Author Archives Laura Arnold

Study will track Goshen’s greenhouse gas emissions

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 03, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments
Roger Schneider, City/Business Editor, Goshen News
Sunday, June 2, 2019 7:37 PM
A line of cars wait at the Lincoln Avenue railroad crossing Friday in Goshen. A sign typical of Goshen rail crossings, asks motorists to reduce air pollution by turning off their vehicle's engines. Goshen's production of greenhouse gases will be studied this summer. Staff photo by Ben Mikesell
A line of cars wait at the Lincoln Avenue railroad crossing Friday in Goshen. A sign typical of Goshen rail crossings, asks motorists to reduce air pollution by turning off their vehicle's engines. Goshen's production of greenhouse gases will be studied this summer. Staff photo by Ben Mikesell

GOSHEN — How much greenhouse gases are produced in the city will be the topic of a study this summer.

The goal of the study is to provide a baseline for just how much greenhouses gases are produced locally and what the sources are. That information will be used in the future to “help Goshen employees identify greenhouse gas-reduction strategies for the municipality,” according to a news release from Mayor Jeremy Stutsman’s office.

Specifically, the study will gather data on the amount of energy consumed, the diversity of energy supplied to the grid, vehicle fuel use within the city and the amount of waste generated in the city.

Goshen is one of 13 Indiana communities that will be part of the study by the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute. An IU student will be assigned to Goshen to help collect data. In addition, city employees will have access to technical resources, a peer network and training in sustainability.

“We are excited to start this process,” Stutsman said in the news release. “The more data we have, the better we can manage our budgets and plan for the future. An energy-efficient community will help us save dollars in the future, provide a better quality of life and help protect the next generation of community members.”

The collection of data, according to the news release, is the first step needed so local governments in Indiana can prepare for such events as heavier rainfall, flash floods, freeze and thaw cycles that degrade road pavement and other infrastructure.

The greenhouse gas study is the latest initiative by Stutsman to address greenhouse gases and the community’s impact on climate change.

In April, the mayor announced a “45 by '45” program. That project has the goal of increasing the city’s tree canopy to 45% by 2045.

City Forester Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley is taking the lead on that city project. He told the members of the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety in April that in order to reach the 45% canopy cover by 2045, the city will need to have between 78,000 and 104,000 trees by that target date. He said the current tree population in Goshen is estimated at 39,000 to 52,000.

In addition to the tree canopy and greenhouse gas study, Stutsman made a presentation to the Goshen school board April 23, telling board members city consultant Paul Steury will be leading an effort to create an environmental curriculum for local students.

Goshen Community Schools, Goshen College, Goshen Hospital, the chamber of commerce, Everence Financial and city government are financing the creation of the curriculum, according to Stutsman.

Other cities that will have similar studies completed this summer are Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Delaware County/Muncie, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Greencastle, Michigan City, Oldenburg, Richmond and West Lafayette.


COMMON GREENHOUSE GASES

• Carbon dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil), solid waste, trees and other biological materials, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle.

• Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.

• Nitrous oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste, as well as during treatment of wastewater.

• Fluorinated gases: Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes. Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for stratospheric ozone-depleting substances (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and halons). These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases (“High GWP gases”).

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Nearly 200 MW of solar coming to Indiana at under $1/watt

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 31, 2019  /   Posted in solar, Uncategorized, Wabash Valley Power Association (WVPA)  /   No Comments

Nearly 200 MW coming to Indiana at under $1/watt

Over half a year after a buyer was decided upon, the proposed 199 MW Speedway Solar Project in Shelby County, Indiana has been officially announced as happening.

Even more exciting than the news of the project moving forward, which was the next logical step after a offtaker was found last December, is the announcement that the project’s construction will ring in at a cool $175 million price tag, well under $1/watt.

Speedway Solar, located just one county over from the iconic Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway from which the project’s namesake is derived, is now all but certain to start construction. The project is being developed by Ranger Power, based out of Brooklyn, New York. Once the project is completed (scheduled for 2023), the entirety of its capacity will be sold to Wabash Valley Power, a wholesale supplier for 19 nonprofit electric cooperatives in the state.

Additionally the contract is for 35 years, running through 2058, which shows a new level of confidence in the longevity of solar technology.

“Opportunities like the Speedway project don’t come along every day,” noted Wabash Valley Executive Vice President of Risk & Resource, Lee Wilmes in a release touting the purchase agreement. “A 35-year, fixed price contract with no risk of fuel escalation is an impactful addition to our power supply mix and enables us to take one more step in reducing the carbon footprint of our total energy portfolio.”

