In Brief

Big Solar Project Coming to New Hampshire

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire could soon be home to one of the largest solar projects in the region.

The town of Hinsdale on Monday conditionally approved a Ranger Solar project to build a solar field up to 65 megawatts on a 400-acre site. Power from the project, which could go online in late 2019, would feed the regional electricity market and power as many as 19,500 homes. The company also said the project would offset over 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years.

The state of New Hampshire set a goal in 2006 to obtain 25 percent of its power from clean, renewable source by 2025. But solar has been slow to take hold, with the largest solar site to date being a 1-megawatt project in Milton.


Maine Considered Fertile Ground for Biomass Power Plants

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An international group of energy developers says Maine’s archaic biomass power plants and paper mills would serve as excellent testing grounds for a new manufacturing economy based on sustainably harvested wood.

The Portland Press Herald reports the development group believes investors can transform these industrial relics into bioenergy parks to eventually replace products made from petroleum.

Bioenergy parks utilize all parts of a tree to create electricity, fuel, food and other useful materials.

Under the name Stored Solar J&WE, the development group purchased two wood-fired plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro. They brought the plants back online and restored jobs for 84 employees and roughly 200 loggers and truckers.

Maine is now being marketed in a unique way to investors to bring the first bioenergy park to the state.


Salt Lake City Unveils 10-Year Plan to Expand Solar Energy

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has unveiled a 10-year plan to continue the state’s solar energy adoption.

The Deseret News reported Feb. 2 that the Wasatch Solar Team, along with advocacy group Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City introduced the plan at a media event at the state Capitol.

According to the Wasatch Solar Team there were only 76 rooftop solar installations in 2006 in Utah. By 2016, several thousand households were producing an estimated 140 megawatts of solar energy.

The plan outlines four key areas of continuing challenges for expanding solar in Utah and identifies ways to reduce their impact.

According to the plan, in order for solar growth to continue the state should remove unnecessary restrictions on rooftop solar, offer more financing options and add suitable roof space in the city. Source: Deseret News.


Massachusetts Town Approves 23-Acre Solar Power Farm

MONTAGUE, Mass. (AP) — The town of Montague has approved plans for a 23-acre solar power farm.

The project with more than 18,000 solar panels is scheduled to be built on land already owned by electric utility Eversource.

Town Planner Walter Ramsey tells The Recorder it will be the largest solar site in Franklin County and reaffirms the community’s commitment to renewable energy.

The project was designed to keep the aesthetic appeal of the area. It will be constructed 200 feet from the road with trees creating barrier a between the road and the panels.

The conditions of the project include about 60 Eversource-owned acres adjacent to the project going to the Montague Plains Wildlife Management area. Eversource has also submitted a permit request to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.


Council Voices Concern With Energy Projects on Farmland

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Council on Environmental Quality wants Connecticut lawmakers and state environmental officials to encourage developers to build energy projects on previously developed sites, such as landfills and industrial lands.

The council is raising concerns in a new report about the surge in proposals to build large solar electricity-generating facilities on farmland and forest lands.

Susan Merrow, the council’s chairwoman, says the desire for land conservation and more renewable energy in Connecticut don’t have to be conflict. She says the organization envisions a “future with ample solar energy, farms and forests.”

The report recommends the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection give “meaningful weight” to environmental siting criteria when choosing renewable energy projects. It also calls for utility-scale solar developments to obtain a special certificate that requires a detailed siting review.


Maine Regulators Approve New Rooftop Solar Rules

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — State utility regulators are changing Maine’s solar energy rules despite pushback from solar groups.

Owners of solar energy grids get credits on their energy bill for the energy they send back to the system. But critics, including GOP Gov. Paul LePage, say the current system means electricity customers are unfairly subsidizing the solar industry.

The LePage-appointed Maine Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved rules that would slowly shift more costs onto owners of rooftop solar panels as the cost of solar technology drops. Existing customers would be grandfathered under the current rules for 15 years.

The rules wouldn’t be effective until 2018, giving time for legislators to come up with their own framework.

Solar companies and pro-clean energy groups have wanted utility regulators to leave any changes up to legislators.


First Offshore Wind Farm in US Repaired, Fully Operational

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The first offshore wind farm installed in the United States is now operating at full capacity off the coast of Rhode Island following repairs to a damaged turbine.

The Providence Journal reports the 30-megawatt wind farm went into commercial operation in December with only four of its five turbines on line after being installed in waters off Block Island last fall.

Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of project developer Deepwater Wind, says testing has confirmed that the repair work was successful and Turbine 2 is now running normally.

The turbine was damaged during construction when a drill bit was accidentally left between two moving sections inside its generator.

Repairs began the week of Jan. 17 and wrapped up at the end of the month. General Electric paid for the cost of the work.


Blast In French Nuclear Plant’s Machine Room; No Radiation

PARIS (AP) — A fire led to a blast in a nuclear power plant’s turbine hall Feb. 9 on France’s northwest coast but there was no radiation leak or casualties, operator EDF and local authorities said.

EDF said the staff at the Flamanville plant in Normandy immediately brought the fire under control. The cause of the fire, in the machine room of the No. 1 reactor, was under investigation.

The machine room, which houses turbines that produce electricity, is a non-nuclear area of the plant. There was no radiation leak as a result of the fire or blast, EDF said.


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