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Category — False claims, windpower

Big Wind’s Last Gasp

Wind energy development in the United States has slumped. Despite record installations in 2012, and eking out a 1-year, $12 billion extension [1] 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.

Slowdown Reasons

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

Privileged Tax Treatment of Industrial Wind Generation: Time to End

“It makes absolutely no sense to claim that we need an ‘all of the above’ energy policy to wean us from ‘climate damaging’ fossil fuel plants by subsidizing a source of energy that can only replace a small fraction of that fossil generation but at a snail’s pace and very high price.”

My name is Kevon Martis. I am the volunteer director of the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition, Inc. We are a bipartisan non-profit based in southeast Michigan.

I speak today at the IER/AEA Wind Policy Luncheon on behalf of citizens living on the front lines of Production Tax Credit (PTC)-driven industrial wind development in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

I will get right to the point: Why do we preferentially subsidize wind energy?

1. Is it to free the U.S. from Middle Eastern oil? No. We generate only 1% of our electricity from oil. In fact, the U.S. exports more oil than it uses to produce electricity.

2. Is it because wind energy is cheaper than conventional generation? No. Since wind energy is intermittent, wind “farms” can replace neither baseload nor load following generation facilities. They can only reduce fuel consumption at those facilities. Thus unsubsidized wind energy that costs at least $100/MWh [1] in most markets to generate and integrate into the grid can only save $25-35/MWh of fossil fuel. [2] [Read more →]

December 11, 2013   2 Comments

The New Renewables Narrative: Buyer Beware

“Georgia … Texas … Arizona…. One story is an anomaly; two, a coincidence; three, a trend. When a so-called conservative Republican talks green energy and sounds like he or she is hitting the right notes, be careful. It’s probably the wrong song.”

Creating jobs…. enlarging the tax base… access to markets … energy choices for consumers…. monopoly busting … resource conservation….

The words and terms are being used by two government dependent renewable energy industries to sucker citizens and legislators to retain, if not enlarge, their taxpayer subsidies and ratepayer cross-subsidies in the current energy debate.

Make no mistake: This is an organized attempt to hoodwink  Republicans, conservatives, limited-government and free-market supporters, and even fiscally minded Democrats. Yet the means and ends of the deceivers are 180 degrees from what ordinary fiscally prudent citizens would support if they understood the gloss and what was underneath the hood.

If supporters of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, said it was heavily subsidized on both the state and federal level, had an artificial market created by government mandates, would help mitigate global warming, was the recipient of taxpayer dollars through Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill that funded projects like Solyndra, and was marred by cronyism, the right would run. [Read more →]

October 29, 2013   No Comments

Wind Performing Badly

“The claim that wind projects in the U.S. are achieving 30% average capacity factors nationally [are] … not meaningful when considering that state RPS mandates are based on local resources. For states like New York and Pennsylvania, where average capacity factors are in the low- to mid- 20% range, many more wind turbines and related infrastructure (transmission) will be needed to meet RPS mandates than originally forecasted, resulting in increased costs and impacts.

Couple this with the fact that wind production in most states is seasonal with summer months producing at half that of winter months and also concentrated during periods of low demand (night time) — much of the energy arrives as excess energy making it less useful.”

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it was revisiting the conclusions of its 2008 report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030.

The study, produced in cooperation with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other stakeholders, explored a modeled energy scenario in which wind could supply 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. DOE made clear in the report that the 20% scenario was neither a prediction nor a goal, but, for wind proponents, the study served as the foundation for ongoing advocacy.

20% wind power by 2030 became a call to action and more. Absent a national renewables standard, AWEA heralded the 20% as a de facto mandate for wind.

The industry insists it’s on track to reach 20% wind (up from 4% today), but such claims are neither realistic nor wise. Despite explosive growth in new wind installations in the last five years alone, [1] challenges to further development have become more evident and will ultimately limit wind’s expansion.

