Tag Archive | wind farms

Cramped quarters offer couple freedom of the sea

Many people in Southwest Florida live in homes that have more than 2,000 square feet, but Dita and Roger Wisard live in about 32 feet of space with only the sea breeze to cool them.

For the past two years the couple has lived on Zephyr, their sailboat that is now anchored just inside Matanzas Pass by Fort Myers Beach. It’s not the first time they have lived aboard a sailboat, and their experience helps them make the most of their cramped space.

Little cubbies are everywhere, behind every seat, under every seat, under the bed, and tucked in corners of the boat. Each cubby only holds a few items so the Wisards have a seven-page list that shows where each item is.

“We used to know we had something and didn’t know where it was,” Dita Wisard said. “With this we just look up where things are and how much we have.”

Zephyr is a 32-foot-long sailboat with a small cabin that includes one queen bed for sleeping and two small beds for storage. There is a sitting area, kitchen and small bathroom.

wind generator

“What I like is the layout,” Dita Wisard said. “I can close off the front to make it more homey.”

The boat holds 60 gallons of water and 60 gallons of fuel. It has a 30 horsepower diesel engine. Zephyr has a deep freezer, a freezer, refrigerator, stove, and a foot pump for water. They wash their dishes with saltwater and rinse with freshwater.

The boat uses many aspects of natural energy. A wind generator charges the batteries. Solar panels in the back give them some power and a water catcher is used to fill the solar shower pillow.

“It’s a primitive life, but it’s a good life,” Dita Wisard said. “It amazes me all the time how without much you can still have a good life. It’s a simple life and a good quality life.”

The couple likes the freedom of sailing, the friends they meet along the way and the adventures they have when they are at sea and in port.

“When you are sailing you meet other sailors and you come together and one brings the guitar and one brings the harmonica, and you have a good time and then next day everybody departs again,” Roger Wisard said.

The couple has sailed all around the Caribbean and Central America. They enjoyed the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Mississippi River and the Virgin Islands.

“There is the freedom of traveling. It’s very healthy living. It’s very primitive, but healthy. You meet so many people and everyone helps each other,” Roger Wisard said.

One of their favorite ports is in Georgetown in the Exumas where they dock and spend their days at a port that has a variety of activities including yoga, water walking, basket weaving, volleyball, seminars, restaurants, bonfires and dances.”

“We also liked Rum Key in the Bahamas,” Roger Wisard said. “Every day we had a potluck. It was amazing.”

Roger Wisard built his first boat more than two decades ago. The family lived on it when his daughter was a baby. By the time she was 18 months old, life on board with an active toddler was too tough and the boat became more of a vacation place than a permanent home. The family tried living aboard the boat again when their son was born about six years later, and stayed aboard until his toddler years. Back then, they lived even more primitively.


Great Gabbard offshore wind turbine dispute settled

The wrangle saw the energy providers’ joint venture company Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Ltd caught up in a long-running stand-off with Fluor of Texas over the quality of turbine construction at the windfarm off the Suffolk coast.

GGOWL had complained about the standard of build relating to 52 upper and 35 lower foundations at the 140-turbine array, while Fluor had sought compensation for schedule and cost impacts arising from delays, disruption and productivity issues it attributed to its client and other third parties.

The situation was taken to an arbitration panel last year which found against Fluor. At that time, Fluor warned shareholders it expected to be hit with a pre-tax charge of $400 million as a result of the arbitration panel’s decision.

However, negotiations have since continued and both parties yesterday said the dispute had now been resolved.
No financial information relating to the final resolution has been disclosed publicly.

In a statement to the markets yesterday, SSE said GGOWL was now confident about the long-term structural integrity of the disputed wind turbine foundations at the 504MW capacity windfarm.

“The agreement between GGOWL and Fluor is a positive development, bringing to an end the contractual dispute between the two parties,” GGOWL general manager Iwan Tukalo said.

“It is also encouraging that the windfarm has performed well since it was energised and our focus remains on ensuring it is a safe, efficient asset that makes a significant contribution to achieving the UK’s targets for renewable energy.”

All 140 turbines at the array have been operational since September, and in the six months to March the windfarm managed to generate electricity for 87% of the time. It is forecast that figure will rise to in excess of 90% in this financial year.

Fluor chairman and chief executive officer David Seaton said the resolution of the dispute brought an end to Fluor’s involvement with the project, adding that there was no “material financial impact” to the company as a result of the settlement.

Mr Seaton said: “Fluor designed and built a safe, fit-for-purpose facility, and we are pleased that the operating windfarm is meeting the owner’s operating expectations.”

The Obama administration is perpetuating a pernicious legal double standard with regard to federal wildlife laws. It prosecutes industries that produce “dirty” energy and exempts those that claim to produce “clean” energy. Furthermore, it’s giving the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card so that if it kills some of our most-endangered species, such as the California condor, it will not face prosecution.

The wind industry is further expanding its operations onto public land in both California and Wyoming. And the American Wind Energy Association has recently said that its main goal is to obtain a multi-year extension of the production tax credit, the lucrative subsidy that was extended for one year back in January. In other words, despite some two decades of subsidies, the wind lobby claims it still needs public money to be viable.

