):

  • 7 song birds per year
  • 12 bats per year
  • No raptors or endangered species have been found dead

Website:  http://www.tva.gov

Sam J. Ervin, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners

Neither the North Carolina PUC nor the NARUC have wind policies, per se.  There are two forms of electricity distribution- regulated and deregulated.  In these traditionally regulated states (of which NC is one), the PUC's principle job is to adjudicate disputes and they must comply with the statutory procedures.

Three key concepts:

  1. Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)- this is the plan from the utility.  The utility must provide the estimate for their maximum load and provide the least-cost means for serving this load.  The utility must practice forward thinking/planning.  In this regard, a utility cannot plan for possible alternative energy use- they have to choose a transmission method that is definite.  Because of this IRP, utilities are limited in what alternative energy they can forecast to be used.
  2. Authority over certification of generating unit- Any generator must go through this process
  3. Rate making authority- this applies to IOU's.  The PUC can determine if the cost is too high and this forces IOU's/generators to think about whether they can recoup costs.

In states that have deregulated, it is easier to get through the process.  In regards to wind, utilities typically build three plants: base-load, heating, and (?).  In their IRP's, the utilities say that wind is not suitable for their purposes for base-load generation.  In the IOU opinion, dispatchability is a big issue.  The utilities need the wind on demand, not just when the wind blows.  The statutes for IRP's are focused on cost- cost at the time of submission and cost early.  The IOU statements regarding wind's infeasibility have not been challenged- if this is something that wind advocates think is wrong (the demandability) then this must be challenged with the PUC.  Ervin says now is the time to make that case, but do it based upon the IRP.  This is really the only way the NC PUC can do anything to strengthen renewable energy in the state.

What has the PUC done to help renewable energy advocates?

  1. Adopted small interconnection standards (noted that this is an important first step)
  2. Supported certification changes to make it easier for small generators to work
  3. Keep prices as low as possible
  4. Support NC Green Power (program where customers can voluntarily pay to support renewable energy)

Net metering will be coming to their docket soon; interconnection was there.  In regards to the Ridge Law, Ervin says that is there for a good reason ..."just look at Sugar Top and you'll know"...but the interpretation needs to be clarified and that can only be done in the General Assembly.  Lots of powerful opponents to it and there are really no Democrats from the western part of the state.  Advocates need to speak to those throughout the state and make them understand the implications of the Ridge Law and push for change from others within the state.  (Question from audience member): In Virginia, the attorney general's statement regarding windmills would simply be advisory- what is the deal in NC?  In NC, according to Ervin, the opinion of the attorney general is given some degree of weight.  There is absolutely nothing, however, that should prevent someone from taking it to court and asking for a declaratory judgment.

NARUC information:  Advocated for an extension of the tax credit.  NARUC is concerned with the adoption of one size fits all statutes and legality.        

Ken Jurman, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy

There is a wind power development in Highland County, Va.  Class 5 wind is located within the county and the site is a large piece of land owned by one person.  The developers expect to have 38 MW of wind energy capacity- 19 turbines at 2 MW each.  This amount of wind will offset 85,000 tons of carbon dioxide/year.  These turbines will be connected through a sub-station.  The county expects $175,000-$225,000 in annual tax revenues for 20-30 years.  This is a vast improvement from what the land provides in taxes otherwise.  Also, the development will result in the creation of 1-2 permanent jobs and various temporary construction jobs.  There are concerns from neighbors/residents about the view-shed.  There are environmental concerns (avian, habitats, etc) and residents are fearful.  NIMBY is striking hard. 

Goirdan Raacke (RELI)

Why offshore? Lack of available land, view-shed disturbance is limited. There are existing offshore projects- mostly in the EU (Denmark, etc). 

Challenges:  Engineering, greater capital costs, higher maintenance costs- issues with ice, maintenance, etc. 

Environmental issues to deal with- shipping lanes, fishing traffic, marine life, recreational uses...And oceanfront mansions (Cape Wind example). 

Turbine specs: 3+MW, height=250 feet+, Rotor diameter: 295-365', RPM: 8-16; 1/3-1/2 mile spacing.  (182' blade length)- Since these are 3 miles off-shore, they would appear as though a dime in an outstretched hand.  Hopeful for 40 turbines @ 3.6 MW

14 MW=44,000 homes (operational in 2008)

Project site: 8 sq. miles- the transmission capacity is viable from the exact location. 

Over 20 years, the project saves 13.5 million barrels of oil @ $40/barrel=$540 million; @$74/barrel=$1billion fuel savings.  Avoids annual emissions of 489 tons of sulfur dioxide, 221 tons of nitrogen dioxide, and 235,000 tons of carbon dioxide (=1/2 billion car miles avoided each year)

Many regulatory reviews required- Army Corps of Engineers, NY Dept. of State, Coast Guard, etc... Probably the first off-shore wind project in the US- taking due care to make sure that everything is done absolutely right.

Cape Wind project findings: positive economic and fiscal impact, potential 600-1000 construction jobs, no adverse impact on real estate or avian population, positive tourism effect.

Project started in 1999 with wind potential studies.  Worked with a broad coalition and variety of wind/environmental groups- instrumental in media connections, outreach and education.  Focused on public outreach and meeting with stakeholders- this has been crucial to success. 

Summary:  Offshore=higher cost and greater energy.  Offshore=vicinity to load centers.  Offshore needed for RPS compliance; great East Coast offshore wind potential; look to European experience; and learn from Cape Cod and LI projects; dire need for public education and importance of environmental support.

