WBEZ | fossil fuels http://www.wbez.org/tags/fossil-fuels Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Power struggle: Who’s your energy provider? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/power-struggle-who%E2%80%99s-your-energy-provider-108077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rig_wind_river_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Curious City producers and reporters are usually hard at work answering your <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/all">growing list of questions</a>. But every now and then, an answer or even a listener comment stops us dead in our tracks, and we&rsquo;ll say to one another: Why don&rsquo;t we ask more people about this?</p><p>That&rsquo;s what happened after we took on this question from Janice Thomson of Chicago&rsquo;s North Center neighborhood:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Now that Chicago has a new electricity supplier, how much of the city&rsquo;s energy would ultimately come from natural gas via fracking?</em></p><p>We&rsquo;re curious how Chicagoans and others take something that Janice told us after environment reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago%E2%80%99s-energy-deal-%E2%80%98f%E2%80%99-fracking-107932">Chris Bentley laid out an answer</a>. If you&#39;re already familiar with Janice&#39;s story and figure you&#39;re ready to weigh in, <a href="#Poll">our survey below awaits</a>. If you&#39;re still a little shaky on the details, though, we should first unpack her question just a bit. So, what is fracking (otherwise known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing)? Here&rsquo;s the skinny from Bentley:</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;... drillers blast water, fine sand and chemicals to break up porous rock containing fossil fuels, and horizontal drilling, which allows a single rig to explore long, flat sedimentary rock formations thousands of feet underground without drilling straight down from the surface many times.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>As for that &ldquo;new electricity supplier&rdquo; bit? Well, Chicago switched energy providers late last year, and Integrys won the city&rsquo;s contract. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago%E2%80%99s-energy-deal-%E2%80%98f%E2%80%99-fracking-107932">The gist</a>:</p><ul><li>Integrys&rsquo; portfolio is &ldquo;primarily&rdquo; natural gas.</li><li>In 2012, 40 percent of the nation&#39;s natural gas production came from shale formations, and that percentage is rising. A good deal of that new production is derived from fracking.</li><li>It&rsquo;s impossible to know exactly how much of Chicago&rsquo;s electricity is generated from natural gas derived via fracking, but some of it is, since the nation&rsquo;s gas supply is not divided by fracked and conventional sources.</li></ul><p>Just last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office announced Chicago is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city%E2%80%99s-power-deal-boosts-wind-energy-108003">increasing its supply of wind energy</a>. A month ago, Illinois lawmakers passed the most restrictive high-volume oil and gas drilling regulations in the country.</p><p>News about fracking in Illinois is still rolling in. Yet, Curious City&rsquo;s investigation is making Thomson rethink her energy options right now.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;As a consumer, I do now plan to &ldquo;opt out&rdquo; of the default Integrys electricity supplier and sign up with a 100% renewable energy supplier. I initially wasn&rsquo;t too keen on the idea of renewable energy credits (which remind me of carbon offsets), but it sounds like that&rsquo;s the best I can do living in Chicago.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>Purchasing renewable energy credits from companies offering green energy plans is one option and perhaps the most economical one. Illinois&rsquo; Citizens Utility Board, a watchdog group that looks out for energy consumers&rsquo; interests, <a href="http://www.citizensutilityboard.org/ciElectric_cubfacts_alternativesuppliers.html">lists alternative electricity suppliers</a>. People can generate their own power, but that is often a pricey upfront investment, said David Kolata, CUB executive director. Still, conservation remains the easiest, most effective option, he said, adding that there are many steps people can take towards energy efficiency.</p><p>Below, we&#39;ve prepared a (very) short survey about whether you&#39;ve considered your own electricity supply options and whether you&#39;ve taken action about it. We invite you to give your two cents. When you&#39;re done, click the link that reads <a name="Poll"></a>&quot;See previous responses&quot; to see how others answered.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="450" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/179KmxKnNPIqDYyb8PyjeS9A0RqnvVI1QC93VhMrW5XA/viewform?embedded=true" width="620">Loading...