Wind

NEW REPORT: Minnesota Home to Well-Over 100 Wind, Solar Supply Chain Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2017

Contact: David Jakubiak

MinnDakota_blue_with_moon

Minnesota Renewable Energy Sector Holds 100+ Businesses
Renewable Energy Investments Bring Business Growth Throughout the State

ST. PAUL, MN – More than 100 Minnesota companies serve wind power and solar energy markets, providing jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found.

“When a new solar installation or wind farm is built in Minnesota, the economic impact of that project goes well beyond the community that will be delivered the construction jobs and new tax revenue from the project, there can be a web of economic activity that extends across the state,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Wind power and solar energy development drives economic and job growth. Every renewable energy project requires engineering, financial, manufacturing and construction businesses and workers.”

The report identified 82 companies involved in the solar power supply chain and 49 companies involved in the wind energy supply chain. The report identified companies through an analysis of industry group lists that included confirmation of each company’s supply chain role.

Minnesota Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman lauded the robust growth of the state’s renewable energy sector. “Across Minnesota, the benefits of building renewable energy projects are clear. Companies have brought job opportunities and made investments in local communities where they are constructing renewable energy projects,” said Rep. Hortman. “Minnesota’s economy has benefited because our state is the Midwest’s pre-eminent leader in renewable energy policy. We should not take steps that threaten to roll back our progress or reduce jobs and economic growth in our renewable energy sector.”

For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind and solar projects, increased renewable energy development results in increased economic activity in the communities where they operate.

“When most people think about renewable energy jobs they only think about construction,” said John Brand, Chief Financial Officer with Juhl Energy, which is based in Chanhassen. “But when you are developing a large project, like our MidGrid Solar/Wind Hybrid Project in Red Lake Falls, it all starts with landowners, legal and engineering professionals, and local consultants. Then there are the local partners, in Red Lake Falls where we’re working with the local economic development office.”

Scott Strand, senior attorney with ELPC in Minnesota, noted that current efforts in the state legislature could create new hurdles for renewable energy development in the state. “As they consider moving forward with efforts to slow rural solar and prioritize a new fossil fuel plant, legislators should know those actions may impact businesses in their home districts.”

“Minnesota’s solar energy policy leadership is helping grow more supply chain businesses throughout the state,” added Learner.

Download the report at: www.elpc.org/MinnesotaSupplyChain

Press Release: ELPC Responds to Ohio Gov. Kasich Veto of State Energy Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STATEMENT BY ROB KELTER
Environmental Law & Policy Center

COLUMBUS, OHIO — Rob Kelter, senior attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s veto of a bill passed by the Ohio State Legislature that would have made standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy voluntary for the next two years:

“The governor’s veto today is a positive step towards a clean energy future for Ohio. Ohio needs a balanced energy policy that includes renewable energy and energy efficiency. Business owners  in the state’s renewable energy sector and energy efficiency sectors need certainty about Ohio’s direction so they can continue to invest in the state and create jobs. This balanced approach also benefits Ohio utility customers because it will help lower their bills.”

“Opponents of clean energy have distorted this debate from the start. The standards that Ohio is reinstating with the governor’s veto represent a positive, but modest, step towards a clean energy future for its citizens. Ohio is still heavily dependent on coal and nuclear energy, but now we’re back on track to a more balanced energy future.”

ClimateWire: ELPC’s Learner Sees More Wind, Solar in Illinois’ Future

Midwestern Lawmakers Green The Grid, Slightly
Benjamin Storrow, E&E News Reporter

Midwestern state capitals buzzed with energy legislation in the dying days of 2016.

In Illinois, legislators handed out $2.4 billion in subsidies to two nuclear plants, bolstered the state’s renewable energy mandates and gave utilities added financial incentive to pursue energy efficiency measures. Michigan lawmakers haggled over how much of the state’s power market should be open to competition but ultimately made few major changes. And in Ohio, legislators passed a plan to effectively make the Buckeye State’s renewable power standards optional. The measure’s fate now hinges on Gov. John Kasich (R), who has voiced his displeasure with the plan.

The net impact of all that paper-pushing: a slightly greener grid in one of America’s most coal-dependent regions.

How much credit, or derision, lawmakers can claim is unclear. Coal was already under siege from cheap natural gas in the Midwest. Wind, too, has made inroads — especially in Illinois, where it accounts for the majority of new capacity.

