Cape Wind one step closer to approval

logo_01Cape Wind, the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm, moved one step closer to final approval on Friday, when the Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued a favorable final review of the project.

Please click here for a story in the Boston Globe.

Please click here for the full report from MMS.

Support for Cape Wind is broad in Massachusetts; in fact, the project has helped create awareness of, and demand for marketing materials made with renewable energy.  I hope this project moves to construction, as it would provide much-needed electricity to Massachusetts, and would serve as a shining example of renewable energy ingenuity for this region.

Forbes.com: “How To Go Green And Stay Cost-Competitive”

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Courtesy of Forbes.com

Forbes ran a story Friday on how green practices can help businesses compete and succeed.  The reporter heard about our success with our wind power initiative, through which we’re able to help our clients produce their marketing communications materials with Green-e certified wind power at no extra cost, and included us in the article.  Below are 2 links.  The first one is to the article.  The second one is to the slideshow associated with the story (we’re slide 7).

  1. Link to article
  2. Link to slideshow (we’re on page 7)

Despite the recent drop in oil prices, people are still very much interested in renewable energy and the concept of weaning our country off foreign oil.  I have written before about what we believe are the five best ways to go green on a print project. Using renewable energy, especially wind power, is definitely at the top of the list, as it allows an organization to send a values-laden message to its constituents without adding any extra cost to their bottom line, which is especially important in these turbulent economic times.

Renewable energy and the economic slowdown

wind-turbine-abstract-080815Ever since the economy really began to weaken and gas prices approached $3/gallon and then $2/gallon, there has been much commentary on businesses making cutbacks and slowing their implementation of sustainability efforts.  I have written that this time of economic crisis will separate the companies that are truly committed to good environmental stewardship from those that were only interested in making green efforts while the economy was strong.

During the presidential campaign, both candidates made renewable energy investments central pieces of their legislative agendas, employing images of wind turbines and solar panels in their TV ads and stump speeches.  However, since the credit crisis exploded and energy prices plummeted, even a pioneer like T. Booke Pickens, who spent tens of millions of dollars over the last few months advocating for public support of wind power, has delayed his landmark project.  The New York Times ran a story on Tuesday, 11/24, about how the “economic slump and plunging prices of coal and oil are upending plans to wean businesses and consumers from fossil fuel.”

My hope is that the U.S. Government, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, does not give up on its efforts to wean our country off oil, most of which comes from foreign sources.  I was encouraged by a message that Obama recorded last week for the Governors’ Global Climate Summit.

In his message, Obama states, “Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”  He goes on to say that his goal is to reduce the United States’ emissions of greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050.  He also committed to investing $15b each year on alternative energy, which he said will not only help to reduce our use of oil, but will also help create up to 5 million new jobs.  Regardless of the accuracy of the jobs figure, I hope that the U.S. sticks to this plan, and does not use low gas prices and a difficult economy as an excuse for inaction.  We should look towards Brazil as an example of how a country makes energy independence a goal and sticks to that plan, regardless of the economic circumstances.  Here’s a great story from the Wall Street Journal in 2006 which summarizes Brazil’s sugar ethanol industry development.  I remember looking for some energy provider myself (so come up with the OVO contact number) and later – reading this in an airport almost three years ago and was able to find a free link on Yale’s website – I found the piece so interesting, and wanted to share it with you.

The moral of the story for me is that we have learned our lesson from our addiction to oil – from the recent price spikes, as well as the fact that it supports dangerous regimes that hate America (not to mention the negative environmental impact of fossil fuels), and we need to make a change.  It will cost a lot of money and require sacrifice, but it is one of the greatest issues of our time and must be addressed.

Grassroots is the way to go: a look at GoGreen Somerville

ggsom_web_header_resize_new1My firm has become involved over the last several months with GoGreen Somerville, a coalition of businesses and non-profit organizations that leverage relationships, knowledge, and resources to green the Somerville businesses community.  I wrote a bit about this organization in May when it got a positive write-up in the Boston Globe.

