Tag Archive | dutiable machine

GW to expand solar

The Office of Sustainability will purchase more solar panels and partner with engineering professors to build a small-scale wind turbine this year, as GW tries to reduce its dependence on coal power over the next decade.

The solar panels will heat campus water systems and capture rays for electricity, Director of the Office of Sustainability Meghan Chapple-Brown said. It will be the first time the University uses solar energy for electricity on a larger scale, after having used solar panels on three residence halls to heat the buildings’ water for the past two years.

While the office is still working out details, the move will put GW on track to reach its ambitious goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2040.

The solar panels will be the newest added since GW first began collecting solar energy in 2011 with rooftop installations on Ivory Tower, 1959 E St. and Building JJ.

Those panels collect enough power to heat most of each building’s water use the year. In the last three years, the system saved a total of about 300 tons of carbon dioxide, said Shannon Ross, a coordinator in the sustainability office – which is equivalent to the energy use of 14 homes for one year.

The University’s Climate Action Plan, released three years ago, also calls for the campus to produce 10 percent of its own low-carbon energy technology by 2040.

The two renewable energy projects are part of a massive University-wide sustainability plan, which sets goals for GW to grow its own food, produce zero waste and eventually stop producing carbon altogether.

Going carbon-neutral is the most important step GW can take to become a more sustainable college – and to jump in national rankings of green colleges, said Avital Andrews, an environmental expert who is an editor for the Sierra Club’s magazine.

“Climate change is probably the most dire environmental issue that we face right now – not that water pollution and landfills aren’t a huge problem as well, but it’s what we’re most concerned about,” Andrews said. “We’d love to see as much solar as possible.”

And boosting GW’s sustainability score is a big priority for the University, Chapple-Brown said.

Five years ago, the Sierra Club named GW one of the nation’s least eco-friendly schools. That failing score came a year after University President Knapp arrived at GW with sustainability as one of his highest priorities.

This year, GW crept onto the list of the top 25 green schools, coming in at No. 23.

GW, though, lags behind competitor schools such as American University, which is on track to become carbon neutral in just seven years. In addition to converting solar power into electricity, AU has the largest solar-powered water heating system in the District. It also converts used cooking oil from its dining halls into electricity.

Andrews, who has studied colleges’ uses of renewable energy, said it can take years for schools to make broad changes in their energy consumption, but that process can be sped up if an administration fully buys into the plan.

“It seems like something that can happen quickly if schools put their mind to it, and especially if there’s a demand from students and alumni,” Andrews said. “They can make it happen quickly if they want to.”

The types of clean energy a school uses depends on its location and what resources it has available, Andrews said. The University of Washington, for example, which sits on a bay that opens into the Pacific Ocean, is almost entirely hydro-powered.

Solar panels are more suited to city life, especially in D.C., which sees lots of sunlight and heat almost daily, Andrews said. She noted that the White House recently added more solar panels to its roof.

As GW tries to use alternative sources of energy, it is also going through a multi-million dollar effort to upgrade the electric and heating systems in the University’s buildings. The project, dubbed the “eco-building program,” began last year and will reduce energy use in each upgraded building by 15 percent.

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Inland Power’s results differ with new energy standards

Wind turbines spinning on the Palouse are the final piece of Avista Utilities’ strategy to meet Washington’s new renewable energy standards.

Energy from the 58-turbine Palouse Wind farm, which started operations last year, has pushed the Spokane-based utility over the top. Even with future customer growth, Avista officials say they’ve lined up enough qualifying renewable energy to meet Initiative 937’s requirements through 2020.

Passed by voters in 2006, the initiative requires most utilities serving Washington customers to get 15 percent of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2020. The initiative’s goal is to diversify green energy production in Washington, prompting investment in wind, solar, geothermal and biomass in a state long dependent on hydropower, said Danielle Dixon, senior policy associate for the NW Energy Coalition in Seattle.

More than $8 billion has been spent on wind, solar and biomass development in Washington over the past 15 years, with the majority funneling into wind. At least part of that investment can be attributed to I-937’s passage, initiative backers say.

Some utilities “acquired early and acquired sufficiently,” which means they’ve blown past the upcoming deadlines, Dixon said.

