March 10, 2006

Wind & Ice

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Redbud Wind - energy project archive
Updated 3/10/06

Click the wind turbine icon see progress notes
for the Redbud Wind I site at Enid, OK.

Page Link - Redbud Wind - project update



"Windustry is a non-profit organization working to create an understanding of wind energy opportunities for rural economic benefit by providing technical support and creating tools for analysis. We address barriers to wind energy by building collaborations with rural landowners, local communities and utilities, as well as state, regional and non-profit organizations. Windustry's areas of special focus include: economic development from wind energy; landowner rights, risks, and benefits; and community-based wind energy."

I attended the Windustry "Community Wind Energy 2006" conference in Des Moines, IA on March 7 & 8. The conference was aimed at presenting factual information about planning and implementing smaller scale wind developments; smaller being less than 10 megawatts in scale. The attendance included a number of people from ag backgrounds who wished to learn about the process of developing wind energy sites on family farms or collectives of family farms.

The bottom line seemed to be that there is better technology, better planning and a lot of seasoned experience looking for political and financial support for a breakout future.

Though it was not stated directly by power company executives it seems to be sinking in that wind is a constant that does not move on production costs price curves like gas, oil or coal; it is clean and essentially inexhaustible. At this point in time it is likely that the production cost of electricity produced by wind energy is equal to or below other sources.

Some information that stood out included:

  • The complete installed cost of wind turbine sites has changed from about $1 million per MW in 2004 to $1.5 million per MW in 2006.
  • Cost increases are primarily from an 80%+ increase in steel prices in 2005
  • The majority of smaller projects with land owners as the lead developer are using a "Minnesota Flip" style of financing wherein a financial partner, like the John Deere company or a venture capital type partner, joins an LLC as a 99% financial leader for the first 10 years and then a flip occurs so the land owner becomes the 99% financial partner for a second 10 years.
  • At this point in time, the "Minnesota Flip" model may be the most likely way that many land owners will be enabled as wind energy developers.
  • There are USDA grants available for up to 25% of the project cost with a $500,000 grant limit.
  • Various tax credits at state and federal levels may aid in attracting financing and in establishing PPA agreements - power purchase agreements - with power utilities.

The Windustry web site link provides a lot of basic information about wind energy.
Web Link -
Windustry web site and conference information


Will Steger
Photos from www.willsteger.com

I had the opportunity to briefly meet Will Steger at the Windustry conference in Des Moines. Will was there as a lunchtime keynote speaker. His presentation was remarkably clear about the effects of global warming on arctic and antarctic ice. He spoke of changes in the environment, animal life and human habitation that he has observed first hand, and face-to-face, on the treks that made him famous as a modern day explorer.

Will Steger described this photograph which he took as "a short break from a storm that had them pinned down for 50 days".

click image to enlarge

The following quotes are clippings from Will Steger's daily journal during a 52 day trek in 2004 to explore effects of global warming. The full journal can be found at www.willsteger.com/content/category/15/52/95/

"Yesterday was cold and clear. I watched the sun rise from the flat horizon of the Great Slave Lake, a perfect yellow orb silently rising in the cold..."

"On these cold, calm mornings, our dogs look like steam locomotives, the intense cold sets up vapor trails from the heat of their bodies and their breath..."

"A warm, comfortable day. The temperature rose to plus 7 Fahrenheit, probably the warmest temperature we will see until April..."

Day 12
"More difficult than the adjustment to the cold is the adjustment to the long, dark hours in the tent. We light by candles, the other two tents use Coleman lanterns, which I find too harsh a light and too many fumes..."

"Probably the biggest hardship is that you cannot sit upright, and if you try, the frosted walls of the tent will rain moisture down on you..."

"A cold day, we got out of our tents in the sheltered cove believing it was minus 30. I told Eric it was minus 30 and he thought I was pulling his leg. In the calm it seemed almost balmy. But by the time we broke camp and hooked up the dogs, the wind came up against us from the southeast. Once out on the big lake the windchills dropped, and most of us discovered that we were dressed too lightly for the 60 below windchills..."

"Water is an item that we do not take for granted out here. It does not flow from a tap from some unknown source. It first comes in a solid state, snow or ice, and has to be melted. Our life in the tent is dominated by the large stainless steel tea kettle that hogs the light and heat of the stove..."

"On cold weather expeditions, diets are two stages, depending on temperature. Right now, in the cold of the minus 40šs Fahrenheit, we eat fat calories to keep warm..."

"When it is minus 40 or lower, often with strong winds, I eat a significant amount of fat. This seems to go against all the principles of nutrition, but first think of the situation. Your body has to produce its own heat 24/7. There is no ducking into a building to warm up. I put my sleeping bag at night, and my body has to heat the bag up from its temperature of minus 40."

Web link - Will Steger - journal entries - 2004 Arctic Transect
Web link - Will Steger - web site



This quote is from a November 2, 2004 press release...
"Colorado voters have become the first in the nation to vote on and pass a statewide renewable energy requirement. Amendment 37 will require Coloradošs top utility companies to provide a percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources beginning with three percent by 2007, six percent by 2011 and increasing to 10 percent by 2015. Colorado now joins 17 other states with similar requirements."

The follow-on work to see that the provisions of Amendment 37 are carried forward has been taken on by advocates and public policy architects. One dedicated of participant is Ken Regelson of Boulder. In addition to his policy work he writes the BREEE newsletter for the Boulder Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Working Group of which he was a founding member. The latest BREEE newsletter describes the new solar rebate program worked out in negotiation with Xcel (power utility) which provides a $13,000 rebate from Xcel on a $24,000 solar system installation.

PDF file - BREEE Newsletter with solar rebate outline and links
Web Link - Boulder Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Working Group (BREEE)
Web Link - contact Ken Regelson

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Photo of the week

ICE V - March 2006

George Beggs 3/2006 - Feedback is welcome

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