Sustainable Development

Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Success Stories

Wisconsin‘s annual Land and Water Conservation Report was presented to the state‚Äôs Land and Water Conservation Board at the group‚Äôs December meeting.

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

The report details the work done last year by state and federal agencies in partnership with local governments and landowners to keep Wisconsin’s soil in place and the water clean.

For the first time, this report includes success stories aka individual projects undertaken that not only helped protect the state’s land and water, but also fostered economic development.

These are projects funded through $26 million provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); $11 million from the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and $9.1 million in grants awarded by the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also provided reimbursements worth $4.6 million.

These state and federal funds added to the funding provided to the projects locally by counties, towns and municipalities.

The Egan Dairy Farm in the Town of Lebanon, WI is one of the projects highlighted in the report. With 600 milking cows and 600 replacement heifers, the farm has a huge impact on the surrounding environment and the nearby Wolf River.

The Egan brothers have been working with the Waupaca County Land Water Conservation Department (LWCD) since the early 1990s to conserve resources and minimize their impact.

When they decided to expand, the farm was awarded a cost-sharing grant for setting up a clean water diversion, manure storage system, and a storm water sediment basin, followed by more upgrades over the years.

The Egans invested more than $1 million on the projects, with the county spending $47,000 on cost-sharing and county employees putting in hundreds of hours of service on the Egan projects. The farm added four new employees, in addition to hiring professional consultants.

The environmental stewardship protected the Wolf River, which draws a lot of tourists to Waupaca County for fishing, tubing and other recreational activities.

In the report, County conservationist Brian Haase who worked on the Egan projects says that over the years, they’ve realized the impact a farm the size of the Egan Dairy Farm can have. He says that when time is invested helping dairies grow properly, there is a tremendous benefit to the local economy.

Haase says that it’s not about the cost-sharing, but more about building a relationship with the farm, which he says is the best way to make conservation happen. He adds that if they don’t trust you, nothing is going to get done.

Read the full Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Report – Download (pdf)

Cape Wind Signs Contract For First Offshore Utility Wind Farm in US

With a few days left to go before available tax incentives for wind energy producers expire, Cape Wind has signed a contract with Siemens to deliver and install offshore wind turbines for the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts.

Cape Wind eco tour

Cape Wind eco tour (photo – capewind.org)

The $2.6 billion project calls for 130 turbines, each with a capacity of 3.6 MW and 400 feet tall, to be installed on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, located 15.8 miles offshore from Nantucket.

The wind farm will produce up to 420 MW of clean, renewable energy – enough power to fulfill three quarters of the electricity needs of the Cape and Islands. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 734,000 tons per year.

The Cape Wind project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. The application was first approved by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (MEFSB) in 2005. After plenty of legal challenges, the project finally secured state and local approvals in 2009, followed by federal approval in 2010.

An economic impact study for the project shows it will create between 600 to 1,000 jobs in the region, along with significant new tax revenues. Cape Wind has also teamed up with Hy-Line Cruises on a plan to offer eco tours of the turbines for visitors.

The contract Cape Wind just signed with Siemens includes the 3.6-megawatt offshore wind turbines, along with an offshore Electric Service Platform (ESP) and a long-term service agreement.

The turbines will be made in Denmark, but the ESP will be constructed in Brewer, Maine by Cianbro Corp., which has received a $100 million contract from Siemens for this project.

Michael S√º√ü, CEO of Siemens’ Energy Sector, said that after the biggest onshore wind order ever followed by a flexible gas-fired combined cycle power plant in Pennsylvania, they have now signed to provide wind turbines and service for the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S.

Süß said this shows that natural gas and wind power do not stand opposed, and are the perfect fit for a sustainable energy system.

Installation and commissioning of the 3.6 MW turbines for Cape Wind is expected to be done in 2016.

However, getting the project started before the end of this year means that Cape Wind will qualify for the production tax credit (PTC) that expires on Dec 31, 2013. Projects that begin construction before Jan 1, 2014 will still qualify for the tax credit.

