Ramboll Environ to participate in ground-breaking study of offshore wind potential on US East Coast

The untapped offshore wind energy potential in the US is estimated by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to be more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW), nearly double the nation’s annual electricity use. Yet the first offshore wind farm in the US was completed just last year off the coast of Rhode Island.

Arlington, Va./February 14, 2017 - The untapped offshore wind energy potential in the US is estimated by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to be more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW), nearly double the nation's annual electricity use. Yet the first offshore wind farm in the US was completed just last year off the coast of Rhode Island.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) last week awarded Ramboll Environ and team partners a contract to study this untapped potential within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Offshore Wind Ports & Infrastructure Assessment encompasses a series of tasks, key among them an evaluation of underdeveloped waterfront sites in Massachusetts that could potentially be acquired and developed through private investment to support both near-term and long-term offshore wind activities. The study will yield a series of property assessments to guide offshore wind developers, manufacturers and private investors in their selection of sites to fabricate, manufacture, stage, deploy and service offshore wind components in Massachusetts and along the East Coast.

Project Principal David Lis says, "This is an exciting opportunity, since it literally positions us on the ground floor of a potentially huge transformation within the US energy industry. Ramboll has been a key force in the offshore wind industry in the Nordics and across Europe, so the experience and expertise that we bring to this project and to the industry generally are invaluable."

The MassCEC study team includes Ramboll, Apex and other local engineering firms; the University of Massachusetts (Boston) Urban Harbors Institute; and Tufts University. The project brings together leading global experts in offshore wind development; experienced Massachusetts-based engineers, and environmental and port professionals with direct knowledge of the project sites in the study area and in the US offshore wind marketplace; world-renowned researchers in port development and offshore wind energy production; and key members of the supply chain that will build the new offshore wind industry in the US.

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About Ramboll Environ
Ramboll Environ is a leading global environmental and health consulting firm with 2100 consultants working across 130 offices in 28 countries. We help a diverse industrial, financial, legal and government client base to solve their most challenging environmental, health and social issues and support a sustainable society. Ramboll Environ was formed by the December 2014 acquisition of global consultancy ENVIRON by Ramboll. www.ramboll-environ.com

About Ramboll
Ramboll is a leading engineering, design and consultancy company founded in Denmark in 1945. Ramboll employs 13,000 globally and has especially strong representation in the Nordics, UK, North America, Continental Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Ramboll works across the markets: Buildings, Transport, Planning & Urban Design, Water, Environment & Health, Energy, Oil & Gas and Management Consulting. www.ramboll.com


Japan’s JERA to acquire 10% in Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 13:26 IST

Japan’s JERA to acquire 10% in Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power

Reuters

Japan’s JERA Co. Inc. said on Tuesday it has agreed to acquire a 10% stake in ReNew Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd in its first major transaction in the renewable energy sector.

The deal signifies the importance to JERA of developing a balanced overseas power generation portfolio that includes renewable energy, the Japanese company said in a statement.

JERA also said it will provide technical, operational, project development, and management experience to ReNew, which will issue fresh shares to the Japanese company as part of the deal.

To be updated...

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Will NZ's future energy be clean? - Expert Q&A

Will NZ's future energy be clean? - Expert Q&A
14 Feburary 2017

Approximately 80 per cent of New Zealand's electricity comes from renewable energy sources. But is this the full picture behind NZ's clean and green reputation?
Today the University of Otago's Centre for Sustainability releases ten policy briefs from its Energy Cultures research. We asked experts how New Zealand's energy usage compares to the rest of the world and what our Energy Future might look like.

Please feel free to use these comments in your reporting.This is an abridged version - you can access the full version on scimex.org along with the newly-released policy briefs.

- Dr Janet Stephenson, University of Otago
- Prof Ralph Sims, Massey University
- Prof Robyn Phipps, Massey University
- A.Prof Ben Wooliscroft, University of Otago

Dr Janet Stephenson, Director, Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago:
What needs to change to transition NZ towards a clean energy future without risking our energy security?

