Northwest Renewable News

Your Daily Source for Renewable Energy News in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Northern California

Wind farm becoming possibility in Fairview, Mont. September 26, 2009

Filed under: Montana,Renewable Energy Projects,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 8:54 pm
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A 60-meter high meteorology tower to measure wind levels was erected this week at a farm near Fairview.

Airborne Wind Development, Boise, Idaho, will keep track of the readings to see if the company wants to put turbines at the site in the future. The tower is on property owned by the Elizabeth Buxbaum estate along with Scott and Anita Buxbaum.

If the wind is strong enough, Bob Buxbaum, Fairview, says the turbines would be 2.1 megawatts and 240 feet high.

Cliff Broadbent of Builders Construction Services, Walla, Walla, Wash., which put up the tower, believes the wind rate has to average nine miles per hour.

An Internet pack logger on the tower measures the wind velocity. It also tells the temperature and the air density. A sample is taken each second. The information is kept on a data card, similar to one for a digital camera.

Once a day, the information is automatically transmitted to Airborne Wind Development.

“They will have a good study after a year’s time,” Broadbent said. If a very strong wind is evident, the company may decide to proceed in nine months.

Buxbaum said officials from Airborne Wind Development are expected to view the site in about six weeks. The company learned about Fairview because one of Buxbaum’s niece’s sons knew somebody at Airborne.

“It’s the new green energy that people are talking about,” Buxbaum said. “It’s going to be very interesting if it all comes about.”

Broadbent says each turbine costs about $2.2 million so picking the right location for a wind farm is vital.

“It’s not so much a real windy spot, but if it’s close to a power line or big city,” Broadbent said, noting the Fairview site is fairly close, three miles, to a power line. “You only can build so many lines to get to a power line before losing your profit.”

Preliminary studies show the Buxbaum site may work well for a wind farm. Broadbent points to the fact that the area has rolling hills and few trees.

“There are a lot of generic maps that measure winds; this area is pretty high up on those,” Broadbent said.

Bill Vander Weele, Sidney Herald


Mont., Wyo. wind power sought for $3B MATL lines

Filed under: Montana,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 2:27 pm
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A Canadian company will seek bids next month from wind developers interested in moving electricity along a pair of $3 billion transmission lines originating in Montana and Wyoming.

TransCanada says the two lines, each capable of moving 3,000 megawatts of power, would extend more than 1,000 miles to the Eldorado Valley near Las Vegas. They would serve markets across the Southwest.

The company’s “open season” auctions are scheduled for Oct. 14 for the Zephyr line, which would begin in southeast Wyoming, and Oct. 15 for the Chinook line, which would begin in southwest Montana.

TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha says the company will decide whether to continue with the projects based on the results of the auction.

Associated Press


Green & Solar Home Tours Sept & Oct. in 14 Oregon Locations

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 1:46 pm
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The Oregon Green and Solar Tours are one of the biggest events of their kind in the nation.  Each year, communities across the state offer tours of homes and business showcasing a variety of green and solar technologies.  Each tour reflects the unique interests of the community, yet all share a common goal: to educate the public about green and solar strategies.  Most of these tours occur in September and October with most of them coinciding with the National Solar Tour date of Sat. October 3rd .

The 2009 Green and Solar Tours will occur in Sept and Oct.

Willamette Valley
>>Portland: Eighth Annual Build it Green! Homes Tour
>>Salem Green + Solar Home Tour
>>Eugene: Bring It Home
>>Newberg Chehalem Mountain Wind & Solar Home Tour
>>Eugene Green and Solar Tour

Southern Oregon
>>Klamath Falls Solar Home Tour
>>Ashland Green and Solar Home Tour
>>Applegate Valley Green +  Solar Tour
>>Douglas County Green and Solar Home Tour

Eastern Oregon
>>John Day Solar Tour
>>Wallowa County Renewables Weekend

Columbia Gorge
>>Columbia Gorge Enviro-House Tour

Central Oregon
>>Bend, Redmond, Sisters, Prineville and Crooked River Ranch

>>Coos County: Green Living & Solar Home Tour

Detailed Info on the Solar Homes Tours:


Garbage to power McMinnville, Ore. homes

Filed under: Landfill Gas,Oregon,Renewable Energy Projects,Utility Companies — nwrenewablenews @ 1:11 pm

Waste Management Inc. on Wednesday broke ground on a $10 million plant in McMinnville that will create enough electricity from garbage to power 2,500 homes.

