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A Wind-Win Situation


By Mark S. Kuhar

Nine out of every 10 articles written on the topic of wind power will likely contain the Bob Dylan song lyric, “the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” But I submit to you, the questions are blowing in the wind.

What if your quarry operation could save hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in power costs over the life of their projects? What if you could generate renewable energy and make your community and the surrounding environment cleaner? What if you could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize energy costs, while preparing your company to comply with future carbon emission requirements?

It’s pretty enticing to think about, isn’t it?

Enter San Francisco-based Foundation Windpower. The company’s on-site wind-generation solutions enable aggregates operations to realize substantial savings on their total energy costs, according to the company.

“When we started the company in 2008 we were looking for large energy users, ” said Bob Lewis, vice president sales and marketing. “But we were also concerned about location, as it is not easy to permit 350-ft. wind turbines. Aggregates operations fit the bill perfectly.”

The company offers its customers access to discounted renewable power with no upfront or ongoing investment. Their project delivery structure is optimized to minimize financial and operational risks to its customers. Foundation Windpower pays for the construction and maintenance of turbines and sells electricity to its clients via long-term electricity purchase agreement.

“Payback starts immediately upon commissioning,” Lewis said.

Foundation Windpower offers Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) at either a fixed price or a discount indexed to below utility rates. This allows customers to choose the solution that best meets their operational and financial planning needs.

“Net Energy Metering laws make our projects feasible even if a customer’s operation does not run 24 hours a day,” Lewis said. “If a facility operates at night, they can use power at a much lower rate than when they operate during the day. When turbine generation exceeds customer demand, or if energy is generated when a customer facility is not running, the excess energy runs back into the grid, and the customer receives a credit from their utility.

Conversely, when the wind is idle or customer demand exceeds turbine production, the customer buys grid power as usual, or a combination of grid and turbine power. Our customers' operations face no power disruption from our wind turbines; the wind turbines and grid operate seamlessly in parallel.”

Teichert Aggregates
Teichert Aggregates, Vernalis, Calif., produces rock and sand for projects in locations throughout Northern California and the Central Valley. Teichert chose Foundation Windpower to generate renewable energy for its Tracy, Calif., plant and make their community and its surrounding environment cleaner.

Teichert's 1.5-megawatt, 390-ft.-tall GE wind turbine supplies up to 20 percent of the facility's electricity. This renewable energy lowers operating costs, enables the company to be more competitive in a challenging marketplace – and helps keep 50 employees working at the plant.

Using wind power will remove the equivalent of 1,300 metric tons of CO2 from the environment annually – the same impact as planting 300 acres of trees in Tracy. Teichert reached out to its community regarding the placement of the tower while Foundation assessed wind resources, selected equipment, organized installation, and secured construction and tax-equity investment. Federal and state grants helped reduce the cost of the project.

The potential for wind power has excited local officials. “We are the Saudi Arabia of wind,” said San Joaquin, Calif., County Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, when the turbines were installed. “As time goes by who knows how we’ll harness that wind. This is huge.”

Cemex
Cemex prides itself in delivering innovative, high-performing products, services and solutions. The company teamed with Foundation Windpower to deliver its first wind project in the United States at its Madison, Calif., aggregate facility.

“The wind turbine in Madison generates enough energy to power more than 200 average-sized American households annually, while preventing 1,500 tons of CO2 emissions,” said Cemex Corporate Energy Manager Bhaskar Dusi. “Nearly 30 percent of the quarry’s energy consumption is produced by the turbine.”

Cemex’s Victorville, Calif., operation features two soaring wind turbines next to the cement plant. The two turbines in Victorville will produce an estimated 6,500 megawatt hours of electricity in an average year – enough to sustain 650 average homes, according to Cemex. The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize energy costs for the company, while preparing the company to comply with future carbon emission requirements.

Another two are in operation at the company’s Black Mountain Quarry in Apple Valley, Calif. Wind is strong at the two sites, according to Cemex, particularly during summer afternoon hours when purchasing electricity from the grid gets the most expensive and produces the most greenhouse gas.

Head East
If you are thinking that California is the only place where you can install a viable wind turbine to power your plant, you would be wrong. “You have to have the wind resources,” Lewis said, “but the Plains States are a great wind resource. Some of the states in the Midwest are ripe for our model. Illinois, Kansas and some states in the New England area are viable as well.

Any quarry operation utilizing wind power has an immediate environmental and sustainable-development story to tell to its local community. Each 1.5 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy produced:

  • Eliminates 1,269 tons of CO2.
  • Saves 915 barrels of oil.
  • Can power 169 average-size homes.
  • Equals planting 295 acres of trees.

Added green benefits include:

  • Eliminating the need for more transmission lines.
  • Increased energy independence.
  • Creation of “green jobs.”
  • Visible statement of environmental stewardship.

 

Want Wind Power?

You will need:

  • At least 350 kW maximum demand.
  • Location with wind resources.
  • A permitable, rural location.
  • Space onsite.
  • FAA approval.

 

For more information, call 415-515-3404 or go to www.foundationwindpower.com.


Wind Energy Use Up 28 Percent

Wind energy grew 28 percent in America last year, setting a new installation record and confirming its status as a mainstream energy source, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2012.

In its best year ever, the U.S. industry topped all energy sources with 42 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity. Over 6,700 new wind turbines were erected, which produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.5 million homes. Overall, America finished the year with 45,100 wind turbines that can power 15.2 million homes.

The bumper crop of wind energy benefited the U.S. economy across all 50 states, through $25 billion in private investment in new U.S. wind farms, tens of millions of dollars paid to landowners and local communities in lease payments and property taxes, and billions in projected savings for electricity consumers.

In fact, the impact of wind power development was so strong that an industry analyst said it caused a noticeable uptick in the entire U.S. economy in the fourth quarter.

“We had an incredibly productive year in 2012,” said Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “It really showed what this industry can do and the impact we can have with a continued national commitment to renewable energy. We’re doing what Americans overwhelmingly say they want: making more clean, renewable energy, and creating good jobs in U.S. factories.” AWEA’s report found that over 550 factories across the country provide parts and services for the wind energy industry, which provided 80,000 American jobs in 2012.

While jobs numbers were hampered as the year went on by Congress’s delay in renewing the primary incentives for American wind power – the production and investment tax credits – their extension on Jan. 1, 2013, for projects that start this year has sent the industry back to work.