Category — Windpower: History and Issues
How could it? With only voluntary regulations, no accountability, and the industry hiding most of their mortality with rigged studies, these permits are nothing more than a rubber stamp from the Interior Department.
A few months back the Duke Energy case received a lot of national media attention for their killing of eagles. But despite what is being published, the Duke Energy case does not demonstrate that the FWS permit process works. If it was working, nearly every wind project in the country would be in legal trouble.
I read the impacts statements used in the approval process. They fraudulently claimed or estimated that eagle mortality from the turbines would be low. These impact statements were backed up with other bogus wind industry studies that hid most of the turbine mortality that took place.
If the permit process did work, the Duke energy wind farms would have been torn down due to the fraudulent documents used in the permitting process. Sure they paid a fine, but the FWS is still allowing Duke Energy to kill eagles with their turbines and the numbers killed will not be known. In addition the shills that put together all the fraudulent documents have never singled out for their part in any of this.
The current FWS permit process also allows other wind farms in the region of the Duke Energy turbines to kill even more eagles. [Read more →]
July 18, 2014 5 Comments
“Shiloh IV was handed a permit because they know agents like Lucinda Schroder and Sam Jojola are not around to hold them accountable for their lies and their slaughter. Actually, if agents now working for the FWS were not being handcuffed by Washington, wind farm companies would never even consider asking for an eagle kill permit. We would also have far more eagles, whooping cranes, and other rare species.”
The Shiloh IV Wind Project, a 3,500-acre wind farm near Rio Vista, California has received the first-ever permit that would allow for the deaths of five golden or bald eagles over a five-year period without the wind farm’s operators being penalized. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has conservatively estimated the impact of up to five eagles.
Shiloh IV is only part of a larger wind resource area. It’s expected that eagles will be killed in these other sections. In fact every time a Shiloh turbine kills an eagle the company will have every opportunity to haul the carcass off to another section of this wind resource area so they can stay within their five eagles/five-year permit. Or worse yet not even report it like most of the wind farms do in Texas.
This permit is completely unenforceable, and it’s highly inconceivable that the company will purposely expose itself to federal prosecution if its turbines kill more than five eagles within a five-year period. Considering the massive potential for bird fatalities that turbines present, it’s ludicrous to think that the impact will be limited to five eagles in five years. Common sense dictates that the threat to eagles and birds is much greater.
In the past some wind power projects has been required to monitor and report mortality, but it’s well known that their reports have been highly manipulated to show few fatalities. There has never been and still will not be any wind industry accountability for the true slaughter that has occurred for decades. [Read more →]
July 17, 2014 1 Comment
“It has been well known that Shiloh’s wind turbines have slaughtered protected birds species for years. These fatalities have gone largely undocumented due to the wind industry’s practices of rigging their reports and handing them to the unquestioning USFWS.… [Now] comments submitted by two USFWS retired special agents who spent their careers protecting migratory birds and making cases against other energy companies … [have] a lot to say about the Shiloh five-year eagle killing permit.”
The Shiloh IV Wind Project, located in the Montezuma foothills in California, has received an unprecedented permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing it to kill eagles, hawks, peregrine falcons, owls and songs birds while not being subjected to the normal prohibitions afforded under the federal conservation laws. This company now gets a free pass from federal prosecution under the Bald and Eagle and Protection Act and the Migratory Treaty Act.
No other energy company has the liberty to kill birds so indiscriminately while remaining above the law!
The mitigation for this eagle-kill permit was the fixing of a few power poles by the PG&E. Yet PG&E has already been retrofitting poles in this area consistent with its Avian Protection Plan, and if the retrofitting of more power poles was needed the FWS cold have enforced this just as they have for 35 years with other utility companies. Now the FWS and EPA are accepting fraudulent data to trade the slaughter of eagles as if they were carbon credits. It is truly disgraceful.
This permit will allow for the deaths of five golden or bald eagles over a five-year period without the wind farm’s operators being penalized. Everyone has to understand that Shiloh IV is only part of this large wind resource area. All the other sections in this WIND resource area will also be killing eagles and other highly protected species.
July 16, 2014 1 Comment
“After years of debate there is still disagreement and uncertainty regarding appropriate safety setback distances. This uncertainty has benefited the wind industry. Thousands of turbines are erected throughout the U.S. that are dangerously close to where people live.”
Last month, Ohio infuriated wind proponents by passing Senate bill 310, a bill that delays the state’s renewable electricity standard for two years and eliminates the requirement that half of the renewables mandate be met with in-state resources.