The plant will be located in the company’s Riverbend Landfill west of McMinnville and is expected to be operational in mid-2010.

As waste decomposes naturally, the new energy plant will collect the resultant methane gas and use it to power engines to generate electricity. The power will then be sold to McMinnville Power & Light.

Waste Management said the volume of electricity it generates could increase if the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners approves an expansion of the landfill.

Houston-based Waste Management Inc., the world’s largest solid waste company with annual revenue of $13.4 billion, developed the landfill-to-energy technology more than 20 years ago and now operates 111 landfill energy facilities in North America.

It has plans to develop another 160 by 2012, including one under way at its Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, Ore., which will go online later this year.

The company in May formed a joint venture with Bend-based InEnTec LLC called S4 Energy Solutions LLC that will market, operate and develop InEnTec’s technology turns waste-created gas into multiple fuel types.

Portland Business Journal –


Pressure grows for PGE to shutter Boardman, Ore. coal plant

Filed under: Oregon,Utility Companies — nwrenewablenews @ 1:06 pm
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After more than a year of analysis and public feedback, Oregon’s largest utility unveiled a draft plan earlier this month. The company held a final public meeting Friday, mostly to discuss a few tweaks to its analysis and review a plan to build a new high-capacity transmission line across the Cascades.

But what attendees came to discuss was Boardman.

PGE’s controversial proposal includes two new gas-fired power plants and the installation of more than a half billion dollars worth of pollution control equipment to keep the company’s workhorse coal plant in northeast Oregon compliant with federal haze reduction rules while cranking out cheap electricity for the next three decades.

While required to keep the plant running, the pollution controls do nothing to reduce the plant’s output of carbon dioxide, the main man-made culprit in global warming. Boardman, the state’s only coal plant, is the largest stationary source of pollution and CO2 in Oregon.

Ratepayer and environmental advocates think the utility is squandering a golden opportunity to shut down the plant, while underestimating the risks of future carbon taxes on the plant’s viability. PGE’s analysis, they insist, shows that the utility could replace Boardman’s output without a meaningful difference in reliability or cost.

Bottom line, the advocates believe it’s too risky to invest $560 million in pollution controls and still face a possible early closure of the plant.

“It would normally be very difficult to justify shutting down a coal plant,” said Steve Weiss, a policy analyst with the NW Energy Coalition, which represents renewable energy and conservation groups in the Pacific Northwest. “But when you’re talking about having to put a half billion into it, it changes the equation. If they go forward and put all this money into the plant, they’ll never close it down, and if they’re forced to, it will cause a huge economic hardship.”

In its draft analysis, PGE considered 15 different mixes of energy sources and tested them against a number of “what-if scenarios. Each portfolio garnered a weighted score. The company’s preferred portfolio, which includes the investment to keep Boardman operating, is the one PGE deems to have the least combination of cost and risk.

On Wednesday, a coalition of ratepayer advocates and environmental groups sent PGE a letter urging the utility to evaluate shutting Boardman in 2020 rather than installing the pollution controls. A 2020 shutdown was the least-cost option that PGE presented to the Department of Environmental Quality last year when the agency was evaluating what controls PGE should be required to install.

The rules that DEQ eventually adopted, however, require PGE to either install successively higher levels of controls or shut the plant by 2011, 2014 or 2017. If it installs all the recommended controls, it can run the plant until 2040.

Jim Lobdell,  PGE’s vice president of power operations and resources strategy, said Friday that because the 2020 shutdown isn’t allowed under the DEQ rules, the utility can’t build that scenario into any recommendation to state regulators. But Lobdell said PGE would go ahead and run the analysis to see what it showed.

He cautioned, however, that it may not deliver the same result this time.

