Northwest Renewable News

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Eugene gets nearly $1.5 million in stimulus funds for sustainability September 9, 2009

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 5:57 pm
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The U.S. Department of Energy announced Wednesday that the city of Eugene will receive $1,485,800 from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The money will be used to decrease communitywide carbon emissions, create jobs, reduce long-term energy use, and leverage funds for on-going energy efficiency and conservation initiatives.

“These funds will advance the city of Eugene’s long-standing commitment to sustainability in our community and in city operations,” noted Mayor Kitty Piercy in a statement. “It will help us meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and provides timely support for the community-wide Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan that is just getting under way.”

“These federal stimulus funds will put people to work in our community and help us develop our green jobs sector, which is extremely important as we position our area to move successfully into the next economy,” added City Manager Jon Ruiz.

The city submitted an application for the grant funds in May.

By Edward Russo, The Register Guard


Smart grid to get testest in Spokane/Pullman Area & Salem, OR in NW

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Oregon,Smart Grid,Washington — nwrenewablenews @ 5:52 pm

Researchers across the Northwest have demonstrated that new technology can help manage electricity use. Now they’re betting they’ll get the same results with new experiments and show the whole country how it’s done.

Twelve utilities in five states – including Avista Utilities and Inland Power and Light Co. in Spokane – have signed on to a proposal to test the so-called smart power grid under the direction of Battelle, the company that operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland. Battelle has applied for federal stimulus money.

The term “smart grid” has come to include any improvements in the way energy is transmitted, stored and consumed. And the federal Department of Energy has taken proposals from utilities across the country wanting to demonstrate their smart-grid projects.

Carl Imhoff, a research director with Battelle, said that the regional reach of this proposal, with participants from Wyoming to Oregon, makes it stand out. “It’s cutting across a layer of the utility system that has not been done as aggressively,” he said.

“Using 12 different entities like this is a very compelling and bold experiment.”

As far as experiments go, this one isn’t as experimental as some; researchers are confident the grid will benefit from more smarts. But directions from the Department of Energy are clear: The goal isn’t to see whether proposed changes will improve the nation’s electrical system, but how those changes will improve the system.

The Northwest has a natural advantage in this area. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory already tested smart-grid technology in a 2006-2007 study in Washington and Oregon. The Bonneville Power Administration participated in that study, and would take part in the proposed project as well.

That earlier study, also paid for by the Energy Department, showed that customers shift their energy use to times when there’s less stress on the grid if it saves them money. Another piece of the same study showed that a utility can use specially designed appliances to flatten peaks in electricity demand.

Battelle’s $178 million plan would build on that earlier study. “That was just 120 homes,” Imhoff said. “We’re extending that to up to 60,000 units participating, not just 120.”

Participating utilities would maintain test sites, working on various pieces of the smart grid.

Inland Power’s project will be in the Airway Heights area, and Avista’s will be in Pullman, Wash.

Portland General Electric, which managed smart appliances in the earlier study, would run a project in Salem.

The project serves as a microcosm of the bigger smart grid effort, said Mark Osborn, the utility’s distributed resources manager. PGE would mix various power generation and storage systems to shift electricity where it’s needed.

That’s essential for an electrical system dominated by renewable energy sources. Wind and solar power aren’t always available, so emphasis is placed on storage and smart transmission, Osborn said.

The project will incorporate better transmission lines, high-tech meters, smart appliances, battery storage, diesel generators – basically everything available, Osborn said. “We did a few pilots here and there with appliances and battery technology. But we need to integrate them in one location where they’re all functioning together.”

What PGE proposes to do with its Salem customers, Battelle would do with the whole region, Imhoff said. Officials there expect to learn by the end of the year whether their proposal was accepted.

“The group felt this would offer the most compelling test of what the smart grid would be to consumers and utilities in the region,” he said. “There have been a number of one-off things, smart meters (etc.), but the group felt the next level of investigation is to evaluate the true benefit of orchestrating a broad number of concepts at all the levels of the power system.”

Justin Carinci, Daily Journal of Commerce -


Wash. Energy lab will study producing hydrokenetic power September 5, 2009

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., will receive more than $6.8 million over three years to advance the production of energy from ocean waves and moving rivers.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy will pay for a project that examines the environmental impacts of marine and hydrokinetic power. Marine power includes power harnessed from the flux of ocean tides and waves, while hydrokinetic refers to power generated from flowing freshwater without dams.

The project will examine the risks that the power generation techniques pose for the environment and wildlife, conduct laboratory and field experiments to further investigate certain risks, and predict the long-term impact of full-scale energy installations.

Some of the issues include how fish and marine mammals are directly affected by water power devices, including induced electromagnetic fields, noise and blade strike. Researchers will examine whether producing these kinds of power could create “dead zones” by interfering with the ocean’s circulation and nutrient patterns.

Staff from PNNL’s offices in Seattle, Portland, Richland and Sequim, Wash., will work together on the project. The study will be done in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Pacific Energy Ventures, an Oregon renewable energy consulting firm, will take part in the project as well.

Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian –


PGE seeks input on future power plan

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable/Green Energy,Utility Companies — nwrenewablenews @ 1:48 pm

Portland General Electric Corp. on Friday proposed building a new natural gas-fired power plant while upgrading its coal-fired plant in Boardman in an effort to serve the growing regional power demands over the next 20 years.

The Portland-based electric utility (NYSE: POR) filed its 2020 integrated resource plan with state regulators Friday, a document highly-anticipated by watchdog groups and environmentalists to see what the company would do with the Boardman plant.

The 374-megawatt plant, while a reliable source of low-cost power, is also a heavy polluter. The state Department of Environmental Quality in June endorsed a plan to retrofit Boardman with upgraded technology that would reduce its emissions by 80 percent.

But the plan is also estimated to cost PGE as much as $600 million, while pushing electricity rates up between 3 percent and 4 percent by 2018.

While PGE could have chosen to close down the Boardman plant, it is instead electing to install the retrofits, retaining the lower-cost baseload power at least through 2040.

It will meet new demand with as much as 500 megawatts of baseload capacity from a new natural gas plant to be in service by 2015 — a comparatively cleaner fuel source, but one that is often at risk of volatile price fluctuations.

PGE anticipates that its customers’ demand for electricity will increase by an average of 2.3 percent per year, or 20 percent by 2020.

In addition to Boardman and the new natural gas plants, it is calling for adding another 122 mw of renewable energy on top of the 550 mw it will have in its portfolio by the end of 2010. It will also seek an increased emphasis on energy efficiency measures, and plans on installing a 500-kilovolt transmission line connecting the southern portion of the utility’s service territory near Salem with the Boardman and Coyote Springs plants near Boardman.

PGE, which has been working on the draft plan for 18 months, is seeking public input on the resource proposal.

More information is available on Public comments on the plan can be sent by e-mail to

Portland Business Journal -


Looking for a biofuels breakthrough in Boardman, Ore.

Filed under: Biofuels,Biomass,Emerging Technology,Farm/Ranch,Manufacturing,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 1:37 pm
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On paper, making fuel from plant materials looks like a simple five-step process.

You start with a bundle of twigs. Separate the cellulose, add enzymes, then let the brew ferment. A couple of chemical processes later, you’re powering a car with a product that quite literally grows on trees.

In reality, large-scale ethanol production has only rarely been able to compete with the cost of a barrel of oil. And with the recent recession, the dream of cheap, renewable fuel seems even further from reach.

But former oil executive Jim Imbler, who now heads a Colorado biofuels company called ZeaChem Inc., thinks he might have found the key to profitability in Oregon.

And it lies in Boardman, home to one of the nation’s largest hybrid poplar tree farms, grown by Portland-based GreenWood Resources.

“We’ve done the math, and we can compete with $40- to $50-a-barrel crude oil,” said Imbler, based in Lakewood, Colo. “We’re really excited to get going in Oregon.” Backed by $40 million in venture capital, ZeaChem plans to build a demonstration plant in Boardman that will convert Oregon hybrid poplar trees, grass and agricultural waste into ethanol.

Using an innovative technology, the biorefinery could mean a breakthrough for the biofuels industry, on a quest to meet federal mandates for alternative fuels.

Experts believe cellulose, found in nearly every plant, tree and bush, may be the future for abundant, affordable ethanol. And Oregon, with its vast tree farms, forests and farmlands, is poised to be a field of dreams for the industry, recently criticized for relying too heavily on corn, pitting food resources against fuel.

“Corn is a very energy intensive crop,” said Rick Wallace, the state’s biofuels coordinator. “Biomass has a smaller carbon footprint, and we have a lot of it here. There are a lot of benefits for Oregon if we can develop these technologies.”

By the end of the year, ZeaChem plans to break ground on a five-acre site owned by the Port of Morrow. It hopes its tests, using eastern Oregon wheat straw and trimmings from the Umatilla National Forest, will eventually lead to a commercial plant that pumps out up to 50 million gallons of ethanol a year.

But like many biofuels entrepeneurs on a sprint to the next generation, ZeaChem is gambling on the unknown. Across the Northwest, corn ethanol plants that attracted millions of dollars in public and private investment now stand idle.

By all accounts, ZeaChem’s technology looks promising.

“(Their technology) has a very big potential,” Wallace said. “But can it be done at a commercial level economically? We don’t know these answers yet. If they do, it’s a real benefit to Oregon. “

Links to Oregon
Dozens, if not hundreds, of companies are racing toward cellulosic ethanol production, which must meet a federal mandate of 16 billion gallons by 2022.

ZeaChem’s secret weapon: a bacterium found in the guts of termites. The bacterium, acetogen, ferments cellulose into acetic acid, which can eventually be turned into ethanol.

The company’s demonstration plant, unlike some other technologies, will use a variety of plant materials, producing about 1.5 million gallons of ethanol a year.

“We can feed softwood trees, hardwood trees, corn cobs,” Imbler said. “If you think about a termite, it doesn’t really care. Our vision is to become a technological skunkworks.”

ZeaChem, with 30 employees and a lab in California, says its patented process offers higher yields at lower cost, with a lower carbon footprint than other methods. The bacterium can also be used to make another, more valuable chemical, ethyl acetate, a solvent in varnishes and lacquers. It enables the development of other lines of business, turning plant material into solvents for paints or chemicals used in plastics.

“We believe ZeaChem is the leading advanced biofuel company,” said Paul Batcheller, a partner in South Dakota-based PrairieGold Venture Partners, a major investor in ZeaChem. “One thing is that their yields translates to a huge economic advantage. I think Oregon has a great advantage in terms of feedstock and marketing the project.”

Oregon offers fertile ground for the company’s giant leap. For starters, the state may provide a financial sweetner: ZeaChem has applied for the state’s Business Energy Tax Credits, which would be worth about $6.5 million.

Another key reason for locating in Oregon: proximity to GreenWood Resources, which owns the 26,000-acre hybrid poplar tree farm in Boardman. The company also owns 6,000 acres near Clatskanie and accounts for 90 percent of the state’s poplar production.

“We love hybrid poplar because its the best deal we can find now,” Imbler said. “If you have something that can grow cheaper, faster, we’re all for it. But I think the hybrid poplar is hard to beat.”

When it comes to growing trees fast and inexpensively, GreenWood Resources is a well-known expert. Its poplars, through traditional breeding methods, can grow 10 to 15 feet each year. The company’s partnership will provide a steady feedstock near the test plant.

“They’re going to need feedstock 24-7 once they get to the commercial level,” said Jake Eaton, GreenWood’s managing director of global acquisitions and resource planning. “We can optimize high yields and produce a low-cost dedicated feedstock.”

Studies show hybrid poplar is a fairly efficient feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. The partnership allows GreenWood to develop trees for a growing market in cellulosic-based chemicals and ethanol.

“From what we can see, they have the best technology out there,” Eaton said.
Recession and risks But making fuel out of plants is not the hard part. After all, scientists over the past year have turned coffee grounds into biodiesel and watermelon rinds into ethanol. Big oil companies are investing billions of dollars into growing algae.

The challenge is to build a commercial plant, which will take lots of plant material and money.

ZeaChem’s project comes at a turbulent time for nation’s ethanol industry, shaken by bankruptcies and failures over the past year. Along with other agricultural industries, biofuels rode the rollercoaster commodities market to its heights last year, only to have prices collapse with the recession.

The fallout from the credit crisis delivered a double punch, freezing access to credit and private capital for new research and construction. Then early this year, oil prices fell, making it difficult for ethanol producers to compete at the pump. So far, all commercial ethanol plants in the U.S. use corn.

“A number of plants misread the commodity markets,” says John Urbanchuk, a Pennsylvania-based expert in agriculture and biofuels with LECG LLC, a global consulting firm. “A lot of people thought that corn prices were going to continue to climb, and they were unable to cover their commodity positions.”

A wave of bankruptices and closures has followed, leaving idle corn ethanol plants and stalled projects across the Northwest.

Cascade Grain LLC, built a $200 million ethanol plant in Clatskanie last year and filed for bankruptcy protection in January. The plant ran for just six months before it was shut down.

In Longview, Wash., Northwest Renewables broke ground on a $100 million corn ethanol plant three years ago. Last week, the company announced the project, on hold for some time, would become a biomass plant with an uncertain timeline.

In Boardman, Pacific Ethanol’s plant continues to pump out 40 million gallons a year, despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. The plant uses mostly corn from the Midwest, said company spokesman Paul Koehler.

Now, however, the prospects might be getting brighter for ethanol. Oil prices have increased, and corn and natural gas prices, the two largest costs in the industry, have fallen.

“The outlook today is brighter than six or seven months ago,” Urbanchuk said. “The profitibility picture looks better.”

The long-term prognosis for the industry is for steady growth, mostly due to government environmental policies that ensure demand for ethanol, in particular, cellulosic ethanol. Unlike corn, biomass holds the promise of greater efficiency, and it doesn’t compete for food resources.

For 2009, federal mandates require production of 11 billion gallons of biofuel, of which 100 million gallons which must come from no-corn feedstock. By 2022, cellulosic ethanol must make up nearly half of the government’s required 36 billion gallons of biofuels.

“The industry responded quickly to demand, and now we’re seeing demand and supply move into balance,” said Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Washington-DC- based Renewable Fuels Association. “But there’s so much more growth that’s projected, those closed facilities may once again fire up as the economics of the industry improve.”
Implications for Oregon
In Oregon, the push for renewable fuel and energy has big economic implications. Many parties now eye Oregon’s forests for biomass, from wood pellet manufacturers to utility companies. And many others, from foresters to timber fellers to environmentalists, are pinning their hopes on a new, green market for Oregon wood.

Biofuel projects will likely bring new jobs into rural areas hard hit by years of mill closures. And they will put the state on the map in a growing industry.

“We don’t have the corn or the soy the Midwest does,” said Wallace, who works with different state departments in developing biofuels. “We need to get into (cellulosic) biofuels, if we’re going to play. I think we’re going to see more projects like this.”

In Boardman, ZeaChem’s project will create 75 construction jobs and 20 full-time jobs once the plant is running. If the company builds a commercial plant, dozens more jobs could be added.