</iframe></p><h2><strong>Selected poll responses</strong></h2><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdEJpb2RfMXpFWnRtS01lOFRpY0ROclE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=H1%3AH66&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"series":{"0":{"hasAnnotations":true},"1":{"hasAnnotations":true}},"showRowNumber":false,"animation":{"duration":0},"width":620,"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"sortColumn":null,"title":"Chart title","booleanRole":"certainty","height":320,"page":"enable","legend":"right"},"state":{},"view":{},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 02:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/power-struggle-who%E2%80%99s-your-energy-provider-108077 Chicago students push for divestment from fossil fuels http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/chicago-students-push-divestment-fossil-fuels-105650 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotomattic/4420828338/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/smokestack-by-fotomattic-via-flickr.jpg" title="(Flickr/fotomattic)" /></a></p><p>Local students concerned about climate change are taking a cue from social action campaigns against South African Apartheid, urging Chicago universities to swap their investments in fossil fuel companies for stock in clean energy.</p><p>They are pushing for divestment, <a href="http://gofossilfree.org/">a movement active on 256 campuses</a> to date and backed by national environmental organizations like Bill McKibben&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.350.org" target="_blank">350.org</a>.</p><p>While common initiatives like energy efficiency challenges and green business competitions promote sustainability on campus, divestment has a broader scope.</p><p>&ldquo;An issue like our endowment affects every single Northwestern stakeholder. That includes our alumni, people living on and off campus, all of our administration,&rdquo; said Mark Silberg, vice president for sustainability in Northwestern University&#39;s&nbsp;student government, which recently passed a resolution supporting divestment. &ldquo;This is a way for Northwestern to take the first step towards what we envision the future to be.&rdquo;</p><p>Silberg heads the Northwestern University Responsible Endowment Coalition, which has gathered 1,300 signatures so far in support of divestment. Faculty response has been encouraging, he said, and there is precedent.</p><p>In 2005 Northwestern sold its holdings in four international oil companies active in the Darfur region of Sudan, becoming the third university in the nation to do so.</p><p>The students have tailored their message, focusing first on one particularly dirty resource: coal. In addition to coal&rsquo;s well-known environmental hazards, <a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=4931635">its economic performance</a> is flagging and likely to decline further as pressure mounts from environmental regulations and cheap natural gas. If Northwestern agrees to divest from coal, Silberg hopes, that opens the door to reinvesting in renewable energy and eventually pulling out from all fossil fuel companies.</p><p>Still, tinkering with Northwestern&#39;s $7.4 billion endowment is no small task. And at the University of Chicago, it&rsquo;s an even taller order. The University never divested from businesses connected to Sudan throughout its human rights violations, or from South Africa during Apartheid.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/metroblossom/384091405/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/u-of-c-darfur-divest-by-David-Schalliol.jpg" title="University of Chicago students called on administrators to divest from companies doing business with Sudan in 2007, to no avail. (David Schalliol via Flickr)" /></a></div><p>In December Paul Kim was among 30 University of Chicago students who delivered a petition to the administration calling for divestment. The administration has not responded.</p><p>&ldquo;We will have to deal with the irrevocable consequences of these decisions,&rdquo; said Kim, a third-year math major. &ldquo;And right now we have no input.&rdquo;</p><p>Divestment campaigns are also active at Loyola University, Roosevelt University, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SAICfortheFuture">the School of the Art Institute of Chicago</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaCollegeStudentsForTheFuture">Columbia College</a>, the <a href="http://www.wicd15.com/news/top-stories/stories/wicd_vid_6204.shtml">University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign</a> and <a href="http://act.gofossilfree.org/act/university-of-illinois-at-chicago" target="_blank">the University of Illinois at Chicago</a>. This weekend students from dozens of colleges across the country <a href="http://studentsdivest.org/">will converge</a> on Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania to discuss the future of the movement.&nbsp;</p><p>The idea isn&#39;t limited to college campuses. The mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, recently&nbsp;<a href="http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/an-update-on-fossil-fuel-divestment/">called on his city&#39;s pension system governing board</a> to divest from ExxonMobil and Chevron. Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-urges-mayors-divest-gun-companies-105062">encouraged mayors nationwide to follow Chicago&#39;s lead</a> in pulling from the city&rsquo;s portfolio investments in gun manufacturers, he has not endorsed the tactic for action on climate change.</p><p>The <em>Washington Post</em>&rsquo;s George Will <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-the-price-of-moral-grandstanding/2013/02/01/5d74a804-6be1-11e2-ada0-5ca5fa7ebe79_story.html?hpid=z2">called such campaigns &quot;moral grandstanding,&quot;</a> noting that even a wildly successful divestment campaign would not have a major impact on those companies&rsquo; bottom line since other investors will buy up the dumped stock. But <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/01/27/is-divestment-an-effective-means-of-protest/turning-colleges-partners-into-pariahs">Bill McKibben argues</a> it would cut their &ldquo;social license&rdquo; to profit from pollution.