In addition to Avista, Puget Sound Energy has enough resources in place to generate 15 percent of its electricity from new renewable resources, said Ray Lane, PSE spokesman. The utility, which serves about 1.1 million customers in the Interstate 5 corridor, built its own wind farms.

Avista provides electricity to about 237,000 Eastern Washington electric customers. The utility is ahead of the game for several reasons, said Jason Thackston, the company’s vice president for energy resources.

Avista was able to count toward I-937 requirements additional energy produced from the installation of new turbines at its Clark Fork River dams, because the turbines produce more kilowatts from the same river flow. Avista can also count energy from two long-term wind contracts, along with upcoming work at two Spokane River dams that will increase electrical output.

Through a legislative amendment, Avista will be able to count electricity produced at its existing Kettle Falls biomass plant toward the renewable tally beginning in 2016. However, the utility will have to document that the wood waste burned at the plant doesn’t come from old-growth forests, said Jessie Wuerst, an Avista spokeswoman.

Avista spent about $3.6 million last year to meet I-937’s requirements, according to information filed with the state. The cost represents less than 1 percent of a residential customer’s electric bill, officials said.

As a result of I-937, Avista invested sooner in new generating resources than it otherwise would have, Thackston said. But the utility got a good deal on its 30-year contract to purchase electricity from the Palouse Wind farm near Oakesdale, Wash., he said.

Buying energy from the Palouse was cheaper than Avista’s projected cost of putting up its own wind turbines on land it purchased near Reardan, Thackston said.

While Avista has met I-937’s requirements with relative ease, its smaller neighbor – Inland Power – is in a different situation.

Inland Power is an electric cooperative that serves 39,000 customers spread across 13 counties. Most are rural residents and 42 percent are low-income, said Chad Jensen, Inland Power’s chief executive officer.

Inland Power is already one of the nation’s greenest utilities, purchasing 81 percent of its electricity from federal hydroeletric dams, Jensen said. Because its customer base is relatively stable, complying with I-937 will force the utility to invest in renewable energy it doesn’t need, he said.

“It’s a frustrating piece of legislation,” Jensen said. “We’re having trouble getting sensible changes that we think should be easy tweaks.”

Inland Power lobbied the Legislature this year, saying that upgrades at federal hydroelectric facilities should count toward the utility’s I-937 requirements. That’s one of the inequities in the initiative, Jensen said: If utilities own the dam, they get credit for upgrades that increase electrical output. If they don’t own the dam, they can’t count the upgrades toward I-937.

Inland Power is spending nearly $3.4 million to help finance major upgrades at Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams, two federal dams on the Columbia River that produce power the utility purchases.

Though Inland Power couldn’t get the Legislature to adopt the change this year, Jensen said the utility will continue to push for an amendment. More than 50 bills related to I-937 were introduced during the last legislative session, which hampered the effort, he said.

“There were so many bills trying to change Initiative 937 that we couldn’t get any traction,” Jensen said.

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Ohio’s Lake Erie windmills

An environmental riddle is brewing off the shores of Lake Erie, and its answer is blowing in the wind.

The planned launch of a wind turbine demonstration project seven miles off of Cleveland’s lakeshore in Ohio – the first of its kind on the Great Lakes – has politicians, developers and labor there on board.

That’s a totally different vibe from what took place in Buffalo Niagara in 2009 and 2010, when the New York Power Authority gauged interest in a similar project in lakes Erie and Ontario. Local governments here quickly scuttled the idea after intense political pressure from a well-organized group of local lakeshore residents.

The environmentalist community, meanwhile, still searches for a Solomonic solution to the question of harnessing wind on the Great Lakes.

Can support for coveted renewable energy that reduces reliance on fossil fuels outweigh potential collateral damage to birds, bats and fish – not to mention aesthetic and noise considerations, as well as possible water pollution?

It’s a tough one, but Lynda Schneekloth of the Sierra Club’s Niagara Group thinks so.

“If we don’t switch from fossil fuels, all the fish in the lake are going to die anyway,” Schneekloth said. “Anything that gets us off of fossil fuels should be tried now.”

Citing a climate change “emergency,” Schneekloth says projects like wind farms in the lakes should be fast-tracked without having them mired down in years of public debate.

Others disagree.

