Wind Energy News
According to a new report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the deployment of Massachusetts’ required 1.6 GW of offshore wind is estimated to create between 2,270 and 3,170 job years during construction over the next 10 years, as well as generate $675 million-$800 million in direct economic output in Massachusetts.
The Offshore Wind Workforce Report – sponsored by MassCEC and authored by Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy – also provides analysis and recommendations to guide the training and development needs for the offshore wind industry workforce in Massachusetts. The report defines a job year as one person working full-time for one year.
In 2016, Massachusetts Gov. Baker signed an energy diversification bill that authorized the largest procurement of clean energy generation in Massachusetts’ history, including approximately 1.6 GW of offshore wind energy and approximately 9,450,000 MWh of clean energy, including large-scale hydropower.
“The results of the Offshore Wind Workforce Report highlight the incredible economic opportunities created by the energy diversification legislation signed by Governor Baker, in addition to ensuring the procurement of cost-effective, locally produced clean energy that will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Matthew Beaton, Massachusetts’ secretary of energy and environmental affairs. “The offshore wind sector is poised to create thousands of well-paying job opportunities in the commonwealth, and through identifying the necessary training and credentials required, this report will help prepare Massachusetts workers to take full advantage of the industry’s significant job creation potential.”
Additionally, the report finds that between 140 to 255 operations and maintenance job years will be generated and sustained annually throughout the 25-year life of an offshore wind farm. When taking into account direct, indirect (supply-chain) and induced impacts, the deployment of 1.6 GW of offshore wind is estimated to support between 6,870 and 9,850 job years over the next 10 years, as well as generate a total economic impact in Massachusetts of $1.4 billion-$2.1 billion.
“The information in this study will be critical to developing a workforce that can contribute to the emerging offshore wind industry,” says Stephen Pike, CEO of MassCEC. “With our proud maritime heritage and robust innovation sector, Massachusetts workers are well-positioned, with the necessary training, to participate in this new American industry.”
To ensure the commonwealth can maximize the economic benefits of the emerging industry, the assessment identifies the critical offshore wind workforce and training needs and makes recommendations for collaborative action between industry, government, educational institutions and labor. The report details the specific education, skills, and health and safety credentials required for each job associated with developing offshore wind projects, including engineers, technicians, marine scientists, crane operators, divers, construction workers, water transportation workers, steel workers and electricians, among others.
To capitalize on the opportunities identified in the report, MassCEC plans to issue a request for proposals to fund initiatives that support the development of a trained and ready Massachusetts offshore wind workforce.
“This study demonstrates the job-creating potential of offshore wind development and further solidifies our region as the epicenter of the blue economy,” says Robert E. Johnson, UMass Dartmouth chancellor. “Fully realizing the economic benefits of offshore wind and other components of the marine sector now requires an unprecedented level of regional partnership among communities, industry and educational institutions.”
“Massachusetts is poised to lead the nation in deploying the largest offshore wind farm in the United States,” says State Rep. Thomas A. Golden, Jr., chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “MassCEC’s report confirms the incredible opportunities before the state, whether it be training and workforce development; employment opportunities for thousands of workers; or collaborative partnerships between government, academia and industry.”
MassCEC is funded by the Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts legislature in 1998. A systems benefit charge paid by customers of investor-owned utilities and five municipal electric departments that have opted into the program funds the trust.
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AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power (AEP) company, has received approval of its Electric Security Plan (ESP) from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
The ESP allows AEP Ohio to expand access to electric vehicle (EV) charging and renewable generation while continuing to enhance distribution grid reliability. The ESP also offers customers rate stability through 2024. More than a dozen groups had signed onto the agreement, the company says.
“Our customers want reliability and access to advanced technologies, such as EV charging stations, microgrids and renewable energy resources,” states Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio’s president and chief operating officer. “Our plan allows us to bring these services, which also will support economic development in Ohio, to customers across the state. The ESP enables us to continue our investments in the electric grid to provide reliable power and help advance the new technologies and cleaner energy that our customers want.”