“On the margin, some of the legislation will have an impact,” said Travis Miller, an analyst who tracks the power sector at the investment research firm Morningstar. “But these are very large power markets, and at the end of the day, economics are going to drive what type of generation is in the energy mix.”

That’s not to dismiss the entirety of what lawmakers did, particularly in Illinois. Subsidies for Exelon Corp.’s two nuclear plants make the economic landscape for Dynegy Inc.’s coal plants even more challenging, analysts said. The Illinois Power Generating Co., an Dynegy subsidiary, filed for bankruptcy a few days after the bill passed.

Lawmakers in Springfield, Ill., provided a fix to Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard, ensuring an annual budget of $200 million in renewable energy credits. Greens are especially excited that roughly half of that sum will go toward distributed and community solar.

“Illinois will have more wind power and solar energy, as they receive policy support and are increasingly economic in the marketplace,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago. “The public wants more clean renewable energy, and the public is going to get more clean renewable energy.”

Read the full story at: http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2016/12/19/stories/1060047392

 

Public News Service: ELPC’s Klein Praises Advancements For Solar In Illinois Legislation

Public News ServiceIllinois Called Leader in Move to Renewable Energy
December 15, 2016
By Veronica Carter

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Strides are being made in the Midwest when it comes to renewable energy, but there’s still lots of room for improvement.

Illinois is being praised for last month’s passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, with some calling it the most important climate bill in state history.

Attorney Brad Klein with the Environmental Law and Policy Center hopes other Midwestern states will follow the lead.

He says the legislation will lead to huge growth in solar and wind technology, combat climate change, create jobs and lower utility bills.

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NUVO: ELPC’s Brad Klein Says Indiana Can Follow Illinois Lead On Solar

nuvo Indiana

Indiana Urged to Follow Illinois’ Lead in Solar, Wind
December 15, 2016
By Veronica Carter

Strides are being made in the Midwest when it comes to renewable energy, but there’s still lots of room for improvement.

Illinois is being praised for last month’s passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, with some calling it the most important climate bill in state history.

It’s expected to grow solar and wind technology, combat climate change, create jobs and lower utility bills.

Attorney Brad Klein with the Environmental Law and Policy Center hopes Indiana, which has been very reliant on coal power, will follow the lead.

“We do see some positive momentum there, but with some more leadership on the state level, we think there’s no reason Indiana couldn’t join states like Illinois and others to really build up their clean energy industry and create jobs,” he states.

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Energy Wire: Howard Lauds Renewable Energy Victories In Illinois Legislation

EnergyWire

Exelon Nuclear Plants Get Bailout in Sweeping Energy Bill
December 2, 2016
By Jeffrey Tomich

Years of sagging energy prices and eroding electricity demand pushed two Illinois nuclear plants to the brink of closure. A procedural assist in the final hours of the legislative calendar spared the plants from a knockout blow.

In the end, lawmakers approved the most significant rewrite of state energy policy in two decades. Among other things, it authorizes up to $2.4 billion in subsidies over the next decade to keep Exelon Corp.’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants running.

The bill, which will also trigger billions of dollars for wind, solar and energy efficiency, was helped by a last-minute maneuver removing the effective date. The seemingly innocuous change lowered the threshold for passage in the House, where it ultimately passed by just three votes.

The “Future Energy Jobs Bill” now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), who issued a statement late yesterday evening indicating he’ll sign it.

“This legislation will save thousands of jobs. It protects ratepayers, through guaranteed caps, from large rate increases in years to come. It also ensures taxpayers are not on the hook to keep the power plants open and online,” Rauner said in a statement.

The stakes in the battle over S.B. 2814 were high, especially for Chicago-based Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear operator, which has been pushing for state aid for money-losing nuclear plants for the past two years (EnergyWire, June 3). The company threatened to take “irreversible” steps to shut down the plants if the Legislature didn’t pass the bill yesterday.

It’s also a win for clean energy advocates. The measure strengthens the state’s energy efficiency standard and includes a fix for Illinois’ long-broken renewable standard. Specifically, it requires development of enough new wind and solar energy to power 1 million homes by 2030.

Exelon went head-to-head with a coalition of wind and solar groups for much of the past two years over the future of Illinois’ energy mix (EnergyWire, Feb. 27, 2015). The state’s largest energy company and green groups finally reached a compromise last week.

