T. Boone Pickens Meets with Irwin Jacbos in Minnesota

September 7, 2008 · Filed Under News, Wind

I first introduced you to T. Boone Pickens in an early post about a multi-million dollar television campaign to promote wind energy. Now, T. Boone Pickens has taken it campaign all across America and his latest stop is in Minnesota to the national republican convention. He has also met up with local businessman Irwin Jacob to talk about plans to start a new business venture in the wind energy field. No details have been released about their talks, but it looks promising with Jacobs saying:

“It is in the wind energy area and its just something that I can’t get into at this time. It’s a very natural thing to go with it.” he said, adding that ”it’s not in the turbine business.”

T. Boone Pickens is also pushing the federal government to start offering tax credits to entice more people to build wind turbines. He also would like the expansion of transmission lines so that the wind energy generated in the Midwest can be transported to both the east and west coasts. In order to do so, the government needs to step in to go against local opposition.  This makes some feel completely dependent on these Midwestern wind farms to get energy throughout the nation.  Another plan may be to start building wind farms on a more local level. Whether it is more efficient or not, this will allow each area to control their own energy production.

This Week in News: August 21st

August 21, 2008 · Filed Under Environment, Government, News, Wind

Local Green News

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, has proposed a plan to completely change how the skylines and shores of the city would look. The plan involves building wind mills throughout the city in an effort to produce nearly 10% of the city’s power within 10 years. Though this wind energy plan is still in it’s early stages, it looks to be extremely promising. Bloomberg has already hired private firms and investors to study the financial feasibility and locations as to where the wind turbines can be built. There are many coastal areas that are extremely windy that would be perfect for this plan. Hopefully Bloomberg’s alternative energy plan comes to fruition and New York City can meet it’s renewable energy goal.

He later evoked the image of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, saying he imagined it one day “powered by an ocean wind farm.”

Water Bottle Trash
Photo by ProjectedImages.

Water Bottle Ban

The city of London, Ontario just passed a ban on the sale of bottle water with it’s city. The Canadian city is pushing for water fountains to be used instead of expensive and polluting water bottles.

We were selling bottled water for 1.75 dollars per liter right next to a public drinking fountain that dispensed water for less than an eighth of a cent (per liter)

The ban received an overwhelming 14-3 vote despite heavy lobbying from the beverage industry. Other major Canadian cities are also considering a similar ban including Vancouver and Ottawa. It’s great to see that a city is taking a stand against a product that is generally unnecessary. I am a little mixed on this decision though as I think people should be educated on the harmful effects that bottling water has on the environment instead of just banning the product.

Government

The Australian government released a 1600-page environmental effects study (EES) on the construction of a controversial $3.1 billion desalination plant. Even though the study says the plant will have no long-term affects on the environment, 1.4 million tons of greenhouse gases will be emitted during its construction. The government has pledged to purchase carbon credits to offset part of the emissions from the project. Even with the government support there will still be over 70,000 tons of carbon emissions still offset each year. Another concern about the plant is it could negatively affect the wildlife in the area, possibly putting several species and coral reef in great danger. The plant will be fully operational by 2011. As of right now, only 10% of the plant’s energy will be required to come from alternative energy sources. Hopefully that percentage will go way up to reduce some of the negative effects this plant will have on the environment.

EPA Head Visits Wind Powered Community

August 3, 2008 · Filed Under Government, Green, Local, Wind
Hull Wind Turbine
Photo by mccready.

Stephen Johnson, the head of the EPA administration, visited a small community in Massachusetts called Hull. This community has built two wind turbines to meet some of their energy needs in clean way. Stephen Johnson called this community an “example for the rest of the nation”. He seems to be really genuine about pushing for more Wind Energy across America. As I reported in this week’s news, he could also be trying to get the bad press away from him with his failure to follow through with the .