Bill Bulpitt- Georgia Tech (working with Southern Company)

Offshore Wind Resources in the Southeast

Just started work this summer; working with Southern Company.  Feasibility started with NSF Grant.  Focused on South Atlantic Bight- 6 years of highly creditable wind data @50 meters above ocean surface.  Wind data gathering was 40 miles offshore, 50 meters above ocean surface at 27 meter water depth.  Class 4 wind power.  6 year average is 7.6 meters/second; 479 watts/meter (squared).  Hurricanes are obviously a cause of concern.

Project will have 2 MW or 3.6 MW capacity.  3.6 MW would have capacity of 28 % and 2 MW at 38 %.

Conclusion: Offshore wind in the Southeast warrants further studies- resource is more significant than earlier reports; could generate economically competitive electricity.  Low population density in the area studied; potential problems etc with this.  Lots of jurisdictional issues- federal, state, and local regulations apply in these waters.  Viewshed disruption would be minimal- try to put them 7-8 miles offshore.  Going to view offshore wind sites in Europe (Denmark, UK, and Ireland)

Jennifer DeCasaro, National Council of State Legislators

Renewable energy (and wind in particular) has policy implications.  There are stakeholders with much at stake- developers, landowners, and utilities.  Planning and permitting are an important first step- a locale must be identified based on transmission lines, etc.  Permitting agencies vary from state to state- in some states it's easier to get access and permission, but in others it is impossible.  Federally, there are also many agencies to deal with: FAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal land management organizations. 

Cases:

  • Minnesota- Must file permit if the development is over 5 MW.
  • Oregon- Must file permit if the development is over 35 MW and requires a certificate.  This is also all done through only one state agency.
  • South Dakota- any facility, regardless of production, must have a permit/certification.

Bonnie Ram, Energetics, Inc.

Some factors regarding off-shore wind permitting: project size and state/federal ocean boundaries.  The US Army Corps of Engineers looks over all navigational waters and issues.  Now, after the new Energy Bill, the Mining and Minerals department may have some control- as of right now, there is a debate between the two agencies over who will have the control.  There is a significant control exerted, however, over the planning and permitting process by state and local agencies.  These "ground floor"organizations can really control the whole process.  Community involvement, then, is important because this all leads to planning, acceptance, etc.  There currently is no national off-shore wind policy.   

Matt Heck, Community Energy, Inc.

CEI, Inc. started in 1999.  CEI was focused on marketing, supplying, and developing wind.  The value of wind in PJM (Pennsylvania, Jersey, and Maryland) is $40-45 MWH with the cost being $55-60 MWH. 

Current Projects:

  • 7.5 MW Jersey-Atlantic City project.  This wind development will be visible to 30 million tourists per year- a huge boom to wind developments nationwide.  Most are only in remote, mountainous locations, but this one will be seen by all tourists to Atlantic City.  The foundations for the ACUA project are massive (90 feet deep) because of concerns (even if it hasn't happened) of hurricanes.  This is something that off-shore developments must be prepared for and account for.
  • 24 MW Northeast Pennsylvania- This development will be visible from the Pennsylvania turnpike, and will house 12 turbines.

Website: http://www.newwindenergy.com

George Sterzinger, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Policy Project

When communities own and develop wind (i.e. it isn't an outside developer coming in to their land) then it really changes attitudes.  People become more taken with the idea and it is more acceptable- the NIMBY thoughts and feelings do not creep in as much. 

REPP focused on a particular question and ran a lengthy study- the question: How do wind sites affect property values?  The general feeling and attitude among critics was that wind developments negatively impacted property values.  The study found that wind sites and view-sheds within these sites actually increased comparably.  Approximately 80-90% of the time, view-sheds areas grew faster than other comparable areas.  This seems to imply that turbines do not harm property values- they may not increase the value, but they do not harm the value.  The statistics simply do not support the claim that wind farms negatively impact property values.

Mark Lotts, Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative

Engaged in a landscape classification system- trying to find out what impact a wind map has on a local/state agency.

Curtis Smalling, Audubon Society of NC

The impact on local and total bird populations (from wind sites) can be significant or insignificant. 

Averages: 2.3-4.3 birds/turbine/year

Nocturnal migrants may be a high risk group at some sites.  Mortality averages vary depending on region, but population estimates (of birds struck) are not statistically available everywhere.  In North Carolina, there are approximately 450+ different species of birds- the mountains and the coast (our wind areas) are the primary migratory routes for these birds.  For wind developers and advocates, it is imperative to consider avian impacts when designing a location and specifications.  National standards should be utilized for site surveys and impact studies provide a thorough site study.  Advocates should think of the environmental community as stakeholders just as if they were utilities or customers- make sure all is done as rigorously as possible to ensure the proper steps are taken to limit avian mortality.

Jessica Kearns, Wildlife Biologist, West Inc.

Biggest issues with wind power:

  1. Bird migration
  2. Threatened and endangered species
  3. Bats

Sources of impact are most importantly mortality (flying into the blades) and habitat reduction.  You must site for a possible impact- use all available resources to determine if that is a habitat, etc.  There are lots of mortality studies throughout the nation- contrary to an earlier presentation (Buffalo Mountain) mortality is typically 2-4 birds/turbine.  Radar has been used in select locales in the West, but there are problems- is one blip a single bird, or a group of birds, etc?  There is no correlation between target rates and mortality. 

Bat mortality at wind farms have been documented worldwide- in the East, in particular, mortality can increase to 30-40 bats per year.  Most bat mortality measured was in a 6 week period (August-September).  Storm fronts are also important to bat migration.  Lit and unlit turbines do not seem to make a difference.  It is mostly tree bats that are being killed.  No bats have been found killed by non-moving turbines; the bats are attracted to tall structures for roosting and attracted to the movement of the blades and the sounds produced by the turbine.  Why does it seem to be a problem in the East more than the West - Possibly because linear funneling during migration occurs through the ridge tops, where most turbines are located.      


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