“It could be a disaster,” said Sharen Trembath, a Southtowns resident who leads the area’s annual Great Lakes Beach Sweep and helped spearhead efforts to quash the Power Authority’s plans to install turbines in Lake Erie a couple years ago. “It’s giving up one natural resource for another.”

Added Tom Marks, a local charter boat captain who also opposed the former Power Authority plan: “There are environmental hazards with locating the turbines in the lake.”

Offshore hazards

Here are some of the concerns about offshore wind development, according to Marks, Trembath and the 2010 and 2011 resolutions put forth by Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua county legislatures as well as several lakeshore towns opposing them:

Disruption of the flight patterns of some migrating birds and some of recently resurgent species, such as bald eagles.Interference with boating and fishing.Stirring up “a 40-year cap” on toxic sediment in the lake bed left behind from the region’s industrial heyday.Potential for damage to the turbines and the lakeshore from fire, electrical shock or other problems from large power cables stretched along the lake bed, and leakage from an oil cartridge that Trembath calls “the size of a bus.”

What’s more, dissenters say, windmills are just not that efficient, don’t create jobs, can only operate when winds reach specific speeds and can be expensive.

And, they add, they’re eye pollution.

“I’ve spent my life taking care of the lake’s environment,” Trembath said. “I don’t want it filled with turbines.”

In Ohio, however, many don’t see it that way.

The Cleveland-based Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. has received support in Northeast Ohio for its “Icebreaker” project, which it says “is a blueprint to position Ohio as the leader in the region.”

The demonstration project calls for six 3-megawatt, American-made wind turbines to be placed offshore of downtown Cleveland, with full operation beginning in 2017. In contrast, Lackawanna’s on-shore “Steel Winds” consists of more than a dozen 2.5-megawatt turbines.

Bolstered with $4 million in startup money from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Cleveland company Thursday launched its “POWER Pledge program” to continue building “local stakeholder support” for the wind farm. About 5,000 supporters in Northeast Ohio have already pledged to buy electricity, at higher prices, from Icebreaker’s offshore farm, said Lorry Wagner, president of the Lake Erie energy company.

“Community engagement and support are critical to our success,” said Wagner, “and the support we have received for the POWER Pledge is very encouraging for the future of offshore wind in the Great Lakes.”

Three of seven wind demonstration projects nationwide – of which Cleveland is one – are scheduled for selection by the DOE next year for an additional $46.7 million award to build out the balance of the offshore project. Either way, however, Wagner said his company has invested time and resources in the belief that offshore wind will happen near Cleveland with or without the extra federal money.

By 2030, Wagner expects that his company could be managing “a few hundred” offshore wind turbines in Lake Erie.

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With a diameter of only 11 mm

The Optoelectronics Company, a leading global manufacturer of innovative optoelectronic components and distributor of OCLARO (Opnext) laser diodes and Panasonic glass lenses, has launched another innovative and cost-effective range of laser diode modules optimised for compact integration into OEM applications where size is critical.

With a diameter of only 11 mm, the modules are ergonomically designed with a small form factor for integration into a wide range of applications such as industrial and medical alignment, low level laser therapy, inspection and sensing where a tiny package is essential to fit into very compact spaces.

This new range of laser diode modules combines a high performance OCLARO (Opnext) laser diode with externally adjustable optics, a Panasonic aspherical glass lens, sophisticated electronics and rugged modular anodised aluminium housing to provide a reliable, energy-efficient and precise laser source for OEMs, end-users and systems integrators. A key feature is the brass lens holder which enables smoother, more accurate focussing by using a finer pitched thread.

“As applications get more sophisticated and devices get smaller, these laser modules are a perfect solution for OEMs to design in where space is at a premium”, commented Tony Pope, Managing Director, the Optoelectronics Company. “Combining high performance with energy efficiency, they require less power, generate less heat, have longer lifetimes and fit into smaller spaces than other laser sources” he added.

The CW lasers produce a high-quality elliptical beam at 5 visible and infrared lasing wavelengths, (635 nm, 639 nm, 660 nm, 830 nm and 852 nm), and offer a combination of low noise and output stability with powers of up to 75 mW. For easy identification they can be supplied with coloured end caps or customer specified engraving on the rear sleeve. Mechanical dimensions are 11 mm diameter x 49 mm length.