“We’re excited about that potential,” said Gary Neal, general manager of the Port of Morrow. “There’s going to be a great utilization of the products and biproducts of the region, good paying jobs. We just see lots of pluses, and it’s good for the environment.”

Beyond jobs, developing local sources of fuel will mean more money stays in the state, Wallace said. In 2008, Oregonians spent $8 billion fueling up their cars and trucks. While some of that money goes toward taxes, most of the money spent on transportation fuels goes out of state.

Ultimately, finding uses for the state’s biomass will be good for the forests, said Mike Cloughesy, director of forestry for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. The state has about 4.25 million acres capable of providing biomass by forest thinning projects, which would prevent wildfires.

“There is more than enough material to go around,” McCloughesy said. “Anything that makes more markets for biomass creates more opportunities for active forest management.”

Amy Hsuan, The Oregonian


Douglas County, Ore. considering landfill methane plant September 3, 2009

Filed under: Biofuels,Landfill Gas,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 7:22 pm
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Douglas County commissioners decided Wednesday to continue negotiations with a company wanting to produce electricity from methane gas at the county landfill.

Commissioners Susan Morgan, Doug Robertson and Joe Laurance approved a 90-day extension of an exploratory contract with Massachusetts-based Ameresco.

An impasse over the county’s desire to control its garbage destiny had threatened to nix a deal to have Ameresco construct a 1-megawatt plant to harness energy from methane, a byproduct of rotting garbage.

The commissioners want to reserve the option to ship a portion of its garbage south to the Dry Creek landfill outside Medford as a way to relieve pressure on the Douglas County Landfill south of Roseburg.

Ameresco wants to ensure an adequate supply of methane from decomposed garbage to meet its electricity production estimates and to offset the $4 million it would spend to construct the plant at the landfill.

At current disposal rates, the landfill is expected to fill up within the next 11 years. When it quits operating, it could cost up to $33 million to meet state health and safety closure requirements.

Ameresco has offered the county $1 million in royalties over a 20-year period from electricity produced by the plant, which would be sold to Pacific Power.

The county, Robertson said, is willing to provide Ameresco with whatever methane is produced from the garbage already disposed of at the landfill. However, it wants to have the flexibility to take some of its trash to another facility, he said.

“We are not willing to enter into any kind of agreement that marginalizes what the county may or may not do with their landfill in the future,” Robertson said.

Commissioner Joe Laurance said the county also wanted to reserve its options in case new technology allowed the county down the road to process garbage in a different way. Ameresco official Jim Bier told the commissioners he didn’t see that kind of technology on the horizon anytime soon, but said his company’s process was “shovel-ready” and could provide an immediate benefit to the county.

“I want to remind you guys that Ameresco is here because Douglas County advertised their landfill at a national convention in Washington, D.C., about three years ago and after that issued a (request for proposals). So I’m not a snake oil salesman here trying to sell you something that you didn’t ask for,” Bier said, in urging commissioners not to terminate the company’s preliminary contract.

Thad Roth, an official with the Energy Trust of Oregon, told the commissioners that his organization has pledged a $1.2 million incentive to Ameresco to help offset the difference between the cost of generating electricity and current market rates.

The Energy Trust is funded by Oregon utility customers served by Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas. It invests in efficient technologies and renewable resources meant to save money and protect the environment.

“We think this is a strong project for its size,” Roth said.

John Sowell, The News-Review –


Stimulus aid goes to wind in Eastern Ore.

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 7:06 pm
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Developers of wind farm projects in Eastern Oregon will receive nearly $150 million in Recovery Act funds, in a widely-publicized announcement Tuesday.
What was not widely publicized was that the money will go to the U.S. subsidiaries of two giant foreign utilities for projects that are already developed.
The announcement from the Department of Energy said that the Hay Canyon Wind Farm near Moro will receive $47,092,555, and two Arlington projects, the Wheat Field and Pebble Springs wind farms, will receive $47,717,155 and $46,543,219, respectively, instead of energy production tax credits.
The Hay Canyon and Pebble Springs wind farms are owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish utility, through its U.S. subsidiary.
The Wheat Field project is owned by Horizon Wind, which was purchased last year by Energias de Portugal. EDP billed itself on a proposal describing the project as “the third largest utility in Portugal, Spain, & Brazil.”
But those projects have already been completed. How does handing federal funds to them stimulate economic development?
According to a DOE press release, “The new funding creates additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and begin construction that may have been stalled until now.”
Construction was stalled by the collapse of the tax credit trading market in the general economic meltdown last fall. For 15 years, the federal government issued production tax credits, or PTCs. The market allowed companies to sell the tax credit in return for capital to finance contstruction projects.
“Switching from the PTC to the grant program was made necessary by the collapse of US financial markets last fall,” said Ralph Currey, President and CEO of Ibadrola Renewables, Inc. “This change will enable our company and others to keep investing in new renewable energy while the financial markets mend.”
In a joint press release from senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, the senators both praised the decision, saying the wind farms will use the funds to support their efforts to create jobs producing clean energy.
“The funding will provide additional upfront capital, which will enable companies to jump-start construction on clean energy projects and create jobs in the process,” the statement said.
Though provided in the form of a direct cash grant for the companies involved, the Treasury Department is calling the payment an “investment tax credit,” according to Jan Johnson, a spokesperson for Iberdrola in Portland.
“In the case of Sherman County, we are instantly taking that money as was intended to put it right back to new construction at our Star Point project with is 99 megawatts.”
She said the company did not have a shovel-ready project in Gilliam County to apply the $46 million it will receive for the Pebble Springs wind farm, but that all of the investment tax credit money received through the program would be spent in the United States.
Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. received Treasury Department approval of five grants totaling $294,889,003. A news release said the money would support new wind energy projects in four states, and represented investment by Iberdrola Renewables of approximately $1 billion in US wind power.

By Rodger Nichols, The Dalles Chronicle –


NW power panel: Save juice, build fewer plants

A committee that guides the Bonneville Power Administration has called for buying more compact fluorescent light bulbs and building fewer carbon-emitting power plants in the Pacific Northwest.

The panel said energy efficiency in homes, businesses and factories could offset most of the demand for increased power supplies in the four-state region for two decades.

The plan submitted Thursday by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council said natural gas plants and wind energy could take care of the rest of the demand, and it did not envision new coal-fired plants.

The council said demand is expected to rise at a rate of 1.2 percent a year for the two decades beginning next year.

It said it had identified enough potential in efficient use of power to account for 85 percent of that increased demand.

An aggressive plan for efficiency is the “most cost-effective and least-risky resource available,” the council said in a statement.

“The average cost of the efficiency is half the cost of new power plants,” it said.

The council of eight members from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington sets policy for the federal Bonneville Power Administration.

Using hydropower and a nuclear plant, the BPA is the region’s largest supplier of electricity, and its executives are required to act consistently with the council’s 20-year plans.

The plans aren’t binding on investor-owned utilities, but “I think you will find that they look at it as a bit of a blueprint,” said Bill Booth of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, chairman of the council.

Conservation groups said the council had exercised leadership in setting high goals for energy efficiency but fallen short of what it could have done: outline a plan to wean the region off coal-fired electricity.

Associated Press –


Geothermal possible at Newberry Crater in Ore. August 31, 2009

Update on the quest for geothermal power at Newberry volcano. Information provided by Davenport Power LLC, operator of the project.

Review of 2008 Exploration

After drilling two deep exploratory wells (10,060 and 11,600 feet respectively), the Newberry Geothermal Project, operated by Davenport Power LLC, found very high levels of heat in both wells, but little commercially viable resource – neither hot water nor steam. During the past months, Project geologists and scientists evaluated data from these wells along with previously gathered information. This time-consuming process is normal in development of geothermal resource projects. The three pads and two wells the Newberry Project constructed last year remain in place and will continue to be maintained and utilized in exploration activities.

Surface Geophysical Surveys

The Newberry Project team has begun implementation of the next exploration phase on Newberry Geothermal Project’s BLM-leases (Bureau of Land Management). Planned surface geophysical work will collect data to assist in understanding the nature and geology of Newberry Volcano. This geophysical work consists of a series of gravity surveys and magnetotelluric surveys.

This surface work will be non-invasive and low-impact in nature. It will occur on geothermal lease holdings on the western flanks of Newberry Volcano. The planned geophysical data gathering is similar to that which was approved by the BLM and Forest Service (FS) in 2006. This work is anticipated to start in 2010.

Temperature Gradient Holes

The Newberry Geothermal Project also is proposing a series of small, slim diameter temperature gradient holes. These would be drilled up to 3,500 feet deep, at up to twelve locations outside the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, along the Volcano’s western flanks. In addition to gathering temperature data, the purpose is to conduct passive-seismic monitoring of subsurface conditions.

None of these temperature gradient holes are expected to be used to locate geothermal water or steam. Furthermore, it would not be possible to do so with the size and depth of the holes to be drilled. These holes are another method of exploration to further scientists and geologists understanding of the subsurface geology in this part of Newberry Volcano.

The twelve proposed low profile drilling sites are in a north-south axis along the western flanks of Newberry Volcano. One site utilizes our existing Newberry Geothermal Project well pad. These passive-seismic sites would be approximately 100 feet x 100 feet in size along existing FS roads, and/or at previously logged areas. Drilling would be done with a truck-mounted drilling rig producing a slim core hole and minimal residue.

The proposed temperature gradient drilling activity, must be approved by the BLM (Prineville Office) through an Environmental Assessment (EA), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The assessment of these activities will be conducted by the BLM and the Forest Service (Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District). The EA completion is expected by early 2010. The goal of the Newberry Geothermal Project is to initiate field exploration activities in the Spring, 2010.

The Newberry Geothermal Project and Davenport are excited about this next stage of the rigorous and lengthy ‘Newberry Geothermal Exploration Phase’ on our leases at Newberry Volcano. “Achieving our goal of utilizing Newberry’s tremendous geothermal energy potential to produce renewable, clean electricity remains the focus of our efforts,” stated Doug Perry, President of Newberry Geothermal Project.

KODH (TV, Bend, OR) –


sale imminent for Newberg, Ore. wind power firm August 26, 2009

Filed under: Manufacturing,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 10:39 pm
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Wind turbine manufacturer Abundant Renewable Energy (ARE) of Newberg will be purchased by a California-based competitor, according to announcements Monday from both firms.

The San Diego-based Helix Wind has inked non-binding agreements to acquire ARE’s business assets, along with those of fellow Oregon firm Renewable Energy Engineering, for $4 to $6.5 million.

The sale is in fact a welcome move, said Gregory Price, manufacturing representative for ARE.

“The acquisition allows us to focus on research and development, instead of marketing, logistics and other administrative needs,” he said. “Helix is interested in moving their operations to Oregon.”

The two firms have a certain difference in design philosophy — ARE’s windmills have a traditional horizontal axis, while Helix takes its name from the firm’s line of vertical-axis turbines, which resemble larger versions of the “wind catchers” on many porches.

Nonetheless, Helix will continue to market and sell ARE’s line of 2.5 and 10 kilowatt wind turbines as part of its portfolio.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter technology — site evaluation is a big part of wind power’s effectiveness,” Price said, explaining that different models perform better in different settings.

Regardless of the shape of the equipment, wind power and alternative energy is a growing business throughout Oregon. Jobs in the state’s clean energy economy grew nearly seven times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, according to a detailed study recently released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The analysis found that between 1998 and 2007, jobs in Oregon’s clean energy economy increased at a rate of 50.7 percent, while overall job growth expanded by 7.5 percent.

“Oregon has more jobs in its clean energy sector, as a share of its overall economy, than any other state,” said Dan Lombardi, Oregon representative for the Pew Environment Group. “Oregon has attracted $70 million in clean technology venture capital in the past three years alone.”

Oregon’s growth in this sector was part of a national trend that saw job growth in the clean energy economy outperforming overall job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Nationally, jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a rate of 9.1 percent while the total number increased by only 3.7 percent over the same period.

In ARE’s case, demand has grown sufficiently that the firm has contracted out much of its manufacturing and assembly to Tualatin manufacturers Powin/QBF, a former parts supplier to Freightliner.

“They have the tools, the people and the experience — but the auto industry isn’t doing so well right now,” Price said, referring to Freightliner’s woes following parent company Chrysler’s bankruptcy.

A significant part of the growth is thanks to federal and state spending that help make such wind power systems (generally costing thousands of dollars) more affordable to residential and commercial property owners.

“There are quite a number of tax credits and grants that can work in conjunction — any Oregon business can get up to 80 percent of the purchase price reimbursed through state and federal sources,” Price said. “People just don’t know that the money is out there.”

Federal and state governments have also provided tax credits to manufacturers such as ARE. While such programs have drawn criticism as “propping up” the clean power industry, “the intent is for the industry to become self-sustaining, without subsidies, within another 10 years,” said Stephen Marx, deputy communications director for local Congressman David Wu (D-1st Dist.). Marx toured ARE Monday with Lombardi and Price.

“Any high-tech industry needed subsidies at first — ours is no different,” said Price, agreeing that the goal was a desirable one. “The demand is there, we just have to make sure our company strategy is sustainable.”

For more information on ARE’s line of products, visit For tax credit information, visit or

David Sale, Newburg Graphic –


Eugene company to manufacture solar hot water heaters August 25, 2009

A Eugene real estate company is moving forward with plans to build an assembly and storage facility that would include space for a local solar energy company to build low-cost solar water heaters.

RLA Holdings LLC has submitted plans to the city for the two-building project, totaling 27,420 square feet, on a 0.81-acre lot at Third Avenue and Almaden Street.

RLA Holdings is a real estate company owned by Ronald Anderson, who also owns A&K Development Co., which builds food-processing equipment for the corn industry, and Pacific Metal Fab, a metal fabrication company.

David Beede, project manager for RLA Holdings, said one building would be a three-sided, 15,000-square-foot canopy structure used by A&K Development to store its food-­processing equipment. The other, 12,420-square-foot building would be leased to Energy Wise Lighting, which plans to assemble low-cost solar water heaters, as well as to store its lighting fixtures, he said.

He said the project would create 30 to 40 jobs.

Beede said timing of the project is “still open-ended.” He declined to disclose the project’s expected cost.

Energy Wise Lighting officials said last winter that they hoped to start production of the low-cost solar water heaters by this summer. But the company is still working to line up tax credits and test its technology, so it appears production won’t happen until winter, company president Peter Greenberg said Monday.

Energy Wise, which did about $3 million in sales last year, specializes in energy-efficient lighting fixtures for large buildings, including factories, prisons and schools.

Greenberg said earlier this year that his company has installed 50,000 fixtures that save a total of 75 million kilowatt hours a year, a record that won recognition for the company from the Energy Trust of Oregon.


PGE completes second phase of Ore. wind farm August 21, 2009

Portland General Electric Co. on Thursday said it has completed the second phase of its nearly $1 billion Biglow Canyon Wind Farm in Sherman County.

