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Google Powers Up with Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Dakota Wind Energy

by Hanna Hunt – AWEABlog

Never one for small acts, Google recently announced that it will be buying a massive combined 536 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity from four U.S. wind farms. Here are the details on Google’s latest deals:

  • One 200 MW power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with EDF Renewable Energy for the entire output of the planned Glaciers Edge wind farm in Iowa
  • Two 98 MW PPAs signed with Avangrid Renewables for the entire output of the planned Coyote Ridge and Tatanka Ridge wind farms in South Dakota
  • One 140 MW PPA signed with Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) for output from Enel Green Power North America’s 300 MW planned Red Dirt wind farm in Oklahoma

Google is a global leader in renewable energy procurement, announcing last yearthat it would be powered by 100 percent renewables by the end of 2017. What’s most impressive about this news? Ninety-five percent of that will come from wind. And prior to yesterday’s announcements, Google had already signed agreements to purchase a total of 1,800 MW of U.S. wind energy.

Gary Demasi, Google’s director of global infrastructure, explained why wind energy represents a low-risk, high-value investment for Google: “Renewables from projects like [these] bring value to our business as we scale and accelerate investment in the communities where we operate … with solar and wind declining dramatically in cost and propelling significant employment growth, the transition to clean energy is driving unprecedented economic opportunity and doing so faster than we ever anticipated.”

And Google’s not alone. In total, corporate and other non-utility customers have signed approximately 7,000 MW of PPAs for U.S. wind power to date. Early leaders, which included Google and other high tech companies, are now being joined by a diverse range of retailers and household brands. For example, four companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Cummins, JPMorgan Chase, and Kimberly Clark, all signing PPAs for the first time last quarter.

Interested in learning more about the Fortune 500 companies and other non-utility customers investing in wind? Dive into our new interactive map below. The map includes all publicly announced non-utility wind PPAs at least 20 MW in size.

The Wind Coalition Names Mark Yates Oklahoma Director

The Wind Coalition, the leading advocacy organization representing the wind energy industry in Oklahoma and throughout America’s Wind Corridor, announced today the hiring of Mark Yates as Oklahoma Director. Yates will coordinate advocacy, education and community relations efforts across Oklahoma promoting the positive economic benefits that the wind industry is delivering to Oklahoma ratepayers and communities.

Yates said, “Oklahoma can power Oklahoma and I look forward to working with our community leaders and elected officials to build an Oklahoma that is energy independent. With our infinite wind energy and vast natural gas resources, we can end our dependence on imported fuels and deliver cleaner, cheaper electric power to Oklahoma citizens. Wind energy continues to grow in Oklahoma because it provides opportunity in so many ways. For farmers and ranchers, wind provides an opportunity at reliable income from their land. For communities and schools, wind provides needed funding. For every Oklahoma consumer, wind provides cleaner, cheaper ‘Made in Oklahoma’ energy. The future is bright and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Jeffrey Clark, President of The Wind Coalition, said, “Mark knows and loves rural Oklahoma and has shown tremendous commitment to growing the economy. As we continue to grow and invest in the state, we are thrilled to add him to our Oklahoma team.”

Yates comes to The Wind Coalition from the Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s public policy division. A native of Pauls Valley, he received a bachelor’s degree in history education from East Central University and a master’s degree in secondary administration. He resides in Edmond with his wife, Stacy, and their three-year-old daughter Londyn. 

Anheuser-Busch and Enel Green Power Announce Renewable Energy Partnership

Release from Enel Green Power and Anheuser-Busch:

Enel Green Power and Anheuser-Busch signed a power purchase agreement for the energy produced by a portion of the Thunder Ranch wind farm

  • Thanks to the agreement with EGP, Anheuser-Busch will purchase as much renewable electricity as is used to brew more than 20 billion 12 oz. servings of beer each year.
  • The renewable energy produced by Thunder Ranch under the PPA is equivalent to powering up to 50 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s total purchased electricity in one year – from less than 2 percent – significantly reducing the overall emissions from its operations.
  • The wind energy partnership with EGP is the beer company’s first contracted utility-scale project to start operations in the world, leading Anheuser-Busch’s parent company AB InBev’s global commitment to achieve 100 percent of purchased electricity from renewables by 2025.
  • Through the agreement, EGP attains revenue certainty to support its renewable energy capacity growth in the U.S.

