Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Topic

Managing Intermittent Wind Energy with EVs

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

From Integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind into the electric grid has been one of the big challenges facing the smart grid initiative. Now, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they have what could be a workaround: plug-in EVs.

“Electric vehicles, coupled with grid-friendly charging, offers a great opportunity, right now, to help electric companies integrate additional wind power into our electric system,” said Michael Kintner-Meyer, a PNNL staff scientist and co-author of the report Using Electric Vehicles to Meet Balancing Requirements Associated with Wind Power.

While growing in popularity, wind power is notoriously unpredictable – it’s not always there when you need it – and on windy days, grid operators struggle with ways to use excess energy or store it. And grid-scale storage is at this point pretty limited in the U.S. . . .

read the rest of the story:

Thanks to all who visited us at the County Fair

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

OPALCO staff had a great time talking (and playing Plinko) with you at the Fair – thanks for stopping by to visit. In case you missed it, here’s a glimpse of the fun:

  • Members learned how to save energy in their homes by playing the very popular Plinko game crafted by co-op members and employee Elisa and Nate Howard. Prizes included school pencil cases with a cool multi- color highlighter and organic cotton backpacks stocked with home energy efficiency items.
  • You could ride a stationary bike to learn how much effort it takes to light an incandescent bulb vs. a CFL or make a smoothie.
  • If you signed up for one of OPALCO’s programs (MORE, PAL, Sharing the Load blog or Home Snapshot Energy Assessment), you were entered into the daily draw for a basket of energy efficiency tools and goodies.
  • You could talk with members of the MORE (member owned renewable energy) committee and learn how YOU can support local renewable power generated by your island neighbors and fellow co-op members.
  • You could check out the Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) – on display in front of the main entrance and learn more about how electric cars work.
  • And, the ever popular safety board display was a hit. Lineman conducted safety demonstrations and well as discussed current projects.

There was a great response of participants and OPALCO thanks you for doing your part. Working together through energy efficiency we can make a difference in managing our load and keeping rates lower!

Visit with OPALCO at Eco-Fest and County Fair

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

OPALCO’s Energy Services staff will be on hand to talk with members at two big events in the next month: at the Orcas Island Eco-Fest and Solar Science Fair on Saturday, August 6th at the Funhouse and, of course, at the San Juan County Fair in Friday Harbor from August 18-20th.

At the Eco-Fest, you can learn about OPALCO’s MORE (Member Owned Renewable Energy) program and how you can participate in producing and/or supporting local renewable power like solar energy; and OPALCO’s Nissan Leaf all electric car will be on site for a closer look.

The County Fair is all “Razzle-Dazzle” this year and OPALCO’s booth (look for us in the SW corner of the big exhibition building) will feature energy superhero information and action with games and great give-aways for those who take the “energy superhero challenge.” See you at the Fair!

Washington State a Hub of Renewable Energy Activity

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Developers have chosen Washington to be the site of three of the few tidal energy projects in the country. Each has received federal permitting, and one project, the 1 MW SnoPUD Admiralty Inlet Tidal project in Snohomish County, is using a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to be operational by 2011. The University of Washington also received a federal grant to monitor aquatic life at the site of the project.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Richland, is on the leading edge of biomass, marine, and other renewable energy research and development.

Washington is currently developing one of the largest solar photovoltaic projects in the world, a 75 MW project that would bring more than 200 construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs to an economically depressed community east of Seattle.

From the American council on renewable energy or ACORE: “Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States.” Spring 2011 Update

World Watches BPA Track Wind Generation

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Think of it as a regional energy heart monitor. A near-real-time display of all energy feeding into the portion of the electric grid BPA controls has become one of the most-watched parts of BPA’s website. Instead of one line of heart performance, the new BPA monitor displays the output of all the wind, thermal and hydro generation in the agency’s balancing authority against the agency’s load. The display is updated every five minutes, every hour of every day and is now watched carefully by researchers, energy experts and curious onlookers around the world. Read the whole story.

Congress Extends Some Energy Efficiency Credits Through 2011

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The left is not fully satisfied. Neither is the right. However, the recently enacted “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010” (Tax Relief Act) provides significant relief to the energy industry and alleviates the pressure of trying to seal the deal on many projects before the end of the year.

Of particular note, the grant in lieu of tax credit provisions related to the investment tax credit has been extended for one additional year. Now, qualifying property, including wind turbines and solar panels must be placed into service by the end of 2011 or satisfy the applicable requirements that construction began by the end of 2011. The stress of properly structuring a deal to qualify for the grant by the end of this year is now relieved. Have a great holiday!

The grant was not the only energy related provision extended. For individuals looking to make energy efficient improvements on their homes, the tax credit is extended for one additional year. However, the 30% tax credit (limited to $1,500) that existed for 2009 and 2010 is reduced to 10% (limited to $500) in 2011. In addition, the credit is limited to certain amounts based on the type of energy efficient improvement made.

Prior to 2010, contractors were eligible for maximum tax credit of $2,000 per home for construction of a new energy efficient home. This credit has now been extended retroactively for 2010 and renewed for 2011.

In addition, the Tax Relief Act extends the income and excise tax credit and refund provisions for bio-diesel and renewable diesel fuel. This extension is retroactive and applies for 2010 and 2011.

For those of you wondering if purchasing charging equipment for alternative fuel vehicles will get you a tax credit, the answer is yes. However, the credit for 2011 is reduced to 30%, limited to $30,000 for depreciable property (businesses) and $1,000 for non-depreciable property (individuals).

That is a quick run-down on some of the energy related provisions contained within the Tax Relief Act. The biggest impact will no doubt be extension of the grant provisions and extension of the bio-diesel related provisions, which will provide some certainty for the next year and should bolster further development.

Read more . . .

Rep. Morris Energy Presentation Available Online

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Representative Jeff Morris and WRECA Manager Kent Lopez gave energy talks on Orcas, San Juan and Lopez Islands last week. Kent presented and explained a glossary of terms for better understanding of energy issues – in the state and federal legislature – and in the news. Rep. Morris gave a picture of the coming energy landscape, discussed distributed generation and permitting issues. Both power point presentations are now available online. Send an email to Suzanne Olson if you want to be on the Ambassadors list for future meetings and information about key legislative action.

2009 Fuel Mix and MORE

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Washington State Department of Commerce publishes an annual report on OPALCO’s fuel mix (the generated power received from Bonneville Power Administration and distributed by OPALCO). Our 2009 fuel mix was 93% greenhouse gas free and included 82.87% hydro-electric power. Click to see the full report.

The minutes of the 8/4 MORE Steering Committee are now posted. The committee passed a motion to: “create a (green power) program with a feed-in tariff with a cap and floor based on volunteer donations.”  Go to the MORE page for the full minutes.

The next meeting of the MORE Steering Committee is schedule for Wednesday, August 18th at Orcas Landing (Russell’s) beginning at 10:30 am.

MORE and Energy Code Updates

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

MORE – Member Owned Renewable Energy
Today was the first meeting of the MORE Steering Committee. It was held in the county meeting room at the Orcas Landing from 10:30 – 12:30.  Go to MORE for information on the Steering Committee and previous postings.

We will be posting the meeting minutes on the MORE page tomorrow but just to give a short summary:  Eight of the nine members were present. One member from the public attended. We certainly hoped for more public participation! The meeting was advertised in all the newspapers and online calendars.  Please get the word out if you are reading this.

Since it was the first meeting we spent some time on introductions and then dove into why we were there. We discussed the national energy picture, BPA tier 1 and tier 2 rates, the relationship between renewable generation and conservation and the idea of zero energy growth for the future.  There was a discussion on the history of OPALCO’s green energy programs and renewable generation incentive program.  We talked about education and behavior modification as it relates to conservation.  The group is diverse and well educated in the areas of renewables, energy efficiency and conservation so during the open forum everyone put their thoughts on the table.  We ended with scheduling the next meeting for July 21st on San Juan (location TBD) and an agenda which will be published here (MORE) . . . along with the real meeting minutes. Stay tuned!

WA State Energy Code
On another note:  The Washington State Energy Code 2009 that was going to be in place this month (July 2010) has been postponed. I received the following email with the latest update:

Based on a meeting of the SBCC yesterday (6/30/10), the text of the proposed rule regarding any further delay of the 2009 State Energy Code implementation will reflect “ January 1, 2011” rather than “no later than April 1, 2011”.  PLEASE NOTE that this does not preclude a final decision of some other date, either BEFORE or AFTER January 1st.  The Building Code Council wants to hear from all stakeholders either through written or spoken testimony BEFORE making a final decision.  The Public Hearings on this rule as anticipated to be in Spokane on September 10th and Olympia on September 24th after which a decision will be made.  We are entering rulemaking regarding the implementation date ONLY… there are NO technical changes to the new Energy Code being considered as a part of this rulemaking action…For additional information go to the State Building Code Council’s website at:

Energy Services Update 6-24-10

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The Treasure Chest of Energy Savings Tour of the islands was a success. We finished on Shaw Island with the biggest crowd of all. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in our, sometimes lively, meetings. Questions and answers were flowing! The presentation is now posted for those who missed it.

Also, check out our newly updated energy efficiency programs and rebate forms now online.

We are finalizing  set-up of the Home Energy Assessment Program. Those of you who have signed up for energy audits will be contacted in July. We will explain to you what the assessment consists of and hopefully put your house on the schedule.  We will have more detailed information coming soon–keep checking the website. 

OPALCO has initiated a public process to develop a new green power program called Member Owned Renewable Energy (MORE). Nominations to the MORE Steering Committee are due tomorrow (6/25). Click here for more info on the Steering Commitee and how to apply.

The Steering Committee will start meeting in mid-July–check back here for meeting dates, times and places. The mission is to create a new green power program including criteria, scope, structure and funding mechanisms and to present a proposal to OPALCO staff who can bring it before the Board for approval and policy making. The Committee will meet frequently through the summer with a goal of presenting a new program proposal in the fall.