NYSERDA Blueprint Aids Offshore Wind
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has issued the eagerly anticipated Blueprint for the NYS Offshore Wind Master Plan to encourage and support wind power as a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy source for New York.[adright zone=’190′]
According to NYSERDA, this plan outlines the key studies and policies that will be developed to drive the growth of the wind industry and serves as an acknowledgment of both the enormous potential that offshore wind power presents and the significant commitment that New York is making to effectively launch the industry.
The association notes that this commitment will not only provide abundant, zero-emission power, but also create jobs and spur new investment in the Empire State.
“The new Offshore Wind Blueprint lays out a policy framework that will support the successful deployment of offshore wind power for New York,” said Liz Gordon, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance (NYOWA). “Offshore wind power is crucial to achieving the state’s 50 percent renewables by 2030 requirement, and the Offshore Wind Master Plan studies outlined by this Blueprint will be an important component of achieving this objective, which will require a large-scale, long-term commitment by New York.”
New York’s recently adopted Clean Energy Standard (CES) Order tasked NYSERDA with developing an Offshore Wind Master Plan that recommends appropriate mechanisms and best solutions for maximizing the potential for offshore wind in New York.
Ensuring large-scale market demand and a mechanism to realize it is the NYOWA’s top priority. The Blueprint specifically commits to the identification of off-take options that will maximize the benefit to ratepayers and the quantification of offshore wind power solicited through the CES.
UL Acquires AWS Truepower
Global safety science company UL says it has acquired AWS Truepower, an energy engineering services and advisory firm, in an effort to expand its global renewable energy portfolio. According to AWS Truepower, this addition will strengthen its full lifecycle solutions for both the wind and solar energy sectors.
AWS Truepower is an Albany, N.Y.-based company providing renewable energy services through five business units covering project advisory, performance engineering, due diligence, information services and grid solutions. Its service portfolio complements UL’s current renewable energy offering focused on testing, inspection and certification, as well as performance verification of solar, wind, batteries and energy storage systems.
According to AWS, the acquisition supports UL’s global expansion strategy, as many countries are pushing for energy independence, energy security and environmental sustainability. AWS Truepower’s services are crucial in meeting the growing demand for energy assessments of new projects coming online and ongoing support.
“There is strong alignment between the two brands. UL and AWS Truepower have a shared mission and complementary businesses,” said Jeffrey Smidt, vice president and general manager for UL energy and power technologies. “As the market for renewable energy increases and demands a full lifecycle service offering for renewable energy projects, the combined portfolios enable us to capture additional business globally.”
AWS Truepower’s employees will join UL and remain with the company. For the time being, AWS Truepower will continue operating under its current brand name.
Apex Adds Novus Assets
Apex Clean Energy has acquired the Novus IV wind energy project, located in Hansford County and Sherman County, Texas, from Guymon, Okla.-based Novus Windpower LLC.
Located in the north Texas Panhandle, the wind project has the potential to bring 360 MW of wind energy into the Southwest Power Pool market. The company notes that construction could begin as early as 2017.[adleft zone=’190′]
“Novus IV is an excellent project in a strategic location,” said Mark Goodwin, president of Apex. “The Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle region has some of the best wind in the country, and we are pleased to be partnering with Novus Windpower to bring this project through construction and into operations.”
Apex Clean Energy builds, owns and operates utility-scale wind and solar power facilities. Last year, Apex was the market leader in the U.S., with 1,042 MW of new wind capacity installations – enough clean energy to supply the population of a city the size of Boston or San Francisco each year for the life of the facilities.
NJRCEV Buys Medicine Bow
NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV), the unregulated distributed power subsidiary of New Jersey Resources (NJR), has acquired the 6.3 MW Medicine Bow Wind Farm, its fifth onshore wind project.
Located in Carbon County, Wyo., approximately 80 miles outside of Cheyenne, the project consists of nine fully operational Vestas turbines. According to NJRCEV, the energy produced is sold to the Platte River Power Authority, where it is distributed to municipal utilities in Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, Colo.
