Monday, May 31, 2010

California to be the site of the first power plant with federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions

California usually leads the nation in some sort of trend. It is the first state to ever reach a trillion dollar economy in gross state product; (and will probably be the first the first state reach a trillion dollars in debt); the first state to institute tough automobile pollution controls; and the first state to legalize marijuana. Now California will be the nation’s first state to host a power plant with federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions. On February 4, Calpine Corporation received approval to build the 600MW Russell City Energy Center to be located in the City of Hayward in Alameda County, CA. Construction is slated for later this year.
The combined-cycle plant will be powered by a cleaner burning natural gas that will produce 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than even the most advanced coal-fired plants and 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the standard set by the California Public Utilities Commission.
California’s Governor Schwarzenegger has set an aggressive goal that, by 2020, 33 percent of California utilities' power will be generated by renewable sources and statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 15 percent from current levels another California first.
The California Energy Commission granted a license for the plant in September 2007, and the California Public Utilities Commission approved a 10-year power purchase agreement in April 2009 under which PG&E will purchase the electricity generated by the plant.
The Russell City project is jointly owned by Calpine Corporation, which holds a 65 percent equity interest and serves as development manager, and an affiliate of GE Energy Financial Services, which holds a 35 percent equity interest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

U.S. first offshore wind farm gets government approval

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the U.S.'s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Called Cape Wind, the project will supply an average of 183MW or up to three-quarters of the electricity needs for Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The 130 wind turbines will cover 24 square miles and will be located about five miles from shore.
Under regulatory review for over nine years, opponents claim that the $1 billion project will spoil Cape Cod's sea views. It is opposed by various environmental groups and politicians including newly elected Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The late Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the projects biggest opponents. (NECN) - Native American tribes, commercial fishermen, environmental groups and others will file suit to stop wind project. Tying up the decision in court could significantly delay the start of production.
Supporters of offshore wind farms have been waiting for this decision for a long time. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that about 90,000MW of electricity could be harnessed from offshore winds.
Isn’t it funny that the majority of people favor these projects as long as it’s -- Not in my backyard.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

United States and Indonesia to Explore Clean Energy Opportunities

United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and a select group of ten US business leaders are scheduled to visit Indonesia May 25-26. This is the Obama Administration's first cabinet-level trade mission to Indonesia. The US delegation will engage with Indonesian officials and private sector representatives on advancing bilateral trade in clean energy development.
US participating firms include Capstone Turbine Corporation, Caterpillar, Echelon Corp., Emerson Electric, General Electric Company, Lockheed Martin Global, Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, Peabody Energy, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, Inc., and Prime Engineering, Inc.
The Indonesian government expects a 56 percent increase in overall energy investments by 2014. Indonesia’s strategic setting in Asia and its emerging domestic market offer significant commercial opportunities for the US clean energy industry. For the American companies, this is an ideal opportunity to meet key Indonesian decision-makers in the public and private sectors and to learn more about energy related needs and challenges in Indonesia.
While the world is in favor of clean energy, it is yet to be proven that clean energy sources such as wind and solar can generate significant amounts of power without significant increases in costs to the consumer. The last time I checked Indonesia was still one of the poorest countries in the world. While this trade delegation makes good press, will it really accomplish anything? What do you think?


The Vermont Senate recently voted 26-4 to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant after 2012. Recent leaks of radioactive tritium at the 38-year-old plant as well as the collapse of a cooling tower in 2007 and misstatements in testimony by plant officials are the reasons for the closing.
Vermont Yankee is a General Electric boiling water reactor (BWR) nuclear power plant owned and operated by Louisiana-based nuclear operator Entergy. It is located in the town of Vernon, Vermont and generates 620MW of electricity. The plant began commercial operations in 1972. It provided Vermont with nearly 73 percent of its electrical generating capacity prior to the 2006 uprate and meets 35 percent of the overall energy requirements of the state. The state has no plan to replace the electricity generated by the plant, which has justifiably caused concern among many businesses in Vermont.
The vote came shortly after
President Obama declared a new era for the nation’s nuclear industry, announcing federal loan guarantees of $8.3 billion to assure the construction of a twin-reactor plant near Augusta, Ga.
It’s going to be interesting to see where Vermont comes up with replacement power. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this and I wouldn’t be surprised if this vote is revisited in the near future. We’ll keep you posted.