Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Public Input Sought On Wind Power Regs

The first step towards developing regulations governing where wind farms can be built begins Oct. 13th with a public forum at the Connecticut Siting Council.

The forum, which will be held at the Siting Council’s headquarters at 10 Franklin Square, is an effort “to get an idea from the public what they think is important,” said Linda Roberts, executive director of the state agency.

“When we actually formulate the regulations, it’s going to be a more formal proceeding like a contested hearing,” Roberts said.

The Siting Council, working in concert with other state agencies has until July 1, 2012 to establish the regulations. The establishment of the regulations was ordered by the legislature through Public Act 11-245, which was approved by lawmakers in July of this year.

Lawmakers passed the public act after controversy erupted over a pair wind farm applications the Siting Council dealt with earlier this year. One, involving a project in Prospect, was approved while another associated with two wind farm sites in Colebrook was approved.

A pair of lawsuits have been filed appealing the Siting Council's approval of the wind farm sites in Colebrook.

The Oct. 13th forum will be held in two shifts, the first from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the second from 6:30 p.m. yo 9 p.m.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Middletown Ceremony To Mark New Standards For Gas Pipe Purging

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation will be in the state on Monday to announce the development of a new safety standard designed to prevent the kind of explosion that occurred at a Middletown power plant under construction in Feb. 2010.

U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney, D-2, and Rosa DeLauro will be at Middletown's City Hall at 1 p.m. to announce the release of a new National Fire Protection Association standard. The new standard covers the cleaning and purging of flammable gas piping systems.

The explosion at the Kleen Energy Power plant killed six workers and injured at nearly 50 others. It was determined by investigators that the explosion at the Kleen Energy Power plant was caused by a process known as a "gas blow," in which highly pressurized natural gas is used to clean debris from pipes.

The highly pressurized natural gas was discharged into the atmosphere without the proper controls, causing the explosion (shown in photo above).

The new standard covers not only "gas blows" but a broad range of activities that involve the fuel. Those activities include cleaning, repair, replacement and removal procedures at power plants and well as other activities in commercial, industrial and institutional settings.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Opel Solar Signs Deal To Provide Tracking Devices For Projects

A Shelton-based solar energy equipment maker has been selected to provide some of its devices for a number of projects being done in Northern California.

Terms of Opel Solar’s deal with Denver-based Conergy U.S. were not immediately available, the companies said in press release issued Thursday. Conergy’s German corporate parent is one of the world’s largest solar energy manufacturers and the deal with Opel Solar calls for the Connecticut company to provide its TF-800 series of single axis trackers for the projects, the first of which was started in August.

Opel Solar’s devices allow the panels that collect the sun's energy to turn and follow it as it moves across the sky.

“Conergy chose OPEL trackers for this project because of their combination of cost efficiency and quality,” said David Vincent, Conergy’s project development manager.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

State Utilities Should Have Learned Their Lesson

The Greeks called it "hubris" and an Old Testament passage warns that pride "goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Perhaps officials at Connecticut Light & Power and The United Illuminating Co. would be well served to consider what the Greeks and the Old Testament said about getting a little too cocky once they've restored the power statewide.

Both utilities put out press releases over the weekend, essentially congratulating themselves on a job well done for restoring power in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. And to their credit, UI and CL&P had gotten the outage levels down to less than 1,000 between them.

But as Monday slowly faded into early Tuesday morning, the level of outages surged to over 6,700 between the two utilities. CL&P, in a Tweet sent out earlier this morning, is blaming the surge on Tropical Storm Lee and says the increase in outages is "unrelated" to Hurricane Irene.

Common sense would suggest otherwise. Especially since there's nothing like a hurricane to put tress in a weakened state that makes them susceptible to further limb damage or toppling over completely.

Connecticut residents and municipal have grown increasingly frustrated with CL&P and UI in the aftermath of Irene. For some, it's the result of not having electricity for more than a week; for others, the frustration was the result of poor communication between the company and its customers.

But one thing is certain: Like most New Englanders, Connecticut residents place a high value on getting the job done and getting it done right. Those who seek to compliment themselves need to check their pride at the door or suffer the consequences in the court of public opinion.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekly Television Program Looks At the Future For Growth in Energy Jobs

Click here for the latest Platt's Energy Week television program for Labor Day weekend. What makes this week's program worth your time is that the show has two segments on energy jobs.

One looks at the future outlook for energy jobs with a view from organized labor. The other segment focuses on a renewed effort by some of the nation's large electric utilities to hire military veterans.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Last Ones Standing (In The Dark)

I never thought I'd see post-Irene power restorations get to this point, but as I'm writing this, there are seven towns that have only one customer without electricity.

You've heard the line, "Will the last one out please turn out the lights?" Well, what the customers in these four towns are waiting for is the polar opposite of that, except for the fact that both tend to conjure up negative images.

The "Last One Out" line ihas become a catch phrase used when a business is laying off people or is closing its doors for good. And few things are more depressing than being the last one without in a community that has finally returned to a state of semi-normalcy.

Sure, there are probably a variety of factors beyond the control of the customer and the utility doing the restoration that make someone the last one standing in the dark. And somebody has to be the last customer to have their power restored.

But that doesn't mean they have to like it.