"New Zealand tends to pat itself on the back about our renewable electricity. Around 80 per cent of our electricity is currently generated from renewable resources, mainly hydro, geothermal and wind. However only around 40 per cent of ALL energy used in New Zealand is renewable.

"So around 60 per cent of our total energy use is fossil fuels – coal, oil (mainly petrol and diesel) and gas. We tend to conveniently forget this when we talk about how clean and green NZ is, and just focus on the electricity story. It will take some major changes to shift away from fossil fuels, which are mainly used for transport and in industry. And a clean energy future is not just about switching to renewables – it’s about using ALL energy much more efficiently, so it takes less energy to do the same amount of work (or more work).

"For New Zealand, changing to renewable fuels for transport and industrial processes offers great opportunities to improve productivity and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Given the quality of our renewable resources for electricity generation, it makes sense to seek to electrify transport and industry, and we’re already seeing the start of this with the government’s support for uptake of electric vehicles, and the focus in the proposed NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy on using renewable energy in process heat for industry."

What do you think NZ’s Energy Future looks like?

"We need to get to a net zero carbon world by the second half of this century and NZ must play its part in this transition. For NZ, opportunities to reduce biological emissions will take longer to develop than opportunities to reduce energy-related emissions. Here we must focus on, in order of importance, stopping burning coal, secondly getting away from burning oil (petrol and diesel) and thirdly moving away from gas. This means changes in what fuels we use to be mobile, to heat our homes, to run our businesses, and to produce and transport goods.

"I envisage NZ’s energy future by the second half of this century as one in which we have a high level of electrification of transport (e.g. trains, buses, cars, some heavy vehicles) and some use of biofuels (e.g. in planes and heavy transport). Industrial processes will shift to electricity and biofuels, which will require some adaptation of equipment. Forestry will be more important both because of its use as a carbon sink and also its use for biofuels (e.g. solid wood, wood chips, wood pellets, liquid biofuels). Advances in other forms of biofuel production (e.g. algae) will also have occurred."
Does anything need to change in government policy or action to assist all New Zealanders to transition to a clean energy future?

"The problem is that there is no government policy! There is a weak emission trading scheme (under review) that a) most people don’t realise exists even though they contribute to it in their gas and petrol bills, and b) has had no effect on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions whatsoever – even at the current carbon price of around $18/t CO2. A small car typically produces 2 tonnes of CO2 per year – so paying around $36/yr through the ETS, there is little incentive to reduce GHG emissions.

"To reach a major tipping point of emissions reductions requires behavioural change linked with low-carbon technologies – but there is no leadership to drive that change and therefore no signs that the government wishes to significantly reduce our emissions. New Zealand has an opportunity to be a leader in the international aim, from Paris, to stay below a 2oC temperature rise, but is has dropped the ball. If all the world’s countries were to match New Zealand’s target of 11.2% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, then the world will be on track for a 3-4 oC temp rise. This is obviously untenable.

"On a per capita basis, our GHG emissions are one of the highest in the world, so we are yet to show that we’re willing to 'do our fair share' to reduce emissions. Increasing the plantation forest area to remove CO2 gives us some breathing space, but this can only be a temporary solution as land area is constrained. Buying carbon credits from off-shore is also not a long-term solution, and may postpone the inevitable need to reduce our domestic emissions and make the transition to a low carbon economy.

"The planet is at a critical juncture – and not just in regards to climate change impacts. We will all have to make changes to our current lifestyle because, quite simply, 'business as usual' is not sustainable."

Professor Robyn Phipps, Professor of Construction, Massey University:
When it comes to energy efficiency, is NZ's construction industry progressive in their adoption of technology? Or are we lagging behind the rest of the developed world?

"NZ is lagging behind much of the world with regard to energy efficiency. Our insulation standards are lower than many countries with even warmer climates. The amount of PV panels installed is less than countries, such as Germany, which have low sunshine hours.