St. Louis, Missouri and Rome, Italy – Anheuser-Busch and Enel Green Power (EGP), the Enel Group’s renewables division, announced today that they have signed a power purchase agreement (“PPA”), whereby Anheuser-Busch will purchase the energy delivered to the grid and renewable electricity credits from a portion of EGP’s Thunder Ranch wind project in the amount of 152.5 MW. The wind energy partnership between EGP and Anheuser-Busch will be the beer company’s first contracted utility-scale project to start operations in the world, once the Thunder Ranch wind farm becomes operational, which is expected by the end of 2017. As the leading commitment to renewable power from a beer company to date, this partnership marks a vital step in delivering on the global commitment by Anheuser-Busch’s parent company to secure 100 percent of purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

“As we strive to bring people together to build a better world, we at Anheuser-Busch are dedicated to reducing our carbon emissions,” said João Castro Neves, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch. “Helping to grow the renewable energy market is not only good for the environment, it is a strategic business move as we strive for long-term sustainability. Now more than ever, we are excited to lead our company’s global effort toward a renewable future and, partnering with Enel, set an industry example of how major companies can help to make a difference in climate change.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Anheuser-Busch, a company, which like the Enel Group, is taking great strides to help tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power. “Power Purchase Agreements are an attractive model that provide not only an avenue for growth, but also revenue certainty through stable pricing. This agreement is another important milestone for our company in the U.S. and globally, once again underscoring Enel Green Power’s position as the partner of choice for corporate customers, as we help them achieve their sustainability targets by providing customized renewable energy solutions, leveraging our industry-leading cost model and technology expertise.”

Through a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA),1 EGP will sell to Anheuser-Busch the electricity output delivered to the grid by a 152.5 MW portion of the Thunder Ranch wind farm, substantially boosting the beer company’s acquisition of renewable energy. This output is expected to amount to approximately 610 GWh of renewable energy each year, enough renewable electricity to produce more than 20 billion 12 oz. servings of beer annually. At the same time, this renewable energy output will be capable of meeting up to 50 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s total annual purchased electricity, a substantial increase on the less than 2 percent currently generated by 7.5 MW of solar and wind facilities installed on-site at its major U.S. operations.

The energy generated by the Thunder Ranch facility under the PPA is enough to power 50,000 U.S. households and is expected to reduce emissions by more than 400,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to taking more than 85,000 U.S. vehicles off the road every year.

The Thunder Ranch wind farm, located in Garfield, Kay and Noble counties, Oklahoma, is comprised of two phases that total 298 MW of capacity. This project will support employment in the renewables sector by creating around 400 temporary jobs at peak of construction. Once fully operational, Thunder Ranch will be able to generate more than 1,100 GWh each year, which is equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed annually by approximately 89,400 U.S. households. The overall investment in Thunder Ranch amounts to approximately 435 million U.S. dollars, which is part of the investment outlined in Enel’s current strategic plan.

Background on ABI’s Global Commitment
In March, AB InBev announced its commitment to secure 100 percent of the company’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025. This transition will shift 6 terawatt-hours of electricity annually to renewable sources in the markets where AB InBev operates, transforming the energy industry in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and India, and markets across the African continent.

Through this transition, the company will be able to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 30 percent (the equivalent of removing nearly 500,000 cars from the road globally each year) and become the world’s largest purchaser of renewable energy in the consumer packaged goods sector. The company has also joined RE100, a global coalition of influential corporations that are all committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity.

AB InBev kicked off this global transformation in Mexico by signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with energy company Iberdrola for 490 gigawatt-hours per year, increasing the country’s wind energy capacity. AB InBev will continue to enter into similar PPAs across other global markets where it operates, demonstrating that businesses can have a positive impact on the world by switching to renewable electricity.

About Anheuser-Busch
Anheuser-Busch and its employees build on a legacy of corporate social responsibility by focusing on three key areas: promoting alcohol responsibility, preserving and protecting the environment and supporting local communities. In the past three decades, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have invested more than $1 billion in preventing drunk driving and underage drinking and promoting responsible retailing and advertising. Anheuser-Busch reduced total water use at its breweries by nearly 50 percent over the last 10 years. To date, Anheuser-Busch and its Foundation have contributed approximately $20 million each year in support of charitable organizations that help in local communities. The company also has provided over 76 million cans of emergency drinking water to people impacted by natural and other disasters since 1988. Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch, the leading American brewer, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer. For more information, visit www.anheuserbusch.com.

Anheuser-Busch aims to support the global commitment through a combination of direct purchasing and on-site generation of renewable electricity.

