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USA: Baryonyx’s Proposed Project to Undergo Full Environmental Impact Statement

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The Baryonyx Corporation’s proposed South Texas offshore wind farm project will be subject to a full Environmental Impact Statement, according to a decision by the Galveston District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The alternative would have been for the USACE to settle for a less stringent Environmental Assessment.

Austin-based Baryonyx, which submitted permit applications to the USACE in June, announced the agency’s decision late last month. The company has proposed developing offshore wind leases off South Padre Island and Nueces County, and has more than 67,000 acres of submerged lands under lease from the Texas General Land Office across three sites between Corpus Christi and Brownsville.

This includes nearly 48,000 acres off Cameron County, divided between two parcels Baryonyx has named “Rio Grande” and “Rio Grande North.” The company is leasing more than 26,000 acres off Nueces County for its “Mustang Project.” If fully developed, the sites taken together could generate up to 3 gigawatts of electricity. One gigawatt equals 1 billion watts.

The USACE’s decision to order a full EIS comes as no surprise to Baryonyx officials. Mark Leyland, vice president for offshore projects, said he fully expected the USACE to call for it and in fact Baryonyx welcomes the move given the magnitude of the project.

An EIS is the most thorough type of environmental review the USACE can demand. The National Environment Policy Act requires it in the case of actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” An Environmental Assessment, which is done first to assess the need for an EIS, is sometimes all that’s required in projects that may or may not cause significant impact.

Leyland said the USACE will select the third-party contractor that will conduct the EIS, and the USACE will control the process, though the contract itself will be between Baryonyx and the contractor. He added that “the process is very much the Corps’ from now on.” Leyland said that contrary to what some have asserted, taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for the EIS.

“We pay for the environmental contractor that operates under the direction of the Corps to develop the Environmental Impact Statement,” he said.

The study will examine, among other things, the potential impact on migratory birds, bats, sea turtles and other marine life. The EIS will take two years to prepare, with the final draft likely to be submitted to the USACE in the first quarter of 2014. Construction on the wind farm wouldn’t begin until 2015 at the earliest.

Leyland and other Baryonyx executives came from Eclipse Energy, a British firm that developed the Ormonde wind farm project in the Irish Sea. That project, nearing completion, uses the largest wind turbines available, rated at 5 megawatts each though capable of producing more, according to Leyland. One megawatt equals 1 million watts.

Baryonyx’s Texas projects would use the same turbines on a much larger scale. The Ormonde Project calls for 30 turbines on 2,500 acres. Baryonyx’s Rio Grande and Rio Grande South leases, totaling roughly 41,00 acres, would feature rows of more than 300 turbines, each set of 50 taking two years to build. Leyland said turbines would be located no nearer than five miles from the coast, still close enough for them to be seen.

In a press release, Leyland expressed confidence that the EIS would confirm the company’s initial investigations, which concluded the wind farm project “would not result in an unacceptable impact on wildlife and other resources.”

“We believe that the thorough, scientific approach required by the EIS process will verify our preliminary findings,” he said.

By Steve Clark (brownsvilleherald)

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Wind Farm Grave Yards

Abandoned wind farms in Hawaii dot the Islands.

According to recent estimates, there are currently 14,000 abandoned wind farms dotting the landscape in the U.S.

Hawaii, for example, has 37 abandoned wind turbines at one site and there are five other abandoned wind sites in the Hawaiian Islands.

In California, there are thousands of such abandoned sites, including Altamont Pass, Techachapin and San Gorgonio — all considered perfect spots for wind turbines.

So, what happened? Well, first off, birds get killed by these huge machines and the PETA crowd goes insane. The Altamont site, for example, is shut down four months out of the year to protect migrating birds. Second, when government subsidies stop, the projects die. Third, wind power has proven to be unreliable as a consistent source of power. There’s either too little wind, too much wind, or it’s too cold to operate them.

In Britain, the energy industry admitted as long ago as 2008 that wind turbines are idle up to 30% of the time because of the unreliability of the wind. A report from the British Renewable Energy Foundation at the time describes the economically disastrous wind turbine industry.

