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Chambers of Commerce Falsely Promote Windpower (might be repeated in your local)

“Businesses that are planning to provide equipment or services to the wind industry especially need objective information about wind energy.… Participating in industries that are dependent on federal tax breaks and subsidies can be dangerous, particularly at a time of massive federal deficits and a national debt of about $17 trillion.”

A highly misleading article, “Winds of change blow across Ohio,” by the CEO of the Van Wert (OH) Area Chamber of Commerce, Susan Munroe, was published by the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette on October 7, 2013. Such reflects a new battlefront in the politics of wind with local chambers of commerce arguing for wind projects in their areas.

Ms. Munroe claims that the 304 Megawatt (MW) Blue Creek Wind Farm, built in Northwestern Ohio by a subsidiary of Spain-based Iberdrola, provides substantial energy and economic benefits.

However, her claims appear to be based heavily on information from Iberdrola, not on an objective analysis of facts about wind energy. Those facts call into question key points made in the article. For example, Ms. Munroe appears not know that:

  • ·Electricity from wind is very high in true cost and low in true value. [1]
  • · The principal reasons that companies such as Iberdrola build “wind farms” (including Blue Creek) are generous government tax breaks and subsidies provided to “wind farm” owners.
  • · The cost of government financial subsidies for wind energy are borne by taxpayers, including Ohio taxpayers, and are in addition to the cost of electricity from wind that shows up in electric bills.
  • · Her favorable appraisal of wind energy ignores the adverse environmental, [2] economic, electric system reliability, scenic and property value impacts of “wind farms.” These adverse impacts have been demonstrated in the U.S. and other countries where “wind farms” have been built.

Ms. Munroe’s article cites $5 million in lease payments and local tax payments by the “wind farm” owner, Iberdrola, as having a favorable economic impact but she seems not to recognize that these payments pale in comparison to:

  • The $172,688,076 grant from the U.S. Treasury Department awarded to Iberdrola on August 20, 2012, accounting for nearly 30% of the capital cost of the Blue Creek Wind Farm. The cost of that grant money is borne by taxpayers, including taxpayers in Ohio.
  • The higher costs of electricity that will be paid by Ohio’s electric customers due to the state’s “renewable portfolio standard” that requires that an increasing share of electricity sold in the state must be produced by using “renewable” energy sources such as Iberdrola’s “wind farm.”

Ms. Munroe’s speaks of the “private investment” of $600 million in the Blue Creek Wind Farm, apparently without recognizing that:

1. Nearly $173 million of that money came from the US Treasury grant mentioned above, or

2. That very little of the $600 million represents economic value added to the local or state economy. Except for the temporary construction jobs, a few permanent jobs, and some local purchases, most of the $600 million was spent elsewhere – i.e., in other states or countries — for the turbines, turbine components, blades, towers and electrical equipment used in the project.

Ms. Munroe correctly states that “businesses everywhere are deeply concerned about the cost and security of energy” and but, as noted above, she apparently is unaware of the high true cost of electricity from wind and the fact that electricity from wind turbines is low in real value because it is available only intermittently, volatile and highly unreliable. Wind turbines produce electricity only when wind speeds are in the “right” range. [3]

Other generating units, powered by conventional energy sources (such as natural gas, coal, oil, hydropower, nuclear energy and, perhaps, biomass) must always be immediately available to compensate for the intermittent, volatile output from wind turbines. This necessity adds to the true cost of using wind energy and the unreliability of output from wind turbines adds to the burden on grid managers in keeping electric grids in balance (supply and demand, voltage, frequency).

Electricity from wind turbines is low in value because it can’t be counted on to be available when needed and it is most likely to be produced at times when it is least needed. Wind turbines tend to produce most of their electricity at night in cold and shoulder months, not on hot weekday afternoons in July and August when demand for electricity is highest.

Furthermore, the electricity from wind tends to be low in value because the output can’t be counted upon to be available at the time of peak demand, unlike reliable (“dispatchable”) generating units that can be called upon to produce whenever needed.

Undoubtedly, Ms. Munroe is correct in asserting that members of her local Chamber of Commerce are interested in reducing monthly utility bills. Business owners and their association leaders need accurate information about energy, both to understand the costs that businesses will bear and the impact of government requirements on energy reliability and costs.

Businesses that are planning to provide equipment or services to the wind industry especially need objective information about wind energy. In fact, there is very little evidence to suggest that electricity from wind will ever be commercially viable; i.e., be able to compete with other energy sources without government tax breaks and subsidies.