History Of Hull

Hull is a small town located in the off the Nantasket Peninsula of Massachusetts and has been known as “Windmill Point” since the 1820s. In 1985, Hull built a small 40-kilowatt turbine near its high school in an effort to reduce some of their wind energy costs. That same windmill was later destroyed by a storm in 1997. The town wanted to continue using wind energy, but at a larger scale. They decided to do more research and in 2001 was able to afford a new wind turbine called the Hull Wind 1. The Hull Wind 1 was purchased from Vestas, one of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers. The town didn’t stop there and purchased an additional wind turbine called the Hull Wind 2.

Hull’s Wind Energy

Hull’s main goal behind buying these wind turbines was to power a good portion of the town’s energy needs. The Hull Wind 1 was able to cut the town’s street lighting bill from $150,000 a year to zero. It can produce 1.5 million kilowatt-hours per year, enough to power approximately 250 houses. The Hull Wind 2 alone handles 10% of the town’s electricity needs, producing triple the amount of energy of the first. As stated by Hull officials:

The wind turbines save the town $680,000 per year because Hull has to purchase less electricity from other, more expensive sources.

Community Involvement

The greatest accomplishment this town has done is to get together as a community and try to make a difference. Whether it’s strictly for monetary benefits or for the environment, it is a wonderful to see this town take action. This community hopefully will set a precedence for other towns and cities across America that they can rely on themselves and not have to wait until energy companies or the government decides to take action.

Wise New Financial Investments in Alternative Energy ETFs

August 1, 2008 · Filed Under ETFs, Finance, Green, Mutual Fund, Solar, Wind

With all the talk about moving our country to alternative forms of energy, it made me wonder if there were ways I could help move this process along a little faster. I am currently invested in a variety of mutual funds, but many of them only invest extremely small shares in companies that are pushing for alternative sources of energy. One big company I found in many of them was General Electric. This is just one company though.

By pure luck, I saw a news article talking of a new ETF by Financial Trust called Global Wind Energy Index Fund (FAN) by First Trust Financial. This fund has only been out for a month now, it is one of the first of its kind. The Wind Energy ETF invests in companies that are involved in the process of making wind turbines. This fund invest in some of the major players of the Wind Turbine market right now including Vestas Wind Systems, Hansen Transmissions and even GE.

Wind energy is not the only alternative energy sector that has an ETF associated with it. Solar Energy does as well with the Market Vectors Solar ETF (KWT) that is really similar to FAN, but invests in major companies involved with producing solar panels.

Before I proceed any further, I want to make sure all the financial terms are not confusing everybody, so I will go into what an ETF is. Wikipedia is not always the most reliable source, but their entry on ETFs really sums up what one is:

ETFs offer public investors an undivided interest in a pool of securities and other assets and thus are similar in many ways to traditional mutual funds, except that shares in an ETF can be bought and sold throughout the day like stocks on a securities exchange through a broker-dealer.

The basic idea is that an ETF is a mutual fund in which you can publicly trade like stocks, but don’t have many of the expense fees that mutual funds have.

What I really like about these new alternative energy ETFs is that I feel like I am making a difference. Since many of the companies in this sector are up-and-coming, investing in them can really help with the push to begin using alternative energy sources. With just a small amount of money, you can invest in many of the top companies of the alternate energy sector. This also reduces some of the risks involved with investing in smaller companies like these.

Just a word of caution. Be very careful and make sure you thoroughly research these and other investments before committing any money to them. They are very specific sectors and could lose money just as with any investment.

When I scrape a little extra money together, I will try investing in FAN and see how it turns out. I found a great article with further green mutual funds and ETFs. Good luck investing and hopefully you will be able to incorporate green stocks in your portfolio.

This Week in News: July 31st

July 31, 2008 · Filed Under Environment, Government, News, Solar, Wind

Government

Senate Democrats are calling for the resignation of the EPA chief Stephen Johnson. Stemming this decision is detailed in a previous article I had about the EPA ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling on the danger of greenhouse gases. Many of the senators are saying that they have no more confidence in the Johnson and that he also made false statements earlier in the year. Whatever decision is made, I just hope whoever is the head of the EPA decides to take better action to improve our environment.

