Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was in Sussex County this past week and visited with Robert Light and Brian Lisiewski of NextGen Energy Inc., located in Millsboro. Carper toured their office and discussed H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, co-authored by himself and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
Carper said his stance on alternative energy solutions is threefold.
“The federal government’s role has three steps: First, the federal government needs to fund research and development investments. Second, they need to use their purchasing power commending advanced technologies and new technologies. For example, in the new defense bill, it is written in that after 2009, 70 percent of cars, trucks and vans the government buys have to be advanced-technology vehicles, including hybrids, fuel-cell cars and flexible-fuel vehicles. And thirdly, tax incentives to encourage consumers — residential, commercial and industrial — to buy the technologies and start using them.”
NextGen Energy offers green electricity in the form of small wind turbines; pure solar electricity in the form of photovoltaic systems; and efficient room conditioners. They are also in the research and development stage of a HydroCell Mileage Enhancement System for automobile, commercial trucking, marine applications and high performance racing machines.
“The HydroCell System is a gas mileage enhancement system based in the main component, an on-board hydrogen gas generator. Our typical hydrogen generator will produce 1.5 to 2 liters of alternative fuel gas (hydrogen and oxygen mixed, Brown’s gas) per minute using at 8-10 amperes,” said NextGen Energy President Brian Lisiewski.
“Our customers are residential, including the average household, and we have an aggressive marketing plan in place to start approaching commercial — specifically, restaurants that might use an average of 8-10,000 k/w per month. If we could get them a couple of windmills, they could cut that in half, which would be huge to their bottom line,” said Robert Light, CEO of NextGen Energy.
“Basically, if you use power, alternative energy is the where you need to be,” added Lisiewski.
The main priority now for Lisiewski and Light — who are, respectively, electrical and mechanical engineers by trade — is the design of their own micro-turbine series of windmills, which will be manufactured in Delaware.
“We are working on one that will be specific to our area, with our 12-14 mph average yearly wind speeds,” said Lisiewski.
Right now, the short-term goal for the pair is to work through barriers generated by Sussex County and individual municipalities, because state and federal incentives encouraging the technology are often undermined by local hurdles.
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“Right now, the way it is,” said Light, “we might sell a $300 micro-windmill and spend $600 getting it approved.”
Lisiewski explained, “If you have less than 5.5 acres of land, you have to get a special-use exemption to be able to erect a wind turbine. Other states have regulations in place that work off density, and special laws depending on the size of your lot. Here, there’s incentives in place at the state and federal level, and but then you have to pay $400 to have your day in court, so to speak, and then another $100 after you’re approved, for your building permit.”
NextGen recently went before Sussex County planning officials, asking for permits for two small residential wind turbines near Rehoboth Beach. The company was faced not only with explaining the cutting-edge technology to county officials but also with opposition from neighbors concerned about the potential visual and sound impacts of the proposed projects, which the company says are negligible at worst.
“Another thing I’d like to see changed is the fact that many of the municipalities compute their permits based on a percentage of the cost of the project, and that can be pretty high based on the initial cost of a system – and that eats away at the incentives that the state has in place,” Lisiewski said.
Property owners can get a 50 percent rebate in the form of a check from the state within days of receiving their final inspection for windmill installation — a process that nextGen Energy handles directly for their customers. Another incentive comes in the form of a maximum $2,000 federal tax credit.
Besides the obvious benefits of lowering dependence on foreign oil, and the aspect of being “green” and reducing residents’ and business owners’ carbon footprint, Light and Lisiewski also talked about the monetary benefits of using alternative energy.
“In five to seven years, a system could pay for itself based on 11.5 cents a watt. And as fuel rates rise, that number will drop. If enough people installed them, we wouldn’t need a transmission line,” stated Light.
Added Lisiweski, “Forty-two percent of electricity is dissipated in transmission — meaning, to get 58 kilowatts, it took 100 at the generating station, the mining of the coal distribution, plus destruction of resources.”
Carper said the work NextGen is doing is something Congress plans to support in bills currently up before legislators.
“In our energy bill, we’ll have a provision that in general, by 2020, 10 to 15 percent of our energy will come from alternative sources, and we want to be encouraging the stuff that companies like NextGen Energy are doing,” stated Carper.
For more information on the bill, which is now waiting to be voted upon by the House and Senate, visit Carper’s Web site at http://carper.senate.gov.
For more information on NextGen Energy, visit their Web site at www.nxtgenenergy.com, or call them at (302) 934-5360.