"One of the main hurdles in increasing energy efficiency in home construction is the fact that many people regard going anywhere above the requirements stipulated in the Building Code as frivolous. The Building Code is only the lowest legally acceptable solution, it is not the best solution. In the car industry, producers have done a far better job of educating the public that safety features above and beyond the basic requirements to pass a WOF are advantageous and desirable.

"The construction industry needs to be getting a similar message out to the public."

What home energy solutions are good options for New Zealanders? Is there anything that needs to change in order to encourage uptake of such technologies?

"Insulation, heating and ventilation are required. A properly insulated home, with some thermal mass being warmed by correctly placed windows will need almost no extra heating or cooling. Regrettably, many home designers turn to heat pumps rather than good design solutions.

"We're currently researching solar air heaters and finding really good results."

In NZ we have an ageing housing stock - what options are there for retrofitting these homes to be more energy efficient or to use alternate energy sources? Is it likely to happen?

"The first requirement is to insulate our houses, in the ceiling, in the walls and under the floor.

"We also should have double glazing in all our domestic and commercial buildings. The new photovoltaic roof tiles that Tesla has developed would offer the opportunity to re-roof and produce energy in the home.

"The feed-in tariff offered by electricity companies appears to be designed to suppress adoption of PV, but will likely lead to local energy sharing systems that cut electricity companies out."

Is it becoming more cost effective for homes to become more energy efficient? What are the easiest ways for people to lower their energy bills?

"Smart heating, appropriate heat pump technology (too often the wrong unit is placed in the wrong part of the house), good insulation and domestic consumption of energy all lead to lower bills, but require some outlay.

"The EECA does a good job of telling households what they can do for little or no outlay."

What do you think NZ’s Energy Future looks like?

"I am optimistic that NZ’s energy future will be renewable and fairer. There is certainly a groundswell of interest in moving off grid, or producing some of the energy used in the household.

"Unfortunately that option is not available to all people, the poor are likely going to be stuck in the situation of buying electricity with little real choice."

No conflicts of interest declared by the Q&A participants.

**This is an abridged Q&A, read the full version on scimex.org**

ends

© Scoop Media


Penguins hunt fish in wrong place after climate change creates 'trap'

Endangered penguins are hunting for fish in the wrong place because climate change has prompted sardines and other prey to move to another part of the ocean, researchers have discovered.

The plight of the African penguin – found in Namibia and South Africa – highlights the dangers to wildlife of the sudden rise in temperature caused by human-induced global warming.

For the penguins have learned to look for places with lower sea temperatures and large amounts of a type of chlorophyll. These are tell-tale signs of plankton and, in turn, the fish that feed on them.

These once sure-fire ways to find large shoals are now leading the penguins into an “ecological trap” that is pushing them closer to extinction.

And the situation has been made worse by industrial-scale fishing and a raft of other problems, mostly caused by humans.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are about 80,000 adult African penguins left. But oil slicks in 1994 and 2000 killed some 30,000 birds and the death toll “may increase” if planned harbour developments go ahead, the IUCN says.

In the new study, researchers from Exeter and Cape Town universities tagged 54 juvenile birds from eight different colonies to find out where they go to look for fish.

The areas they chose were once rich hunting grounds for sardines and anchovies.

But changes in water temperature and salt content have prompted the fish to move hundreds of kilometres away.

One of the researchers, Dr Richard Sherley, of Exeter University, said this meant the tell-tale signs used by penguins to find fish “now put them in danger”.

“These were once reliable cues for prey-rich waters, but climate change and industrial fishing have depleted forage fish stocks in this system,” he said.

“Climate change and fisheries are transforming the oceans, but we don't have a complete understanding of their impact.

“Our results support suspending fishing when prey biomass drops below certain levels, and suggest that mitigating marine ecological traps will require major conservation action.”

The problems in finding food have produced low survival rates among juvenile African penguins, previously known as jackass penguins.