An Unpopular Wind [Read more →]

May 16, 2013   9 Comments

Wind Jobs at PTC Risk: Not 37,000 per AWEA but 2,525 (these million-dollar jobs displace real jobs, too)

“The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, for example, has estimated that the cost of a one-year PTC extension is $12.1 billion. Thus, even accepting the Report’s grossly inflated number of 37,000 wind jobs, the cost to the American taxpayers would be $12.1 billion divided by 37,000, or about $327,000 per job. [But] … the cost for a one-year PTC extension could be as much as a staggering $4,792,079 per direct up-front job added ($12.1 billion ÷ 2,525 jobs).”

An intellectual nail has been driven into the wind-industry-driven Production Tax Credit, a governmental lifeline keeping an inherently flawed industry afloat. The new study, Inflated Numbers; Erroneous Conclusions: The Navigant Wind Jobs Report, was authored by Charles J. Cicchetti, a noted economics consultant and longtime economics professor (now adjunct) at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Cicchetti is also senior advisor to Navigant Consulting, the consulting firm that released the disputed study under review.

The remainder of this post highlights parts of the study (in blue). [Read more →]

March 8, 2013   5 Comments

Wind’s Production Tax Credit: Time to End (new LSU study adds intellectual nails to crony coffin)

“The federal PTC should expire since it has morphed from an ill-designed temporary subsidy for a purportedly ‘infant industry,’ into an inequitable tax hand-out for what is clearly a well-established industry that distorts markets and allows wind to compete unfairly with both conventional generation resources and even other types of renewables.”

- David Dismukes, “Removing Big Wind’s Training Wheels: The Case for Ending the Federal Production Tax Credit,” November 2012.

The federal wind Production Tax Credit (“PTC”), first enacted in 1992[1] to “jump start” a nascent, but promising industry,[2] provides wind producers with a subsidy of $22 per megawatt hour of electricity generated.[3] The PTC has been extended seven times, [4]but is scheduled to expire under current law on December 31, 2012. Extension of the federal wind PTC has become the “stalking horse” in the debate on government’s role in picking energy “winners and losers.”

Although wind advocates proffer several internally inconsistent rationales[5]for continuing the federal wind PTC, a closer examination of compelling facts and data indicates these purported justifications are not about wind’s continued viability without the PTC. Rather, the wind industry’s arguments supporting a continuation of the federal wind PTC simply represent a classic case of “rent seeking” by an established industry seeking to maintain profits through a generous tax subsidy.

This research finds that the federal wind PTC is an inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable policy mechanism for promoting wind that should be allowed to expire in today’s challenging fiscal environment for the following reasons: [Read more →]

November 2, 2012   5 Comments

Wind Consequences (Part V – Other Considerations and Conclusions)

“The following overview on these issues, and my concluding remarks, should leave little doubt as to the worthlessness and serious consequences of pursuing policies of supporting and implementing wind plants in particular. Will the other side respond in the interest of more informed public policy?”

As shown in Part I (Introduction & Summary), Part II (Analysis Approach & Implementation Costs), Part III (Total Costs), and Part IV  (Subsidies & Emissions), wind fails on the major considerations of cost and emissions. Yet unbelievably, it still enjoys general popularity and significant government support and subsidization. The answer must be in my response to question 1 in Part I: Wind is seen as a silver bullet – environmentally and politically.

On top of this, there are many other problems with wind that can cause serious, and needless, damage to society. I do not typically focus on most of these, and I cannot do justice to them, but they are worthy of attention. So I shall try, but I will only be scratching the surface. References cited for these are my selections only. Readers are invited to supply additional support with comments.

Anyone wishing to know more about these issues can start with the wealth of information that Lisa Linowes at Industrial Wind Action Group has compiled on wind matters. Also included in references below are examples of other excellent sources of general information on wind.

