Wind Power Gets a Big Investment From Google And GE

November 9, 2010

Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy sources, both nationally and internationally. Large utility generators are, depending upon design, capable of producing around 2.5 megawatts of clean sustainable energy; and new prototypes are aimed at increasing capabilities up to 4 – 6 megawatts.

To generate this type of power, these wind generators are approximately 200 – 250 feet tall with giant propellers that can each be as long as a football field. To run effectively and economically, wind turbines need to be located where wind blows on a sustained basis of at least 12 miles per hour. The windy plains states with their wide open spaces, little native populations, and good wind conditions are a great location for wind farms. However there will be costs to get this energy to consumers who don’t live nearby, or where connections to an existing power grid are not available.

Much of the nation’s electric load resides in the Atlantic coast states. These states are excellent locations in terms of wind power, but finding sites for large wind farms will be difficult and costly. Population density, urban sprawl, open space legislation, and public opinion seeing wind farms as eye sores all work against this clean technology. But the dream of providing clean wind energy to the power hungry costal states is getting closer to reality.

In October, Google announced an almost 38% equity investment in a revolutionary $5 billion transmission system for interconnecting Atlantic seaboard offshore wind turbines. This 350-mile underwater backbone would first provide a superhighway to bring power from the Virginia area up through the New England states; and then allow soon thereafter for offshore wind turbines to conveniently connect into the electricity superhighway as well. While permission is still pending for the off-shore wind farms, Google’s significant investment has excited others in the industry and generated buzz.

GE, founded by Thomas Edison and one of the world’s leading wind turbine suppliers with over 13,500 wind turbine installations worldwide, is teaming up with Caithness Energy LLC at the Shepherds Flat Wind Project in Oregon. A massive 845 megawatt wind powered energy generating facility is being constructed. Enough clean wind energy will be produced to power over 235,000 homes.

This wind facility, consisting of over 338 wind turbines, will be the largest deployed in North America and will avoid 1,215,991 tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of 212,141 passenger vehicles being taken off the road. As one of the Thomas Edison quotes goes “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves…” Imagine what we could accomplish if more companies followed Google and GE’s clean energy goals.

Photo Courtesy: GE

Real estate group urges flexible land-use plan ; Club makes pitch to Planning Commission

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) March 31, 2000 | Adam Lynn Staff writer Members of a business group implored Spokane County planning commissioners Thursday to make a new land-use plan and accompanying zoning code as flexible as possible.

The economic viability of the county depends on it, members of the Traders Club of Spokane told commissioners.

“If we don’t get it right, it’s just going to bog us down in the future,” said Matt Hawkins, also a member of the Washington Association of Commercial Realtors.

The Planning Commission is developing a new comprehensive land- use plan for the unincorporated areas of the county. The plan will set broad guidelines and policies for growth and development for the next 20 years.

The zoning code, which sets specific regulations on land use, will be revised using the goals of the comprehensive plan.

Planning commissioners allowed the Traders Club, which is made up of nearly 70 commercial and industrial real estate agents, to make a 30-minute presentation. Discussion and questions lengthened the meeting to an hour. here about promotional codes for amazon

Club members said it is vitally important that both documents recognize the evolving shape of business in the 21st century.

The days of business and industry being shoe-horned into specific districts are gone, said John Konen, of the land-use consultant firm David Evans & Associates.

So, too, should be zoning codes that specifically enumerate which businesses should be allowed in which areas, Konen said.

“The Internet is changing things so rapidly,” said Konen, who was hired by the Traders Club to speak at Thursday’s meeting. “We’re going to find that there are more and more things that don’t fit in a specific box.” He cited, the giant Internet book and music seller, as an example of a company that doesn’t fit any of the traditional business zones currently in the county zoning code. website about promotional codes for amazon

Amazon isn’t a traditional retail outlet or distribution center, but a hybrid of the two, Konen said. Its customers order books online and receive them through the mail or other delivery services.

Konen and Traders Club member Pete Thompson encouraged commissioners to develop a zoning code that relies on performance standards instead of trying to pigeonhole business.

If a company can prove it will not produce harmful amounts of pollution, increase traffic unreasonably or otherwise harm the “general health, safety and welfare,” it should be allowed flexibility to locate its operation in most business or industrial zones, they said.

“If they can do that, we shouldn’t care what’s going on behind those four walls, within reason,” Konen said.

Several planning commissioners were receptive to those ideas and encouraged the Traders Club to get involved in helping to write the new zoning code.

Traders Club president Carl Gunzel said his group was willing to help. “We want to be your resource,” Gunzel said.

Adam Lynn Staff writer



Chris Keenan

is a green and general blog writer. He also maintains a personal cooking blog.