Posts filed under ‘alternative energy’

BP Soliciting Wind Energy Leases NW Ohio

BP Wind Energy is a principal owner and operator of wind power facilities with interest in eight operating wind farms.  BP Wind Energy has a gross generating capacity of more than 1,200 megawatts, enough to provide leecticity for a city the size of Washington DC. BP Wind Energy has a presence in California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota, Idaho and Texas.  BP is looking to expand their presence to Ohio.

BP logo

This meeting was sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau provide information on community responsibilities and potential benefits of wind energy. Ohio Farm Bureau has presented 90 wind/alternative energy meetings throughout Ohio in the past 12 months.

Wind energy was never designed to be a stand-alone energy production technology.  It is part of a diversified energy plan that is being developed on a regional, statewide and multi-state energy strategy. Wind energy is expected to produce five percent of the nation’s electricity by 2020; twenty percent by 2030.

The Ohio Power Siting Board has made available an interactive map of wind resources for Ohio. The interactive map is available at

According to Ohio Farm Bureau and BP, there are some direct economic benefits:

  • Land lease payments $7,000/MW/year (MW = megawatt) – Ohio Farm Bureau Data
  • Short term jobs = 15 per MW –  Ohio Farm Bureau Data
  • Long term jobs = 0.6 per MW – Ohio Farm Bureau Data
  • 1 MW = energy production for 300 standard homes – BP Data

This is the same BP as the oil company. In 2006, BP decided to venture into the renewable energy business. Their projects are a mix of wholly-owned and partnership ventures.  In Ohio, BP is targeting 200 MW for Phase I.

According to the BP representative the Fowler, Indiana BP project is 600 MW and supports roughly 50 full-time employees.

BP is examining the southern part of Van Wert County, in NW Ohio and will be securing approximately 15,000 acres.

July 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm 5 comments

Wind Turbine Public Hearing for Iberdrola Renewables in Ohio — Pros and Cons

On July 8, 2010, approximately 120 attended a public hearing for Heartland Wind Energy project in rural Van Wert County.  This was a legal hearing, and anyone wishing to give testimony had to raise their right hand and swear that the testimony given will be the truth. Prior to giving testimony, individuals also had to state whether there residence is or is not in the project area.
Iberdrola Renewables
According to Iberdrola Renewables, the company financing this wind project, the project in Van Wert and Paulding County has a scope of 159 wind turbines, which will provide about 80,000 houses with electricity.

Iberdrola Renewables public hearing


According to the official records on file with the Ohio Siting Board:

Heartland Wind, LLC is proposing to construct, own and operate up to 350 MW of wind-powered electric generation in Van Wert and Paulding counties.  Heartland Wind, LLC is managed by Iberdrola renewable, Inc.  The facility would require up to 175 wind turbine generators that would be located within a 40,500-acre project area.  Approximately 140 participating landowners would provide about 17,000 acres of leased land.  The application was filed on December 21, 2009.

All the official documents are available at


Why wind energy? Well, one reason is that Ohio has a mandate (ORC 4928.64):

  • 25% of electricity shall be provided from Alternative Energy Resources by 2025
  • Half of the 25% may be advanced energy resources (improved process or equipment, or clean coal technology)
  • At least half of the 25% renewable energy resources including 0.5% solar
Random fact: In Ohio, the wind turbine must be a minimum 750 feet from horizontal extended blade tip to nearest residence.
Testimony was polarized, and fell into two categories. The numbers I present below aren’t official; they may or may not be accurate (they should be fairly close, though). The bullet points below are recorded as I recall from the given testimony.

Pro testimony (n = 10):

8- residence NOT in wind project zone

2- residence IN wind project zone

  • economic development
  • job creation
  • progress and new industry
  • will benefit county coffers, townships, state
  • environmental impacts negligible
  • stop sending energy dollars overseas (reduce reliance on foreign energy)
  • supports green, clean, renewable energy
  • benefits far outweigh any negative impacts
  • $1.5 million per year to farmers in annual payments
  • can help preserve agricultural ground for agricultural use
  • 215 new construction jobs
  • 20 permanent high paying maintenance jobs created
  • local career center has a wind energy education program
  • our power needs are increasing, wind turbines help meet that power need

Con testimony (n = 8):

