Clean Energy Business Network May Update

Clean Energy Business Network


Welcome to the Pew Clean Energy Business Network's Clean Energy stories for the week of May 14, 2012. As a service to the Clean Energy Business Network, Pew provides weekly articles on clean energy topics and news. They arrive every Friday and if you prefer not to receive these emails you can unsubscribe to this feed without losing access to the rest of the Clean Energy Business Network. These stories are compiled with assistance from Stateline.org.

Top stories:


Solar Power on Residential Rooftops

New technology is making it possible and practical for photovoltaic installations to work on residential rooftops. Innovative reflective arrays, developed in Minnesota by TenKSolar and 3M, make PV panels space efficient and ramp up the energy production.

Applied Energy Innovations is a vertically integrated renewable energy contractor based in Minneapolis. They expect to see more installations, due in part to the energy rebates offered from Xcel Energy for renewable energy production using Minnesota-made products.

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Public Wary of Sequestration, Not Clean Energy

A large majority of Americans support a pair of congressional efforts to create an economy based on cleaner-energy sources, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.

Almost two-thirds—64 percent—of those surveyed said that Congress should extend federal tax credits that encourage production of alternative-energy sources, such as wind, that are due to expire at year's end. In a separate question, 64 percent of respondents said they support enactment of a clean-energy standard, which would require the country to produce a higher percentage of its electricity from cleaner sources of energy.

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Analysis: New facilities spotlight next-generation biofuels

(Reuters) - After a decade of promise, advanced biofuels makers are entering a crucial make-or-break period with the first of a new generation of production facilities about to come on line.

The new facilities are designed to take biofuels beyond corn-based ethanol and begin to shift the industry to "advanced" fuels made with a lower carbon footprint derived from products that will not compete with demand for food.

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Apple commits to renewable power for US data centres

Apple plans to power its main data centre entirely with renewable energy by the end of this year, taking steps to address longstanding environmental concerns about the rapid expansion of high-consuming computer server farms.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad said on Thursday it was buying equipment from SunPower Corp and startup Bloom Energy to build two solar array installations in North Carolina, near its core data center.

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Midwest cities planning for electric vehicles

Independence, Missouri, is the kind of place where when someone buys an electric car it's unusual enough that the local newspaper writes a story about it.

Stan Adkins of Cable-Dahmer Chevrolet sold a second Chevy Volt last month.

Read more.

Could More Midwest Wind Really Save Ratepayers Billions?

Additional wind power in the US Midwest could cut wholesale electricity prices by more than 25%, saving a typical household as much as $200 a year, proponents of new renewable energy capacity in the region said.

The analysis for the advocacy group Americans for a Clean Energy Grid found that if 20 GW was added to the existing 10 GW of wind capacity in the MISO region, consumers' power costs would decline by $3 billion to $6.9 billion a year after the costs of new transmission is factored in.

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Colorado Regulators to Rule on Xcel Energy's Solar-program Cuts

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is set to decide today how much sun gets turned into electricity by Xcel Energy.

The commission will rule on a two-year renewable-energy plan for the state's largest utility that has sparked sharp debate among consumer advocates, the solar industry and environmentalists.

Read more.

State energy-efficiency programs shared with private foundation

One of the two co-chairmen of Delaware's energy-efficiency agency sought federal funding last year to replicate the group's work through a private foundation he created.

John Byrne, who said last week he would resign from the Sustainable Energy Utility on June 1, said the SEU program concepts were his and he was free to do with them as he pleased, without prior approval by the SEU board. He did not alert the board to his plans.

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Offshore wind 'backbone' still a plus for Delaware

Delaware no longer has an offshore wind farm in active development, but a related project involving the state advanced this week.

The U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday declared no competitive interest in ocean tracts being sought by the Atlantic Wind Connection.

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Motech Industries set to grow even as rivals falter

It started with a slab of silicon. Then from years of innovation and some stick-to-it-iveness, Motech Industries transformed into the sixth-largest solar panel business in the world. But what's next for the eco-friendly company while it waits for the rest of its prospects to see the light?

