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Steptoe Butte view captures changes in scenery

LANDSCAPES — Hugh Imhoff drove to the top of Steptoe Butte Wednesday morning to take advantage of the cool, clear weather for scenic photography.

The Palouse Hills that stretch out like waves in a stormy sea provide scenic camera fodder that changes with the seasons and even in the hour as clouds and sun sweep across the sky.

But Imhof's eye was attracted to the foothills of the Blue Mountains in the distance near Pomeroy, where wind turbines have dramatically changed the view in just the past few years.

Exergy drops men’s cycling team sponsorship, cites doping scandal

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The owner of a struggling Idaho renewable energy developer who blames utilities for killing his business' projects now blames doping for forcing him to pull his sponsorship money from men's pro cycling. Exergy Development Group Chief Executive Officer James Carkulis says his company will end its three-year support of a men's cycling team. From his Boise offices, Carkulis issued a statement Tuesday accusing the cycling industry of failing to grasp the sport's “scandal and deceit.” Apart from Carkulis' ethical concerns, however, his business has been foundering. Exergy's problems include $323 million in suspended Idaho wind projects, loss of control of a Minnesota wind farm, federal lawsuits targeting it for not meeting financial obligations and the possible cancellation of two biogas-to-power projects amid a dispute with utility Idaho Power Co.

You can read more on this here from Velo News.
  

Wind developer pays Boise for bike race bill

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― An Idaho wind developer that's been tardy on some cycling sponsorship bills has made good on more than $27,500 owed Boise for charges related to the Exergy Tour. Boise spokesman Adam Park says Exergy Development Group president James Carkulis delivered the check in person on Thursday, to pay for police, among other things, during the May 24-28 women's professional race. The money includes Exergy's promised $1,000 contribution to a reward for recovering one team's stolen bikes. Parks says Boise is pleased with Carkulis' payment, and looks forward to another race next year. Exergy's tardy payments came as its business has grappled with regulatory uncertainty for Idaho alternative energy projects. The company suspended $323 million in wind projects and faces a federal lawsuit from Virginia's AES Corp. for missing turbine payments.

Idaho energy tussle - utilities vs. wind developers - sends international ripples

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― A fight over rules governing Idaho alternative energy is sending out international shockwaves, with a Greek construction company now saying utilities' demands to get out of their contractual obligations to buy power from wind farms are a threat to its business. Athens-based Terna GKA said Wednesday that curtailment will negatively affect its efforts to finance its soon-to-be-completed 138-megawatt Mountain Air facility near Mountain Home. Idaho Power Co. seeks permission from Idaho regulators to shut off wind farms like Terna's when they can get power more cheaply from other sources. With the matter unresolved, lenders are wary their money is at risk. Already, Boise's Exergy Development Group has suspended $323 million worth of projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been asked to intervene to protect wind companies from utilities' demands. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Renewables have rough ride in Idaho…

Despite high hopes, Idaho's renewable energy sector has had a rough ride, reports the Associated Press, with major projects that the state enthusiastically touted ending up mothballed or killed, from Hoku Corp.'s $400 million Pocatello solar polysilicon plant to Micron Technology's solar energy venture, Transform Solar. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Big PUC hearings next week to focus on future of renewables in Idaho

Big hearings at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission next week are expected to attract a crowd of lawyers, utility executives and environmentalists, the AP reports, as the PUC weighs how to set the course for Idaho's renewable energy industry for years to come. “These issues have been going on since 2005,” said Gene Fadness, PUC spokesman. Commissioners “are more than ready to have all the parties come to some sort of agreement.”

Among the points of dispute: How to set the price utilities must pay renewables developers for their power; whether utilities can refuse to buy power from alternative projects when relatively few people are using electricity; and who has the rights to lucrative environmental credits that accompany renewable energy projects - the utilities or the renewables developers. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Palouse Wind farm to power 30,000 homes via Avista

Avista will buy power from the proposed Palouse Wind project in Whitman County, the company said today.

The Spokane-based utility will receive about 40 average megawatts of renewable energy, and as much as 100 megawatts, from the wind farm, which is being developed by First Wind, an independent wind energy company.

Avista said it will receive the first power from the wind turbines next year, kicking off a 30-year power purchase agreement.

The energy qualifies under Washington State’s Energy Independence Act to meet Avista’s state-mandated requirements for renewable energy. The company said it expects to recover the cost of buying the wind power through retail rates.

Lower wind power costs and continuing tax incentives make this an excellent time to make long-term wind power deals, said Dick Storro, vice president of Energy Resources for Avista.

“Palouse Wind will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while meeting renewable portfolio standards, now and in the future,” Storro said.

The wind farm will be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, with the capacity to generate power for about 30,000 homes of Avista customers. It will go on private land between Oakesdale and State Route 195, capturing the prevailing southwest wind.

Palouse Wind Project gets permit

The proposed Palouse Wind Project has received a conditional use permit, moving it one step closer to generating as much as 195 megawatts of electricity sometime next year.

An independent hearing examiner hired by Whitman County granted the permit one month after completion of a final environmental impact statement.

The permit would allow the construction near Oakesdale of 65 wind turbines with the capacity to generate 195 megawatts of power. The project could tie into a nearby Avista Corp. transmission line.

Construction would create 100 jobs, operations as many as 10, project owner First Wind said. The company- has wind projects in the Northeast, West and Hawaii. 

Video strikes at threat wind power poses to birds

WILDLIFE — A 30-second video of an eagle being clipped by the blade of a wind turbine helps illustrate the reason for the American Bird Conservancy's bird-smart wind campaign to address the impact of wind farms on bird populations.

By 2030, there will be more than 100,000 wind turbines in the U.S., and these are expected to kill at least one million birds each year—probably significantly more.

Wind farms are also expected to impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial bird habitat, and another 4,000 square miles of marine habitat, some of it critical to threatened species, the conservancy says.

Bird-smart wind power employs careful siting, operational and construction mitigation, and monitoring, as well as compensation to reduce and redress any unavoidable bird mortality and habitat loss from wind energy development. The conservancy maintains that these issues should be included in mandatory federal wind standards.