Archive for Renewable Energy
by John Weckerle
It was with some surprise that, several weeks ago, we decided to look in on the Sandia Tea Party site to see how they were treating the political silly season – and found that it had vanished from the web. Repeated visits over a week or two were fruitless, and it looked as if the Sandia Tea Party had, like its former sister organization, the East Mountain Tea Party, vanished from the face of the Earth, or at least from the Internet.
Alas, with this morning’s browsing we find the site back in place, with Sandia Tea Party Official Internet Spokesman Chuck Ring at the helm. Unfortunately, the Sandia Tea Party site appears to have become primarily a venue for screeds provided by fossil fuel energy industry advocate and anti-environment writer Marita Noon, executive director of Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, which is described by SourceWatch as “a lobby group funded by New Mexico oil and gas industry interests.” Ms. Noon is also an author at Breitbart.com, founded by the late serial liar and fraudster Andrew Breitbart. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on one’s point of view), it would appear that the energy industry is not getting its money’s worth, at least based on the most recent article, dated August 2, found on the Sandia Tea Party web site.
In the most recent article, Ms. Noon attacks the biofuels industry, and particularly the Renewable Fuel Standard, on the basis that these have led to widespread corruption, influence peddling, and fraud. The article presents a number of examples in which various parties have fraudulently sold or otherwise taken advantage of tax credits associated with the production of biofuels (Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs). Ms. Noon presents these as support for eliminating the Renewable Fuels Standard. We do not challenge the idea that these incidents occurred, and we recognize that there are some environmental and socioeconomic issues associated with biofuels that require more consideration than they are getting, but it seems a huge stretch to portray these accounts of fraud as an indictment of the biofuels credits or the industry as a whole. This would be akin to saying that telephone solicitors who defraud people are the fault of the telephone system, or that the solution to identity fraud would be to eliminate identities. Regardless of the system, there will always be those who will try to turn it to their advantage illegally. Fraud in the energy industry is not limited to the biofuels sector – after all, we all remember this little incident. As to influence peddling and possible corruption, we found this article by Bill Moyers interesting. And there are plenty more out there for those who are interested and have time for a little searching.
The reality of all this is that fraud is a crime that has been committed in nearly all sectors, and that the issue is one of dishonesty rather than something industry-specific. We’ll leave our readers with a link to America’s 10 most famous fraudsters, and draw attention to number 2 in the slideshow.
by John Weckerle
In a September 4, 2015 article, The Independent’s Leota Harriman reports on a Moriarty City Council meeting at which the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association (EVEDA) provided a semi-annual report on economic development activities.
The article is replete with opportunities for our admittedly nerdy penchant for looking things up and analyzing them – so many so that they simply cannot be covered in a single article, so we suppose we’ll have to call this one the second of a series, with the first being Saturday’s article. At a minimum, we envision examining the following issues:
- The Iberdola El Cabo project and wind energy impacts on county economies (today’s article)
- The concept of amenities as a means of “attracting millenials” and, as a result, technology/manufacturing businesses
- The Local Economic Development Act, including what it says (and perhaps more importantly what it doesn’t say), and the status of the Certified Communities Initiative and other State economic development programs.
And that’s probably just a start; economic development is a complex subject.
For today, we focus on the first item in the list above. This comes in two parts; statements on the El Cabo wind energy project contained within the article, and some interesting studies involving economic impacts on county and state economies as a result of impacts.
El Cabo, or Not El Cabo
From The Independent article, reporting on a presentation by Myra Pancrazio, Executive Director of EVEDA discussing the potential for Torrance County obtaining a hospital using Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT):
Those PILT funds will expand greatly with the Iberdrola wind farm project, which is still “alive and kicking very hard,” she said. Iberdrola recently entered a 25-year contract agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission for purchase of wind-generated electricity.
According to that press release, the wind farm is expected to be completed in 2017, when it will produce 76 megawatts of energy, all of which will be purchased by Tri-State.
