Tuesday, December 30, 2008

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): Wind Power Trends to Watch for in 2009

As the wind industry closes out another banner year, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is looking ahead to further progress in 2009. Although the industry is buffeted by the financial crisis and economic downturn, it is also buoyed by a strong strategic position and the prospect of strong policy support from Congress and the new President. Here are some wind energy projections for the New Year:

“The world’s largest operating wind power project” will be a hotly contested designation this year: At least one new project may soon surpass FPL Energy’s 736-megawatt (MW) Horse Hollow wind farm, which has been the world’s largest for three years running. One project under expansion, by E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R) North America, and currently scheduled to go online in mid-2009, would have a total capacity of 781.5 megawatts (MW) when it is completed. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, located in Taylor and Nolan counties, Texas, claimed the title in 2006. “The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is an important new source of clean, renewable power for the region that also provides significant economic benefits to the area in the form of taxes, new jobs, lease payments to landowners, and the purchase of local goods and services,” said FPL Energy President Jim Robo at the time of its commissioning. Gigawatt-size projects (in the thousands of megawatts) like the ones proposed by T. Boone Pickens and Shell Wind Energy are also in the pipeline but will take several years to be built.

Wind power: second-largest source of new U.S. power generating capacity for 5th year in a row? Wind is now a mainstream option for new power generation, second only to natural gas plants in new capacity built from 2005 through 2007, and probably again in 2008, pending year-end figures. Measured by market share, wind provided 35% of all new generation added in the U.S. in 2007. And with 7,500 MW of new capacity expected when 2008 figures are released, wind is likely to contribute at least 35% of new capacity added this year. This is one more indicator that wind power is abundant, affordable and available now to contribute a growing portion of our national electricity supply.

Hopes run high for greater federal policy stability: President-elect Obama has outlined a range of policies that would encourage investments in wind and renewables, and these policies are expected to be on the table for serious discussion and possible early action in 2009. The policies would signal a welcome shift for renewable energy technologies, whose deployment has been hampered by the absence of long-term policy stability. New policies include:

- adjusting the federal production tax credit (PTC) to make it more effective in the midst of the current economic downturn and extending it for a longer term (it expires at the end of 2009);

- establishing a national renewable electricity standard (RES) with a target of generating at least 25% of the nation’s electricity from renewables by 2025, and a near-term target of 10% by 2012 (a Washington Post poll in early December found that 84% of Americans support such a standard);

- legislation and initiatives to develop a high-voltage interstate transmission “highway” for renewable energy; and

- strong national climate change legislation.

For a full list and description of the policies, see www.newwindagenda.org.

States will focus on RES, transmission for renewables: Expect one or more states to implement (Indiana) or strengthen (Wisconsin and New York) their Renewable Electricity Standards (RES), bringing the number of states with an RES from 28 to perhaps 30. Look also for some states, including some without an RES (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska) to develop a process to facilitate investment in transmission for electricity generated using renewables. Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, and California have already shown the way with pro-active transmission policies for renewable energy.

“Baseload/peaking” is “out” and “smart mix” is “in”: The electric industry faces dramatic transformations as it wrestles with the challenges of the 21st century. The old paradigm that assumed “baseload” power plants were necessary is being replaced by a new paradigm where both demand and supply are managed in tandem, and electricity is supplied by a smart, clean mix including a high level of renewable and flexible technologies. Under its 20% wind by 2030 scenario (www.20percentwind.org), the U.S. Department of Energy found that 20% wind would likely reduce the need for new coal and leave the level of nuclear power unchanged.

More community wind projects in 2009: The fast-growing wind power market is also opening up opportunities for community wind, which are projects owned by farmers, ranchers or other local investors or public entities. Look for more community wind proposals in 2009, and more AWEA education and outreach on the topic over the course of the year.

AWEA business membership will surge past 2,000 by mid-year: More companies see opportunities in the wind energy industry, and the expanding AWEA business membership roll is a measure of that interest. AWEA business membership increased from 200 in 2000, to more than 600 in 2005, and has soared over the 1,800 mark in 2008. If the trend continues, the roll of AWEA member companies could pass 2,000 by mid-2009. Most of the new members are companies in the wind power supply chain.