The following overview on these issues, and my concluding remarks, should leave little doubt as to the worthlessness and serious consequences of pursuing policies of supporting and implementing wind plants in particular. Will the other side respond in the interest of more informed public policy? [Read more →]

September 27, 2012   9 Comments

Wind Consequences (Part IV – Subsidies and Emissions)

This post is part of a five-part series on the adverse consequences of imposing industrial-scale wind plants on electricity systems. The series shows that there is no valid reason to pursue the policy of implementing new renewable energy sources in electricity generation, especially wind.

This post provides more information on the subsidies and emissions considerations for the scenarios summarized in Part I. Parts II and III dealt with cost implications. Part V this Thursday will focus on a number of other issues providing a complete picture of wind’s undesirability and unfeasibility in all respects.

Part I also provides links to the rest of the series.

Subsidies

Because subsidy issues are often raised, comparing those for wind and other generation plants, it is appropriate to show their effect on a MWh basis, regardless of the absolute amounts. The subsidy related to producing a useful output is the important consideration, because this is how electricity is generated, used and paid for. Table IV-1 shows this, but at the level that the wind plant owner experiences, not the full costs of wind to society, that is including wind balancing plant and unique-to-wind grid investments. Note the very high wind subsidies, especially relative to this limited view of costs. [Read more →]

September 25, 2012   4 Comments

Wind Consequences (Part III: Total Costs)

This post completes the determination of wind costs, and Part IV covers subsidization and emissions. Part I, Introduction and Summary, contains links to all the posts in this series.

Just about any analysis you see understates wind’s cost. In fact there can be no comparison between the costs for wind and reliable, dispatchable generation plants such as coal, nuclear and gas plants. Reliability is so important in electricity systems, and wind’s persistent erratic behavior is so problematic that any electricity it produces is not usable and is a threat to electricity system reliability.

Add capacity from reliable generation plants flexible enough to balance wind’s erratic output and a steady, reliable electrical energy flow can be provided. However there is a substantial cost associated with this. As shown in Part II, for wind to produce the same amount of useful, reliable electricity over 40 years, wind and associated balancing overnight plant capital costs are almost 3 times that for nuclear, the most expensive conventional generation plants reviewed.

Many of these considerable costs can be “hidden” within a new generation plant program and arguments that the grid must be improved anyway. See Part II for further discussion on the so-called “smart” grid considerations.

As wind penetration increases into high single digits, another approach becomes increasingly necessary. That is to dump wind production in excess of some minimal amount by curtailment, or by selling it to some customers or other jurisdictions at almost no cost, and who are sometimes paid to take it. The real, full costs will be borne by the jurisdiction hosting the wind plants through increased electricity rates or taxes. Further, depending on timing and other circumstances, it may not be possible to find such customers.

In this post we will see: (1) the impact of such measures when wind plants are present, and (2) in the Wind scenario, with wind penetration at 38%, that it is not supportable. [Read more →]

September 20, 2012   4 Comments

NRDC Wind Jobs Report Doesn’t Make the Grade (250 MW does not create 1,000+ jobs)

The carefully-crafted press release by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) presents their new wind-energy jobs report as thorough, objective, and academically sound. Although such an assessment would be very welcome, their “report” is no more than marketing propaganda. Their blatant bias here gives further credence to a piece by Henry Miller of the Hoover Institution, “Bad Faith and Bad Science at the NRDC,” which concluded that “NRDC continues to peddle junk science” for their own financial gain.

Energy specialists ordinarily don’t have the time to critique sales brochures, but here are some quick observations on this material:

1 – There is a strong implication given that a 250 MW wind energy facility creates “1,079 jobs.” That is not true. The vast majority of the jobs cited are for people already employed — e.g. lawyers, real estate professionals, acoustical consultants, etc. Put another way, these people would not be unemployed just because a 250 MW facility was not built.

2 – Contrary to the insinuations made by NRDC, “1,079 jobs for a 250 MW facility” are not full-time dedicated jobs. For instance an Iberdrola draftsman may work for one month designing part of some 250 MW project, and then move onto something else. He is apparently counted as “one job”. The proper way to deal with this situation is to show a more applicable metric: “job years” rather than “jobs.” [Read more →]

September 19, 2012   4 Comments