News roundup: Google cuts a major wind deal, Chicago recognizes its progress, Connecticut wind advances

23 April 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

This Wednesday is full of great news on wind power: Google announces a new contract for its Iowa datacenters, an Illinois clean energy advocate celebrates the state’s progress, and Connecticut opens its doors to new wind power.

Google inked a major deal with MidAmerican this week to supply its new Iowa facilities with reliable, affordable wind power:

  • It’s Earth Day, so there isn’t a company on the Internet that isn’t trying to brandish its green image. Apple led the charge earlier this week and today, Google announced that it has inked a deal with MidAmerican Energy to supply its $1.5 billion Iowa data center with up to 407 megawatts of 100 percent renewable wind energy.
  • “Google’s significant and growing presence within our service area, along with its long and demonstrated commitment to renewable energy, have been important factors in MidAmerican Energy’s pursuit of renewable power,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy, in a statement today. “In addition to increasing Google’s access to renewable energy, this agreement also reduces energy costs for our customers.”
  • Google previously signed a very similar agreement with an Oklahoma utility in 2012 and earlier this year, it announced that it had come to a similar agreement with a Swedish utility to power its Finnish data center. The company has also invested about $1 billion in 15 green energy projects around the world.

Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center wrote to the Chicago Sun-Times on Earth Day, asking residents to look back on the city’s progress, and to plan for the future:

  • Given that Tuesday was Earth Day, let’s assess how Chicago has progressed on becoming a “green city” and Illinois as a “green state” while recognizing some key challenges moving forward. Environmental progress is being achieved together with job creation and economic development. The old myth about jobs versus the environment is simply that: old and false. Let’s be proud of what we’ve accomplished and candid about some important environmental problems requiring solutions.
  • Wind Power: Illinois has leaped from no wind power in 2003 to more than 3,568 megawatts today. A decade ago, who believed that Illinois would become fourth in the nation for wind power capacity and that Chicago would now have 13 major wind power corporate headquarters?
  • Clean air, clean water, cleaner energy and fewer toxics are important values shared by all Chicagoans. Let’s be proud of our accomplishments and progress, and let’s seize opportunities to advance a cleaner, greener and safer community for all.

In Connecticut, Earth Day meant lifting a ban on new wind projects in the state, a step forward for Northeast wind power:

  • Connecticut lawmakers broke an impasse over energy policy on Tuesday, approving wind power regulations that end a moratorium on new turbines producing clean energy.
  • The legislature's Regulation Review Committee approved rules that require setbacks, address concerns over noise and shadows created by spinning turbine blades, stipulate how siting officials may measure the height of wind turbines and provide other technical details. For example, a wind power developer must submit a visual impact report that analyzes how each of the proposed wind turbines sites is visible along with any alternative locations.
  • Sen. Bob Duff, the Senate chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee and a member of the Regulation Review Committee, called the new rules a "sensible policy" that encourages competition and lower costs. "The effective moratorium on wind development prevented that technology from competing freely, but I expect we will soon see new projects move forward," he said.

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Frederic Lardinois, “Google Signs A 407 MW Wind Energy Deal For Its Iowa Data Center.” TechCrunch. 22 April 2014.

Howard A. Learner, “Scorecard for a greener Chicago.” Chicago Sun-Times. 22 April 2014.

Stephen Singer, “Connecticut OKs wind power rules, ends moratorium .” Associated Press. 22 April 2014.