Technical Writing Final Project

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This was submitted as my final project for my technical writing course. It is a hypothetically written recommendation report on sustainable energy initiatives for the City of Beech Grove. I am no expert on sustainable energy, but this is intended to present some of my technical writing skills including use of a simple and clear language, page design, as well as photos, figures, and captions.


<ul><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>1 </p><p> A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>TO: Beech Grove City Council Members </p><p>FROM: Katrina Korn, ENGL 421 Student </p><p>DATE: December 13, 2011 </p><p>SUBJECT: A More Sustainable Beech Grove: </p><p>Recommendation Report </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>2 </p><p>TABLE OF CONTENTS </p><p>Background and motivation.3 </p><p>Turning methane gas into power.4 </p><p> Proposal..4 </p><p> Plan...4 </p><p>Solar panel initiative.6 </p><p> Proposal ...6 </p><p> Plan...6 </p><p>Wind turbine farm initiative...8 </p><p> Proposal.8 </p><p> Plan...9 </p><p>Concluding remarks..10 </p><p>References..11 </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>3 </p><p>Background and Motivation </p><p>Currently, Beech Grove lacks any sort of sustainable energy initiatives. Before three specific proposals and plans to implement them are addressed, background information is needed to drive home the increasing importance of using sustaina-ble energy. Several companies, organizations, and communities across the coun-try are expressing and acting on the important issue of sustainable energy for a more sustainable future. Indianapolis Power and Light, Habitat for Humanity, EDP Renewables, enXco are just a few examples. Beech Grove will benefit from collaborating and being inspired by these entities to make the transition to a city that is aware of and promotes the necessity of alternative energy sources recog-nizing that one day these may be our only options for power. </p><p>It is often easy to be apathetic about using alternative energy because we are not likely to see the rewards from it or the consequences of not using it in our life-time. Not only will these efforts reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the environ-ment and make the future a better place for future generations, it will grant Beech Grove the recognition it deserves as a city planning for a better future from residents to other cities alike. The following three initiatives will be presented in the following format: </p><p>Proposal (What) reasoning behind the initiative </p><p>Plan (How) resources (human, technology) needed and actions to be taken to accomplish the proposed initiative. </p><p>Bringing these ideas to fruition and making them a reality will take hard-work, fo-cus, time, and a desire to instill their importance in others. Interacting with com-munity leaders, community members, and making them feel involved in the for-ward effort will be key to the success of these recommendations. The remainder of this report presents three key initiatives for the city. </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>4 </p><p>Turning Methane Gas into Power </p><p>*It should be noted this initiative is different from that listed in the proposal memorandum. </p><p>Proposal </p><p>Methane gas is a product of deteriorating organic waste in landfills and sewers. Since Beech Grove has both of these types of facilities within its borders, con-verting this harmful gas to useful power is an obvious choice. Hancock County in Indiana and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have evidence that con-verting methane to useful power works. This is one potential power source that can be tapped while reducing environmental insult from methane emissions (Weilbaker). According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of me-thane emissions with the greatest opportunity loss (LMOP). A search of reports reviewing this type of initiative was conducted over the last several weeks and I have discovered a multitude of reasons methane is an excellent source for sus-tainable energy. To begin, methane is being continuously produced as long as sol-id waste exists. Chances are this will be for an extremely long time. It is pro-duced naturally by decaying organic waste. Landfills and sewers are both obvious sources of methane-producing organic waste. Beech Grove has a sewer system and a small landfill that are perfect sites for harness energy produced by the burning of this chemical. Not only are emissions from methane burning cleaner than petroleum, the process will also reduce harmful methane in the atmos-phere. This effort calls for expertise beyond our current resources, and collabora-tion with an energy or engineering company can potentially help with this ven-ture. The added cost of hiring a company to install and maintain technology will surely be unremarkable compared to the positive impact on the atmosphere. For instance, Hancock County hired Granger Electric Company to fund their project from which revenue is split between granger and the county itself (Hancock County Solid Waste Management District). </p><p>Plan </p><p>As with any practical new initiative, there is a need for resources, capital, land, time, technology, and human resources. The EPA