With an operating voltage of 3 – 6V DC and a broad ambient temperature operating range from -10 degrees C to +50 degrees C, the modules are also static, surge and reverse-polarity protected and RoHS compliant. Electrical connections are made via 300 mm external flying leads.

Custom lasing wavelengths, from 405 nm to 852 nm, and power options are available on request. Both standard and custom configurations provide OEMs, end-users and systems integrators with complete cost-effective laser solutions.

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Council backs wind farm plans

A WIND farm spanning an area larger than Inverness is a step closer to being given the go ahead after Highland Council gave its backing to the scheme.

It is now for the Scottish Government to decide whether to grant planning permission to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) for the 67-turbine farm at Stronelairg on the Garrogie Estate, near Fort Augustus. It would be the biggest wind farms in the Highlands if approved.

Councillors in Inverness decided to back the plans today, despite more than 130 representations against the scheme. Earlier they visited the site, which involved a bus and landrover trip.

Aird and Loch Ness councillor Margaret Davidson supported the plans, saying few local residents were hostile to the scheme because the turbines will not be visible from their homes. However, she said she had serious concern about the impact on traffic.

“The only objections [from locals] were about the roads — for every one of these turbines there will be six abnormal [lorry] loads,” she said. “There is no getting away from it, the impact of traffic going through Fort Augustus is going to be enormous.”

However, Badenoch and Streathspey councillors Dave Fallows and Bill Lobban both opposed the development because of the detrimental impact on the rugged landscape and the absence of a national wild land policy.

Councillors voted 11 to three in favour of the plans. A small protest was held outside Highland Council headquarters in Inverness ahead of the meeting.

Among the objectors was 71-year-old Michael Waldron, whose family have run the Killin Estate since 1946.

Mr Waldron visits Killin Lodge every year and says the turbines will be a “great eyesore” and is concerned construction could threaten a rare species of fish in the River Killin and Loch Killin.

“The lodge is about a quarter-of-a-mile away from Stronelairg and is situated in a flood valley,” he said. “If the wind farm is built then it would push the peat down into the water and threaten the Killin char which has been there since the Ice Age.”

David Baldwin, the council’s planning officer, said a “buffer zone” had been included in the plans to alleviate any potential problems from peat slide.

Mr Waldron, who lives in Devon but travelled up to protest, waved a placard outside Highland Council headquarters with his son Stephen (45) and 14-year-old grandson Callum after being barred from protesting during the site visit.

There is widespread concern about the loss of wild land in the Loch Ness area and the impact this could have on tourism and the environment.

Stronelairg is just one of six built or planned wind farms on the west side of Loch Ness and community leaders in Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston have already said they fear being surrounded and want a study to be carried out to assess the cumulative impact.

Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust, Scotland’s wild land charity, described Loch Ness as a tourist hot spot and said the potential loss of wild land in the area was very concerning from a tourism but also environmental point of view.

“Although Stronelairg won’t be visible from the main road, once people stop and go to their bed and breakfasts and then out into the hills for a walk, or drive on the minor roads, it is going to have a massive impact,” she said. “There is no doubt it would impact on a significant amount of the population and should be refused. It is a huge development — the footprint is about the size of Inverness.”

Time for winds of change

MAJOR barriers are preventing Hartlepool from getting the top-level jobs boost it needs, says the town’s Mayor.

And in a letter to the Business Secretary Vince Cable, Stuart Drummond has called for the Government to “re-evaluate its position and drive forward the offshore wind market in a clear and coherent manner.”

Yet ironically, on the very day Mr Drummond revealed his demand for talks to the Hartlepool Mail, came news of a new Government project. Its Call For Views initiative calls on firms in the wind energy sector to list their priorities for reform.

The initiative identifies the offshore wind industry as a major engine of economic growth in Britain. By 2021, more than 47,000 people will be working in the offshore wind energy sector, including the supply chain. The Business Secretary Vince Cable set out his vision committing to a long term partnership between Government and industry, with a focus on offshore wind.

This week’s Government news came only days after Hartlepool’s Mayor demanded talks with Mr Cable to come up with a policy which would “benefit the UK economy as a whole”.

Mr Drummond spoke out after claiming the Government’s unclear stance on wind power was making potential investors cagy about coming to town. He said those hurdles were “damaging Hartlepool’s aspirations to deliver transformational change to the local economy and indeed the town itself.”