It is unlikely that the Obama Administration will let facts get in the way of their war against fossil fuels and their love affair with solar and wind power. Expect more taxpayer dollars to be flushed down the rat hole of solar and wind boondoggles. Expect to see more abandoned wind farms in the future — as long as Obama remains in office and the EPA is run by the climate alarmist zealot Lisa Jackson.

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  5. What Happens When Wind Farm Freaks Clash With Bat Freaks?

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USA: Cape Wind Opponents Get Lot of Donations

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Cape Wind’s main opposition group said contributions to its cause surged by 22 percent last year as its donor base broadened amid rising concerns about the offshore energy project’s cost.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound raised $1.8 million in 2010, up from $1.4 million in 2009, according to the nonprofit’s federal tax return. Emboldened by a recent court victory and rejection of U.S. loan backing for the 130-turbine project, the group said it’s on track for another fundraising gain in 2011.

“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence of support. We’re definitely on the upswing,” said Audra Parker, the Alliance’s CEO. “The better people feel about our momentum, the better our fundraising will do.”

The Hyannis-based group is trying to keep up with skyrocketing legal bills — $1.3 million last year compared to $500,000 in 2009 — through a series of direct mailings to its 5,000-strong donor base and summertime cocktail receptions catering to deep-pocketed supporters on the Cape and Islands. Money has also flowed in via Facebook and Twitter.

“The legal expenses have been huge,” said Parker, a Barnstable resident who joined the group in 2003 and became CEO in 2009. “We’ve shifted phases from more of a regulatory process to court cases.”

The Alliance’s donations fell by half in 2009 to the lowest level since the group started in 2002. But the cash comeback started after details about Cape Wind’s cost to ratepayers — an estimated $2.7 billion over 15 years — emerged when state utility regulators approved the project in November 2010.

“That really changed the playing field, where it was once a Cape and Islands issue … and now it’s become really a statewide issue,” Parker said. “We definitely have more donations coming in … from off-Cape and from individuals who are very upset about the high cost of power.”

By Greg Turner (bostonherald)

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USA: Battle Between Virginia’s Offshore Wind and Oil Drilling

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The Obama administration’s proposal to exclude Virginia from offshore drilling exploration has angered many top politicians in the commonwealth who view drilling as a potential source of jobs. But the decision has reinvigorated environmentalists’ arguments that there’s more to gain from wind power.

So how do the two actually compare? Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell points to $250 million annually in revenue sharing payments from potential offshore oil and gas leases. “And more than 1,900 jobs could be created,” says Jeff Caldwell, McDonnell’s press secretary.

As for offshore wind, the environmental group Oceana says there could be tens of thousands of jobs created by offshore wind farms in Virginia.

”We could be talking about as many as 17,000 jobs in operations and maintenance,” says Oceana’s Jackie Savitz. “And in terms of construction, we’re talking about another 30,000 jobs.”

So for wind power, there could be many more jobs, but maybe less state revenue. Savitz says those jobs would materialize only if the supply chain for wind farms is based in Virginia — as opposed to another state or another country.

”It’s really a matter of who gets there first,” says McDonnell and former Gov. Tim Kaine have called for a combination of oil and renewables including wind, but Savitz says there’s a problem with that.

“When you try to do both, they end up competing with each other,” she says. “They need some of the same parts, same ships. It drives costs up.”

Not so, argues Tim Ryan, president of wind developer Apex Wind in Charlottesville, Va.

Hampton Roads is a tremendous resource in terms of shipyards, dock areas, manufacturing capabilities,” Ryan says. “There are plenty of opportunities to do offshore wind and offshore oil and gas.”

The real barrier to wind isn’t drilling, Ryan adds. Instead, it’s expiring federal incentives and a lack of state incentives in Virginia.

And, of course there is more to compare than money and jobs, add the environmentalists. While oil pollutes, wind does not, they say.

By: Sabri Ben-Achour (wamu)

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USA: Fight for Nantucket Sound Continues

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You could almost detect the gritty glee in Audra Parker’s statement when, as president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, she said: “This represents a major setback for an already struggling project,” regarding the recent appeals court decision — the alliance filed the appeal — that further delays the implementation of the country’s first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind.

