Nc wind Summit “Best Practices in Wind Development”

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  • NC Wind Summit

  • “Best Practices in Wind Development”

  • December 2002

  • Clipper Windpower, Inc.

  • Eastern Regional Office

  • 6500 Pyle Road

  • Bethesda, Maryland 20817

Development Process: Steps (some conducted in parallel)

  • Site prospecting

      • Simultaneously taking first cut at wind resource, transmission, access, environmental, viewshed, land use, permitting, etc., AND power sales
  • Land rights (leases, easements)

  • Site investigation

      • Wind measurement, analysis (2 years unless strongly correlations)
      • Environmental study
        • Sound, avian, viewshed, other issues (lightning, erosion, other flora, fauna)
      • Cultural issues (artifacts, land use, religious concerns, historic structures)
      • Geotechnical
  • Permitting

  • PPA negotiation

  • Engineering

  • Financing

  • Construction and Operation

Project Development Cycle

Wind Development Process: What Do We Need?

  • Wind resource 16+ mph on annual basis

      • Key is often value at time of delivery to the grid
  • Fair transmission access:

      • Reasonable interconnection and wheeling costs (including required studies)
      • Zero or reasonable penalties for intermittency
  • Reasonable permitting requirements and timetables (defined)

  • Minimal upfront charges and taxes, including study costs

      • Rigorous environmental studies can run $500k plus, eliminates many sites, stymies development process
      • Local tax deferral can be an important tool in high tax jurisdictions
  • Financeable PPAs (15 years as a general rule)

      • Need to sell all or virtually all energy as available
      • Requires permitting certainty with defined/capped mitigation (if nec.)

What Will It Take in North Carolina?

  • Fact: Many good resource areas are development limited

      • Ridge Law
      • Environmental and access reasons
      • Heavily forested east coast presents different issues than much of the west
  • Southeast probably will not see wind costs as low as now being demonstrated in other regions because best sites will not be tapped

  • Long-term contracts and/or front loading (power price) more important here than in other locations

  • Demand aggregation will probably be vital to achieving economies of scale in early stages or in absence of a real green retail market or green mandates (NGOs, feds, green pricing all have an important role to play in aggregation)

What Will It Take in North Carolina?

  • Last but not least: Coalition Building

      • Important to working with partners to educate public, customers
      • Important to have enviro groups supportive in this region because economics may not be quite as compelling as elsewhere
      • Economic development partners also important since most projects likely to be in rural, underdeveloped areas
      • State and federal government will play an important role in moving SE Region wind projects forward, especially in aggregation
      • Nat’l Park Service, Fish & Wildlife, Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative important players in stewarding air quality
      • Tribes may have rights outside their formal lands, so even if projects aren’t on “tribal land”, tribes should be consulted

“Best Practices” Summary Pre-Development Activities

  • Build a broad coalition early in the process

      • Public/private sector, non-profits, consumers, utility/energy providers
  • Achieve understanding with enviros on wind’s relative impact

      • Set ground rules that recognize wind’s low impacts (ie, extensive studies should only be required where indicated—not as default)
        • Many arguments for extensive studies are simply cover to delay, kill projects
        • Presumption should be that wind is a preferred source unless certain factors are present (ie substantial attractive food base for migrating birds or species of concern)
        • Mitigation options can substantially reduce impacts wherever they might exist
        • Let it be known that the risk to birds from wind turbines at virtually any site pales in comparison to the risks from habitat destruction, global warming, mercury, acid rain, thermal plumes, massive water consumption, etc., from conventional energy
        • Typical rate of bird deaths from new, MW-class wind turbines at national average is one bird death per home served every 6-8 years
      • Wind needs to be recognized as the lowest impact energy technology that is commercially viable today
        • Some exceptions for certain biomass projects and, of course, energy efficiency

“Best Practices” Summary Development Activities

  • Decommissioning:

      • Especially important in the the populous East region of the US
      • Work with local/state jurisdictions to find the least burdensome mechamisms for ensuring removal of turbines by end of useful life
      • Requires a working definition of “abandonment” as removal “trigger” that allows for justifiable non-operating status for a reasonable period
  • Offer mitigation where appropriate to allay concerns

      • Operating constraints during key periods of avian “risk”, habitat creation, tower placement, etc.
      • Mitigation should be triggered by actual impacts, not projected, since pre-construction surveys do not take into account birds’ avoidance behavior
      • Requires post-construction monitoring to determine impacts
      • Ensure discussion considers relative impacts on other energy sources
      • Don’t hold wind to standards that conventional competitors don’t have to meet
  • Erosion Control:

      • Avoid cuts on steep slopes, particularly in unstable soil conditions
      • Ensure soil stabilization during & immediately after construction
        • Revegetate with native plants where possible, use construction materials on other disturbed areas

“Best Practices” Summary Development Activities, Cont’d

  • Good Neighbor Policies

      • Conduct public meetings, other outreach to affected community that continues throughout project cycle
      • Focus on sites with lowest overall environmental impact (including viewshed) while taking into account cost impacts on consumers
      • Maintain “greenscape” by minimizing visible cuts, clearcutting
      • Consider aesthetics in project design and construction planning
        • Don’t mix turbine types and heights
        • Ensure construction crews understand design requirements
      • Minimize disturbed area during construction
        • Provide clear rules to construction team, brief in advance, provide incentives
        • Minimize impact between turbine locations

“Best Practices” Summary Development Activities, Cont’d.

  • Good Neighbor Policies, cont’d.

      • Minimize lighting
        • Dependent on FAA requirements, but state agencies can help to push FAA regions
        • Minimal number of lights
        • Strobe type with long “off” cycles (20-24 cycles per minute, going completely to black) are preferred from both human and avian perspectives
        • Some disagreement on red vs. white (red preferred by most people, but can be attractive nuisance for birds if not accompanied by long off cycles
      • Utilize underground collection/transmission where possible
      • Develop reasonable setbacks from residences/roads for safety/sound impacts (generally between 1.5x tower+blade length and 1000 feet for MW machines) whether or not required by statute/regulation
      • Limit “boneyards” (deposits of spare, junk parts)
      • Provide some local community benefit (ie, to those who are not project landowners) through local application of taxes paid, community charity, etc.


  • Integrate “Best Practices” into SOPs

      • Be proactive, or “ahead of the curve”, with permitting agencies
        • Developers shouldn’t wait to be told what minimum standards should be
      • even more important in the East than other parts of the country because of population density and growth
  • Minimize impacts through project design and mitigation (if need is indicated)

  • Make the environmental case for wind strongly to enviros and regulators

      • Don’t be fooled by NIMBYism masquerading as environmentalism
      • Work to establish a framework that doesn’t discriminate against wind such as by requiring unnecessary and expensive studies that will cause delay and mainly validate the obvious
  • Start early on permitting and spend quality time on education of regulators


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