Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Lands, Landfills, and Mine Sites

EPA is encouraging renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site. This initiative identifies the renewable energy potential of these sites and provides other useful resources for communities, developers, industry, state and local governments or anyone interested in reusing these sites for renewable energy development.

Bloomington, Ill., Power Deal to Emphasize Renewable Sources

Read the full story in The Pantagraph (via FutureStructure).

The city of Bloomington, Ill., has decided to accept $100,000 a year less from the community’s electricity provider in exchange for stressing renewable energy sources.

The City Council voted 7-1 to modify its electric aggregation agreement with Homefield Energy to make the trade-off to achieve the equivalent of drawing its electricity solely from renewable sources.

Study: All 50 States Could Run On Renewable Energy By 2050

Read the full story at Manufacturing.Net.

A new study by California researchers outlines a pathway for all 50 states to run entirely on renewable energy by 2050.

The researchers, led by Stanford University engineering professor Mark Jacobson, calculated states’ power demands if all fuel consumption was replaced with electricity, then examined their potential for various renewable sources to accommodate that demand.

The report, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Sciences, mapped each state’s capability to capture solar energy as well as the potential for wind farms located either on land or offshore. Geothermal energy could be an option for 13 states, while other sources could come from tides and from upgrades to current hydroelectric dams.

DOE initiatives launch as part of Clean Energy Investment Summit

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

The Department of Energy has announced several new and expanding initiatives as part of the administration’s Clean Energy Investment Summit, including the launch of a Clean Energy Impact Investment Center, which will work to make the department’s resources more readily available to the public, including to mission-driven investors.

Calculating your renewable energy potential? There’s an app for that

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Businesses and individuals can make use of a free smartphone app to calculate the renewable energy generation potential of a given location.

The Global Atlas pocket was launched Tuesday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and is designed to allow renewable energy “prospectors” and investors to comprehensively research projects before making early investment decisions.

The app draws on data from 1,000 maps provided by 67 governments and 50 data centers, and is designed to provide detailed information on whether a region or site represents a good prospect for renewable energy generation.

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general, said the app will help make it is easier for renewable energy firms to identify viable projects, curbing some costs of development.

Renewable Energy: BLM Has Limited Assurance That Wind and Solar Projects Are Adequately Bonded

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What GAO Found

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has different policies for the bonding of wind and solar projects on federal land. For example, BLM’s 2008 wind policy established minimum bond amounts, but BLM’s 2010 solar policy set no minimum. However, the agency has issued a proposed rule that would establish consistent requirements for the bonding of the two types of projects in several areas, including minimum bond amounts.

BLM has about $100 million in bonds for the reclamation of wind and solar projects on federal land. These bonds are primarily letters of credit and surety bonds. BLM has two data systems for tracking bonds, but GAO found that neither system is reliable for this purpose. Specifically, GAO found instances in both systems where information was missing or inaccurate, or had not been updated. The agency does not have a timeliness standard for wind and solar data entry, contrary to having such a standard for its mining program. Without accurate or complete information, BLM has limited assurance that its data systems are reliable for tracking wind and solar bonds to ensure that bonding policies are being followed and that projects have the required bonds.

BLM has limited assurance that bonds for wind and solar rights-of-way will cover reclamation costs, leaving the federal government potentially at financial risk if developers do not complete reclamation. GAO found about one-third of the wind and solar rights-of-way were underbonded by as much as $15 million in total. Also, BLM did not clearly document how it made its bond decisions, contrary to government standards that call for documentation of significant events. Specifically, GAO found that for about two-thirds of the wind rights-of-way, there was little or no documentation to support the bond amount. In addition, BLM does not adequately ensure that wind and solar bond instruments are properly secured, handled, and stored and does not have policies related to this. In one BLM field office, a staff member told GAO that someone mistakenly shredded several bonds. BLM also does not consistently adhere to its policies calling for periodic review of wind and solar bond amounts to verify their adequacy. GAO found about half of the bonds were at least 4 months overdue for review. BLM officials acknowledged that automatic notifications could be established in their data system as to when reviews are due. Without policies to document decisions and properly secure bonds, and steps to ensure bond adequacy reviews, BLM has limited assurance that bonds in place will be adequate to cover reclamation.

Why GAO Did This Study

Renewable energy projects can affect thousands of acres of federal land and involve significant infrastructure. BLM directs renewable energy developers to obtain bonds to cover the costs of returning the land to its pre-developed condition when the project terminates, a process called reclamation. Reclamation can cost millions and take years to complete.

GAO was asked to review the bonding policies for renewable energy projects on federal land. This report examines (1) BLM’s policies for the bonding of wind and solar projects on federal land; (2) the amount and types of bonds held by BLM for the reclamation of these projects, and how BLM tracks the bonds; and (3) the extent to which BLM ensures that bonds for wind and solar rights-of-way are adequate to cover reclamation costs. GAO conducted a file review of all 45 wind and solar development project rights-of-way with a bond as of April 15, 2014; analyzed data from BLM data systems; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and BLM policies and procedures; and interviewed agency officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends, among other things, that BLM develop policies on documenting bonding decisions, the proper handling and storage of bonds, and timely data entry. GAO also recommends that BLM take steps to ensure projects are periodically reviewed to ensure bond adequacy. Interior generally concurred with GAO’s recommendations.

For more information, contact Anne-Marie Fennell at (202) 512-3841 or fennella@gao.gov.

Biden promotes private sector clean energy investments

Read the full story in The Hill.

Private sector investors should do more to boost spending on clean energy technology, Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

The White House announced $4 billion in private sector pledges on Monday to support green technology and launched a new Department of Energy (DOE) program to facilitate research and development. Speaking at a White House clean energy summit, Biden said more needs to be done — from the government, but especially among private investors — to create new low-carbon energy technology.