It is thought breeding numbers are about 50 per cent lower than they would be if the birds were able to find enough to eat.

Dr Stephen Votier, also of Exeter University, said the ability to track the penguins movements was a “crucial tool in conservation biology”.

“This ecological trap was only discovered when young penguins were tracked from multiple colonies,” he said.

“This highlights the power of studying animal movements, particularly for long-lived marine species like penguins.”

The results of the research were published in the journal Current Biology in a paper called Metapopulation tracking juvenile penguins reveals an ecosystem-wide ecological trap.

According to the IUCN’s Red List of endangered species, the African penguin is “undergoing a very rapid population decline, probably as a result of commercial fisheries and shifts in prey populations”.

“This trend currently shows no sign of reversing, and immediate conservation action is required to prevent further declines,” it adds.


Digester Feedstock For Biogas Generation

Bedding obtained from so called eco-shelters which contain a mixture of straw and manure is an excellent source of biomass for a digester as they provide a good C: N ratio. The fact that some composting of the eco-shelter bedding has begun will assist in the breakdown of the fibrous material.

Physical pre-treatment of solid feedstock by maceration reduces particle size to prevent physical obstruction of pipes and pumps by the fibres, and it also increases surface area available for microbial attack, and thus speeds up the digestion process. Research suggests that lignin cellulose and hemi-cellulose which are almost non-biodegradable in ordinary systems can be degraded to a significant degree after maceration. The introduction of bacterial agents (bioaugmentation) to the feedstock can lead to an increase in the output of methane as well as higher value bio-solids, and assist in the breakdown of the biomass resulting in an overall lower hydraulic retention time (HRT) in the digester. A beneficial “by product” of bioaugmentation is (supplier’s data) the fact that the production of hydrogen sulfide is virtually eliminated.

Manures usually have a total solid (TS) content of about 4 to 22%. In most cases, especially when slurries are not 'homogeneous', this concentration is too high for pumping and piping, and the TS is usually brought down to 4 - 8% by dilution with water, to make a pumpable slurry. Where a combination of liquid waste (slurry) say from the farrowing and gestation sheds is to be combined with “solid” eco-shelter waste a chopper pump/agitator is used to macerate the solids to reduce the particle size going into the digester as well as providing an homogeneous mixture.


Telecom Plus sells stake in energy business to Drax Group for £71m

(ShareCast News) - FTSE 250 listed gas, electricity and broadband provider Telecom Plus has completed the sale of its 20% stake in Opus Energy Group to Drax Group, a electrical power generation firm, for about £71m.
Following approval by the European Commision, Drax bought the stake in Opus Energy as part of its strategy to improve earnings and diversify its markets, while Opus Energy would also complement its existing Haven Power business.

Drax chief executive Dorothy Thompson said: "Today we took another step forward in delivering our Group-wide strategy. This addition to our existing retail offer will see our challenger brands, Opus Energy and Haven Power, working to provide the UK's businesses with affordable, reliable and renewable energy."

Telecom Plus said that it return the proceeds from the sale to shareholders through a £70m tender offer after the publication of results for the 2017 financial year in June.

Shares in Telecom Plus were down 0.25% to 1,204p at 1237 GMT and shares in Drax Group were up 0.92% to 374.90p at 1248 GMT.


Pennon performs in line despite Viridor challenges

http://stmedia.digitallook.com/web/img/dl/pennon_viridor_recycling_waste.jpg
bool(false)

Pennon performs in line despite Viridor challenges

Pennon Group Quote more

Price: 843.00

Chg: 26.50

Chg %: 3.25%

Date: 09:00

FTSE 250 Quote

Price: 18,591.04 Chg: -15.03 Chg %: -0.08% Date: 09:00

(ShareCast News) - Environmental infrastructure group Pennon issued a trading update on Thursday, confirming it will deliver trading performance consistent with the board's expectations and prior guidance.
The FTSE 250 company said it continued to focus on delivering for customers, communities and shareholders across its water and waste businesses.