</p><p>For Silberg and Kim, the economic argument is inseparable from the moral issues that give the campaign its urgency.</p><p>&ldquo;Climate change action is an enormous challenge, but it&#39;s also an opportunity,&quot; Silberg said. &quot;We have a choice as to where we allocate our money, and we make those decisions not just on short-term financial self-interest.&quot;</p><p><em>Follow Chris Bentley on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/chicago-students-push-divestment-fossil-fuels-105650 Environmentalists protest Keystone XL pipeline http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20youth%20climate%20coalition.jpg" style="height: 313px; width: 610px;" title="Protesters gathered in Grant Park Sunday to rally against a proposed pipeline that has become a crucible for the Obama administration's policy on climate change. (Image courtesy Chicago Youth Climate Coalition)" /></p><p>Roughly 200 Chicagoans rallied in Grant Park Sunday to call on President Barack Obama to reject the controversial <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/keystone-xl-pipeline">Keystone XL pipeline</a> project and take action on climate change, an issue he prioritized for his second term but which remains politically problematic.</p><p>The crowd, convened by the Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, demonstrated in solidarity with <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/business/energy-environment/obamas-keystone-pipeline-decision-risks-new-problems-either-way.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=0">thousands of protestors gathered at the Washington Monument in the nation&rsquo;s capital</a> for what is believed to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history.</p><p>The proposed XL extension would complete a pipeline from Canada&rsquo;s Athabasca oil sands in Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Climate scientist <a href="http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html">James Hansen</a> has said the carbon dioxide emissions from the vast tar sands reserves <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opinion/game-over-for-the-climate.html">would mean &quot;game over for the climate.&quot;</a></p><p>Proponents of the $7 billion pipeline tout its property tax benefits and construction jobs, and dismiss or downplay its environmental impacts.</p><p>Obama delayed his administration&rsquo;s decision on the issue last year, citing disputes over the 1,700-mile pipeline&rsquo;s path, but Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/22/keystone_xl_nebraska_governor_heineman_approves_pipeline_route.html">approved a revised route</a> in January.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/keystone-xl-rally-305px-wide.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Protesters in Chicago marched from Grant Park to the Federal Building at 77 W. Jackson Blvd., home to the Environmental Protection Agency&rsquo;s regional offices. Climate advocates view the EPA <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/obamas-state-of-the-union-climate-call-may-buy-time-for-epa-87567.html">as the most likely vehicle for action on the issue</a> given that Republicans in Congress have continually stymied legislation intended to curb carbon emissions. Thanks to a series of court rulings, the EPA has considerable power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.</p><p>Congresswoman <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/jan-schakowsky">Jan Schakowsky</a> (D-Ill.) sent a statement to the protesters in Chicago, thanking them for their advocacy. Schakowsky serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.</p><p>&ldquo;There should be no doubt that all of us need to get bolder and louder in the call for action,&rdquo; read Schakowsky&rsquo;s statement.&nbsp; &ldquo;Climate change is happening, and its consequences are dire.&rdquo;</p><p>Dozens of protesters, including James Hansen, <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/arma-virumque-cano-police-arrest-keystone-protesters/">were arrested at the White House Wednesday</a> in the first act of civil disobedience ever organized by the 120-year-old environmental group Sierra Club.</p><p>In Chicago, support for the youth-led rally was not limited to students and environmental groups.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/keystone-xl-rally-305px-2.jpg" style="float: right;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Mike Sinner, a 52-year-old employee of Weiss Memorial Hospital, lives in the West Ridge neighborhood. Toting a &ldquo;Resist KXL&rdquo; sign and walking a bike he said had logged 111,000 miles, Sinner likened the present day climate action movement to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.</p><p>&ldquo;As you get older you know that in most issues there is no moral black and white,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But some issues are black and white. Today we&rsquo;re saying to President Obama that we have his back if he does the right thing and rejects the pipeline.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://triblocal.com/grayslake/2011/07/26/on-yearly-quest-for-genuine-experience-cancer-survivor-bikes-to-lake-county-fair/">A cancer survivor</a>, Sinner said he is hopeful. Despite Obama&rsquo;s bullishness on fossil fuels like natural gas, Sinner said he was heartened by the President&rsquo;s call to &ldquo;act before it&rsquo;s too late&rdquo; during the 2013 State of the Union Address.</p><p>&ldquo;I think if we don&rsquo;t have hope,&quot; Sinner said,&nbsp;&quot;then we&rsquo;re in trouble.