Industry will finalize guidelines for wind turbine O&M: When an industry becomes mainstream, it needs to put in place a variety of standards and guidelines, and wind power is no exception. AWEA and the wind power industry are working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop safety guidelines for wind turbine technicians and O&M workers at utility-scale wind projects. AWEA will be presenting educational webinars to OSHA personnel in early 2009.

AWEA expects to finalize standards for small wind turbines: Standards for small wind turbines will help ensure qualification for the new small wind turbine federal investment credit that is now available for homeowners and small businesses investing in a small wind system. Manufacturing standards have long been in place for utility-scale wind turbines and continue to evolve with the technology.

Larger incentive for small wind? Homeowners, farmers, and small-business owners now benefit from a federal incentive enacted in late 2008 for the purchase of small wind systems. However, this credit is capped. Owners of small wind systems with 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity and less can receive a credit for 30% of the total installed cost of the system, not to exceed $4,000. For turbines used for homes, the credit is additionally limited to the lesser of $4,000 or $1,000 per kW of capacity. Look for an effort to remove this limitation, so that consumers can benefit from a credit of a full 30% of the total cost of a small wind turbine purchased for an individual home or business.

Denise Bode takes the helm at AWEA: Denise Bode steps in as the new CEO for the American Wind Energy Association on January 5, succeeding Randall Swisher, who retired in 2008 after leading the association and industry for 19 years. Bode takes over at an exceptional time for the industry. Also new is AWEA’s logo at the top of this page. The logo has been updated to reflect the new era for wind energy in the U.S.
---
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
---

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Don't Move Firewood

The Georgia Forestry Commission and Georgia State Parks are sounding the alarm on a camping activity that can cause serious damage to our forests. Campers and park visitors are being asked to not bring any firewood into parks or other natural sites because of the danger of transporting destructive foreign pests.

“Bringing in your own firewood seems like the smart and economical thing to do,” said James Johnson, Forest Health Coordinator for the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC). “In reality, just a few microscopic fungus spores or tiny insects hiding in non-local firewood can wreak havoc on our native environment.”

Johnson explained that local forest ecosystems have complex webs of checks and balances that combat native insect populations and plant diseases. Foreign organisms introduced into this environment are often resistant to these natural controls and can spread unchecked, resulting in much greater harm to our forests than is experienced with native pests. Spread of the gypsy moth and the destructive redbay ambrosia beetle, which causes laurel wilt disease, are suspected to have begun with the movement of firewood into the state. The emerald ash borer and sirex woodwasp are serious threats as well.

“Even a small chip of bark containing invasive insect larvae can fall unnoticed to the ground,” said Johnson. “A sudden rainstorm can wash fungus spores off wood or out of your pickup, so the danger is very real.”

Johnson added that according to Johnson, many species of hardwood and pine trees serve as potential hosts for these non-native pests, so no firewood is considered safe to be moved long distances. He said outdoor enthusiasts should purchase local firewood at the host park or at convenience stores selling firewood grown nearby. If campers have inadvertently brought in outside wood, it should be thoroughly burned onsite or turned over to park officials.

GFC and state park officials have launched an education campaign on the dangers of moving firewood. Georgia state park visitors are now learning about the “Don’t Move Firewood” message from forest health experts, park rangers, posters, printed materials and complimentary refrigerator magnets. Georgia is home to 48 state parks that host 11 million visitors annually.

For more information on the safe use of firewood and Georgia’s forestry resource, visit GaTrees.org. To learn about Georgia’s state parks, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org or call 1-800-864-7275.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
∗ Use local firewood or purchase firewood from the park office
∗ If you brought firewood to camp with you, burn it all on-site before leaving
∗ Don't move firewood outside of the county where it originated
∗ Leave your firewood at home next time you visit Georgia's campgrounds
---
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
---

Northeast Georgia Residents Honored for Fire Prevention

Two northeast Georgia residents have been recognized for their efforts to prevent fire in their rural neighborhood. John Edwards and Don Wells, who live in the Wildcat Community that straddles Dawson and Pickens Counties, received the 2008 Firewise Leadership Award at a special ceremony in Tampa, Florida.

“Mr. Edwards and Mr. Wells were instrumental in leading their community to recognize its vulnerability to wildfire,” said Carolyn Sweatman, Georgia Forestry Commission’s Dawson/Forsyth Chief Ranger, who nominated the pair. “They implemented specific prevention techniques that earned them designation as a ‘Firewise U.S.A. Community,’ and this national award is the ‘Firewise’ organization’s highest honor.”

Sweatman explained that the Wildcat Community includes eight subdivisions totaling more than 2,000 homes on 10,000 acres. The community stretches across Sassafras Mountain, Monument Falls, and the Big Canoe area, and contains rugged, remote terrain that is not easily accessible for firefighting efforts.

In 2004, Edwards and Wells took action to institute proven fire prevention methods that resulted in the neighborhood’s official recognition as a ‘Firewise U.S.A. Community’ in 2007, she said. Those methods included coordination with local county commissioners and fire chiefs, the construction of a large water storage tank and lake, andtargeted public communication efforts.

“Mr. Wells’ and Mr. Edwards’ efforts to help protect their neighbors from the ravages of wildfire are exemplary,” said Sweatman. “They are true stewards of the environment and are richly deserving of this honor.”

There are 354 Firewise Communities in 37 states, including seven in Georgia. The Georgia Forestry Commission assists with implementation of the program statewide. For more information, contact your local GFC office or visit the Georgia Forestry Commission website at GaTrees.org.
---
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
---

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tax Credit "Window Of Opportunity" Reopens In 2009

(NAPSI)-Between 25 and 50 percent of energy used in a home goes right out the window--literally. That's because, in most homes, windows provide the biggest openings between ambient indoor air and the elements outside--and the biggest opportunity for valuable energy to escape.

Heat always moves toward cooler air and windows are often a home's only protection against unwanted heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. As many homeowners are seeking ways to save on energy bills and reduce their impact on the environment, windows have become a primary focal point.

With nearly 40 percent of home remodeling incorporating sustainable, green materials, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Fenestration Rating Council have established a new, stricter set of criteria for windows carrying the ENERGY STAR label, which will take effect in 2010.

"These changes to ENERGY STAR will help homeowners distinguish between the quality of different window systems," said Tracy Rogers, window expert and technical director for Ohio-based Edgetech I.G. "Only windows with the best materials, such as all-foam, dual-seal spacers, will qualify for the ENERGY STAR label."

Additionally, the federal tax credit for installing energy-efficient windows is once again available for improvements made from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009. More information can be found at www.sustainaview.com or www.energystar.gov.

Superefficient Windows

The green movement and ENERGY STAR enhancements have resulted in a climate change among window manufacturers who are now designing and building what some call "superefficient" windows--triple-pane rather than double-pane.

Triple-pane windows are most effective when constructed with high-performance materials, such as nonconductive dual-seal foam spacer systems, low-emissivity (low-e) coatings and argon or krypton gas filling. According to Rogers, the spacer system is a key element to promoting sustainability in window systems because it provides the seal between the indoor and outdoor air.

"Properly constructed 'superefficient' windows will stand the test of time," Rogers concluded. "Regardless of the climate, these windows are sure to cut energy costs and reduce carbon emissions from the home for many years to come."

For more information on where to buy superefficient windows with sustainable components, visit www.sustainaview.com.

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nature, Undisturbed

NF Note: This article was originally seen on the Fayette Front Page in our exclusive The Barefoot Photographer blog. It's naturally Fayette!

A juried photography exhibition is born!

A couple months ago, I was approached by the Southern Conservation Trust asking if I would like to have a photo show to benefit the trust. Of course I would. Then I thought for a moment and asked what if we had a photo show involving the whole photo club? Then I thought another moment and asked -- what if we went bigger? I always think big.

My thoughts were of Slow Exposures in Pike Country -- the feeling and atmosphere of the show -- and the fact that it benefits the local historic society. We could do something like that in Fayette County......More


-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
www.artsacrossgeorgia.com
Arts Across Georgia

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grillin' And Chillin': Tips For Winter Grilling

NF Note: Even though Fayette County citizens have been shivering over the past couple of weeks, we know there will be plenty of opportunities to step outside and grill over the winter months.

(NAPSI)-Even when it's chilly outside, you don't have to compromise your taste buds. If you don't want to give up the wonderful flavor of grilled food during the colder months, you're not alone. In fact, according to the 19th Annual Weber GrillWatch Survey, more than half of American grill owners are grilling year-round and 37 percent grill when the temperature dips below freezing.