Its operational performance is supported by cost savings and synergies across the group, the board said, while growth was being delivered through Viridor's portfolio of 12 energy recovery facilities across the UK.

As it announced at the half year, Glasgow's Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre was being completed by an "experienced team" assembled by Viridor, which will work with a new engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

The Glasgow-based firm Doosan Babcock were currently finalising an assessment and project plan at the site, with Pennon saying they had been chosen for their experience in delivering large capital projects in the energy and power space.

That followed the decision to terminate the EPC contract with Interserve due to repeated delays in the completion of GREEC, for which Viridor had contractual remedies, the board said.

Its client, Glasgow City Council, had been consulted throughout the period of change, and reportedly remained supportive of Viridor's actions and the revised plan for completion.

In Greater Manchester, Pennon said Viridor recognised the financial challenges faced by its client, the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, due to prolonged austerity.

Viridor was working with its partners to respond, and modifications were being undertaken and funded at a handful of sites by the original construction contractor Costain to ensure the facilities operate effectively for the mix and profile of waste arisings.

Diversion of waste from landfill remained ahead of contractual commitments, and Viridor and its partners were keen to ensure this progress is able to continue, Pennon's board said.

"Our water and waste businesses are performing well and we are on track to deliver a good set of results for the full year 2016/17," said group chief executive Chris Loughlin.

"South West Water is on course to remain at a sector-leading 11.7% RORE and Viridor is on track to contribute the targeted £100m of EBITDA from its portfolio of Energy Recovery Facilities.

"With our sector-leading dividend policy, our growth profile and our strong balance sheet, Pennon is well-placed to continue to deliver for customers, communities and shareholders."

In a separate announcement, Pennon also confirmed that it had agreed terms with Nomura to unwind a derivative - entered into in 2011 - through Peninsula MB.

It said the derivative had been due to end in 2027, however following a change in the economic benefit of this derivative outlined at the half year results 2016/17, Pennon was exercising its option to unwind the transaction early.

The estimated overall post-tax impact of unwinding the derivative had already been reflected through the £39.5m derivative liability recognised at the half year results 2016/17.


Warning of future blackouts as politics dominates energy and climate debate

Victoria and NSW have been warned they could follow South Australia in being hit by electricity blackouts in years ahead unless Canberra comes up with a bipartisan national plan to deal with energy and climate change.

Victoria and NSW have been warned they could follow South Australia in being hit by electricity blackouts in years ahead unless Canberra comes up with a bipartisan national plan to deal with energy and climate change.

The Turnbull government leapt on the latest in a string of South Australian blackouts, which hit about 40,000 properties for 45 minutes during extreme heat early Wednesday night, to accuse the state Labor government of relying too heavily on renewable energy.

The attack dominated parliamentary question time, with Treasurer Scott Morrison brandishing a lump of coal – a sign of his party's support for more generation from the high-emissions fossil fuel, which he contrasted with federal Labor's 50 per cent renewable energy target.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Labor's ideological approach to renewable energy was turning off the lights in Adelaide. "They have failed to deliver the security of energy that Australians need," he said.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the state needed to look at every option to stabilise the system, including reopening the 32-year-old Northern coal-fired station that closed last year and is already partly demolished.

But South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis blamed the blackout on a "massive, catastrophic failure" of the National Electricity Market. He pointed to the state's gas-fired power plan at Pelican Point, which could have provided the power needed but was not called on to run at full capacity.

"I think what you're seeing at a national level is an ignorance that the problem that's occurring here is coming to a city near you on the eastern seaboard soon," he said.

Energy industry leaders and experts warned the government was incorrect to solely blame the South Australian government for the electricity crisis and called for a national solution.

While South Australia backs clean energy, the overwhelming driver of the state's high percentage of wind energy had been the national renewable energy target, which has bipartisan support. South Australia has many of the best sites for wind generation in the country, and therefore had drawn much of the investment triggered by the national target.

