News roundup: Wind's carbon-cutting chops, bringing clean energy home, BOEM considers NY offshore development
This morning’s news roundup highlights wind’s proven ability to reduce CO2 emissions, a small business’s effort to get clean power into American homes, and a new opportunity for American offshore wind power.
Wind power generated enough electricity in 2013 to avoid the equivalent emissions of 20 million cars, according to a new AWEA report. ThinkProgress:
- The report, published by the American Wind Energy Association, found that wind energy production in 2013 resulted in carbon emissions reductions of 126.8 million tons. Some states achieved larger reductions than the national average, with 11 states reducing carbon emissions by 10 percent compared to 2011 levels through wind energy. Texas — a state which broke its record for highest wind generation ever in March — had the highest volume of carbon reductions, followed by Illinois, California, and Colorado.
- AWEA’s report noted that reducing carbon also carries co-benefits: sulfur dioxide emissions drop by almost 347 million pounds per year as a result of wind energy production, and nitrous oxide emissions are reduced by 214 million pounds per year, These reductions improve air and water quality. The cost of wind energy has also been falling over the last few years — costs have dropped by 43 percent in four years, according to AWEA, due to improvements in technology.
- That decrease in cost is part of the reason wind energy has expanded across much of the U.S. — AWEA found that in 2003, wind energy made up just 0.3 percent of the country’s power generation mix, but by 2008, had grown to make up 1.3 percent of the mix. So far, almost all of the country’s wind projects have been on land, but the U.S. is also exploring offshore wind as a potential for further energy generation.
Tom Matzzie is known for his political prowess, but now his company, Ethical Electric, is helping get clean, renewable power to customers who want it. New York Times:
- “The vision is to find an easy way that we can give people to make a difference in the energy space — and easy is the operative word,” Mr. Matzzie said over lunch near his office in Georgetown. “A big part of our value proposition is you don’t have to have a construction project on your roof to make an impact.”
- Four years later, he is deep into pursuing that goal with a start-up called Ethical Electric, which allows customers to sign up for electricity from green sources without physically changing anything in their businesses or homes. One of an increasingly competitive cluster of such ventures, the company aims to capture a slice of an estimated $140 billion in electricity sales spread across the 14 markets that allow retail customers to buy their power from entities other than utilities.
- “It’s about demand; the ESCO is responsible to serve the load of customers and you need that demand for renewables to make new projects happen,” [OneEnergy president Bill Eddie] said. “They are serving a rapidly growing set of customers who want to buy renewable.”
- “I know that there are these millions of people out there that, given a way to make a difference that was easy, they would embrace that opportunity,” [Matzzie] said.
American offshore wind power is gaining momentum every day, as evidenced by BOEM’s decision to open up areas off the coast of New York for competitive leasing. North American Windpower:
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is launching a competitive lease process for wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore New York. The bureau is publishing a call for information and nominations to gauge companies' interest in commercial offshore wind development within an area located 11 nautical miles south of Long Beach, N.Y. The proposed 127-square-mile site contains 132 whole OCS blocks and 19 partial blocks.
- BOEM also is seeking public input on the potential for wind development in the call area, including comments on site conditions, resources and existing uses of the area. In particular, BOEM says it requests public comment on two issues that may impact future wind development offshore New York, namely a liquefied natural gas facility that is proposed to be located in the same area under consideration, as well as existing commercial and recreational fishing activity in and around region.
- So far, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). The agency says it expects to hold additional competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey in the coming year.
Be sure to check out Tuesday’s roundup: Senate recesses without EXPIRE action, a Texas wind story, standing up for Kansas renewables
Katie Valentine, “Wind Energy In 2013 Was Equivalent To Taking 20 Million Cars Off The Road.” ThinkProgress. 27 May 2014.
Diane Cardwell, “Applying the Lessons of Politics to Green Power.” The New York Times. 26 May 2014.
Staff, “Competitive Lease Process Begins For N.Y. Offshore Wind Development.” North American Windpower. 27 May 2014.