“This forward-looking energy policy levels the playing field and values all carbon-free energy equally, positions Illinois as a national leader in advancing clean energy, and will provide a major boost to the Illinois economy,” Exelon’s chief executive, Chris Crane, said in a statement.

For opponents, including the state’s biggest energy users, the outcome is a setback.

Manufacturers, chemical plants and owners of Chicago skyscrapers repeatedly warned legislators that the bill will increase electric costs, undoing the benefits of competition that grew from deregulation in the late 1990s.

“Beware when you hear Exelon telling you what’s good for the customers,” an official from the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago told a Senate committee in a hearing Wednesday. “We’re the customers.”

Power plant owner Dynegy Inc., which has shut down 20 percent of the generating capacity in downstate Illinois in the past six months, also lobbied hard to kill the bill in the final days.

Dynegy supported it until last week, when the sponsor pulled a convoluted provision that would have generated millions of dollars in additional capacity payments for the Houston-based company’s coal plants (EnergyWire, Nov. 23).

A company spokesman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment last night.

Rates, Jobs at Issue

In the end, for legislators who voted on the bill yesterday evening, arguments centered on bill’s impact on electric rates and the state’s economy. And both sides came armed with conflicting data and studies as supporting evidence.

Rep. Bill Mitchell (R), whose district includes the 1,046-megawatt Clinton nuclear plant northeast of Springfield pleaded with lawmakers to spare jobs and taxes that are vital to the area.

Not only the 800 jobs at the plant but also those at nearby schools and businesses that depend on the plant were in jeopardy.

“The people of DeWitt County have been put through hell for the last six months wondering if they’ll have a job,” he said.

Opponents made equally passionate pleas to not ram through a massive, complex bill in the final hours while the state faces so many other pressing needs.

Rep. Mark Batinick (R) said the aid for Exelon was unnecessary because Illinois is a significant exporter of electricity.

“We’re going to subsidize a company so that it can sell its power out of state?” he said. “That’s supposed to be more important than a budget, than social services, than education?”

Bill supporters cited studies by Illinois agencies and another by Brattle Group consultants suggesting that Illinois electricity rates would go up if the nuclear plants shut down prematurely. Rauner pressed for rate caps for all classes of utility customers as a condition for his approval.

Including the energy savings from huge investments in energy efficiency that would be unleashed, consumers would actually see a net savings in energy costs in the long run, according to proponents including the Citizens Utility Board, a utility watchdog group.

St. Louis-based Ameren, a distribution utility that serves the southern half of Illinois, agreed and said its customers would save money even factoring in the cost of the nuclear subsidies.

Other consumer advocates, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and AARP, weren’t convinced. Both fought the bill until the end and raised questions about whether the last-minute rate caps would protect all customers equally.

“We want to gamble on 50-plus lobbyists who spend a lot of money who tell us if we don’t do something, the sky’s going to fall? The sky is not falling, and rates are not guaranteed to go up,” said state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R).

State Sen. Chapin Rose (R), the bill’s lead sponsor in the state Senate, asserted that allowing the Exelon plants to close was the bigger risk. “How would you define losing 20 percent of the power on your grid? That’s a gamble,” he said.

Renewables, Efficiency Score Wins

Almost overshadowed by the drama around Exelon’s nuclear plants was the effect the bill will have on renewable energy development and energy efficiency in Illinois.

Illinois’ 25 percent renewable standard has been broken for years because of an unintended conflict in state law. S.B. 2814 resolves the conflict so the standard can be funded. It also specifically requires development of 1,300 megawatts of new wind and 300 MW of solar — a mix of utility-scale, community and rooftop projects.

The bill also strengthens Illinois’ energy efficiency standard, requiring Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison to reduce electricity usage in its service area by 21.5 percent by 2030. Ameren will be required to cut usage in its mostly rural downstate territory by 13 percent.

“This legislation should reenergize Illinois’ solar energy and wind power development bringing investments and cleaner air and water,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, in a statement.

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Midwest Energy News: ELPC’s Rob Kelter says New Ohio Energy Bill Could Threaten Jobs

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Critics: Jobs Will Be in Jeopardy if Ohio Energy Bill Becomes Law
December 2, 2016
By Kathiann M. Kowalski

On the same day that a new study reported that more than 300 companies in Ohio are part of the supply chains for the wind and solar industries, lawmakers voted a bill out of committee that would make compliance with the state’s clean energy standards voluntary until 2020.