The Portland-based electric utility (NYSE: POR) said the second phase’s 65 wind turbines — all manufactured by Siemens Energy — are erect and available to supply power to the electricity grid.

CEO Jim Piro said the second phase of the project near Wasco, Ore., finished on time and within budget.

The project’s first $255 million phase was completed in 2007 with 76 turbines and an installed capacity of 125 megawatts of electricity. Phase two brings the project’s total capacity to 275 megawatts. A third phase with 76 turbines is scheduled to be operating next year.

The second and third phases have a combined cost of between $700 million and $800 million.

If the plant were able to generate constantly at capacity, it would be capable of producing 450mw of electricity. But because wind is variable, PGE estimates it will produce an average of 150 mw at any given time, or enough to power about 125,000 of the utility’s average residential customers.

The Biglow Canyon project was developed by Orion Energy LLC, but is being built by PGE, which will also own and operate it. The electrical infrastructure for the project was constructed by Avon, Minn.-based D.H. Blattner and Sons Inc.

Portland Business Journal –


More on Oregon’s Solar Highway August 20, 2009

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 12:48 pm
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Washington’s normally frenetic pace slows down in August, when humid weather and the absence of Congress combine to give the capital some recharging time.

But this month also marks a half-year since the economic stimulus became law, giving Streetsblog Capitol Hill an opening to examine some of the innovative — and potentially controversial — transportation projects getting funded by the Obama administration’s $787 billion recovery effort.

Our first stop is Oregon, a hotbed for environmentally friendly transport policy where the ODOT uses about 47 million kilowatt-hours (kWH) of electricity each year to run lights, signals, and other illuminated features. To start offsetting its power needs with clean energy, the agency has built the nation’s first “solar highway” system, installing linear arrays of photovoltaic panels along roadside land.

“Our long-term goal is to offset 100 percent of our energy use with renewable resources,” Allison Hamilton, project director at ODOT’s office of innovative partnerships, said in an interview.

Hamilton’s office estimates that filling that power need would require about 120 miles of roadside arrays, or less than 1 percent of state-owned land. The first “solar highway” project, in the Portland suburb of Tualatin, can be monitored on the Web and is expected to generate about 128,000 kWH a year.

That may not seem like much, given that the nation’s largest solar array, at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, generates 30 million kWH annually. But ODOT is gearing up for a major expansion of its “solar highways,” with a planned 3-megawatt installation — more than 25 times the size of the Tualatin site — slated to receive $2 million from the Obama administration’s economic stimulus law.

The stimulus money for the “solar highway,” however, comes from the Department of Energy’s (DoE) pot, not the U.S. DOT’s. Despite the project’s use for transportation purposes, it cannot be considered a transport initiative.

“Both the DoE and DOT like the whole idea of the solar highway,” Hamilton explained, “but the strings attached are making it difficult.”

The 3-megawatt array, to be located in the town of West Linn, also has run into difficulties from some locals who question the environmental consequences of the panel installation as well as the effect on their property values.

Tax Fairness Oregon, a fiscal watchdog group, has urged ODOT to ensure that ultimate ownership of the solar panels shifts to the public, rather than the private developers who provide initial funding.

Both ODOT and Portland General Electric (PGE), the utility company that partnered with the state on the first “solar highway,” said that the financing model used for that Tualatin array was crucial to ensuring its cost-effectiveness.

The utility’s share of the costs “actually brings our contributions at or below our market prices,” allowing the solar power to cost as much as conventional, carbon-burning electricity, PGE distributed resources manager Mark Osborn said in an interview.

Although the “solar highway” was ineligible for U.S. DOT stimulus money, the project counts several influential fans on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), an outspoken advocate for green transport, leapt to its defense when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) named the solar array one of his “top 10 porkiest” provisions in the stimulus. Oregon’s two senators, Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley (D), added a $1 million earmark for the project to next year’s DoE spending bill.

And during his Senate confirmation hearing, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said the project is we said the project epitomizes what “we need to be pursuing in transportation, to do exactly what may become a standard practice 20 years from now.”

Exporting ODOT’s idea to other states would require utilities that offer net metering, which allows the agency to feed the electric grid during the day and withdraw an equivalent amount of power at night. Net metering is now available in all but six states, according to the DoE, and could be expanded by Congress in its upcoming energy bill.

“The land that’s alongside highways, in so many cases, can’t be used for anything else — it’s access-limited or being held for future highway expansion,” Hamilton said.

If ODOT’s efforts continue to take off, she added, locations that have energy-generation potential “would all have solar panels on them.”


La Pine, Ore. Biomass Power Plant Planned August 19, 2009

Filed under: Biomass,Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects — nwrenewablenews @ 1:50 pm

Deschutes County Commissioners in late June approved the siting to construct a biomass power plant in La Pine.  St. Helens-based, Biogreen Sustainable Energy will build and operate the proposed 18-megawatt electricity plant powered by a steam turbine.  The plant will be fueled by woody biomass, or hogg fuel ground-up from mill waste, small timber, slash and construction waste.  Construction reportedly begins in four months, for completion in 18 months.


BPA Putting Up Meters To Measure The Wind

Filed under: Bonneville Power,Macro Hydro,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 1:46 pm
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The Bonneville Power Administration wants to make better use of wind and water-energy sources. Starting Wednesday, the BPA is installing windmeters — called anemometers — to help do that. Barbara Leidl reports.

The anemometers look like little torpedoes with a tail-fan. They pick up the direction and speed of wind.

BPA spokesperson Katie Pruder says that by installing 14 of the meters in strategic locations, it will be easier to predict when wind energy is available. That in turn will make more efficient use of the hydro back up system.

Katie Pruder: “Accurate forecasting means you have to hold less water behind the dams in reserve to back up wind power, and that’s water that can be used to help meet the growing demands of electricity, that’s water that can be used to help enhance fish runs.”

The BPA has invested $200,000 in the new technology.  The system will be fully operational by September of next year.



Helix may buy Abundant Renewable Energy August 18, 2009

Filed under: Manufacturing,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 11:36 pm
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A Newburg manufacturer of small-scale wind turbines may be acquired out of bankruptcy by San Diego-based Helix Wind Corp. in an estimated $6 million deal that could eventually land the combined company in Oregon.

Helix (OTCBB: HLXW) on Tuesday said it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire Abundant Renewable Energy LLC, the Newburg company that makes 2.5 kilowatt and 10 kilowatt wind turbines suitable for rural customers with at least an acre of land.

The purchase price will range between $4 million and $6.5 million in cash and restricted Helix stock. The closure of the deal is still contingent upon Helix completing financing by Nov. 1 and approval of the deal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Abundant Renewable Energy filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. At the time, it said it had less than $500,000 in assets, between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities and between 100 and 200 creditors.

Jon Roschke, a customer support representative for Abundant, said the company is scheduled to present its reorganization plan — which includes the proposed acquisition — in bankruptcy court on Thursday.

Helix designs, manufactures and sells a variety of small wind turbines that range from 1kw to 300 watts.

CEO Ian Gardner said in the short-term Abundant — with about 10 employees — would continue to operate as usual. But Gardner said it’s possible that the bulk of Helix’s operations could end up in Oregon, citing the region’s abundance of engineering expertise.

“It’s certainly on the table,” Gardner said. “Certain members of our team are not opposed to relocating to Portland.”

Whether the company will host any manufacturing operations in Oregon is another question.

Abundant manufactures its own turbines on a small scale in Newburg, largely using parts made overseas, Gardner said. Helix, however, manufactures all of its turbines overseas and will eventually shift all manufacturing to Southeast Asia in an effort to keep costs down.

The company would consider manufacturing in Oregon if it finds an operation that meets standards and can compete with Southeast Asia on costs.

“The small wind market is becoming so competitive on cost, that getting a high volume on cost will be a determinant in being a success,” Gardner said.

Helix shares jumped 7 percent in Tuesday to $2.72 per share. It has traded between 1 cent and $60 per share in the past year.

Portland Business Journal –


Researchers mapping Oregon coast floor for Green Power Sites

A survey of the ocean floor off the Oregon coast is getting under way to provide detailed undersea maps that will help protect marine habitat.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon State University will study water depths, seek out navigational hazards and monitor the natural features of coastal seabeds and aquatic life.

The mapping is critical to scientists trying to better understand the coastal environment along with commercial fishermen and government agencies who need more information for important decisions about siting marine reserves and wave energy buoys.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski said the two-year project is part of a plan he approved with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington to map the Pacific Ocean off all three states by 2020.

“With the data collected from these surveys, we can model tsunamis, identify marine habitats, select alternative energy sites, identify geological hazards and enhance safe and efficient marine transportation,” Kulongoski said.

The maps will cover about a third of state waters and three-quarters of its rocky reefs, recording every shape in the ocean between 10 meters deep and three miles from shore, where Oregon-owned waters meet federal ocean territory. The federal government plans to use the data from the surveys to update nautical charts now based on depth information acquired before 1939.

“Updated nautical charts will also make ocean shipping and recreational boating along Oregon’s coasts much safer,” said John Dunnigan, assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

Chris Goldfinger, an OSU associate professor of oceanic and atmospheric sciences, said the survey will include sites important for tsunami modeling, wave energy and marine reserves proposed at Cape Falcon, south of Cannon Beach; Cascade Head, near Lincoln City; and Cape Perpetua, near Yachats.

Support for the project was led by coastal legislators, including state Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach.

“They say that the third time is the charm and this was our third attempt to pass legislation to enable Oregon State University ocean scientists to finish the task of mapping the sea floor,” Boone said.

The two-year project is funded by a $5 million grant from NOAA and $1.3 million in state money.

Tri-City Herald –


Portland turbine manufacturer to relocate to Denver August 15, 2009

Filed under: Manufacturing,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 10:25 pm
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REpower USA Corp., the sales and project management arm of a German wind turbine manufacturer, said Friday that it would relocate its U.S. headquarters from Portland to Denver.

The company plans to maintain a service and parts distribution facility in Portland, but its administrative, sales and project management staff will be moving to Denver, where the company said its office would employ 25 relocating or new employees, and would grow to double that size in a year.

REpower chief executive Steve Dayney said the decision was primarily driven by geography, chiefly the company’s desire to be more centrally located and closer to its newer wind power projects. But REpower is also taking advantage of a new Colorado state income-tax credit that took effect this month for companies that create at least 20 jobs.

Both Colorado and Oregon have made clean tech and sustainability employment the key planks of their economic development strategies. Oregon and the City o Portland did offer a package of incentives to retain the REpower jobs, but Colorado may have been a bit more aggressive, said Patrick Quinton, a business recruitment manager at the Portland Development Commission.

Oregon has successfully landed a number of new solar manufacturers and state and local economic development officials have put a $31.5 million incentive package on the table to retain the North American headquarters of Vestas, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer. Vestas has slowed plans to build a new headquarters in Portland because of the economic downturn, however.

Ted Sickenger; The Oregonian -


Oregon developing the nation’s first “solar highway” project

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 10:21 pm
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Bids for federally supported highway projects in Oregon have been coming in so low, it is freeing up millions of dollars for additional projects.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Transportation Commission allotted $234 million in economic-recovery dollars to various state projects. But now, bids are coming in lower than initially expected, by about 19 percent.

That means the state has $43 million left to work with to help fund state transportation needs.

The savings come at a cost, however. Contractors say they’ve been forced to underbid just to win any contracts.

“Contractors are trying to keep their core group of people working,” Sandy Trainor, the president and owner of Kodiak Pacific Construction in Sherwood, told the Statesman Journal in Salem. “What they are doing is coming in below cost to get work. I have seen repeatedly that with the bidding we have done over the past eight months, we’ve had pricing come in as much as 30 percent below my actual costs.”

The commission has already decided where it will use the extra cash. About $1.3 million will go to a few projects that actually came in above cost. Another $4.6 million will go to enhance other projects.

“The commission put a priority on doing extra work on projects already out there, picking projects that can produce jobs quickly,” said Patrick Cooney, a spokesman for Department of Transportation.

About $2 million will go toward developing the nation’s first “solar highway” project, which generates about one-third of the electric power required for highway lighting currently.

The bulk of the savings, $35 million, will be spent to buy trains for the Amtrak run between Portland and Eugene.

Currently, Oregon is using trains owned by Washington state on the route. Now Washington wants them back for an expanded service between Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia.

“There’s not a lot of used equipment out there,” said Kelly Taylor, administrator of ODOT’s Rail Division.

KGW (TV) –


Obama move to cut wave power funding upsets NW advocates May 30, 2009

The Obama administration has proposed a 25 percent cut in the research and development budget for one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the Northwest – wave and tidal power.

At the same time the White House sought an 82 percent increase in solar power research funding, a 36 percent increase in wind power funding and a 14 percent increase in geothermal funding. But it looked to cut wave and tidal research funding from $40 million to $30 million.

The decision to cut funding came only weeks after the Interior Department suggested that wave power could emerge as the leading offshore energy source in the Northwest and at a time when efforts to develop tidal power in Puget Sound are attracting national and international attention.

By some estimates, wave and tidal power could eventually meet 10 percent of the nation’s electricity demand, about the same as hydropower currently delivers. Some experts have estimated that if only 0.2 percent of energy in ocean waves could be harnessed, the power produced would be enough to supply the entire world.

In addition to Puget Sound and the Northwest coast, tidal and wave generators have been installed, planned or talked about in New York’s East River, in Maine, Alaska, off Atlantic City, N.J., and Hawaii. However, they’d generate only small amounts of power.

The Europeans are leaders when it comes to tidal and wave energy, with projects considered, planned or installed in Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Ireland and Norway. There have also been discussions about projects in South Korea, the Philippines, India and Canada’s Maritime provinces.

The proposed cut, part of the president’s budget submitted to Congress, has disappointed Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“Wave and tidal power holds great promise in helping to meet America’s long-term energy needs,” Murray said, adding that Washington state is a leader in its development. “It’s time for the Department of Energy to focus on this potential. But playing budget games won’t get the work done.”

Murray’s staff said that while $16.8 billion in the recently passed stimulus bill is reserved for renewable energy and energy efficiency, none of it is earmarked for wave and tidal power.

Energy Department spokesman Tom Welch, however, said the Obama administration is asking for 10 times more for tidal and wave power than the Bush administration did.

“The trend line is up,” Welch said. “The department is collaborating with industry, regulators and other stakeholders to develop water resources, including conventional hydro.”

Murray sees it differently. Congress appropriated $40 million for the current year, so the Obama administration proposal actually would cut funding by a fourth.

Utility officials involved in developing tidal energy sources said the administration’s approach was shortsighted.

“We need all the tools in the tool belt,” said Steve Klein, general manager of the Snohomish County Public Utility District. “It’s dangerous to anoint certain sources and ignore others.”

The Snohomish PUD could have a pilot plant using three tidal generators installed on a seabed in Puget Sound in 2011. The tidal generators, built by an Irish company, are 50 feet tall and can spin either way depending on the direction of the tides. The units will be submerged, with 80 feet of clearance from their tops to the water’s surface. They’ll be placed outside of shipping channels and ferry routes.