NY Green Bank Gets $210M in Initial Funding

The NY Green Bank, a billion dollar initiative launched by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year in September, has received approval for $210 million in initial funding.

NY Green Bank

NY Green Bank (photo – .ny.gov)

The Public Service Commission (PSC) approved $165 million to be diverted from other programs, and another $45 million is coming from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Governor Cuomo said in a statement that working hand-in-hand with the private sector, the NY Green Bank will promote job growth, improve air quality and provide New Yorkers greater choice and value for their money.

The NY Green Bank, which is a part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will be ready to offer its first financial products early next year.

They are not going to be investing directly into operating businesses. Instead, the Green bank will partner with private institutions and provide products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling for supporting securitization and building secondary markets.

These products will support projects involving clean energy that are economically viable but are unable to access financing due to market barriers such as insufficient performance data, federal policy uncertainty, and the lack of publicly traded capital markets.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said that given these obstacles in financing, merely setting up a competitive market that offers the promise of choice offers just that – a promise unrealized if projects are unable to obtain financing.

Kauffman said the Green bank was one of the components of the state’s new chapter on energy policy focused on self-sustaining private markets and reducing dependence on subsidies.

The ultimate goal of the Green Bank is to enable a private sector financing market that functions without government support.

For the near term, initial models suggest that the Green Bank will be able to double the amount of private capital available to grow clean energy markets over the next five years. Over a 20-year period, the Green Bank has the potential to drive nearly 10 times more private capital into the system.

For its part, the Green Bank itself will be able to sustain funding by preserving, recycling and growing its capital base. When fully capitalized, the bank is expected to have a $1 billion balance sheet.

Siemens Gets World’s Largest Order for Onshore Wind Turbines in Iowa

Back in May, MidAmerican Energy Company had announced their intention to invest $1.9 billion for adding 1,050 megawatts of wind energy generation capacity in Iowa. Now the company has finalized the project by placing the world’s largest order for onshore wind turbines with Siemens.

Siemens Wind Turbines

Siemens Wind Turbines (photo – siemens.com)

Siemens will supply MidAmerican Energy with 448 wind turbines of type SWT-2.3-108.

Each of the turbines will have a nominal rating of 2.3 MW and rotor diameters of around 354 feet. If you line them up end-to-end, they would cover a distance of 44 miles.

These 448 turbines will be installed in five different wind projects across Iowa, including:-

- 500-megawatt Highland wind project;

- 250-megawatt Lundgren wind project;

- 138.6-megawatt Wellsburg wind project;

- 117-megawatt Macksburg wind project; and

- 44-megawatt Vienna II wind project

The five projects combined will produce enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 317,000 average Iowa households, and the company is not passing on the cost of the investment to its customers.

On the contrary, the huge influx of clean energy will help stabilize electric rates, and they actually expect a rate reduction totaling an annual $10 million by 2017. When the five wind projects become operational in 2015, MidAmerican Energy expects to be able to start off with a $3.3 million rate reduction.

The economic development and job creation resulting from the project is also going to be significant.

For starters, it helps retain the 500 Siemens jobs at the manufacturing facility in Fort Madison, Iowa where the company plans to produce the rotor blades.

Iowa Governor Branstad said in a statement that it is great to have an Iowa-based energy company placing the world’s largest onshore order for wind turbines in a facility that has produced more than 9,000 blades since the plant began operations in 2007.

The nacelles and hubs for the wind turbines will be assembled at the Siemens plant in Hutchinson, Kansas, and this will help retain another 300 jobs.

The project will additionally help create 1,000 construction jobs during the two-year period while the five wind projects are being built, and another 40 permanent MidAmerican jobs subsequently.

Local governments in Iowa will collect an additional $360 million in property tax revenues over the next 30 years, and the landowners themselves will collect an additional $3.2 million per year.

