IURC to hear evidence on Vectren gas plant; Watch on-line

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 08, 2018  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized, Vectren  /   No Comments


Utility commission to hear evidence on Vectren gas plant

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 evidentiary hearing in Cause No. 45052


Mark Wilson

Evansville Courier & Press USA TODAY NETWORK

EVANSVILLE – A natural gas power plant intended to replace Vectren’s aging coal-burning A.B. Brown generating station will be the subject of an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission hearing Tuesday. The hearing will take place in Indianapolis at 9:30 a.m. A final decision is not expected until 2019.

At issue during the hearing will be whether or not the commission should give Vectren a certificate of public convenience and necessity approving the project.

This approval will include the maximum amount Vectren is allowed to spend on the project. Vectren will then be able to come back later and ask for a rate increase to recover that cost, said Stephanie Hodgin, IURC spokeswoman.

Vectren’s proposed plant will cost an estimated $900 million, according to the company, and generate between 800 and 900 megawatts of power. The cost includes the natural gas pipeline needed to serve it. Vectren would close two 245megawatt generating units at A.B. Brown in Posey County and a 90megawatt unit at its F.B. Culley power plant in Warrick County.

The new plant, if approved, is targeted to begin operations in 2023 and employ about 35 fulltime workers.

Tuesday’s hearing is not for public comments although the public may attended. Instead, Vectren, other parties who are intervenors in the case, and the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, will present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

Afterward, there will be time to file written comments and rebuttals before the commission makes its decision.

The commission heard public testimony during a hearing a the University of Southern Indiana in July.

The OUCC represents the public interest in cases before the utility commission. In August, it filed testimony urging the commission to reject Vectren’s proposal.

It argued the project was too large and that the company did not consider less expensive options.

Company officials said various scenarios were explored during the public process leading up to its most recent Integrated Resource Plan in 2016.

How Is Indiana’s Solar Industry Faring After Trump Tariffs On Imported Panels?

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 05, 2018  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

How Is Indiana's Solar Industry Faring After Trump Tariffs On Imported Panels?


It’s been about nine months since the Trump administration imposed strict tariffs on imported solar panels. We checked in with two solar companies in Indiana to see how they’re faring.

Ryan Zaricki is president and founder of Whole Sun Design Inc. in Bloomington. He says the prices of panels have increased, but for them they were worse before the tariffs went into effect.

“The threat of the tariff caused a lot of the big players in the solar industry to buy up a lot of inventory because they knew what they could get it for at that time,” he says.

Last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended the tariffs after concluding that cheap foreign panels had hurt the domestic market.

Jim Straeter, president of Ag Technologies out of Rochester, says, if you think about it that way, the tariffs may have a silver lining — they leveled the playing field for American solar panel makers.

“So that’s a positive while the prices to the consumer have gone up,” he says.

Straeter says buying panels in advance of the tariffs made the transition easier for his company, but its panel supply costs still went up about 20 percent.

Both Straeter and Zaricki say, overall, the recent change to Indiana's net metering had a larger effect on their businesses than the tariffs.

READ MORE: IRS Guidance Could Help Large-Scale Solar Developers Bypass Tariffs

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

Also please read: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2018/10/01/energysage-finds-236-5-million-tax-on-solar-due-to-section-201-usitc/ 

Here is the Energy Sage Report:

Facebook ‘Likes’ Randolph County (IN) Wind

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 05, 2018  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments

EDP Renewables

Facebook ‘Likes’ Randolph County Wind

One of the biggest names in technology is turning to Randolph County for some of its alternative energy supply. Texas-based EDP Renewables North America LLC has inked a 139-megawatt, 15-year power purchase agreement with Facebook. The energy will come from the company’s Headwaters II Wind Farm in the eastern Indiana community.

Project Manager Paul Cummings says construction on the $300 million wind farm is set to begin next year, likely in the third quarter, in hopes of having it up and running in 2020. The 200-megawatt farm will span around 17,000 acres and include about 50 turbines.

Cummings says, while Indiana has “reasonably good wind,” the community has been key to the decision to continue to invest in Randolph County.

“The people of Randolph County and the local government officials there, economic development, all those people have been extremely welcoming,” says Cummings. “Landowners have been very easy to work with. We signed those 17,000 acres up in less than a year.”

The installation reflects a growing trend: companies, not just utilities, entering into power purchase agreements. While it’s not just tech companies taking part, Cummings says they have led the way, adding Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have all entered into similar deals. Some of the energy from the Headwaters II Wind Farm will help power Facebook’s data center near Columbus, Ohio.

“Facebook is committed to finding new renewable energy projects on the same power grid for all of our facilities,” said Facebook Director of Global Energy Bobby Hollis in a news release.  “We’re excited to partner with EDP Renewables to help us meet our sustainability goals in the region.”

Cummings says Facebook’s agreement is for no small amount of energy.

“139 megawatts is a lot. It’s a city….52,000 homes,” he says. “It’s two-thirds of Bloomington. That’s the kind of level we need to do deals like this.”

On top of the environmental benefits of tapping into alternative energy, this type of agreement can provide savings for companies. Cummings says it gives them a known cost for a portion of their energy, so if prices increase, they are locked into a set price.

The Headwaters II Wind Farm is just the latest green investment from EDP Renewables in the state. Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with Bloomington-based Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. on what it says will be the largest solar array in the state. Cummings says the 200-megawatt Riverstart Solar Park, also in Randolph County, is expected to begin operation in 2022.