The pilot plant is expected to produce one megawatt of electricity, or enough to power about 700 homes. If the pilot plant proves successful, the utility would consider installing a project that powered 10,000 homes.

“A lot of people are watching us,” Klein said.

The Navy, under pressure from Congress to generate 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, will install a pilot tidal generating project in Puget Sound near Port Townsend next year.

In Washington state, law requires that the larger utilities obtain 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The law sets up interim targets of 3 percent by 2012 and 9 percent by 2016.

Most of the attention so far has focused on developing large wind farms east of the Cascade Mountains. Because wind blows intermittently, however, the region also needs a more reliable source of alternative energy. Tidal and wave fit that need. Also, at least with tidal, the generators would be closer to population centers than the wind turbines in eastern Washington.

“The potential is significant and (tidal and wave) could accomplish a large fraction of the renewable energy portfolio for the state,” said Charles Brandt, director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s marine sciences lab in Sequim.



State Groups Cheered By Stimulus Money For Geothermal May 28, 2009

President Obama set aside $467 million in stimulus money Wednesday for solar and geothermal energy projects.

Oregon renewable energy advocates cheered the news.

Scientists say it could help the state’s fledgling green energy research facilities.

And investors say it could encourage the construction and development of major solar and geothermal projects.

Doug Perry is the president of Davenport Power. His group wants to build a geothermal power plant south of Bend.

Doug Perry: “There’s provisions in there for geothermal, for instrumentation, and then there’s several categories for solar projects. It’s a broader renewable package, all designed to create new opportunities for a lot more renewable energy going forward – a goal we all share.”

Perry’s company already drilled two geothermal wells – but both came up empty.

Perry says investment in future technologies, such as $80 million set aside for so-called Enhanced Geothermal Systems, could help make those wells more economically viable.



Solar giant eyes Oregon

Filed under: Green Jobs,Manufacturing,Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 12:08 pm
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Oregon has made the list of possible homes for a manufacturing facility for one of the world’s largest makers of solar energy products.

China-based SunTech Power Holdings Inc. last week announced plans to open manufacturing operations in the U.S.

A SunTech executive confirmed that Oregon is not only on the list, but the state has been its most aggressive suitor after paying several visits to executives in China.

“They’ve been pursuing us long before we even made a commitment internally to even build a plant in the U.S.,” said Steve Chadima, vice president of external affairs in publicly-held SunTech’s U.S. operations. Oregon is “pretty much at the top of the list in terms of their aggressiveness.”

by Erik Siemers, Portland Business Journal


Klamath farmers oppose planned dam removals May 14, 2009

For several weeks now, farmer Tom Mallams has been carting around the Oregon Capitol a 1-foot-thick bundle of petitions signed by 1,850 Klamath area residents opposed to a plan to remove four Klamath River dams.

The bundle, he said, is heavy and cumbersome. But it is the best way he knows to show lawmakers the considerable opposition to the dam-removal plan.

The plan, called the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, was hammered out over a four-year period by a diverse group of stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, tribes, conservation groups, fishermen, federal agencies and PacifiCorp, which owns the dams and uses them to generate electricity.

Individual stakeholders, according to the group, all compromised in coming to terms on what they say is the best solution to a controversy that spans decades.

The controversy boiled over in 2001 when the federal government ordered water masters to shut off the flow of Klamath River water to irrigation canals. The shut-off cost Klamath Basin farmers millions of dollars in lost crops.

In addition to removing the four dams, the restoration plan calls for farmers in the Klamath Basin irrigation project to leave in-stream up to 100,000 acre feet of water in dry years – or nearly one-third of their water allocation claims – in exchange for water-delivery assurances.

Farmers outside the project are being asked to leave up to 30,000 acre feet of water in-stream for fish.

The loss of irrigation supplies is painful, said Greg Addington, head of the Klamath Water Users Association. But, Addington said, to be assured of some water is better than risking another complete shut-off.

Under the plan, PacifiCorp ratepayers would pay $200 million toward the cost of removing the dams. California lawmakers are preparing a $250 million bond measure to put before voters to provide backup if the costs exceed $200 million.

Oregon ratepayers, which comprise about 90 percent of PacifiCorp’s approximately 600,000 customers, would pony up $180 million of the $200 million ratepayer fund.

The plan calls for PacifiCorp to start removing the dams in 2020. The projected completion date is 2025.

The stakeholders, one and all, call the plan a major achievement.

But Mallams and others disagree.

In hearings before legislative committees on a bill that would set the plan in motion by capping Oregon ratepayers’ responsibility at $180 million, they argue the potential loss of irrigation water could devastate their ability to raise crops.

And, they say, removing the dams could cost PacifiCorp ratepayers – and possibly Oregon taxpayers – billions of dollars in unforeseen costs.

The opponents, who claim they were shut out of the stakeholder negotiations – a contention other stakeholders deny – say the $450 million top figure of dam-removal costs falls woefully short. As evidence, they point to two studies – one commissioned by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission showing costs could reach $4.5 billion and another showing costs peaking in the $840 million range.

Who, they wonder, will get stuck paying those added costs?

Supporters counter that so-called “off-ramps” are built into the plan. If additional studies show costs will exceed the $450 million top figure, they say federal agencies and others will rethink the plan. Further muting overrun concerns, they say, the Oregon Public Utilities Commission must sign off on rate increases, providing another off-ramp.

The restoration plan’s genesis can be traced to two events: the water shutoff in 2001, which showed Klamath Basin farmers what can happen if they do nothing to protect endangered salmon runs, and the pending expiration of PacifiCorp’s federal license to operate the dams. As part of relicensing provisions, PacifiCorp has been ordered to install fish ladders and conduct other extensive and expensive improvements to the structures, which are 50 years or more old.

A FERC study estimates the expense of installing fish ladders at $350 million.

Also on the table is a state law requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of the state’s power from renewable resources by 2025. Removing the dams and replacing the lost power with renewable energy resources will help PacifiCorp meet those requirements, company officials said.

Also on the plus side, dam removal is expected to enhance fish runs, opening traditional spawning grounds now off-limits to endangered salmon – a contention Mallams and others dispute.

“This offers us the surest and quickest ways of restoring fish runs,” said Jeff Mitchell, tribal council member for the Klamath Tribes. “We’ve gone without salmon now for decades.”

The biggest unknown in the dam-removal cost is the toxicity of sediment that has built up behind the four dams. Particularly worrisome is the amount of asbestos, which was used extensively in dam construction.

Preliminary studies show the sediment contains only minor levels of toxicity. But those studies, even proponents admit, are cursory. Comprehensive studies are planned before steps are taken to remove the dams.

If the sediment is found to be highly toxic, project backers say the secretary of the federal Department of the Interior could put a halt to the plan in 2012, when the department is projected to rule on whether to go forward.

At that point, money collected from ratepayers in a surcharge pot called for in Senate Bill 76 would either be reimbursed or put toward a beneficial use. For example, it could go toward paying for fish ladders and other structural improvements necessary to relicense the dams.

But opponents say the opt-outs don’t provide sufficient protection against officials pushing the plan forward even if dam removal costs skyrocket.

Also, they say, at some point in the dam decommissioning process it will be too late to turn back – regardless of the level of toxicity found in the sediment.

Opponents also question whether PacifiCorp can replace the lost power. If nothing else, they argue, lawmakers should wait for further studies before passing any bill that sets the plan in motion.

“It is irresponsible for us to render a decision on SB76 at this time,” Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, said in testimony before a House committee last week.

Garrard also told committee members the majority of people in his district oppose dam removal.

“I ask you to please wait until we know if dam removal is the right thing to do,” he said.

Plan proponents, meanwhile, say it is critical to move forward now with Senate Bill 76. By amortizing the cost to ratepayers over 10 years, they say, it will add only between $1.50 and $1.80 a month to the average electric customer’s bill.

Waiting to implement the surcharge, they say, puts ratepayers at risk for a dramatic rate increase at some future date.

“This bill is needed now, not only to demonstrate Oregon’s commitment to the (restoration) agreement, but to soften the impact on ratepayers.” said Mike Carrier, natural resources policy advisor for Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

But adopting SB76, opponents argue, sets in motion a slippery slope they fear could be far more costly for ratepayers in the long run.

Mitch Lies, Capital Press


Solar manufacturer opens plant in E. Oregon

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 9:46 pm
Tags: , ,

A new solar products manufacturer based in Enterprise has opened a plant in La Grande.

Sun Storage makes solar arrays in pre-engineered packages that are elevated for better solar access and allow ground space below the arrays to be utilized.

The co-founders, Joseph natives Louis Perry and Jonathan Monschke, have been working on prototypes and developing the business model for more than a year.

They officially launched their company at the recent Northwest Solar Expo trade show in Portland.

Perry hails from a fourth-generation Wallowa County farming family and is the owner of LD Perry Inc., a general contracting firm. Monschke had a design firm on the Oregon Coast before moving back to Joseph.

Associated Press -


Sage Grouse Reports Indicate Balancing Act With Wind May 13, 2009

Filed under: Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 11:10 am
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Two recent reports from environmental groups illustrate a new tension with wind power advocates.

Building wind turbines can damage rural Oregon wildlife habitat including that of a local bird – the Sage Grouse.

Central Oregon correspondent Ethan Lindsey reports.
The Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainable research group, says Oregon has a dwindling population of the Sage Grouse.

The group says Grouse numbers here are at an all-time low.

Regional officials say that could impede development of wind turbines in eastern Oregon.

Eric De Place is a senior researcher at the Sightline Institute.  He says there’s no simple answer.

Eric De Place: “The conflict between wind power and sage grouse is probably drastically overblown. It’s true that Sage Grouse are affected by development that happens in sagebrush country. But we have had decades of road building, invasive species – and I don’t think it’s quite fair to blame renewable power, all of a sudden, as the biggest threat for the sage grouse.”

Another report, from the Oregon Natural Desert Association, argues that the Sage Grouse and wind power can coexist – but that the locations for the wind energy production must be carefully decided.



Oregon company to turn dairy waste into biofuel

An Oregon business hopes to become the first company to turn dairy and wood waste into a renewable biofuel called butanol.

Diesel Brewing of Salem plans to burn either dairy or wood waste to create liquid butanol through a process called gasification.

Butanol is a form of alcohol that could completely replace gasoline rather than be blended with it, like ethanol.

CEO Jeff Raines and his business partners are planning to open a pilot plant in Salem by the end of the year.

The test plant would use from about half a ton to one ton of wood and dairy waste per day. If the process proves workable, Raines and his team hope to build commercial-scale plants that use 100 tons of waste per day and produce a couple million gallons of butanol per year.

The Associated Press -


ONDA opposes Harney Co. (Ore.) wind power sites

At a time when the economy in Harney County could use the boost that it would receive from alternative energy production, the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) has made it known that they will fight the majority of the wind power sites proposed in Harney County, especially those in the Steens Mountain area.

Brent Fenty, executive director of ONDA, presented a PowerPoint presentation to the Harney County Court last week summarizing where ONDA stands on each wind power project. The report titled “Oregon’s High Desert and Wind Energy: Opportunities and Strategies for Responsible Development,” was released for public viewing on Monday, May 11.

The report created by ONDA and five other conservation groups, uses Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis to outline where and how these groups believe large-scale wind power generation could be approached in Oregon’s high desert while still conserving sensitive wildlife habitats and important natural landscapes.

The report was created through the mapping and analysis of the areas identified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory as having the best wind power potential. ONDA then compared this data with what they consider to be sensitive natural resources such as wilderness study areas, sage grouse leks and sensitive bat species. The report includes a narrative outlining the nature of the potential conflicts, ranking from high to low, with wind energy development.

According to Fenty, “ONDA supports renewable energy development and believes that such development can help reduce our fossil fuel consumption and help address climate change while creating sustainable economies for rural communities throughout Eastern Oregon. There is an urgent need to analyze where wind power potential is the highest and wildlife and social conflicts are the lowest. Such an analysis will ensure that projects can be developed without degradation of desert wildlands and damage to sensitive wildlife populations.”

After presenting the report at the county court meeting last week, Fenty was met with frustration from the court. Harney County Judge Steve Grasty told Fenty, “If you want credibility in this area, you have to support something, some day.” Grasty remarked that the report contained no social or economic analysis, and took no consideration into private land.

Commissioner Dan Nichols commented, “You’re fouling your own nest, and all of ours with it.”

In a press release issued May 11, Fenty said, “This report was designed to be used by multiple audiences. Local, state, and federal regulators will be able use the report to work with developers to guide how and where wind power facilities are permitted. And conservation groups and local citizens will be able use the report to prioritize areas most important for protection while also recognizing areas where environmental conflicts are least significant.”

In addition to ONDA, the report is endorsed by Audubon Society of Portland, Defenders of Wildlife, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Chapter Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians.

The full report is available at:

By Debbie Raney, Burns Times-Herald -


Oregon House scales back biz deductions for renewable energy May 12, 2009

Businesses with renewable-energy projects would be able to subtract less from taxes owed to the state, but manufacturers of plug-in electric cars would be eligible to use the tax break, under a bill passed Monday by the Oregon House.

The revisions of the business energy tax credit were contained in House Bill 2472, which moved to the Senate on a 40-19 vote. The revisions will save the state $8.9 million in the next two-year budget cycle, and $65 million to $70 million in the next six years.

The business energy tax credit was expanded in 2007 from 35 percent to 50 percent of qualifying project costs. But because businesses have used more credits and state coffers lost more taxes than originally projected, lawmakers scaled it back. The bill required a 60 percent majority because it raises revenue.

The bill’s major change prevents businesses from splitting up large projects and letting each of the smaller projects qualify for credits, which they can subtract directly from corporate income taxes they pay to the state.

“We have received great benefit as a state from this tax credit, but this is one area where we need to modify the program to make it more accountable,” said Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, the chairman of the House Revenue Committee.

The bill also would eliminate a rule that allowed an automatic 10 percent cost override, providing an additional tax credit for the company.

“Many of the smaller projects have actually provided more jobs than the large projects in my district,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz of Ontario, the committee’s top Republican. “This bill tightens up some of the program requirements but still allows these companies to receive this essential state support.”

The bill expands the credit to include companies that produce electric cars or renewable energy batteries for electric cars.


Oregon House Approves Vechicle Energy Efficiency Bill May 10, 2009

The measure would order new rules on how long big rigs can idle in truck stops or ships can idle in port.

But the centerpiece of the legislation is a section that requires a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicle fuel.

Supporters like Democratic Representative Ben Cannon say that would encourage more use of locally-produced renewable fuels.

Rep. Ben Cannon:  “A low carbon fuel standard along with the other provisions of this bill will take important next steps in the direction of energy independence, green jobs, and prosperity in a carbon-constrained future.”

Opponents ridiculed the bill as a bureaucratic boondoggle that will end up costing businesses and consumers more in the long run.

The action came on the same day that Oregon lawmakers eased up on another bio-fuel mandate.

