Six NJ Towns Participate in Energy Aggregation Program

Six towns in Gloucester County, New Jersey will be participating in a county-wide energy aggregation plan, as a result of a unanimous vote by the county board in mid June 2014. Although some individual towns throughout the state have created energy aggregation plans, this is the first time that a county in New Jersey has done so.

A 2003 New Jersey state law allows for local governments to negotiate the purchase of energy supplies, in the form of electricity and natural gas, for their residents. The goal of such plans is to achieve better energy rates for residents of the given municipalities.

The six Gloucester County towns that elected to participate in a county-wide aggregation program are as follows: Clayton, Deptford, Mantua, National Park, Woodbury Heights, and Woolwich. Each town passed its own resolution indicating its desire to participate in a collaborative energy aggregation program.

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Storing Sunshine

Storage tanksEnergy is a commodity that has different sources and values. We once only used gas and oil for our cars, and now have begun to move to alternative fuel sources such as electric and hydro-electric. The power we use for our homes is generated by water, electricity, solar, and nuclear energy. There is even wind energy as a viable source. But turning those sources into something that is usable and safe is not always an easy practice.

However EnerVault, a startup company that is using the sun to power a large battery out on an almond farm in Turlock California. There they have set up a large flow battery that is harnessing the energy of the sun and storing it for later use, such as watering the almond farm in the evening. While solar energy is a great way to use an energy source that is plentiful, there haven’t always been successful and safe ways of storing much of that energy for later use.

The flow battery that is set up on the farm consists of four large tan tanks. They don’t stand out in any way, other than to look like miniature tan grain silos. The battery consists of these tanks being filled with 95 percent water and flowing over the conductors. It’s like taking an ion battery and breaking down the components to do the job separately. The solar panels provide the energy, and they track the sun throughout the day, following it so no amount of energy gets lost.

Since California has been taking steps to help create new energy sources, EnerVault is taking a large step in providing something that we could all use, a cheaper, safer energy source that can be stored.

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China Leads In Renewable Energy Investment

ChinaA new study shows that China leads the United States and Japan in renewable energy investments. One could argue that China is so large that it had nowhere to go but up, but one could also argue that China is working hard to fix its environment.

The story about a video screen sunrise in China was enough to ignite furor over the condition of the environment in China, and these new investments may be a way to help with that problem. However, China has enough money to invest in other countries, as well.

Some argue that the United States is lagging behind China in renewable energy investments. Falling behind in this race is a scourge on the reputation America is trying to build as a leader in renewable energy. Only time will tell if this lag continues as the United States braces for more bad weather systems.

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Wind Enery Can Help Power Grid Reliability

Wind TurbinesThe problem with wind energy’s perception in the public eye is that it is not very reliable. However, wind energy is perfect for changing and adjusting the strength of the power grid because it can alter its own output very quickly. The NREL, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has found that the wind energy farms already in operation can change their output enough to allow for regulation of energy grids. However, natural gas power plants are typically used for this purpose.

Changing the tilt of the blades on wind turbines ever so slightly can alter the output of the wind farm and allow for it to cover the gaps in the traditional power grid. If the wind farms are used for this purpose, they can earn more money because this service is so very important to the traditional energy sector.

With the help of wind farms, the power grid can likely stay solvent long into the future.

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Wind Energy Construction May Stall With Loss Of Credits

A tax credit that is two decades old has helped to propel the building of wind energy projects in the United States. However, these tax credits just expired and Congress is deciding whether or not to renew them. Because of this, projects that are in the works may not go forward. Some companies are concerned that they will not be able to recover expenses without the tax credits.

While there are many in the wind industry who expect that the credits will be renewed this year, that does mean that companies are not going to slow down their projects just in case there is a problem with the credits.

If wind energy producers are not offered these credits in the future, wind energy production could stall completely. This leaves the whole industry dependent on a tax credit that Congress should be able to easily extend again.

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Newport, NC Wind and Solar Plant Loses Backing

Torch Renewable Energy, a Texas-based company, was planning on backing a large wind and solar plant in Newport, North Carolina. However, Torch has since backed out of the plans to develop the area.

The Mill Pond Wind Project was to be a brand new project to help provide power to the state, but the county ordinance that is needed to make sure the building of the plant could go forward did not seem to be in the cards for Torch.

The problem with the Tall Building Ordinance is that it would likely interfere with military activities in the area. As a result, Torch believes that it should not continue with a plan that is not likely to get local approval.

While the local area is putting a moratorium on issuing ordinances to energy companies, everyone is left to wonder if wind and solar power will ever return to Newport.

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Texas Finally Gets Solar Win

solarWhile solar energy companies have been running to California and Arizona to build their sprawling wind farms, Texas has finally seen a piece of good news in the fight over getting more solar energy in the state. First Solar, the world’s largest solar power company, has agreed to build a massive solar power farm in West Texas.

The 200-acre commercial solar farm is meant to help fill in gaps in the Texas power grid. With recent troubles over power fluctuations, it is good for the state to see an infusion of renewable energy. Also, First Solar thinks that it can keep itself profitable by working from their end as a merchant to other companies. They believe they can sell to other companies to help keep the power grid solid while also making sure the state has enough energy to run on a daily basis. It’s a win-win for Texas energy.

Solar energy is gaining momentum in Texas.  Recently Green Mountain Energy became the first electric provider in Texas to offer a 100% solar energy electricity plan to deregulated parts of the Texas market.


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Montana Wind Farm In Trouble With The Eagles

San Diego Gas and Electric promised to invest nearly $300 million in a wind farm in Montana.  However, there have been problems in state court over the protection of eagles in the region. A subsidy to the Spanish energy provider, NaturEner, has left SDG&E in a pickle because NaturEner did not take steps to protect eagles that flew near the large wind turbines. Well, this is what SDG&E is alleging in court that NaturEner didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Now, SDG&E wants out of the deal.

SDG&E believes that NaturEner lied when asking for investment in the project. The risk to the protected birds in the region was understated by NaturEner, SDG&E alleges, and that was what induced SDG&E to invest in the project.

At this point, the court is in the midst of interpreting the contract between the two companies. The loss of wind power in the area could drive energy prices back up if NaturEner loses funding and cannot get new financial assistance.

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