Monday, February 13, 2017

The City of Lake Worth’s revolutionary future for energy generation: More than just a pipe dream to “nowhere”.

UPDATES: 1) For the latest news on “Lake Worth’s revolutionary future” use this link: This issue was addressed once again by Mayor Pam Triolo and Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell on Feb. 21st. The video below will explain more. 2) Inexplicably, this news remains unreported in The Palm Beach Post.
For some perspective, this important meeting yesterday is less than 2 weeks after The Palm Beach Post reported that Mayor Pam Triolo’s State of the City was “nowhere. That couldn’t be further from the reality, even close to the truth about our City. But more on that later.

This is as real as it gets. The prospects and implications for Lake Worth and the future of energy could be revolutionary.

The attendees. Recognize anyone? Some of the attendees are cited below.

This was an “Ocean Energy Round Table Discussion” with Rep. Kathleen Peters—the event happened yesterday, Sunday, February 12th, 4:00, at the Lake Worth Casino Ballroom at our Beach. We were notified by a Press Release from Ben Kerr, the City’s Communications Specialist (561-586-1631; email: bkerr@lakeworth.org), on Friday (2/10) and had the following information:

“Lake Worth, FL. – Following the recent announcement of the Ocean Energy Collaborative between FAU's Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) and the City of Lake Worth, the leading domestic and international companies conducting research and design of large ocean turbines have been invited to attend and participate in a roundtable discussion for the purpose of establishing Lake Worth, FL. as ‘ground zero’ for all advanced ocean energy development in the United States.
     The invitation-only event will include local economic development officials; SNMREC; industry representatives, and  special guest, Representative Kathleen Peters, Chair of the Florida House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee.
     Lake Worth’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, its ownership of a municipal electric generating plant and its commitment to becoming a community reliant upon renewable energy sources, have all played a significant role in SNMREC’s decision to invite the City to join together in the collaborative effort. To-date, a joint application has been submitted to Florida’s Office of Energy in the hopes of receiving a Renewable Energy and Efficient Technologies Grant in the amount of $350,000.00 dollars.”

Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein.

City Manager Michael Bornstein expanded on the strategic advantages having Lake Worth’s proximity to the Gulf Stream, its own Electric Utility and the existence of a former outfall pipe that extends a ¾-mile into the Atlantic Ocean.

The grant mentioned in the press release above will provide funds for a study and design of a “junction box” that would be installed to link electrical generation structures in the Gulf Stream to an existing outfall pipe off Lake Worth’s Beach to become a conduit to the City’s electric grid. Next would be an examination of how best to lay copper through the pipe so the equipment placed in the Gulf Stream could be tested.

More than half a dozen companies representing this nascent renewable energy industry participated in this round-table discussion, some from Germany, Ireland, Massachusetts and California for example; this in addition to companies already here in Florida. All were given a chance to introduce their concepts to the FAU representatives and policymakers that were present. 

At the session’s completion a profound realization seemed to come over this round-table group. They recognized this meeting was the first ever to bring so many companies together to share their concepts and prototypes for ways to address the worldwide demand for energy, especially in a renewable form, that is expected to increase 50% by the middle of the 21st century.

Lake Worth not only has a seat at this table. Lake Worth’s strategic location in relation to the Gulf Stream, having its own Electric Utility, the existing ocean outfall pipe along with so many existing urban places for companies to relocate in Palm Beach County (particularly the City’s Park of Commerce), means the City of Lake Worth will become the epicenter of the renewable energy industry and will play the key role in its testing, development, and production.


There will be much on this timely and important news to come later.

Some of the public officials attending were Florida State Representatives Kathleen Peters and Lori Berman, State Senator Jeff Clemens, Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner and Lake Worth Mayor Pam Triolo.

Remember, just recently on January 31st, Mayor Pam Triolo had these lines in her 2017 State of the City Address:

“On my recent trip to Washington I also met with the US Department of Energy about our partnership that began last year with Southeastern National Marine Renewable Energy Center, or SNMREC, at Florida Atlantic University. SNMREC is one of three entities created through the Department of Energy to promote private sector development of three types of power generation from the ocean. Wave, Tidal and Current driven energy has tremendous promise to provide clean and consistent power from the ocean.
     While the Wave program in Hawaii and the Tidal program in Washington state have advanced, SNMREC has had the challenge of locating an offshore site where private companies in partnership could test designs and develop proof of concept. While they currently have a buoy off Broward County, an actual mooring connected by cable to the grid does not exist, until now. Working together with SNMREC, Lake Worth would be a significant part of propelling this effort to develop ocean current driven power as a viable source. It turns out that after studying and developing detailed computer modeling, the Gulfstream Current is at its closest and in a most consistent strength offshore of. . . you guessed it. . . Lake Worth.
     As an ocean-front community our Electric Utility can receive the power generated offshore. However how do we get it from out there to in here? Well it turns out we also have an old abandoned sewer outfall that goes ¾ of a mile off shore and we have applied for a grant to study and engineer a way to pull a cable through it to connect to the test site. Here’s where we take a former environmental scar, like our landfill, and make lemonade out of lemons.”

[and. . .]

     We may become the place in the world that makes ocean current power a reality. We are also looking to change state law to be able to create an Efficient Energy Economic Zone in the City to encourage the companies to locate here and bring jobs. In many ways, this is about clean renewable energy and economic development.
     Coupled with increasing the availability of feeding renewable energy into our grid for use in the City, we may be able to add power from the Gulfstream to our solar and one day have the highest level of renewable energy of any city in the state or even the country. This is a strategic approach the old Lake Worth would not have been able to imagine much less make happen.

Anyone want to suggest that the City of Lake Worth is “nowhere” again?

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