If you're ready to join in on the grilling fun:

• Do your warm-ups. While you're clearing a path through the snow to your grill, remember to brush the white stuff off of it as well. Snow will lower the temperature inside the grill, ultimately adding to your cooking time. Also, in below-freezing temperatures, plan on taking almost twice the time to preheat your barbecue as it takes in the summer.

• Use your head. Don't cut corners by grilling inside your garage or under an overhang that could catch fire. Grilling in an enclosed space can trap deadly carbon monoxide and grills should be at least five feet away from combustible materials.

• Charcoal lovers take note. Cold temperatures will affect the heat inside a charcoal grill, actually raising the temperature due to the added oxygen feeding the fire. To compensate, close the dampers on the grill's bowl slightly, slowing down the burn. However, always keep the lid vents wide open.

• Put the pedal to the metal. In cold weather, oftentimes you may have to kick a recipe's recommended grilling temperature up a notch to generate enough heat to properly cook your food--usually around 20 percent higher. Monitor the grill's internal temperature to maintain a constant cooking temperature.

• Hunker down. For gas grills, position the grill so the wind is perpendicular to the gas flow and not blowing the flame down the burner tubes.

• Keep it simple. The best bets for cold-weather grilling are foods that don't require much attention. Steaks, burgers or fish that need only one quick flip or large meats that can cook unattended without repeated basting will work well. Not only do you eliminate multiple trips outside to the grill, but you won't be opening and closing the lid repeatedly, which will add to your cooking time, as precious heat escapes each time the lid is lifted.

• Be patient. Generally, it will take a little bit longer to grill when the temperature dips. To ensure that food is cooked properly, use a meat thermometer.

• While you're out there...Try your hand at an easy side dish or even dessert on the grill. There are few things like good old-fashioned comfort food to help raise your spirits. Grilling year-round fruits, such as bananas, and hearty, in-season vegetables, such as acorn squash or sweet potatoes, is a tasty way to round out your meal.

For more tips and recipes, visit www.weber.com or call the Weber Grill-Line at 1-800-GRILL-OUT (open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. CT every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas).

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fresh Trees Liven Up the Holiday Season

Charlie Brown trees and brown needles don’t have to haunt you this holiday season. With the help of a few tips and tricks from the University of Georgia, your Christmas tree will be fresh long after the celebrating is over.

Before picking out a tree, decide the size, species and how much you want to spend. Then, select a fresh tree that has been properly maintained and cared for while still on the lot.

“Taking really good care of a tree at home after you purchase it does not reverse the abuse it can get waiting on the lot,” said Don Gardner, the UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator in Glynn County.

Picking the freshest tree

Look for trees displayed in the shade or under a tent and in tree stands with water in them. The sun and wind pull water out of the tree, so good growers will keep their trees out of the sun.

To find the perfect tree, look for one with uniform distribution of branches and no holes in the needle canopy. Also make sure it smells fresh.

“The more water stress the tree is under, the less fragrance it emits,” Gardner said. “Fresh trees smell better.”

Test freshness by gently pulling several of the branch ends through your hand to see how many needles fall off.

“Don’t try to strip the needles off the branch,” said Gardner. “Stroke it as if it were a cat’s tail -- a cat you like. All cut trees will lose some needles, but the fewer the better.”

From the farm

Although there is little difference between buying a tree from a local tree farm or from a commercial retailer, buying from a farm is great for making family memories and helps keep local farmers in business, Gardner said.

“Loading everybody into the truck to pick out a tree at a farm is a fun day itself,” Gardner said, “and the more family members involved in picking out the tree, the more eyes there are making sure the tree stays watered.”

Many Georgia tree farms also hold family events and offer refreshments during farm visits.

“Buying local helps keep your friendly neighborhood Christmas tree grower in business and keeps good farmland in production,” Gardner said. “Buying from a local tree farm is definitely the ‘green’ thing to do.”

Taking it home

To get your Christmas tree home safely, have the seller tie it up and put the tree inside your vehicle if possible. If you put the tree on your vehicle rooftop, bring a few large plastic bags and put the tree in the bags stump end first. Then face the stump end forward on your rooftop. This will reduce wind blow-drying effects and water loss.

Many sellers will offer to trim off the stump end of the tree, Gardner said. Instead, wait until you get home to do so.

At home, trim low limbs and cut the tree stump at an angle with a sharp saw. Gardner advises running water over the stump while cutting it.

