EREN Network News
May 23, 2001
News and Events
- Southwestern Kansas to Host 110-Megawatt Wind Farm
- Connecticut College Students Opt for Green Power
- Washington Energy Bills Encourage Renewables, Conservation
- New Jersey Launches Efficiency, Renewable Energy Programs
- FERCO Touts Achievements at Vermont Biomass Gasifier
Energy Facts and Tips
About this Newsletter
- A Look at Energy Use in the United States
News and Events
Southwestern Kansas to Host 110-Megawatt Wind Farm
FPL Energy, LLC announced last week that it will build, own,
and operate a 110-megawatt wind farm in Kansas the first
major wind facility in the state. The company will install 170
wind turbines at a site in Gray County in southwestern
Kansas. When completed at the end of this year, the wind
farm will produce enough electricity for 33,000 homes in
Kansas and Missouri. UtiliCorp United will buy and resell the
power from the project. See the FPL Energy press release.
Connecticut College Students Opt for Green Power
Connecticut College last week announced that it will
obtain about 17 percent of the college's power from
renewable energy. The college has joined the Connecticut Energy Cooperative, a
non-profit provider of electricity that is entirely generated
from renewable energy sources. Students at the college
spearheaded the switch to green power, holding bake sales
to raise $1,500 to join the cooperative, then conducting a
petition drive to support a $25 increase in student fees to
fund the power purchase. The college's Board of Trustees
unanimously approved the measure on May 5th. The
cooperative's power is certified as truly coming from
renewable energy by Green-e, a program run by the
non-profit Center for Resource Solutions (CRS). See
the CRS press release.
Connecticut College, located in New London, is a private
liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,670 students. See
the Connecticut College press release.
Washington Energy Bills Encourage Renewables, Conservation
Washington Governor Gary Locke has signed into law three
legislative bills that will support energy conservation and
renewable energy in the state. The bills, signed early this
month, require new energy audits in all state buildings and
direct electric utilities to offer renewable energy options. The
bills also extend tax exemptions for small solar, wind, and
fuel cell projects and extend for 10 years the laws governing
geothermal development in the state. See the governor's
Washington has also moved to phase out MTBE, a gasoline
additive that has been found to contaminate water supplies.
MTBE will be phased out in the state by the end of 2003.
"There are other additives we can use to reduce emissions,
such as ethanol made from grain," says Representative John
Pennington, who sponsored the bill. See the Access Washington press release.
A recent report from Climate Solutions, a non-profit group,
says that farmers in the Northwest can contribute significantly
to ethanol production by harvesting crop stubble that is
currently burned off the fields each year. See the Climate Solutions press
The full 16-page report is available in Adobe PDF format Climate Solutions Report.
New Jersey Launches Efficiency, Renewable Energy Programs
New Jersey environmental officials and representatives of
the state's gas and electric utilities announced the start last
month of a new series of programs to encourage energy
efficiency and renewable energy within the state. Recently,
full details about all of these programs were added to the
new "Clean Energy for New Jersey" Web site.
The state's Clean Energy Program provides incentives of up
to $5 per watt for the use of fuel cells, solar electric systems,
small wind turbines, or sustainable biomass technologies.
The residential energy efficiency programs provide software
for designing energy-efficient retrofits and provide rebates to
homeowners for the purchase of efficient air conditioning,
heat pumps, gas furnaces, and boilers. The programs also
increase awareness of Energy Star products, provide free
efficiency upgrades for low-income households, and provide
incentives to builders of new energy-efficient homes. A
variety of services and incentives are available for
commercial and industrial customers as well.
The New Jersey programs are funded through an electricity
surcharge that was approved by the New Jersey Board of
Public Utilities in March. See the March 7th edition of EREN
The potential energy savings possible through energy-
efficiency upgrades were demonstrated recently by the
Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, which upgraded its
cooling, hot water, and lighting systems to save $680,000
per year in energy costs while improving cooling and indoor
air quality. South Jersey Energy performed the retrofits and
has a press release posted on South Jersey Energy Web site.
FERCO Touts Achievements at Vermont Biomass Gasifier
Future Energy Resources Company (FERCO) announced
last week that it has achieved promising results from its
biomass gasifier now being tested in Vermont. The gasifier
heats wood and other biomass materials under controlled
conditions to yield a gas that can fuel a gas turbine. The
process offers significant improvements in efficiency and
emissions relative to standard biomass power plants, which
burn the fuel directly. During full-scale testing at the McNeil
Generating Plant in Burlington, FERCO has achieved high-
quality gas over extended periods, at much higher rates than
was anticipated. FERCO also found that the heating value of
the gas stays constant as a range of materials with varying
moisture contents are fed into the gasifier a result that
simplifies the conversion of the gas into electricity. The
company claims the gas can be produced at a cost of less
than $3.50 per million Btu. See the FERCO press release.
On the other side of the country, the California energy crisis
has apparently provided new incentives for biomass power.
El Paso Power Finance LLC announced early in May that it
has arranged financing that will allow Madera Power LLC to
acquire and refurbish an existing biomass power plant near
Fresno. The 25-megawatt power plant has been idle for five
years, but is expected to be operating again next month. See
the El Paso press release.
In related news, Wheelabrator, a division of Waste
Management, Inc., announced early this month that it has
reached the milestone of converting 100 million tons of trash
into energy. See the Waste Management press release.
Global Solar Partners
Global Solar Partners brings together teachers and students
from around the world to share ideas about energy in a
sustainable future. The site allows students to research solar
energy in their own communities and then exchange
information and ideas with students from other schools.
The site’s project showcase allows teachers and students to
see what schools in different countries have already
accomplished. A teaching and learning resources section,
featuring a hands-on photovoltaic kit and lesson plans, is
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site,
Energy Facts and Tips
A Look at Energy Use in the United States
In case you didn't know it, the United States is the world's
largest energy user, producer, and importer. If you want to
learn a lot about the production and use of energy in the
United States with a particular focus on fossil fuels
check out the recently updated U.S. energy profile, prepared by the DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The profile includes an interesting history of the refining
business, which has declined in capacity since 1981, largely
due to a removal of regulatory price controls and allocations,
which caused many smaller refineries to close. Still,
refineries were generally operating below their capacity up
until 1998. Although EIA predicts that new refineries are
unlikely to be built in the United States any time soon,
expansion at existing refineries has increased production
capacity in the past several years.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported last week
that refinery operations and gasoline production reached
record levels in April, with refineries producing at
93.8 percent of their capacity. See the API press release.
A recent EIA presentation says that the current high gasoline
prices are caused largely by a combination of low gasoline
inventories and the high utilization of U.S. refineries. You
can reach the presentation from the EIA home page by
clicking on the "Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update," and then
selecting "Gasoline Prices: What is Happening?" See the EIA presentation.
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