Within days of SB310 passing, Ohio Governor John Kasich approved a change to the safety setback distances for wind turbines. Under the new law, setbacks will now be measured at the property line of the nearest adjacent property as opposed to the wall of a nearby home. In practice, this will require minimum distances of at least 1,300 feet from property lines to each turbine base.
Wind developers and Ohio’s media cried foul over due process claiming the legislature gave no warning of the setback rule change or opportunity for testimony. They insisted the provision was ‘anti-wind’ driven by coal and oil interests intent on destroying the economics of large-scale wind and called on the governor to veto the change.
Industry Setback Recommendations
For decades, the wind industry has advanced the notion that these massive spinning structures can safely be erected a few hundred feet from where people live and gather.
The industry’s preferred setback has been 1.1x to 1.5x the height of the tower (including the blade) which was derived from the fall-zone of the tower. We saw variations on this over the years beginning in California, that measured as much as 3-4x the total tower height. In general, there was no consideration in the setback distances for noise nor did the 1.1 to 1.5x setback adequately address ice/blade throw. [Read more →]
July 1, 2014 3 Comments
“Gov. Kasich has walked away from his commitment to renewable energy. He and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio. Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”
- Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association, AWEA Press Release, June 16, 2014.
Is that a threat, Mr. Kiernan? Because states neighboring Ohio should indeed bristle at your words. Perhaps some legislatures will even muster the bravery to follow suit and protect their citizens with wind turbine setback distances measured from property lines – the way most other safety related zoning measurements are.
Kiernan’s whine makes it sound that it is AWEA’s land that it is being made off-limits to wind development. Neither is the case.
Furthermore, the new Ohio standard is not the first of its kind, and certainly not the most restrictive. For instance, in Clifton, Maine wind turbine project developers by law must negotiate an easement with all landowners whose property line is within 4,000 ft. of a wind energy generator.
“If Gov. Kasich is serious about this being a freeze and study, and not about defeating renewable energy, and if he wants us to believe what he says, then he simply must veto the setback,” [AWEA’s Ohio lobbyist, Dayna Baird] Payne said. “It would really be the end of the line for the industry… [a death knell].”
Whine, whine, whine on the taxpayer’s dime…. [Read more →]
June 19, 2014 No Comments
“Politicians, and wind industry shills who … deny the risks to health, are now liable to be successfully sued by wind farm victims. And so are governments, as they still refuse to measure infrasound emitted by modern wind turbines.”
In Denmark last month, 1,600 animals were born prematurely at a mink farm. Many had deformities, and most were dead on arrival. The lack of eyeballs was the most common malformation. Veterinarians ruled out food and viruses as possible causes. The only thing different at the farm since last year has been the installation of four large wind turbines only 328 meters away.
The wind farm consists of four 3 MW turbines, VESTAS model V112, reaching out to 140 meters in height at the tip of the blades. When they became operative last fall, a first mishap was reported by the mink farmer at a parliamentary committee on wind farms in January this year. 
June 13, 2014 3 Comments
“The U.S. wind industry has … demonstrated reliability and performance levels that make them very competitive.”
- Statement of Michael L.S. Bergey, American Wind Energy Association, 1986.
“The wind PTC was initially passed in 1992 as a temporary incentive to help a then fledgling industry – with the expectation that wind energy would be environmentally benign and would become commercially viable. However, after nearly 40 years of subsidies for wind energy R&D and 20 years of lucrative wind energy tax breaks — together totaling over $100 billion.”
- Glenn Schleede, “Republicans for Obama Energy (Senate Finance Committee Okays PTC/ITC Subsidies),” April 16, 2014.
Concentrated benefits/diffused costs. The cronies, rent-seeking profits calculated, lobby government in the capitals. Most of the rest of us, just paying a fraction of a penny for their many dollars, stay home. That’s how government grows and bad public-policy rationales get going.
Wind power and other qualifying renewables got their government largesse long ago. Even before the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) was promising coming competitiveness with just a bit more subsidy, a little more time. Then the taxpayer favor could go away, they promised time and again.
The open-ended, outsized tax subsidy for qualifying renewable energy, a mainstay of Obama energy policy, is a Republican, not only Democrat, problem. Texas, for example, thanks to Enron in a bootlegger-and-Baptist coalition with pro-wind environmentalists, is a Republican friendly state for AWEA et al. Note the support for wind from, for example, Sen. John Cornyn.
New Coalition Letter
Earlier this week, a coalition letter (reprinted below) urged Congress not to renew the wind PTC in these words: [Read more →]
June 11, 2014 No Comments
“At the risk of sounding harsh, these gestures [by the American Bird Conservancy et al.] seem little more than the war’s defeated negotiating terms of surrender when, in reality, the industrial wind profiteers should be made to justify their existence. With tens of thousands of turbines placed in the U.S. and easily hundreds of thousands more to be placed until the business falls under its own weight, the onus is on industrial wind to prove its worth.”
