Category — Windpower: History and Issues
“From Ireland to New Zealand and Massachusetts to Wisconsin, there is growing outrage among rural and semi-rural homeowners about the encroachment of massive wind projects. The European Platform Against Windfarms now lists some 600 signatory organizations from 24 countries. In the U.K. — where fights are raging against industrial wind projects in Wales, Scotland, and elsewhere — some 300 anti-wind groups have been formed. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., about 150 anti-wind groups are active.”
- Robert Bryce, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong (Public Affairs, 2014)
The World Council for Nature (WCFN) was founded September 20, 2011, to defend Nature against aggression–and perhaps none more egregious than the dilute energy sprawl of wind turbines enabled by government-qua-man. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” John Muir once said.
And what would Muir think of his Sierra Club today, pitting Washington, DC-alligator-shoed environmentalists against the grassroots who encounter the crony wind turbine industry in the wilds? WCFN recently was informed that Danish taxpayers’ money is being spent to the tune of €2,665,688 ($480,000) to spy on associations and citizens’ groups of windfarm victims (present or potential). The name of the program is “Wind2050 – Multidisciplinary study on local acceptance and development of wind power projects.” [Read more →]
March 4, 2014 No Comments
“The future belongs to the efficient. The future belongs to the best, not the bottom feeders of ‘all of the above’. Let consumers decide, and keep taxpayers out of it.”
“Parents, would you favor your son or daughter dating ‘all of the above’?” This is the question I pose in my talks to the argument for wind power proffered by the renewable-energy advocates and the Obama Administration.
More recently, I have come up with a simple word slide to delve a little more deeply into the AOTA argument for a major presentation I have coming up. First, some background.
University of Houston Debate
I am preparing for a debate next Tuesday night at the University of Houston considering the topic:
Renewable Energy: Need for Government Support?” 2013/2014 Energy Symposium Series, Critical Issues in Energy, University of Houston (Houston, Texas). Sponsored by UH Energy and the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 
I will have two opponents. Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) supports extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and has a long history of voting for special government favors for (qualifying) renewable energy. Rep. Green also supported the failed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill). [Read more →]
February 28, 2014 1 Comment
“We have a long way to go before Chairman Camp’s tax reform bill is final and, no doubt, the debate over tax-extenders will be rigorous. But this is a rare opportunity for American taxpayers to once and for all eliminate the near-permanent temporary tax credits.”
Members of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) descended on Capitol Hill this week for a two-day member-only marathon to educate Congress on why the wind production tax credit (PTC) needs to remain a priority for American taxpayers. The PTC expired at the end of 2013.
Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens’ wind power business in the Americas and a member of AWEA’s Board, touted his expectation of receiving a positive response from D.C. lawmakers. ‘We’re going to ask for as long an extension [of the PTC] as we can get to bridge the gap until we get a comprehensive energy policy,” he said.
But by the end of the day yesterday, the future of the PTC dimmed.
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-anticipated proposal to reform the U.S. tax code which offered no consideration for reinstating the PTC. But that’s not all. According to the bill, the uncapped, 20+-year tax credit, which currently stands at 2.3¢/kWh, would no longer be adjusted annually for inflation which means that projects now receiving the PTC would see their subsidy reset back to 1.5¢/kWh. [Read more →]
February 27, 2014 1 Comment
Wind Turbine Bird Killings, Disinformation Continue in California (Golden eagles, bald eagles, and more)
“The grim reality is that fewer than 500 golden eagles remain in California. When will authorities wake up to windpower?”
The golden eagle is a vital species in rapid decline, and most of this demise has been relatively recent. Although it has never been publically acknowledged, the primary reason has been the development of wind energy in the middle of the eagle’s foraging habitats.
Ironically, during this golden eagle population crash, bald eagle populations have increased dramatically because, up to now, their habitats have been spared the ravages of wind development. This too will soon change, however, as wind energy installations are built in their wetland habitats across America.
Proper studies would easily document and explain the decline of golden eagles. But the studies are not being conducted – deliberately, so as to hide and obfuscate what is happening. The clear history of eagle nesting failures and habitat abandonments near wind projects has been hidden from public view, as wind projects have expanded across California and our western states.
Among the undisclosed impacts are those that occur when adult eagles are killed by a turbine during the egg and downy stages of a nesting cycle. During this critical 8-9 week period, there is a 100% probability of a complete nest failure if one adult eagle is lost. A single parent cannot possibly hunt, incubate eggs, and protect its young from the elements.