To learn more about the company’s commitment and efforts to drive a renewable electricity future, visit http://www.anheuser-busch.com/betterworld/sustainability/energy.html

About Enel Green Power
Enel Green Power, the Renewable Energies division of Enel Group, is dedicated to the development and operation of renewables across the world, with a presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Enel Green Power is a global leader in the green energy sector with a managed capacity of around 39 GW across a generation mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower, and is at the forefront of integrating innovative technologies like storage systems into renewables power plants.

Through corporate power purchase agreements, Enel Green Power enables companies to capture business value, while also tackling climate change.

For more information please visit www.enelgreenpower.com

When Wind Turbines Move to Town – How Do Rural Communities Benefit?

By Anna Luke, American Wind Energy Association
Originally published on Into the Wind

It wasn’t always the case, but nowadays rural places are often among those in greatest need of new economic development. Sadly, the farm belt and Rust Belt have been losing jobs and investment for decades. It will take significant change to raise up rural communities, including welcoming new opportunities like wind. Rural areas already are home to 99 percent of the country’s wind turbines, with more on the way.

Building a wind farm can be a big change for a small town, but a number of benefits come along with those changes, including:

1. Job Creation

Hundreds of construction workers come to town during the build-out, bringing new regulars to the local diner. And full-time employees will have jobs at the wind farm, often a major new town employer. There are now more than 100,000 people working in the wind industry, and wind turbine technician is the fastest growing job in America. This is a huge opportunity for young men and women who are looking for good-paying jobs in rural towns.


2. Economic Development

It’s typically pretty rare when a multi-million dollar economic investment comes knocking at the door of a small town. When else does that happen? Maybe when a new superstore wants to open a location near you or a sports team relocates to your area.

3. Increased tax revenue and/or lower taxes for individuals

When April 15 rolls around, how would you like to pay no local taxes? For the town of Sheldon, N.Y., the project generated so much tax revenue that local residents paid no taxes for eight years. Payments went to improving roads, building a basketball court at the town park, and erecting new walls at the town’s cemeteries.


4. Landowner Lease Payments

Rural landowners receive nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in lease payments every year for hosting wind turbines, acting as their new “drought-resistant cash crop.” Many project developers also provide payments to other residents living nearby as a goodwill gesture as well. These payments are significant income streams and can help keep the farm in the family.


5. Funding for Community Projects

The companies that own wind projects want to be good corporate citizens, and often donate to local charities and community projects like parades, restoration efforts, and youth clubs. For example, Enel Green Power North America and TradeWind donated $50,000 to renovate Leonardo Children’s Museum in Enid, Oklahoma, which included improvements like an interactive Power Tower exhibit on oil, natural gas, wind and solar power.

Utility-scale wind projects are a big adjustment for small communities, but they bring significant benefits to town. To hear about some on-the-ground experiences with wind, check out some more YouTube testimonials.

Enid Regional Development Alliance: To Grow, We Must Keep Our Promises

By Brent Kisling, Executive Director, Enid Regional Development Alliance

Let’s suppose for a moment that you were about to purchase your first home.  You found the perfect house that you intend to live in for the rest of your life.

But like most new home buyers, you don’t have enough cash to purchase the home so you start shopping around to find a bank to loan you the money.  Each bank carefully competes to get your business.  Some offer you a 5% interest rate and others offer you less.  Let’s suppose that after careful consideration you decide to go with the bank that offers you a 3% fixed rate loan for 10 years.  You move out of your apartment and start living your life in this new home.

Now let’s suppose that after a few years, even though you have kept your side of the bargain and paid your loan payment every month, that the bank sends you a notice that they are changing your interest rate to 5%.  You would be livid and you would never do business with that bank ever again…right?

Oklahoma is attempting to do the same thing right now with the wind industry.

About 15 years ago we made a conscious decision to diversify our economy and “compete” with other states by incentivizing the wind industry to come to our state.  It worked!  But, except for college football, we aren’t used to being this successful at something.  We went from almost zero wind investment to over $9 billion.

Now our State Legislature is saying that since we already have their investment and they can’t really move the wind farms elsewhere, let’s change the rules and cap the incentive each year that we promised them.  Just like the bank changing the rules on your loan, if we go through with this, we will never be able to make a promise to a company ever again…in the wind industry…or any other.

In Garfield County, the wind industry has been revolutionary for us.