Like Ali and Frazier, this represents another round in the epic battle of Sound vs. Wind.

The decision rendered on Oct. 28 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (former members include John Roberts and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) is important because the court is considered the second most important behind the Supreme Court.

Principally, because of its “often exclusive jurisdiction” to hear “challenges to … environmental protections” issued by federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, Cape Wind is running out of legal options. The FAA is now required to further review the project — it has reviewed the matter for eight years — to determine (as it has previously done) that the turbines pose no threat to aviation.

With aerial anticipation, the alliance is sensing a final knock out.

Citizen advocate groups, single-issue social artifacts, like the alliance, are typically created to profess opposition to, raise awareness of, and are ultimately organized for, elimination of public projects (ironically, created for public benefit) or societal ills, of which, locally, Cape Wind is public enemy No. 1.

For the alliance and its neighboring cousin, Windwise-Cape Cod, among others, rejection is often an easier form of political expression than proposition. The statements they make and alternatives they offer are overly simplistic and are sometimes consumed with more emotion and hyperbole than intelligence and should be challenged as much as the assumptions offered by Cape Wind and other wind projects.

Sheila K. Bowen, president of Windwise, recently wrote of industrial turbines that “they are not environmentally responsible.” Does any thoughtful person, who is serious about energy policy, especially “green” or “clean” energy, really believe that? With that line of reasoning one should come to the same conclusion that the use of combustion engines in school buses, emitting carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, is also not “environmentally responsible.” Stop the buses!

The alliance says “other green initiatives like energy efficiency and alternative power sources, including land-based wind and hydro, can provide power and save the environment at half the cost of Cape Wind.” Preposterous. Do they factor into their calculus that significant upgrades (read, cost) need to be made to transmission lines from an already taxed grid, from places like Maine and Vermont?

Further still, they also support land-based wind projects “when appropriately sited” and in the “general interests of the local community.”

Additionally, “land-based wind is often more favorable than offshore wind due to better economics, less risk and the existence of a regulatory process.” Translation: not happening. Ask the residents of Brewster, Bourne and Falmouth if they believe there are favorable, appropriate sites in their towns.

Should Cape Wind proceed, the alliance believes, citing what should be a questionable Beacon Hill Institute study, that “a loss in property values of $1.35 billion” can be expected and “a reduction in tourist spending of $57 million to $123 million” should be feared.

Finally, the alliance touts “upgrades to existing power plants” (will Parker agree to pay more for the cost?), “deep-water sites” (think Deepwater Horizon), “management of consumer demand patterns through peak-load sharing or shifting” (elaborate how) and “renewable options that can produce constant, reliable generation with lower transmission costs” (what are the options?).

The reality is that there are few options. But Cape Wind, perhaps not economically proficient at the moment, is a viable one. Solar energy provides a cost of nearly double that of offshore wind energy and recent bankruptcies of Evergreen and Solyndra — financed with taxpayer dollars at the local and national levels — is rarely mentioned by those opposed to Cape Wind as a sensible option. Nuclear energy, in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi troubles, does not seem politically expedient either.

So, opponents of Cape Wind, provide better, more detailed options for powering our homes, gadgets and lifestyles, considering our increasing, insatiable demand.

As Sound and Wind take to their respective corners, it is not known when the next round will be, but it is certain that the match, like all fights, will be determined by judges. Sadly, that is a reflection of our flawed and failed energy policies.

James P. Freeman of Orleans is a financial services professional.

By James Freeman (capecodonline)

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USA: 7 Companies Beside Deepwater Wind Plan to Build Wind Farm off RI

7 Companies Beside Deepwater Wind Plan to Build Wind Farm off RI (USA)

Seven companies in addition to Deepwater Wind have registered interest in developing offshore energy projects in an area of federal waters between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Providence-based Deepwater announced its application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last week for a longstanding plan for a 1,000-megawatt wind farm, but no other companies made public their proposals at the time.

The bureau released a list this week of companies interested in generating energy in waters east of Block Island and southwest of Martha’s Vineyard.

