Category — General problems, windpower
“The wind PTC is not a financial leg-up to an equivalent quality source to make it price competitive with conventional sources. The wind PTC rewards a misfit technology for its lack of control over its fuel source – a fuel that will continue to behave badly no matter how ‘price competitive’ our subsidies make it.”
This post reproduces my extemporaneous and prepared comments given at the Institute for Energy Research Panel on Wind Electricity, December 3, 2013.
There are basic things about the electricity system that everyone needs to know as a starting point. For those who may not, let me retrace a simple concept: Electricity supply sources are of two basic types – those designed to be used nearly all the time and at a fairly steady and high percentage of their capabilities (base load sources), and those with greater flexibility, designed to be used less because at every instant year round there is a need for the sum of all electricity produced to precisely match demand fluctuations.
These two basic types of electricity sources developed and grew together to become the leading providers because of their symbiotic characteristics, which turn out to be the most economical way serve our society with electricity on an ongoing basis.
Wind energy is neither type, but instead leverages more use of the latter at the expense of the former. This has negative economic and environmental implications on base load sources thereby causing negative societal consequences. Wind can be considered “parasitic” to base load sources while causing increased use of sources whose output can fluctuate to match variable demand, and now having to compensate for the variable supply of wind energy as well. [Read more →]
December 10, 2013 No Comments
“Businesses that are planning to provide equipment or services to the wind industry especially need objective information about wind energy.… Participating in industries that are dependent on federal tax breaks and subsidies can be dangerous, particularly at a time of massive federal deficits and a national debt of about $17 trillion.”
A highly misleading article, “Winds of change blow across Ohio,” by the CEO of the Van Wert (OH) Area Chamber of Commerce, Susan Munroe, was published by the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette on October 7, 2013. Such reflects a new battlefront in the politics of wind with local chambers of commerce arguing for wind projects in their areas.
However, her claims appear to be based heavily on information from Iberdrola, not on an objective analysis of facts about wind energy. Those facts call into question key points made in the article. For example, Ms. Munroe appears not know that: [Read more →]
October 15, 2013 6 Comments
“I would suggest that the owners of the “wind farms” that may not be able to sell all their output don’t deserve a lot of sympathy. They should have known the risks of investing in an industry that exists only because of massive tax breaks and subsidies and other unwise government policies.”
Mr. Graff: Thanks for your probably well-meaning [August 5th] story that bore the headline, “Newly Available Wind Power Often Has No Place to Go.” However, I wonder if you realize that the story was quite one-sided and likely misleading.
That tends to happen, unfortunately, when a “news” story is based heavily on information fed to reporters by lobbyists — in this case from the wind industry’s Washington-based lobbyists, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Please consider the following points:
Market Distortion. Completely missed in your story is the fact that construction of wind turbines to generate electricity is not driven by normal electricity market requirements or by benefits for electricity users. Instead, construction of “wind farms” is driven by two principal market distorting forces:
1. State “Renewable Portfolio Standards” (RPS) that force electric distribution companies to provide from “renewable” sources certain dictated shares of the electricity they sell — even though that electricity is very high in true cost and low in true value.
2. Massive federal and state tax breaks and subsidies for “wind farm” owners. [Read more →]
August 6, 2013 8 Comments
“Eric Bibler of Save Our Seashore writes that there are a MILLION Reasons to be Concerned About Industrial Wind Turbines. He invites you to go to your computer and type in the words: wind turbine lawsuit. The result is a staggering (his caps) ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND. As 2013 evolves, more and more of these cases, we predict, will settle on loss of property values, loss of enjoyment, loss of health.”
The damage of industrial wind turbines is also an international issue. Denmark worked with premeditation and created a “loss of value” clause, 2008, passed to compensate property values depreciated by proximity to turbine arrays, but this has turned out to be a double-edged sword. People may be awarded for a portion of projected losses, but of the 551 claims from persons living next to wind turbines, the average compensated value was only 57,000 kroner ($8,478 US), nothing even close to the actual property losses of upwards of 20%.
To challenge the awards, homeowners need to activate a civil suit, with often dubious results and of course legal costs. Further, evaluations are done before the turbines are constructed, leaving the vagaries of the real future losses to literally “hang in the breezes.”