When PGE was evaluating the pollution controls, it was testing the projected cost of Boardman’s output — as a stand-alone plant — against the price of power on the wholesale market. In a resource planning scenario, Lobdell said, Boardman would be part of a mix of resources until 2020, then would have to be replaced by a failsafe option like a natural gas plant, the price of which is likely to be higher than wholesale power prices.

Ratepayer groups believe PGE is overestimating the risk of natural-gas price volatility and underestimating the risk of stiffer carbon-emission taxes in the future. And they think there’s still time to ask the DEQ to consider the 2020 shutdown option.

“If that’s the least-cost future, we ought to see if we can get the EPA and the DEQ to reconsider their rules,” said Bob Jenks, director of the Citizen’s Utility Board of Oregon. “The worst outcome is to make the Boardman upgrades, then have to shut it down.”

PGE’s draft resource plan is open to public comment until Oct. 5. In early November, the company will submit a final copy of the plan to the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which will then conduct its evaluation of the plan.

Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian


South Korean company to manufacture solar cells and modules in Eugene

Filed under: Manufacturing,Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 12:49 pm
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A South Korean company called Uni-Chem plans to buy the shuttered Hynix semiconductor plant in Eugene and make solar cells and modules, hiring about 1,000 people.

The deal will be welcome news in Lane County, which suffers 12.7 percent unemployment after losing more than 12,000 jobs in a year. The venture also solidifies Oregon’s status as a renewable-energy center, capitalizing on the region’s expertise making silicon computer chips.

Uni-Chem, a leather manufacturer hopping aboard the solar bandwagon, is acquiring the plant from South Korea-based Hynix for $50 million, according to Hankyung Economic News, a Seoul publication. Hynix, which has not confirmed the deal, closed the plant a year ago, putting 1,400 people out of work.

Uni-Chem plans to produce enough solar cells each year in Eugene to generate a gigawatt of power, said Roger Little, chief executive of Spire Corp., a Uni-Chem-affiliated company in Massachusetts. That’s more than twice the planned capacity of SolarWorld’s expanding 160-megawatt plant in Hillsboro, which was also converted from a structure built as a chip factory.

Little says his firm is working with Uni-Chem to design a factory for the Hynix building.

“They purchased the building, and we’re laying it out,” said Little, adding that the investment will increase. “To go the distance, it’s going to be like a billion dollars to do a gigawatt. For that, you’re talking 1,000 jobs maybe.”

U.S. local-content requirements drive Uni-Chem to hire Americans, Little said, instead of manufacturing abroad as Chinese solar companies do. Ultimately Uni-Chem could also make solar wafers in Eugene, he said, but will begin by buying them from suppliers.

Uni-Chem representatives met with Oregon officials this week at a solar conference in Hamburg, Germany, to discuss potential subsidies, Little said. SolarWorld and other green companies have received tax credits and other government support.

Uni-Chem is also applying for a federal investment tax credit for the Eugene operation under the federal stimulus program, Little said. The South Korean company’s jump into solar, which includes the purchase and conversion of a Spire chip plant into a solar factory in New Hampshire, comes as companies worldwide rush into renewables.

Analysts expect the solar industry to consolidate. But for now, expertise from a wide spectrum of industries spurs innovation, said Glenn Harris, chief executive of SunCentric Inc., a Grants Pass consultancy.

Uni-Chem, based in Ansan-si,  South Korea, is one of the Asian nation’s biggest leather fabricators, with $75 million in annual sales. The 35-year-old company changed its name in 2000 from Shinjin Leather Industrial Co., a trendy move that boosted its stock 24 percent.

Deal in works

Hankyung Economic News recently interviewed Lee Ho-chan, Uni-Chem chief executive officer, who said his company found about 20 former chip factories in the United States for sale due to the semiconductor oversupply.

“Uni-Chem is in the process of acquiring two former semiconductor sites, including the Hynix Eugene fab in Oregon,” said the chief executive, who goes by Daniel Lee in the West.

A Uni-Chem employee in Ansan-si said Friday that the deal was proceeding. She said details were available from a company representative in New York, who did not return phone calls.

Bobby Lee, a Hynix Semiconductor Manufacturing America communications officer in Eugene, declined to comment.