“While making the cut, have a helper hold a running hose over the cut so you are virtually making the cut under water. This is the difference between a tree that lasts two weeks and a tree that lasts two months,” Gardner said.

Then, quickly move the tree into your house and into its stand. Immediately add water until the tree stand is about two-thirds full. Then secure the tree into the stand.

After your tree is in place, keep it watered. Be sure the trunk’s cut surface is never exposed to the air.

“A new tree may surprise you at how much water it will suck up and how quickly it will do it,” Gardner said. “A 10-foot tree can use over a quart of water in the first three hours.”

Water your tree at least three times a day during the first few days and twice a day thereafter.

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page

Monday, December 08, 2008

Properly Winterize Trees to Keep Them Strong

As winter approaches it’s time to winterize pipes, cars and homes. Have you winterized your trees yet?

Trees stand in the face of cold, drying winds, ice storms and deicing salts. Food reserves must be carefully conserved for the coming needs of spring. Water continues to escape trees. Any creature needing a winter meal nibbles on resting buds and twigs.

Trees stand alone against all circumstances that winter can generate.

Winter also is a time of serious change and reorganization within a tree. Many trees won’t survive to grow in another spring. You can do little things to make trees more effective and efficient at surviving a hard winter. A few small investments now can pay off in a large way, yielding a healthy, structurally sound tree.

The "Big 8 List" of things to do to winterize your tree:

1. Remove or correct structural branch faults and deadwood that are clearly visible. Make small pruning cuts that minimize any exposure of the central heartwood core.

2. Properly prune off branches that will touch the ground when loaded with rain and snow. Foliage and branches that are in contact with soil can invite pests and problems.

3. Remove damaged and declining twigs, branches and bark. Don’t leave pests food and shelter for the winter.

4. Remove new sprouts growing at the tree base or along stems and branches. Don’t over-prune green tissues. Pruning should conserve as many living branches as possible with only a few selective cuts.

5. Spread a thin layer of composted organic mulch to blanket the soil. Cover an area at least as large as the branch spread. Mulch is nature's way of recycling valuable materials, but be careful of pests hitching a ride.

6. Aerate soils if they’re compacted and poorly drained. It’s critical not to damage tree roots living in the soil. Saturated and dense soils suffocate roots and help root diseases.

7. Conservatively fertilize with any essential element which is in short supply within the soil. Nitrogen should be used sparingly, especially under large, mature trees and around newly planted trees. Use very slow release fertilizers.

8. Watering may be needed where soils are cool but not frozen, and there has been little precipitation. Winter droughts need treatment with water the same as summer droughts, except it’s much easier to overwater in winter.

Trees sense changing seasons by temperature, by a dormancy timer in the leaves and buds and by the amount of light they receive. Old leaves, buds and inner bark all have pigment sensors which read the seasons. As days shorten in fall, one pigment called phytochrome sends a message across the tree to shut down for winter.

Getting ready for winter in an organized way is called senescence. Senescence in trees is an ordered shutting down of summer growth and the conservation of valuable resources. Senescence brings both fall colors and renewed spring growth.

Many materials collected or manufactured by a tree during the growing season are withdrawn from soon-to-be-shed and dead leaves. Tree waste materials are left behind. The last bit of tree food is stockpiled in the living cells of the outer annual growth rings. Twigs, branches and roots become collection sites and warehouses of materials needed for another season to come.

Within the tree, biological doors and windows are being closed and locked. From the moment last spring's green leaves expanded and began to make food, winter dormancy has been the designed end. The process of spring and summer growth reset and started a dormancy timer that hurries tree preparations for winter.

A tree-filled landscape in late fall and winter can be mistakenly thought to be asleep. Fall and winter trees are not sleeping, but are simply still -- truly counting the days until spring.

Most of the growing points in the tree are protected inside overcoats called buds. Each growing point waits for a correct message to signal a new season of growth. Only then will it be apparent whether a tree has put aside and saved enough resources to respond to the new season of growth.

Trees are investments that require a small amount of care. For the sake of your tree's quality of life and your own, take a few minutes to winterize your tree. For trees, wonderful springs come from well-tended fall and winter.

For more information about tree health care, contact a professional arborist or community forester.

By Kim Coder
University of Georgia

Kim D. Coder is a professor of tree biology and health care with the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page