If House Bill 554 becomes law, critics say the state would lose out on business opportunities and jobs. In their view, the bill would also discourage competition, keep electricity prices high and promote pollution that causes health problems and contributes to climate change.

“We’re either going to move in a clean energy direction that produces new jobs related to solar and wind and efficiency,” said Rob Kelter of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which released the supply chain report on Nov. 30. “Or we’re going to let other states and other countries manufacture these new products.”

‘Behind the Radar’

According to the supply chain report, 207 Ohio companies supply the solar energy industry, 134 manufacture things for the wind energy industry, and 20 serve as suppliers for both industries.

Those companies’ manufacturing operations “are sort of behind the radar,” Kelter noted.

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BREAKING: ELPC Statement on Illinois Energy Legislation

Illinois Energy Legislation Boosts Renewable Energy
ELPC’s Work to Protect Consumers Continues

SPRINGFIELD – After more than two years of negotiations, the Illinois General Assembly voted Thursday on a measure that should significantly improve and expand renewable energy in Illinois by modernizing the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

“This legislation should reenergize Illinois’ solar energy and wind power development bringing investments and cleaner air and water,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Growing Illinois’ renewable energy resources is good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.”

ELPC led a coalition of environmental, consumer advocacy, low-income, faith, public health groups and solar energy businesses in negotiating improvements to the state’s broken RPS. The modernized RPS creates new programs for community solar, promotes redevelopment of brownfields as solar brightfields, spurs solar projects in lower-income communities, and should also help ramp-up wind development. These policies will expand access to renewable energy to people throughout the state. The RPS maintains existing rate caps.

ELPC continues to be concerned about large consumer subsidies provided in the legislation for two Exelon nuclear power plants which the company executives had slated for closure because they are uneconomic in the competitive power market.

ELPC is pleased with the environmentally beneficial provisions in this energy legislation that should result in significant development of new wind power and solar energy projects in Illinois, spur millions of dollars of economic development, and provide for a cleaner environment.

During hundreds of hours of bill negotiations, ELPC partnered with the Clean Jobs Coalition to advance strong clean energy legislation. Additionally we worked with public officials, consumer advocates, renewable energy developers and low-income grassroots groups to strike several controversial provisions from the bill. These include so-called “demand charges,” which would have fundamentally changed how customers are charged for electricity.

“This bill will expand new solar energy and wind power for Illinois instead of creating new barriers through unfair demand charges and proposed weakening of fair net metering compensation for consumers with solar energy panels,” added Learner.

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WCBE.org: ELPC’s Rob Kelter Says Ohio’s Trained Workforce Makes it Ready to Become Renewable-Energy Hub

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Report: Keeping Green Energy Standards Freeze Will Hurt Ohio Businesses
December 1, 2016
By Jim Letizia

While state lawmakers continue to fight over whether to extend the 2014 freeze on Ohio’s clean energy standards, a new report shows keeping them in place can position the state to be an industry leader.

The report by The Environmental Law and Policy Center shows Ohio has more than 300 solar and wind supply-chain businesses, meaning it’s ready to become a major renewable-energy hub. Center spokesperson Robert Kelter says Ohio’s manufacturing base and trained workforce are a main reason why.

The report also cites the state’s central location and transportation system, as well as the large number of institutions that support renewable energy growth and development.

 Read Here

Public News Service: ELPC’s Rob Kelter says wind and solar play important role in Ohio’s clean-energy future

Public News ServiceReport: Solar and Wind Good Business for Ohio Companies
November 30, 2016
By Mary Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As Ohio lawmakers debate the future of the freeze on the state’s clean-energy standards, a new report highlights how strong clean-energy policies can boost the economic growth of wind and solar energy. According to research released today by the Environmental Law and Policy Center, with more than 300 solar and wind supply-chain businesses, the Buckeye State is primed to become a major renewable-energy hub.

Senior attorney at the center Robert Kelter said the state’s established manufacturing base and trained workforce are a big part of the reason.

“Ohio has a really strong workforce of people in the manufacturing sector, and those people are perfect for the kinds of jobs that are needed to supply the wind and solar industries,” he explained.

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