But the admission of property losses is a feeble economic sputter from Denmark, mother of turbines pretty much everywhere. Other admissions of massive financial loss come when communities in opposition to turbine invasions enlist appraisers such as Appraisals One, who in 2009 delved into losses from three turbine developments in Wisconsin, sponsored by Calumet County [Wisconsin] Citizens for Responsible Energy (CCCRE: Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties). The report centres on a literature study, a survey of realtors’ opinions, and a sales study of undeveloped and “improved” lands.
Again, the results were not surprising. “In all cases with a 1-5 acre residential property, whether vacant or improved, there will be a negative impact on property values.” [Read more →]
January 3, 2013 8 Comments
While Invenergy waits for the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) to be extended by this ‘Lame Duck’ Congress, as expressed in the 12/4/12 Batavia Daily News article: “Orangeville windfarm waits on the tax credit,” there are thousands of local tax- and rate-paying citizens who are eagerly awaiting the expiration, permanent expiration, of this $0.022/kWh subsidy. The PTC is nothing more than a tax-shelter-generator for wealthy, multinational, rent-seeking corporations like Invenergy.
How does a business plan dependent on massive taxpayer-funded handouts for profitability make it past the drawing board in the first place?!? Any of us would have filed such a plan to its rightful place—in the garbage can.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)– with the help of political cronies in high places–have attempted, and failed to push the PTC through various bills, not once, not twice, but FIVE (5) times in a little over a year. Congressmen were inundated with letters, e-mails and phone calls each of those (5) previous attempts from a lot of us telling them to say NO to the PTC–which they did. Yet, here it comes again.
No Means NO!
We hope that our elected “public servants” understand that NO means NO! “We the People” do NOT want more wasteful spending on an inefficient, unreliable, antiquated energy source that ruins peoples’ lives, kills hundreds of thousands of birds a year, does nothing to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, and has exorbitant costs to boot. [Read more →]
December 10, 2012 5 Comments
Editor note: This is an updated version of a previous post at MasterResource: “Wind Spin: Misdirection and Fluff by a Taxpayer-enabled Industry” which was itself an update of “Fifteen Bad Things About Wind Energy, and Three Reasons Why,” one of the two most read posts in the history of MasterResource.
Trying to pin down the arguments of wind promoters is a bit like trying to grab a greased balloon. Just when you think you’ve got a handle, it morphs into a different shape and escapes your grasp. Let’s take a quick highlight review of how things have evolved with wind merchandising.
1 – Wind energy was abandoned well over a hundred years ago, as even in the late 1800s it was totally inconsistent with our burgeoning, more modern needs for power. When we throw the switch, we expect that the lights will go on – 100% of the time. It’s not possible for wind energy, by itself, to EVER do this, which is one of the main reasons it was relegated to the dust bin of antiquated technologies (along with such other inadequate energy sources as horse and oxen power).
2 – Fast forward to several years ago. With politicians being convinced that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) was an imminent catastrophic threat, lobbyists launched campaigns to favor anything that would purportedly reduce carbon dioxide. This was the marketing opportunity that the wind energy business needed. Wind energy was resurrected from the dust bin of power sources, as its promoters pushed the fact that wind turbines did not produce CO2 while generating electricity.
3 – Of course, just that by itself is not significant, so the original wind development lobbyists then made the case for a quantum leap: that by adding wind turbines to the grid we could significantly reduce CO2 from those “dirty” fossil fuel electrical sources (especially coal). This argument became the basis for many states implementing a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) or Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – which mandated that the state’s utilities use (or purchase) a prescribed amount of wind energy (“renewables”), by a set date.
Why was a mandate necessary? [Read more →]
October 24, 2012 23 Comments
Energy and environmental issues need to be addressed using logic and scientific thinking, not emotion, wishes, and depiction. On a realistic basis, industrial wind energy fails to deliver the goods. By this I mean that windpower:
1) Is not a technically sound solution to provide us electricity, or to meaningfully reduce global warming, and
2) Is not an economically viable source of energy on its own, and
3) Is not environmentally responsible
When you take away the wind lobbyists’ fast-talking shenanigans, their con comes down to these two things: They are telling us what we want to hear, and we’re not really verifying the truth of what they’re saying.
The intellectual conjurers have a clever one-two marketing campaign. First we’re told that the planet is facing imminent catastrophe. And then a salesman comes to our community with a solution! The spiel is that we can do something consequential to help prevent this global disaster — and we can create jobs doing it, and make some easy money in the process.
What a deal!
Wind magicians go into a rural community and carefully cultivate the idea that anything coming from them is found money. The trick is that it’s not coming from them at all, as it’s entirely paid by taxpayers and ratepayers.