This history of golden eagle nesting failures near California wind turbines is never clearly stated, but the evidence is there for anyone who wishes to observe or read about it. Some of this impact is revealed in the last environmental impact documents submitted to support expanding the Shiloh wind project in California’s Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area, although those documents also suggest that a turbine-related nesting failure recently occurred in this area.
Bald Eagles at Risk
The same fate is coming to our bald eagles. This great bird’s population has been expanding in the wetland habitats of California, and the Sacramento River delta provides good foraging and nesting opportunities for them. Adult bald eagles have been seen near the Montezuma Hills WRA turbines, and a possible (never verified) bald eagle nest site was reported nearby on Grizzly Island. [Read more →]
February 26, 2014 No Comments
“The level of emissions savings provided by wind plants has never been conclusively determined, taking into account all the factors.”
Part I yesterday questioned the analysis and robustness of Joseph Cullen’s study, “Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Wind-Generated Electricity”.  Part II completes the commentary on this paper, covering:
- Questionable data, which seriously inhibits any analysis of wind performance
- Interstate trade in electricity, an often overlooked, but important, consideration in understanding impacts on emissions
- A summary of the acknowledged shortcomings of this paper
- Questionable opinions/claims made
The level of emissions savings provided by wind plants has never been conclusively determined, taking into account all the factors. Further, there is no published accurate, minute-by-minute, actual fuel consumption or emissions by individual plant, especially for systems with notable levels of wind present. Note the limitations in the Katzenstein and Apt paper looked to by Cullen for corroboration as discussed in Part I.
In general, government reported emissions are estimates based on calculations using assumptions and relatively simple algorithms. In some cases, actual measurements are taken but are no better than those calculated as reported by the International Energy Agency (see page 35).
“Commercial instrumentation is available for monitoring CO2 concentration and flue gas volume flows. Given the limitations of such instrumentation, the accuracy of directly measured CO2 release is probably no better than that derived by indirect calculation.” (emphasis added)
A report by The Sustainable Energy Authority in Ireland, “Renewable Energy in Ireland”, in Appendix 1 also refreshingly recognizes the limitations to existing reporting methods.
“The assumption underpinning this approach is that the renewable plant is displacing the last plants to be dispatched to meet electricity demand, i.e. the marginal oil and gas plants. There are clear limitations in this analysis but it does provide useful indicative results.” (emphasis added for “indicative”, which is taken to mean “suggestive”)
“The limitations and caveats associated with this methodology include that it ignores any plant used to meet the associated reserve requirements of renewables. These open cycle plants will typically have lower efficiency and generate increased CO2 and NOx emissions compared with CCGT and these emissions should be incorporated into the analysis. The purpose of presenting a simplified analysis here is to provide initial insights into the amount of fossil fuels that are displaced by renewables and the amount of emissions thereby avoided.” (emphasis added)
The issue raised in the last quote speaks to the comments made in the Robustness section in Part I. [Read more →]
February 14, 2014 7 Comments
“The nature of the short-term operation of an electricity system is more like that of a machine than a market.”
A paper published by Joseph Cullen in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (November 2013), “Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Wind-Generated Electricity”  is important in two regards. First, using Texas data, it shows that even with notable emissions savings attributed to wind, the highly subsidized cost of wind is exceeded only by high estimates of the social costs of pollution.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly, his paper provides an opportunity to illustrate where wind-performance analyses fall short. This is the subject of this two-part post today and tomorrow, and is independent of the issue of carbon dioxide social benefits versus social costs.
Professor Cullen first determines how much electricity production of other generator types is offset by the presence of wind plants in the grid using a reduced form econometric model based on “…observed behavior and current market conditions.” The time frames for production are 15 minute intervals and two hour ahead forecasting by market participants. The market-oriented approach is exemplified by the following quote:
“When low marginal cost wind-generated electricity enters the grid, higher marginal cost fossil fuel generators will reduce their output.” (emphasis added) [Read more →]
February 13, 2014 5 Comments
[Editor note: This is the final excerpt of a January 15 letter by Mr. Schleede to the Senate Finance Committee concerning the Baucus tax-reform proposal (December 18, 2013). Part I reprinted the executive summary and conclusions; Part II the high cost/low value of windpower. Part III the negative environmental effects of continued subsidization of windpower, including the “cleanliness” standard of the Baucus proposal.]
“Tax breaks and subsidies for wind transfer wealth from ordinary taxpayers and electric customers to “wind farm” owners, electric customers in some states, and the voluntary purchasers of high cost electricity from wind.”