It has happened as nine coal plants have closed in seven years, with no policy to drive what should replace them. Victoria's Hazelwood plant will follow next month, though analysts believe it should not lead to blackouts if the market functions as it should.

Australian Energy Council chief Matthew Warren, representing 21 electricity and gas businesses, reiterated calls for a bipartisan energy and climate plan to guide companies on what they should be investing.

"Politics has turned this into the Punch and Judy show. We're trying to get something that is workable. We have politicians from both sides accusing their opponents of being ideologically driven and political, but then both sides are guilty of that in the next sentence," he said.

Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, said no players in the debate were blameless, but the Turnbull government should be called out for blaming the state government.

"I will criticise crazy state-based renewable energy targets, but this is not the result of a South Australian policy," he said.

Mr Wood said the available gas plant lying dormant when it was needed was either a failure of the rules governing the national electricity grid, or the way the market operator was interpreting them.

Chief scientist Alan Finkel is running an inquiry into the national electricity grid that was commissioned after a statewide South Australian blackout in September. An interim report in December flagged the need for changes.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said, with no national solutions being offered and the market operator unable to guarantee security of supply, the state was considering options to intervene in the national market to ensure supply.

The market operator has warned of more potential problems during hot weather ahead, with the possibility of a blackout in NSW on Friday afternoon.

Accusations flared over why available gas-plant was not in operation when it was known the wind would not be blowing on Wednesday - whether the market operator had failed to direct the it to run, or plant owner Engie had failed to respond to a call for bids to sell power into the grid.

Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler said Mr Frydenberg should stop playing politics with the national energy crisis and make sure the market operator was doing its job.

Mr Frydenberg said South Australia had the power on Wednesday to ask for more generation to be operating. He said he had asked the market operator for an urgent report into what happened.

Australian Industry Group chief Innes Willox called for consideration of energy users of all sizes being offered an incentive to slightly cut back usage at critical times.

"We need both long-term reform for a market that delivers affordable, reliable and clean energy, and urgent shorter term measures to ease the current crunch," he said.

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The story Warning of future blackouts as politics dominates energy and climate debate first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.


NextEra will be the new energy supplier for Cape Light Compact

Austin Brandt, power supply planner for Cape Light Compact. — Courtesy of Austin Brandt

In January, Island customers of Cape Light Compact (CLC) got a new energy supplier — NextEra — and all that power is generated by 100 percent renewable sources. Plus, the new rate for residential customers — in place only until the end of July 2017 — is 9.93 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), slightly lower than the residential rate from Eversource, the regional electricity distributor, which is 10.318 cents per kWh. According to Austin Brandt, CLC’s power-supply planner, CLC and Eversource both change the prices for residential customers at six-month intervals, and determine their prices by analyzing the futures market. Customers can expect new rates to be announced in early summer. Differences in price are due to locking in at different times and varying blends of energy sources. Individual Eversource customers were switched over from Con Ed Solutions to NextEra through the month of January, as their billing period ended and a new one began.

CLC is a municipal aggregator; its primary purpose is to negotiate a competitive price for electricity for its members. The regional compact was formed in 1997, in the wake of the 1992 federal Energy Policies Act, which among many other changes, forced energy producers to separate themselves from energy distributors. This created room in between for aggregators, made possible in Massachusetts in 1997, by the Massachusetts Restructuring Act.

Since 2005, until this month, CLC bought its power for residential users from Con Ed Solutions, a Valhalla, N.Y.–based company. According to Mr. Brandt, CLC began buying power in in 2014 for its industrial and commercial customers — a distinct minority in the Cape and Islands region — from the Massachusetts affiliate of NextEra Energy Services, based in Juno Beach, Fla. With the residential supply contract up for renewal in 2016, CLC issued a request for proposals (RFP) and received two, one from NextEra and one from Con Ed.

