Wind Energy Weekly #690


                       LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
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                          July 12, 1996


House To Vote Soon On Schaefer-Klug Amendment To Restore Renewable Energy Programs

Representatives Schaefer, Klug, Minge, Thurman and Salmon have agreed to offer a bi-partisan amendment on the House floor to restore renewable energy funding and stop Congress from terminating several leading clean-energy programs. The amendment will be taken up when the House considers the FY97 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill as early as next week (July 14-20).

The House Energy and Water bill as approved by Subcommittee would cut DOE's renewable energy programs by roughly 20% -- on top of last year's cut of roughly 30%. This would devastate DOE's efforts to help American industry develop and deploy clean energy technologies. The Subcommittee also targeted several programs for immediate termination, including wind energy -- a leading renewable technology that is booming in world markets. The Subcommittee's proposal to terminate wind energy programs would not only set back clean energy efforts, but would also cripple the American wind industry's ability to compete in fast-paced global markets.

The Schaefer-Klug amendment will restore funding for all renewable energy programs to their current year levels (FY96) without adding to the deficit or jeopardizing other programs in the bill. Grassroots support is vital to its success.



You can contact your Representative by writing:

                                Representative _______________
                                U.S. House of Representatives
                                Washington, D.C. 20515

or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121.

For More Information Contact:
        Karl Gawell or Sheila McNamara
        The American Wind Energy Association

The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #690, 25 March 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. 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

Australian green pricing experiment hits a snag Pollution seen causing collapse of U.S. forests Public supports environment in new national poll


Snohomish PUD to consider dedicating funds to renewables


In the aftermath of its decision against purchasing power from the 31.25-MW wind plant planned for the Columbia Hills of Washington (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #688, March 11, 1996), the Snohomish County (Wash.) Public Utility District (PUD) is exploring other renewables options to meet its stated goals of encouraging environmentally-friendly projects. One possibility is dedicating part of its budget to renewables development and "green" programs.

At a March 12 meeting, the PUD was presented with several options for encouraging renewables, including surcharges to fund such programs, green solicitations, and marketing strategies to sell renewables to customers. By the end of the meeting, the Commissioners had ordered its staff to explore the possibility of asking customers to decide whether $2.75 million from the PUD's annual budget--about $1 per customer per month--should be reserved for renewable energy and "green" projects over a five- year period. "It's only a point of discussion right now," said David Aldredge of the PUD staff. The Commission will consider its options again at a meeting this week.

According to Nancy Holbrook of Northwest Environmental Advocates (NEA), the PUD is being purposefully vague in its description of the type of projects it would pursue because it wants to meet its goal to develop environmentally beneficial projects, but is fearful of the uncertainties that utility deregulation creates. "They say they want to develop renewables of projects with an environmentally beneficial effect--this could mean they will buy an electric vehicle or plant trees," Holbrook pointed out. NEA is working with the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP), however, to encourage the PUD to stick with wind power.

"We are still hoping that under this green program we can get the utility to commit to some renewables development," said Pete West of RNP. "Although this is not what we asked for [originally], it is still an opportunity to develop renewables."


Six months after the launch of a "green tariff" program by Australian utility CitiPower (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #673, November 20, 1995), the innovative but ill-starred scheme appears to have hit rough waters. While CitiPower--an electricity distributor operating in Melbourne--has not formally announced the initiative's withdrawal, the company doesn't seem to be putting much effort into its success.

Initially CitiPower planned a green tariff at a premium of 20%. Results from an extensive customer survey process indicated this would lead to 10% of customers opting for the package in 3-5 years. This in turn would have resulted in at least 50 MW of grid-connected renewables.

Unfortunately the tariff concept ran afoul, somewhat ironically, of consumer protection regulation. Under maximum uniform tariff regulations designed to guard customers from price-gouging after privatization, the Regulator-General, Robin Davies, ruled that the 20% premium was unacceptable. Jim Plowman, the Minister for Energy, has refused to comment when asked whether these regulations should apply to electricity supplied from renewable sources at the customer's request.