As a result of the ESP, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will see an average bill increase of less than $0.50/month.
A program to expand EV charging station availability will be created as part of the Smart Columbus initiative. The project creates a rebate incentive program for the hardware, network services and installation of charging infrastructure for up to 300 Level 2 charging stations and 75 DC fast-charging stations. The $10 million program offers rebates for site owners to install charging stations, with 10% of the stations to be located in low-income areas. Site owners can apply to AEP Ohio to recoup a portion of their initial construction costs.
Expansion of wind and solar resources in the state is also supported by the ESP. AEP Ohio has committed to develop 400 MW of solar and 500 MW of wind power in Ohio. The approved ESP provides a method for AEP Ohio to request approval from the PUCO for the development of new renewable resources. The ESP also allows for some, or all, of that power to be purchased through a bilateral contract with a customer.
“Companies are increasingly evaluating the availability of renewable energy when they are looking to locate or expand their business. Having access to renewable resources helps make Ohio more attractive to businesses,” Sloat notes.
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Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has signed two agreements with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources to repower 508 MW of U.S. wind power.
The repowering will take place at three projects in Texas. Under one agreement, SGRE will repower 362 units of Vestas’ V47 wind turbines at the Indian Mesa and Woodward wind farms. The V47 overhaul features a hardware and control upgrade, resulting in an increased output of 710 kW from 660 kW (a 7.5% increase) and higher availability for 10 additional years beyond the original design life. The project is expected to be complete by year-end; the sites will remain operational during the installation.
Under a second agreement, the companies have agreed to repower 210 units of legacy Bonus 1.3 MW turbines that were installed at the King Mountain wind farm in 2001. The agreement marks the first 1.3 MW-class repower for any manufacturer, according to SGRE. Siemens Gamesa will provide upgraded materials and warranty and commissioning services. When complete, King Mountain will realize greater reliability for its 268 MW capacity.
“Repowering the Bonus units demonstrates Siemens Gamesa’s commitment to maximizing value for our customers throughout an asset’s lifecycle,” comments Mark Albenze, CEO of SGRE’s service business unit. “The upgrades will improve the reliability of these units by modernizing the turbines to reduce maintenance requirements and sustain overall site availability.”
SGRE says it has been actively maintaining wind turbines from other manufacturers since 2010. The latest repowering contracts with NextEra were signed in the January-March period of this year.
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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, D-N.Y., has announced the second solicitation for large-scale renewable energy projects under New York’s Clean Energy Standard (CES).
The solicitation for up to 20 projects is expected to spur up to $1.5 billion in private investment and create more than 1,000 well-paying jobs for New Yorkers, according to a release from the governor’s office. Furthermore, the solicitation is expected to support 1.5 million MWh of renewable electricity per year – enough to power 200,000 homes – and advance New York’s commitment to secure 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Specifically, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) seeks to purchase Tier 1 renewable energy certificates associated with electricity generated from eligible facilities that entered commercial operations on or after Jan. 1, 2015, and on or before November 30, 2020, unless extended to Nov. 30, 2022.
“This administration continues to champion renewable energy projects across New York, and this is a major step forward in our efforts to create clean jobs and set an example for the rest of the nation,” says Cuomo. “With this action, we will continue to capitalize on our natural assets, expand economic opportunities and lay the groundwork for a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.”
The state is issuing the solicitation as the second in a series of major procurements that are expected to result in the development of dozens of large-scale renewable energy projects by 2022 under the CES. The new request for proposals (RFP) includes new standards and requirements for effective community outreach and planning. It also ensures that well-paying jobs will be created by requiring the prevailing wage for applicable positions.
Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA, says, “Making progress in the battle against climate change requires a sustained commitment to supporting clean energy projects that will make our communities stronger and more resilient. Governor Cuomo has set the stage for New York to lead this effort through his bold commitment to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and we expect that this solicitation being announced today will help us maintain the early momentum we witnessed in the last round and to pick up our pace in the march towards a cleaner future.”