“[CLC executive director] Maggie [Downey] and I discussed how to go green,” Mr. Brandt said, “and then we brought in the board of directors. We asked Con Ed and NextEra to consider this in their proposals.” NextEra was chosen, according to Mr. Brandt, because its price was competitive, its representatives seemed comfortable with the commercial and industrial load, the deal gave better value for the cost, and NextEra brought options for making the supply 100 percent green. In spring 2016, CLC entered into a contract with NextEra.

What is a compact?

CLC is the oldest municipal aggregator in the state, and the only one that pools customers from multiple municipalities into a single purchasing bloc. It includes all 21 towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the governments of Barnstable and Dukes counties.

“Barnstable County created Cape Light Compact after the 1997 restructuring act,” Ms. Downey said. “Back then, they had a forward-thinking local government.” The county organized and funded CLC. Energy-efficiency funds that pay for all CLC activities are derived from a systems benefits charge of $0.025 cents/kWh that is added to the bill of all utility customers.

The compact is an example of a community choice aggregator (CCA), which allows for the group purchasing of power. CCAs are established by law in seven states now, with Massachusetts being the first to adopt them. They work in partnership with an existing utility, Eversource in the Cape and Islands, which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, and do the billing.

In addition to negotiating contracts for the delivery of power, aggregators may also administer energy-efficiency programs, including energy audits for homes. According to Ms. Downey, this free service is available to Martha’s Vineyard customers during one week out of every month. She said there was now an eight-week waiting list.

As an aggregator, CLC is not allowed to develop power generation. In 2008, the passage of the state’s Green Communities Act made it possible for cities and towns to develop their own power generation.

“Green Communities made sale of energy as a transaction more viable economically,” Ms. Downey said, “because of net metering credits. In addition, the price of PVs [photovoltaic cells] plummeted.” The 1997 restructuring act had allowed for the formation of municipal energy cooperatives, and CLC formed the Cape and Vineyard Energy Cooperative (CVEC) in 2007 to be an entity that would develop renewable energy projects.

CLC is still a member of CVEC, Ms. Downey said, but it is no longer funding it. Early in the development of CVEC, CLC employees were doing most of the administrative work. Between 2007 and 2014, CLC gave CVEC help in the form of grants from surplus in the energy-efficiency funds used to run CLC. After 2014, the surplus was depleted, and CVEC must raise all of its own revenue.

Also in 2014, according to Ms. Downey, the political atmosphere at Barnstable County changed. After what she described as “a rocky time with the [county] assembly of delegates,” CLC ended its contract for services with the county. All of the CLC staff are employees of the county; Ms. Downey is the assistant county manager.

“At the county, it came down to the issue of liability for employees who worked for CLC,” the executive director said. “We were told that we’d have to become a county department or move on, so we signed a termination agreement. The contract expired in 2022 anyway; all this did was fast-forward that conversation.”

In response, CLC has been advised by counsel to form a “joint powers entity.” CLC would have employees of its own, but would contract for administrative services with one of its member towns. Its relationship with Barnstable County will end in June or before.

CLC’s relationship with the state is not extensive. According to an email response from Katie Gronendyke of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, “municipal aggregators, like Cape Light Compact, are statutorily allowed (although not required) to develop demand-side management programs (now referred to as energy efficiency). Those plans must be submitted to the DPU [Department of Public Utilities] to certify that the plan is consistent with the state energy conservation goals developed pursuant to statute.

“Currently, Cape Light Compact is the only municipal aggregator with a ‘certified’ energy efficiency plan. Their last three-year energy efficiency plan, for the 2016 through 2018 term, was reviewed and approved by the DPU in D.P.U. 15-166.

“The filings made by the Cape Light Compact recently have pertained to their energy efficiency plans, goals, and spending. The DPU reviews these filings consistent with applicable law and statute.”

100 percent green supply

Although CLC signed a contract with NextEra in spring 2016, it had not yet decided to go 100 percent renewably sourced. Mr. Brandt and Ms. Downey put this matter before CLC’s directors, who discussed it between late summer and the fall. By November they had decided to “go green.”