No information was provided on their applications or the scope of their projects.

The applicants include Energy Management Inc., the company behind the 130-turbine Cape Wind proposal in Nantucket Sound; Fishermen’s Energy, a company with plans for a wind farm off the New Jersey coast; and Neptune Wind, which announced in August a plan for a 500-megawatt wind farm in the area between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Also on the list are enXco, a San Diego, Calif.-based company that says it has developed 3,000 megawatts of wind power and 68 megawatts of solar power in the United States, Mexico and Canada; Iberdrola Renewables, the U.S. division of a Spanish company that describes itself as the second-largest developer of wind power in the United States, with 4,800 megawatts of onshore projects; Mainstream Renewable Power, a company that says it is developing 5,500 megawatts of offshore wind power in England, Scotland and Germany; and US Wind, which has also submitted applications to lease waters in another part of Massachusetts and off New Jersey.

The bureau will review the applications before deciding whether to lease areas for development.

By Alex Kuffner (projo)

Original Article

USA: LI-NYC Wind Farm Collaborative Plans to Build Wind Farm off Rockaways

The Long IslandNew York City Offshore Wind Collaborative has filed an offshore land lease application with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, taking a big step in bringing wind energy to New York City and Long Island.

The New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority and Con Edison have all come together to propose an offshore windmill farm in the Atlantic Ocean 15 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.

With help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is backing the initiative, the project has finally moved on to the approval process.

“We are massive supporters of this project,” said Dan Hendrick, communications director of the New York League of Conservative Voters. “This is great news for the region.”

Michael Clendenin of Con Edison said “It’s something people have been talking about for a while.”

It is hoped that the offshore windmill farm, though costly, can provide efficient energy for the entire region without further depleting the Earth’s ozone layer.

If the application passes and the project gets running, having a reliable source of energy could even obviate the need to bring in energy from upstate New York.

“New York has fantastic wind resources,” Hendrick said. “It is in the top 10 for wind resources in the country.”

The collaboration is taking advantage of the vast amounts of wind energy, but it comes with a steep price.

The expected cost of a 350-megawatt project, which would power roughly 112,000 homes, is $415 million, while an upgrade to 700 megawatts would cost an additional $406 million.

The offshore wind project, designed for 350 MW, with the possibility of expanding to 700 MW, would become the largest offshore wind farm in the country.

Not all are certain the project would be beneficial, however.

Recently elected Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens and Brooklyn) said the “efficacy of wind farms might need more study.”

Turner said he wants to see further research on the wind farms off the coast of Europe before the United States puts a great deal of money into funding one here.

Studies have shown that the implementation of the wind farm would displace roughly 540,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing 120,000 cars from local roads, according to the collaborative’s website.

An earlier proposal for offshore wind farms in August 2007 off the coast of Jones Beach on Long Island was terminated due to concerns from local groups protesting the close vicinity of the windmills to the shore, coupled with rising technological costs at the time. But the agencies in the collaborative say this one would bring another benefit of greater concern today.

“The project is expected to boost the job market,” said Clendenin. “It is worthwhile and will create quite a few jobs.”

In fact, the collaborative estimates 2,300 to 4,700 job openings once the plan is enacted and the wind farm is set to be built.

As for the danger to birds, another concern with wind turbines, Hendrick said he does not see a problem, as the facility would be far enough off the coast that fly zones for migrating birds would not be disrupted. One major avian flyway goes right through Jamaica Bay.

“They tend to hug the shoreline,” Hendrick said.

If the lease is approved, the project could start as early as 2017, , Hendrick said, adding, “With everyone using cell phones and other forms of technology these days, we’re going to need more energy.”

by Fen Yi Chen (qchron)

Original Article

Deepwater Wind Submits Plans for Nation’s First Offshore Wind Farm

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Deepwater Wind this week officially submitted its plan to develop a utility-scale offshore wind farm off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in response to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)’s Call for Information and Nominations for offshore wind energy projects in the federal ocean waters off southern New England.

