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Nation’s first integrated wind and solar project takes shape in Minnesota

Midwest Energy News | Posted on March 2, 2017

Later this year the nation’s first “integrated” wind and solar hybrid project will begin producing power outside a small city in northwest Minnesota. Developed by Juhl Energy, Inc., the Red Lake Falls Project combines two 2.3 megawatt (MW) General Electric 116-meter rotor turbines with a 1 MW solar photovoltaic installation. Dan Juhl, the company’s founder, said it will be the first project in the country to use wind integrated solar energy (WiSE) allowing turbines and panels to share a converter, which transforms electrical direct-current voltage for use on the grid.

Growth Energy Denounces Illegitimate Efforts to Rewrite RFS

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on March 2, 2017

Growth Energy condemned efforts by Carl Icahn, owner of CVR Refining, to strike a backroom deal with the Renewable Fuels Association that would irreparably change the Renewable Fuel Standard by shifting the point of obligation from oil refiners to fuel retailers and violating the Trump Administration’s commitment to the RFS. “If true, this proposal would eviscerate America’s progress under the RFS and impose indefensible costs on consumers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Neither RFA nor Carl Icahn have the authority to strike a ‘deal.’ Mr. Icahn does not work for the U.S. government; he owns CVR Refining, which would profit directly from this change.  RFA does not represent a majority of the biofuels industry; RFA’s largest member is an oil refiner, which would also profit directly from such a change. They’re negotiating for the same side – and that is not the side of the ethanol industry or the American farmer.

Pioneering project combines wind and solar

Innovators Magazine | Posted on February 24, 2017

America’s first ever solar-wind hybrid power generation project is set to harness innovative technology supplied by GE Renewables.Expected to enter commercial operation in August, the 4.6MW community based project in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, is being developed by Juhl Energy. It will use two 2.3-116 wind turbines from GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind business supported by 1MW of solar power conversion equipment provided by GE’s Current business.Using GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy (WiSE) technology platform, the hybrid design gives the project the ability to produce power when it is most needed. In short, the solar provides summer peak energy, and the wind provides winter peak energy.

Six states propose new electric vehicle fees

Utility Drive | Posted on February 24, 2017

The Sierra Club says six states have proposed legislation this year that would add to the cost of owning an electric vehicle, worrying clean energy advocates who say owning emissions-free vehicles should be incentivized rather than taxed. States with new EV-fee bills include Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana. About 10 other states already have similar fees instituted. Advocates of the new fees say they are necessary to make up for falling gasoline taxes, which are used to fund road upkeep, as vehicles have become more efficient, and EVs would avoid the cost altogether.

Duke Energy ordered to defend restrictive solar policies in regulatory hearing

Charlotte Business Journal | Posted on February 24, 2017

N.C. regulators will hold hearings May 31 on claims by solar developer O2 EMC that Duke Energy is violating state and federal law by failing to connect three of 02’s solar projects to the power grid. Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE: DUK) denies any wrongdoing. It had asked the N.C. Utilities Commission in December to dismiss the complaints O2 had filed in October. The commission says it will defer consideration of Duke’s dismissal motion until it hears evidence at the hearing.

Solar farms banned after complaints in North Carolina county

Salon | Posted on February 24, 2017

County commissioners in eastern North Carolina have imposed an indefinite ban on the construction of solar farms after neighbors complained that they seem unsightly and said they’re afraid of flying glass in the event of severe weather. Local media outlets report that Currituck County commissioners voted Monday to extend a two-month moratorium into an indefinite ban. Board chairman Bobby Harig said commissioners have had many plans come at them in addition to the two large solar farms the county has already approved in the last three years. One, in Moyock, covers 2,000 acres and stretches for nearly 2 miles, and its neighbors in the adjacent Ranchland community aren’t happy.

Conversion to natural gas brings new life to aging coal plants

Midwest Energy News | Posted on February 24, 2017

Today there are no more coal trains. But Joliet is not among the scores of coal plants that have closed in recent years. Instead, it burns natural gas. A number of coal plants nationwide have converted to natural gas, a move that uses much of the same infrastructure but involves different economics, less pollution and fewer workers. Unlike the coal plant which ran nearly around the clock, the Joliet plant, owned by NRG, now fires up and down more frequently depending on demand and profitability. The plant sometimes goes weeks or months without operating. Along with payments for the power it produces, the plant also collects year-round payments for capacity – the promise to be ready to generate a certain amount of electricity if needed.

States Expected to Continue Course Toward Clean Energy Future

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on February 24, 2017

In Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead is counting on a state-funded research center set to open this year to find a way to produce energy from coal without releasing carbon dioxide into the environment. In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is eyeing new wind farms to bring jobs and economic growth. And in Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich says the state needs to support renewable energy to stay competitive and reduce electricity costs.  “Ohio workers cannot afford to take a step backward from the economic gains that we have made in recent years,” Kasich said last month as he vetoed a bill that would have extended a freeze on the state’s renewable energy goals. While Republican President Donald Trump has said his focus will be on reviving the long-struggling coal industry by stripping federal environmental regulations, governors and legislatures — even in some coal-producing, conservative states — have their sights set elsewhere. As legislative sessions begin, energy analysts say they expect states to continue to advance initiatives that reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. Many states will consider increasing their requirements for how much electricity used in the state must come from renewable energy sources. And more Democratic states are considering whether they should begin to cap carbon emissions to meet their clean energy goals, as California and several states in the Northeast have done in recent years.

Ethanol, the Key to Recovery of the Farm Economy

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on February 23, 2017

The U.S. ethanol industry added $42.1 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported nearly 340,000 jobs in 2016, according to a just released study. The report suggests that continued  growth of the renewables sector is the key to recovery  in the farm economy. Matt Merritt, with POET, the nation’s largest ethanol producer and operator of the majority of ethanol plants in Indiana, says the key to turning the current dismal farm economy around is growth in the ethanol sector, “Ethanol can play the most important role in overcoming the challenges that face rural America.”

Lawmakers renew push for drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

The Washington Post | Posted on February 23, 2017

Former U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski in 2001 gave a speech urging colleagues to approve oil drilling in America’s largest wildlife refuge. The Alaska Republican held up a blank sheet of paper to illustrate his point.  The field of white, he said, was all you could see each winter on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, implying that such a barren landscape would not be harmed by oil rigs. Sixteen years later, Murkowski’s daughter is trying again. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is sponsoring legislation to open the refuge that takes up Alaska’s northeast corner and is larger than West Virginia and Connecticut combined. With a Republican Congress and president, she’s hopeful that the timing is right.