The RFP supports NYSERDA’s 2017 solicitation, through which a $1.4 billion investment dedicated to renewable energy projects was announced earlier this year. That investment included 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydroelectric project. One of the wind farms features an energy storage component, marking the first time a large-scale renewable energy project has done so in New York State, according to NYSERDA.
“The renewable energy industry is committed to investing in New York to create jobs and help achieve Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals,” comments Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “We applaud the governor for his commitment to clean energy and for the release of the second solicitation for projects under the Clean Energy Standard. Our member companies look forward to competing for the opportunity to serve New Yorkers and provide pollution-free power.”
More information on the RFP can be found here.
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Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers (OIEC) and Walmart have reached a settlement agreement on PSO’s proposed 2 GW Wind Catcher Energy Connection project.
Together, PSO, OIEC and Walmart are requesting that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approve the project under the terms of the settlement agreement – terms that collectively result in additional customer protections and significant savings guarantees, according to PSO.
PSO and Walmart first reached an agreement for approval of the project in March. The new agreement filed on Tuesday replaces that agreement and includes OIEC, a membership organization that comprises some of PSO’s largest users of electricity, as well as Walmart.
The new terms further ensure that customers will benefit from Wind Catcher by imposing additional limits on project construction costs, improving performance guarantees, and most notably, guaranteeing that customers will save money over at least the first 10 years, says PSO, adding that this provides certainty for customers even if natural gas prices stay at historically low levels and there are changes to federal tax law that affect the economics of the project.
In effect, the company says it is “guaranteeing to make customers whole” in the unlikely event that the project does not yield customer savings. Wind Catcher is expected to save PSO customers around $2 billion net of its costs over the 25 years the project is in service.
“We’re pleased to join Walmart and OIEC, two organizations representing some of our key business customers across the state, in asking the commission to approve Wind Catcher,” states Stuart Solomon, PSO’s president and chief operating officer. “With them on board, we’re hopeful the commission will approve Wind Catcher so that all PSO customers can save money from this major investment in Oklahoma clean energy.
When it comes online in late 2020, Wind Catcher is expected to be the lowest-cost energy on PSO’s system. Customers will see savings primarily through a reduction in the fuel portion of their bills. With Wind Catcher, PSO customers will receive 40% of their energy from Oklahoma wind resources.
The $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project includes the acquisition of a 2 GW wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle near Guymon and a dedicated generation tie line to the Tulsa area, where the energy will be delivered to customers. The project is a partnership between PSO and sister company SWEPCO. PSO’s share of the project investment is $1.36 billion.
Signal Energy is creating a Dallas-based wind division to focus on wind energy opportunities throughout the U.S. and Canada and further grow the company’s wind project portfolio.
Signal Energy provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)/balance-of-plant services for renewable energy and infrastructure projects globally. Part of EMJ Corp.’s family of companies, Signal Energy is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., with offices in Dallas; Sacramento, Calif.; Albany, N.Y.; and Sydney, Australia.
Lance Gopffarth has been tapped to lead the new wind division. He will be located in Dallas and serve as vice president, reporting to Julian Bell, executive vice president of Signal Energy. Over the coming months, Signal plans to increase staff.
According to the company, Gopffarth has nearly 30 years of construction experience in a range of sectors. He began his construction career with EMJ Construction in Dallas as a project manager, and most recently, he led the construction operations of RedStone Construction in Tulsa, Okla.
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Three wind farms in Texas with a combined installed capacity of 508 MW will undergo repowering this year to improve operational efficiencies and extend the projects’ lifespan.
Whereas research reports by the world’s most eminent climatologists seem almost daily to bring foreboding climate news, renewable energy proponents who met at UC Berkeley in mid-April were decidedly upbeat about clean energy prospects.