At a time when solar businesses come and go with the wind, Motech, a Taiwan-based company that entered the industry 20 years ago, is hiring and looking to double the size of its U.S. business in the former General Electric solar site in Newark. But what are they doing that others, like Solyndra and AstroPower, didn't?

Read more.

Energy Department to fund wave power test in Hawaii

The U.S. Department of Energy said Friday it would make $500,000 available for a year-long test of a wave energy conversion project at the Navy's wave energy test site off the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.

The funding presents a new opportunity for a wave energy project at the Windward Oahu base, which has been the site of three test projects by Ocean Power Technologies, which recently removed a 40-kilowatt PowerBuoy from the waters off the base.

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Wind turbine noise is targeted

Days after state environmental officials found unacceptable noise levels from wind turbines in Falmouth, they are considering new regulations that would require the state to review potential noise issues before wind turbines are built in Massachusetts.

The state might also conduct sound studies in other communities, such as Fairhaven and Kingston, where residents, as in Falmouth, have complained about newly installed turbines, officials said.

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For Xcel, selling less electricity pays off

Selling less electricity is eroding Xcel Energy Inc.'s bottom line -- and, at the same time, shoring it up.

The Minneapolis-based utility has seen two consecutive quarters of lower electricity sales, which contributed to a 10 percent drop in first-quarter earnings.

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Did U.S. loan delay bring on Minnesota company's sale?

The founder of high-tech window factory in Minnesota is denying a suggestion that two years of government foot-dragging over a promised loan guarantee triggered the company's sale to a French firm.

"We'd still be doing this deal," John Van Dine, chief executive of Sage Electrochromics, said in an interview when asked if the U.S. delay drove the company into the arms of a foreign suitor.

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Parts for Minnesota Power wind turbines blow through Twin Ports

The latest installment of a growing wind energy center on the plains of North Dakota is moving through the Duluth port this week as Minnesota Power ramps up its renewable energy efforts.

Giant hub generator units for 300-foot-tall wind turbines made the trip from Denmark on the 469-foot Netherlands-flagged Americaborg to be trucked to New Salem, N.D., — the first of four shipments that will move through the port this summer.

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Produce jobs through energy conservation, land restoration, speaker says

Montana should start regrowing jobs in the next few years, but it could do it a lot faster by concentrating on two opportunities, according to a University of Montana researcher.

“It just requires patient capital,” O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West director Larry Swanson said at the “Into the Future” job growth conference on Tuesday.

“This would mean thousands of jobs in every community it's a no-brainer.”

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New Boston goes green with geothermal technology

NEW BOSTON AIR FORCE STATION, NH -- The 23rd Space Operations Squadron expects to save more than $40,000 in energy costs this year.

This past December, 23 SOPS civil engineers refitted a warehouse on base with the latest geothermal heating ventilation and air conditioning system. The technology incorporates heat pumps, distribution subsystems and above all, the Earth's constant temperature, to create a drastically more efficient heating and cooling system than traditional HVAC systems.

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Senate Committee Advances Bill To Boost Solar Energy Market

TRENTON Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Bob Smith and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would encourage development of solar installations in New Jersey was approved Thursday by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

“Solar power has become so popular in New Jersey that the supply of solar energy has grown faster than the demand from energy companies who are required to purchase a minimum amount of their energy from solar supplies each year,” said Smith (D-Middlesex), Chairman of the Environment and Energy Committee. “Rather than allowing this market's growth to stagnate and the production of clean and domestically-produced solar energy to slow, we need to continue to supply incentives for New Jerseyans to purchase and install solar equipment, while keeping costs down for electric ratepayers. This bill is a great step in avoiding another bust of New Jersey's solar market.”

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Dominion proposes premium for solar power

Dominion Virginia Power proposes paying a premium price to encourage customers to install solar energy systems and sell the electricity generated to the company.

The state's largest electricity company asked the State Corporation Commission Thursday for permission to buy solar-generated electricity from residential and small commercial customers at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for a five-year demonstration period.

