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I appreciate all that, but the impression I got elsewhere (I forget the source) is that the amount of money being set aside for wind energy in the stimulus Bill simply cannot be spent in the next few years because the industry, collectively, does not have the capacity to expand at such a rate.  Obviously, longer term, that won't be a problem.  What is a problem is if the industry is too small to make a large contribution to stimulating the economy in the next 2 years.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 08:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the largest wind-related item I find in the Appropriations Committee Report on the stimulus bill:
Section 5006 provides the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) increased borrowing authority in the amount of $3.25 billion to assist in building critical infrastructure to facilitate renewable and energy efficiency projects. Of the 6,417 megawatts of transmission requests pending before BPA, 4,700 megawatts are for interconnecting wind projects. This effort should complement, and not diminish, significant private sector transmission construction efforts currently contemplated in the service territory of BPA. (pp.33-4)

Our physical ability to build transmission interconnects is part of the productive resources left idle in the collapse of the construction sector.

There's also:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Construction
Recovery funding: $300 million
The backlog of deferred maintenance and construction needs at the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries is well documented and tracked and prioritized in the Service Asset and Maintenance Management System (SAMMS). The current backlogged needs identified in the SAMMS total more than $3 billion. These projects are typically accomplished with local  contractors and it is estimated that this funding will generate 11,000 jobs, primarily in local, rural communities that are near national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. These funds will allow the completion of deferred maintenance and capital improvement plan projects, focusing on critical assets, safety issues, energy efficiency, and habitat infrastructure. New construction and major rehabilitation will emphasize cost-effective, renewable energy principles and construction such as solar photovoltaic systems, geothermal energy, wind energy and efficiency
improvements. (p. 39)

However, as far as I am aware, this is more off-the-grid remote power applications than utility grade windpower, so would not stress existing wind-power capacity ...

And there is also this:

Department of Defense Energy Research Recovery funding: $350 million
$350 million is provided to the Department of Defense only for the funding of research, development, test and evaluation projects, including pilot projects, for improvements in energy generation, transmission, regulation, storage, and use on military installations to include research and development of energy from fuel cells, wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to include biofuels and bioenergy. (pp. 26-7)

So it sounds to me more like the present Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt strategy of the Republicans spreading misleading interpretation of the recent CBO report and attaching it to whatever targets of opportunity present themselves.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 10:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on devices is a minor point at present. Jerome's point about government policy viz. tariff and tax is more important. The spending for machines is exploding in all of the high-value resource areas, such as the Oregon/Washington border, east of the Cascades. The banks may be constipated, but energy, manufacturing, and newly-formed operating companies are making deals and finding funds at boom rates out here.

I was in a meeting two weeks ago, where the discussion was focused on: 1) a new grid system to handle 'green' energy for certification and transmission efficiency purposes; and 2) off-peak pumping of water into uphill storage for peak-hour generation via hydro-turbines. (Turns out that Sherman County, OR ran a geological/geographical survey in 1961 to map likely storage areas. The rep from there had to search the archives in the basement of his county's courthouse to find the records.)

Vestas is on a fast-track to build manufacturing capacity here. In addition our community college in The Dalles, OR has a three-year-old Renewable Energy Technician program (concentration is wind energy) which Vestas and Ibendrola (sp?) is raiding for employees after they've taken just the introductory courses.

Oregon and WA both have initiative-inspired legislation on the books requiring something like 20% of well-defined renewable-energy-sourced generation by 2020. It is, as we say, 'balls to the wall'.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While I would rank feed-in tariffs as more effective than a minimum portfolio standard, it does seem that we are going to be able to get a minimum portfolio standard through, and given the abundance of the resource and direct federal support for transmission capacity, then a minimum portfolio standard ought to be "good enough" to keep expansion of capaciy on track.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Arkansas the growth rate of new wind power manufacturing facilities has been slowed by the lack of availability of funding.  SWEPCO and Entergy both have been purchasing the output of Texas panhandle wind farms, but they do not have adequate or dedicated transmission facilities for this power and so must bid in competitive auctions for transmission on existing pathways.  It should be noted that a new pathway through Oklahoma to, say, Fayetteville or even Springfield, MO would be a major step in enabling the sale of West Texas wind power to mid west buyers, in addition to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:27:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And across New Mexico to Phoenix and then Southern Cali. Amarillo (eg) to Phoenix is 600 miles, and Amarillo / Phoenix / LA is under 1,000.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks guys, for your research.  It appears I was misinformed.  I had no doubt that there were a lot of "shovel ready" projects held up by funding constraints, and also that there was a lot of unused capacity in the construction sector.  

My concern was more specific to the wind power industry and that bottle necks or unavoidably long construction times might occur in specific specialist areas - e.g. turbine manufacture, critical smart grid components, completion of new power lines - which would constrain the ability of the industry to produce a major expansion of wind capacity in the next 2 years.

Obviously any such under-capacity would be as a direct consequence of the "stop-go" regulatory and financial  regime for wind power identified by Jerome above and the chronic lack of vision of the Bush regime.  

The irony is that the richest wind power resources often seem to be in Republican States.  Now that the DEMS have abandoned their 50 state electoral strategy perhaps they could inaugurate a 50 state energy strategy which might be just as good at harvesting votes in red areas in due course!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 07:16:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only one of the richest wind resrouce states were "deep red" in 2008 ... Montano North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Texas were all lighter shades of red than in 2000/2004, and Montana and North Dakota would qualify as "purple" with the same reckoning as used going into 2008.

And there is definitely a tension between the western style of "conservatism" and the southern style of "conservatism" that can be most usefullly wedged if there is some good old fashioned parochial interests going along with it.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:18:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would not look forward to selling much Texas wind power outside of Texas. The Texas grid is almost completely isolated from the rest of the country, on purpose. The west Texas electricity will mostly be sent to Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc., even though plenty of out-of-state cities are much closer.

Amarillo to Denver: 574 km
Amarillo to Houston: 855 km

Amarillo is in the middle of the pink area on the wind map below.


by asdf on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not so sure about your hypothesis as regards the future.  There are many plans to link the Texas grid, and rightly so.  whther they happen or not???

special corridors transmitting wind in Texas are already under construction planning.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that the Texas electric grid is almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the U.S., and that the regulations are set up to maintain that situation. There are a lot of projects WITHIN Texas to improve their system, but I have not heard of a change in attitude that would help other states.

Texas gets most of its power from natural gas, but is actively working to build a substantial wind infrastructure.

by asdf on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 06:54:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My May 2008 article on wind power was written after I attended a conference on supply problems in the industry, so you'll find a lot of details there. Also, follow some of the links. Basically, the U.S. is able to produce just over half the content of a large wind turbine. There are two critical areas: gearboxes, which are self-destructing after just 4 or 5 years, instead of the design life of 20 to 25 years; and transformers, which must all be imported into the U.S. as there is no domestic producer. As of May 2008, there were an amazing number of new production facilities being planned for the U.S., especially in Iowa and Minnesota, which are close to the wind-rich central plains.

Can the U.S. achieve 20% wind energy by 2030?

by NBBooks on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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