Author Archives Laura Arnold

Calpine files application for Big Blue River Wind Farm in Henry Co. (IN)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 10, 2019  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments
Travis Weik, Reporter, (New Castle) Courier-Times
Friday, June 7, 2019 12:46 PM

“Wind is dead!” can officially be categorized with “Dewey wins!” in the annals of Henry County history.

Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC, a Calpine Corp. project, filed an application Tuesday with the Henry County Planning Commission for a Commission Approved Use (CAU) permit.

Per regulations, any CAU permit has to be filed at least 30 days before the planning commission will hear it.

July 18 is the earliest scheduled date for the Henry County Planning Commission to hear the CAU permit application from Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC.

The full CAU application, which includes 22 documents and 391 pages, is available to the public at www.henryco.net/PlanningCommBigBlue River.aspx.

According to the application, the proposed Big Blue River Wind Farm project will be “a wind-powered electric generation facility” with elements in Fall Creek, Jefferson, Prairie, Henry, Harrison and Greensboro Townships.

The proposed project will include up to 38 wind turbines and “associate necessary project infrastructure,” which includes access roads, collections lines, performance towers and a substation.

The application shows components of the project, if approved, would go on 132 parcels.

According to the application, as of Tuesday, Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC had signed leases on 96 parcels, pending leases on six parcels, a consent to reduced setback on four parcels and a consent to permit on 26 parcels.

Maps of the proposed Big Blue River Wind Farm show the majority of the possible turbines (25) would be located in Harrison Township, with an operations and maintenance (O&M) building located west of Cadiz on Ind. 38.

The map shows two possible turbine sites in Jefferson Township, three in Prairie, three in Henry, three in Fall Creek and two in Greensboro Township.

According to the application, the company intends for the Big Blue River Wind Farm project to generate up to 132 megawatts of electricity. The energy would go to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., (MISO) Electric Power Market and the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection (PJM) regional transmission operating system.

The CAU application includes five potential turbine manufacturers and models for the proposed project.

The maximum turbine height ranges from 492-500 feet, with the maximum diameter of rotors and blades measuring 194-219 feet.

Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC also included in their CAU application an agreement to provide training to Henry County emergency services and an evacuation zone and safety plan.

Also included as part of the CAU application are a sound emissions study, a shadow flicker analysis, a transportation plan and road use agreement, an archaeological resources affidavit, a decommissioning plan and agreement, an escrow agreement and a microwave analysis.

West Lafayette calls county’s wind farm ban terrible idea for home of Purdue, opts out

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 05, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized, wind  /   No Comments

West Lafayette calls county’s wind farm ban terrible idea for home of Purdue, opts out

West Lafayette council won’t stand for Tippecanoe County’s new wind farm ban, even though vote will have little practical effect in the battle over wind turbines in rural areas

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – West Lafayette, agitated that the home of Purdue University was being linked to a new ban on wind farms across Tippecanoe County, took a hard pass Monday night.

City council members admitted that the vote largely symbolic. The city has little ground that could accommodate the sort of 300- to 600-foot wind turbines recently outlawed in Tippecanoe County’s zoning code. And even if the city did have enough open space, the height of a wind turbine wouldn’t fly that close to the Purdue Airport on the west edge of the city, given Federal Aviation Administration limits.

But city council members objected to West Lafayette’s name being associated with the ban, voting 7-0 Monday night to keep the zoning ordinance out of the city code.

“For the city of West Lafayette, we have nothing to gain, everything to lose by including this in our city code,” said Nick DeBoer, a Democrat who represents District 1. “We don’t want the headlines to read, ‘City of Purdue University bans wind energy,’ right? There’s no upside in a PR aspect for us. There’s no upside in us adopting this amendment.”

Jon Jones, a Republican from the campus-heavy District 3, said: “It’s definitely an issue where framing of it is important. And I do not want to cast a vote against renewable energy.”

West Lafayette’s vote followed a study finished in April by the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission, the body that offers the first review of zoning and land use issues for Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and the towns of Dayton, Battle Ground and Clarks Hill.