The idea that the Iberdrola project was moving forward (acknowledging that having a power purchase agreement [PPA]) is no guarantee that a project will be completed) was certainly new information; as reported in an August 28, 2014 Albuquerque Journal article, construction on the project had stopped and there has been little heard about it since. This would be great news for at least some part of the local human population – although potentially less so for local birds and bats – hoping for the economic benefits arising from wind projects. We enthusiastically scoured the web, including the sites of both Iberdrola and Tri-State, both of which post their press releases, and were disappointed to find no indication of a press release announcing a PPA for the Iberdroga El Cabo project in Southern Torrance County. The text in The Independent’s article appears to refer to a press release involving Iberdrola’s Twin Buttes project in southeastern Colorado (previously reported by the Mountain View Telegraph).
While the press release is at least a little good news for the good folks of Bent County, Colorado and renewable energy advocates within Tri-State’s region of influence (and perhaps the aforementioned Torrance County birds and bats), we fail to understand how this development would affect PILT funds, or any other aspect of economic development, in the Estancia Valley. And we also have to wonder how news that Iberdrola is focusing successfully on a project elsewhere, while the local project is halted, is cause for optimism here.
Of course, if we’re wrong about this, we’d invite anyone with information to that effect to click the comment icon (the little word bubble at the top right of the article) and let us know. We’ll be glad to acknowledge the error.
Hang Your Hat on the Wind
At the outset of this discussion, we refer our readers to two sources: Economic Development Impact of 1,000 MW of Wind Energy in Texas published by the National Renewable Energy Technology Laboratory (NREL), and this summary of Ex post analysis of economic impacts from wind power development in U.S. counties. As the latter article states: “…total county personal income increased by $11,150 over the 2000 to 2008 period… And, for every megawatt of wind energy installed in a county, one half of a job was created.” Of particular interest are Tables 3 and 4 of the NREL report, which show that the “local” share of the project tends to represent a relatively small percentage of the total project cost. According to the State Land Office, of the 80,000 acres envisioned for the project, 39,000 would be State land. In terms of acreage essentially half is owned by the state- so it is unclear just how much revenue would be collected by local landowners in terms of leases for tower locations, and how that would relate to local economic benefits in terms of increased economic activity and tax revenue for Torrance County. Unfortunately, as the NREL article notes, the inputs into the JEDI model, which projects economic impacts of wind projects, are often proprietary, so we can’t easily apply it here. While we agree that the project would be of benefit to economic development at the county and state level (assuming that it restarts), we caution that the benefits of wind energy projects may not be what is sometimes envisioned.
We’d like to let our readers know that we will probably be taking a few days off to attend to other things, but should be back next week.
by John Weckerle
Your editor is participating in a bit of a disagreement on media accuracy (in this case, associated with EPA carbon dioxide regulations) with Edgewood Town Councilor Chuck Ring here.
by John Weckerle
We have received word from Jay Spang that this Sunday, October 10, 350.org will hold a Cut Carbon Rally at the Albuquerque Academy from noon to 2 p.m. U.S. Senator Tom Udall will be on hand to speak, as will Senator Jeff Bingaman, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and climate Expert Dr. John Fogarty. For further information, see the event flier.
Public Service Announcement: Free Annual Permaculture Gathering At La Resolana In Edgewood Next Saturday
by Christian Meuli
Saturday, October 2, 2010
12:00 PM Site Tour
2:00 PM Potluck
3:30 PM Bruce Noll — Keeping within the Poetry of Nature
This free permaculture gathering will include a site tour of rainwater cisterns, gravity as a resource, woodchip berms, swales, sponges, and tools I find useful.
La Resolana is the new name of this place in Edgewood. La Resolana is a place on the south side that harvests the sun and is shielded from the wind: a fertile place for dynamic sharing, creative thinking, and dialogue for what is possible.
Please bring interested friends and children, a favorite dish that you will enjoy sharing with others, and your finest sun hat! Please car pool and leave pets at home.