Earlier, Tim McCabe, Oregon Business Development Department director, had said an unidentified potential buyer faced a deadline Wednesday for a $2 million down payment on the Hynix plant. On Friday, McCabe, whose agency originally referred the potential purchaser to Hynix, would not say whether the company was Uni-Chem.

Little has sent engineers to check out the plant. They determined that a solar-cell line could go into the third floor.

“The lower floors need some modification,” Little said. “I understand associated with it is more property, so they could actually put up another building if they want to.”

The additional building could produce wafers, he said, which are processed into cells.

Relationship to Spire

Little’s company, Spire Corp., provides production lines and equipment to make solar cells and modules worldwide. Earlier this month, Uni-Chem agreed to buy 51 percent of the equity shares of Spire Solar Systems, a Spire Corp. affiliate, for $15.3 million.

Spire Solar Systems has modules sales contracts potentially worth $160 million. It plans to provide solar production lines to federal prisons, where inmates could get training and experience.

Uni-Chem is also acquiring Spire’s chip plant in Hudson, N.H., for $62 million. Part of that fabrication facility, or fab, will become a solar factory.

“By the end of next year,” Lee told Hankyung, “two formal fabs are transformed into photovoltaic cell/module production sites. Uni-Chem will develop into a major company in the U.S. photovoltaic market.”

As Uni-Chem branches out, Hynix America’s parent company in South Korea struggles. Hynix Semiconductor, the world’s No. 2 memory-chip maker behind Samsung Electronics, may end up in the hands of Hyosung, a medium-size fiber and chemicals firm.

Industry analysts express skepticism over the bid by Hyosung. They note its weak cash flow and lack of high-tech focus.

But in a land of conglomerates, where a leather company can go solar, almost anything’s possible.

Richard Read, The Oregonian


SolarOregon hosting solar workshops throughout state

Filed under: Oregon,Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 12:39 pm
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These are all very low cost workshops, about $5 each.

Residential Basics of Going Solar

This free workshop covers the basics of why solar is a smart choice for Oregon homeowners. Current financial incentives may cover 70-80% of the cost. We will show how well solar works in Oregon’s climate, identify available solar technologies and financial incentives, and discuss how to go about choosing a contractor. Participants will come away with basic knowledge about solar energy systems and will be prepared to do more focused research on their own, or start working with a contractor right away.

Next workshops:
Astoria :: Oct 1 :: Baked Alaska
Coos Bay :: Oct 3 :: Southwest Oregon Community College
Portland :: Oct 13 :: Umpqua Bank South Waterfront Store
Portland :: Nov 18 :: Black Bird Wine Shop

Commercial Basics of Going Solar

This free workshop covers the basics of why solar is a smart choice for Oregon businesses. Current financial incentives may cover up to 90% (or more) of the cost. We will show how well solar works in Oregon’s climate, identify available solar technologies and financial incentives, and discuss how to go about choosing a contractor. Participants will come away with basic knowledge about solar energy systems and will be prepared to do more focused research on their own, or start working with a contractor right away.

Next workshops:
Beaverton :: Oct 6 :: Vernier Software
Portland :: Nov 4 :: East Portland Community Center

How to Buy a Solar Hot Water System

Solar hot water systems are among the most cost-effective home energy improvements available. Thanks to numerous financial incentives, hot water systems are the best first step toward “Going Solar”. At this informative workshop you will learn about site analysis, solar hot water technology, system sizing, performance, incentives and case studies.

Next workshop:
(To be announced)

How to Buy a Solar Electric (PV) System

Solar Electric systems convert sunlight into electricity, allowing you to power your home and even sell energy back to the grid. This 3 hour workshop covers PV technology, site analysis, system sizing, performance parameters, and financial incentives and local case studies.

Next workshop:
(To be announced)

Passive Solar Building Design

A practical “how to” workshop for builders, designers and individuals who are planning to design or build a passive solar home.  You gain an understanding about the natural processes that underlie passive solar design and how building orientation, architecture and construction materials take advantage of these natural processes to provide a significant portion of a home’s space heating, cooling and daylighting. You will also learn to calculate how much glazing and thermal storage you will need and how to meet the requirements for the $1500 Oregon State Residential Energy Tax Credit.

Next workshop:
(To be announced)

For more info: