Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: October 21, 2010

  • DOE Loan Guarantee for New Southwest Transmission Project
  • Major Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Project Announced
  • DOI Approves First Solar Project on Nevada Public Lands
  • ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State Leaders
  • U.S. Mayors Attend Swedish Green Conference
  • EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for Newer Vehicles
  • EIA: Home Heating Costs to Increase Slightly This Winter

    DOE Offers Loan Guarantee for Southwest Transmission Project

    DOE announced on October 19 its offer of a conditional commitment for a $350 million loan guarantee to develop the One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line).

    ON Line is a new 500-kilovolt transmission line that will run 235 miles from Ely, Nevada to just north of Las Vegas. The project will carry approximately 600 MW of electricity, including renewable energy, in northern Nevada. It will also integrate existing transmission systems in northern and southern Nevada, improving grid reliability and efficiency, and reducing power costs. This is the first transmission line project to be offered a commitment by DOE’s Loan Programs Office.

    The ON Line project will be the first phase of the Southwest Intertie Project which, when fully completed, will carry approximately 2,000 MW of electricity and will enable wind and solar resources in Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada to power the Southwest and California markets. The ON Line project is expected to contract about 85% of its parts and labor from U.S.-based companies, and it will create about 400 construction jobs.

    The DOE Loan Program Office has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 16 clean energy projects totaling $16.5 billion. See the DOE press release and the Loan Guarantee Program Web site.

    Major Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Project Announced

    A major wind transmission project, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC), was announced October 12 by a group led by transmission company Trans-Elect and sponsored by Good Energies, Google Inc., and Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese trading firm.

    The project, which is intended to boost offshore wind energy along the Mid-Atlantic Coast, will help create thousands of wind jobs, improve consumer access to clean energy sources, and increase the reliability of the region’s existing power grid.

    The project will connect 6,000 MW of offshore wind – enough to serve roughly 1.9 million households – and will be expandable to accommodate additional offshore wind as the industry further develops. The use of high-voltage direct current technology allows for easier integration and control of multiple wind farms while avoiding the electrical losses associated with more typical high-voltage alternating current lines.

    With this strong backbone in place, larger and more energy efficient wind farms can connect to offshore power hubs farther out to sea. These power hubs will in turn be connected via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. The Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf.

    Before construction can begin, the project will need approval from federal, state, regional, and local regulators as well as from PJM Interconnection, the region’s grid operator. See the press release on the AWC Web site.

  • Interior Approves First Solar Project on Nevada Public Lands

    On October 13, the Department of the Interior approved the First Solar, Inc. Silver State North Solar Project, the first large-scale solar project on Nevada public lands.

    The 50 MW solar plant will be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas. The project underwent extensive public environmental review by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The Silver State installation is one of several renewable energy projects in the pipeline for the state.

    Phase one will consist of construction and operation of a solar PV plant on 618 acres. The electricity is expected to supply power for about 15,000 homes, and will be sold via a power purchase agreement with NV Energy. First Solar has plans for an additional 350 MW at the site, which has yet to go through environmental review. See the Interior Department press release, a project fact sheet , and BLM record of decision for Silver State.

    2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State Leaders

    States across the U.S. made progress in energy efficiency, according to the 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released on October 13 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

    Highlights include: state energy efficiency budgets have almost doubled since 2007 from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion; more than half of all states have adopted or are actively considering adopting energy efficiency standards that establish long-term, fixed efficiency savings targets; and the number of states that have either adopted or have made significant progress toward the adoption of the latest energy-saving building codes for homes and commercial properties have doubled over the past year.

    For the fourth year, California retained first place, outperforming all other states in its level of investment in energy efficiency across all sectors of its economy. Massachusetts again placed second. The four most-improved states were Utah (up 11 spots from 2009 to number 12), Arizona (up 11 spots to 18), New Mexico (up 8 spots to 22), and Alaska (up 8 spots to 37). California, Massachusetts, and Washington have implemented transportation-specific greenhouse gas reduction targets while several other states have adopted policies to encourage creation of compact and transit-oriented communities.