With the absence of Senators Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, a renewable energy tax credit bill failed to meet the required number of votes to pass. The tax credit would allow Abengoa Solar to build the Solana solar plant in Arizona, the home state of John McCain. This solar plant would be the largest in the world and would provide a large number of jobs for the state. The tax credit is still short 7 credits even with the three senators being absent which makes it seem like it wouldn’t pass regardless of whether they were there or not they were there. A new power plant needs to be built in Arizona regardless, so why not push to make it solar? It makes me really angry that our Congress continues to fight against moving towards renewable energy and keep our reliance on energy sources that produce tons of carbon emissions.

Wind Energy

BP and Clipper Windpower plan on splitting the costs for a project to build one of America’s largest wind farms in South Dakota. The project will be called Titan wind project and is expected to produce around 5,050 MW which will make it the world’s largest wind farm. If the proposed plan is successful, it will provide wind power for approximately 1.5 million homes and offset nearly 24 billion pounds of carbon emissions. It’s great to see an oil company starting to invest in more renewable resources, but their motives are still to make more money.

Solar Energy

In much lighter news, Johnny Depp is planning on running his private island completely on solar and hydrogen power. The cost of the project will cost around 150,000 pounds or $300,000 US dollars. Depp decided to go to Mike Strizki to build the system for him. The system will use solar energy in the day and store any excess energy as hydrogen during cloudy days or at night. The hydrogen is stored in 10,000 gallon propane tanks to hold him over during the nights. Regardless of how efficient this system is, it just seems wrong that you need such a large system to power an island just for two people.

T. Boone Pickens Goes to Washington

July 26, 2008 · Filed Under Environment, Green, News, Wind
Texas Wind Farm
Photo by ConspiracyofHappiness.

I promised everybody an update on the status of T. Boone Pickens and his plan. The latest news is that T. Boone Pickens met with the the U.S. Senate Homeland and Security and Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

He is pushing his ideas about how Wind energy can reduce our huge $700 billion dependency on foreign oil. An interesting comment he made was that natural gas could be used in other places instead of fueling power plants throughout the U.S.

This trip to Congress really makes it seem like he is really genuine about moving our country to using alternative energy. I’m not sure how much he really cares about the environment, but his intentions seem to be to keep more profits here in America. Regardless of his intentions, I think it’s great that he is really pushing this idea. Hopefully Congress listens closely to what he had to say and they take action now. The sooner we can start to invest heavily in alternate sources of energy, the more environmentally friendly this country will become.

In related news. Texas has just passed a plan to allow Electric Transmission Texas LLC (ETT) along with several subsidiaries to invest in transmission lines. The $4.9 billion plan will increase the number of electric transmissions lines to carry wind power from Western Texas to the rest of the state. Texas is currently the leading state in America in Wind Energy production. The major problem is they do not have enough transmission lines to transport the energy produced from the wind farms currently there and are sometimes forced to even turn off some of the wind turbines. They are setting up the building blocks to have wind energy as one of the state’s primary energy sources.

Best Places in America for Renewable Energy

July 22, 2008 · Filed Under Biomass, Environment, Geothermal, Green, Solar, Wind

Forbes recently published an article about the best states in America to have various types of alternative energy. This article talks about a few alternative energy options America has for the future including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. I haven’t heard much of geothermal and biomass but both seem interesting prospects for future alternate energy sources. What is really alarming is that many states that currently are perfect candidates for some of these alternate energy source don’t utilize them. A good example is with the use of geothermal power that uses heat coming naturally from within the earth. Currently only a few states from the Southwest actually harness its power on a large-scale, when many more could be capitalizing on it. The article also contains a great slide-show that goes through each state and why they are a good candidates for each type of renewable energy source.

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