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632789421303%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632789421303%2F&amp;set_id=72157632789421303&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632789421303%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632789421303%2F&amp;set_id=72157632789421303&amp;jump_to=" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576 Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/Wind_Farm_D36.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I understand the power of Lake Erie wind as soon we’re out past the breakwaters of Cleveland Harbor. The waves make our 74-foot tugboat bob like a rubber toy in my preschooler’s bath tub.</p><p>Before long, I’m sweating and looking for a place to heave.</p><p>Right next to me, Bill Mason seems to be enjoying the ride. In fact, he wants to show me a spot where the wind is even stronger. “Where we’re headed is to an anemometer,” Mason says, mispronouncing the instrument’s name. “It’s been measuring the wind speeds since, I think, 2007. So I know we have good wind.”</p><p>Mason doesn’t know all the particulars about wind energy. But, as the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, he knows a lot about Northeast Ohio. Since taking office in 1999, Mason has seen about a 100,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the area.</p><p>Installing a handful of wind turbines offshore could spark a revival, Mason says, changing Cleveland’s image from a deindustrialized ghost town to “a green city on the blue lake.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4522_Wind_Farm_A28-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason says putting turbines in Lake Erie could revive the city. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">Mason has been promoting the wind-farm idea for seven years. In 2009, he helped form a quasi-public group, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, to turn the idea into reality. Representing Cleveland and four counties along the lake, LEEDCo has held dozens of community meetings. It has secured an option for nine square miles of the lake. It has studied possible impacts on wildlife. And it has begun work on designs and permits.</p><p>Mason tells me Cleveland could help build offshore wind farms throughout the Great Lakes. He points to the city’s proximity to rail lines, deep-water port facilities and manufacturers. He says companies in the area could retool to make parts and supplies ranging from transmission cables to ice-resistant blade coating. The wind-farm supporters commissioned a study that says their project could lead to 15,000 new Ohio jobs within two decades.</p><p>The supply chain could include Lincoln Electric, which makes welding equipment in Euclid, a suburb northeast of Cleveland. Lincoln Electric is already getting a taste of wind-energy generation since installing a 443-foot-tall turbine this year to help power the company’s main plant.</p><p>Driving up the lakeshore, I can see the three rotor blades spinning from miles away. On a windy day, the tips go 160 miles an hour, the company tells me. But I can’t hear any sound from the turbine until I’m within a stone’s throw. Looking straight up at the blades, I notice a subtle swoosh as each one passes.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4525_Wind_Farm_D36-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: right; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 4px;" title="Lincoln Electric’s Seth Mason says his company’s new turbine provides a case study for the offshore project. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">The turbine has given a lot of local people—from regulators to engineers to truck drivers—their first contact with a wind project. Lincoln Electric energy manager Seth Mason (no relation to the prosecutor) says this experience could help with the offshore installation, which would be just a few miles away.</p><p>“You basically have the same wind regime [and] you’re basically going to have the same amount of migratory birds at this longitude,” Mason says. “So I think it provides a case study for the next machine.”</p><p>It’s not just local boosters who think a Lake Erie wind farm could revive Northeast Ohio. Christopher Hart, the U.S. Department of Energy’s offshore wind chief, sees it that way too. “If a place like Cleveland is able to establish the demonstration project and then is able to leverage that demonstration project into a larger position in the industry, this could really, really have an impact on the local economy.”</p><p>Hart tells me Cleveland has the best shot at installing the first Great Lakes wind farm. But he points to a huge barrier: “Given the current technology, given the current regulatory structure, offshore wind doesn’t make economic sense.”</p><p>DOE calculations suggest it’s more than twice as expensive to generate electricity from offshore wind as from coal, natural gas or nuclear fission. The New York Power Authority pointed to costs this fall when it pulled the plug on some proposed Great Lakes turbines.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">ViDEO:</span></a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782">Plant turns waste into jobs</a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a Job? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/can-milwaukee-become-silicon-valley-water-93835"><strong>The Silicon Valley of water</strong>:<strong> Milwaukee?</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>That frustrates Chris Wisseman, who leads a consortium called Freshwater Wind that LEEDCo chose last year to develop Cleveland’s offshore wind farm. “All we’re talking about here is a new technology that looks like it’s got the ability to be very cost-effective inside of a decade,” he says.