We have had $500 million in investment in our county alone.  These farms have a 20 year contract to operate in our area.  Over that 20 year span, these wind farm owners will pay out approximately $100 million in property taxes (about half of which goes to K-12 public schools).  They will also pay about $4.8 million per year in landowner payments.  This is the equivalent of a new employer hiring 133 people at our county average wage and then promising to invest in that payroll every year for 20 years.  We would fall all over ourselves to see an investment like that, but instead, we are considering changing the rules mid-game.

Oklahoma now has the 3rd most installed wind energy capacity in the country and it is becoming a mature industry in our state.  Enid and other communities are now starting to work with manufacturing facilities that want to be close to the farms in our area.  Please Oklahoma, keep your promises so they will continue to want to do business with us.

Natural Gas and Renewables, A Partnership With Which Coal Can’t Compete

By Jeffrey Clark
http://eecn.johnshopkins.edu/index.php/2016/11/15/1512/#ixzz4VtCXZCTF

In an ugly weekend for Texas football fans, the Longhorns were defeated by the West Virginia Mountaineers.  Sitting in the stadium, I reflected on our just-ended Presidential election in which energy issues – particularly the promise of a coal renaissance – played a major role.  I was struck by the bigger battle between these two states currently unfolding off the gridiron.  That competition is for the future of American electric power generation and, campaign rhetoric aside, it is one in which natural gas, wind, and solar from states like Texas and Oklahoma will resoundingly defeat the dirtier and increasingly more expensive coal from the mines of states like West Virginia.

Peaking in 2007 when it was used to generate half of the United States’ electric power, coal use has been declining steadily while the use of low-priced natural gas has been on the rise.  By 2015, coal’s share had fallen dramatically, with each fuel then providing about one-third of our nation’s power generation.  In coal country, this shift is often blamed on environmental policies, overregulation, and the growth of renewable energy.  In reality, the causes are more complicated.  While new regulations reducing harmful emissions from coal power plants have increased their cost of operations, the reduction in our use of coal is driven by economics, attributable primarily to the arrival of inexpensive and abundant natural gas.

Fuel switching by power generators is becoming common, with low natural gas prices the primary driving force.  A study by BTU Analytics concluded that natural gas priced near $2.50/MMBtu provides sufficient economic justification for shutting down coal plants and replacing them with newer gas generation.  This switching is also driven by the flexibility of natural gas generation, which allows it to work in concert with other low or no emission generators, especially renewables.

Unlike coal power plants which cannot be efficiently started and stopped, new gas generation units can ramp quickly, meaning that they can serve to balance generation fluctuations from variable generation resources like wind and solar.  A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a 1% rise in fast reacting natural gas generation was associated with a 0.88% rise in renewable generation.  The authors, analyzing data from 26 OECD countries, concluded “that renewables and fast-reacting fossil technologies appear as highly complementary and that they should be jointly installed to meet the goals of cutting emissions and ensuring a stable supply.”

That “highly complementary” relationship is a simple one. Natural gas power plants provide power with reduced emissions, high reliability, and some price volatility; while renewables offer emission-free, low cost, fixed-priced power with variability in generation output.  Married together, they offer high reliability, lower prices, moderate price stability, and reduced emissions.

There is irony in the fact that many of America’s most energy-rich states import the fuels currently essential to powering their lives and economies.  The symbiotic partnership between natural gas and renewables is helping these states, including Texas, break their addiction to imported coal bringing wide-ranging economic benefits including energy independence, consumer savings on power, emissions reductions, rural economic development, and new tax revenue for governments and schools.

President-Elect Donald J. Trump has promised much to energy producers, leaving constituencies in the natural gas and coal producing communities hoping that their fortunes are about to rise.  But, unlike the annual battle that plays out on the football field, the contest between West Virginia coal and Texas natural gas is already in the fourth quarter and fans are walking out of the stadium.  Coal is not clean enough, affordable enough, or flexible enough to compete in the clean energy market of the future.  Instead, the future will be dominated by a new group of states harnessing new technologies, their infinite renewable energy resources, and their vast supplies of cleaner-burning natural gas.

Other Reading:

How Renewables Can Save Natural Gas – Bloomberg

Steelcase Announces New Wind Power Investment

25 Megawatt Power Purchase Agreement Further Diversifies the Furniture Company’s Renewable Energy Portfolio

Grand Rapids, Michigan– Steelcase Inc. (NYSE:SCS), the global leader in the office furniture industry, announced a 12-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Apex Clean Energy for 25 megawatts of wind power. Since 2014, Steelcase has invested in renewable energy credits equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption. This latest investment will make up nearly half of Steelcase’s renewable energy purchases, directly support the construction of a new clean energy facility set to begin operations in 2016, and further diversify the company’s renewable energy portfolio.