The House voted to make ethanol optional for premium-grade gasoline.  Both bills now head to the Senate.

Online:Oregon House Bill 2186

Oregon’s carbon footprint would shrink under a bill narrowly approved Friday by the Oregon House. The measure would affect everything from the fuel you buy to the tires you drive on.  Salem correspondent Chris Lehman reports.



Solar farms are on Douglas County, Ore. wish list

As federal stimulus dollars make their way into Jackson County, local governments are trying to tap into even more money for a wish list of projects.

The county is asking the federal government for $94 million to build solar farms that would generate electricity, and it hopes to snag another $5 million to remove the 105-year-old Gold Ray Dam from the Rogue River as early as summer 2010.

The Oregon Department of Transportation hopes to repave Highway 62 from White City to just south of Shady Cove.

Both Medford and Ashland are seeking millions, for projects ranging from a pedestrian bridge over Barnett Road for the Bear Creek Greenway to repairs for sewage treatment plants.

Jackson County Commissioner Dave Gilmour said he expects organizations, such as Dunn House women’s shelter and ACCESS Inc. food bank, also will receive federal money, though some of the details still are being worked out.

But the county’s bid for solar farms appears to be the most ambitious project so far.

“It is a very substantial amount we’re putting in for, and we don’t know if we’ll get it,” he said.

As part of the federal stimulus package, there is $3.2 billion available in energy efficiency and conservation grants. Another $16 billion is available for renewable energy projects such as wind or solar.

The county wants to install a solar farm on a 47-acre parcel near Highway 62 that is in the flight path of the Medford airport. Gilmour said that portion would cost $74 million.

Another $8 million would be spent at the airport to add solar panels to the new terminal and in the parking lot. Almost $7 million would be spent retrofitting the Compton Arena at the Jackson County Expo Center in Central Point with solar panels.

Retrofitting the Jackson County Courthouse with energy-efficient windows and new heating and lighting would cost $4 million. Gilmour said the remainder of the money would place a smaller solar installation at a county truck barn in White City.

Gilmour said that if the installations were built in Southern Oregon, it could help create a solar-based economy locally.

It also would provide the largest solar center in the state, which Gilmour said would help promote Jackson County.

“More people would think highly of moving here and setting up businesses here,” he said.

Damian Mann, Mail Tribune


Wind Power: A Very Green But Very Intermittent Source Of Power May 3, 2009

Biglow Wind Farm consists of about 80 enormous windmills on the ridge of the Columbia River Gorge. Standing underneath one, you can actually hear the blades swooshing past at 120 miles-per-hour.We continue our energy series, the Switch, with a look at the one renewable source of energy that started booming a decade ago: wind power.

Companies like GE and Seimens make turbines; the federal government offers utilities big financial incentives to build wind farms; and as Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, hundreds of windmills have gone up in Oregon alone.

Today, Eric Melbardis has offered to take me up a tower to see a turbine up close.

Eric Melbardis: “What we’re going to do now is climb to check on a couple of technicians that are performing preventative maintenance. See you in a little bit.”

Kristian: “So I’m the first 30 or 40 rungs up a ladder that reaches almost up to the sky. It goes up 260 to 280 feet which is the equivalent of the justice center in downtown Portland, that may be about 26 stories high and I’ve just got to keep climbing.”

Eric Melbardis: “Okay we made it.  Right here that I’m standing on is the main shaft and this is actually connected to the blades which are out in front of us. This turns a gearbox which kicks up the speed, which turns a generator, which sends the electricity back down to the grid.”

Kristian: “Alright cool, can we go up?”

Kristian: “It’s just an incredible sight. I can see Mt. Hood in the background. And I can probably see all the way to, I would imagine that’s Idaho, and certainly Washington on the other side of the Columbia River Gorge here.  This really is going to be covered in turbines in a few years. Any spot that there’s going to be some wind, I would imagine and that’s close to transmission, they’re going to have someone renting out their land so they can catch the wind.”

Back on the ground, Gary Hackett runs Biglow for Portland General Electric from a small office. He says wind farms are the biggest change farmers here have seen since tractors.

Gary Hackett: “The land in Sherman County is basically dry land farming. And the population of the whole county is 1800 people. So the wind farm has brought tremendous opportunity to the area in the form of jobs, opportunities for folks to get a new career path and stay home.”

Plus, farmers can get $6,000 a year or more for each turbine. And while these truly are massive machines, their footprint is small — about the size of a shed — meaning farmers can still work the land.

In an effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil — and to battle climate change — Oregon has told utilities that a quarter of their power needs to come from renewables by the year 2025.

PGE embraced wind after its Trojan nuclear power station closed in the 1990’s.  Company spokesman Steve Corson says PGE chose wind because the fuel is free and they can build big.

Steve Corson: “Wind at this point is really the best or the most commercial scale renewable resource that we have available to us. We’re working on solar, we’ve had a couple of significant solar projects that PGE has pursued in the Portland area. But really wind is the one that is at a commercial scale right now.”

But wind has a problem. It’s an “intermittent” source of energy.

Elizabeth Kocus: “Unfortunately the wind doesn’t blow 24/7 so. Yeah, we’ve had a solid week out here with no wind.”

Vestas technician, Elizabeth Kocus, says the turbines here at Biglow only turn a third of the time. So sometimes the plant can’t produce a single kilowatt during a heat wave or snowstorm — right when demand is peaking.

That means PGE has to back-up its wind farms with a baseload source – like coal, or gas.The other problem with wind is it can’t be stored when winds are high.

One idea is to use the excess electricity to pump water uphill. So when it’s needed, the water can be released through a turbine — like behind a dam.  And, says PGE spokesman Steve Corson, in the future, electric cars might also play a role.

Steve Corson: “Each of those cars have batteries and those batteries of course are a way to store electricity. And in some ways that’s a holy grail within the industry, in that we have not had any large scale option for storing electricity — other than say the way we’re able to store water for the hydro system.”

Here’s how it would work: you’d plug your car in at the office and then type into a computer that you’ll need it again at five — to drive home. Throughout the day, utilities can then use the battery as a reservoir.

Other persistent problems with wind  power include birds that fly into the blades and die, and aesthetics.

One wind turbine might seem pretty, but massive wind farms may resemble the “nodding-donkey” oil derricks that speckle the landscapes of Texas.

But wind turbines don’t have to cluster in farms and they don’t have to be big. In fact, a couple of dozen companies are racing to place small turbines on your roof.

Oregon Wind for example makes a vivid green one with a distinct helix blade. Sattie Clark is the company director.

Sattie Clark: “It looks a little bit like an old style washing machine agitator on a pole. So if you can imagine it rotates when it’s contacted by wind from any direction. It can be extremely turbulent wind. It does need clean laminar air flow that the big propeller style turbines require.”

But small turbines have their own set of problems.

Oregon Wind’s machine will cost about $2000 when it goes on to the general market next year. And for that, you only get enough power to light a 100-watt bulb.

But Clark says, the turbines have a very specific market.

Sattie Clark: “Somebody who’s got a tolerance for a slightly longer payback period because they care about doing the right thing…. And because they want to invest in technologies that are going to be helpful to the world in the future.”

Wind has boomed because it’s already cheap and getting cheaper.

Roby Roberts is an executive with Vestas turbines. He says the cost of five to nine cents per kilowatt hour will gradually drop to two cents – about the cost of coal power. And while wind only produces about 3 percent of Oregon’s electricity he says, in ten years it could be as much as 20 percent.

Roby Roberts: “In Europe there’s a 20 percent energy requirement and so we’ve been able to see this as a stable long-term stable market. We’ve been able to develop our markets and develop a manufacturing base. We only have one major manufacturer in the U.S. now. But we see with this new congress and the new administration, a real need for domestic manufacturing.”

Roberts says Congress should continue offering federal tax credits.

Roby Roberts: “Traditionally we will see a 75 to 85 percent decrease in our industry when the production tax credit goes away.”

Congress just renewed those tax credits for wind, but set an expiration date of eight years – too soon, the utilities say, for them to really build a deep base of renewable power.



Wave Power Coming on Slow Rollers April 21, 2009

Two years ago, there was a “gold rush” on the ocean to stake claims for wave energy. Now the spray is settling. As it clears, fewer heads remain above water. Energy developers have given up on about a quarter of the wave projects they proposed along the West Coast. Some tidal power proposals are ebbing away as well. The slow arrival of this new source of renewable energy is just fine with some coastal residents who still harbor doubts about the technology. We get more on the story from KPLU’s Tom Banse.

For more information:
Congressional letter – March 2009 Congressional letter requesting $250 million of DOE stimulus funds be set aside for marine renewable power technology R&D. Signers include Jay Inslee (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and David Wu (D-OR)

West Coast wave energy projects proposed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ( listed from north to south (filing date):

P-12751 Makah Bay (Finavera) application to surrender license filed 2/09

P-13058 Grays Harbor Ocean Energy (Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company, LLC) 11/2007

P-13047 Oregon Coastal Wave Energy (Tillamook Intergovernmental Dev. Entity) 10/2007

P-12750 Newport OPT Wave Park (Ocean Power Technologies) permit surrendered 3/09

P-12793 Florence Oregon Ocean Wave Project (Oceanlinx) 4/2007, withdrawn 4/08

P-12713 Reedsport OPT Wave Park (Ocean Power Technologies) 3/2006

P-12743 Douglas County Wave Energy (Douglas County, OR) 9/2006 (oscillating column device on Umpqua River jetty)

P-12749 Coos Bay OPT Wave Park (Ocean Power Technologies) 3/2006

P-12752 Coos County Offshore (Bandon, Oregon) (Finavera) permit cancelled w/o objection 6/08

P-12779 Humboldt County WaveConnect (PG&E) 2/07

P-12753 Humboldt County Wave Energy (Finavera) permit surrendered 2/09

P-13075 Centerville OPT Wave Park (Ocean Power Technologies) 11/2007

P-12781 Mendocino County WaveConnect (PG&E) 2/07

P-13053 Green Wave Mendocino Wave Park (Green Wave Energy Solutions, LLC) filed 10/07 pending

P-13377 and P-13378 Fort Ross Project- N & S (Sonoma County Water Agency) 2/09 pending

P-13376 Del Mar Landing Project (Sonoma County Water Agency) 2/09 pending

P-13308 San Francisco Ocean Energy Project (Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company, LLC) 10/08 pending

P-13379 San Francisco Ocean Energy Project (City and County of SF) 2/09 pending

P-13052 Green Wave San Luis Obispo Wave Park (Green Wave Energy Solutions, LLC) filed 10/07 pending

P-13309 Ventura Ocean Energy Project (Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company, LLC) filed 10/08 pending

Total proposed wave energy projects since 2006: 21
Total projects scrubbed for any reason: 5



Offshore Wind Energy Blows In To Tillamook, Ore. April 20, 2009

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 8:44 pm

When you stand on the beach on a nice day like this and gaze out into the ocean, you can see maybe ten miles.  Right about there on the horizon is where a Seattle company is hoping to float a wind farm.

It would be off the Oregon Coast near Tillamook Bay.  The offshore developer hopes mooring the floating windmills that far out will short-circuit opposition.

The turbines would be even bigger than the giant windmills sprouting along the mid-Columbia River. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the Oregon Coast.

Think back to your last trip to the beach.  Do you remember if the wind was blowing?  I bet you it was.  And that’s what interests energy developer Alla Weinstein.

Alla Weinstein: “The wind resource offshore is a lot stronger and more consistent than it is on shore.”

The challenge is how to harness that wind to make electricity.

Alla Weinstein: “Because the ocean is fairly deep very quickly.”

On our Pacific Coast, certainly.  Weinstein founded a company called Principle Power.  The start-up is trying to do something never done before — namely build a floating wind farm.  Weinstein proposes to marry two existing technologies to do this.

Alla Weinstein: “We actually are not inventing the wheel.  We are reusing the wheel.  The wheels that we are reusing are the offshore platforms that were developed for the offshore oil industry and also the (wind) turbines that have been developed first for use on land.”

Weinstein and her Oregon project manager have just finished presenting their plans to a community meeting in the postcard pretty town of Manzanita.

The company picked Tillamook County because high-voltage transmission lines come closest to the coast here.  The plans eventually call for 30 wind turbines, each on its own floating platform anchored to the sea bottom.   The turbines are bound to generate local jobs, too.

Manzanita architect Tom Bender listened to the presentation and then came out against what he calls “industrialization of the ocean.”

Tom Bender: “The red lights on these things… These 400-500 foot tall towers obviously have flashing red lights. You get that on a foggy evening, the entire sky is pulsing red lights.”

Danish naval officer Frants Poulsen retired to Manzanita.  He comes to an opposite conclusion.

Frants Poulsen: “A windmill is a beautiful machine.  They have been with humans for 10,000 years and it contributes to preserving our planet.”

Fishermen are another constituency to assuage.  Charter boat captain Jon Brown foresees less disruption from the offshore wind farm than proposed wave energy parks nearer to shore.

Jon Brown: “I much rather have wind energy 10 miles offshore than wave energy right by the beach. Yeah, no question about that.”

Still in question is whether the price of the electricity from an offshore wind farm will be affordable.  A different company from Seattle prepared an estimate in connection with a combination wave and wind energy platform it proposed near Westport, Washington.

Burt Hamner is president of Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company.

Burt Hamner: “It is expensive and there’s no way around that.  It’ll cost twice as much per megawatt – or twice as much per unit of energy — to produce the power offshore as it will onshore.  The reality though is that in many places there’s nowhere else to get that much energy onshore.”

The Principle Power folks insist their electricity will be priced “competitively with other sources of new renewable energy.”  The Seattle company recently signed a contract with the biggest electric company in Portugal.

The pair plan to moor the world’s first floating wind farm in the east Atlantic, not here, with development off our coast to follow second.

Sales pitches to utilities for the Oregon offshore power start later this year or next.


Principle Power

U.S. Dept. of Interior – Offshore renewable energy potential (PowerPoint delivered by Secretary Ken Salazar on 4/6/09)



Oregon Hedges its Bets By Courting Solar Industry

Filed under: Green Jobs,Manufacturing,Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 8:36 pm
Tags: , ,

With so many commercial industries struggling and unemployment rising Oregon is attempting to regain control over its economy by wooing solar researchers and companies onto its turf – something this state has been very good at in the past. Oregon has worked feverishly to build a reputation as one of America’s top solar hubs, and has tirelessly sought out solar researchers, manufacturers and energy generators over the past five or so years.

When times were good Oregon was able to attract numerous manufacturers, researchers and projects to the state. Now that times have changed, however, it’s unclear whether all the time and money Oregon is investing into courting the solar sector will, in fact, provide a barrier against economic turmoil or sink the state further into depression.

One of Oregon’s latest solar victories comes in the form of a $1.34-million grant for solar energy research that was provided by the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST), in conjunction with the Oregon University System, the Oregon State University College of Engineering and the Oregon State University Research Office. The money will be divvied between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, which will use it to create the Photovoltaics Laboratory of the Oregon Support Network for Research and the Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing, respectively. While university research will definitely be a big part of the new laboratory and center, the state is more excited about what it can mean for current and prospective businesses.