He highlighted issues which included: An “apparent lack of clear Government policy” on wind power which, he said, had created a lack of confidence in the market place.

He said he was aware of companies which had been offered money under the Regional Growth Fund scheme to come to Hartlepool but they indicated they “might be unable to take the RGF offer up as they feel unable to invest at this time due to long term market uncertainties and a lack of coherent national position that is needed to stimulate such investment.”

He said the decision of Spanish wind turbine manufacturers Gamesa to choose Leith in Scotland over Hartlepool could be down to “a lack of a clear national position on offshore wind” whereas the Scottish offer was much clearer. Mr Drummond called for a “simple and coherent process for negotations.”

l Barriers facing energy producers in the North-East. Mr Drummond claimed the transmission costs for a North East energy producer were ten times higher than those of South East counterparts.

He said Hartlepool was hopefully going to get a new 750-job power station but he added: “Although the site is earmarked for such a development, I believe our ambitions could be thwarted by the cost of energy transmission.”

Mr Drummond called for “a major national strategy” which recognises the need to develop nuclear facilities in areas that need “continued stimulus.”

His letter concluded: “I would very much welcome the opportunity to have detailed discussions on these matters with a view to establishing a mutual beneficial relationship to achieve our ambitions for long term sustainable economic growth and prosperity which will benefit not only Hartlepool and the Tees Valley, but the UK economy as a whole.” Mr Drummond also sent his strongly worded letter on December 3 to Chancellor George Osborne and Energy Minister John Hayes.

Encourage Making And Mending

If you own a sewing machine, chances are it’s now a) underneath the bed, b) at the back of the closet, or c) listed on eBay. That’s not a slight on your stitching skills, but a seeming reality of bulky, white sewing appliances: people buy them, yet don’t use them often.

A young British designer wants to change that. Sarah Dickins’ idea is to make a more attractive sewing device–-something you wouldn’t mind having in the living-room–and a more useable one: something even a child could handle.

“I wanted to encourage people to have fun recycling and customizing their clothes, rather than throwing them away. Lots of beginners suffer with things like threading the machine,” Dickins says.

“They also find it hard to control the movement of the foot on the pedal with the movement of the fabric through under the needle. They can’t co-ordinate their hands and their feet at the same time. It’s a bit like when you learn to drive [a stick-shift], and you’re trying to do the gear stick and steer at the same time.”

Dickins also notes that big column on standard machines creates a shadow over the working area, obscuring the eye-line, and reducing space to introduce fabric. With more than a napkin, you have to bunch or fold the fabric first.

In Dickins’ design, called the Alto, there is a metal line running from back to front, making threading easier. Instead of a foot-pedal, there’s a sensor on the bottom; you control the speed of the machine by leaning on it. Meanwhile, an arched drive-shaft frees up space in the business area.

The Alto is also a more attractive animal, made from wood and designed to be a style winner.

Dickins, who graduated last year, hopes to take the prototype to a manufacturer who can develop it further. She’s already got a patent for the sensor mechanism, and has been shortlisted for this year’s Dyson Award.

“It would be more expensive than a normal sewing machine, something high-end,” she says. “It’s not meant to be an economy product. It’s something you have in your lounge as a bit of a statement as well as a functional type thing.”

As well as ensuring the necessary authorisation is in place for the machine, there is also a requirement for each dutiable machine to have a duty licence (the Amusement Machine Licensing Duty or AMLD). Penalties for failing to have such a licence are severe. The licence should be displayed on site. It is renewable annually. This licence is often dealt with by the Machine Supplier, but remember that the duty to ensure that it is in force etc is down to the operator.

AMLD will be replaced by MGD with effect from 1 February 2013. If you have not already done so, you should ensure with your supplier how payment of the more complex MGD is going to work, as it will be based on the machine’s gross profits. Especially those machines with mixed cash and non-monetary prizes will require some attention to the calculations of MGD.

The standard rate of duty will be 20%, unless you operate the lower rate Category D machine when it will be 5%. There are some exemptions, but these are unlikely to be available to most Premises Licence holders (although check if you are holding a genuine charity event). Non-dutiable machines may be subject to VAT.