EREN Network News
March 14, 2001
News and Events
- L.A. to Draw 10 Percent of City Power from Renewable Energy
- Neutrogena to Install 200-Kilowatt Solar Electric System
- Eighty-Megawatt Wind Facility Planned for Northern Texas
- Northwest Struggles to Balance Fish, Hydropower Needs
- Biodegradable Cold Drink Cups to be Made from Corn
Energy Facts and Tips
- British Association for Biofuels and Oils
About this Newsletter
- EIA Publishes "Renewable Energy Annual 2000"
- EIA: The U.S. Will Not Run Out of Natural Gas This Winter
News and Events
L.A. to Draw 10 Percent of City Power from Renewable Energy
The Los Angeles City Council approved on March 2nd the
purchase of electricity produced from renewable energy to
supply 10 percent of the city government's needs. The
purchase, amounting to 50 million kilowatt-hours of electricity
per year, is one of the largest U.S. purchases of so-called
green power. Combined with previous commitments from
LA World Airports and the city's water system, Los Angeles
government agencies will be buying more than 70 million
kilowatt-hours per year of green power. The purchase
agreement will take effect in July, and the power will be
provided by the Los Angeles Department of Power and
Water (LADWP). See the LADWP press release.
Neutrogena to Install 200-Kilowatt Solar Electric System
Neutrogena Corporation and the Los Angeles Department of
Power and Water (LADWP) announced last week the
planned installation of a 200-kilowatt solar electric system at
the Neutrogena headquarters facility. Two 100-kilowatt
systems will be added to each of two buildings in the skin-
care company's headquarters facility, located near the Los
Angeles International Airport. The $1.4-million project,
covering 24,000 square feet of roof area, will begin in May
and be completed in July. The solar modules will be
provided by the new Siemens Solar factory in Los Angeles
and will be installed by PowerLight Corporation. According to
LADWP, the system will help reduce energy consumption at
the facility by 20 percent. See the LADWP press release.
Eighty-Megawatt Wind Facility Planned for Northern Texas
Cielo Wind Power, LLC announced late last month that it will
build an 80-megawatt wind power plant near White Deer,
Texas, about 40 miles east of Amarillo. The company signed
a 15-year power purchase agreement with Southwestern
Public Service Company, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, on
February 27th. The 80-turbine facility will provide enough
power to meet the needs of nearly 27,000 homes in the
area. Construction will begin in July, and power production is
expected by the end of the year. See the Xcel Energy press
According to the American Wind Energy Association
(AWEA), the recent flurry of wind energy announcements
is due in part to declining wind energy costs. Factoring in the
savings from the federal wind energy production tax credit,
the recently announced Stateline wind farm (along the
Washington-Oregon border) will achieve record-low costs of
only 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to AWEA. With
this winter's elevated natural gas prices, wind energy is now
shaping up as one of the lowest-cost options for electricity
production. See the AWEA press release, with a link to an energy cost fact sheet.
Northwest Struggles to Balance Fish, Hydropower Needs
The Northwest Power Planning Council warned last week
that a continuing drought in the Northwest will complicate
efforts to balance fish protection with hydropower production
this year. "Western electricity markets are headed for a
difficult summer and possibly a difficult winter," said the
Council. This year is shaping up to be the second- or third-
driest in the past 73 years, and power needs this winter have
already drawn some reservoirs below the limits established
to protect endangered species of salmon and steelhead.
This may reduce Columbia River flows as much as
15 percent this summer, according to the Council.
To protect fish, a minimum flow of water is released from the
Columbia River dams, even when power isn't needed. Some
water is also spilled over the dam without producing power
to help fish migrate down the river. The Council is evaluating
reducing these spill flows by 35 percent between April and
August, thereby saving more water for power production.
The Council also recommends a variety of policy measures,
including continued development of renewable resources
and expanded energy efficiency efforts. The Council was
created by Congress to develop a long-term power plan for
the Northwest and to help the Pacific Northwest states make
critical decisions that balance the multiple purposes of the
Columbia River and its tributaries. See the Council's press
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) started its first
spill of the season last weekend to aid migrating juvenile
chinook salmon that were released from a hatchery near
Hood River, Oregon. The spill was timed for Saturday,
Sunday, and Monday night to maximize its effectiveness
while minimizing its impact on power needs. The total spill
was only 10 percent of last year's spill, but still released
enough water to generate $2.1 million worth of electricity.