“Our investment in onshore wind represents a long-term growth opportunity for our company and our shareowners,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of NJR. “With the acquisition of the Medicine Bow Wind Farm, onshore wind now accounts for more than half of our distributed power capacity and underscores NJR Clean Energy Ventures’ continuing efforts to strengthen and diversify our portfolio, as well as our commitment to make clean energy – and its benefits – more accessible.”
Medicine Bow, utilizing a program of audits, upgrades and technology improvements, underwent an overhaul by Gamesa that extended the service life of the wind farm’s turbines. Based on the nature of the work, the project qualifies for federal production tax credits (PTCs), which are based on kilowatt-hour output. All PTCs generated by the wind farm will be retained by NJR, the company notes.
In addition, NJRCEV also placed into service the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm in June 2014; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, in February 2015; and the Alexander Wind Farm, in Rush County, Kan., in December 2015. The Ringer Hill Wind Farm, located in Somerset County, Pa., is currently under construction. When complete, NJRCEV’s onshore wind portfolio will total more than 126 MW, capable of producing enough energy to power over 29,000 homes per year.
NJRCEV invests in, owns and operates distributed power projects that generate clean energy and provide low-carbon energy solutions. To date, NJRCEV’s approach has focused on commercial and residential solar project development in New Jersey and onshore wind projects in the U.S.
EGP-NA Surpassed Oklahoma Milestone
By the end of this year, Enel Green Power North America (EGP-NA), part of Enel Green Power, will have installed 1 GW of wind power in Oklahoma.
EGP-NA’s seventh and eighth wind projects in the state – the Drift Sand wind farm and Chisholm View II – will be completed by the end of 2016, thus bringing the company over 1 GW, which is the equivalent of powering nearly 400,000 U.S. households and helping avoid the emission of more than 2 million tons of CO2 annually, says EGP-NA.
The developer celebrated the milestone with a recent event in Oklahoma City, where in attendance was Gov. Mary Fallin, as well as EGP-NA employees, landowners, community leaders and others.
“Oklahoma consistently ranks as one of the top places in the country to do business,” said Fallin, who spoke during the celebration. “Oklahoma now ranks fourth in the nation for wind capacity, thanks, in part, to EGP-NA’s $2 billion investment in Oklahoma’s energy economy.”
Rafael Gonzalez, EGP-NA’s CEO, added, “The achievement of 1 GW of wind capacity in Oklahoma is attributable to the thousands of EGP-NA employees and contractors, Oklahoma community leaders, landowners, and residents that worked on constructing and supporting our eight wind projects in the state.”
PUC Greenlights Xcel’s Rush Creek
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a broadly supported settlement that will allow Xcel Energy to develop, own and operate the 600 MW Rush Creek Wind Project.
The PUC, a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, voted to approve the agreement (without modification) reached between Xcel and more than a dozen other parties.
In approving the settlement, the PUC found that the project satisfied the reasonable cost standard in state law that allows utility ownership of up to 25% of the total new renewable energy resources acquired after March 27, 2007.
The proposed wind project, to be located on Colorado’s eastern plains, would comprise two wind generation sites and a 90-mile, high-voltage transmission line to tie into Xcel’s electric system. In total, the project would include 300 Vestas V110-2.0 MW turbines on approximately 116,000 acres in Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties. Construction and commercial operations are expected to begin in 2017 and late 2018, respectively.
The agreement caps the cost of the project at $1.096 billion. In addition, it provides for a sharing of cost-savings between customers and Xcel if capital costs are less than the capped amount.
Moreover, the agreement allows Xcel to pursue an earlier construction schedule for the proposed Pawnee-Daniels Park Transmission project in order to take advantage of federal tax credits and accommodate the Rush Creek project interconnection, says the PUC.
“I’m very pleased that almost 20 parties could join together and support a comprehensive settlement that significantly increases renewable energy in the state, will be a driver of economic development in rural Colorado, and helps sustain the renewable energy supply chain that has matured in Colorado,” said Joshua Epel, chairman of the PUC. “I am especially pleased that a high-voltage transmission line that provides access to energy resource zones is part of the settlement.”[adright zone=’190′]
In addition to PUC staff, the Office of Consumer Counsel and the Colorado Energy Office, signatories to the settlement included environmental organizations, cooperative electric associations, municipalities, large energy consumers, trade and union groups, and independent power producers.