Participating in industries that are dependent on federal tax breaks and subsidies can be dangerous, particularly at a time of massive federal deficits and a national debt of about $17 trillion.

NOTE on Iberdrola.  Spain-based Iberdrola is a substantial recipient of US government tax breaks and subsidies.  Iberdrola’s February 24, 2011, press release announcing 2010 earnings (“highest ever”) included the following: “The Group has benefited from more than $1 billion in U.S. government incentives for wind power, the largest obtained to date by any renewables company.”  Press releases on 2011 and 2012 earnings do not state the amount of Iberdrola’s US wind tax breaks and subsidies but the company continues to receive them for each of its U.S. “wind farms” either as Production Tax Credits ($0.023 per kWh of electricity produced, a 10% Investment Tax Credit, or a U.S. Treasury cash grant such as that shown above for Blue Creek.  Iberdrola is also eligible for 5-year depreciation deductions.

 —————–

[1] The high cost and low value of electricity from wind is explained here.

[2] Adverse impacts of “wind farms” often ignored by wind energy advocates include noise, turbine blade shadow flicker, killing of birds and bats, interference of migration patterns, destruction of natural resources and animal habitat during construction, destroying property values and quality of life for those living near wind turbines.

[3] Wind turbines start producing when wind speeds reach approximately 6 MPH, reach rated capacity around 32 MPH and cut out around 55 MPH.

6 comments

1 Tom Stacy { 10.15.13 at 1:35 pm }

Thank you for this honest appraisal of Ms. Munroe’s LTE. I will circulate it to area chambers of commerce as well as to area newspapers where Ms. Munroe’s LTE has appeared. I hope others will do the same. It is important that business advocacy groups and everyone else seek to understand the facts before aligning themselves with technologies and industries who incessantly bend the truth and mislead the public and elected officials about their benefits in order to access taxpayer dollars. Such behavior by industry trade groups such as AWEA and wind developers such as Iberdrola would seem to me to constitute fraud.

2 Mary Kay Barton { 10.15.13 at 2:51 pm }

Susan Monroe of the Van Wert, Ohio Chamber of Commerce has proven that she does not understand basic math involved with positive economic outcomes. Her decision to support the incredibly bad economics, environmental degradation, and complete and utter civil discord associated with the installation of unreliable, inefficient, sprawling industrial wind factories is reason enough that she should be immediately removed from her from her position with the Chamber of Commerce.

I wonder of Ms. Monroe would buy and move her family into a home surrounded by 450-foot-tall industrial towers, with their 7-ton bird-chopping blades spinning overhead, only hundreds of feet from her home??? Would she be willing to put her money where her mouth is, and sacrifice her quality of life and property value for her beloved wind energy? I’m betting not.

3 Miner49er { 10.15.13 at 3:20 pm }

This is yet another example of mindless boosterism by the sinecures who run many local chambers of commerce. The local chamber head is usually a temporarily disenfranchised (but politically connected) local politician or government worker. His/her job is to cheerlead for other politically-connected rent seekers.

Its a textbook example of how to promote a Ponzi scheme. In a short time, they’ll be crying in their beer and trying to figure out how to get rid of derelict windmills, like the city fathers of Falmouth MA. While freezing in the dark.

It is not smart to bet on outcomes. Which is further proof of the shortsightedness of local pols who bet on these harebrained schemes. Because they’re betting their careers.

4 Stan Needham { 10.18.13 at 7:10 am }

I had occasion to drive past the wind farm just north of U.S. 30 near Van Wert, OH, twice on Friday, October 11th, on the way to and from a business trip to central Ohio. Both times, about 3 hours apart, approximately 25% of the turbines were not turning at all, and an additional 25% were turning so slowly (1 revolution every 30 seconds or so) that they could have been producing very little, if any electricity.

5 Tom Stacy { 10.21.13 at 1:26 pm }

This post is timely, as deliberations are occuring weekly in the Ohio Senate Public utilities Committee on substitute Senate Bill 58, which would eliminate the in-state requirement for renewables in the state’s mandate, include Canadian hydro from Ontario and Quebec as a qualifying renewable resource, and make it easier for large energy consumers to opt out of the energy efficiency portions of the mandate. Stay tuned or visit the committee web site for more information on this potentially groundbreaking legislation. http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/public-utilities

6 Joy Mohr { 10.24.13 at 11:15 am }

To: “Miner49er”, how interesting you mention ‘Ponzi scheme’… From the get-go, I’ve realized that this ‘wind farm’ money (monkey) business is exactly that = a huge Ponzi scheme!

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