    The Scorecard examines six energy efficiency policy areas: utility and public benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards. See the ACEEE press release, the complete report online, and the Energy Scorecard Web site.

    U.S. Cities Show Global Leadership at Swedish Green Conference

    11 U.S. mayors shared their urban sustainability practices with peers at the European Green Capital Conference on October 20-22 in Stockholm, Sweden.

    The U.S. Embassy in Sweden organized the delegation’s visit as part of the Swedish American Green Alliance (SAGA), a bilateral initiative to promote clean technologies such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. Stockholm, named the Green Capital of Europe 2010 by the European Commission, hosted the flagship event where European mayors shared best practices on sustainability and discussed ways to overcome energy challenges.

    Stockholm officials invited the presidents of the National League of Cities, Mayor Ron Loveridge of Riverside, California, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz of Burnsville, Minnesota. The contingent also includes representatives from Portland, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; Madison, Wisconsin; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Lawrence, New Jersey; Bayfield, Wisconsin; Tallahassee, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The participation of the U.S. delegation was organized in cooperation with the National League of Cities and the Institute for Eco-Municipalities Education and Assistance. See the SAGA page on the Web site of the American Embassy in Stockholm.

    EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for Newer Vehicles

    The U.S. EPA waived a limitation on selling fuel that has over 10% ethanol, allowing up to 15% ethanol for model year 2007 onward. This is the first of a series of actions necessary from federal, state, and industry to allow commercialization of so-called E15 gasoline blends.

    The EPA made the decision after a review of DOE’s testing on E15’s impact on engine durability and emissions. A ruling on the use of E15 in model years 2001-2006 will be made after EPA receives the results of additional DOE testing, expected in November. No waiver will be granted for vehicles from model year 2000 and older because of the lack of testing data. Since 1979, up to 10% ethanol (E10) has been used for all conventional cars and light trucks, and for non-road vehicles.

    Steps are being taken to help consumers easily identify the correct fuel for their vehicles and equipment. EPA is proposing E15 pump labeling requirements, including a requirement that the fuel industry specify the ethanol content of gasoline sold to retailers. There would also be a quarterly survey of retail stations to help ensure their gas pumps are properly labeled.

    The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall volume of renewable fuels in the marketplace, reaching a 36 billion gallons total in 2022. Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it’s produced from plant products or wastes. See the EPA release and the EPA E15 Web site.

    Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook: Warmer Winter Expected

    DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects the lower 48 states to be 3% warmer than last year during the October-March winter heating season, although the projections vary by region.

    The Northeast is expected to experience a colder heating season, resulting in a 5% increase in energy consumption. The region is also the dominant user of fuel oil for home heating; price increases for heating fuel will drive up the average cost of home heating 13%. Households that use electricity for heating are on the opposite end of the scale, as an expected decrease in both prices and consumption will yield a 2% savings in home heating costs relative to last year. The majority of U.S. households fall between these extremes – homes heated with natural gas will experience a 4% increase in heating costs, while those using propane will spend an average of 8% more this winter. See the EIA press release.

    The EIA’s "Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook," released October 13, projects an average crude oil price of about $80 per barrel this winter, up by $2.50 per barrel over last winter. The EIA forecasts crude oil prices rising gradually to $85 per barrel by the fourth quarter of 2011 as U.S. and global economic conditions improve.

    Spot prices for natural gas are also expected to increase, rising from $3.95 per million Btu in 2009 to $4.47 this year and $4.58 in 2011. And although the U.S. residential retail price of electricity was down nearly 1% in the first half of this year, relative to the first half of 2009, year-over-year electricity prices are expected to increase by 1.5% for the second half of this year. In 2011, electricity prices are expected to increase by another 1.4%.

    Renewable generation is projected to increase by 13% in 2011, and along with a 1.4% increase in nuclear power generation, that will result in declines in coal and natural gas generation of 2% and 1.2%, respectively. So even though U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are expected to increase by 3.9% in 2010, they are expected to remain essentially unchanged in 2011. See the EIA’s "Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook."


    EREE Network News is a weekly publication of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

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