Community Owned

Community Wind projects get a boost from Washington State

Washington State August 30, 2010 The State of Washington has awarded Cascade Community Wind Company (CCWC) one million dollars (30% grant 70% low interest loan) to help install up to eight community wind turbines before December 2011. According to CWCC, the funds will leverage approximately $10 million of private and federal funds.

The CCWC Blog says they were selected as one of the State’s best bets for spending the states allocation of ARRA stimulus money to further renewable energy in the state of Washington.

Of particular significance to the State Energy Program are CCWC’s ongoing efforts to remove barriers to distributed community renewable energy projects in general. Press Release

In related news, Cascade celebrated a groundbreaking, August 30, on the first Farmer Owned Community Wind turbines in Washington state.

Report Uses Cases Studies to Explore Community Wind

Lessons & Concepts for Advancing Community Wind, released by The Minnesota Project, seeks to advance the development of community-based wind projects in the United States by drawing keys to success and policy recommendations from three compelling Midwestern case studies.

Wind energy continues to experience double digit growth rates because of the relatively cheap technology and the widespread availability of wind resources, and numerous studies have now shown that locally-owned wind projects produce disproportionate benefits to the local community and region where they are built. This presents community wind energy development as a stand-out opportunity for communities across America to pursue locally-owned projects that will help meet their electricity needs and contribute to energy independence while also providing tremendous economic benefits. 

Report Contents:

  • Section I: Community Wind Case Studies
    • Winona County, MN
    • City of Willmar, MN
    • Miner County, SD
  • Section II: Keys to Success
    • Visioning & Planning
    • Project Leadership
    • Involving the Community
    • Financing & Pricing
  • Section III: Solutions for Advancing Community Wind
    • Dispersed Generation Studies
    • Siting & Permitting Standardization
    • Establishing or Improving C-BED Legislation
    • Rural Utility Service Loans
    • Investment Tax Credit or Cash Grant
    • Net Metering
    • Advanced Renewable Tariffs
    • Standard Offer Contracts
    • Increasing Renewable Portfolio Standards

Massachusetts Community-Scale Wind Initiative Funding

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (MassCEC) Community-Scale Wind Initiative awards grants for qualifying wind projects with a nameplate capacity greater than or equal to 100 kilowatts (kW.) A project is eligible for funding if it is located at a commercial, industrial, institutional, or public site, and if the electric system will be served by a Massachusetts investor-owned electric utility company or a Municipal Light Plant Department that pays into the Renewable Energy Trust Fund. MassCEC will provide financial and technical support to wind projects through the different development stages.

MassCEC offers support for three stages of the Community Scale development process: 1) services for high level site assessment, available for public projects only (please submit a Public Wind Site Assessment Application); 2) feasibility study grant support for in-depth technical and economic feasibility analyses; and 3) grants for design and construction support. 

Applications for Block 3 of Community-Scale Wind are due on May 4, 2010. Block 3 is projected to have $2 million available for grant funding. The Block 3 awards will be granted based on a competitive selection process.

Economic Development Impacts of Community Wind Projects: A Review and Empirical Evaluation

“Economic Development Impacts of Community Wind Projects: A Review and Empirical Evaluation” by E. Lantz and S. Tegen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in April 2009.

Community wind projects have long been touted (both anecdotally and in the literature) to increase the economic development impacts of wind projects, but most analyses of community wind have been based on expected results from hypothetical projects. This report provides a review of previous economic development analyses of community wind projects and compares these projected results with empirical impacts from projects currently in operation.

Read the Report

Community Renewable Energy Deployment Projects Funded by DOE

Washington, DC, January 21, 2010 - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the selection of five projects to receive more than $20.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support deployment of community-based renewable energy projects, such as biomass, wind and solar installations. These projects will promote investment in clean energy infrastructure that will create jobs, help communities provide long-term renewable energy and save consumers money. They will also serve as models for other local governments, campuses or small utilities to replicate, allowing other communities to design projects that fit their individual size and energy demands.

"Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio."

—Steven Chu, U.S. Dept.
of Energy Secretary

“Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio,” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help create jobs, expand our clean energy economy, and help us cut carbon pollution at the local level.”