“From an industry perspective this investment is tremendous,” said David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST. “The energy industries play a significant part in the Oregon economy, and from a utilities perspective most of our large utility providers are all thinking about renewable energy.”

Though the facilities will be located on the respective universities’ campuses, the laboratory and research centers will be open to other Oregon-based schools, as well as public and private businesses. “Having access to the equipment and laboratories will be a huge resource for [local businesses],” Kenney said. “If a manufacturing company has a solar cell with a defect it will be able to come into the lab and study it under a variety of conditions.”

Aside from these state-of-the-art facilities, businesses will also have access to university researchers and data, as well as a huge workforce population that is well versed in solar energy research and manufacturing. While the actual equipment will not be available until later this year or early 2010, Kenney noted that businesses still have immediate access to researchers and the workforce pool.

Though it’s too early to tell whether these projects will actually bolster Oregon’s economy one thing is certain – the state could use a boost. The state lost 34,700 non-farming jobs in January and February alone, and boasts the third highest unemployment rate in the country, which currently sits at 10.8 percent.

In addition to the grant money, Oregon is also trying to bolster its reputation as an electric car hub. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has aggressively marketed his state as an automotive-friendly destination by widely promoting two bills that would encourage the manufacturing and selling of electric vehicles in Oregon.

One of the bills would allow electric vehicle manufacturing facilities to become eligible for the Business Energy Tax Credit (referred to as BETC or Betsy), which allows energy-conserving businesses to receive between 35 percent and 50 percent off their total green project costs. The other bill would allow a current hybrid tax credit to transfer to zero-emission vehicles, which the governor is hoping will appeal to electric car manufacturers. So far Kulongoski’s plan has worked. Nissan agreed to introduce its new electric car here in 2010, and Mitsubishi announced plans to partner with the state and Portland General Electric to develop a network of vehicle charging stations that will promote the zero-emission vehicles. The state is still trying to woo Think, a Norway-based electric car company, into establishing its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Portland. Oregon is one of eight U.S. locations that Think is considering.

The state has also successfully swayed a solar electric systems manufacturer into entering the Oregon market. Residential Power Systems, a division of the New York-based SunWize Technologies Distributed Power Group, just decided to open its first branch in Philomath, which is between Eugene and Portland. The company has tapped two local solar industry experts to oversee the new office. It’s also offering residents a discount of $1,000 on any solar electric systems purchased in April.

Staying true to its solar roots, Oregon is also working on a proposal that would create a 71-acre solar energy farm at the Medford Airport, which could potentially power 2,000 homes. The state is hoping to utilize funding from Obama’s stimulus plan for the project.

In previous years Oregon has successfully courted numerous solar powerhouses into its borders that have put the state on the map as a top solar center. In 2008, Solar World USA created North America’s largest photovoltaic panel manufacturing plant in Hillsboro – a move that Germany-based Solar World’s vice president Gordon Brinser said was made possible by Oregon’s many tax credits and willingness to open up their universities’ research facilities.

Although experts believed that the plant could add approximately 1,000 new jobs to Hillsboro over the next three years, much has been made about the tax credits that made this location possible. As previously mentioned, sustainable businesses can apply for Betsy credits in order to alleviate some of the costs associated with going green. Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with Oregon creating a tax credit that should, in theory, drive sustainable companies into the state, many believe a problem does lie within the credit’s pass-through option.

This option allows recipients of the tax credit to sell that credit for cash. What resulted was the sale of $11-million-worth of tax credits by Solar World to Wal-Mart for only $7.3 million. The discount chain can now use these credits over the next five years to offset some of its corporate state income taxes. This will cause Oregon to lose out on substantial income taxes, while Solar World has found a quick way to obtain some cash. In fact, the company has already been approved for another $19.4 million in Betsy credits, which it is again free to sell if it so desires.

Clearly it seems that not all of Oregon’s plans to lure sustainable companies and green-collar jobs have worked out. It is, however, hard to deny that the state hasn’t done a lot to make a name for itself in the solar realm. Oregon has begun six new solar manufacturing projects over the past year and a half, which the state hopes will create 2,000 jobs by 2011. It is also home to the world’s largest wind farm, as well as one of the most impressive biodigesters out there. The biodigester is located at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Health and Healing, and was instrumental in the facility becoming the first of its kind to receive platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Oregon also has more hybrid car owners per capita than any other state.

In these uncertain times there’s no telling what survival strategies will and will not work – both for Oregon and the rest of the nation. Whether its efforts are fruitful during the downturn or not, Oregon has made it clear that the state takes its investment in solar power seriously.

Nellie Da, NuWire Investor


Oregon may get electric car plant April 17, 2009

Filed under: Electric Vehicles,Green Jobs,Manufacturing,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 2:10 pm
Tags: , ,

Oregon is one of eight states in consideration for an electric car manufacturing plant that could employ 900 workers.

Representatives from Think North America will visit Portland on Tuesday in an appearance with Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a spokesman confirmed Friday morning.

The Norway-based company announced in March that it’s in discussions with eight states about building a manufacturing plant and technical center for its compact electric car, the Think city.

The plant would initially employ 300 and be capable of producing 16,000 cars per year. It would ultimately grow to 60,000 cars per year and 900 workers, the company said.

The tiny four-seat all-electric car can reach more than 60 mph and travel 112 miles on a single charge, operating either on sodium or lithium-ion batteries, the company claims. It’s designed to have a low carbon footprint and features recyclable plastic body panels and a fully recyclable interior.

Spokesman Brendan Prebo said the company hopes to get the price of the car down to $20,000 after tax incentives, but must reduce the cost of the battery to meet that goal.

U.S. production is expected to start in 2010, with the first-year volume of 2,500 units available to pilot and demonstration projects, the company said.

Thus far, the company has only identified California and Michigan, its North American headquarters, as Oregon’s competition for the plant.

The contest is moving quickly.

Prebo said the company will choose a site in the next couple of months in order to meet its goal of starting production by mid-2010.

That means Think is eyeing existing brownfield sites and preferably a location that has existing and available manufacturing space. Prebo said Think has identified several U.S. sites with existing manufacturing space, but wouldn’t say whether any of those were in Oregon.

Kulongoski has put a target on the fast-rising electric vehicle industry and hopes to cement Oregon’s reputation as an early adopter of the technology.

Already Portland holds the oft-cited record of having the most hybrid-fuel vehicles per capita of any city in the nation.

Portland General Electric Co. earlier this year began installing electric vehicle charging stations throughout its service station. And the state Department of Transportation earlier this week began soliciting bids for electric charging manufacturers, the first solicitation of its kind in the nation.

Kulongoski and Sen. Ron Wyden will join Think CEO Richard Canny for a test drive of a Think city vehicle Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. the World Trade Center building, next to PGE’s electric charging station at 121 S.W. Salmon Street.

Portland Business Journal –


agreement allows more biomass harvest in Wallowa Co., Ore.

Filed under: Biomass,Oregon,Wood Products — nwrenewablenews @ 1:42 pm

One thousand acres of Wallowa-Whitman National Forest land will be available for potential biomass harvest. That is the agreement within the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being signed by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Wallowa Whitman National Forest Supervisor Steve Ellis, State Forester John Buckman, Wallowa County Biomass Group representative Nils Christoffersen and others April 6 during Walden’s Wallowa County visit.
The signing of the MOU will be held at 4 p.m. at Tomas Conference Center in Enterprise.

In addition to making those 1,000 acres available, the Forest Service will also commit to examining other options to provide woody biomass product, such as writing in stipulations on thinning contracts favorable to biomass harvest.

“This isn’t a hard contract,” cautions Christoffersen, “but it is a memorandum about our shared intent to build biomass industry in Wallowa County.”

The point of this exercise is to grease the wheels for potential business investors, according to County Commissioner Mike Hayward. “The challenge you have with biomass is that private investors will not spend the substantial amount of money it takes to develop the infrastructure to utilize the biomass unless they have a guaranteed raw materials supply,” he said. “Signing the MOU is a step in trying to make that supply more certain.”

It is an exercise with precedent.

Lake County signed an MOU about biomass production with public and private agencies last November. A 20-year MOU was signed by private lumber companies, Fremont-Winema National Forests, Lakeview District of the Bureau of Land Management, mill owner Collins Companies of Portland, Marubeni Sustainable Energy of San Diego, Calif., Lake County Resources Initiative (modeled on Wallowa Resources) and other agencies in Lake County moments after the November dedication a $6.6 million small-diameter mill in Lakeview. The mill processes small logs harvested from private and public lands. In addition, The Collins Companies of Portland, owner of the Lakeview sawmill, plans to erect a $20 million, 13-megawatt, biomass plant at the sawmill. The plant is expected to supply sufficient energy to power over 10,000 single-family homes.

Even only it’s only an MOU it gave Collins confidence in the business. “I don’t think the ink was even dry on the MOU and we stared working on the first 10-year contract,” said Walls. — a the 10-year stewadship contractonly guaranteed $100,000 worth of work. Environmental groups endorsing the biomass plant ad the sawmill gave them confidence.

Inspired by Lake County’s success and Wallowa County’s own successes with small-diameter wood harvest and biomass furnace construction, the Wallowa County Natural Resource Advisory Committee (NRAC) offered to facilitate the MOU process in Wallowa County. Meetings began in spring of 2008.

The MOU to be signed April 6 will “provide a framework for planning” according to Christofferson.
Private investors continue to show interest in establishing biomass-fueled businesses in Wallowa County, Hayward said. Locally, both Ant Flat Renewables and Community Smallwoods Solutions of Wallowa have continued their interest in and investigation of possible businesses related to biomass harvest and utilization.

Wallowa County Chieftain


Landfill to provide clean energy to Seattle area April 9, 2009

Filed under: Biofuels,Landfill Gas,Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Washington — nwrenewablenews @ 5:30 pm
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Methane from a Seattle-area landfill will soon be used to provide clean natural gas power for area residents.

This week, Puget Sound Energy and Bio Energy-Washington announced a plan to power 24,000 nearby homes with methane gas from the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill.

“We are reducing carbon dioxide emissions roughly equal to taking 22,000 average passenger cars off the road each year, and we’re creating a valuable commodity from what was previously considered a useless byproduct,” King County executive Ron Sims said in a statement.

According to PSE, the power output from the landfill project will be equivalent to a 35 megawatt natural gas plant, and the third-largest facility of its kind in the nation. The methane will be transported to PSE-owned natural gas plants, reducing the landfill’s carbon footprint by nearly two-thirds in the process. The company also indicated that the landfill gas is actually cleaner than that from conventional wells because of the processing steps involved.

While there are over 100 of these landfill energy projects nationwide, this isn’t the only non-traditional energy source gaining traction. Dane County in Wisconsin recently issued an RFP for manure-digesters that will help the local dairy industry by generating natural gas and keeping manure-related pollutants out of area lakes.

Washington Energy Services –


Oregon wind farms whip up noise, health concerns? March 27, 2009

Filed under: Legal/Courts,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 3:49 pm
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Dozens of wind turbines west of Boardman are so noisy, nearby homeowners say they’re keeping them awake at night and even making them ill.

“It’s not healthy for us,” Dan Williams said of the 240-foot-tall turbines he can see from his hilltop home. “It’s like a freight train that’s not coming or going.”

Williams is among neighbors along Oregon 74 demanding that Morrow County enforce state noise regulations on the Willow Creek Wind Energy Project or revoke its land-use permit.

More than that, they’re part of an emerging backlash to an alternative-energy technology that most revere as clean, green and essential to reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. As turbines sprout across Oregon, people who live near the sweeping blades are raising their voices about noise, spoiled views, lowered home values and health risks.

In January, a Massachusetts company yanked plans for a wind farm outside The Dalles after opponents complained that it would be too close to homes, ruin spectacular Columbia River Gorge vistas and put wildlife at risk.

Other critics, including some in Oregon, cite work by a New York physician who coined the term “wind turbine syndrome” to describe effects — such as headaches, dizziness and memory loss — of living near the machines.

“This thing is not rare,” Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., said of the syndrome, “but it doesn’t affect everybody.”

Industry representatives dismiss such talk. Shawna Seldon, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C., said her group is unaware of any peer-reviewed research linking wind turbines and negative health effects.

Likewise, Mike Logsdon of Invenergy, the 6-year-old Chicago company that built the Willow Creek farm, said of neighbors’ complaints: “We don’t believe there is anything to it.”

With Oregon on track to triple its wind-energy production in coming years, the clash is sure to intensify.

Oregon wind farms generate 1,000 megawatts, said Lou Torres, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Energy, enough to power as many as 300,000 homes. Farms to produce an additional 2,000 megawatts are in the works, he said, giving the state a total of about 2,000 turbines, many taller than the Statue of Liberty when blades are pointed up.

“When that (work) is completed in the next couple of years, we will probably be fourth or fifth in the country on wind energy,” Torres said. “Oregon is moving very quickly.”

The new farms — 90 percent on the wide-open Columbia Plateau in Morrow, Sherman, Gilliam, Wasco and Umatilla counties — include what may become the largest on Earth: the 305-turbine Shepherds Flat Wind Farm on 32,000 acres straddling Gilliam and Morrow counties. The Oregon Facilities Siting Council approved the 909-megawatt farm, being developed by Caithness Energy of Chicago, on July 25.

Williams, a 40-year-old construction contractor, said the Willow Creek turbines’ swish-swish and thump-bang often wake him up. His live-in girlfriend, Heidi Hartman, 34, said she’s “starting to notice internal effects, jitters” from the vibration and noise.

Wind-energy companies downplay the noise, Williams said. “They said this is going to be about as loud as your refrigerator in your house, which is a crock.”

Neighbor Mike Eaton, who also lives within a half-mile of a Willow Creek turbine, said the spinning blades are noisier than people realize. He’s measured 67 decibels with a handheld monitor beside his home, he said, much higher than the 36 decibels allowed by state law.

Not only that, the retired furniture maker said, “I can hear windmills at my house from Arlington, 12 miles away.”

Eaton, 61, said the turbines give him nausea by aggravating inner-ear and balance problems he’s had since a 1966-67 tour in Vietnam subjected him to the constant pounding of an Army 155 mm artillery piece.

“I cannot live where I’m living now with these decibels and vibrations,” he said.

Carla McLane, Morrow County planning director, said health issues never came up during planning for the 72-megawatt Willow Creek project. The county approved the farm in 2005, and turbines began operating this past December.

But Ryan Swinburnson, an attorney for Morrow County, said officials take the neighbors’ complaints seriously.

“The county’s position is if there is a violation, the violating party needs to correct it,” he said.

With elimination of an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality noise-control program in 1991, the counties are on their own, said the DEQ’s Frank Messina in Bend.

Torres, the state Department of Energy spokesman, also doesn’t dismiss the complaints. Officials “still don’t know enough about the noise factor” because little research has been done, he said.

“We know more about the effects on birds and bats,” he said.