Bruce Noll will recite his favorite poets, including Walt Whitman, and his own wonderful nature poetry. He will share poetry that inspires insight within nature and within ourselves.
Take I-40 to Exit #187 in Edgewood (25 miles east of Albuquerque and 8 miles west of Moriarty). At the end of the off-ramp, go south two blocks to the stoplight at the intersection with Highway #333 (Smith’s Grocery will be on your left). Go straight up the hill on Edgewood Road #7 and turn right in ½ mile onto Moriarty Road (gravel). Go ¼ mile to #24 and turn right into my driveway or go straight ahead down the hill and park on your left.
I will have Brad Lancaster’s informative books on rainwater harvesting available for review and purchase (see his extensive website at www.harvestingrainwater.com/).
I look forward to seeing everyone and meeting new friends! If you need a map or a timely update, please call me at 281-4871.
by John Weckerle
Residents of the Estancia Valley and the surrounding area will soon have the opportunity to receive specialized training in the area of wind energy technology, according to a recent press release issued by Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari.
The program comes as a cooperative effort between Mesalands, the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association, the City of Moriarty, and the New Mexico Workforce Connection of Central New Mexico. According to North American Wind Research and Training Center Director Jim Morgan “This pilot project provides the essential technical courses needed to assist students in obtaining a wind industry job and in turn supply area wind farms with wind energy technicians that will already have basic knowledge of the industry.” Courses will cover safety issues, and will include subjects such as basic electricity, mechanics, hydraulics, and turbine safety. Classes for the 8-week training program will be held in Moriarty, and some training will take place at the NAWRTC, including climbing the college’s 1.5 megawatt wind turbine. Students who successfully complete the program will receive an Occupational Certificate in Basic Wind Energy Technology.
Those interested in applying should contact the New Mexico Workforce Connection of Central New Mexico at 832-6774.
According to the Mesalands wind energy technology program web site, the college also offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology, as well as customized training programs. Completion of the NAWRTC facility is scheduled for September 2010, and Mesalands has already installed a 1.5 MW General Electric wind turbine.
by John Weckerle
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a grant announcement for that may be of interest to some of our readers: Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements, targeted at agricultural producers (including farmers and ranchers who gain 50 percent or more of their gross income from agricultural operations) and rural small businesses. Rural electric cooperatives may also be eligible to apply. Grants are awarded competitively and may provide up to 25% of total project costs, with a $500,000 limit on renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy improvments (the “floor” is $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements). The total estimated program funding is $51.5 million, and at least 20% of the grants will be for less than $20,000. The closing date for applications is June 30, 2010. For more information, see the Grants.gov announcement.
Editor’s note: The press release below is an invitation to vendors to participate in the annual Wind Festival and Green Energy Fair at Wildlife West Nature Park next month. The invitation would appear to include exhibitors as well as vendors.
Invitation to participate in our free wind festival and green energy fair at Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood, NM. Any vendor that has anything to do with green energy or the wind should consider coming to our 9th annual festival on May 1,2 from 10-6 daily. Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us. There is no fee for any vendor qualified by doing any education or having products or services relating to our theme of green energy and or wind gadgets or kites. Please join us for the fun and opportunity to meet and greet our visitors.