New Sims Recycling Facility in NYC is a Model of Sustainability

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other local officials announced the opening of the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility that will serve as the principal recycling facility for all the curbside residential plastic, glass and metal recyclables from New York, NY.

Sims recycling facility, NYC

Sims recycling facility, NYC (photo – simsmunicipal.com)

The waterfront facility has the capacity to process 1,000 tons of recyclable material every day.

The recyclable material will be brought in by barge, and the renovated freight rail on the Brooklyn waterfront will be used to ship out the processed recyclables.

This will help eliminate an annual 150,000 truck trips and 240,000 annual miles of Sanitation Department vehicle travel on the City’s streets.

The Sunset Park facility, along with a series of recycling initiatives the City has launched recently, are aimed at increasing the amount of plastics, glass and metal recycled in New York City by 50 percent over the next five years.

Sims Municipal Recycling built the plant on a 11-acre site on the 30th Street Pier in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the last three years, and they will also be operating it.

The design and the construction of the Sims facility incorporate several sustainability features that were good enough to help it win the NYC Excellence in Design Award back in 2010.

The buildings are entirely made of recycled steel from American steel plants, and sections of the site have been raised by four feet using mole rock from NYC tunneling projects mixed with recycled glass aggregate (RGA).

This feature of the construction saved the buildings and equipment on the elevated site from Hurricane Sandy, and the site is now proven to be protected from storm surges and sea level rise.

Ponds, bio-swales and other landscaping features manage storm water on-site. Part of the power consumed by the facility is generated by on-site renewable sources, including a 600 kW solar (photovoltaic) installation and a 100 kW wind turbine.

Three reefs have been built by the City at the western end of the pier, providing new habitats for marine life. Also, the Sims recycling facility complex includes a Recycling Education Center that is set to be completed next year and will be open to public and school groups.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball said the EDC is proud to have helped facilitate the creation of this cutting-edge facility, which he said would strengthen New York’s position as a model of sustainability for other cities and generate both environmental and economic benefits for New Yorkers.

SEIA Report – U.S. Solar Sector Shatters Records in 2013

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the U.S. Solar Market Insight report for Q3 2013, and it shows that 2013 was a banner year for solar in the U.S. that shattered all kinds of records.

SEIA U.S. solar insight report - 10,250 MW

SEIA U.S. solar insight report – 10,250 MW (photo – seia.org)

For starters, the U.S. installed 930 MW of photovoltaics (PV) in the third quarter, which is a 35 increase above Q3 2012.

This 930 MW also represents the second largest quarter ever in the history of the U.S. solar market. It’s also the largest-ever quarter for residential PV installations, which totaled up to 186 MW.

The total forecast for 2013 is for 4.3 GW of new PV installations, which likely means this is the first time in the last 15 years that the U.S. has installed more solar capacity than Germany, which is invariably the world’s leading country in this regard.

Also this year, the U.S. surpassed the magic 10 GW mark for cumulative solar capacity. As of Q3 2013, the U.S. had 10,250 MW of solar energy. By the end of 2013, more than 400,000 individual solar projects will be operational in the U.S.

That’s enough power for 1.7 million homes, or the equivalent of taking 2.1 million cars off the road. It’s also the equivalent of planting 262.5 million trees, or 10,938 parks the size of Central Park in New York.

Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, said this unprecedented growth is helping create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution across the nation.

California continues to lead the charge at the state level, and clocked up 455 MW in Q3 2013, followed by Arizona (169 MW) and North Carolina (69 MW).

The solar industry also had a pretty good year from the legislative and policy standpoint at the state level. Net metering decisions favored the industry in Arizona, California, Idaho and Louisiana. New solar deployment programs were initiated by Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York.

Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM, said that as solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, regulatory clarity and efficiency improvement, but the groundwork for a mainstream solar future has already been laid.

Read the executive summary of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report at seia.org

Largest NYC Solar Installation With 4760 Panels Completed

The Ross Solar Group has completed installation of 4,760 solar panels at the Jetro Cash and Carry’s Restaurant Depot facility in New York City.

