Cost of Power Plants up 27 Percent in One Year • TVs to Meet New Energy Star Requirements • Electric Co-ops Honored for GeoAlliance Program • La Nina Expected to Persist Through Spring • Adams Electric Cooperative Gets Green Light for Wind Project Financing • New Public-Private Partnership Could Solve Energy Issues • Illinois Starts Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force • Lakeland College Adds Geothermal System
Cost of Power Plants up 27 Percent in One Year
The cost of building a new power plant in North America has risen 27 percent in the past year, 19 percent in the most recent six months, 76 percent in the last three years and is now 130 percent higher than in 2000, indicating that a plant that cost $1 billion in 2000 would, on average, cost $2.31 billion to build today, according to a new study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) and IHS Inc. Rising prices for raw materials and continued tightness in the labor market have been the main forces pushing up the cost of new power plants, and CERA expects costs to remain high for the next 12 to 18 months. Excluding nuclear plants, costs have risen 79 percent since 2000, CERA said.
TVs to Meet New Energy Star Requirements
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a revised Energy Star specification for televisions on Feb. 5, 2008. Effective Nov. 1, 2008, TVs that carry the Energy Star label will be up to 30 percent more efficient than conventional models and will save energy while they are on and when they are off.
“Energy Star’s new specifications for televisions are turning the channel on energy guzzling sets – making them go the way of rabbit-ears and the black and white TV,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said.
If all TVs sold in the United States meet the Energy Star requirements, the savings in energy costs will grow to about $1 billion annually and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars.
TVs first earned the Energy Star label in 1998 and ever since, TV manufacturers and EPA have worked together on efficiency improvements. The United States now has more than 275 million TVs in use; they consume over 50 billion kWh per year.
For more information on Energy Star appliances, visit www.energystar.gov.
Electric Co-ops Honored for GeoAlliance Program
The Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) received the 2008 Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) Inspiring Efficiency Innovation award during MEEA’s annual meeting in Chicago on January 10. Through the Inspiring Efficiency awards, MEEA annually recognizes leaders in the Midwest who have made great strides in increasing energy efficiency awareness and innovative technologies, policy and programs in the region.
The award recognized the association’s efforts in GeoAlliance, a joint venture between the AIEC and Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF), which encourages the use of geothermal technology in cooperative-served, not-for-profit and public facilities. The ICECF funded the program with $1 million in grant money, and the AIEC is the program administrator.
For more information about the GeoAlliance grant program, call Nancy Nixon at 217-241-7954 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Nina Expected to Persist Through Spring
Though in recent weeks there have been some early signs of weakening, most climate models indicate that the current La Nina will hold on through the upcoming spring months. With that being the case, April is forecasted to see near to slightly above average temperatures across Illinois.
Locations across the southern part of the state will have the best chance of seeing milder weather during the month of April. Temperatures are expected to average between 1 to 3 degrees above normal in this part of the state, which will lead to a deficit of heating degree days of between 30 and 90. Late season energy usage with respect to heating should also be a little lower than normal across much of the state.
The Illinois map this month illustrates the average temperature departure from normal across the state for this past winter. While the southern third of the state saw a slightly milder winter, the extreme northern and northwestern portions of the state actually saw a winter season that was a little cooler than average.
The reason for this difference is largely due to the difference in snowfall amounts. Locations from the Quad-Cities to Rockford have seen a very snowy winter with over 50 inches fallen. On the flip side, much of southern Illinois has seen less than 15 inches of snowfall this winter and most of that has been short lived. The added snow cover in northern Illinois allowed for low temperatures to drop well below zero more often and for lower maximum temperatures on many days. What a difference a few hundred miles makes!
Adams Electric Cooperative Gets Green Light for Wind Project Financing
Electric cooperatives in 11 states got the green light from the IRS to issue Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB) worth $143 million. CREB awards to cooperatives ranged from $300,000 to $30 million. Approved projects include: 14 wind projects, five landfill gas projects, six hydropower projects; one solar project and one open-loop biomass project. Adams Electric Cooperative, Quincy, will receive $1,504,080 for its wind turbine project.
As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the CREBs program provides electric cooperatives and other not-for-profit utilities incentives to invest in renewable generation resources. Comparable to Production Tax Credit (PTC) available to investor-owned utilities, CREBs provide low-cost capital for renewable energy facilities because the government provides tax credits to the purchasers of the bonds.
“Most of the nation’s renewable energy resources can be found in the service territory of cooperatives,” noted Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “Clean Renewable Energy Bonds are the financial instrument that allows cooperatives to unleash that power.”
Awardees may now apply to the National Rural Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) or other qualified lenders to issue bonds on their behalf. On February 6, 2008, the CFC announced it had issued almost $31 million in CREBs, following IRS allocations made in fiscal year 2006.
New Public-Private Partnership Could Solve Energy Issues
Invoking the successful public-private partnerships of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the legacy of the “REA,” Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, called on government to work with consumers to achieve national climate change goals. “In the 1930s, when Roosevelt initiated the ‘New Deal’ the president didn’t say: You people go out and provide electric power all across the country while the rest of us sit on the fence and determine what penalties will be assigned if you don’t meet these goals. No, President Roosevelt said we need a partnership between government and the people.”
Before an audience of nearly 9,000 electric cooperative leaders assembled for the Association’s 66th Annual Meeting, English observed that whoever is elected president this fall will face a tremendous challenge. Crafting and enacting policies to meet our nation’s climate challenge will consume many of the new president’s first 100 days, he said.
English encouraged co-op leaders to energize their local members, to empower co-op consumers and begin a dialogue between elected officials and electricity consumers. “The cooperative principles require that we educate and inform the membership,” said English. “We have a responsibility also to provide elected officials the information they need to make good decisions and effective policy. Consumers need straight answers about the current state of technology, capacity and cost. Co-op consumers recognize that balancing electricity needs and environmental goals will be difficult. They want to know how much this is going to increase their electric bills and what elected officials will do to make it affordable.”
Illinois Starts Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force
A new state task force will begin work to create a comprehensive food production and distribution system to expand the availability of Illinois-grown produce. The Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force held its first meeting in January.
Our state is one of the nation’s leading producers of agricultural products, but imports more than 90 percent of its food. If we could develop a system to satisfy consumers demand for organic and locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables and keep food sales in-state, we’d have a tremendous opportunity to improve the health of our diets and revitalize rural communities.
Food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches Illinois consumers. The challenge is to become more self-sufficient and to make Illinois produce more readily available, especially in inner-city neighborhoods where fresh fruits and vegetables often are in short supply.
Lakeland College Adds Geothermal System
Along with its many alternative energy projects, Lake Land College is utilizing geothermal energy in its new Student Fitness Center. The completion of this green project was greatly aided by a $45,000 award from the GeoAlliance Grant. Pictured from left to right are Nancy Nixon, Marketing Administrator, Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives; Chris Christman, Coles Moultrie Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer; Ray Rieck, Vice President for Business Services at Lake Land College; and Scott Lensink, President of Lake Land. Coles Moultrie Electric Cooperative assisted Lake Land College in obtaining the geothermal funding. GeoAlliance is a cooperative effort between the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in Chicago, which funds the grants, and the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield, which administers the grant program. The grant is part of a $1 million program to further the proliferation of geothermal technology.
© 2008 Illinois Country Living Magazine.