And, since it feels like it’s been a while, let’s take a look at what this project means in the context of Indiana’s solar industry as a whole. The state currently has a total installed capacity of 331 MW, meaning that this project alone would  increase the state’s entire installed solar capacity by 60%.

But before any further venturing is had, that previous figure is entirely useless. Why is that? Because Indiana is poised to have a whole heap of a lot more installed solar by the time the Speedway project is completed.

According to the MISO interconnection queue, there are 5.7 GW of projects this big and larger planned for Indiana by the end of October 2023. If you’re thinking to yourself that that’s absolutely astronomical predicted development, you should know that figure excludes any project on the queue under 199 MW. Now when all proposed interconnection projects are considered, that number jumps to nearly 8.6 GW, for a state that, once again, has 331 MW to its name so far.

Now that number is destined only to fall, as plenty of projects in any interconnection queue never get built. However, if we use ISO New England’s figure that an estimated 30% of projects with interconnection agreements see finalization, we’re still looking at 2.6 GW, nearly eight times more than the current installed capacity, over a 4-year span. And, one last thing, these figures do not include the portions if Indiana that are part of the PJM Interconnection grid, nor any distributed solar.

If there was ever any doubt that the Midwest is poised for an exponential solar boom, let those be put to rest.


MISO Solar Interconnection Queue as of 5-23-19

Invenergy reviewing conditions of Madison County (IN) BZA’s approval for solar farm

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 31, 2019  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments
Rebecca R. Bibbs, (Anderson) Herald Bulletin
Thursday, May 30, 2019 5:55 PM

ALEXANDRIA — From the moment the representative from Chicago-based Invenergy knocked on her door about three months ago, Elizabeth Jones was against a proposed solar farm.

The conditions placed on the project Wednesday by the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals as its members voted to approve the 850-acre Lone Oak Solar Energy Center did little to change her mind.

“I think the decision should have been different based upon the amount of property and people it impacts,” said Jones, who was in the standing-room-only crowd that witnessed the vote.

The BZA approved a special use and two variances.

“Invenergy is grateful for the thorough review of the Loan Oak Solar permit application by the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals,” company officials said in a prepared statement. “We are reviewing the conditions of approval. We look forward to developing the project and delivering $26 million of new property tax revenue to Madison County.”

The special use requires a 500-foot setback from nonparticipating residential structures and 200 feet from property lines. However, an agreed waiver between Lone Oak and each nonparticipating resident would make possible a setback of 250 feet from a residential structure and/or a property line setback of 100 feet.

In addition, Invenergy must acquire a $5.6 million decommissioning bond to cover costs should the solar farm no longer be usable. Invenergy officials originally had hoped to be allowed to seek a $1.7 million bond, about the salvage value of the project.

Jones, who like many of her neighbors still had signs against the project on her front lawn Wednesday, said her concern about the solar panels was property values. She and her husband, Seth, bought the property about 10 years ago as a fixer-upper and have put much of their discretionary income into its repair, she said.

Since that first knock on her door, Jones said, she has done research on the impact of solar farms in other communities. Though she couldn’t find direct research backing her belief that they impact property values, she did discover anecdotal evidence from real estate agents.

“I wouldn’t have bought this house if it was surrounded by solar panels,” she said.

The company tried to sell the community on its reputation as a producer of green energy, Jones said.

“It’s such a trendy thing. Who is going to say they’re against green energy?” she said.

And Jones said she had the sneaky suspicion it was a done deal from the start, especially after the county created ordinances in 2017 that were favorable to solar farms.

“I feel the county courted these companies. It wasn’t a surprise for them, but it was for us,” she said. “I feel these companies think these areas in the Midwest are easy pickings.”

Montgomery Co. (IN) Plan Commission approves wind zoning ordinance

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 30, 2019  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments

Zoning proposal gets plan commission nod

The proposed ordinance that would bring zoning to the unincorporated parts of Montgomery County is now in the hands of the board of commissioners with a favorable recommendation from the plan commission.

The county’s first zoning regulations will go into effect if commissioners adopt the ordinance at their meeting next month.

Nearly 80 people filled the Crawfordsville City Council chambers for a public hearing Wednesday as the plan commission gave the proposal a second look after giving no recommendation a month ago. County commissioners can only take action on an initial zoning ordinance proposal if they receive a favorable recommendation of some kind.

The plan commission voted 5-3 in favor of the proposed ordinance. Tammy Meyers, Lynn Ringis and Terry Hockersmith voted no. Tom Cummins was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

“In the time since we all last saw each other, I’ve continued to hear from more members of the public,” Meyers said during a discussion amongst the commission after 21 people spoke either for or against the ordinance during public comments that lasted more than an hour.

