Green Tech Regional Report 7-28-11

Here’s our weekly Green Tech Regional Report for the last week of July, taking a look at some recent interesting green tech news happening around the countryside.

Opponents to a proposed $179 million and 12,000 acre wind farm in Red Wing, Minnesota, are arguing that the project could endanger eagles. Though the state’s Public Utility Council voted to move forward, everything came to a halt when it was discovered that 50 turbines would be built in a popular nesting area for bald and golden eagles. If a bald eagle or an even scarcer golden eagle dies as a result of the turbines, the developer could potentially face civil or even criminal charges under federal law. The company, AWA Goodhue Wind, claims that utmost care has been taken to ensure the safest development in regards to wildlife, but this debate has been raging in the area.

Better news for wind power is happening in Maine, where construction is under way for two more wind farms, which will bring the state’s total to six. Wind farm development, which begun in 2006, has brought Maine $1 billion in wind power investment, and has led to the creation of over 600 jobs. The new wind farms are helping Maine reach its wind power goals for 2015.

Wind Turbine

image via Shutterstock

Despite the fact that it only gets a tiny portion of its power from solar energy, New York City is actually prime real estate for it. About two thirds of the million rooftops there are suitable for solar panel installation, which means that NYC could potentially have half its electricity needs met by solar energy, and lessen the strain on the electrical grid, especially during the summer months. But plans are going into place to increase solar use, including the creation of a hyper-accurate map designed to determine each building’s solar potential and a plan to convert old landfills into solar farms. To give these a kickstart, the state has a mandate requiring 30% of the state’s power to come from renewable sources by 2015.

In Great Falls, Montana, school officials are looking to get trustees’ approval to install a solar panel on the roof of Great Falls High. The high school, which has both a gym and a pool, consumes a lot of electricity, and so teachers came up with the idea of solar panels, which they say will not only cut energy costs (an estimated $3,200), but serve as an educative tool for students about renewable energy. However, the district will not move forward with the project unless it can receive a grant to help with the costs of installation and materials.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared that the state would become a world leader of solar power by implementing the goal of 20,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020, and declared he would “crush” any opposition to this, even when the opposition comes from an environmental group who claims that the installation of a 370 MW solar plant in the Mojave Desert would endanger native tortoises. Brown, however, is confident in overcoming the technical, financial and regulatory problems that his energy plan faces.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.