Under the banner of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), approximately seventy organizations have requested that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “develop a Programmatic Wind Environmental Impact Statement to identify appropriate areas for wind energy development as well as areas where new projects should be avoided to conserve wildlife and sensitive habitats.”
The letter refers to studies which “have documented significant losses of birds and bats, including threatened, endangered and other protected species (an estimated 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats annually at 2012 build-out levels). The number of birds taken annually by wind energy facilities could exceed 1.4 million by 2030 if there is no change in U.S. policy towards wind energy development.”
“Siting Is Everything”
The signatory groups “are supportive of renewable energy as a way to address anthropogenic climate change, but only if it addresses wildlife and habitat impacts. In particular, this means appropriate pre-construction assessments of risk leading to proper siting, post-construction mitigation and independent monitoring of fatalities, and compensation if and when public trust resources are being taken.”
The letter states that, “when it comes to wind energy, siting is everything.” The groups “believe that much of this conflict could be averted by a National Wind Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would determine where wind energy should be developed and where it should not.”
My Letter to ABC
This letter is being distributed widely. My copy arrived via the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, “an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.”
I elected to respond to several members of that organization with these comments: [Read more →]
May 8, 2014 No Comments
“The April 3rd action by the Senate Finance Committee certainly helps explain why a recent Gallup Survey shows that Congress currently has a 13% favorability rating. If the nation’s ‘Millennials’ understand how the Congress is adding to the debt that they and their children will bear, they may assign an even lower rating!”
The Senate Finance Committee that manages to make life miserable for millions of tax-paying Americans with its manipulation of the U.S. Tax Code. The Committee’s latest aids its friends, punish ordinary taxpayers, and loads another $85 billion in debt on our children and grandchildren.
On April 3, 2014, by “voice” (no fingerprints) vote, the Senate Finance Committee reported out an $85 billion tax break ”extender” bill — which the Committee calls the “EXPIRE Act.”  The bill includes billions in unwarranted tax breaks for special interests, including the wind industry.
As long as Congress fails to pass a balanced budget, every dollar provided to special interests in this $85 billion “Extender” bill is a direct addition to the national debt for the future (our future) to worry about. Further, each dollar that Congress adds to the national debt will be DOUBLED in about 15 years due to interest that will accrue on that debt.
An egregious example of an unwarranted special interest tax break in the Finance Committee’s bill is Senator Grassley’s wind and other renewable energy “Production Tax Credit” (PTC) and “Investment Tax Credit” (ITC). Grassley insisted on extending this 20-year old “temporary” tax break for another 2 years at a cost, according to the Joint Tax Committee, of more than $13 billion over the next 10 years (and more thereafter).
When Senator Toomey attempted to eliminate unwarranted energy tax breaks from the bill, Republican Senators Grassley, Cornyn, Thune, Crapo, & Portman joined Finance Committee Democrats in voting to keep the massive energy tax breaks in the bill! [Read more →]
April 16, 2014 1 Comment
“Negative prices are not the goal of any healthy economy, yet the PTC fosters this behavior at the expense of other, reliable generation. Building more infrastructure to correct for this problem is exactly the wrong thing to do.”
The last extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC) , its eighth in over twenty years, expired at the end of 2013 and the industry is again clamoring for another extension. But this time, big wind is facing a more sophisticated argument advanced by critics who contend that the PTC is artificially depressing wholesale power prices, disrupting market signals and undercutting more reliable generation including Exelon’s fleet of nuclear power plants.
Wind for nuclear–and in a way that increases greenhouse gas emissions, or certainly fails to reduce it? The irony for climate policy has been noted by James Hansen who was informed that renewable-energy subsidies were intended to “kill nuclear.” Wrote Matthew Wald in the New York Times:
To stave off climate change, sources of electricity that do not emit carbon will have to replace the ones that do. But at the moment, two of those largest sources, nuclear and wind power, are trying to kill each other off.
So much for wind power’s climate-change rationale.
Last month, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released a detailed defense of wind arguing that its impact on energy prices is positive, with or without the PTC. But rather than making its case, AWEA’s rebuttal repeatedly misrepresented the rules governing competitive electricity markets and how out-of-market revenues impact energy prices. In this essay, we examine several of the assertions made by AWEA and show how they fall short.
Claim 1: Wind energy displaces the most expensive generation and decreases electricity prices. [Read more →]
April 15, 2014 2 Comments