geoAMPS Blog

PTC renewal could stimulate wind energy development

Denzil31 / flickr

Wind farm developers in the United States may want to gear up planning for new projects, as action in Washington to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) could come before year’s end. The PTC has provided incentive for a dramatic increase in wind farms and growth of the wind energy industry. That growth has resulted in greater wind energy capacity since the PTC was established.

The PTC, however, was allowed to expire at the end of 2014. There is new legislation in Congress that would extend the PTC. It received strong bipartisan support in the Senate Finance Committee in May. Now, Marika Fredriksson, Chief Financial Officer of Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, told Reuters that she believes Congress will approve an extension of the PTC in December 2015.

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Energy storage critical to development of renewables

flickr / Portland General Electric

Common criticisms of widespread development and utilization of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar power, are that power is only being generated when the wind blows and the sun shines. Critics claim these facts in nature result in unreliability of renewable sources of energy.

But there is a technological response to this criticism: energy storage systems. Recognizing that there are downtimes of power production when the wind isn’t blowing or after the sun has set, researchers have been hard at work for some time developing systems that will store energy so it will be available to the grid on a 24-hour basis.

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Implementing an alternative energy asset management system

Increasing responsiveness and maximizing resources are important factors in how alternative energy companies improve their business in today’s data-driven, performance-based markets. The ability to deliver projects on time and within budget is one measure of that performance. Another is how efficiently operations and maintenance are managed and achieved. The effective delivery and maintenance of property and assets are fundamental to achieving a company’s objectives in any project that involves real land assets and property stakeholders. A well designed and implemented land asset and royalty management system can substantially improve these capabilities.

Major benefits of an alternative energy management system can be found throughout the lifecycleof a project.This blog will briefly review the benefits that an alternative energy management system will achieve when implemented properly.

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Ways to simplify ongoing payments for wind farms

In the development and operation of a wind farm, several issues enter the discussion quickly, issues that are critical to determining project costs. These issues include availability of wind, siting of the wind farm and its turbines, land use in the area, transmission of the electricity to the power grid, access roads, and power generation capacity of the turbines.

But there is another issue that gets little attention outside the wind industry world. Managing lease and royalty payments to landowners can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive task. Absent an effective strategy and the right technology, wind companies struggle with this necessary aspect of doing business.

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How to navigate changing winds in tax credits debate

Delta Wind Farm / flickr

The Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit have been political footballs in recent years. Extensions have been approved, then left to expire, brewing uncertainty within renewable energy industries.

This remains the case. This summer, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted 23-3 to extend a number of renewable energy tax credits through the end of 2016. That measure would allow developers of wind, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydroelectric and ocean energy to take advantage of federal tax credits for projects begun before Dec. 31, 2016. Among those are the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). If passed, wind farms could receive a 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour credit through the end of 2016.

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Technology aids development of public transportation

Andy Tucker / flickr

Cities across the United States are completing and planning improvements to their public transportation systems. These improvements are efforts by metropolitan transit agencies, in concert with local, state and federal governments, to relieve congestion on city streets and provide a transportation alternative that will save money for individual citizens and reduce fuel usage.

The federal government pumps billions of dollars each year into public transportation improvements. Local and state sources provide funding, too. The improvements include bus, streetcar and light-rail projects.

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Visualizing the utility crossing conflict matrix with GIS

Congested right of ways complicate completion of infrastructure projects. Utility and telecommunications systems, and water and sewer lines are examples of existing infrastructure that can create nightmares for transportation project engineers.

Historically, the lack of good records and technology has been the contributor to timeline overruns, accidents and, in some cases, loss of life when dealing with subsurface obstructions. To counter these dangers, the rise and adoption of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) makes projects safer, especially when paired with the conflict matrix. Absent of taking these steps, critical issues would not be addressed before the first shovels hit the ground.

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Helping DOTs achieve 'effective control' of outdoor advertising

By Yogesh Khandelwal and Dan Liggett

Advertising billboards, for better or worse, are part of the American landscape. Commonly seen from our many miles of interstates and national highways, billboards are considered an essential marketing tool of business. Some motorists feel they provide useful information, while others regard them as eyesores or unnecessary distractions from the nation’s natural beauty.

As usage and popularity of billboards began to escalate in the 1950s, the federal government took initial steps toward regulation. Signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958, commonly known as the “Bonus Program,” was an incentive for states to establish control of ODA within 660 feet of the right of way along interstates. States that did so received an additional one half of one percent of their interstate construction costs.

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How DOTs can address utility crossings in projects

When planning new transportation projects or improvements to existing infrastructure, the state department of transportation (DOT) not only must focus on the project at ground level, but also the impacts below and above ground.

That is because this is where existing utilities are located. Proper inventory and tracking of these utility crossings is essential to the success of the transportation project, maintenance of utility infrastructure and the continuation of utility service. It also is necessary to receive full reimbursement of funds that the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) deems the state agency is eligible for the project.

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Technology to help utilities with transmission tower siting

circulatiing / flickr

Siting electric utility infrastructure and transmission lines can seem mind-boggling without the right project planning tools. Utility organizations must plan new transmission line projects carefully, accounting for multiple factors, from proximity to the grid, to existing infrastructure and property ownership. All the while, the utility must plan the expensive project in the most efficient way possible.

New technological advancements, including Web-based, utilities infrastructure management software and geographic information systems (GIS), are available to help power companies efficiently navigate the multitude of challenges in transmission tower siting.

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