</p><p>The construction will run about $130 million, Wisseman tells me. The financing will be tricky because few utilities are eager to buy electricity that is so expensive. The only purchaser on board so far is municipally owned Cleveland Public Power, which has agreed to buy a quarter of the wind-farm output.</p><p>So LEEDCo is pushing for Ohio to <em>compel</em> utilities to buy the electricity and pass along the cost to customers—a process known as rate recovery. If the plan covered just northern Ohio, Wisseman says, business and residential customers would each pay an extra $0.40 a month.</p><p>The area’s big utility, Akron-based First Energy, says it won’t take a stand on that rate recovery until it sees a proposal. The Ohio Association of Manufacturers tells me it will probably go along with the plan if it doesn’t hit electricity-intensive companies hard.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/Kasich.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 268px; margin-top: 5px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn’t saying whether he’ll support rate recovery for the offshore wind project. (AP/File)">But rate recovery won’t get far without support from Gov. John Kasich. He appoints the members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates the state’s electricity rates. And his Republican Party controls both houses of the state legislature.</p><p>At an energy forum Kasich’s office organized this fall, the governor didn’t leave any doubt that his energy focus would be an Appalachian rock layer called Utica Shale. In Ohio, that shale holds a lot of natural gas. To free up the fuel, companies such as Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. want to drill thousands of horizontal wells and inject pressurized fluids—a process known as fracking.</p><p>An industry-funded study says the fracking could create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio over the next four years. The potential boom is keeping Kasich’s staff busy. “We have had 129 separate meetings—5 regional meetings, 78 with business associations, 46 meetings with oil-and-gas division experts—all across Ohio,” the governor said at the forum.</p><p>At the same time, contaminated groundwater in nearby Pennsylvania is giving fracking a bad name. Kasich promises environmental safeguards for Ohio.</p><p>The governor says he’ll also promote renewable energy efforts. So, when I catch up with him, I ask whether those will include Cleveland’s offshore wind project.</p><p>“There is a place for renewables,” Kasich replies. “But we have to be very clear: They’re very expensive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities in the state. It doesn’t mean that over time they [won’t] become less expensive. But specific projects have to be looked at very, very carefully.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4524_Wind_Farm_C26-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 2px; margin-top: 5px; float: right;" title="A tugboat captain who knows about Lake Erie wind recalls cleaning a seasick crewmate with a hose. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">I press Kasich, asking whether he will support the rate recovery proposed for the offshore project. He declines to answer.</p><p>Another Ohio Republican is talking about that rate recovery. State Sen. Kris Jordan, who represents suburbs north of Columbus, tells me it’s a bad idea. “I just don’t believe—when we have more affordable, more ready energy sources—that government should be subsidizing" an offshore wind farm.</p><p>Back on the Lake Erie tugboat, the vessel’s captain notices my pale color. He says he once had to clean off a seasick crewmate with a hose.</p><p>Bill Mason, the prosecutor behind the proposed wind farm, agrees I’ve seen enough of the lake. On the way back to port, he shakes his head at the thought of a natural-gas boom tripping up his project.</p><p>“We don’t know how much energy is going to be produced from this fracking,” Mason says. “We don’t know the environmental damage that possibly could happen from it. And we don’t know what it’s going to cost, if there is damage, for that recovery. If we take that step down that road, won’t it be nice to know that we have other alternatives such as the wind industry out here on the Great Lakes?”</p><p>And wouldn’t it be nice, Mason adds, if the center of that industry were Cleveland?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Great Lakes wind projects struggle for footing</h2><p>Offshore wind-energy advocates face tall hurdles in the Great Lakes, but some projects are advancing. WBEZ’s Maham Khan brings us these snapshots.</p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script><div class="tableauPlaceholder" style="width: 554px; height: 769px;"><noscript><a href="#"><img alt="Offshore wind " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;Gr&#47;GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies&#47;Offshorewind&#47;1_rss.png" style="height: 100%; width: 100%; border: none" /></a></noscript><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="554" height="769"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="static_image" value="http://public.tableausoftware.com/static/images/Gr/GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind/1.png"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object></div><div style="width: 554px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;">&nbsp;</div></div></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind