What do fidget spinners and wind turbines have in common?

As I attended the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2017 conference in Anaheim this past May, a number of expo exhibitors were giving away fidget spinners as conference attendee swag. At first, I just thought these companies were jumping on a trend, but then began to think a bit about the similarities between fidget spinners and wind turbines. No, really.

North Carolina Proposes Wind Farm Ban, Defies Department of Defense

North Carolina legislators are proposing wasting potentially thousands of dollars on an unnecessary study to evaluate wind farms and military interactions, a duplicative effort given that the Department of Defense already evaluates renewable energy projects. “There is an existing Department of Defense (DOD) process to evaluate – and if necessary – block wind farms, that was strengthened in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Time for Virgin Islands to Transfer Power, to Renewables

There’s already a high level of self-sufficiency in St. Croix – where many, many homes rely almost entirely on rainwater cisterns for their freshwater supply. As batteries and residential renewable energy become cheaper, many residents may willfully follow Mr. Boyd’s footsteps, and begin to fully opt-out of the Virgin Island electric system by going off grid. But for economies of scale, utility-scale renewables and large batteries can pack a big economic punch. Lower systemwide power prices can help reduce electric bills, but also attract new companies seeking paradise on a dime. Meanwhile, brandishing ecological credentials could improve the islands’ largest industry: tourism. In the Netherlands, tourists readily pay for windmill and wind farm excursions.
As the Virgin Islands celebrate the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day, let’s hope it won’t take another 100 years for renewable energy.

OKLAHOMA is kicking butt with wind power

Just over 6,600 megawatts of installed wind power capacity exists in the Sooner State – enough to meet about 25% of the state’s annual electricity needs – more than what coal provides. Oklahoma installed nearly 2,000 megawatts in 2016 alone. By the end of the year, Oklahoma became third in the nation for the most wind power installed.

Brights Ideas at University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Deep in Louisiana’s Cajun Country, there’s a renewable energy research center dedicated to studying solar energy and biopower. And it smells like barbecue. Located in Crowley, Louisiana, the Cleco Alternative Energy Center is sponsored by Cleco Power, LLC, and operated by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Proposed Wind Power Transmission Project Would Generate $3.9 Billion for Louisiana, Mississippi

The new study highlights the beneficial job and economic development impacts associated with the proposed power line. According to the study, the Southern Cross Transmission project will provide significant economic benefits within Louisiana, and Mississippi, including $3.9 billion in total direct, indirect, induced and fiscal economic impact. The benefits primarily stem from construction, potential local tax revenue, and operations. Notably, the benefits from low-cost wind power associated with the transmission project were not included in the analysis, suggesting a conservative analysis.

Lafayette restores smart solar policy

Late on November 7th, a local Lafayette, Louisiana newspaper (The Independent) posted a story: “About-face: LUS seeks repeal of ‘solar tax’ ordinance”. Lafayette is restoring its smart solar policy!

Local utility quietly clouds solar future

But this past August, our local electric utility company passed perhaps the worst solar power policy in the south. Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) introduced an extremely complicated electric, water and sewer rate increase the same week historic, 1,000-year flooding occurred in Louisiana. The new rate structure for net metered customers, including solar power families like mine, is likely to double monthly electric bills, and double the length of time it takes for a solar panel system to pay for itself. The new policy effectively acts as a giant tax on solar power. Solar tax credits are being phased out, and when coupled with LUS’s new solar tax, it is unlikely that solar power systems would ever pay for themselves.

Did a rock band explain why wind power will work in the south, 45 years ago?

Wind farm development in the south has been slow. At one time, the sauntering southern breezes seemed too sluggish to harness for wind farm development. Research, meteorology and advanced wind turbine technology have finally enabled economic wind farm development in the south. Two southern cultural references, mixed with some new science, help explain why wind [...]

Remember that “wind tree”? It’s worse than we thought.

Fad wind turbines bad-mouth utility-scale wind farms, and then frequently fail to live up to their promises. That’s bad news for renewable energy. People can get misled into a false techno-optimism, that we should delay using today’s technologies because the future technology will be perfected, if we just wait a little longer. One positive aspect from the QZ.com article is it points out that a residential solar array costs about half as much as the wind tree. One thing the article doesn’t mention is that residential solar panels can achieve 20-30% capacity factors, or 4-5x higher performance than the wind tree (at 5%). At half the price and 4-5x the performance, residential solar panels are way, way better investments than the wind tree.