Category — Windpower: History and Issues
Wind energy development in the United States has slumped. Despite record installations in 2012, and eking out a 1-year, $12 billion extension  of the wind production tax credit (PTC), new wind capacity last year fell to just 1,087 megawatts, a level not seen in more than a decade. Development in 2014 is showing signs of improvement but the year may not fare much better.
The industry blames Congress and the uncertainty surrounding the PTC for the slowdown, but such thinking is overly simplistic and ignores the fundamental challenges facing big wind. This slump, like others that plagued development in prior years, can be traced directly to generous government assistance, current energy prices, and the inherent limitations of wind power.
The Section 1603 cash grants enacted under ARRA fueled a wind bubble as developers raced to build and qualify their sites. By the end of 2012, the industry’s project pipeline was exhausted with just 43 MW of wind under development in two states. The surge in new capacity created a glut in RPS-qualified generation and eroded demand for wind as states met and/or exceeded their renewable mandates. The shale gas boom further hampered growth by driving down energy prices and harming wind’s economic competitiveness against cheaper, more reliable fuels. [Read more →]
September 2, 2014 No Comments
To: Ms. Bonnie Lysyk (Auditor General for Ontario) (Letter of August 11, 2014)
Dear Ms Lysyk,
Please consider this letter as an urgent formal request for a complete and impartial audit for all matters pertaining to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009, and its false assertions and negative results for Ontario: these misrepresentations include vigorous job creation, suggested cleaner air space, the ability to create energy facilities, wind and solar, in particular, in a cost savings manner, or competitive manner.
The Green Energy and Green Economy Act has suggested with not a little hyperbole, that it will “spark” growth in “renewables sources in Ontario, while creating savings, and producing 50,000 jobs, direct and indirect,” and “make a positive contribution towards climate change objectives,” whereas in fact the GEA threatens to eviscerate the economy of Ontario and Canada as a whole. The factual results of the GEA are of economic chaos, massive job losses, environmental degradation of the highest order, a decay of our treasured environmental protections in law, and yet uncounted human health and productivity costs.
Under the guise of positive net growth, and climate change objectives, this Act has been used to gouge and tyrannize the province, materially and economically. [Read more →]
August 19, 2014 9 Comments
Last month, GE’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Bornstein, complained that IRS rules defining ‘begin construction’ were still too vague and holding up delivery of 400 to 500 turbines. “We expect that clarification to come from the Treasury in the next week or two,” he said. “We’ve seen that clarification and we think it is helpful.”
And sure enough, GE got exactly what it wanted. Last week, the IRS delivered its third guidance document–and it’s troubling.
Despite eking out a one-year extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC) last year, only 836 MW of new wind was installed in the first six months of this year, the second lowest since 2008 (in 2013, a single two megawatt turbine was erected in Q1/Q2).
Yet surprisingly, with the PTC nominally expired not unlike in 2013, the industry is advertising 14,600+ MW of new wind under development, including 2,000 MWs added to the pipeline this year, after the PTC expired!
Why the slump? But more importantly, why is there new wind growth without the PTC? Enter the Treasury Department, another arm of Obama energy policy.
IRS Interpretation [Read more →]
August 11, 2014 5 Comments
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 6 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