Thus, the wind industry wants to use more public land — and of course, more public money — so that it can continue killing the public’s wildlife with impunity. But since the wind industry can claim that it is doing something — no matter how insignificant — with regard to carbon dioxide emissions, the Obama administration is willing to go along, and even help the industry hide the extent of its bird kills.

Beech Ridge wind plant expansion on track

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia ruled Feb. 28 from the bench in favor of more West Virginia wind power.

At a hearing on a joint stipulation among the parties to the case for a proposed expansion of Beech Ridge Energy’s Greenbrier County wind plant, the commission asked the company to prepare a proposed order.

It’s not a siting certificate, but one step short of it.

The first phase of the Beech Ridge plant provoked controversy over birds and bats, viewshed and other concerns from the time of its application in 2005 through 2009. The project, eventually reduced from an original 124 turbines to 67, was placed in service in 2010.

The proposal for this $115 million, 33-turbine expansion, filed with the commission in August, has found more acceptance. A January public hearing on the project drew just three speakers, one of whom was with the project, all in favor.

Two of the most prominent concerns that have come up in West Virginia wind plant cases — bird and bat mortality and noise — are addressed varyingly in the joint stipulation among the parties to the case: Beech Ridge Energy II, the PSC Staff and the West Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council.

Bird and bat mortality has probably been the most controversial topic across all West Virginia wind power cases. That is reflected in the fact that Beech Ridge Energy II devoted fully 680 pages of its 966-page application to a bird and bat risk assessment at the site, to mortality studies conducted at other wind plants, and to other literature on the topic.

The joint stipulation requires three years of bird and bat mortality studies after the expansion is in operation and, if significant impacts are found, that adaptive management strategies be pursued.

Wind turbine noise became a particular problem for residents living near the Pinnacle wind plant after it was placed in service in Keyser in January 2012. The commission dismissed complaints filed by residents because, since it had not placed conditions on sound in the siting certificate, it said, it did not have jurisdiction.

In the Beech Ridge Energy II joint stipulation, the only reference that might address wind turbine noise is oblique, stating that the commission can re-open the certificate for investigation if the project does not operate within parameters established in the application.

Noise parameters were laid out in a study conducted by Acentech acoustic consultants of Cambridge, Mass. and included in the application.

Acentech concluded that noise at the nearest home, about 1,600 feet, or about one-third mile, from a turbine, would not exceed 47 A-weighted decibels, the standard measure of environmental noise — considerably lower than the 56 dBA Acentech predicted for the most-affected landowner near the Pinnacle plant.

It is unclear whether the reference in the joint stipulation to operating within parameters established in the application would offer the commission jurisdiction for protecting residents if complaints arose.

Twenty-one homes lie within a mile of the project and PSC spokesperson Susan Small pointed out that no one has filed concerns about the proposal.

Google announces $75 million investment in Iowa wind farm

Google says it’s investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces enough electricity to power 15,000 homes. It’s the California tech giant’s first investment in an Iowa wind generation project.

Google is investing in RPM Access’s Rippey wind farm that became operational this fall near Perry. The farm has 20 wind turbines generating 50 megawatts of electricity.

The West Des Moines company has a long-term contract to provide power to Central Iowa Power Cooperative, a Cedar Rapids wholesale provider of electricity.

In addition to today’s announcement, Google said it will hold a press conference Friday with Gov. Terry Branstad to discuss increasing its investment in its Iowa operations.

Google has a $600 million data center in Council Bluffs, and it’s building another $300 million data center just south of the existing operation. The company also purchases wind from a NextEra Energy wind farm in Story County.

The Iowa investment, announced this morning, pushes Google’s investment in renewable energy projects to nearly $1 billion. Kate Hurowitz, a Google spokeswoman, says the decision fits with the Internet search company’s efforts to “green the grid in regions where we operate” and provide a financial return.

“Google has invested heavily in wind energy because it’s good for the environment and because it will provide a strong financial return,” Hurowitz said. “We believe the world needs a wide range of renewable energy technologies to build a clean energy future. …

“We’ve invested in a range of different kinds of scalable, cost-effective technologies,” Hurowitz said.

Nationally and globally, Google has invested in new and existing wind farms, large-scale solar panel projects, and an off-shore transmission line, among others.

Kirk Kraft, an RPM Access spokesman, said the Google investment creates capital for the company to invest in new wind farms. It already has several in development. The 5-year-old company owns and operates three small wind farms and is developing two large farms near Marshalltown for MidAmerican Energy Co.

Kraft said the project qualifies for wind-energy tax credits. He said he’s optimistic that Congress will extend the production credits, but the projects the company has under development aren’t dependent on them. “We have a pipeline of projects that we’ll continue to pursue,” he said.

Stephen Dryden, an RPM owner, the company will remain an active owner and manager of the project.

The company said the turbines are among the largest in Iowa, with 100-meter towers. Each uses about a half acre of land for each turbine.

Hurowitz said about 33 percent of the power Google uses comes from renewable energy.