renewable energy

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed today on new quotas for the amount of renewable fuels blended in to our gasoline. The E-P-A plan would increase the total volume of renewable fuels at gas pumps. But it actually cuts the amount of ethanol made from corn.

Senate Bill 498, which ends a five-year property exemption for new wind farms on Jan. 1, 2017, is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.

Now that we’re used to seeing huge spinning blades across the high plains, there may be a new visual icon on the horizon in the future – enormous tall narrow poles that simply quiver in the wind. This report from Wired. They’re called Vortex Bladeless. Their purpose is the same: turning breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity. But, that’s where the similarity to bladed wind turbines ends. Instead of capturing wind energy with the circular motion of a propeller, The Vortex uses vorticity. That’s an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of vortices. Whirling air patterns that are the enemy of architects and engineers, could now be have new purpose in renewable energy.

Stephen Koranda / kansaspublicradio.org

The wind power industry, free-market business groups, the governor and lawmakers have unveiled a compromise to overhaul the Kansas renewable energy standard. It would remove the mandate that 20 percent of power generation come from renewable sources and replace it with a voluntary goal.

Some advocacy groups get something they’ve wanted, eliminating the mandate for renewable energy. Mike O’Neal is president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

eia.gov

Have you ever wondered how much energy your state produces, consumes, and expends?  The U.S. Energy Information Administration has created a series of state level maps detailing these facts. 

Here are some quick facts:

COLORADO

BO RADER / kansas.com

Republicans may have gained enough seats in the Kansas House to end the state’s renewable energy standard in the last election.  Activists on both sides of the issue are preparing for a fight in the next legislative session reports the Wichita Eagle.

Joe Birzer / Wheatland Electric

Hays High won big in the standard class at the 15th annual High Plains ElectroRally recently held in Hays, Kansas.  Wheatland took honors in the solar class, and Olathe Northwest won the Team Spirit Award.

The ElectroRally is a "one-hour endurance race for electric cars" designed and constructed by high school students, said Joe Chretien, associate professor of applied technology at Fort Hays State University in a recent press release.

The electric car that completes the most laps within the hour wins the race.

Michael Glasgow/Texas Tribune

In Panhandle, a Growing Need for a Shallow Lake's Water
Lake Meredith, previously empty, is only 4% full, but those 2.8 billion gallons are enough for the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority to start pumping water from the lake. The authority supplies water to Amarillo, Lubbock, and surrounding areas. The low water means higher sediment levels, which will affect the water's taste and cause higher treatment costs. More from the Amarillo Globe-News.

kmzu.com

Clean Line Energy Partners recently received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to go ahead with one of the Great Plains transmission projects according to the Center for Rural Affairs.

Miscanthus: A growing energy crop

May 24, 2014
Rick Fredericksen/Harvest Public Media

Miscanthus, a relative of sugar cane that looks like bamboo, could be the Midwest’s next energy crop. But in a region dominated by corn and soybeans, it has yet to fully catch on, even as advocates tout its advantages.

kslegislature.org

A southwest Kansas lawmaker says there is no debate about renewable energy standards according to a recent article from the Kansas City Star

futurewithinreach.com

Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1456 into law recently.  The new measure allows regulated electric utility companies to charge customers who generate electricity from rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines reported StateImpact Oklahoma.

destination360.com

The Kansas House rejected a bill to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards.  Kansas Public Radio reported the vote was 44-77. 

amarillo.com

Pattern Energy is moving components from Hutchinson and Abilene, Kansas, as well as Iowa, to the Texas Panhandle.  Sections of towers that hold the large blades in the air and the narcelles that hold the equipment that makes electricity from the turning blades are transported by trucks pulling specially built trailers.  The components are headed for two projects located north of Amarillo.

southunioncdc.org

Two energy companies are partnering to build the largest community solar array in Kansas.  Community-owned Midwest Energy and community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) signed an agreement to build a 1-MW community solar photovoltaic array according to a recent article in Utility Products.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

On December 31, the federal production tax credit for renewable energy expired. In Oklahoma, this stimulated 12,300 megawatts of wind projects to begin construction ahead of the deadline.

EPA prepares for an earful on Renewable Fuel Standard

Dec 11, 2013
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Both supporters and opponents of ethanol have had a lot to say since the EPA announced a proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard, the rules that force oil companies to buy and use certain levels of ethanol. But they’re just warming up. The agency’s first hearing on the proposal is Thursday in Arlington, Va., and advocates from both sides will line up for a chance to give regulators a piece of their minds.

texastribune.org

George W Bush.  When you think of that name what comes to mind?

  • The Yale party boy of the late 1970s?
  • The son of a Yankee blueblood who made a ton of money on Texas oil?
  • The son of a politician?
  • A native of Midland?
  • A Texas oil baron?
  • A Texas governor?
  • President of the United States?
  • September 11?
  • Wind energy champion?

The high plains are wind-rich, but the biggest need for energy is on the populous coasts.  The issue is easily seen.   State Impact Oklahoma shared these maps. 

The higher the wind speed, the higher the energy potential.  Look where the greatest potential is.

Now, notice where the transmission lines are located.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Ilya Protopopov stopped at a U-Stop station in Lincoln, Neb., on his way to the track to fuel up his truck and a few dirt bikes. His fuel of choice, 91 octane unleaded, was selling for $4.01 per gallon.

“I used to complain about $1.50 gas, now it’s over $4,” Protopopov said. “Pretty steep.”

But on the same pump there was another fuel selling for under $3. E85 was going for $2.53.

energy.gov

Legislatures in states including Kansas could soon find themselves considering legislation allowing utilities to satisfy renewable energy standards by purchasing credits from out-of-state, rather than generating or buying the power in-state.

U.S. Supreme Court: Ethanol Over Oil

Jun 25, 2013

The United States Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to the 2010 Environmental Protection Agency approval of the use of fuel containing up to 15% ethanol.  The challenge was from The American Petroleum Institute and several other groups.  Impact Oklahoma reported Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, called the move, "a true victory for the American biofuels industry."  Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association,  said the Supreme Court's decision, "ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15."

Advances in technology, along with an unusual alliance of green and red politics, have spurred the growth of wind energy across the plains states. Yet the uncertainty of short-term tax credits has also created cycles of boom and bust that may harm the industry in the long run. The Economist magazine provides a good overview of the current state of play.