Posts Tagged ‘awea’

A Call to Action – Windpower 2012

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

by Phil Devita

Steve Barrett and I just returned from the annual America Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Windpower 2012 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  We co-authored a poster presentation titled “Municipal Wind Turbine Community Complaints and Noise Measurement Evaluation” summarizing HMMH’s noise assessment for the town of Falmouth Wind-1 and Wind-2 turbines.  The poster session was well attended and there was a lot of interest on the project and our analysis.    

HMMH Poster

 

The Windpower conference is the world’s largest wind energy event attracting a wide range of industry,  manufacturers and transportation companies just to name a few.  This year’s conference theme was a “call to action” to extending the production tax credit (PTC) which expires at the end of the year.  The PTC is the primary policy driver for wind projects, and without it, there will be a lot of uncertainty moving forward which could impact future wind development.  One study conducted found that extending the PTC would allow the industry to create 100,000 jobs in four years, while an expiration of the PTC could cause a loss of up to 37,000 jobs.

There were numerous speakers at the conference including republicans and democrats that agree the PTC should be renewed this year.  Unlike many issues these days in Washington, the PTC enjoys bi-partisan support.  However, unlike other years, this year is an election year and many politicians are unwilling to go on the record pro or against any issues until after the election.  The hope is with strong bipartisan support, the PTC will be extended before the November elections; however, it is more likely the PTC may be attached to another bill after the elections but before the end of the year.

Some of the interesting speakers this year were Ted Turner (he also spoke at last year’s conference in Anaheim), who kicked off the conference and welcomed AWEA to his hometown and talked colorfully as only Ted Turner can, about the need for more renewable energy and passing the PTC immediately.   Democratic Governor Mike Beebe from Arkansas and Republican Governor Sam Brownback from Kansas both delivered great talks on how the wind industry contributes jobs to their states but in different ways.  Arkansas has attracted manufacturing and supply-chain companies while Kansas is scheduled to develop 1,400 MW of wind in 2012, more than doubling the states wind capacity.

The second day picked up the bipartisan theme with a lively discussion between Karl Rove, former deputy Chief of Staff and adviser to President Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary and senior adviser to President Obama.  You would have thought going into the discussion that these gentlemen representing opposite views politically could not agree on the time of day never mind energy issues.  Well surprisingly, there was a lot of common ground on energy issues, including wind energy and extension of the PTC.   Both agreed that wind energy should be part of the energy mix and extension of the PTC should happen and that it should be extended for more than one year.   It was a great view of the current state of Washington politics from two people who are directly involved with many of these issues at the highest levels of government.

After hearing from all the speakers and the call to action to renew the PTC from both sides of the political aisle, it will be fascinating to see how this high stakes poker game plays out.  Let’s hope the PTC ends up on the winning hand and is extended for years to come.

HMMH Exhibits Wind Energy Services at Community Wind Conference

Monday, December 20th, 2010

By Steve Barrett

HMMH attended the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Community and Small Wind Conference in Portland Oregon during the second week of December.  This was our first time on the road in the “Energy and Climate” arena with our new booth which communicates HMMH’s expanding skill set including renewable energy support services.  While the annual AWEA conference, held each year in late spring, now attracts up to 25,000 attendees and has over 1,000 exhibitors, the Community Wind Conference offers a more intimate venue to meet with the wind industry’s community and residential segment.  Small wind is generally characterized by wind turbines that are under 100 kW; many exhibited at the conference were in the 5-20 kW range suitable for homes, farms, and small industry.  Community wind has a less precise definition but is typically characterized by wind projects owned by landowners with the model being Midwest farmers constructing multiple utility-scale (i.e., 400 foot tall) wind turbines and generating alternative sources of income.  Particularly in more densely developed areas like New England and coastal areas, interest in community wind projects are increasing because projects with fewer wind turbines fit more appropriately into the landscape and the benefits of the wind energy can be provided locally.  Several projects that HMMH has recently worked on in Massachusetts – Falmouth, Cohasset, and West Gloucester – all fit this model.  And because these projects are often located close to residences, they require sound studies to assess potential noise exposure from a proposed wind turbine on neighbors, which is one of HMMH’s developing areas of specialty.  While Portland was seasonally cool and rainy during our visit, the conference provided us with an opportunity to meet people working on small and community wind projects throughout the country and we hope to expand our work in this sector capitalizing on our success in the Northeast.

