Wind Energy Weekly #696, Vol 15, 6 May 96


The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #696, 6 May 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


REPP predicts world will turn to renewable energy NWCC to look at distributed generation


19.8-MW Costa Rican windfarm complete GMP positions itself for retail access


While growing energy use worldwide has "played a huge role in improving living conditions for most humans . . . the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation has played an equally large part in our growing environmental predicament," according to three researchers from the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP), a new nonprofit research organization based at the University of Maryland.

"[T]he time has come for decisive action . . . to deploy renewable technologies on a large scale," write Irving Mintzer, Alan Miller, and Adam Serchuk of REPP in a paper, The Environmental Imperative: A Driving Force in the Development and Deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies. "The rationale for such action is clear," they add: "[G]lobal energy systems developed their current appetite for fossil fuels only through an economic sleight of hand which permits energy consumers to ignore the staggering environmental costs of their choices.

"Future energy systems, whether they rely on markets or governmental mandates, must manifest greater economic honesty. Once they do so, we believe that the world will turn increasingly to renewable energy."

Mintzer, Miller, and Serchuk assemble a formidable list of environmental and related human health impacts from fossil fuels:

Since global energy demand seems certain to rise, as energy use in the developing world increases, "environmentally sustainable economic development require[s] maturation and deployment of low-emission fuel sources," namely nuclear or renewables, write Mintzer, Miller and Serchuk. Nuclear fission remains hobbled by a variety of political and physical problems, and fusion is still "out of reach. Thus, hedging against environmental disaster while pursuing reasonable economic growth seems to require increased exploitation of renewable energy."

For a copy of The Environmental Imperative: A Driving Force in the Development and Deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies, contact Adam Serchuk of the Project, phone (301) 403-4165, e-mail


Merrill International and Kenetech Windpower have nearly completed construction of a 19.8-MW windfarm located in Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province southwest of the city of San Jose.

The project, the first commercial-scale windfarm in Central America, still requires completion of transmission lines. The project is currently undergoing a 30-45 day mechanical testing period, after which it will begin selling power to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica's state utility. The power purchase agreement for the project was signed in February, 1995 (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #633, February 6, 1995).

The project was jointly developed by Merrill, Kenetech, and Charter Oak Energy, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities. It is the first in a series of wind projects the partnership hopes to develop in the region. The windfarm has been approved under the U.s. Initiative on Joint Implementation, a cooperative international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The Sustainable Development Subcommittee of the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) is considering developing a white paper on distributed wind energy applications which would look at barriers to those applications and possible approaches.

The issue was assigned to the Subcommittee at the NWCC meeting in Austin, Tex., on May 1 in response to a letter from Christopher Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute, Bill Grant of the Izaak Walton League, and Michael Tennis of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In the letter, the three noted that the NWCC heard a presentation on distributed wind at a meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., last fall, and added, "Much has happened in this country in the last six months . . . to pique our interest in the distributed wind concept.

"As a result of impending industry restructuring, many electric utilities have backed away from plans to purchase wind power in large blocks from developers. However, restructuring may offer opportunities for small generators, including renewable generators, to compete for customers with fair access to the [utility system].

"This vision is particularly appealing in the rural Midwest, where the wind resource is excellent, the need for diversification of rural economies is great, and a strong tradition of cooperative ownership to preserve local control already exists in the form of value-added co-ops for grain storage, bulk fuel purchase, ethanol production, and the like."

Wind development in Europe, the three said, has occurred in large part through installation of single turbines by landowners or of small groups of machines by wind cooperatives. This is especially the case in Denmark, which has enacted several policies and incentives to encourage individual and co-op purchases. For example, profits from wind cooperative turbine operations are exempt from taxes up to an amount equal to 150% of an investor's electricity bills.

Investors wishing to develop small projects in the U.S., however, face a series of obstacles, according to Flavin, Grant, and Tennis, including "[L]ack of access to affordable and reliable wind speed data; disadvantageous economies of scale for equipment purchase, installation, maintenance, and project financing; and high transaction costs in bidding and negotiating power contracts, grid interconnections, and state/local regulatory approvals."

The three urged the NWCC to sponsor a white paper that will "include a comparative assessment of the opportunities and barriers . . . with quantitative evaluation of potential costs and benefits of distributed wind; a qualitative assessment of the type and severity of barriers facing distributed wind; and a laundry list of mechanisms to address these barriers, including federal/state policy options."


Green Mountain Power Corp. (GMP), of South Burlington, Vt., announced April 24 that it has formed an alliance with three other energy companies to take advantage of the pilot retail access program soon to be implemented in New Hampshire.

The partnership, called Green Mountain Energy Partners (GMEP), includes GMP, Hydro-Quebec; Consolidated Natural Gas Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., and natural gas distributor Noverco, Inc., of Montreal, Quebec. The four companies have joined forces to bolster their competitiveness in the emerging retail energy market.

As a practice run, GMEP plans to participate in the experimental retail access program planned by New Hampshire. The program will allow 3% of the state's electricity customers--about 17,000--to choose their utility beginning May 28. Participants in the experiment will be charged a small distribution fee by their original utilities, and then will be billed for the rest of their electricity service by whichever provider they select. Utilities wishing to compete for customers must register with the state by May 1.

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August 27, 1996
Contact: Jessica Maier, (202) 383-2500


The Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), a proposed policy under which states could achieve a desired level of electric power generation from renewable energy sources by requiring power suppliers to obtain tradeable renewable energy credits, is the most economically efficient policy option for encouraging renewables development in a restructured utility industry, according to an article in the July issue of the ELECTRICITY JOURNAL.

The article, penned by Nancy Rader, AWEA's West Coast representative and the creator of the RPS concept, and Richard Norgaard, a professor of energy and resources at the University of California at Berkeley, states that, although many argue that the market will automatically work to choose the cheapest and most beneficial power source, it possesses inherent imperfections which could potentially discriminate against renewables and the benefits they offer to society. These market imperfections which must be overcome include:

The RPS, according to Rader and Norgaard, is the most efficient policy option for overcoming these barriers and for responding to the public's strong preference for renewable resources and a more sustainable energy future. It is competitively neutral, does not require complex, bureaucratic administration, and makes good economic sense.

Green pricing and green marketing programs, under which a supplier would offer consumers power from renewables at a premium price, are inadequate, the article says, because while some programs can reduce transaction costs faced by renewable generators, these programs do not address the other market barriers faced by renewables. Green pricing programs tried to date have met with unimpressive results.

A second alternative to the RPS, the Systems Benefit Charge (SBC) concept, would impose a charge on all distribution customers to be pooled and used to pay for renewables. The SBC is a necessary tool for promoting demand side management, low-income assistance, and pre-commercial renewables, Rader and Norgaard argue, but it is less desirable as a means of spurring commercially ready renewables because it is bureaucratically cumbersome and prone to program pitfalls. While the RPS transforms the market by involving all suppliers in an effort to achieve renewables goals in the most cost-effective manner, the SBC marginalizes renewables. The RPS is a market-based, economically efficient policy that will allow renewables to compete in the market without any of the complications other policy options might cause.

Copies of "Efficiency and Sustainability in Restructured Electricity Markets: The Renewables Portfolio Standard" are available by contacting Jessica Maier at AWEA, phone (202) 383-2500. Additional information on the RPS is available through AWEA's World Wide Web site at http://www.econet. org/awea or by contacting AWEA. For inquiries specific to the referenced article, please contact Nancy Rader, (510) 845-5077.

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