This week in the Green Tech Regional Report we once again find wind energy is the source of controversy in communities, with pro- and anti-wind debates everywhere. In Montreal, construction plans for a wind farm were shut down after Quebec’s environmental review agency determined that a wind project would disrupt farmland, as well as the migratory patterns of geese and other birds. In addition, the agency said that the developers did not properly consult nearby residents about the project, but that there was no major issue regarding the distance of residents from the proposed site.
In Delaware, small businesses (like the Lewes Fishhouse, seen here), farmers and community centers have been using small turbines as a way to cut down on their energy costs, relieve strain on the power grid, and even make a little cash by feeding unused power back into the grid. Small-scale wind turbine use, where only about 2.4 kilowatts are generated, is becoming popular, especially as debates over large wind farms rage. Visible turbines also provide inspiration to those looking to make their own homes and businesses greener.
In West Virginia, members of the Allegheny Highland Alliance and the Allegheny Front Alliance claim that while wind energy is renewable and clean, it comes with its own drawbacks in relation to the state. The group says that in West Virginia, winds are seldom steady enough for wind farms to be efficient. They also say that construction of wind farms includes deforestation, which can lead to greater erosion and the damaging of local habitats.
After visiting Maine and Rhode Island, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised to expedite matters involving federal leases for offshore wind projects. Earlier in the week, Salazar announced a Call for Information and Nomination, which will allow potential offshore wind developers to pinpoint locations of interest and gain information on those locations. By instating this, Salazar hopes to make the country’s offshore wind development more streamlined and cohesive. The first company to answer the “Call” was Neptune Wind LLC, who wants to compete for a lease for a 500 megawatt wind farm in federal waters.
In a more dramatic turn involving wind power, Maryland protesters were arrested for a sit-in in front of the White House, while a crowd of onlookers chanted “Wind mills, not oil spills!” They were protesting the proposition of a pipeline that would bring tar sands oil power, the dirtiest form of petroleum fuel, into Maryland, and championing the building of offshore wind facilities and the embracing of clean, renewable energy. The protesters were appealing to President Obama himself, as he has the ability to approve or deny the tar sands project without input from Congress.
In other energy news, the US Department of Energy recently guaranteed $197 million in loans to Californina-based thin film solar company SoloPower. The money will allow SoloPower to expand its facility in San Jose, California, and will also allow them to build a satellite facility in Portland, Oregon. The new location is expected to create 450 permanent jobs and 270 construction jobs. Construction in Portland is scheduled to begin next month.