Wind energy

Wind farms banned in rural Tippecanoe County, as environmentalists grumble

Large turbines, like ones in Benton and White counties, now banned in Tippecanoe County. Meanwhile, West Lafayette puts off vote on the measure.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As protests mounted Monday about the message being sent to the rest of Indiana and world about Tippecanoe County’s commitment to green energy, the biggest turbines and commercial wind farms were banned from rural land around Lafayette and West Lafayette.

Tippecanoe County commissioners – arguing that a growing county couldn’t afford to hamstring other kinds of development with long-term leases tying up tens of thousands of acres around Lafayette and West Lafayette – voted 3-0 for a zoning ordinance that prohibits wind turbines taller 140 feet.

That would leave the possibility for smaller turbines, similar to ones that power CityBus offices along Canal Road north of downtown Lafayette. But it effectively shut out commercial turbines, which can range from 300 feet to as much as 600 feet, for newer models, as seen in neighboring Benton and White counties.

The ordinance, driven by several dozen residents primarily in the southern part of the county, has been in the works for several months. In April, the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission – a body made up of representatives from government bodies in Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and three towns in the county – recommended the language in an 11-4 vote.

That night in April, though, a number of people told APC members that the county was making a mistake by shunning renewable energy and essentially casting a vote for the coal and fossil fuel industries.

That litany continued Monday morning, this time as a last-ditch plea to the three county commissioners.

“When you’re in a community hosting Purdue University, an education institution renowned worldwide in engineering, here our county commissioners are going to vote to accept a ban limiting innovation (and) growth,” said Derek Reuters, a Lafayette resident.

“If we want to send a message around the world that Purdue’s a great institution, if we want to send a message that we’re a community that accepts innovation and growth in renewable, safe, healthy energy production, and we want to be a community that looks out after our future generations, I think you should vote no,” Reuters said.

Wind farms (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Susan Schechter, a Lafayette resident, said she couldn’t understand the county’s motivation.

“We’re dependent on an old, dirty technology to support our economy,” Schechter said. “Why would we say we’re not going to support a clean solution that would benefit us in terms of clean jobs and income from a generation of clean energy? I’m just like, Why? Why are we taking this step?”

Tim Strueh, who lives near Linden, close to the Montgomery County line, was among residents who pushed for the ordinance – the second in the past dozen years aimed at wind turbines. In 2007, Tippecanoe County set zoning restrictions that demanded setbacks of 750 feet from neighboring properties without turbines and at least 1,200 feet from dwellings.

“This is not about alternative energy,” Strueh said. “What this ordinance is about is proper siting for power plants.”

Proponents also argued about the potential harm to property values for homes that wind up in the shadows of wind turbines.

Commissioner Tom Murtaugh sided with residents, saying the ban was not a county statement against sustainable energy. In fact, he said, the county and the Area Plan Commission were getting set to come up with zoning guidelines in anticipation of a growth in solar energy.

“What comes out of this is that renewable energy is important, but it all needs to make sense,” Murtaugh said. “In the case of these giant wind farms, it doesn’t make sense. In Benton County, it does, because you don’t have the population growth like we do here. … It’s irresponsible to tie up 30,000 acres for decades in a county that is growing the way we are.”

Commissioners and county planners say they haven’t heard recently from wind farm companies, including Invenergy, a firm that, at one point, had been working to sign land leases in Tippecanoe County.

Clark Howey, a farmer in West Point, southwest of Lafayette, said the ordinance was going to hurt farmers looking for supplemental income on land in parts of the county never going to be targeted for industrial development.

“It just looks to me like the farmers down there have farmed this and farmed it for generation after generation after generation,” Howey said. “And now, all of a sudden, we’re too stupid to run the farm. It’s beyond me how this has happened.”

Commissioner David Byers, a dairy farmer, commiserated, saying he was torn over a measure that would restrict the agriculture community looking to stay afloat with lease payments for turbines. Still, he voted for the ordinance.

The commissioners’ vote effectively put the ordinance on the books for all unincorporated areas of Tippecanoe County, outside Lafayette, West Lafayette, Battle Ground, Dayton and Clarks Hill.

Lafayette was expected to consider the ordinance Monday night.

But the West Lafayette City Council tabled discussion and a potential vote Monday night, at the request to Mayor John Dennis.

“We have a lot of things in the works right now though the (West Lafayette) Go Greener Commission and some of the things that are going on with some of the construction that we’re doing here in the city that we’d like to present in a more holistic fashion,” Dennis told council members Thursday night.