should be contacted first and foremost. The EPA is the source of information about using methane from land-fills and is a potential source of funds (Weilbaker). The largest source of funds and information comes from the Landfill Methane Outreach program, or LMOP (LMOP). In some instances, the EPA also provides operational support in setting up the technology. </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>5 </p><p>Technological requirements include but are not limited to vertical or horizontal wells through which methane is collected by a vacuum mechanism (LMOP). Please refer to the figures below detailing these two types of systems. Both types are not necessary and the types needed will be determined by the techno-logical experts. These photos were taken from the EPAs LMOP page (LMOP). </p><p>Figure 2A horizontal collecting well (LMOP) </p><p>Figure 1A vertical collecting well (LMOP) </p><p>The collection system will cost a total of $24,000/acre with a maintenance cost of $2,250 (LMOP). If the cost of the system is split between our city and a con-tracting company such as Granger Electric and the EPA, this initiative could be quite feasible. The entire effort will require oversight by the city board of sanita-tion in addition to any hired expertise. </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>6 </p><p>1.) Solar Panels </p><p>Proposal </p><p>One year ago, I had the honor of organizing and participating in an alternative Spring Break program through Habitat for Humanity called Collegiate Challenge. Without going into great detail, the Habitat for Humanity campus chapter of Pur-due University organizes and sends around 50 students to different Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country to serve families in need of decent, afford-able housing. Last year, I participated in one of these trips to Port Huron, Michi-gan. One of the ways we served that community was by going conducting infor-mal door-to-door surveys about how residents view Habitat for Humanitys mis-sion and role in their community. Michigan has been one of the hardest hit states in terms of the recent and ongoing economic downturn, and some residents had critical views of Habitat for Humanitys Greenhouse prototype. This house was completely powered by sustainable energy modalities including solar panels. Personally, hearing their concerns about capital resources gave me perspective on the limits of these types of endeavors. In other words, I have a better idea about the type of investments this may require from the city. Financial concerns for business and residents will be the largest obstacle to overcome for the suc-cess of this endeavor. No extra land is necessary for this type of sustainable ener-gy, only willing residents, businesses, and a company to provide and install the panels. </p><p>Plan </p><p>Because the installation of solar panels involves serious capital investment that may be beyond the means of several homeowners in this town, a door-to-door survey needs to be conducted by city representatives or volunteers to assess the interest of the general public. Marketing and promotion is just as important as the technology. This survey can be conducted over several weeks (5-7) at differ-ent levels to ensure those who are willing to install solar panels are truly com-mitted. Beech Grove will need to form a task force or a committee of volunteers (likely current board members or city workers) to move the effort forward and as-sist homeowners in the purchase and installation of these solar panels. In addi-tion, a city wide mandate could be made requiring businesses to use solar panels to power at least 25% of their energy needs. Depending on the financial status of the company, the city should budget a portion of funds to assist businesses until this effort is established. Again, each company is different and therefore those with smaller incomes will be given a longer amount of time to implement this new requirement (up to three years for companies with the smallest incomes). </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>7 </p><p>A local company that sells solar panels needs to be contacted and consulted for their opinion on the best type of solar panels for businesses and/or residents so that they may ship and install the panels. Evergreen Solar is one such company. Another option for funding and publicity is to contact Habitat for Humanity of Indianapolis and propose they build a greenhouse similar to the one in Michi-gan mentioned above in this section. They would also be able to provide in-sight into the best companies from which to purchase the solar panels. Compa-nies such as the Western Indiana Sustainable Energy Resource or WISER (Bergstrom) Indiana are also great resources because they exist to implement and promote sustainable energy in Indiana. The figure below outlines how a solar panel functions (Wyse). </p><p>Figure 3Energy production by a solar panel </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>8 </p><p>2.) Small Wind Farm </p><p>Proposal </p><p>Indiana has recently seen some changes across its landscape, including the addi-tion of several solar panels by many different companies. The companies are too many to name, but a large concentration of these wind farms exist in Benton County in Indiana. Specifically, I have done extensive research on the joint effort