Thank you, Roger Alink 263-9453
by John Weckerle
As reported here, in the Mountain View Telegraph, at Gadabout-Blogalot.com, and other local sources, the Town of Edgewood recently received a stimulus package grant for two 50 kilowatt wind turbines. As mentioned in all sources, the Town intends to place these turbines at the site of the wastewater treatment plant, which will also be the site of a new, roughly 3.5 acre pond, intended for recreational uses including fishing. At first, this may seem a great fit; however, as with so many issues, there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
What is perhaps not entirely obvious – and quite clearly not obvious at all to the Town’s energy committee, Planning and Zoning Commission, Council, and staff, despite having been made aware of the issue – is the connection between bodies of water, insects, bats and birds in this part of the world. Anyone who has even a small outdoor fountain in this area knows that not only do local birds of all types visit water sources on a daily basis, but migratory birds crowd in during migration seasons in Spring and Fall. On any given morning at this time of year, it is far from unusual for us to see 20 or more robins at at time, joined by northern flickers, woodpeckers, and other visitors lined up around and on top of the fountain, drinking and bathing. On any given day, we have hundreds of visitors during migration season – and the fountain’s wet area is probably about 18 inches across. The bubbler out front sees similar action at times. »» Edgewood’s Recipe for Songbird Soup
Editor’s Note: We continue here a discussion of the revisions to the Town of Edgewood’s zoning ordinance to allow for the construction of wind turbines in the Town of Edgewood. The current conversation began in response to this article by Bob Steiner on Town energy committee member Chuck Ring’s blog. Mr. Ring made his case, and instructed us that he would rather not have the discussion continue on his blog. We have chosen to continue the dialogue here. We wish to note that the reference to Mr. Steiner’s article of September 23 was in error; it was Mr. Steiner’s response to Mr. Ring’s September 21 article which we found inappropriate.
We find it disappointing that Mr. Ring has chosen to put his position forth and ask that the debate cease. We’ll honor his request not to continue the discourse on his blog, but will continue it here. We will discuss the final revisions in another article.
by John Weckerle
On October 7, 2009, the Town of Edgewood passed revisions to its zoning ordinance classifying small wind energy systems as a conditional use. This has been a topic of discussion here and in other places for some time, and there has certainly been some heated discussion and hyperbole, perhaps even here at New Mexico Central. Today, we’ll examine a bit of hyperbole. First, though, we want to do a little housecleaning, and make it clear that NM-Central has consistently expressed support for properly-sited wind energy projects. However, we strongly assert (along with authorities such as the National Academy of Sciences; scroll down to “Table of Contents” to read the report for free) that such projects should be sited to minimize potential damage to wildlife and mitigate other potential negative effects.
Having been rather busy over the last couple of weeks, we did not have time to be reading Mr. Ring’s blog on a regular basis until taking the time this past Thursday evening. Today, we will examine some of the claims and statements made there, and perhaps clear up a few misperceptions that may have arisen. »» Some Real Hot Air…
by John Weckerle
Your editor has submitted written comments to the Mayor and Town Council of Edgewood on the proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance to allow development of wind energy systems. Rather than continue whipping this horse any further, at least for now, we will simply defer to the comments and hope that the Town Council will have the wisdom to carefully examine the issues at hand.
by John Weckerle
We here at New Mexico Central continue to be concerned about the process by which the Town of Edgewood is examining its stance with respect to wind energy. The Town’s various committees, subcommittees, and appointed officials who have dealt with this issue to date (this does not, in this case apparently include the Mayor) appear unconcerned with concerns raised by NM-Central.com and others regarding environmental and other effects associated with various wind-related energy strategies. Having reviewed the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, we sadly find the Town’s approach to be unenlightened, inadequately inquisitive, and environmentally irresponsible – not to mention unresponsive to public concerns that have been expressed to date. The proposed legislation reads as if it were written by wind energy interests, and we begin to wonder what relationships some of the energy committee members may have with the wind power industry or whether there are other potential conflicts of interest involved. While we applaud the Town’s interest in renewable energy and support responsibly sited wind projects, we do not endorse the Town’s approach and have submitted a New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act request for all documents associated with this legislation in the hope of ascertaining just how this regrettable situation has come to pass. A public hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday, October 7, and we hope that those who are concerned about wildlife impacts, effects on property values, and other potential problems that may result from this ordinance revision will attend and let their voices be heard. We also hope that the Town Council, when formally presented with this ordinance, will take the time to truly consider all the relevant factors – something that the committees involved have not done, in our opinion. In the meantime, we leave our readers with this article on building-integrated wind turbines, which contains some fascinating information on small wind turbine performance in general. Caveat emptor, Edgewood!