“It’s just a testament to the grid and the folks in Randolph County that we were able to secure two large projects in that area.”

Kosciusko Co. (IN) planners vote to toughen wind farm ordinance

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 04, 2018  /   Posted in solar, wind  /   No Comments
Kosciusko County planners vote to toughen wind farm ordinance
Mark Howe, Times-Union Staff Writer

Kosciusko County’s Area Plan Commission voted Wednesday to recommend to the county commissioners a series of amendments to the ordinance regarding wind power. If adopted by the commission, the revised ordinances will make it much more difficult to establish a wind farm in the county.

Among the changes, amendments would limit construction of turbines on land zoned Industrial III; increase the setbacks from property lines; regulate the height, noise level, vibration, shadow flicker and glare from night lights of towers; and require bond amounts for site abandonment and the decommissioning of tower sites.

The board also seeks to establish provisions to protect roads from heavy-truck traffic related to construction areas; tighten fire prevention and emergency response plans; and require the submission of maintenance logs to the county’s planning office.

Changes to the county’s solar farm ordinance were also approved.

The moves came after Lynn Studebaker spoke to the APC in August,  encouraging the board to recommend either to ban or regulate industrial wind turbines. She cited declining property values, quality of life, environmental and remediation issues during her presentation.

Dan Richard, area plan director, said that despite advertising the changes to the ordinance, no one came forward to oppose the revisions.

The amended ordinances will be considered for action by the county commissioners on Oct. 16. They can opt to approve, further amend or reject the changes.

Lewisville Town Council (IN) takes a stand against wind turbines

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 04, 2018  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments
10/2/2018 12:53:00 PM
Lewisville Town Council takes a stand against wind turbines, joining Sulphur Springs
Travis Weik, Courier-Times Reporter

The Lewisville Town Council took action late last week to protect the people who live in and visit their town.

Council members Justin Thompson and Patrick Saunders opened the special meeting in town hall Thursday evening. Member Richard Craig was not able to attend the meeting.

Thompson and Saunders passed an ordinance restricting Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) in their area and agreed to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to limit long-term parking on the highway going through town.

WECS ordinance

Thompson and Saunders voted 2-0 to adopt a new ordinance based on Indiana’s “Home Rule Law” and forbidding the construction of industrial or commercial wind turbines within a four-mile radius of the southern Henry County town.

According to Ordinance 092718, the town council believes industrial wind turbines “will constitute a danger to the health, safety, and/or welfare of the citizens of Lewisville, Indiana.”

The ordinance allows a private land owner to put up a wind turbine for personal use as long as it is shorter than 100 feet tall and produces less than 100 kilowatts a year.

Thompson explained that the council is stopping big wind energy companies from putting up big turbines anywhere near the town.

“We’re trying to keep the majority of the town happy and do what we think is right,” said Saunders.

Lewisville resident Marcus Allhands disagreed with the new ordinance.

“You’re going to make a lot of landowners unhappy,” Allhands said.

Allhands said Henry County towns are being regressive with their stance against wind farms interested in building here. He took issue with the overall local movement to keep industrial wind farms out of Henry County.

“There was a group or a movement that tried to get the county to outlaw them (wind turbines). They didn’t quite get that done,” Allhands said. “So now they’re going to the individual towns to get them to do it in place of the county.”

Allhands pointed out that “if you go four miles around every town in the county, you’ve eliminated the county as a whole.”

A round of applause and comments of “I’m all for that” and “Amen” may not have been the response Allhands wanted, but it’s the response his words elicited.

The council passed the new ordinance on first reading, voted to suspend the normal rules and voted a second time Thursday to put the wind turbine ban into immediate affect.

Lewisville joins Sulphur Springs as the second incorporated town in Henry County to pass a local ordinance banning large wind turbines beyond their municipal limits.

This is not the first time that the people of Lewisville have taken a stance against industrial wind projects that are looking to develop in Henry County, either.

In September 2016, the Lewisville Town Council passed a resolution to the Henry County government stating that wind farms are not welcome in their area. That resolution requests that the county commissioners not take any action to authorize the construction of wind farms near Lewisville.

Business parking

The Lewisville Town Council also agreed Thursday to send a letter to INDOT asking them to implement one-hour parking in front of businesses along U.S. Hwy 40 in town.

U.S. Hwy 40 acts as Main Street in Lewisville. The town’s business district runs from 2nd Street to Market Street along Main.

INDOT regulates the highway and needs a letter from the town council before implementing any restrictions to the area.

Saunders and Thompson agreed to ask INDOT to impose 15 foot “no parking” restrictions from any intersection in the Lewisville business district. The letter will also ask for parking in front of Lewisville businesses to be limited to one hour from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The request stemmed from safety concerns about town residents being able to safely turn onto U.S. Hwy 40 off side streets. When vehicles are parked close to the intersection, it is sometimes difficult to see oncoming traffic.

Chuck Covey owns an antique store in the Lewisville business district. Covey also lives in the building. He took exception to the town’s request because he would not be able to park in front of his home during the day.

Thompson said the ordinance is trying to be fair across the board. Thompson pointed out that Covey has space behind his antique shop to park both the truck and trailer that he typically parks along the highway.

Thompson said the town is also looking to hire a town marshal who could help control speeding along the highway and through the side streets of town.

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