The selected projects will be leveraged with approximately $167 million in local government and private industry funding. DOE estimates that these projects will provide enough clean, renewable energy to displace the emissions of approximately 10,700 homes.

Projects selected for awards include:

City of Montpelier (Montpelier, VT)
This project will further Montpelier's energy goals by supporting installation of a 41 MMBtu combined heat and power district energy system fueled with locally-sourced renewable and sustainably-harvested wood chips. The CHP system will be sized to provide heating to the Vermont Capitol Complex, city owned schools, the City Hall Complex, and up to 156 buildings in the community's designated downtown district for a total of 176 buildings and 1.8 million square feet served. By providing 1.8 million KWh of power to the grid, the system will maximize its operating efficiency and reduce thermal costs for users in the community. Montpelier will conduct outreach to encourage replication regionally and nationally through its project partners, the Biomass Energy Resource Center, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Veolia Energy North America. DOE share: $8,000,000 

Forest County Potawatomi Tribe (Forest County, WI)
The Forest County Potowatomi Tribe proposes to implement an integrated renewable energy deployment plan that will provide heating, cooling and electricity for the Tribe's governmental buildings, displacing natural gas and propane. The renewable energy installations will include: a 1.25 MW biomass combined heat and power facility that will provide heating, cooling and electricity; a biogas digester and 150 kW generation facility; three 100 kW wind turbines (788,400 kWh/year); and three dual-axis 2.88 kW solar PV panels (14,000 kWh/yr) located at the Tribe's Governmental Center. DOE share: $2,500,000

Phillips County (Holyoke, CO)
This project proposes a community-owned 30 MW wind energy project with an ultimate goal to build a 650MW wind farm within Sedgwick, Phillips, and Logan counties in Northeastern Colorado. This project will impact the local economy by sharing the project's revenues with local landowners and other project participants, by generating local jobs, substantial property taxes, and providing clean renewable energy for the area's primary communities. Plans for sharing this ownership model are part of the business plan and will be coordinated with DOE to increase national delivery of the message. DOE share: $2,500,000

 Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) (Sacramento, CA)
SMUD will install the state's first-ever ‘Solar Highway', which will feature three PV system installations on 2 miles of highway right-of-ways (300kW of concentrating PV, and 400 and 800 kW of flat plate PV distributed at 2 sites), with total capacity of 1.5 MW. SMUD will also install a full scale co-digestion process of fats, oil and grease (FOG) and liquid food processing waste with sewage to produce biogas with estimated power recovery of 1 - 3 MW, and install two low-NOx anaerobic digesters fed by two dairy facilities that will produce 500 kW of combined heat and power, and generate 600 kW of electricity through a molten carbonate fuel cell. The projects will demonstrate that solar PV and anaerobic digesters can be readily implemented through collaborative partnerships, and avoid siting issues and transmission constraints that pose barriers to renewable energy capacity additions. SMUD will partner with the State of California (CEC, CalTrans, and CARB) and DOE to promote replication of their approaches, technologies and implementation strategies statewide and nationally. DOE share: $5,000,000

University of California at Davis (Davis, CA)
UC Davis' proposed Waste-to-Renewable Energy (WTRE) system is one component of a campus oriented mixed housing and commercial development venture. The system would generate power from a renewable biogas fed fuel cell. The organic waste will enter a receiving station in which it can be collected and prepared for digestion. Once the appropriate mix has been created in buffer tanks, the waste will flow to the reactor where methanogenic bacteria will generate methane and carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc. These gases will flow to the Bio-methane Upgrade System for hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide removal, so that cleanup is to a level appropriate for use in a fuel cell system, and the cleaned gas is stored. Housed alongside the WTRE system within the Community Energy Park will be an advanced storage battery and a 300kW fuel cell that will be fueled by the on-site biogas and provides electric power to West Village end-users. DOE share: $2,500,000 

Stimulus Incentives Benefit Community Wind

A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals how the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) and cash grant equivalent have increased benefits for the development of Community Wind projects. “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects” analyzes the impact of new federal policies for wind farm investment incentives introduced this year as part of the U.S. economic stimulus program.