between Indiana Power and Light (IPL) and enXco, a renewable energy company that uses wind power, solar, and biomass energy (enXco). Collectively, they creat-ed the Hoosier Wind Farm in Fowler Indiana that became functional in 2009 (enXco). Refer to the photo below. I chose to include a background of this pro-ject for this report since the wind farm developed here will need to be similarly small due to the restricted amount of land available at the broken down Amtrak railroad yard. The railroad yard is a perfect site since trains have not run out of the facility for years and has largely become a railroad graveyard for broken down cars. </p><p> Figure 4 Wind turbine in Fowler, Indiana </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>9 </p><p>Plan </p><p>Our model for development of this wind farm will require land surveying, analy-sis, construction, and a means to push this energy into the power grid to power our city. The Amtrak facility will provide approximately 108 acres of land for wind farm development (Guenzler). We will use enXco and IPLs Hoosier Wind Farm as a model for our own project. Each of our 53 wind turbines can generate over 2500 kilowatts of power at any given time (Layton). Here is the develop-ment model from enXco: Note: These stages were taken directly from the web-site (Project Development). </p><p>enXco's experienced team of personnel can perform all phases of project development - taking a wind energy pro-</p><p>ject from a "good idea" to a fully functioning facility. </p><p>enXco engages in a rigorous process to identify and evaluate the potential of prospec-</p><p>tive sites; taking into account transmission, interconnection, permitting, and environmental concerns. We continue </p><p>to actively search out viable and profitable energy sites throughout North America. </p><p>Once a site is identified, enXco's dedicated and experienced Development </p><p>Team begins a thorough site-evaluation protocol. Our Resource Assessment Group performs quality control tests </p><p>of meteorological data, analyzes the resource of the site, and completes a preliminary design of the equipment </p><p>layout. Preliminary assessments of energy potential are carried out internally. At the same time, land is acquired, </p><p>and environmental and technical studies are performed. </p><p>enXco's Project Finance Group provides an indispensable element to our renewa-</p><p>ble energy portfolio by structuring and securing project construction and long-term financing, closing over one bil-</p><p>lion dollars in financing by utilizing innovative approaches. During this phase, Power Marketing is completed either </p><p>through a Power Purchase Agreement with a utility, or the sale of the project in its entirety through a turnkey con-</p><p>tract. </p><p>enXco's Technical Services Team is involved in the design and construction of </p><p>each renewable energy project. Because every project is unique, the Technical Services Team utilizes its exten-</p><p>sive experience to optimize everything from equipment selection to site layout. Strict management of engineering, </p><p>procurement, and construction ensures projects are completed on time and on budget. </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>10 </p><p>The final result of the efforts of the Project Development and Construction teams is an asset (the energy project) capable of </p><p>producing a revenue stream for periods of 20 to 30 years. The Owners of the asset rely on those revenues to provide the re-</p><p>turn on their investment, and enXco Asset Management assures that the financial goals of the project are met. </p><p>Asset Management services include the financial management, business reporting, and forecasting of a project's perfor-</p><p>mance. Additional services are focused on record management to stay current with federal, state, and local requirements and </p><p>ensure ongoing compliance. </p><p>A company such as enXco would be great to work with because they have experi-ence with building and maintaining small wind farms. </p><p>Conclusions </p><p>In conclusion, the proposals and plans presented within this report are to be con-ducted under the authority of the city. This is an effort that will have effects reaching far beyond our current city council members and residents. All of these proposals will provide sustainability for the future of Beech Grove by providing not only reliable sources of energy but reliable sources of jobs for future inhabit-ants of the city. This project has been an eye-opening experience for me not only in terms of learning about sustainable energy, but challenges associated with communicating with various companies on a tight deadline. Strict testing and quality assurance measures must be undertaken according to a protocol that was likely developed even before the physical site development began, adding anoth-er complicating factor. This will be an ongoing effort for decades and centuries to come. From what I have learned, sustainable energy is a field with challenges be-yond finding what forms of energy to use, but rather challenges of going from a concept to real, tangible product such as a wind turbine. </p></li><li><p>A Sustainable Beech Grove </p><p>11 </p><p>Works Cited </p><p>1. Allison Weilbaker. Landfill Methane to Power. Technical Writing Online. Purdue University 2011....</p></li></ul>