American Wind Energy Association Annual Meeting

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

by Phil DeVita

Steve Barrett and I just returned from the three day American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) annual conference held in Dallas, Texas.  This was my fourth AWEA conference and each year I am amazed by the magnitude of the event with 20,000 attendees and a record 1400 exhibitors! The exhibitors range from developers, consultants, transportation, and turbine manufactures right down to the nuts and bolts of the industry (literally!).   It is truly amazing to see the diverse industry required to support wind energy.

Background

For background, the U.S. is the world leader in wind energy generation with 35,000 MW installed to date.  China is a close second, and will probably pass the U.S. this year in total wind capacity.  For perspective, in 2009 the U.S. installed over 10,000 MW of wind capacity which is equivalent to powering about 2.4 million homes.  The U.S. has been an industry leader, however, initial estimates for the first half of 2010 show a slowdown in new generation, and without a national renewable policy, the outlook is uncertain. 

National RES

The conference highlighted the need for a national renewable electricity standard (RES) to provide certainty for developers, create jobs, and ensure the U.S. continues to be the leader in the wind industry. Some of the factors attributing to the slowdown are:

  • Reduced power demand;
  • Cheaper natural gas prices;
  • Transmission challenges; and
  • A lack of a national RES

A slowdown in new energy projects also casts a dark shadow on future job growth in the sector.  A recent study conducted by Navigant Consulting showed that if a national portfolio standard of 25 percent renewables by 2025 was enacted, a total of 266,000 new jobs could be generated.  Many states have adopted state specific renewable portfolio standards (RPS) which require utilities to purchase a certain amount of their power from renewable sources.  The problem with state RPS’s are some states have already met or will meet their requirements; therefore state requirements will not be enough to drive the industry in the future. 

Speakers

One of the highlights of the conference was a candid talk by former President George W. Bush who now resides in Dallas.  The president spoke about his energy policies while in office and governor of Texas.  He highlighted the progress the state has made since 1999 when he signed a state renewable portfolio standard setting the stage for Texas leading the way in wind generation.  He also spoke very candidly about his time in office reliving some of the memorable events of his terms such as 9/11, Katrina, and the Iraq war.  The former president also talked about his personal commitment to sustainability where he has installed geothermal heating at his home in Crawford, and his new library at Southern Methodist University will be LEED certified.    He looked very relaxed and comfortable in his life away from politics and gave us a glimpse of his new memoir coming out in the fall detailing some of the major decisions he made in office.

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan discussed the great strides wind energy has made through the years and the need for a national RES standard to enable the wind industry to maintain momentum into the future.  The senator believes in a diverse generating portfolio including fossil fuels, natural gas, coal and renewable energy.  He feels renewable energy is part of our national interest and we should start divesting from foreign sources of energy.  The senator is hoping to vote this summer on an energy bill which contains a national RES.  The senator also spoke of his frustration over the state of our transmission system and the need to modernize it. Transmission is one of the siting constraints developers face to deliver power generated in rural areas to the load centers. An example he gave was over the last decade, the country has built 11,000 miles of natural gas pipeline but only 660 miles of high voltage electricity lines. 

There was also an interesting roundtable discussion with Governors Chet Culver of Iowa, Bill Ritter of Colorado, and Ted Strickland of Ohio.  The governors highlighted the success stories of renewable energy projects in their state and the benefits of the wind industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bringing jobs to their states.  They also reinforced the need for a national RES to maintain renewable energy development which in turn creates more jobs.

That’s about it from Big D and look forward to seeing everyone next year in Anaheim, California.