3- residence NOT in wind project zone

5- residence IN wind project zone

  • degradation of quality of life
  • obstructed views
  • disruption of bird life, bird migratory patterns
  • several references to scientific studies on the negative health effects (sorry, I don’t have the references — my fingers are too slow)
  • the project was referred to as ‘industrial’, ‘commercial’
  • sleep disturbance
  • shadow flicker, strobing
  • property value declination
  • wind project is highly subsidized
  • local contractors won’t be used
  • poor television reception
  • health effects on children
  • infrasound (below limit of hearing) has a human health effect
  • noise sounds like jet engines
  • ice throw
  • blade shear
  • we’re not reducing foreign energy
  • very inefficient source of energy

July 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

How America’s Bioeconomy Can Clean the Planet

AMES, Iowa — Agriculture’s contribution to carbon footprinting and greenhouse gasses is pointed out in headlines from the Wall Street Journal to Successful Farming. But 12 Midwest universities are collaborating to host a virtual conference that rewrites the headlines and suggests that agriculture can clean the planet. In a collaborative effort the universities are offering “Growing the Bioeconomy: Solutions for Sustainability” on Dec. 1, 2009 to share how that might be done.

“This conference will be a day filled with presenters offering solutions for sustainability,” said Paul Brown, Iowa State University Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Assistant Director and conference chairperson. “Keynote speaker James Lovelock is one of the world’s most renowned thinkers on global environmental science. In his message, Dr. Lovelock calls upon farmers to convert agricultural residues to biochar for incorporation into the soil as the solution to global climate change.”

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=green+energy&iid=5097404″ src=”2/d/c/d/Potted_plant_with_53dc.jpg?adImageId=7654492&imageId=5097404″ width=”234″ height=”313″ /]

Lovelock’s presentation will be delivered via live feed to all participants. The morning plenary session will also include presentations by Johannes Lehmann, associate professor of soil fertility management and soil biogeochemistry at Cornell University and Matt Liebman, Wallace Chair for sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Lehmann will discuss the combined benefit of biochar for carbon sequestration and improved soil fertility. Liebman will present research findings on integrating conservation with biofuel feedstock production.

“This is the seventh year Iowa State University has hosted a bioeconomy conference, but the first time ISU has collaborated with 11 other universities to simultaneously hold the conference,” said Brown. “Last year ISU conference participants came from 23 states and for the past few years other state universities have organized conferences with a biobased theme – it just made sense to form an alliance and work together instead of competing and repeating efforts.”

From Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Kansas, universities will co-host conference sites and share content through high-speed communication systems. Participants have the option of attending a state sponsored site, signing on as a corporate location or logging into the conference from anyplace in the world. Iowa State University is managing the conference registration and virtual conference technology. Specific information about participation options and conference registration are available at

Conference co-hosts University of Nebraska (UN), Michigan State University (MSU), North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Purdue University are organizing and e-hosting the afternoon concurrent sessions. The session begins at 1 p.m. and offers two tracks – net greenhouse gas emission from biofuel systems, hosted by UN; and non-traditional feedstocks, hosted by MSU.  The second concurrent session begins at 3:30 and covers topics related to advances and breakthroughs in biofuels, hosted by NDSU; and bioenergy economic and policy issues, hosted by Purdue. All tracks have four speakers; speaker and topic details are available at

In addition to previously mentioned institutions, conference partners include Kansas State University, Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Wisconsin, University of Wyoming, North Central bioeconomy Consortium, and North Central Sun Grant Initiative. Additional conference information is available at .

November 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

National Wind Developing Wind Farms in Northwest Ohio

I had an opportunity to attend an invitation-only meeting on September 1, 2009 for Northwest Ohio Wind Energy. National Wind is the manager and developer of Northwest Ohio Wind Energy. The purpose of the meeting was to educate landowners in the footprint of Northwest Ohio Wind Energy (NWOWE) about: 1) NWOWE, 2) National Wind as a manager, and 3) to discuss the concept of community wind.  Community wind is is generated by turbines that are at least partially owned by local landowners and other members or entities (such as schools). NWOWE is currently in the process of securing land and hopes to secure 30,000 acres, with a projected construction date of 2011.