Deepwater Wind’s project – the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC) – will be the first of the “second generation” of offshore wind farms in the United States. With a capacity of approximately 1,000 megawatts, DWEC will serve as a regional offshore wind energy center serving multiple states on the East Coast.

“The Deepwater Wind Energy Center is poised to be the first regional offshore wind energy center in the United States with a wind farm and a transmission system serving multiple markets,” said William M. Moore, Deepwater Wind CEO.

DWEC will be sited in the deep ocean waters of southern Rhode Island Sound, where it will be barely visible from the shore. Construction is planned to begin in 2014 or 2015, with the first wind turbines in operation by the end of 2016 or 2017.

With as many as 200 wind turbines, DWEC will be the largest offshore wind farm ever planned in the United States. Because of the economies of scale gained by building a large facility and because of the continuing maturity of the offshore wind industry, DWEC’s power price will also be lower than earlier offshore wind projects proposed in the U.S. DWEC will demonstrate that as the offshore wind industry continues to mature, its energy prices will become increasingly competitive with plants that burn fossil fuels – but without the environmental problems that plague fossil fuel plants.

“This ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower priced power, using more advanced technology than any of the offshore projects announced to date,” Moore said.

Deepwater Wind previously filed an unsolicited nomination to BOEMRE to lease the ocean site where it plans to locate DWEC. Since then, Deepwater Wind, after consultations with area fishing groups and other stakeholders, has refined the ocean lease blocks it has nominated in order to accommodate multiple different project designs. At this early stage of project development, Deepwater Wind believes that additional input from key stakeholders, such as commercial fishers, should be considered before final project siting is determined. Deepwater Wind’s lease block nomination creates this flexibility by including enough area for different project configurations.

Deepwater Wind is also developing a regional offshore transmission network, the New England-Long Island Interconnector (NELI), connecting DWEC to southern New England and eastern Long Island. NELI will allow the wind farm to send power to multiple states in the region. Deepwater Wind plans to market power from DWEC to several states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut.

Most of the turbines will be located 20 – 25 miles from shore. No turbine will be located any closer than 13.8 miles from inhabited land, with only a few turbines located at that distance. At these distances, the wind farm will be barely visible from the shore and the project site can take advantage of the stronger winds found in the open ocean.

Deepwater Wind’s proposal sites DWEC in the “Area of Mutual Interest” between the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As a result of a competitive bid process held by the State of Rhode Island in 2008, Deepwater Wind is the state’s preferred developer in this Area of Mutual Interest. The utility-scale project is also outlined in the Joint Development Agreement between Deepwater Wind and Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind will base its manufacturing and construction operations at Quonset Point, in Rhode Island, where the company has over 100 acres under lease option. Deepwater Wind is also exploring port and other facilities in Massachusetts to compliment its Quonset base.

As a 1,000 MW regional offshore wind energy center, DWEC is a first-of-its-kind project in several ways and serves as a model for future Deepwater Wind projects. First, it is the largest renewable energy project ever proposed for the northeast United States.

“Energy independence for our nation is possible only by taking bold steps to wean ourselves off of our addiction to fossil fuels,” Moore said. “Second generation utility-scale wind farms like DWEC can significantly reduce our need to burn fossil fuels, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – problems that are especially acute in the densely-populated Northeast.”

Second, the projected pricing of the power from DWEC is expected to be lower than that proposed for any offshore wind farm ever planned in the United States. The wholesale price of power depends on the final size of the project, the final configuration of the transmission system, and the continued availability of federal tax incentives, however Deepwater Wind expects the pricing on a kilowatt-hour basis to be in the mid-teens (measured in cents). DWEC will demonstrate that offshore wind is becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuel plants.

Third, at 1,000 MWs, DWEC may entice both domestic and foreign suppliers to seriously consider establishing significant parts of their fabrication, manufacturing, assembly, and support services in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between those two states, they will coordinate economic development to maximize job creation in the region. Before DWEC, the United States market was seen as underdeveloped and not large enough to justify a new manufacturing base for suppliers of components such as turbines and blades.

BOEMRE will review Deepwater Wind’s lease request in consultation with taskforces organized at the state level in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Original Article

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