A free-market energy blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Windpower: History and Issues

Republicans for Obama Energy (Senate Finance Committee okays PTC/ITC subsidies)

“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.” [1] 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[2] joined Finance Committee Democrats in voting to keep the massive energy tax breaks in the bill! [Read more →]

April 16, 2014   1 Comment

AWEA Spins Price Distortions to Save PTC (hit on nuclear clouds CO2 rationale)

“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) [1], 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

LEEDCo Lake Erie Wind Project: Joint Letter of Protest

“We ask that you deny any permit to LEEDCo for siting of 6-9 turbines in Lake Erie…. Sadly, it is extremely easy to refute and challenge the environmental guidance this project is putting before you. It is disappointing that this project has progressed even thus far.”

Many groups and individuals from OHIO and Canada and Europe, who care deeply about wildlife, birds, bats and habitat, have been communicating their concerns with the LEEDCo “Incubator” project proposed for 6-9 industrial wind turbines off the shores of Cleveland.

The signatories to this letter represent only a fraction of the sentiment about this proposed improper placement and immature concept of industrializing what is part of 20% of the world’s remaining fresh water reserves.

International Perspective: Ontario, Canada, has in place a precautionary PROVINCIAL offshore moratorium, and four others from Ajax, Pickering, Council of Scarborough, and the largest Conservation body in the province, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). These moratoria were the result of observations that the fresh waters of the Lakes deserve special caution and study.

To date, there is no information leading to a reversal of those decisions. The Lakes continue to be regarded both sides of the border as unique, having special problems of toxic waste filtered to the lakebed, unique patterns of wildlife and birds/bats, unique basin fragilities, unique intensive bird capital, and unique billions of dollars in birding and boating activities.

Ohio has one of the largest concentrations of birding activities in and around the Great Lakes, tens if not hundreds of millions, and as such deserves to be free of any industrialization that may confound this unique geography, habitat, and economy.

Environmental Testimony

Dr. Paul Kerlinger and Associates has been engaged to comment on any possible effect of the 6-9 incubator turbine proposal, and we are concerned that his testimony is possibly an environmental grounding point for the project. We strongly object to acceptance of any commentary on this project proposal by Dr. Kerlinger, and Associates.

Please see Dr. Paul Kerlinger’s biography here. [Read more →]

April 11, 2014   6 Comments

LEEDCo Wind Project’s Mega-Opposition (Junking Lake Erie at Taxpayers’ Expense)

[Editor note: The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) has proposed to erect between six and nine industrial wind turbines just off the shore of Cleveland. The so-called INCUBATOR project is currently before the Ohio Power Siting Board.]

“We are thrilled to have the strong support of the environmental community in Ohio,” said LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner, citing letters from the Ohio Environmental Council, Nature Conservancy, Environment Ohio, Sierra Club, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, and Earth Day Coalition.

Barely were those words spoken, when a damning letter arrived (Part 2 tomorrow) from a much broader, bigger, and sophisticated group of environmentalists and consumerists.

The letter provided brutally clear information and frank talk about one of the wind industry’s leading carnival barkers, Dr. Paul Kerlinger and Associates, whose environmental testimony is universally controversial and corrupted by industry money.

Groups who signed onto the anti-LEEDCo letter are: [Read more →]

April 10, 2014   2 Comments

“Killing Wildlife In the Name of Climate Change” (Part I: The Double Standard)

[Editor note: Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, is a leading researcher and disseminator of the problems of ‘green’ energy. His February 25, 2014, testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environmental and Public Works follows today and tomorrow.]

The focus of this hearing is on the economic benefits of ecosystems and wildlife and how they “are valuable to a wide range of industries,” including tourism. The purpose is also to examine “how the Administration is preparing to protect” ecosystems “in a changing climate.” The facts show that federally subsidized efforts that are being undertaken to, in theory, address climate change, are damaging America’s wildlife.

Furthermore, those same efforts have, for years, been allowing an entire industry to avoid federal prosecution under some of America’s oldest wildlife laws. My discussion will focus largely on the wind-energy sector, an industry that has been getting federal subsidies since 1992, and the impact that the wind-energy business is having on wildlife. [1] There are two key questions that must be addressed:

* Are all energy providers getting equal treatment under the law when it comes to wildlife protection? The answer to that question is no. * Is widespread deployment of wind turbines an effective climate-change strategy? The answer, again, is no. [Part II of Bryce post tomorrow]

Part I; Energy companies are not being treated equally when it comes to enforcement of federal wildlife laws. I have been writing about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act since the late 1980s. [2] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service brought hundreds of enforcement cases against the oil and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, for violations of those laws. And rightly so. [Read more →]

March 19, 2014   5 Comments

Curtailed Hydro from Wanapum Dam Crack: An ‘Unpredicted Change in the Wind’?

“Projections show that wind generation will increase rapidly to approximately 6,250 MW by 2013.  This vast amount of wind power interconnected to the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission grid will likely overwhelm the existing federal hydropower system’s ability to provide sufficient integration services in the future….

As the percentage of wind generation grows, the risk of having a major system event from an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases.”

Technical Analysis of Pumped Storage Integration with Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest – Final Report, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (August 2009).

The magnitude and location of the current unfolding story of a large crack in the hydro-rich Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Central Washington became known only a week after the Grant County Public Utility District declared a potential emergency.  Officials reported there is no immediate threat of a catastrophic breach in the dam but called the situation a “serious problem.”  The cause of the crack probably will not be known for some time.  The dam is still producing hydropower, but curtailed production from a water drawdown behind the dam could be felt by California electricity users.

But what did the infrastructure consultants MWH (quoted above) mean when it stated in a technical report for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in 2009 about the problematic integration of hydropower and wind energy: “the risk of having a major system event for an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases”?

According to the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the U.S.: “Spring and summer are the seasons of maximum wind power” for the Columbia River Corridor.  Spring is also when snowmelt fills the reservoirs behind dams. [Read more →]

March 17, 2014   No Comments

Wind2050: A Dystopian Society? (Vestas, et al. go Orwellian against anti-windpower grassroots)

“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

AOTA (‘All of the Above’) Energy Policy: A Political Argument for the Uneconomic, Cronyism

“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. [1]

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

Rep. Camp’s Bold Move: End of the Wind PTC (and other energy subsidies too)

“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[1], 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.

Missing Studies

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