This model of wind power development is different from the model proposed by Iberdrola and Horizon Wind Energy, which are also both securing land contracts in Van Wert and Paulding Counties. Unlike Iberdrola or Horizon, the NWOWE plan allows for community ownership of the project and potentially higher payments to the landowners.  The proposed wind farm from NWOWE  will have an output of 300 MW. There are some similarities with all three companies. All have robust provisions for fixing drain tiles, which is a major concern for this part of Ohio where topography is very flat and subsurface drainage is critical. Disruptions are unavoidable during the burying of transmission lines. The lines are set four feet underground and sometimes drain tiles are cut as the lines are being buried. Again, all three companies, Horizon, Iberdrola, and NWOWE offer various ways to repair those cut drain tile.

NWOWE is using National Wind as the project manager. National Wind has developed a 50 MW Jeffers Wind Energy Center in western Minnesota that has been in operation since 2008. National Wind also has one project totaling 169.5 MW in eastern North Dakota operating as M-Power Luverne Wind Farm.

The success of this and other wind projects in Ohio hinges on the Ohio law enacted last year establishing an alternative energy portfolio standard.  This is a government mandate that by the year 2025 Ohio utilities must purchase at least 25% of their electricity from alternative sources. Of that 25%, half must come from renewable electricity sources, such as wind. Fufrthermore, over half the renewable energy (6.5% of all Ohio electricity purchased) must be generated in-state. So long as this law is not repealled, there is strong incentive and upside for wind development projects in Ohio.

September 3, 2009 at 8:15 am 3 comments

Value-Added Producer Grants Available

The Rural Business-Cooperative Service of the USDA announces the availability competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2009 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Awards may be made for planning activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000.

Specifically, the grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Please note that businesses of all sizes may apply, but priority will be given to Small and Medium-Sized Farms or Ranches that are structured as Family Farms. There is no restriction on the minimum grant size that will be awarded. In FY 2008, 31 percent of awards were $50,000 or less.

The following ideas are suggested for the use of the grant funds:

  • alternative uses of agricultural products
  • value-added processing of agricultural commodities to produce bio-materials (e.g. plastics, fiberboard)
  • green chemicals
  • functional foods (e.g. lutin enhanced ‘‘power bar’’ snacks, soy enhanced products)
  • nutraceuticals
  • on-farm renewable energy
  • biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biodiesel).

The FY2009 Value Added Producer Grants program opened on May 6, 2009 and the application deadline is July 6, 2009. For more information about the program, interested individuals are being asked to contact their State Rural Development Office to obtain additional information and assistance. A contact person, address, phone number, and e-mail address for each State Office is posted on this website For Ohio, the contact list is available at

May 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

Small Wind Turbine Webinar

I’ve been discussing large scale wind turbine projects on this blog recently.  I ran across this meeting notice for small-scale wind turbines.  The High Plains Energy Team is hosting a free webinar on small-scale wind turbines.  Below are the details.

Program Summary:

This webcast gives an overview of small wind turbines. Topics to be covered include: applications, estimating wind turbine production, policies & economics, the process for installing small wind turbines, small wind system components, and technology questions. This presentation gives participants the tools needed to determine if a wind system is appropriate to a particular application and to avoid common pitfalls encountered in analyzing and executing small wind turbine projects.


Antonio C. Jimenez – National Renewable Energy Laboratory(NREL)/National Wind Technology Center. Mr. Jimenez is a member of the NREL Wind Powering America team.

Suggested web resources:

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Web Site:

Wind Powering America Web Site:

Windustry Web Site:

How Do I Connect:

February 13 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM CST (12:00 noon – 1:30 PM EST). You will need to have a computer with Internet access. At the meeting time, simply click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser to enter the meeting.

When you go to that URL you will find yourself at a login page. Simply click on “Click to Enter” under the “Enter as a Guest” heading. You will then be prompted for your name. Enter your name and click “Enter” to enter the meeting space. The instructions that detail how to join the integrated phone audio conference will be on the screen when you join the meeting.

The audio portion of the presentation will require you to have speakers for your computer. You can check your ability to hear the audio by connecting to this archived web seminar – . Audio volume can be adjusted by going to “Start”, then “Control Panel”, then “Sounds and Audio”.

Anytime before the meeting you can visit the following URL to confirm your ability to connect to a virtual meeting room: (may need to hit browser refresh button to activate)

January 29, 2009 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Wind Energy in Van Wert County Part Deux: Challenges

On Monday, January 26, I attended another large-scale wind energy meeting in Van Wert.  The meeting featured Ohio Farm Bureau’s Dale Arnold as well as Iberdrola Renewables Wind Land Consultant Dave Dickson.  This post is more or less a followup to one of the first posts I did on wind energy (click here for that post).