Deepwater Opens Mass. Office
In an effort to spur its planned offshore wind project off the Massachusetts coast, Deepwater Wind is opening a new development office in downtown New Bedford, Mass.
The opening of the new office comes as Providence, R.I.-headquartered Deepwater Wind accelerates pre-development work on its Deepwater ONE project. The utility-scale offshore wind farm is planned for federal waters roughly midway between Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and Montauk, N.Y.
The company’s Massachusetts development team, led by Matthew Morrissey, vice president, will be based at 555 Pleasant St. in the historic Standard-Times Building.
“New Bedford will be the hub for Massachusetts’ new offshore wind industry, and we can’t think of a better place to base our operations than right here,” Morrissey stated. “We look forward to becoming active members of the New Bedford business community.”
Located in the heart of New Bedford’s downtown, Deepwater Wind’s new office will be only a mile from the Marine Commerce Terminal, which will host offshore wind staging and deployment work.
“We’re putting our Massachusetts project into high gear, and opening our office in New Bedford is an important next step,” said Deepwater Wind’s CEO, Jeffrey Grybowski.
Under the commonwealth’s new energy policy that calls for 1.6 GW of offshore wind energy over the next decade, Deepwater Wind plans to propose powering Massachusetts with offshore wind from the 256-square-mile lease site of Deepwater ONE.
“Deepwater Wind’s decision to put ‘boots on the ground’ in New Bedford is a great boon to New Bedford’s downtown business district,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.
SunEdison Yieldcos Mull ‘Strategic Alternatives’
Both of bankrupt renewables company SunEdison’s yieldcos, TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global, are considering mergers or sales of their entire businesses. Although the yieldcos were not part of their sponsor’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, SunEdison’s financial woes have weighed heavily on the subsidiaries’ operations.
“Our board and management team have been working to preserve and protect stockholder value, and after careful review, we have decided that exploring all possible alternatives to maximize that value is in the best interests of all our stockholders,” said Peter Blackmore, interim CEO of both yieldcos. In two separate press releases, he added that each sister company has a “diverse portfolio of assets and record of strong operating performance,” thus offering “a unique opportunity for a broad range of potential acquirers and investors.”
In addition to selling all of the yieldcos’ equity interests, the companies would also consider transactions involving new sponsors, which could buy out SunEdison’s existing sponsorship deals. Furthermore, the yieldcos are taking steps to operate as independent operating companies without sponsors, “if that should become necessary in the short or long term,” according to Blackmore.
Because SunEdison is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, many decisions made by SunEdison – such as how to vote its shares in the yieldcos to approve potential mergers or acquisitions – may require the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Blackmore stated, “We have been working closely with SunEdison on disposition alternatives so far and regard a collaborative exploration of strategic alternatives to be in the best interests” of all parties involved. The yieldcos are also working with SunEdison to consensually resolve intercompany claims, but Jack Stark, the chairman of the corporate governance and conflicts committee, said, “[W]e stand ready to enforce our rights in litigation if necessary.”
Canadian Mining Firms Look To Renewables
Canada’s new carbon pricing proposal is pushing mining leaders to consider renewable energy options as a way of further reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and stabilizing energy costs, according to Ottawa, Ontario-based Energy and Mines.
“Carbon pricing in Canada is having an impact on the energy choices of mines,” said Adrienne Baker, director of Energy and Mines. “With carbon becoming a commercial liability, mines are evaluating renewables for remote sites and integrating alternative energy into feasibility studies for new operations as a way of limiting carbon exposure.”
According to Energy and Mines, among the Canadian mining companies leading on carbon reduction and renewables integration are Barrick Gold, IAMGOLD, AurCrest Gold, Goldcorp and TMAC Resources.
The company says these entities are investing in renewables and/or mine electrification to significantly reduce their carbon exposure, stabilize energy costs and boost social license to operate.
“The projects these mines are doing and the approaches they are taking to energy are models for the entire sector to mitigate carbon risk and address energy challenges,” added Baker.
Internationally, COP21 targets and emerging carbon policies in key mining jurisdictions, including Chile, Argentina and South Africa, are also pushing mining leaders to integrate carbon exposure into their energy choices, notes Energy and Mines.