Editor’s note: NM-Central.com has published several articles raising questions regarding Edgewood’s approach to alternative energy: Edgewood Considering Windmills Without Requiring Permits, Everyone Knows It’s Windy, and Edgewood Energy Planning Needs More Diverse Approach. While we remain supportive of properly planned and sited wind projects, we wish to reiterate our concern that not all projects are appropriate for all places, and there are certainly places within Edgewood’s existing boundaries that would not likely be appropriate as sites for wind turbines. We again call on Edgewood not to rush to judgment on this issue, and not to simply brush off concerns simply because it may take time and effort to resolve them. Once the money is spent and a wind turbine is up and running, it’s a bit late to come to the realization that one should have looked at the project more closely. We also caution Edgewood that the Town could well face legal action from cell tower proponents who may feel that they are receiving unequal treatment under the law if they allow wind turbines to be built without restrictions. Of course, the cell tower proponents could go with a “stealth” design that makes the tower look like a wind turbine…
by Bob Stearley, Mayor, Town of Edgewood
It is important for the World to develop energy alternatives to oil and gas. Wind energy generated by small turbines in Edgewood, however, does not appear to be an economical choice at this time. The cost of even a small system (~2.5 kW) is around $20,000. A good-case scenario might be for it to be built on a 63 foot tall tower, and to be located in an area where there are no buildings, trees, or hills, and a (computer predicted) wind class of 3, where it would be predicted to generate an average of 440 kWh per month and a savings of $58 per month. If there are buildings, hills and trees in the area, and the predicted wind class is 2, the energy generation would be 270 kWh and a savings of $36 per month. If the tower is 35 feet tall the (predicted) savings would be only $30 per month. Even if the Federal Government provides $5,400 (of our tax money) to subsidize the cost, the net cost of $14,600 is still out of line with a potential return of from $30 to $58 per month. »» Edgewood Mayor Expresses Wind Turbine Concerns
Note: John Weckerle is a licensed professional geologist and has been at work in environmental consulting for 22 years.
by John Weckerle
In the August 27 of the Mountain View Telegraph, local climate contrarian Ken Johnson – now billing himself as a retired professor, although of what and from whence remains a mystery – renews his attempt to convince us all that climate change is a farce. In this particular case, Mr. Johnson uses a simplistic discussion of the reaction products of hydrocarbon combustion and a flawed description of carbon sequestration as a result of geologic processes.
Your editor – and others – have sparred with Mr. Johnson before. In a 2008 response to one of Mr. Johnson’s letters, I pointed out that Mr. Johnson was using, as the basis of his argument, the thoroughly discredited “Oregon Petition Project (While Mr. Johnson appears to know better than to use this reference to support his case in letters to the Telegraph, he still uses it elsewhere, most recently in a June 11 letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican). »» Let’s Keep An Eye On The Science, Shall We?
by John Weckerle
This week’s local newspapers are abuzz with discussion of controversies surrounding proposals to encourage alternative energy capabilities in Edgewood, New Mexico. As in the past, the discussion seems focused primarily on wind energy, with proponents seeking to find a way to allow residents to place wind turbines on their properties. Solar technologies appear to remain an afterthought, as do energy-efficiency upgrades. With the exception of some comments from Town Councilor Brad Hill quoted in The Independent, there appears to be little thought given to a balanced approach to energy and developing a comprehensive energy management strategy that could produce the desired benefits with a minimum of dispute. The public discussion has focused almost entirely on wind issues, and review of the minutes of the Town Council, Planning and Zoning Committee, and Energy Committee meetings available online provides no indication that other alternative energy sources have ever been seriously discussed – this in spite of the fact that Town Council and P&Z Committee members have expressed concerns about the apparently nearly-exclusive focus on wind. We have been critical of this approach in the past (see our February 6, 2009 article), and remain so. »» Edgewood Energy Planning Needs More Diverse Approach