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Plan for Vermont windmills causes international furor

STANSTEAD, Quebec — The winds blowing through Canada's broad St. Lawrence Valley and across Vermont's hilltops are stirring up an international tempest over which country's laws should govern how those breezes are harnessed for electricity.

Some residents of the Quebec town of Stanstead are upset about plans in Vermont to erect just south of the border two industrial-size wind turbines — one of which would be about 1,000 feet from a few Canadian and Vermont homes.

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PSC endorses $210 million Wisconsin-Minnesota power line

Members of the state Public Service Commission on Thursday gave a nod to utilities proposing a $210million high-voltage power line that would provide a third major grid connection with Minnesota.

The PSC decided the 345,000-volt project is needed to meet local electricity demand in the La Crosse area as well as to provide regional benefits including the ability to transfer more electricity on the bulk power system.

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Mukwonago startup ready for wind turbine breakdowns

Mukwonago - The growth of the wind power sector is at a crossroads, with a divided Congress deadlocked on whether to renew a key subsidy that has helped drive the industry's growth.

But a slowdown in wind farm construction won't deter Mukwonago startup firm Gearbox Express, which has invested more than $9 million to ready itself to help the wind power sector move through an inevitable challenge - gear failures.

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New alliance hopes to expand renewable energy options in Wyoming

CODY — Members of the Renewable Energy Alliance will address the state Legislature's Joint Minerals Committee this summer as the start-up group looks to create balance in the state's energy portfolio and make renewable systems available to more users.

With support from Wyoming's renewable energy companies and customers and proponents of green energy across the state, the Sheridan-based Powder River Resource Council took the lead this spring in forming the alliance.

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Government announces biggest energy reforms in 20 years

The biggest reforms to the UK energy sector in two decades were set out on Tuesday, prompting warnings from consumer groups and green campaigners that they would raise bills and penalise renewable energy while boosting nuclear power.

The sweeping reforms, detailed in the draft energy bill, grant the government powers to intervene in the market on a scale not seen since the industry was privatised.

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May 30 June 1: Defense Renewable Energy & Military Microgrids 2012

The Department of Defense, the biggest single energy user in the U.S., must source 25% of its power from renewable energy by 2025. The Army's Energy Initiative Task Force (EITF) will issue PPAs for over 2GW of power in 2012-projects that will require tens of billions of dollars in private investment and finance-making the military the greenest area in green energy going forward. There is room at the table for almost any type of player in the renewable energy space, but only those with a thorough understanding of the DoD's renewable energy programs will gain access to a market estimated to exceed $7B in 2012 alone.

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June 12: Solar Energy Workshop, Morris, MN

Several small-scale solar energy systems are in use in the Morris area presenting a rare learning opportunity. The West Center Research and Outlook Center (WCROC) is hosting a solar energy workshop to discuss the solar resource available and explain the technology used to collect it. We will also tour and present performance data from local installations including a solar air conditioning system using evacuated tube collectors at the WCROC office building.

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June 15-17: The Energy Fair, Custer, WIM

Each year the MREA Energy Fair transforms rural Central Wisconsin into the global hot spot for renewable energy education. The Energy Fair brings over 20,000 people from nearly every state in the U.S. and several countries around the world to learn, connect with others and ready them for action at home. The Energy Fair is the nation's longest running energy education event of its kind.

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The Pew Charitable Trusts Clean Energy Business Network is an association of over 1,500 business leaders representing all aspects of the clean energy economy. Our member businesses are building the infrastructure necessary for a more prosperous future for this country which provides jobs and opportunity for everyone. To be successful, they know that the United States needs a national energy policy in order to be competitive in the global clean energy economy.

Interested in getting your business involved or know of another business who might be interested? Join us here!

Access factsheets, news updates, reports, and other resources for your clean energy business at our website: www.pewenvironment.org/businessnetwork

Media Contact: Tracy Schario

Topics: Energy, Environment

Project: Clean Energy Initiative