Invenergy has hired a company to gauge noise from the Willow Creek farm’s 48 turbines, said Logsdon, the spokesman, which should fulfill a county demand for independent monitoring. Invenergy expects results in about a month, he said.

Ultimately, the company could buy noise easements from the nearby homeowners or possibly buy the properties or close turbines close to homes. Or the homeowners, if they aren’t satisfied with the county’s response, could pursue their complaints in court.

Pierpont, the doctor, who has an upcoming book about the dangers of wind farms, says turbines should never be built within two miles of homes. The low-frequency sound affects the inner ear, she said, causing problems such as sleep and learning disorders, headaches, dizziness, anger, irritability, depression, memory loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), mood swings and panic attacks.

As wind machines proliferate near where people gather, she said, “wind turbine syndrome will likely become an industrial plague.”

Money is another factor, straining relationships among usually friendly rural neighbors. While the machines bother some landowners, they’re a revenue bonanza for others. Seldon, the industry spokeswoman, said landowners typically get lease payments of $2,000 to $4,000 a year per megawatt.

In Oregon, Sherman County farmer John Hildebrand, 82, for example, earns about $30,000 in annual lease payments for the 11 turbines operating on about three acres of his land. He knows of other farmers, he said, who get much more.

That has Logsdon suspecting sour grapes.

“Where people don’t have turbines on their property and aren’t being paid for them, they don’t want to look at them on their neighbors’ property,” he said.

But Williams thinks energy companies should compensate not only the landowners but other affected homeowners as well. He wants Oregon and its rural counties to enact setbacks that would place turbines farther from homes.

“If the setbacks were done properly,” he said, “none of this … would have happened.”

by Richard Cockle, The Oregonian –


Cook County, Ore to get regions first wind farm

A $220 million commercial wind farm that would be the first in the region and could bring 100 jobs to Crook County has received the initial go-ahead from Crook County planning commissioners.

“We’re excited and proud to be the first renewable energy wind project in Central Oregon,” said Sarah Rankin, the project coordinator for the developers of the West Butte Wind Power Project. “It looks like things are going forward, and I think this project will be a source of pride for the whole community.”

Planning commissioners voted 6-0 on Wednesday evening to approve the application. A document will be prepared by the Crook County Planning Department within the next two weeks that will be considered the official stamp of approval. Because the project will generate fewer than 105 megawatts of power, it only requires an OK from the county.

Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife expressed concern at earlier public hearings that the project, which would sit on a 10,000-acre private ranch in southern Crook County, could damage a sage grouse population.

ODFW officials suggested the developers keep wind turbines three miles away from a nearby sage grouse lek, an area the birds use for their mating rituals. But the developers said that would wipe out their project. Planning commissioners agreed, mandating only a quarter-mile setback from the lek.

Worries about wildlife

Commissioner Arleen Curths said the $1 million annually in property taxes the county could receive from the wind farm outweighed the argument about protecting the birds.

“There is no data on how windmills will impact the sage grouse. There just is no data yet,” Curths said. “We thought it was a good idea to use this small group of birds to collect that data. … We had to look at 27 birds or a ($220) million project. We elected to go with the project.”

ODFW Sage Grouse Conservation Coordinator Christian Hagen was in the field Thursday and said he had yet to review the proposal.

The sage grouse is being considered for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. In an earlier interview, Hagen said little is known about the effects of wind turbines on sage grouse populations.

The West Butte Wind Power Project would be the area’s first. But, he said, data from gas and oil exploration studies show that development near the birds negatively impacts their mating productivity.

Heidi Bauer, with the Crook County Planning Department, said the commission created a technical advisory committee to monitor wildlife. The group will include officials from ODFW, the Oregon State University Extension Office, the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the project developers, among others.

Participants are being asked to consider the impact not only on sage grouse, but deer, bats and other wildlife. At a later date, the committee will present its findings to the planning commission.

‘We want to set a precedent’

Rankin, with West Butte Wind Power, said the developers have wanted the application process to be collaborative.

“We want to set a precedent of this being a good environmental green project with minimal environmental impact,” Rankin said.

Still in the early stages, the project could have anywhere from 34 to 52 wind turbines, standing approximately 400 to 574 feet tall. Sitting atop West Butte, the turbines would be on a ranch in a southern section of Crook County. The project, however, would only occupy about 20 acres.

“I’ve been up there, and the project will not be visible on any public highway unless you really know where to look for those windmills,” Curths said.

Rankin said the project could generate enough energy to power about 50,000 homes. The power would be fed into an existing transmission line, and, she said, it’s possible the developers will eventually sell the project, or simply the power, to another company.

The project would need 80 to 100 people during the construction period, and 10 to 12 full-time employees after completion.

Rankin said the project could still need permission from the Bureau of Land Management for access to a road, and, she added, the project could always be appealed.

“If things go well and proceed as we would like them to, we would like to start construction during the spring of 2010,” she said.

By Lauren Dake, The Bulletin-


Echo Wind Farm’s SIP funds prove problematic in Ore.

Filed under: Legal/Courts,Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 12:29 pm
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The five taxing districts and Umatilla County just can’t seem to agree on what to do with $750,000 from the community service fee in the Echo wind farm’s strategic investment program know as SIP.

The deadline to decide, April 16, is looming, but sides seem to be digging deeper into their oppositions and don’t have an exact plan on when to meet to figure it all out.

The dividing line pits the West Umatilla Vector Control District and the Umatilla County Special Library District against the county, the Echo Fire District, the Echo Cemetery District and the Port of Umatilla.

To have an agreement, 75 percent of the taxing districts need to vote for a proposal. The county does not have voting rights in this matter, even though it stands to receive 55 percent of the community service fee funds.

The fire district, cemetery district and port – which amount to about 68 percent of the vote – have signed an agreement the county proposed. They agreed to hand over the funds that amount to $750,000 over a 15-year time span – starting with $76,773 in the first year and ramping down to $23,032 in the 15th year – to a community benefit fund for the city of Echo.

The vector control district and the library district have refused to sign off on this plan, offering a “hybrid” proposal.

“We feel that a creative formula can be found that meets the needs of the districts and the citizens of the community,” said Ron Montgomery, manager of the West Umatilla Vector Control District. He also emphasized his district isn’t against a community fund for Echo.

But vector control and the library district have an alternative, and it takes a cue from Morrow County. The Echo wind farm sits in both Umatilla and Morrow Counties, so both are dividing up the community service fee portion of the SIP. Morrow county divided its take in January, at which time taxing districts voted for the community service fee to be divided among the special districts, which meant all except the county and the school district.

The proposed hybrid model for Umatilla County asks the county to do the same thing, essentially give up its portion, and then for each taxing district to contribute a percentage to the Echo community fund. That percentage hasn’t been determined.

“We would like to share in an equitable portion and it’s on the small side,” said Ken Reading, Umatilla County Special Library District coordinator. “We could support this one because it allows each of the special districts … to keep or put into the Echo community foundation something they think is reasonable.”

He added that his district would like to contribute to the Echo fund but still keep some independence.

Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens said he saw this as the vector control and library district asking the county to donate its portion of the community service fee without asking the same of the taxing districts.

Merle Gherke, with the Echo Fire District, said he doesn’t understand where the vector control district and library district are coming from. He would like to see more details, such as specific percentages to go to the Echo community fund. He also wanted to make sure that if, for instance, the library district received funds from the Echo area, that a similar portion of the district’s funds would be seen contributing to the Echo library.

“This isn’t a lot of money to either the vector control or the library district,” Gherke said. He said his district still agrees with the proposal to send the money to the Echo community fund. “I’m still hoping they’ll see the light and go with it.”

Janie Enright, with the Echo Cemetery District, said as far as she knows her district still supports the plan to give the funds to Echo.

Kim Puzey, director of the Port of Umatilla, said his board also supports the funds going to Echo, but that move also supports the part of the port’s general mission, which may not be the case for the other districts.

“The port, as a part of its mission, includes economic and community development,” Puzey said. “Community development is in alignment with having these funds go to the (Echo) community. … So we’re directing these funds to the community, which is something that makes perfect sense for my commission.”

Givens said he thinks much of this dispute comes down to trust on the part of the vector control and the library district.

“They felt like they didn’t have a voice,” he said. “They have to give it all and not decide how to spend it.”

The vector control and library district would need to put a large amount of trust into the Echo community benefit fund and its council to be willing to put in its portion of the SIP community service fee, Givens speculated.

“People look at the money and think of what they could do with the money and not want to give it up,” he said. “There’s a huge trust factor that has to work for these things to be developed.”

“I think it’s just a matter of vision and interests and each of the special districts in the county want to do the best for their interests,” Reading said.

On March 18, all five taxing districts sat in a room together for the first time at a county commissioner’s meeting.

“That represents a huge leap forward,” Montgomery said.

But, because no agreement was reached, more meetings are necessary. Yet, over the course of the last week, the East Oregonian asked each district if it was a aware of any plans for the five to meet again. No one was aware of any specific plans, though each said they thought something would come together.

The commissioners scheduled another meeting on April 1, hoping an agreement would be reached by then. The special districts have until April 16 to come to a decision. If they don’t, the county will forward the issue on to the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, which will settle it.

The OECDD hasn’t had to decide on a SIP community service fee agreement yet, so this is new ground, officials said.

Commissioner Bill Hansell said OECDD could do several things, including agreeing with either of the proposals, refuse the idea of an Echo community fund, divide the money amongst the taxing districts or come up with its own program.

Samantha Bates, East Oregonian –


Click the links below for more history on the Echo Wind Farm and its strategic investment project, which provides millions into the local revenue stream directly from the wind farm:


OSU hosts biomass energy workshop in La Grande, Ore

Filed under: Biomass,Farm/Ranch,Oregon,Wood Products — nwrenewablenews @ 12:18 pm

Union County’s Oregon State University extension service will host a forestry and agriculture biomass renewable energy workshop Thursday, April 9, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Agriculture Service Center conference room, 10507 N. McAlister Road in Island City. Participants will learn practical approaches and solutions regarding biomass incentives and current knowledge of the environmental effects of biomass removal.

To register and for more information, contact the Union County Extension Office at 963-1010.


Ore. Cities/Counties get $33M for energy efficiency March 26, 2009

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 4:46 pm

Millions in federal funds will be heading to Oregon for energy efficiency projects as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Our dependence on foreign fossil fuel drains wealth from our families and our nation while contributing to global climate change,” said Merkley.  “Efforts to reduce energy use are critical to break this dependence while improving our environment.  Equally important, improving energy efficiency will create jobs all across Oregon and reduce energy bills paid by Oregonians.  With our unemployment rate now in the double digits, these jobs are vitally important for our communities.”

“No economic recovery is going to be complete until we do something about making the United States more energy efficient while at the same time creating jobs in the alternative energy industry,” Wyden said. “The $33 million coming to Oregon for energy efficiency will jumpstart Oregon’s goal of becoming an alternative energy leader and will help put Oregonians back to work.”

The White House announced plans today to invest $3.2 billion in energy efficiency and conservation projects in U.S. cities, counties, states, territories, and on Native American tribal lands.  The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, funded by President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will provide funding for projects that reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions, as well as improve energy efficiency nationwide.

Oregon state, county, and city governments will receive over $33 million through the program:

  • Oregon State Energy Office – $9,593,500
  • Albany – $201,500
  • Beaverton – $914,900
  • Bend – $745,500
  • Corvallis – $511,600
  • Eugene – $1,485,800
  • Gresham – $901,500
  • Hillsboro – $924,700
  • Keizer – $138,500
  • Lake Oswego – $157,900
  • Medford – $729,700
  • Portland – $5,626,100
  • Salem – $1,521,200
  • Springfield – $539,400
  • Tigard – $230,500
  • Clackamas – $3,159,500
  • Deschutes County – $325,700
  • Douglas County – $442,900
  • Jackson County – $524,800
  • Josephine County – $343,200
  • Lane County – $561,200
  • Marion County – $609,000
  • Umatilla County – $312,900
  • Washington County – $2,596,900
  • Yamhill County – $403,100

Tribal governments in Oregon will also receive funds for energy efficiency upgrades on tribal lands (Please note that if a Tribe spans more than one state, the amounts below reflect the entire amount the Tribe will receive):

  • Burns Paiute Tribe of the Burns Paiute Indian Colony of Oregon – $29,000
  • Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon – $63,500
  • Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon – $301,100
  • Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Reservation, Oregon – $305,500
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Oregon – $68,900
  • Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon – $129,300
  • Coquille Tribe of Oregon – $64,400
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians of Oregon – $96,800
  • Klamath Tribes, Oregon (formerly the Klamath Indian Tribe of Oregon) – $91,500
  • Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, Nevada and Oregon – $25,800



EV Industry: Startups invest millions in scooter market March 25, 2009

Filed under: Electric Vehicles,Oregon — nwrenewablenews @ 8:46 pm
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When it comes to electric vehicles, the Tesla Roadster and Chevrolet Volt get all the love. But there are other EVs rolling around, and they’re balancing on two wheels.

Since 2007, when Vectrix of Middletown, R.I., first rode onto the scene with its battery-powered Maxi Scooter, a growing number of U.S. startups have entered the plug-in two-wheeler market. They’ve invested millions of dollars in vehicles, many of which are poised for production within a year.

Led by pioneers with impressive résumés, these companies predict growth despite the down economy, and they’re laying claim to niche markets with such boasts as “first” and “fastest” as they stake out territory in what many believe is the future of transportation.

“It’s amazing how inefficient the vehicles we’re driving today really are,” said Forrest North, founder and chief executive of Mission Motorsports, a San Francisco company that unveiled the prototype for its 150 mph, 150-mile-range electric motorcycle at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in Long Beach, Calif., last month.

“Electricity is just so many orders of magnitude more efficient that it’s the only way to go,” said North, a former mechanical designer with Tesla and leader of Stanford University’s solar-car team in the mid-1990s.

Like many EV entrepreneurs, North, 33, had looked into hydrogen and biodiesel as power sources but found them impractical. Hydrogen is abundant, but turning it into fuel and developing a distribution infrastructure is costly. Biodiesel can take more energy to produce than it generates.

With electricity, the infrastructure already exists: Electrical outlets are abundant. Battery technology is also improving by about 8 percent each year, North said, allowing bikes to easily upgrade once the chemistry comes along. Already, electric two-wheelers get the equivalent of about 300 to 500 miles per gallon. As technologies improve, they’ll be able to generate even more energy with less weight and cost.

Debut product

Billed as “the world’s fastest production electric sport bike,” Mission’s debut product is called the Mission One. Scheduled to ship in early 2010, its estimated retail price is $68,000 — most of which is attributable to a large lithium-ion battery pack designed to compete with a gas-powered, performance-oriented sport bike.

It’s the power-to-weight ratio of existing batteries that is, in part, driving development of electric two-wheelers.

Weighing less than 25 percent of a typical passenger car, two-wheeled scooters and motorcycles require fewer expensive batteries to bring them to speed. They are also simpler; they require fewer components and safety features; and they aren’t subject to the stringent governmental requirements for passenger cars.

