One Company Gets Lion's Share of $500M in Clean Energy Awards
WASHINGTON, DC, September 3, 2009 (ENS) – One company has received more than half of $500 million in the first round of grants from a Recovery Act program that provides cash assistance to renewable energy production companies in place of earned tax credits.

Iberdrola Renewables received five of the 12 grants totaling $294.9 million for its wind power projects in four states - more than half of all the grant money awarded in this first round.

Based in Oregon, Iberdrola Renewables is the U.S. branch of Iberdrola, S.A., Spain’s number one energy group and the fourth largest utility company in world.

These grants represent investment by Iberdrola Renewables in U.S. wind power of about $1 billion, company officials said.

"The approval of these grants today is a key event for Iberdrola Renewables," said Ralph Currey, Iberdrola Renewables president and CEO. "Switching from the producer tax credit to the grant program was made necessary by the collapse of U.S. financial markets last fall. This change will enable our company and others to keep investing in new renewable energy while the financial markets mend."

In an effort to encourage private sector investments in clean energy and create new jobs, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu Tuesday awarded $502 million in clean energy grants.

The new funding for 12 projects in eight states, provides additional upfront capital, enabling companies to create jobs and move their projects forward.

"The Recovery Act is investing in our long-term energy needs while creating jobs in communities around the country," said Secretary Geithner. "This renewable energy program will spur the manufacture and development of clean energy in urban and rural America, allowing us to protect our environment, create good jobs and revitalize our nation’s economy."

Said Secretary Chu, "These grants will help America's businesses launch clean energy projects, putting Americans back to work in good construction and manufacturing jobs."

"The Treasury grant program is serving its intended purposes," said Currey. "Iberdrola Renewables is creating new, family-wage jobs through the construction and operation of renewable energy plants at a time when the U.S. economy and local communities need it."

The largest single Recovery Act award in this round, more than $114 million, went to Iberdrola for its 202 megawatt Penascal wind farm, which produces enough electricity to power 70,000 south Texas homes.

The Avian Radar System installed at Iberdrola's Penascal wind farm in Texas shuts down the turbines if birds are nearby. (Photo courtesy DeTect Inc.)

The wind farm near the Gulf Coast town of Sarita, Texas started producing electricity in April 2009. The power is delivered to customers of CPS Energy of San Antonio and the South Texas Energy Cooperative.

Since the wind farm's 84 turbines are located in the middle of a major bird migration route, the Penascal project uses avian radar originally developed for NASA and the U.S. Air Force to detect birds as far as four miles away. If the system determines that the birds are in danger of running into the rotating blades, it shuts down the turbines and automatically restarts the turbines when the birds have passed.

Recovery Act grants also were awarded to Iberdrola for its Moraine II Wind Project in Minnesota, and the Locust Ridge II Wind Project in Pennsylvania, as well as the Hay Canyon and Pebble Springs Wind Projects in Oregon.

Currey said the company expects the Treasury Department to act on three additional grant applications this month.

In addition, Iberdrola Renewables presently has five wind projects under construction which would be eligible for the grants as well. These projects, in Arizona, Illinois, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas, are part of the company's U.S. renewable energy investment plan that is expected to place an additional $6 billion of capital investment in renewable energy facilities in the U.S. through 2012.

Additional awards will be announced in the coming weeks, but the first round includes $2.57 million for Solaire Development, which installed solar energy systems on two industrial buildings in Danbury, Connecticut. Equipping the flat roofs of the Danbury buildings, each about 100,000 square feet, with solar photovoltaic systems cost $13.5 million, Solaire's Stuart Longman told the "Hartford Courant."

Another two grants totaling more than $74 million were awarded for wind development by Canadaigua Power Partners, LLC of Cohocton, New York; and $40.4 million was given to Evergreen Wind Power V, LLC in Danforth, Maine.

Created under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act, the program is expected to provide more than $3 billion in financial support for clean energy projects by providing direct payments in lieu of tax credits, said Secretaries Chu and Geithner.

These payments will support an estimated 5,000 biomass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities in all regions of the country over the life of the program.

"The initiative will help double our renewable energy capacity over the next few years and make sure America leads the world in creating the clean energy economy of the future," said Energy Secretary Chu.

As a result of this first round of funding, said the cabinet officials, more than 2,000 Americans will have access to jobs in the renewable energy industry – both in construction and in manufacturing – while moving the nation closer to meeting the Obama administration's goal of doubling renewable energy generation in the next few years.

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.