Wind Energy Weekly #702, Vol 15, June 1996


The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #702, 17 June 1996, published by the American Wind Energy Association. The full text of the WEEKLY is available in hardcopy form for $595/year and is recommended for those with a serious commercial interest in wind (the electronic edition contains only excerpts). A monthly hardcopy publication, the WINDLETTER, more suitable for those interested in residential wind systems is included with a $50/year individual membership in the Association. AWEA's goal is to promote wind energy as a clean and environmentally superior source of electricity. Anyone sharing this goal is invited to become a member--please help!. For more information on the Association, contact AWEA, 122 C Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20001, USA, phone (202) 383-2500, fax (202) 383-2505, email Or visit our World Wide Web site at ENERGY OUTLOOK

Texas utility's customers back efficiency, renewables Little effect on birds at one Spanish site, study finds


"Central Power and Light had better start working on energy efficiency and renewable energy if they are going to satisfy customers," said Karl R. Rabago, Environmental Defense Fund 's (EDF) national energy program manager, about results from an innovative polling exercise conducted June 1-2 by the Texas utility. CP&L gathered a representative sample of electric customers in Corpus Christi to discuss options for meeting a projected need for new electric resources.

Rabago, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, participated in the meeting as an expert on those technologies. CP&L says it needs 200-400 MW of new electric capacity by the year 2000, and given delays for regulatory approvals, this means the company must start the approval process now. A "Deliberative Polling(TM)" exercise was used by the company to determine customer preferences. Identical polls were conducted before and after the discussion process, and the results were released June 10.

The poll brought surprises in a number of areas. Highlights of the results include:

"This marks the first time a utility has involved a statistically representative sample of customers in the process of resource planning," said Rabago. "CP&L has taken a very positive step as a utility toward satisfying the requirement of public participation, as required by integrated resource planning requirements passed into law last year. This is why consumers and environmental advocates fought so hard for IRP [Integrated Resource Planning]."

IRP became law in Texas last year, although the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has yet to adopt final rules. "EDF hopes the PUC will look closely at these polling results, and ensure that the final IRP rules will ensure customers get what they want from their utility," concluded Rabago. "Texas customers want an increased effort to make energy use more efficient, cleaner, and more renewable--all without compromising reliability. There is a huge untapped demand for clean energy that customers will buy if they are allowed to choose. With aggressive efforts to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy to complement our low-priced natural gas resources, Texas can get more jobs, more power, cleaner air and a brighter future."

"Customers grasped the issues and came up to speed quickly," said Professor James Fishkin, chairman of the Government Department at the University of Texas at Austin and originator of the concept of the Deliberative Poll(TM). "They went from 'off the top of the head' opinions to a sophisticated discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the options. It was not an easy process for them, but after about 12 hours of discussion, they felt informed and empowered--especially by the dialogue with the PUC commissioners.

"The participants loved the process," Fishkin added. Seventy-three percent gave it a perfect '10' on a 10-point scale, and 67% thought that the dialogue with the PUCT commissioners was 'very valuable.'

"It's obvious that customers place a high value on doing everything possible to eliminate or reduce the need through energy efficiency programs as a first course of action. "It is also significant that many customers seemed to believe that renewable energy could meet all of CPL's future energy needs prior to the Deliberative Poll(TM)," Fishkin said. "While that view changed after deliberation, it's clear that customers strongly believe that renewable energy should be a part of the energy resource mix and that they are willing to pay extra for renewable energy.

"The customers sample was highly representative in terms of both demographics and attitudes," Fishkin continued. "We had, in effect, all of CPL's customers in one room where they could come to thoughtful and more informed conclusions. The changes were large and statistically significant because the participants had not thought about these issues much before the process began."

The results of the meetin will be evaluated as a part of the integrated resource plan that CPL plans to file this fall. While the ultimate responsibility for CPL's resource plan falls the company, the results of the poll send some very clear signals regarding customer preferences, according to CPL President Bruce Evans.


A study of the effect on local bird populations of a 10-MW wind power plant in Tarifa, Spain, near the Straits of Gibraltar has concluded that the facility did not have "an important impact on the birds present in its surroundings and, on the contrary, created a new habitat for some species of birds not present in adjacent areas."

The study, which was reported at the recent European Wind Energy Conference in Sweden, was funded by Ecotecnia, the wind plant developer. The Estacion Biologica de Donana designed the study and was responsible for interpreting the data.

The Ecotecnia project consists of 66 150-kW turbines approximately 40 meters in height, situated in a single row on a north-south mountain ridge. Observations of nesting birds in the wind plant were slightly higher than in two comparable control areas, a fact the study attributed to nests in "small crests or rocks" absent in the control areas. Observations of roosting birds in the wind plant were somewhat lower than in one control area, but similar to the other.

Migrating birds, however, were far more common over the wind site, with nearly four times as many being recorded as over the control areas. Notes the study, "A total of 72,000 birds were recorded, most of them passing above the wind farm, but at a higher altitude than over the other two areas.

"Average flight altitude in the wind farm was more than 100 m, while in the other two areas birds flew at about 60 m above the mountain ridge. . . .

"Weekly visits were made to all the wind turbines to check any collision incidents. The visit frequency was actually higher when other activities near the turbines not directly related to bird collision registration were conducted. Two birds, a griffon vulture and [a] short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus), collided with a turbine in the course of the 16 months of study at the wind farm. Annual passage of vultures over the farm is estimated to be about 45,000, and annual passage of eagles about 2,500.

"Therefore, [the] collision rate at the wind farm was considered to be low. The figure of griffon vulture collision[s] with power lines is higher than the observed rate at the wind farm and even so it is considered to be low.

"On the whole, the wind farm did not prove to represent an important impact on the birds present in its surroundings. On the contrary, the wind farm created a new habitat for some species of birds not present in adjacent areas.

"Although a reaction to the wind farm could be observed in bird flight behavior, differences in flight frequency were such that there were no indications of the wind farm obstructing the passage of birds at all. Bird mortality was recorded but could be considered insignificant when weighed against other bird mortality causes."

"Bird Impact Study on the 10-MW Wind Farm of La Pena (Tarifa)" was authored by N. Cererola and A. Martinez of Ecotecnia and M. Ferrer of Estacion Biologica de Donana.

BACK TO *********************************************************************