GoGreen Somerville, where my firm is headquartered, is run by Vanessa Rule, who is very impressive.  She is motivated, talented and knowledgeable, an excellent combination.  I was excited to get involved in this effort, especially because it is on the grassroots level.  By building a laboratory of sustainability in our home city, this organization can possibly create a scalable model for helping other markets become more environmentally responsible.

Also exciting is that it includes a broad coalition of businesses: including bakeries, food manufacturers (chocolate), as well as a cleantech engineering firm and a wind power specialist.  It is a testament to the depth and breadth of talent in a small city that such best-in-class organizations spanning a wide range of industries have volunteered their time and resources to help make our city a more sustainable one.  It’s important to note is that if Somerville can become a case study for good environmental stewardship, it will help attract investment, new businesses, and talent; not to mention make it a better place to live and work.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this effort down the line, but I wanted to share this today, as GoGreen Somerville just launched its new website.

A must read – Al Gore’s NYTimes column (11/9/2008)

green-wind-turbine-30-96-66-2Al Gore wrote an excellent column in the New York Times on Sunday, 11/9, in which he lays out a very clear and sensible five-part plan to get America to produce 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years.  Although he has launched the We Campaign which has pushed this goal, this article is a quick and easy read, and as such, I highly recommend you take a look.

Without further ado, here’s a link to the piece.

Alternative energy: striking a balance between caution and execution

There has been increasing news coverage of alternative energy, most notably due to the explosion in energy prices over the last couple years.  I saw two interesting articles over the last day, one from the conservative editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, and the other from The New York Times.

Please note – photo courtesy of The New York Times (photographer: Christinne Muschi).

The WSJ opinion piece points out that one of the key barriers to growth in alternative energy is infrastructure, most notably transmission lines connecting the sources of energy (wind and solar fields in rural and desert locations in the plains and Southwest) and the cities in which most people live.  The WSJ, in it’s characteristic fashion, blames this challenge on liberals, who they claim support alternative energy but oppose the construction of transmission lines, as they often have to go through protected lands.  Here’s a link to the piece.

The Times describes challenges and conflicts of interest that have arisen in upstate New York, where wind revenue has become critical for family farmers.  The article highlights instances when local town boards have voted on wind leases for firms when several of the individual members already had contracts in place for their own farms.  A key issue, the article goes on to discuss, is that there is no statewide (New York) law on wind power, so it is up to the individual towns to decide.  Here’s a link to the article.

If alternative energy is to become more widespread (according to the WSJ, wind only provides two-thirds of 1% of electricity generated in the U.S., and solar one-tenth of 1%), there will have to be better statewide and national legislation that fast tracks the development of wind farms, solar fields, and other energy sources.  At the same time, a balance has to be struck between speed and careful examination of the intricacies of development (impact on local environments, costs, etc).

Nevertheless, it is no longer debatable that these technologies are needed.  In fact, weaning our country off of foreign oil and developing better domestic, renewable (and clean) energy resources are key elements and ingredients to the future success of our country.  My sincere hope is that the right balance can happen in order to unlock this power and bring jobs to local markets with it.

NSTAR To Offer Renewable Energy Option To Customers

NSTAR, the Massachusetts-based electric utility, announced this month that starting in July 2008, its customers will be able to purchase wind power. The program, NSTAR Green, will allow customers to either power 50% or 100% of their homes/businesses with wind power.

According to NSTAR, there will be a slight premium charged to basic home customers who enroll in the program (NSTAR estimates that this will add from $4-$7 per month to a customer’s bill). The wind power will be generated at Maple Ridge Wind Farm in upstate New York, before traveling into the New England power grid.

I’m pleased to see NSTAR announce this program, although I’m surprised it took them so long to do so. I met with a member of their senior management last fall to discuss my firm’s wind power initiatives, and explained that I believed NSTAR customers were hungry for green energy options. However, as the saying goes, better late than never.

Although wind energy from other states has just as positive an impact on the environment, it’s too bad that bureaucratic and political issues have delayed the development of wind farms in Massachusetts. Please see my previous post on the subject.

Nevertheless, NSTAR should be congratulated for getting this program off the ground. My hope is that programs like this will spur further wind farm development across the United States, with the overall goal of weaning our country off oil, most of which comes from foreign sources.