There are essentially two major companies shopping wind leases in Van Wert, Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy.  Since Horizon Wind Energy was not at this meeting (due to an unavoidable conflict) I’ll focus on Iberdrola Renewables.  The company is based in Spain and has developed 29 windfarms in the U.S.

Iberdrola Renewables has one project in the area, “Blue Creek Wind Power Project”, with a stated goal to secure 40,000+ acres for wind energy turbines.  Mr. Dickson provided a general overview of the project, which is very similar to the Horizon Wind Energy project.  Both companies are looking to sign contracts with landowners in Tully and Union townships (northwest and northcentral Van Wert County), as well as parts of Paulding County and Allen County, Indiana.

If all conditions are met, Iberdrola Renewables has a timeline indicating that construction may start by 2010 with all turbines operational by 2011. Payments are similar to Horizon Wind Energy, providing $5,000+ per year to a landowner (assume one 1.8-2MW turbine for 80 acres).  Lease period is 30 years with an option for an additional 20 years.

I see a few challenges, and I’m not quite clear how these challenges will be met.  The issue of checkerboarding could present a significant obstacle to overcome. Checkerboarding is a term used in land development to describe what happens when two (or more) companies work independently and in competition to sign land contracts.  For example, two side-by-side land parcels could each have a contract signed by a different wind energy company.  From what I understand, if one wind energy company develops a large scale wind farm the competing company(ies) may leave the area and look eslewhere without building a single turbine.  The problem is that leases are typically not exchanged or purchased between the wind energy companies.  Therefore, if you sign a lease with the ‘wrong’ company you may not get any turbines.  Checkerboarding has already occurred in Van Wert County.  As I looked at the map provided by Iberdrola Renewables, I could identify areas of relatively close proximity where both Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy have lease contracts.

The current process seems to be lacking in community planning.  In a community planned system, parcels could be identified and leased by a single entity.  This single entity could represent one, two or more wind energy companies.  The goal being to unify the land development process so that maximum financial benefit is achieved for all parties: landowners, neighbors, school systems, community and the wind turbine companies.  A locally owned project may also alleviate the issue of checkerboarding.

ADDITION (February 2, 2009):

Dan Litchfield, Business Developer for Iberdrola Renewables provided some very helpful clarifications-

  • Heartland Wind, LLC is 100% owned by Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
  • The LLC company form is used by us primarily to help organize our nationwide leasing efforts. We have separate legal entities for our west coast development and east coast development.
  • Another major wind developer, NextEra Energy (fka FPL Energy) also has a leasing subsidiary called Heartland Wind, LLC, but it is registered in a different state and is a totally separate company
  • If any landowners are uneasy about leasing to Heartland Wind, LLC, we are happy to add on their contract that Heartland Wind is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. Also, later this year we may prepare leases directly with Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.

January 27, 2009 at 8:00 am 4 comments

Legal Education Resources Related to the Emerging Wind Energy Industry

Van Wert County is receiving considerable attention form a few wind development companies. Specifically, Tully and Union townships are garnering most of the spotlight. Many individuals have asked me about legal resources that may be availble to them. Below is a compilation of Agricultural Legal Education resources on Wind Energy Development has been compiled by the new Community of Practice for Agricultural Law and its members.  Below are a few of the resources that I found most useful.  If you are going to read just one resource, I suggest the Iowa State University link.

Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Iowa State University (October 2008)

Negotiating Wind Energy Property Agreements by Jessica A. Shoemaker (June 2007)

Albany Law Center – “Law of the Land” (blog on legal aspects of wind farm development)

January 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm 2 comments

Ohio Ag Manager Newsletter for December, 2008 Published

The Ohio Ag Manager e-Farm Management newsletter is now available. Current topics include:

  1. Flexible Cash Lease Calculator
  2. Story Marketing for Your Farm
  3. MarketMaker Linking Agricultural Markets
  4. COOL Implementation: The First 45 Days
  5. Online Employment Forums for the Hog Industry
  6. 2008 Ohio Survey of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Issues
  7. ACRE Publications Available
  8. Income Tax Management
  9. Commodity Programs and Biofuels Focus of Latest Choices Magazine

December 5, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Methane to Electricity

Below is a guest post from Gene McCluer, OSU Extension Hardin County Extension Educator:

As a source of renewable energy, there is much interest in converting manure into methane and the methane into electricity. There are two farms with anaerobic digesters which are currently generating electricity in Ohio. Both farms are selling the power to Buckeye Power, Inc., Ohio’s Electric Cooperative power generation and transmission organization, and then purchasing their electric power from their local cooperative electric distribution system. These pilot projects are at Wenning Poultry in Mercer County and Bridgewater Dairy in Williams County. Here are some key points

1. We know how to generate and collect methane from manure. The process, however, can be upset by various things, such as antibiotics or other medical treatment of the animals, adding other organic material such as food wastes, which have been washed with various cleaners, low temperatures, and many more. When the system is upset, methane generation is reduced and generation is affected. There is a definite need for an operation and management expertise component to these systems.

2. The cost of building an on-farm system is large, but the exact costs are not easy to find. In almost every case we heard about, there was some grant subsidized funds include, as the public has interest in finding new effective ways to generate renewable energy.

3. The farmers in Ohio who are operating the demonstration sites are large operations. One farm has more than 800,000 layers and the other operates a 4,000 head dairy farm. It seems that a large volume of manure generation is necessary, and a steady supply of new manure or other organic wastes needs to be added to the system on a regular basis. It appears that at least 500 cows or 3000 hogs are needed before methane/generation is to be considered.

4. The “biogas” generated is not equal to propane or natural gas. It typically includes about 60% methane, 35% CO2, some water vapor, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. Methane is the only portion that burns, and some of the other components are quite corrosive to pipes and engines. Preventing the release of “greenhouse gases” can generate carbon credits, which have value.

5. Generating and collecting the biogas from the manure with an anaerobic digester has been shown to reduce the offensive odors of the manure. This alone in some cases has been the justification of building a system, even if the methane is flared off, or burned at the site. That is how big solving a manure odor problem can be in some farm situations.

6. Utilizing the biogas to generate heat may also be an important use of the methane, if there is a need for heat energy on the farm or nearby. Serious digester operators utilize some of the heat to maintain the manure in the anaerobic digester at about 100 deg. F. to maximize the biological generation of biogas.

7. The biogas can power an engine/generator to generate electricity. The electricity can be used on the farm, with the appropriate electric configuration approved by the electric distribution company providing the normal power for the farm. With self generated power, there must be a standby power arrangement with the electric company for when the generator is down for maintenance or other incidental problems in the system occur. This is likely to cause the farm to have a higher electric rate, since the power company still has the expense of installing and maintaining all of the equipment to operate the farm, even though they may not sell power there on a regular basis. I think this may be part of the reason that the two Ohio farms are selling all of their power and purchasing the power from the local electric coop distribution company.

8. Connecting to the grid and selling electricity is not as easy as it sounds. All electric generators that interconnect to the power grid, regardless of size, are required to file an application or self-certification with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to obtain “qualifying facility” status under the Public Utilities Regulator Policies Act (PURPA), and must apply to the local electric utility for interconnection to the lines. If the farm wants to “self-supply” (use the electricity that it generates) and generates more than they use in a year, they must enter into a Power Purchase Agreement with Buckeye Power. If the output of the generation exceeds the usage of the consumers on the local utility’s distribution circuit, or, they connect directly to the transmission system, they must also enter into a Wholesale Market Participation Agreement with the transmission owner and the transmission operator before power can be put on the transmission lines. There are many more permits, agreements, and studies which need to be completed before a farm can generate electricity for the grid.

9. There is a significant equipment requirement needed to interconnect the generator to the electric power grid. Most of this equipment either measures the amount sold to the power company or to synchronize the electric voltage, frequency, and phase with the line it is being connected to. Other switchgear equipment is required to make sure that the generated power does not compromise the safety of either the people on the farm, other coop customers, or the power company line crew who may need to work on the electric system that is connected to the farm.

This is not to discourage any operations who have the capacity or interest in providing renewable energy, but to help find the answers to their questions about how to do it. An interested farm should contact their electric coop or their electric distribution company to visit with electrical engineers who work in the area of electric generation and transmission for more precise details of the requirements. Either Don Leis, Senior Power Deliver Engineer with Buckeye Power (614-846-5757) or Richard Hiatt, with the Rural Electricity Resource Council in Wilmington (937-383-0001) may be able to help those who are exploring the idea of methane production and electric generation.

October 27, 2008 at 7:00 am 2 comments

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