CitiPower hastily moved to offer 'EcoUnits' for A$10 each, a price which corresponds to the extra cost of producing 400 kWh annually of power from wind and solar. This scheme has been criticized as difficult to understand for the majority of electricity customers. As Alan Pears, the doyen of local energy and environment consultants, says, "EcoUnits are not so simple as the green tariff, so they will be more difficult to market. A green tariff is a simple, integrated option with a clear outcome."

Another problem for the initiative is the lack of any clear commitment from CitiPower's new owners. Entergy, a large American utility active in several southern states--purchased CitiPower late in 1995. This led to the rapid departure of CEO Shane Breheny and his replacement with an American appointee, Tom Wright. While Breheny had made public statements in support of renewables, the new owners have as yet shown no such interest.

CitiPower has modest renewable generation capacity, consisting of 70 kW of wind-turbines and around 20 kW of photovoltaic panels. This small amount is enough to provide electricity for around 30 homes out of CitiPower's 240,000+ customers. Unfortunately, the company hasn't been marketing the scheme and doesn't plan to add any significant quantity of generation plant. Indeed, at the rate of generation capacity addition achieved over the last 12 months, reaching the 20 MW of renewable capacity announced at the press launch last September will take CitiPower over 1,000 years.

Despite all these problems the basic idea of user-pay renewables still looks sound in terms of its appeal to the community. CitiPower has had so much interest in the scheme that they are only allowing each customer to purchase two EcoUnits!

The other existing Australian green power scheme seems to be on firmer ground. Energy Australia (EA)--the rather grandiloquent name chosen for the company formed by the merger of Orion Energy and Sydney Electricity in New South Wales--is ramping up the "GreenPower" scheme. EA plans to offer commercial, industrial, and domestic green tariffs at a premium of up to 40% to the 1.2 million accounts serviced by the new organization. Ian Nichols, manager of Sustainable Technologies for EA, says that details of the initial market trial of the scheme are currently before the new board.

Assuming board members give their assent, Nichols will call for expressions of interest in the 1-2 MW of generation capacity to be offered in the trial. Once this begins in May Nichols hopes the level of demand will be enough to allow full scale implementation of the plan starting towards the end of 1996. Nichols is still confident the scheme will result in 50 MW of renewables added to the grid in the next 5 years. This will build on Sydney Electricity's already active program of adding PV installations around Sydney.

When asked why the scheme is moving more slowly than previously planned, Nichols said that this was due to the merger process and the normal delays associated with a new product. He's comfortable working with the new board, saying that they have already approved the GreenPower concept and the market trial. The board see GreenPower as "a major part of the environment strategy." He says there is some concern over what he calls the "chicken and egg" nature of a green tariff--a company can't attract customers without generation capacity but financiers are reluctant to approve expenditure for plant without demonstrated customer support.

Nichols says EA has begun a wind monitoring program on 40- meter towers at the site of a proposed 5-MW windfarm in its service area. He hopes this will reveal a wind regime similar to the 7.5-m/s (17 mph) average at a weather station 2 km distant. [Editor's Note: David Coote is a free-lance writer residing in Australia.]

@copyright David Coote 1996


Air pollution and a variety of other human impacts are causing serious damage to U.S. forests, according to a THE DYING OF THE TREES: THE PANDEMIC IN AMERICA'S FORESTS, a new book by environmental policy analyst and journalist Charles Little.

The Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency reported March 14 that Little's book "blames tree deaths on acid rain as is the case in New England, North Carolina and Indiana, or killer smog in the case of California," and elsewhere on pesticides, heavy metals produced by burning fossil fuels, and other causes.

"Some argue that the progression of tree death and forest decline in this century, and especially since World War II, is either coincidence or a matter of selective reporting," Little writes in "America's Trees Are Dying," an article based on his book and adapted for the environmental magazine EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL. "Everything is all right; it is just the natural ebb and flow of nature. But that is not what I have learned from the scores of scientific scholars I have interviewed, and the mountain of papers I have studied. They say something else. What these distinguished sources are describing is a pandemic--an epidemic that is everywhere."