Solar panels at Jetro facility in the Bronx

Solar panels at Jetro facility in the Bronx (photo – Ross Solar Group)

This 1.56 Megawatt solar installation, located in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, is the largest solar project in NYC under New York State’s NY-Sun initiative.

Jetro Vice President Peter Claro said they had been considering a solar project for several years, but wanted to make sure it made financial sense as a company, and that the returns would meet their requirements.

The project is now expected to fulfill 45 percent of the building’s power consumption, leading to annual savings of $220,000.

The key to making a solar project of this size viable was the smart grid technology used, and the successful implementation now opens the way for similar large solar projects.

The PV system used at the Jetro site is the first to be remotely controlled by Con Edison using the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) communications system.

Robert Schimmenti, vice president for Engineering and Planning, Con Edison, said that their smart-grid innovations made it possible for this customer to harness the power of the sun with NYC’s largest solar installation ever. Schimmenti said they believe this technology opens the way for other large solar arrays, and this means a more reliable electrical grid and cleaner air for everyone.

To facilitate the project, Ross Solar was awarded a grant under the NY-Sun Initiative by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Jetro broke ground on the 200,000-square-foot environment-friendly facility in 2011. The $50 million construction project was facilitated by up to $21 million in tax incentives approved by the New York City IDA. The tax incentives helped create and retain nearly 200 jobs which might otherwise have been relocated to a lower cost location in New Jersey.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said this project in the Bronx demonstrates that large solar projects are viable in New York City, and added that they hoped to see other businesses follow Jetro Cash and Carry’s lead, now that additional NY-Sun funding was available.

Gov. Cuomo also announced that another $30 million is now available under NY-Sun’s Competitive PV Program for stimulating large-scale solar and biogas projects in NYC and the Hudson Valley.

The Jetro solar project may seem like a big deal, but there’s a much bigger one in the works. Last month, NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that Freshkills Park on Staten Island will house the largest solar energy installation in New York City.

Around 47 acres on Freshkills Park, formerly the world’s largest landfill, will be leased to SunEdison for setting up a solar project that will generate up to 10 megawatts of power with the help of an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 solar panels. This project is expected to increase New York City’s renewable energy capacity by 50 percent.

Northeast, Mid-Atlantic States Petition EPA Against Upwind States

Eight Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States have teamed up to petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help reduce pollution carried in by the wind from upwind states.

Ozone Transport Map

Ozone Transport Map (photo – ct.gov)

The downwind states claim they have spent billions to reduce their own emissions and clean up the air pollution, while the upwind states have benefited by offering businesses cheaper power produced by coal plants with no emission limit constraints.

The petition, signed and filed jointly by Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, asks the EPA to force nine upwind states in the south and west to join the Ozone Transport Region (OTR).

The upwind states named in the petition are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Ozone Transport Region (OTR) covering the Northeast states was established under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in order to help these states tackle transported air pollution.

The joint petition sent by the eight states asks the EPA to use the authority it has under CAA Section 176A to add one or more states to the OTR if the EPA has sufficient cause to believe that said states are significantly in violation of the ozone standard in the transport region.

If the EPA agrees and one or more of the aforementioned nine states are added to the OTR, they would be forced to take emissions reductions actions to aid the air pollution reduction efforts of downwind states.

The actions that states added to the OTR would be forced to take include enhanced use of control technologies to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency, and greater use of cleaner fuels for generating power.

Earlier this year in May, the downwind states invited the upwind lot to join the OTR. The upwind states said they were willing to cooperate on technical aspects related to air pollution reduction efforts, but refused to join the OTR voluntarily.

The multi-state petition to the EPA now seeks overdue commitments made by these upwind states to protect the health of downwind residents and level the playing field for businesses.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that Connecticut is tired of serving as the tailpipe of America. He said they were paying a steep public health and economic price for the failure of the upwind states to make the investments needed for operating industrial facilities and power plants in a clean and efficient manner.