“Our decision to partner with Apex and execute a long-term renewable energy agreement reflects our longstanding commitment to drive a clean energy landscape,” said Jim Keane, Steelcase president and CEO. “At a time when businesses and governments are working to align on climate strategies, we maintain a sense of urgency and optimism. We are focused on finding new ways to reduce our overall energy use and investing in innovative, economically beneficial projects like this one to take one step closer to a sustainable energy future.”

Under Steelcase’s long-term PPA with Apex’s Grant Plains Wind project, a 150-megawatt facility in Grant County, Oklahoma, Steelcase is committed to support production of approximately 100 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable wind energy each year. This amount is equal to approximately 70% of Steelcase’s U.S. electricity usage, or roughly the electricity needed to power 9,100 homes per year.

“Apex is proud to partner with Steelcase to help the company achieve its renewable energy goals,” said Mark Goodwin, president of Apex. “Our mission is to accelerate the shift to clean energy, and we do so by providing opportunities for visionary companies like Steelcase to participate in the energy market in the manner that makes the most sense for them. Steelcase has proven itself to be a leader in renewables investment, and we’re pleased that Grant Plains Wind fits with its corporate strategy.”

“After a record-setting 2015 for corporate renewable energy purchasing, we commend Steelcase for starting off 2016 with such a powerful long-term commitment for clean wind energy,” said Lily Donge, a principal at nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute and its Business Renewables Center, of which Steelcase and Apex are a member and sponsor, respectively.

Steelcase has a long history of supporting renewable energy development that dates back to 2001. The company is one of the top 50 green power users in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and received a Green Power Leadership Award from the EPA in 2014.

About Steelcase
For over 100 years, Steelcase Inc. has helped create great experiences for the world’s leading organizations, across industries. We demonstrate this through our family of brands, including Steelcase®, Coalesse®, Designtex®, PolyVision® and Turnstone®. Together, they offer a comprehensive portfolio of architecture, furniture and technology products and services designed to unlock human promise and support social, economic and environmental sustainability. We are globally accessible through a network of channels, including over 800 dealer locations. Steelcase is a global, industry-leading and publicly traded company with fiscal 2015 revenue of $3.1 billion.

 

 

 

 

Southern Company Subsidiary’s First Wind Project in Operation

Atlanta, Georgia — Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power today announced its first wind project, the 299-megawatt (MW) Kay Wind facility in Kay County, Oklahoma, is fully operational.

“The completion of Kay Wind – Southern Power’s first wind project – marks an important milestone for our company,” said Southern Power President and Chief Executive Officer Oscar C. Harper. “Renewables remain a central focus as we continue developing sustainable energy solutions through projects that align with Southern Power’s conservative business model.”

The electricity and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by the facility will be sold under 20-year power purchase agreements with Westar Energy Inc. in Kansas and Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) in Oklahoma. Westar Energy has contracted for approximately 199 MW, and GRDA has contracted for approximately 100 MW. Both companies will have the option to either keep or sell the RECs.

Apex Clean Energy developed and will operate and maintain the facility. Blattner Energy Inc. served as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

The Kay Wind project consists of 130 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens and is capable of generating enough electricity to help meet the energy needs of approximately 100,000 average U.S. homes. Southern Power has also entered into an agreement to acquire the Grant Wind facility – a 150-MW project in Grant County, Oklahoma – upon successful completion of construction, which is expected to be in 2016. The facility is expected to utilize 66 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens.

Serving nearly 700,000 customers for more than a century, Westar Energy is Kansas’ largest electric utility. GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility, producing electricity that touches 75 of the 77 counties in the state. Apex Clean Energy is an independent renewable energy company focused on building utility-scale generation facilities, with one of the nation’s largest, most diversified portfolios of renewable energy resources, capable of producing more than 12,000 MW of clean energy.

The Kay Wind project fits Southern Power’s business strategy of growing its wholesale business through the acquisition and construction of generating assets substantially covered by long-term contracts.

About Southern Power
Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. Southern Power and its subsidiaries own or have rights to 32 facilities in nine states, with more than 10,300 MW of generating capacity operating or under development in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.

About Southern Company
With more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are inventing America’s energy future by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and creating new products and services for the benefit of customers. Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, listed by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity and designated a 2014 Top Employer for Hispanics by Hispanic Network. The company earned the 2014 National Award of Nuclear Science and History from the National Atomic Museum Foundation for its leadership and commitment to nuclear development, and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune’s annual World’s Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.