USDA Funds Biofuel Project in New Mexico

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has issued a $54.5 million loan guarantee that will allow a biofuels firm to construct a facility in New Mexico to produce “green crude” oil from algae, which can be refined into transportation fuel. The project is intended to advance American efforts to provide renewable commercial-scale biofuels, increasing energy security and reducing dependence on foreign oil. It is expected that 60 jobs will be created near the community of Columbus, N.M.
“This project represents another step in the effort to assist the nation’s advanced biofuel industry to produce energy in commercial quantities from sustainable rural resources,” said Vilsack. The loan recipient, San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, intends to design, build and operate a $135 million integrated algal biorefinery
(IABR) to create a “drop-in” replacement for petroleum-derived diesel and jet fuel. The IABR will be capable of producing 100 barrels of refined algal oil per day, equivalent to at least two million gallons per year. The oil will be shipped to the Gulf Coast to be refined by Dynamic Fuels, in Geismar, Louisiana.
Sapphire Energy broke ground on the project earlier this year. The company employs about 50 people in Las Cruces at its test facility where algae are produced in racetrack-shaped ponds that range in size from 14 feet to 200 feet. The Columbus site could grow to hundreds of acres with an even larger area of ponds.
As it embraces a biofuel future, the USDA is partnering with the Dept. of the Navy and has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration to help the commercial airline industry develop appropriate feedstocks that can be most efficiently processed into jet fuel. Some types of algae are composed of 50 percent oil.

Biofuels Plant Construction to Begin

Joule Unlimited, Inc., a Massachusetts company, is about to start construction on a biofuels demonstration plant in Hobbs, New Mexico. The plant, which is expected to begin operating next year, will convert sunlight and carbon dioxide waste into biofuel. In addition to construction jobs, 20 permanent jobs will be created. State officials say that 500 new jobs could be created in Hobbs if the plant produces up to 75 million gallons of biodiesel and 125 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Study: SunZia Project Would Bring Jobs

Five hundred miles of high-voltage transmission lines between New Mexico and Arizona would create thousands of jobs, many in rural counties, spur renewable energy development and result in $1.5 billion in capital investment, a new report says.

The joint study conducted by New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona, commissioned by SunZia Transmission LL C, states that 6,200 jobs would be created during the four years of construction, expected to begin in 2013, and there would be more than 120 permanent jobs during operation. In addition, the project would enable many wind and solar generation projects, which would
deliver up to 3,000 megawatts, enough to power 1 million homes.

SunZia consists of five participants—SouthWestern Power Group, Shell Wind Energy, Tri-State Transmission and Generation, Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power. The companies have spent millions of dollars to finance permitting and development of the project, which has been under a federal review process and
a draft environmental impact study, expected to be released in January.

According to the study, the project would require two parallel 500-kilowatt AC transmission lines, primarily on public lands, suspended from towers 130 to 160 feet tall, and five substations at a cost of about $1.5 billion.The study can be viewed at http://sun-zia.net/project_information.php?show_tab=economic

PPC Solar to Build 1.5 MW Solar Project in Taos

Local business PPC Solar has announced that Kit Carson Electric Cooperative has approved a Power Purchase Agreement under which it will purchase solar electricity for the next 25 years from a PV array in Taos County that would be constructed by PPC Solar.

The installation, which is subject to approval by Tri-State Generation and Transmission and permitting by Taos County, would be the largest in Taos County, utilizing 5,400 solar panels on approximately 8.5 acres. The system would offset the equivalent to planting 107,675 trees.

According to Daniel Weinman, CEO of PPC Solar, “projects like this have the capacity to invigorate our local economy. Not only will it expand the number of jobs for our labor force, it can also give Kit Carson more control over the rising cost of electricity received from Tri-State. More money made locally equals more money to spend in our community.” www.ppcsolar……

the Board of Directors of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative has conditionally approved a Power Purchase Agreement under which it would purchase solar electricity for the next 25-years from a 1.5 MW DC photovoltaic array in Taos County that would be constructed by PPC Solar. The solar install would be the largest in Taos County, utilizing approximately 5,400 solar panels situated on approximately 8.5 acres just northwest of Taos. The system would produce an estimated 2,985,859 kWh of solar power during its first year of operation which would offset 21,535 tons of CO2  the equivalent to planting 107,675 trees.  The agreement is subject to approval by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which is slated to consider the agreement on December 7, and permitting by Taos County by December 31, 2011.

Driven by falling costs and a robust federal clean energy program, the U.S. solar industry grew by 67 percent in 2010. Americans overwhelmingly support the development and use of solar energy according to a new national poll. These and other findings were reported on November 1, 2011, in the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer™, a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.

For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found that about nine out of 10 Americans (89%) think it is important for the United States to develop and use solar energy. Furthermore, when asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of U.S. energy policy, 39% of Americans chose solar over other sources such as natural gas (21%), wind (12%), nuclear (9%) and coal (3%).

Utilities are taking note by investing in solar power to reduce their long-term energy costs, promote local energy independence, and generate increased revenues from the sale of renewable energy credits (REC’s), while complying with the mandates established by most states that utilities meet certain renewable energy portfolio standards.

According to Daniel Weinman, CEO of PPC Solar, “projects like this have the capacity to invigorate our local economy. Not only will it expand the number of jobs for our labor force, it can also give Kit Carson more control over the rising cost of electricity received from Tri-State. More money made locally equals more money to spend in our community.”  At a time when businesses are hard-pressed to reduce operating expenses, PPC Solar is working with the local community to find solar-powered solutions that can help with long-range financial planning while increasing the bottom line.

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PPC Solar is committed to changing the way the world is powered and improve the quality of life. We are a full service electrical contracting business specializing in renewable energy and photovoltaic systems, in operation since 1979.