The EPA now has 18 months to take action on the petition. The petitioners have also requested the EPA to provide for public participation on the petition, including a public notice and a comment period.

Here’s a copy of the letter and the petition sent to the EPA.

GM Investing $24M to Generate Electricity from Landfill Gas

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) announced that it will make a $24 million investment on electrical generation equipment that will allow the company to generate its own electricity from landfill gas for use in GM assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Orion, Michigan.

GM landfill gas investment in Orion, MI and Fort Wayne, IN

GM landfill gas investment in Orion, MI and Fort Wayne, IN (photo – gm.com)

The investment will be used to build a powerhouse at each facility, and to install electricity generation equipment. This makes GM the first North American automaker to generate its own electricity.

The excess gas flare that would normally escape into the air is instead being redirected back into the facility for creating electricity that will power the manufacturing operations.

Bill Mortimer, GM co-generation project manager, said that with this project in place, GM is converting landfill gas into electricity for their own use, which in essence allows them to act as their own utility.

He added that it not only saves on energy costs, but also limits the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.

The new equipment will help GM generate more than 14MW of renewable energy, reducing the company’s annual emissions by 89,000 metric tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 18,542 cars off the road. GM will save $10 million each year in energy costs for both plants combined.

Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, said GM has made a commitment to increase their use of renewable energy to 125MW by 2020. He noted that this expansion represents more than 10 percent of that goal.

The Orion Assembly Plant has been using landfill gas since 1999. At present, it uses the gas to heat a paint shop. Once the power plant and the other new electricity generation equipment is installed, a full 54 percent of the Orion plant’s energy consumption will be fulfilled by the electricity produced from landfill gas.

The Fort Wayne Assembly Plant has likewise been using landfill gas since 2002. Installation of the new equipment will increase the use of landfill gas at the plant to 40 percent.

Canon Gloucester Facility Gets Virginia’s Largest Rooftop Solar Project

Dominion Virginia Power, a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), announced that it will install more than 2,000 solar panels on the rooftop of a Canon Virginia Inc. facility in Gloucester, VA.

Canon Virginia IRT solar rooftop array in Gloucester, VA

Rendering of Canon Virginia IRT solar rooftop array in Gloucester, VA

The $2 million project will produce more than 500 kilowatts of electricity, and will be the largest rooftop solar project in Virginia.

All of the electricity generated from the project will flow to nearby Dominion Virginia Power customers, and will fulfill the power consumption needs of around 125 homes.

The facility in question is Canon’s Industrial Resource Technologies (IRT) unit.

Toru Nishizawa, president and CEO of Canon Virginia and IRT, said their mission was not only to grow Canon’s product recycling efforts, but also to embrace green technologies, foster a recycling-oriented society, and reduce the company’s environmental impact through greater management efficiency.

The Canon project is part of the Solar Partnership Program, under which Dominion Virginia is leasing rooftop or ground-level space at public, industrial and commercial facilities for installing solar panels.

Dominion Virginia has set a target of reaching 30MW of renewable energy capacity through solar facilities on leased space under this program. This means they will be generating enough power under this program for around 7,500 homes.

Kenneth D. Barker, vice president of Customer Solutions and Energy Conservation, Dominion Virginia Power, said the Solar Partnership Program was designed to expand the company’s understanding of community-based solar energy through a study of its impact and assessment of the benefits.

He said the Canon project was their largest installation to-date, and would enable them to evaluate the benefits of distributed generation on the Dominion Virginia Power system.

The Gloucester Economic Development Authority (EDA) owns the building in which the Canon IRT facility is housed. The EDA worked closely on this project with Canon Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power and Branch Banking and Trust.

Gloucester EDA Chairman David N. Meeker said they were always on the lookout for ways to help businesses work more effectively and produce benefits for Gloucester residents. He said the EDA endeavors to assist all businesses in the county to grow and adopt new processes and technologies that help them be successful.

Construction on the project will begin this month, and the solar panels are expected to be installed and operational early next year.

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