See the BPA press release.
To demonstrate the extent of the drought, Seattle City Light
has been charting cumulative rainfall and snowpack in the
regions that feed the city's hydropower facilities, located on
the Skagit and the Pend Oreille rivers. With water resources
far below normal, the utility has asked its customers to cut
their electricity use by 10 percent so far, customers have
achieved a 4.3 percent reduction. See the charts on the
Seattle City Light Web site.
Biodegradable Cold Drink Cups to be Made from Corn
Clear, biodegradable cold drink cups are the latest product
to be announced by Cargill Dow LLC, which is using corn
starch to make fibers and plastics. Cargill Dow has teamed
up with Biocorp, Inc. maker of biodegradable plates,
cutlery, hot drink cups and straws to offer a full spectrum
of food service products that can be composted after use.
The companies see a significant environmental benefit, cost
savings, and convenience in the ability to compost the cups,
plates, and utensils along with any food scraps.
Cargill Dow is a joint venture between Cargill Incorporated
and The Dow Chemical Company to produce the proprietary
NatureWorks polylactide (PLA) polymer from corn starch.
Since breaking ground last April for a manufacturing facility
that will produce 300 million pounds per year of the product,
the company has been actively building its markets. A study
by Dystar identified a wide range of color-fast dyes that
could be used on NatureWorks fibers, the Woolmark
Company has been developing blends of wool and
NatureWorks fibers, and Interface, Inc. has announced plans
to make a carpet tile from the product. Until its manufacturing
plant in Blair, Nebraska, is completed in 2002, Cargill Dow is
producing the product at its semi-commercial facility outside
Minneapolis, Minnesota. See the Cargill Dow Web site.
See also the July 11th press release from Interface.
NatureWorks and other biobased products products made
from biomass materials have the potential to reduce U.S.
dependence on petroleum. Cargill Dow estimates that the
production of its NatureWorks PLA will use 20 to 30 percent
less fossil fuels than comparable polymers. For more
information, see the "Biobased Chemicals and Materials" page on the EREN Bioenergy Web site.
British Association for Biofuels and Oils
This organization is dedicated to the promotion of
transportation fuels and oils from renewable sources such as
biodiesel and ethanol in Great Britain. The site includes a
study of these fuels that covers tailpipe emissions and other
environmental impacts, health and safety issues, vehicle and
engine performance, infrastructure and fuel use issues and
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
Energy Facts and Tips
EIA Publishes "Renewable Energy Annual 2000"
DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) published its latest
annual summary of U.S. renewable energy production last week.
The report, which includes data from 1999, found that renewable
energy as a whole (including hydropower) grew 3 percent in 1999
and accounted for almost 8 percent of total U.S. energy
consumption. Most of the renewable energy was produced using
hydropower (49 percent) and biomass (44 percent). And although
wind energy contributed the least (0.6 percent), it also showed the
fastest growth, contributing 48 percent more energy in 1999 than it
had in 1998. See the "Renewable Energy Annual 2000" on the EIA Renewable Fuels Publications page.
EIA: The U.S. Will Not Run Out of Natural Gas this Winter
With natural gas inventories in the West already at record
lows, and declining inventories in the East and in the south-
centrally-located "Producing Region," some doomsayers
have predicted that parts of the country may run out of
natural gas before the heating season is done. But a recent
report from DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA)
says that won't happen. The report looks at both "working"
gas inventories the inventories of natural gas that would
normally be delivered to the customer and "base" gas
inventories the extra gas that must be retained in the
system to maintain pressure. Although the report sees "little
likelihood that working gas levels for the regions will be
completely drawn down," it anticipates that some operators
may need to "dip into base gas inventories to maintain
The report concludes that working gas inventories "are likely
to approach record lows" at the end of this month and
remain at low levels for the following several months. Efforts
to replace natural gas inventories "will contribute to upward
price pressure in the markets." The report also includes a
significant amount of information about how natural gas
markets work in the United States. See the report, "Natural
Gas Storage in the United States in 2001: A Current
Assessment and Near-Term Outlook" (PDF 93 KB).
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