“If we hadn’t gone this route,” Mr. Brandt said, “the difference would have been a tenth of a cent per kWh. The difference is small because [divisions of] NextEra own a regional power grid [in Florida] and a variety of resources — both renewable and nonrenewable.”

A division of CLC’s new supplier, called NextEra Energy Resources, develops, builds, and owns power plants, according to NextEra director of communications Steven Stengel. “We meet the energy needs of our customers through procuring power for them,” Mr. Stengel said in a phone interview. “We are the largest generator of wind and solar power in the world.”

When NextEra produces power via wind turbines and solar panels and feeds it into the national grid, it purchases a renewable energy credit (REC) for each megawatt (MW) of power generated. “[The RECs] represent the good environmental attributes of the energy produced, attributes like a lack of greenhouse gases produced,” Mr. Brandt said. “It has been agreed that they are the appropriate way to make claims about where your energy comes from.”

Any producer of alternative energy, large or small, can earn RECS. “If you have a small PV array on your home,” Mr. Brandt said, “it produces solar RECS. You can contract with a broker, who will sell them for you. That’s income for you, but then you can’t claim to be using renewable energy, only producing it.”

At a larger scale, Massachusetts state law requires energy suppliers to retire a certain number of RECs per year. This is the basis of the market for RECs; it creates a reliable demand for them.

Mr. Brandt explained the appeal of NextEra to CLC. “They own big REC-producing resources,” he said. “They have both production and demand under one company.”

According to Mr. Stengel, NextEra owns 19,000 MW of electricity production in 29 states; 80 percent of that is generated through wind and solar energy. They have been producing solar power since 1989. The next largest portion of their production, 14.5 percent, is derived from nuclear power. Mr. Stengel said NextEra thinks of itself as a wholesale provider; their customers are aggregators, utilities, municipalities, and cooperatives.

Unlike Con Ed Solutions, NextEra was able to promise CLC that it could reliably supply renewably sourced power to all its customers. “NextEra is purchasing RECS or assigning RECs they own, and retiring them in sufficient quantities, that it covers CLC usage,” Mr. Brandt said. This allows CLC to make the claim that 100 percent of the power used by their customers has a green source.

NextEra is producing power and purchasing RECs in other states where the energy supply exceeds the demand for it. The lower demand causes them to be cheaper; CLC’s retirement of these out-of-state RECs keeps the price per kWh down for its customers.

 


EIA updates bioenergy, wood heating forecasts

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the February edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting the non-hydro renewables share of U.S. electricity generation will be 9 percent in 2017 and 10 percent in 2018.

Wood biomass is expected to be used to generate 110,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, increasing to 111,000 MWh per day next year. Waste biomass is expected to be used to generate 60,000 MWh per day of electricity this year, with that level maintained into 2018.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.216 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood biomass in 2017, increasing to 0.223 quad in 2018. The sector is also expected to consume 0.283 quad of waste biomass this year, increasing to 0.287 next year.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 1.235 quad of wood biomass in 2017, falling to 1.23 quad in 2018. In addition, the sector is expected to consume 0.192 quad of waste biomass in both 2017 and 2018.

The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.073 quad of wood biomass this year, maintaining that level of consumption through next year. The consumption of waste biomass is also expected to be at 0.049 quad in both 2017 and 2018.

The residential sector is expected to consume 0.394 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.413 quad next year.

On a combined basis, all sectors are expected to consume 1.919 quad of wood biomass in 2017, increasing to 1.94 quad in 2018. Consumption of waste biomass is also expected to increase, from 0.524 quad this year to 0.528 quad next year.

According to the EIA, 2.48 million households are expected to use wood as a primary heating fuel during the 2016-’17 winter, up 1.3 percent when compared to the previous winter. This includes 536,000 households in the Northeast, down .09 percent; 612,000 households in the Midwest, up 1.7 percent; 601,000 households in the South, up 3.4 percent; and 731,000 households in the West, up 1 percent.