“I’ve heard from people who want wind, who don’t want wind. Who want zoning and who don’t want zoning,” Meyers said. “And until tonight, I haven’t had one person speak with very much favor for passing this particular ordinance as it’s written. In trying to meet the will of the people, this seems rushed, and incomplete, and like it’s just not ready yet.”

Meyers had similar feelings as many of those who chose to speak during the hearing, and with nearly every message based around industrial wind farm development.

“I was disappointed to see all the rules and regulations against wind and nothing else,” Teresa Buckles of Wingate said. “I didn’t see anything in here addressing industrial animal operations. There’s nothing in here about landfills. Don’t just pick on wind.”

John Frey, the plan commission president, said during a discussion between commission members that chapters will later be added to address confined animal feeding operations along with chapters regarding residential development standards and economic development zoning.

Things like landfills, waste transfer stations and meteorological testing towers more than 120 feet tall are listed as special exceptions in the ordinance. Specific regulations for special exceptions are outlined in its own section, which says they “require a greater degree of scrutiny and review of site characteristics and impacts to determine their suitability in a given location.”

Frey explained that wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems are addressed in its own chapter apart from special exceptions because of potential lawsuit from Akuo Energy, who threatened the county with litigation in March.

There’s some who have been outspoken opponents of both wind farm development and the implementation of county-wide zoning who now are choosing one to stop the other.

“I’m just sick of what’s going on in this county. I want this over with and I want this ugliness to go away,” said Miriah Mershon, who has fought wind farm development because of concerns it would affect her son, who suffers from epilepsy.

“John, you said that I’ve said lots of bad things about you,” she continued, addressing Frey. “And I told you if you did something I approved of then I would be on your side. I’d rather chew my arm off than agree with you tonight, but I do request that we send a favorable recommendation for this zoning ordinance. If this is what it takes to protect my son, then this is the side I have to be on.”

County commissioners meet June 10, at which time they can adopt, reject or amend the proposal. [emphasis added] They can also table it for further consideration. If it’s rejected or amended, the proposed ordinance would return to the plan commission for consideration with a written statement of their reasons.


Also see

Zoning ordinance must wait, Jim Johnson jjohnson@jrpress.com, May 14, 2019

Madison Co. (IN) BZA approves Invenergy solar farm with conditions

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 29, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Madison Co. BZA mtg 5-28-19

Photo by Laura Ann Arnold

BZA approves controversial solar farm with conditions

  • May 28, 2019
Solar farm development moving forward

 

Lone Oak Solar Farm Site Plan

ANDERSON – Before a standing-room-only crowd, the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday approved a special use and two variances that will allow a controversial solar farm to move forward.

However, it’s unknown whether the petitioner, Chicago-based Invenergy, will go through with the proposed 850-acre Lone Oak Solar Energy Center because of several conditions placed on the project.

“Practically speaking, this is far from the end of the game,” said the BZA’s attorney, Jeff Graham. “There’s a lot of hoops for the petitioners to jump through before they can start building.”

Officials from Invenergy did not return calls for comment.

In addition to attorneys for Invenergy and the BZA, residents who opposed the project also were represented by lawyers at the vote.

The BZA voted 3-1 on a special use for the solar farm.

The approved measure requires a 500-foot setback from non-participating residential structures and 200 feet from property lines. However, an agreed waiver between Lone Oak and each nonparticipating resident would make possible a setback of 250 feet from a residential structure and/or a property line setback of 100 feet.

Board member Don Pine voted against the variance because though Invenergy officials initially said this would be the only solar farm in the county, he believed they may request an expansion, Graham said.

“Three (BZA members) allowed the project to expand slightly to make up for the setback condition they put on the solar farm people,” he said.

The BZA also unanimously approved two variances, one a construction start date extension and the other setting the face amount for a decommissioning bond.

Normally, projects must begin within three years of approval, Graham said. However, the BZA, at Invenergy’s request, will allow construction to start no later than Dec. 31, 2023.

Invenergy estimated the cost for decommissioning the solar farm once it no longer is usable would be more than $5.6 million, minus the estimated salvage value of $1.7 million, Graham said. The company proposed a bond set at the salvage value, he said, but the BZA insisted that it be for the entire amount.

“That was a major move,” he said. “Invenergy had provided a list of conditions what they were willing to do. It’s possible those restrictions would be restrictive enough that the petitioners may not proceed.”

Invenergy also must obtain additional bonds, including one for potential damage to drains and another for potential damage to roads, Graham said. The amounts for those bonds will be set by the Drainage Board and the Transportation Board, he said.

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