What that means, exactly, is still in the works, Erik Carlson, West Lafayette’s development director, said Monday. Dennis told council members last week to expect something in time for the council’s June 3 meeting.

Peter Bunder is West Lafayette City Council president and a voting member of the Go Greener Commission, a board that advises the mayor and the city on environmental issues.

“I think there are a significant number of people in West Lafayette who think that banning an entire class of green energy is probably a bad idea,” Bunder said. “And they’ll want an opportunity to say that out loud, whether there are enough votes against it.”

Bunder said he wasn’t sure it would come to West Lafayette opting out of the ordinance.

“Practically, it means nothing, because we don’t have any land anywhere, and we’re right next to an airport, so we’re not going to build wind turbines in West Lafayette,” Bunder said. “But there are going to be some folks who’ll want to say, ‘What is the area’s commitment to renewable energy?’”

Sallie Fahey, Area Plan Commission’s executive director, said that if either city rejected the amendment to the countywide Unified Zoning Ordinance, current regulations would stay in place. Wind farms would still be permitted in office research and certain industrial zones. In West Lafayette’s case, the city has what Fahey called “a fair amount” of land zoned that way.

Fahey said cities or towns that had misgivings had another option. If they didn’t act in 90 days from the APC’s vote, the wind farm ban would automatically go into effect.

“So, if they want to avoid taking a stand by vote,” Fahey said, “this might be a course of action – or non-action in this case – they take.”

Bunder said he wasn’t sure it would come to either of those ends. Though, he said he wondered whether there could have been a more nuanced solution that allowed turbines in some of the most remote parts of the county, “where development might just mean a hog farm or a warehouse, instead of the next (Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.).”

Julie Peretin, a Lafayette resident who lobbied for the wind farm ban, said she thought the measure was in the county’s best interest.

“It’s incredible to get this done,” Peretin said. “It took persistence. … We feel we made our case and the commissioners listened.”

Reach Dave Bangert at 765-420-5258 or at dbangert@jconline.com. Follow on Twitter: @davebangert.

Eagle Pt. Solar Sues We Energies and WPSC over 3rd party PPA

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 04, 2019  /   Posted in solar, third party power purchase agreement (PPA), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Barry Shear, President Eagle Point Solar, bshear@eaglepointsolar.com

Solar project developer takes dispute with We Energies to court, suing the utility and Public Service Commission

Eagle Point Solar has sued the Public Service Commission and We Energies, seeking a ruling that would allow solar developers to own projects that provide electricity to one customer.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County, is the next step in the dispute over Eagle Point’s scuttled project to install solar panels on six buildings owned by the City of Milwaukee.

Eagle Point’s project for the city was blocked last year when We Energies would not allow the solar power systems to connect to the utility’s system.

We Energies contended that the project was illegal because Eagle Point initially would own most of the systems and therefore was a public utility under state law. That in turn would prohibit Eagle Point from supplying electricity to one of We Energies' existing customers and would force Eagle Point to be regulated like a monopoly utility.

The PSC agreed with We Energies, contending that the issue of what is a public utility must be decided by the state Legislature.

Barry Shear, president of Eagle Point, had said that the dispute eventually would end up in court.

Shear prevailed in a similar lawsuit that went to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The outcome could determine whether cities, counties, school districts, universities, health systems and other nonprofit entities will have an additional way to pay for solar power projects.

Companies such as Eagle Point can take advantage of a 30% tax credit for solar projects and then can pass along part of those savings to lower the cost of adding solar power to buildings. The nonprofits do not pay taxes and therefore cannot access the credit on their own.

“This really has had a chilling effect on solar for municipalities,” Shear said.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center, an environmental advocacy group in the Midwest, and other groups are expected to intervene in the lawsuit filed in Dane County.

Eagle Point’s lawsuit — like its petition to the PSC — cites legal cases going back to 1911 and 1924 that found that an entity is not a public utility if it didn’t provide power to “the public.”

“If you have one customer, you are not a utility,” Shear said. “There is case law on this issue that is directly on point.”

We Energies also contends the law is clear — and that if an entity sells electricity to one of its customers, it is a public utility.

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

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