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EERE Network News -- 05/12/04

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    1c54d2ad.jpg 1c54d36b.jpg A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2004

      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

      May 12, 2004

      News and Events

      Site News

      • Distributed Energy Forum

      Energy Connections

      • Despite a Rough Spring, California Expects No Power Problems this Summer

      News and Events

      USDA Offers $22.8 million for Energy Efficiency and Renewables

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that it is offering $22.8 million in grants to support energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy installations at farms, ranches, and rural small businesses. The funds may be used to pay up to 25 percent of the project costs. Eligible renewable energy projects include those that derive energy from a wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal energy sources, as well as projects that use any of these energy sources to generate hydrogen for use as a fuel. See the USDA press release.

      The USDA's Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program was created as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. In 2003, the program awarded $21.7 million to 114 applicants from 24 states, helping them to make energy efficiency improvements and develop or improve wind and solar power systems and biomass energy systems, such as anaerobic digesters and ethanol production plants. For the formal "Notice of Funds Availability" for this year's funds, as well as additional information about the program, see the program Web site.

      Massachusetts to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

      Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney unveiled a comprehensive Climate Protection Plan for the state last week, committing the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through measures such as energy efficiency and renewable energy. The state has pledged to cut its energy use enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions at state facilities by 25 percent by 2012, and will purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-efficient office equipment for its facilities. In addition, Massachusetts will improve its efficiency standards, encourage the construction of "green" buildings, encourage the development of renewable energy, and implement California's Low Emission Vehicle program to reduce emissions from vehicles in the state.

      The state aims to form partnerships with public and private entities in Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010, with an additional 10 percent reduction by 2020. To allow flexibility in meeting those goals, the state plans to develop a market for earning and trading greenhouse gas emissions credits within the state. See the governor's announcement or go directly to the full Climate Protection Plan (PDF 852 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      Colorado Utility Plans to Add 500 Megawatts of Renewables

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      Xcel Energy's Ponnequin Wind Farm in northern Colorado may be a sign of things to come.
      Credit: Warren Gretz, NREL

      Xcel Energy filed its least-cost resource plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in late April, and the plan includes up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, predominantly from wind power. The utility also plans an all-source bid process (that is, requesting bids from all types of power sources) that could yield more renewable energy projects. Altogether, Xcel Energy plans to acquire 3,600 megawatts of new generating capacity in Colorado by 2013, much of which will consist of power plants fueled with coal or natural gas. But the utility plans to pursue its renewable energy plans first, and has asked the CPUC for approval to request proposals for 500 megawatts of renewable energy in July 2004. See the Xcel Energy press release.

      Xcel Energy's request for proposals for renewable energy should do well, if the results from a similar request by PacifiCorp are any indication. PacifiCorp, which serves customers in six western states, recently requested proposals for 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy and received 42 bids for 54 projects totaling 5,600 megawatts. Wind power comprised 85 percent of the proposed capacity, and geothermal and hydropower split the remainder. See the PacifiCorp press release.

      Nevada Adopts Solar Energy Incentives, Awards First to Washoe Tribe

      Nevada has ample solar energy resources, a fact that led the state's legislature to pass a bill last year that provides incentives for solar power installations. In early April, the Nevada Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to adopt new regulations to implement those incentives, thereby establishing the state's Solar Energy Systems Demonstration Program. The new program offers $5 per watt of solar generating capacity, up to a combined total of 500 kilowatts, beginning this July. By 2006, the incentive payment will be reduced to $3 per watt, but the total eligible capacity will be expanded to 3 megawatts. In exchange for the incentive payment, participants will transfer the Renewable Energy Credits from their installations to their utility, thereby helping the utilities to meet their renewable energy requirements. In late April, the Nevada PUC announced the first participant in the program: the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The tribe will install a 7.5-kilowatt solar power system on the Washoe Environmental Protection Department building in Gardnerville, about 15 miles south of Carson City. See the Nevada PUC's press releases from April 8th (PDF 116 KB) and April 28th (PDF 104 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      The Nevada PUC also took action in late April to encourage renewable energy development in the state by requiring the state's utilities to consider the economic impact and environmental benefits of renewable resources when preparing their long-term energy plans. The new regulations also allow the PUC to award financial incentives, such as enhanced financial returns, for some renewable energy projects. See the Nevada PUC press release (PDF 112 KB).

      Geothermal Power Projects Under Development in Nevada and Idaho

      Crucial steps are now underway in the development of two new geothermal projects in Nevada and Idaho.

      Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc. completed the second deep geothermal test well at its Blue Mountain geothermal project in northern Nevada in late April. Although the first well found geothermal fluids at a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit sufficient for power production the company announced last week that it has found a maximum temperature of 330 degrees Fahrenheit during preliminary tests at the second well, which was primarily funded by DOE. The company believes that the geothermal resource at the site extends over a two-square-mile area, which bodes well for power production. The company plans to develop a 30-megawatt geothermal power plant at the site, and believes the site could eventually support 100 megawatts of geothermal power production. See the Nevada Geothermal Power press release from May 6th (PDF 114 KB) and the Blue Mountain project description. Download Acrobat Reader.

      In Idaho, U.S. Geothermal Inc. is preparing to begin flow tests on its five production wells at its Raft River Geothermal Project. The site is the former location of a DOE demonstration plant for binary-cycle power technology and includes four production wells that were drilled in the late 1970s. The company has also leased a fifth production well on an adjacent property. After about a month and a half needed to open the wells and clear them of debris, the flow tests should last one to two more months. Funded largely by DOE, the flow tests will help determine the potential energy production from the geothermal wells, which will allow the company to design the power plant for the project. The company is currently negotiating a contract with Idaho Power Company to supply 10 megawatts of geothermal power for 20 years, and is working with the Bonneville Power Administration on the plant's connection to the power grid. Located in central Idaho about 10 miles north of the Utah border, the project could be the first commercial geothermal power plant in Idaho. See the company's press releases from February 17th (PDF 78 KB) and April 21st (PDF 78 KB).

      U.S. Geothermal plans to build a binary-cycle power plant at Raft River, employing the same technology that was first demonstrated there by DOE over 20 years ago. Binary-cycle power plants use the hot geothermal fluid to vaporize a secondary fluid, which is then routed through a turbine to produce power. The secondary fluid is then cooled and reused, and the cooler geothermal fluid is injected back into the underground reservoir, allowing virtually no emissions from the power plant. See the technology description from the DOE Geothermal Energy Program and the project description from U.S. Geothermal.

      New System Generates 4.5 Megawatts from Gas Turbine Exhaust

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      ORMAT's heat recovery system in Louisiana.
      Credit: ORMAT

      ORMAT, a company known largely for geothermal power development, announced in late April that it has installed a heat recovery system at a natural gas processing plant in Louisiana. The system draws on the ORMAT Energy Converter, which uses binary-cycle power plant technology. It converts the waste heat from two gas turbines into 4.5 megawatts of power, and has been operating since February. Although the system is the first of its kind in the United States, ORMAT has installed similar units in Canada, Germany, and Japan, and plans to startup an additional 24 megawatts of heat recovery plants in early 2005. See the ORMAT press release and technology description.

      Site News

      Distributed Energy Forum

      The Consumer Energy Council of America's Distributed Energy Forum provides basic information about distributed energy, as well as a calculator that provides cost estimates for a range of distributed energy installations and locations. Distributed energy involves generating power at or near the end user, in contrast to conventional electricity produced at large central generating plants and requiring transmission over long distances to customers. The Distributed Energy Forum Web site helps consumers understand distributed energy technologies, basic economic factors, and regulatory and environmental issues, so they can make informed decisions about whether a specific distributed energy technology is appropriate for their needs.

      Energy Connections

      Despite a Rough Spring, California Expects No Power Problems this Summer

      The operator of California's electrical power grid reported in mid-April that the state should have adequate power resources to meet its peak demand this summer, "barring transmission outages, significant generation outages, natural disasters, or local and/or national catastrophes." The California Independent System Operator (ISO) expects the state's peak power demand to hit 44,422 megawatts this summer, while it expects to have 48,712 megawatts of generation available, plus 75 megawatts of demand response, yielding a power surplus of 2,750 megawatts. The ISO warns, however, that congestion of the transmission lines serving southern California could cause reliability problems there. The ISO also adds an additional caveat to its forecast, warning that "early, extended operation of generating units can result in higher forced outages or encroachment upon environmental limitations, which restrict the number of hours a generating unit can run." See the California ISO's "2004 Summer Assessment" (PDF 720 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      This summer may go well, but the ISO has already had some difficulties this spring, as unexpectedly high power demands struck while some power plants were still down for maintenance. Heat waves in late March and again last week caused the ISO to declare power emergencies. Last week's heat wave caused a peak demand of about 40,451 megawatts, and led the ISO to ask Southern California Edison (SCE) to curtail its load by 600 megawatts through voluntary power reductions by commercial users. See the press releases from the California ISO and SCE.

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE news page. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address or unsubscribe online.

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