Fossil fuels rank high on Little's list of villains: "[Should we r]educe the pollution caused by gluttonous fossil- fuel energy use? Yes, of course. But not to the level of 1990, as the policymakers suggest and have legislated. Trees were dying long before that. The mid-50s would be closer to the mark." Causes of forest decline he identifies as linked to fossil fuels include:

Little offers no easy answers, and in fact suggests that the problem may not be one that can be solved: "In the course of my research, I have learned things I wish I had not learned. I have learned that the trees are dying. And that the more trees die, the more will die. I have learned that we have crossed the threshold. And I simply do not know how we can get back safely to the other side." The full text of the EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL Article is available on the World Wide Web at


By a nearly two to one margin, voters oppose Congressional cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget, according to a recent public opinion survey conducted for the Clean Air Trust by the Democratic polling firm Lake Research, Inc.

The poll also found overwhelming support for the view that the agency should enforce air and water pollution laws "more aggressively" than it does now, the Clean Air Trust said in a news release. Of those surveyed, 55 percent backed stronger enforcement, while 19 percent preferred to see the EPA "increase flexibility and rely more on voluntary compliance . . . "

The survey is one of several in recent months that have suggested that Congressional backers of legislation to weaken environmental laws may be out of step with the American public. Nearly three of four voters, the release said, believe the environment should be an important priority for the next President, and "nearly 60 percent say they'd vote against candidates who want to relax clean air and clean water laws." The view that the environment is important extended across the electorate, with 71 percent overall calling it either a "top priority" or "very important."

The random sample of 1,010 registered voters was conducted January 21-23 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.


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For immediate release: July 10, 1996 Contact: Karl Gawell, (202) 383-2500


The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee today voted to eliminate all funding for the federal wind energy research and development (R&D) program in the coming year.

"The Subcommittee vote is a vote to abandon U.S. industry in the competition to dominate the world's fastest-growing energy market," said Karl Gawell, Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "Wind energy is likely to be one of the most important new sources of manufacturing jobs in the next decade and century, but the Subcommittee would have us throw in the towel just as the world market begins to grow."

AWEA forecasts that world wind energy equipment sales, which grew by 20% in 1994 and 35% last year, will total more than $18 billion through the year 2005. Terminating the program now, AWEA said, will:

"The wind R&D program costs the average American less than 20 cents a year--a trivial price to pay for the potential benefits," Gawell said. "Congress must look beyond protecting the profits of the coal and oil industries. Terminating the wind program will undercut the U.S. wind industry's ability to compete in a burgeoning world market and will result in more air and water pollution from fossil fuels, damaging public health and the environment."


AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. AWEA's membership of over 800 includes turbine and component manufacturers, project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals from 49 states.


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For immediate release: July 11, 1996 Contact: Karl Gawell, (202) 383-2500


The following statement was issued today by Karl Gawell, Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association:

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), who chairs the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, released the provisions of his utility restructuring bill, the Electricity Consumers' Power to Choose Act of 1996.

We are pleased to see that Rep. Schaefer's bill includes a requirement for the supply of electricity from new renewable energy sources such as wind--a proposal that is very similar in form and intent to the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) that AWEA has been championing in state utility deregulation proceedings.

More specifically, Rep. Schaefer's proposed legislation would require that total electricity generation from several renewables (biomass, landfill gas, geothermal, solar, and wind) be 2% of all generation through 2004, 3% from 2005 through 2010, and 4% thereafter. These levels of supply are to be achieved through a system of tradeable credits patterned after the successful system of credits established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

In addition, Rep. Schaefer's bill preserves the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) until this new system of support for renewable energy technologies is in place, and also maintains the sanctity of existing power purchase contracts under PURPA. Both of these provisions are ones that AWEA has advocated in proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Congress.

In proposing a competitive market that will preserve the significant progress already made by renewables from the potential market disruption of deregulation, Rep. Schaefer has taken a bold and visionary step toward a clean energy future for America. Enormous strides have been made toward reducing the price and improving the productivity of wind electric generating equipment over the past decade, and it is vital to make sure that the orderly progress of this technology toward the commercial marketplace continues.

The adoption of a minimum requirement for renewable energy generation will do much to help ensure that utility deregulation does not jeopardize our nation's environment, air quality, and public health.

AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. AWEA's membership of over 800 includes turbine and component manufacturers, project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals from 49 states.

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