Quotations from the Trenches
Realistic assessment is needed in the PR arena. To this end, different bloggers at MasterResource provided some analogies to describe what wind power really is compared to consumer-chosen, market-proven energy.
“Wind energy can be likened to the wayward child. It’s unavailable when needed, shows up when unexpected, and when it does arrive it often behaves erratically. As a result, wind cannot be relied on as a primary fuel source.”
– Lisa Linowes, Industrial Wind Action [Read more →]
June 21, 2012 12 Comments
Dear Honorable Mark R. Warner:
I have great respect for your knowledge of information technology. But, with all due respect, sir, your May 24, 2012, response to my request that you oppose extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) shows a serious lack of understanding of wind energy, energy markets, and energy research & development.
The people of [your] Virginia are fortunate that the Menendez bill (S.2204) failed. Your support for that bill was ill-advised and contrary to the interests of Virginia’s taxpayers and energy users.
You appear not to understand that the wind PTC, a tax shelter, results in shifting tax burden from “wind farm” owners and developers to ordinary tax payers and/or results in more debt that will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren. Furthermore, “wind farms” are being built primarily because of the Production Tax Credit, NOT because of their true environmental, energy or economic benefits.
Frankly, the following statement in your letter is rather naive if you are referring to “investing” our tax dollars:
In order to retain its competitive advantage in the global economy and ensure a promising future for our citizens, America must invest in research to develop new technologies and efficiency improvements across all sources of energy.
Are you not aware that from 1973 to 2010 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessors spent over $148 billion (2010$) of our tax dollars on “energy R&D” and has yet to produce a single significant commercially viable energy technology?
Clearly, technological advances will ultimately be the means to assure that the U.S. has an adequate supply of energy at reasonable prices, but there is NO reason to assume that such advances are dependent on or result from actions by the U.S. government.
In fact, the federal government’s massive spending on “energy R&D” during the past 38 years has failed because it is based on three fundamentally flawed assumptions; specifically that:
1. More R&D spending will inevitably overcome technological hurdles to whatever technology is being pursued.
2. Economics of scale will overcome economic hurdles for selected energy technologies.
3. Governments are capable of picking technology winners. [Read more →]
June 4, 2012 2 Comments
This month, two subcommittees of the House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee  held a joint hearing, “Impact of Tax Policies on the Commercial Application of Renewable Energy Technology.”
I was one of nine witnesses testifying. In addition to myself, the let-the-market-decide witnesses were Dr. Benjamin Zycher, Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Tax and Other Subsidies for Renewable Energy Should Be Abandoned; and Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation (testimony here).
The subcommittee Republicans were prepared, well informed, and interested in drawing out the facts. The Democrats, on the defensive, complained that the hearing was happening, argued the subcommittees lacked the jurisdiction to hold the hearing, and claimed that renewables were being short-changed compared to oil and gas.
A summary of my testimony (full version here) follows:
Background and Purpose
Energy policy in the United States calls for the aggressive deployment of renewable generation which has led to an explosion of expensive renewable resources that are variable, operating largely off-peak, off-season and are located in rural areas with limited transmission. [Read more →]
April 25, 2012 12 Comments
It was an opinion-page editorial that was not warmly received by my employer at the time, Enron Corp. “Wind power poses several major dilemmas,” my Washington Times piece read.
Among them, it remains uneconomical despite heavy subsidies from ratepayers and taxpayers over the last two decades—through 1995 the Department of Energy (DOE) had spent $900 million in wind energy subsidies. Second, wind farms are noisy, land intensive, unsightly, and hazardous to birds, including endangered species.
In response, Ken Karas, chairman & CEO of Enron Wind Corporation, wrote to Tom White, chairman & CEO of Enron Renewables Corporation:
Does Bradley still work for Enron? If so, I believe he should be terminated. This article is pure yellow journalism….
I was not terminated, but I reached a (fair) agreement with Enron CEO Ken Lay that I would stop writing about windpower given the obvious commercial interest and stockholder stake Enron had in this sector. My job was important to me, and I was able to advance my ideals in other ways by remaining an internal voice for free markets and climate realism (versus alarmism).
Here is the Washington Times article reprinted with slight revision by the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy. At the (almost) 15-year mark, and as an early windpower ‘expose’, how do the arguments hold up today? [Read more →]
April 17, 2012 6 Comments