ThumbWind.com noted with great interest an advisory by the National Weather Service posted on weather.gov
“The growing season has started in Southeast Michigan, about 5 weeks ahead of schedule. Therefore, the NWS Detroit/Pontiac office will start issuing frost advisories and freeze warnings as conditions warrant.”
The string of warm weather in March is unpresidented. The National Weather Service noted that “This stretch of warm weather comes on the heels of Detroit’s 5th warmest winter on record, the 12th warmest autumn, and a summer which featured July as the hottest month ever recorded in Detroit.”
The NWS noted that it had to go back 125 years, to 1886, to find an early-season warm spell that compares. The 1886 record occurred in April, a full month later. Needless to say, this stretch of nine consecutive 70 degree days already represents a new March record for Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw
All of Minnesota’s electricity generation needs can be met by wind and solar sources combined with improvements to the state’s electric grid system and energy efficiency policies, according to a report released. “Renewable Minnesota: A technical and economic analysis of a 100% renewable-energy based electricity system for Minnesota” was researched and written by Dr. Arjun Makhijani and Christina Mills of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) in Takoma Park, Maryland and Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton University.
Researchers reviewed the energy production demands and compared to production potential from Wind and Solar methods and found that Minnesota can meet 100% of its energy needs from renewables. In a study published March 2012 the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research based it model on Minnesota energy usage from 2007.
Major components of their analysis are the use of energy storage technology and smart grid technology. The storage technology that they assumed is compressed air energy storage (CAES), which has been used commercially for decades with coal-fired power plants in two locations: Germany and Alabama. Compressed natural gas storage in caverns and aquifers is also a standard technology. CAES is only one option for commercial scale storage technology, and because it has a proven track record, they used it as the placeholder technology for the storage capacity needed.
The major findings of this study concluded.
A renewable energy-based electricity sector is technically feasible, using available and proven technologies. If this is supplemented with an intelligent grid with two-way communication and more efficient use and integration of distributed generation and storage resources, this can help reduce the costs of implementing a renewable energy-based electricity sector.
There are ample renewable resources in Minnesota. There is more than enough wind and solar energy potential to meet the entire 2007 demand of Xcel Energy’s customers every hour and to accommodate growth in the foreseeable future. These technologies are already commercially available. While we have not examined the subject in detail here, there is evidence that the requisite amount of utility-scale storage technology can also be installed within the state.
An efficient, renewable electricity system can be achieved at an overall cost comparable to the present total cost. The added costs of renewable energy generation, as compared to the current generation from mature and fully-depreciated fossil fuel and nuclear generation facilities, can be offset by increasing the energy efficiency of household and building appliances. The net costs of electricity services – lighting, cooling, running appliances, etc., would be the same as today, but partitioned between generation, storage, efficiency, transmission and distribution.
Energy efficiency lowers the effective cost of electricity services and electricity bills.
The United States Senate voted down an amendment to the Surface Transportation Bill on Tuesday that would have given a one-year extension to the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power. That tax credit — 2.2 cents per kWh of wind energy produced — this credit is set to expire at the end of this year.
Further Thumb Growth in Wind Doubtful
Without this bill providing tax credit’s to an emerging technology its highly unlikely that future growth in renewables will proceed. The Michigan Thumb region is anticipating investments exceeding over $500 million in the Thumb Loop Project to offer up to 2,500 potential wind turbines the capability to transport for energy transmission to market. The failure of this bill may put in jeopardy the total project investment along with 1000s of leases secured by wind farm developers over the past several years.
Thumb Could Lose Anticipated Tax Revenue
Efforts by State Rep Kurt Damrow to introduce the Alternative Commercial Energy Systems (ACES) could also be put in jeopardy if the PTC extension does not pass this year. ACES was viewed as a response to replacement for the personal property on tax wind developments which reduced local tax revenue. ACES would effectively replace a portion of those lost revenues.
The senate vote on the Surface Transportation Bill was 49 to 49 and fell along party lines, with Republicans opposing the amendment. It needed 60 votes to pass.
ThumbWind.com has received several reports from our readers noting the annual migration of Tundra swans across the Thumb. One reader noted. “Tuesday night around 8pm there were hundreds, possibly even 1000 or more, migrating Tundra Swans in the field on the southeast corner of Champagne and Kinde, flying northwesterly towards Rush Lake in groups of a dozen or so, not more than a couple hundred feet off the ground.”
The tundra swan passes through the Thumb region on their migration routes. Shortly after ice thaws, hundreds to sometimes thousands of tundra swans can be seen resting in Great Lakes marshes. The Saginaw Bay area is considered one of the best sites to see a tundra swan migration stop, a migration that takes them approximately 4,200 miles.
According to CBC News in Canada concerns over wind turbines in the migration path are making headlines in Canada. A waterfowl specialist says wind turbines could spell danger for Tundra swans and the economy in Lambton County Ontario.
Dr. Scott Petrie said building industrial wind farms in Grand Bend, Ont., will scare the birds from their annual migration stop. He said the province isn’t considering how the 250 turbines proposed for the area will affect wildlife.
“By putting the turbines in inappropriate places, it actually is tantamount to habitat loss. You wouldn’t put an office tower next to a coastal wetland, why would you put a wind turbine there?” he said.
Petrie said turbines could also hurt Grand Bend economically. If the Tundra swans avoid the area, so will birdwatchers, he said. Every March birders come out to see the approximately 10,000 swans as they migrate north.
Zephyr Wind Development plans on over 250 wind turbines to be placed near Grand Bend Ontario. Grand Bend is almost directly across Lake Huron from Huron County and shares the same migration route.
Anyone with digital pictures of a Tundra swan stop sighting in the Thumb is invited to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will update this post with your shots.