During the past 20 years, a variety of tax breaks and special subsidies for the wind industry have had massive wealth transfer impacts. The proposed production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) would extend such impact for years into the future. The Committee apparently has ignored the negative impacts of these transfers.
Three examples illustrate the depth of the wealth-transfer problem.
1. Wealth transfer from ordinary taxpayers to “wind farm” owners
Wealth is transferred from the pockets of ordinary taxpayers (and/or their children and grandchildren who inherit the national debt) to the pockets of “wind farm” owners.
This occurs because the PTC or ITC permit “Wind farm” owners to escape tax burden, with the result that ordinary taxpayers who do not enjoy such tax shelters must pick up the burden. During times of deficit spending, tax liability escaped by “wind farm” owners adds to amounts that must be borrowed to cover the deficit and, therefore adds to the huge and growing national debt burden that will fall on our children and grandchildren. [Read more →]
January 22, 2014 2 Comments
[Editor note: This is the third except of a January 15 letter to the Senate Finance Committee concerning the Baucus tax-reform proposal of December 18, 2013. Part I reprinted the executive summary and conclusions; Part II the high cost/low value of windpower; and Part IV will review the negative environmental effects of continued subsidization of windpower, including the “cleanliness” standard of the Baucus proposal.]
For more than a decade, the wind industry and its advocates have created a false impression among many in the public, media, and government that electricity from wind is “clean” and can be provided without adverse environmental and ecological impacts.
As demonstrated earlier, the production of electricity from wind actually results in emission of air pollutants because electric grid managers are forced by the availability of electricity from wind to keep other, generally fossil-fueled, generating units immediately available to compensate for the unreliability, intermittence, and volatility of the output from wind turbines.
But that is not the only adverse environmental, ecological, scenic, and property value impact resulting from “wind farms.” Others include: [Read more →]
January 21, 2014 No Comments
[Editor note: This is the second of a four-part series reprinting the January 15th letter of Mr. Schleede to the Senate Finance Committee concerning the Baucus tax-reform proposal dated December 18, 2013. Part I yesterday reprinted the executive summary and conclusions; Parts III and Part IV next week will cover the environmental wealth effect issues of current public policies favoring wind power.]
The Senate Finance Committee has ignored adverse economic impacts of the massive tax breaks and subsidies that have been provided to owners of wind turbines and “wind farms” and, in effect, has proposed continuation of large tax breaks for these owners – all at the expense of ordinary taxpayers and electric customers.
The economic impacts of the proposed tax breaks on electric customers is not even mentioned in the rationale for the Committee’s new tax break scheme – unfortunately, another indication of the wide gulf between thinking and actions of members of Congress and the interests of ordinary people outside Washington who are burdened by costly Congressional actions.
High electricity bills, one of the impacts of wind energy subsidies, are directly harmful to consumers with limited income, and they drain money and jobs from local economies. Apart from the direct adverse impact on consumers and local economies, the economics of wind energy are decidedly negative because electricity from wind is high in true cost and low in true value.
High True Cost of Electricity from Wind
On the cost side, wind energy advocates have emphasized the fact that the energy source or “fuel” for wind turbine is free. They have played down or ignored the facts about the full, true monetary cost of wind energy, which must take into account all of the following: [Read more →]
January 17, 2014 2 Comments
“Clearly, the wind industry would be a huge beneficiary of [this] proposed tax break scheme…. Almost certainly, lobbyists for the wind industry were heavily involved in the drafting of the Committee’s proposal…. It’s time for the Congress to consider the national interest, including the interests of citizens, taxpayers, and electric customers, before again extending tax breaks for the wind industry.”
MEMORANDUM FOR: Chairman and Members the Senate Finance Committee
SUBJECT: Energy Tax Break Proposal announced on December 18, 2013,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the December 18, 2013, Staff Discussion Draft of the Senate Finance Committee’s Energy Tax Reform proposal.
Your proposal to repeal all existing renewable energy tax breaks is a good one and it should proceed. Your proposal to adopt a new renewable energy tax break scheme should be scrapped.
This memorandum provides comments on the portion of the proposal dealing with energy used to generate electricity covered on pages 3 and 4 of the above cited document.
The Committee’s proposal that would base the availability and size of the proposed tax break for energy used in producing electricity on “cleanliness” (specifically, “greenhouse gas emissions”) measured at a “generating facility” is faulty in three important respects; specifically: [Read more →]
January 16, 2014 2 Comments