Wind Energy Weekly Vol 15, # 700, June 1996


The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #700, 3 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


Texas campaign pushes efficiency and renewables


Study finds joint wind plant to be a good bet for Iowa munis


Texas Citizen Action (TCA) announced May 21 that it will deliver over 200 hand-written letters and 250,000 signatures from Texans calling for the use of renewables energy resources and energy conservation to meet the state's electric needs.

"This is the message we are bringing to the Governor, and to the PUC [Public Utilities Commission, and to the utility companies, from the people of Texas," said Peter Altman, a representative of Texas Citizen Action. "Texans want clean, sustainable energy. They want to use Texas' renewable resources, and they want to conserve energy to reduce bills."

Texas Citizen Action, which operates out of offices in Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Austin, has been educating and mobilizing the public about renewable energy and energy conservation since 1991. The letters have been collected in the last several weeks.

"People support renewables and conservation because they make sense for Texas," said Altman. "Texans understand that hiring people in other states to send us coal at a cost of over $1 billion per year doesn't make any sense. Texans understand that being a national leader in utility plant pollution is unacceptable. They understand that Texas can create more jobs, reduce pollution, and meet our energy needs at the same or lower costs than we pay today--by going with renewables and conservation."

The letters are directed at Governor George W. Bush (R), who appoints the PUC, the regulatory body that oversees public utilities. They ask the Governor to tell the PUC to require that utilities use renewable resources and energy conservation, Altman said. In response to legislation passed in 1995, the PUC is writing new rules that will govern how utilities plan to meet electric needs for the next several years. The legislature authorized but did not order the PUC to require renewables: "The Commission shall consider in addition to direct costs the following: . . . the appropriateness and reliability of the mix of resources; an appropriate and reliable mix of resources may include a portfolio of cost-effective sources of power including but not limited to resources that are fueled and non-fueled, such as renewable resources and conservation measures . . . "

Texas is second in the nation in potential to produce electricity from renewable resources, but ranks 45th in actual use, Altman said. By requiring renewables and conservation the state could shift a major portion of its job-creating energy expenditures back into Texas, creating a prosperous energy export industry. Other benefits would include dramatic reductions in pollution, more stable and lower electric bills, and an end to reliance on other states for the energy that drives the Texas economy.

AWEA joined the Texas Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition May 13 in a call to Gov. Bush to urge the PUC to adopt the Governor's concept of a "minimum benchmark" for renewable energy in future utility resource acquisitions.

AWEA urged its members in Texas, along with other renewable energy supporters, to join in writing to Gov. Bush on the issue.

AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher said the benchmark concept, which is included in the Governor's "Vision Texas" planning document sent recently to state department heads, fits well with AWEA's proposal of a Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which the wind group has been promoting as a means to ensure a minimum market for renewables in a restructured, competitive utility industry.

Under the RPS, a state would establish a minimum percentage level of renewable energy which any power supplier within the state must meet. Suppliers could comply with the requirement by building renewable energy generation themselves or by acquiring tradeable credits from other companies.

"The Renewables Portfolio Standard," Swisher said, "is designed to use market mechanisms instead of a complex and bureaucratic regulatory process to encourage the development and use of renewable energy.

"Texas is a very large state with abundant wind resources, and it stands to realize enormous amounts of income from future wind energy development on state-owned lands. Adopting a minimum benchmark for renewables is a good way to begin moving toward that goal."

Gary Mauro, the state's Land Commissioner, noted at a recent meeting in Austin that the Land Office had recently received its first monthly check, for $29,000, from a wind plant in west Texas (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #696, May 6, 1996). Mauro said the state expects to realize $3 million in rents over the life of the wind project.

Texas, which has for many years earned money by exporting oil and gas to other states, has very recently become a net energy importer. But the state has immense wind, solar and biomass resources that could easily make it self-sufficient once again. A report issued in February by the state's Sustainable Energy Development Council, for example, finds that the Texas's most windy lands could supply more electricity than the state uses today.

More information about AWEA's Renewables Portfolio Standard is available in the Policy section of AWEA's World Wide Web site at

For further information on the SEED initiative, contact Peter Altman, phone (512) 444-5288, e-mail


A recently-completed wind feasibility study for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) has found that a jointly-operated wind plant could be cost-competitive and have several advantages for Iowa municipal utilities.

The IAMU decided to conduct the study--completed, fittingly, by utility consultant Thomas Wind--following a Dec. 12, 1995, meeting where IAMU members expressed interest in the possibility of developing a joint wind plant (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #677, Dec. 18, 1995). The meeting had been arranged by Glenn Cannon of Waverly Light & Power (WL&P) of Waverly, Iowa--a municipal with an 80-kW wind turbine currently operating.

In August 1995, WL&P received a grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the purchase of two Zond Z-46 750-kW turbines to supply additional power to the WL&P grid. However, Cannon realized that wind regimes are far more favorable in northwest Iowa, so he began to consider the possibility of a partnership to develop a larger, shared plant in that part of the state. When Cannon presented his idea to other municipal utilities, he received broad support.

The study found that power from a jointly-owned windfarm in northwestern Iowa would cost around 3.2 cents/kWh, taking into account the federal Renewable Energy Production Incentive payment of 1.6 cents/kWh. Consultant Wind selected a site southwest of Peterson, Iowa, to use as a reference case in developing his price projections. Zond has land lease rights to this site and has indicated that it would hand them over to the utilities if Zond turbines are used.

Since WL&P had already selected the Z-46 for its own use, the Z-46 was used to make price estimates, which were based on the use of 15 turbines and a nameplate capacity of 10.5 MW. If Zond is not the successful bidder, an alternative site would have to be selected.

A 29% average annual capacity factor was assumed for the Z- 46 at the site, based on two years of wind speed data collected there. At that level of production, the windfarm would generate 1,778,000 kWh annually, or 1,725,000 kWh when wheeling losses are figured in.

The study projected that installed capital costs and financing costs per turbine would be about $750,000, for a total cost of $11.2 million for the installation, and concluded that if at least 8-10 large turbines are installed, the project would be feasible.

The study concluded that while wind may not be the least- cost resource choice, it is competitive with other fuel sources and there are other compelling reasons for its use. Consultant Wind noted that "Wind generation is being added [by U.S. utilities] primarly because of customers' concerns about fossil fuel use and its environmental impact." He suggested that several non-price factors should be considered, citing environmental benefits, economic development, and several public concerns such as pollution, global climate change, fossil fuel conservation, and development of local resources.

"Adding a renewable resource (such as wind generation) may be one way to show customers that the utility also shares their concerns about the environment and conservation of resources," said Wind. "Several utilities have recently concluded that becoming more 'green' is supported by their customers."

In conclusion, Wind said participation in the project would allow Iowa municipal utilities to:

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