Historically, the production tax credit (PTC) has been the primary incentive for wind farm development, but the PTC requires passive income that only certain equity investors can leverage. The ITC and cash grant equivalent now available to qualified projects have reshaped the financial landscape for renewable energy development by lowering the hurdles for investors to obtain tax credits as well as providing cash grant equivalents for upfront capital. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included provisions that eliminated the ITC's anti-double-dipping (or "haircut") provision for subsidized energy financing.

“Many of these ancillary benefits circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

-Mark Bolinger,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Mark Bolinger, the report's author, argues that while the stimulus changes were intended for the wind energy markets in general, they have been a blessing in disguise for community wind project development in the United States.

“It stands to reason that community wind, which has had more difficulty using the PTC than has commercial wind, may benefit disproportionately from this newfound ability to choose among these federal incentives. This report confirms this hypothesis,” says Bolinger. “Just as important are a handful of ancillary benefits that accompany the 30% ITC and/or cash grant, but not the PTC. Many of these ancillary benefits—including relief from the alternative minimum tax, passive credit limitations, and certain PTC ‘haircuts’—circumvent barriers that have plagued community wind projects in the United States for years.”

The report compares two financing structures, the Strategic Investor Partnership Flip and the Cooperative LLC, finding that the “Strategic Investor Flip structure benefits significantly more from choosing the ITC over the PTC than it does from switching to the 30% cash grant. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for the Cooperative LLC structure, which does not benefit much from selecting the ITC over the PTC, but realizes a tremendous amount of value by choosing the 30% cash grant over the ITC.”

This report, “Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and Treasury Cash Grant Provide To Community Wind Projects,” and others are available at the Electricity Markets and Policy Renewable Energy Publications section of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory web site.

Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry, served as a draft reviewer for this report.

New Community Wind Financing Handbook

The Environmental Law & Policy Center has published an updated version of the Community Wind Financing Handbook. This guide reflects new financing opportunities available from federal energy and economic stimulus legislation, the new Farm Bill, and state incentives.

Community Wind Financing Handbook

Since ELPC published the first edition of the Community Wind Financing Guide in 2004, wind power has become the United States' fastest-growing source of electricity. Community wind projects, which represent a small but growing share of the wind market, are largely owned by farmers and other local investors with a significant economic stake in the project. Such local ownership generates powerful economic and social benefits for rural areas.

The updated Handbook provides the latest information on financing community wind projects, including ownership structures, roles of financial intermediaries, sources of federal and state financial support and consultant/developer directories. Although building these projects has become somewhat easier over time, understanding and accessing financing opportunities remains perhaps the most important requirement for a successful project.

The Handbook can be downloaded at no cost on the ELPC web site from the link below.

Windustry Webinar - PTC, ITC or Cash Grant?

Webinar Series: Financing for Community Wind and Community Energy Projects

This is a recording of the first in a four-part webinar series at no charge that will provide attendees with vital information regarding Community Wind and Community Energy project financing in the new policy environment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Windustry Webinar

PTC, ITC or Cash Grant:
Where should a community wind developer begin?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This webinar presented information about:

  • The opportunities relating to each incentive as outlined in the ARRA
  • What it takes to get a U.S. Treasury Cash Grant in lieu of tax credits, including:
    • How to access the funds
    • How and when to get project costs certified
    • What to expect in the application process
    • What the requirements are for submission

Moderator:
Lisa Daniels, Windustry

Panelists:
Jim Duffy, Nixon Peabody LLP
Forrest David Milder, Nixon Peabody LLP
Matt Ferguson, Reznick Group
Julie Newland, Reznick Group
Kevin Schulte, Sustainable Energy Developments

 

A transcript in Adobe Reader (PDF) format is also available in the link below:
Windustry Webinar Transcript

This webinar was presented by Windustry.
Windustry

In-kind sponsorship of this webinar was provided by National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Nixon Peabody LLP, Reznick Group, and Sustainable Energy Developments (SED).

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Reznick Group
Nixon Peabody LLP Sustainable Energy Developments

Seed Grants Available for Community Wind Projects in Minnesota

The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is providing financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions (Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central).

All applications are due no later than 4:30pm, November 2nd, 2009.

The primary objectives of this funding project are to:

  1. Encourage the implementation of community‐based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and
  2. Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES).

Visit the CERTs website to learn more about this opportunity and to download the application materials. You can also read more about previous projects that were successful in receiving these funds.

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