That makes two wheels a less-complicated and less-expensive entry point than cars for entrepreneurs, which is why electric two-wheelers also are coming on the market faster and more affordably than their four-wheeled brethren. The majority of available electric two-wheelers cost less than $10,000.

Vectrix was the first company to manufacture a production electric two-wheeler. Since introducing its $11,000, 62 mph Maxi Scooter in August 2007, it has unveiled a second model and sold more than 1,500 vehicles globally. While that isn’t a lot compared with the millions of cars sold every year, it represents a 300 percent increase in annual sales from 2007 to 2008.

“Any time you bring a new technology to market, when you can horizontally grow that product, it validates to the consumer that it’s a real technology,” Vectrix Chief Executive Mike Boyle said. This spring, Vectrix will roll out a third scooter model, the $5,195, 30 mph VX-2.

Spring is also the launch date for two other electric two-wheelers — Zero Motorcycles’ Zero S and Brammo Motorsports’ Enertia. Like Vectrix, The S and Enertia are oriented toward the commuter market. Unlike Vectrix, they are motorcycles.

“The market is definitely getting excited for an electric motorcycle,” said Neal Saiki, 42, founder of Zero Motorcycles in Santa Cruz, Calif. “It’s going to grow really rapidly as people realize how practical and fun and fast these motorcycles are. They can be environmental and have fun.”

Ex-NASA engineer

Zero was the second manufacturer, after Vectrix, to make a production electric two-wheeler.

Founded by Saiki, a former NASA engineer, and funded, in part, by former Sun Microsystems executive Gene Banman, who now is Zero’s chief executive, Zero has sold 200 of its $7,500 Zero X models — an off-road electric motorcycle with a 50 mph maximum speed and 40-mile range off a single charge.

Craig Bramscher, of Brammo Motorsports in Ashland, Ore., says he raised $10 million in venture capital last year.

And when his 300 Enertia electric motorcycle rolls off the line in May, he’s thinking his company will be aided by the $787 billion stimulus package.

The program includes a 10 percent tax credit on the purchase price of two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles with batteries generating at least 2.5 kilowatt hours of power.

“It seems like the right place, right time,” said Bramscher, former owner of a software-technology firm. “A lot of people haven’t forgotten we’ve got an oil problem.”

By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times


Wind farm proposed near Helix, Ore.

Filed under: Green Jobs,Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 4:14 pm
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The Helix area my have another wind farm on the horizon.

The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council is entertaining a proposal from Iberdrola Renewables Inc. to build the Helix Wind Power Facility.

The proposed facility will have a peak generating capacity of 102 megawatts and will be made up of up to 60 wind turbines. The exact type of wind turbine has not been determined yet, but they could either be 1.5 megawatt turbines or 3 megawatt turbines. Their hub height could be as tall as 80 to 100 meters, or 236 to 328 feet.

It will be located nine miles northwest of helix. Transmission lines will likely extend west and connect with either PacifiCorp lines or Bonneville Power Administration lines.

From March 10 to April 6, the council is taking public comment on the proposed facility. People

After reviewing the public comment the Oregon Department of Energy will issue a Draft Proposed Order. Once that’s out, it will schedule a public hearing, at which people will have another chance to comment in person or in writing.

In addition to the turbines themselves, the Helix Wind Power Facility will also have 16 miles of new roads, an operations building, a substation, two meteorological towers, 15 miles of above ground transmission line, 18 miles of collector lines – 5.4 miles of which would be above ground – and a communication system.

During construction there will also be a temporary concrete batch plant, two gravel quarries and roads may be made to fit large-load transport vehicles and their large turning radius.

For more information on the project, visit the EFSC Web site, at and click on the “facilities under review” link. On that next page either click on “Helix Wind Power Facility” or scroll down to the information.

The East Oregonian –


Salem area may get biodiesel research campus

Filed under: Biofuels,Green Jobs,Oregon,University Research — nwrenewablenews @ 4:06 pm
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A Willamette Valley consortium plans to turn the area’s only commercial biodiesel plant into a research and education campus. With the new emphasis on renewable energy and economic stimulus, backers feel the time is right.

Chemeketa Community College, Pacific Biodiesel Technologies and developer Wildwood Inc. submitted a proposal for $10 million in funding to Oregon’s congressional delegation.

The project would be built over three years and could create 450 jobs, said Travis Henry, vice president of Wildwood.

The 30,000-square-foot facility, which would adjoin Pacific Biodiesel’s existing Salem plant, would include classrooms, test laboratories and pilot programs. Researchers hope the facility will help identify new biodiesel fuel sources.

The collaboration will involve Chemeketa students in every step in the process, said Chemeketa spokesman Greg Harris. “We see this opportunity as a unique chance to get talent developed for a growth industry,” he said.

Pacific Biodiesel processes used cooking oil and canola grown in Eastern Oregon, along with some tallow, said Will Smith, process engineering manager.

The expansion would allow the company to use different sources, including gatropha, a tropical nut, grease trap oil, algae oils and water treatment wastes.

“Imagine anything that’s rancid and disgusting and oily,” Smith told the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce.

Pacific Biodiesel could incorporate new biofuel sources into its existing mix.

“If they’re able to demonstrate the technology in a pilot scale, it could attract private industry, (which) could then build a full-scale production plant somewhere else,” he said.

The educational value relies on the close working relationship with Pacific Biodiesel, however, Henry said. “What makes this program so special is that you have students who are able to participate in all steps of the process.”

The project could get started within weeks of securing funding, said John Miller, president of Wildwood. “Our site is more than shovel-ready,” he said.

“Looking at what the priorities of what the new administration seem to be, the dire circumstance of the Oregon economy and the interest in building infrastructure for the new green economy, this fits with all of that,” Harris said.

The Associated Press –


OSU researchers attempting to turn microbes to hydrogen fuel

Filed under: Hydrogen Fuel,Oregon,Solar,University Research — nwrenewablenews @ 2:42 pm
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Searching for an environmentally friendly way to produce cheap hydrogen as a fuel, researchers at Oregon State University are turning to microbes that have been doing the job for billions of years.

Their work could one day lead to a new kind of solar-derived energy that, instead of producing electricity directly through photovoltaics, would use the ancient process of photosynthesis to churn out the hydrogen to power clean-energy fuel cells. All it would take is sunlight, hydrogen-producing bacteria and a bit of high-tech coaxing.

Hydrogen power has become a holy grail in the alternative energy industry. In a hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen to give off energy and water. The problem the industry faces is that it needs a power source — typically anything from coal or natural gas to nuclear or hydroelectric power — to make hydrogen. The OSU team is hoping for an environmentally benign route to hydrogen production.

A team led by OSU’s Roger Ely, a professor of biological and ecological engineering, has shown that the concept is feasible. Their work was published recently in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, and the team received a $938,000 grant to be split between researchers at OSU, the University of Oregon and Indiana University.

Catherine Page, a chemistry professor at UO, is one of the scientists working to develop the idea.

Ely and his colleagues are trying to harness blue-green algae — a single-celled organism known as cyanobacteria — to produce hydrogen, which the bacteria has been doing happily for the past several billion years. But hydrogen is only a byproduct of the process, and Ely’s team is hoping to learn enough about how the bacteria work to engineer ways to increase and harvest the hydrogen production.

“Nature’s been working on this for about 3½ billion years and so has a considerable head start on us with respect to the research and development,” Ely said. “These processes go on around us all the time. There are millions of metric tons of hydrogen that are produced biologically in the world per year. It’s really a matter of learning how we can tap into it, how we can harness it and try to make best use of it.”

Cyanobacteria are busy organisms that typically reside in the ocean and use photosynthesis to take energy from the sun and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make the food it needs to grow. The major byproduct is oxygen — which, a couple of billion years ago, gave us a breathable atmosphere — but the process also leaves a little bit of leftover hydrogen.

The trick for researchers is to get the cyanobacteria to pay more attention to making hydrogen. That’s a challenge because the microbe isn’t really adapted for hydrogen production and doesn’t take on the job readily.

Researchers are trying to get around that by “encapsulating” the bacteria in a solid matrix that limits growth. That way, they can direct the cell’s energy into making hydrogen instead of the carbohydrates it would otherwise make to fuel growth.

“When we essentially milk them for hydrogen, it’s sort of like a hydrogen milk cow in a sense. What we do is penalize them in terms of growth,” Ely said. “So they don’t like that. But if they’re encapsulated they can’t grow anyway. What were trying to do is take advantage of that.”

The solid framework used to encapsulate the bacteria is material that resembles a glass sponge. It limits growth, isolates the microbes from the environment, and protects them from contamination so they can perform longer and make more hydrogen. But that’s only the first step.

“Based on what we’ve done and seen so far, I think that we have proven the concept that you can encapsulate these cells, you can put them inside of this material and they survive and they make hydrogen,” Ely said. “So that’s good. The only question then is how far can we go with it and what are the limits. And we don’t know yet what those are.”

The ultimate goal is to engineer a relatively small package in which cyanobacteria take sunlight and produce useful quantities of hydrogen. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Ely believes that perhaps in five to seven years they could come up with a prototype.

One of the biggest advantages to a bacterial hydrogen production is that it carries few, if any, environmental downsides. And even though it would take some very high-tech advances to harness it, the process at its root is the same one used in nature. And that, Ely said, is a good way to go.

“One of the things that’s really important is that we try to stay as close to natural process as we can,” he said. “Because we have a lot of issues in the world related to environmental quality and environmental sustainability, and if we can try to stay close to natural processes and use solar energy directly in some way, I think that’s an advantage.”

“It’s really a matter of learning how we can tap into it.”

— Roger Ely, OSU professor of biological and ecological engineering


Solar Powers Freeway Lights at I-5/I-205 Interchange in Ore.

Filed under: Oregon,Solar,Utility Companies — nwrenewablenews @ 1:54 pm
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The nation’s first solar highway installation is up and running in Tualatin. The solar photovoltaic demonstration project is a collaboration between Portland General Electric, US Bank and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The $1.3 million project helps light the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 interchange in Tualatin. The project also provides PGE with data on how well such a generation site can perform in its service area.

The 104-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system covers about 8,000 square feet and is about the length of two football fields.

It is producing about 112,000 kilowatt hours a year, or 28 percent of the 400,000 kilowatt hours used to light the interchange.

The solar panels produce electricity during the day, supplying power onto the PGE grid, and PGE returns an equivalent amount of power at night to light the interchange.

SolarWorld AG of Hillsboro supplied the solar panels, and PV Powered of Bend supplied the inverter that converts the solar power for use on PGE’s grid.

For more information about the project, go to:

The Register Guard -


Pendleton, Ore getting 2.3M Solar System at Wasterwater Treatment Plant

Filed under: Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 1:32 pm
Tags: ,

Here is an excerpt from the article:

$2.3 million for ground-mounted tracking solar system at the wastewater treatment plant that will be able to produce about 200 kW at the plant. A private company is funding the project in its entirety.

Click below to read the whole EastOregonian story:


House passes wilderness/Renewable energy lands bill

Congress on Wednesday set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness – from California’s Sierra Nevada mountains to the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

The legislation is on its way to President Barack Obama for his likely signature.

The House approved the bill, 285-140, the final step in a long legislative road that began last year.

The vote came two weeks after the House rejected the bill amid a partisan dispute over gun rights. The measure was brought up again in the Senate and approved last week, setting up Wednesday’s vote.

The bill – a collection of nearly 170 separate measures – would be one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in a quarter-century. It would confer the government’s highest level of protection on land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Supporters called the bill landmark legislation that will strengthen the national park system, restore national forests, preserve wild and scenic rivers, protect battlefields and restore balance to the management of public lands.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a “land grab” that would block energy development on vast swaths of federal land.

“After nearly a decade during which our parks were taken for granted and our range lands were scarred by a spider-web of roads and (drilling) well pads,” the lands bill “represents a new dawn for America’s heritage and American values,” said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and other Republicans complained that the measure would lock up millions of acres of land that could be explored for energy and used for other development.

“Our nation can’t afford to shut down the creation of jobs for jobless Americans, and we can’t afford to become even more dependent on foreign sources of energy,” Hastings said.

The bill “even locks up federal lands from renewable energy production, including wind and solar,” he said.

Hastings and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to allow visitors to national parks to carry concealed, loaded weapons. A federal judge last week struck down a Bush administration rule allowing loaded guns in parks and wildlife refuges.

Because of a parliamentary rule adopted in the Senate, the House took up the bill under a rule that blocked amendments.

Land to be protected in the bill ranges from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range and Oregon’s Mount Hood to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

Land in Idaho’s Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan and Zion National Park in Utah also would win designation as wilderness, and more than 1,000 miles of rivers in nearly a dozen states would gain protections. The proposals would expand wilderness designation – which blocks nearly all development – into areas that now are not protected.

The bill also would let Alaska go forward with plans to build an airport access road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as part of a land swap that would transfer more than 61,000 acres to the federal government, much of it designated as wilderness.

The bill is H.R. 146.

By MATTHEW DALY, The Associated Press –


Bend solar energy firm gets presidential nod March 24, 2009

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 11:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

In President Obama’s speech on clean energy and technology Monday, a local company got a big mention.

Barack Obama named PV Powered, a solar technology company right here in Bend, as part of his larger message on how investing in renewable energy will turn our economy around.

Before he was elected to the highest national office, and before he called The White House home, Senator Obama was hitting the campaign trail.

In a visit to Central Oregon last May, he visited PV Powered, one of the nation’s leading makers of solar energy equipment.  The company makes solar inverters, which take power from solar panels, and convert it into usable energy.

In his speech from the White House, President Obama recalled visiting a Seattle company making schools and businesses more energy efficient, and a renewable electricity company in Las Vegas. Then, it was our turn.

“I visited another company, PV Powered,” Obama said.  “A company developing more reliable solar technology in Bend, Oregon.”

PV Powered CEO. and Chairman Gregg Patterson said Tuesday that the national nod was very exciting.

“(The president) understands that we’ve got to shift gears, away from classic fossil fuels, and into a much more sustainable future,” Patterson said.

Obama is pledging an historic investment in energy technologies – $150 billion over the next 10 years.

A national report finds that for every government dollar spent on energy, it returns 40-fold into the economy, meaning these huge investments could put the country back on the road to lasting economic growth.

“Innovators like you are creating the jobs that will foster our recovery, and creating the technologies that will power our long-term prosperity,” the president said Monday.

Obama says investing in energy technologies will help double our country’s supply of renewable energy, kick our dependence on foreign oil, and create some 300,000 jobs in the areas of energy research and production.

“It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention,” the president said. “At this moment of necessity, we need you.”

With plans to expand, and potentially add new jobs later this year, PV Powered is ready.

“The confidence is high,” Patterson said. “I mean, you wouldn’t see all this construction and production happening if this market wasn’t ready to take off, and we’re seeing it already.”

The solar industry has grown an estimated 30 percent every year for the last seven years, and that trend is expected to continue for the next 20 years or more.

By Kelsey Watts, KTVZ.COM –

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