Category — Offshore windpower
“The Governor … earned the nod of those representing poorer districts by packing the bill with millions of dollars in grants to boost small and minority-owned businesses that might involve themselves in the offshore sector…. [P]rice caps on electricity bills [hides] the billions of dollars of extra cost that $190/MWh energy adds up to.”
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is convinced he’s found the right formula for ensuring that his state becomes the first to site a wind facility off its coastline. Last week Maryland’s House quietly approved HB 226. The Senate version (SB 275), although still in Committee, is also expected to pass despite much controversy over cost and risks to captive ratepayers–and back-door cronyism for developers and other special interests.
But don’t be fooled by the political victory. Despite the Governor’s grand claim that his bill will deliver offshore wind at an affordable price, the numbers tell a different story. O’Malley’s folly will deliver a paltry 80 megawatts of offshore wind at most, while draining billions of dollars from the State’s economy.
Offshore Wind: Too Expensive to Meter
Technological, environmental and visual impacts have slowed offshore wind development in the United States, but the primary, universal issue is cost. Offshore wind is not economically viable without significant public support, as O’Malley knows. [Read more →]
February 26, 2013 4 Comments
[Part II by Mr. Droz looks at North Carolina's onshore wind development.]
The Governor of North Carolina recently selected a Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy to make recommendations regarding offshore energy. At the official state site, information is given about who is on the panel, submissions received, and so on.
Three public hearings have been held regarding coastal Carolina. I spoke in the Morehead City hearing. My brief (two minutes allowed) comments were aimed at the proper process that North Carolina should take to resolve which energy options should be implemented. Not surprisingly the majority of inputs received at these meeting were people and organizations advocating offshore wind energy. (What is that political science insight about concentrated benefits and diffuse costs?)
The Panel is now digesting the inputs received. I have been advised that it would be helpful to email them a follow-up correspondence that focused on the economics of offshore wind energy.
Below is my draft version; I welcome comments for improvements, additions or deletions from MasterResource readers. [Read more →]
May 19, 2011 4 Comments
Renewable Mandate Challenged in the Centennial State (An economic, legal case for free, fair energy choice in Colorado)
The American Tradition Institute (ATI) and the American Tradition Partnership (ATP) have filed suit in Federal District Court in Colorado to have Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) declared unconstitutional. The plaintiffs find that the Colorado RES discriminates on its face against legal, safer, less costly, less polluting and more reliable in-state and out-of-state generators of electricity sold in interstate commerce, and thus violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Given 29 states with either a RES or a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of varying strength, the outcome of this case will likely have far reaching implications. The suit was filed yesterday, April 4, 2011.
Part of the suit is a “declaration” of technical aspects and the costs and benefits of how the RES is implemented; I am the author of that declaration. The other major part of the filing, as would be expected, is various legal arguments. This posting does not further describe the legal arguments but simply summarizes the content of my declaration.
Renewable portfolio standards require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits (RECs) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales — or a certain amount of generating capacity — according to a specified schedule. The term “set-aside” or “carve-out” refers to a provision within an RPS that requires utilities to use a specific renewable resource (usually solar energy) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales (or a certain amount of generating capacity) according to a set schedule.
Colorado became the first U.S. state to create a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by ballot initiative when voters approved Amendment 37 in November 2004. The original version of Colorado’s RPS required utilities serving 40,000 or more customers to generate or purchase enough renewable energy to supply 10% of their retail electric sales. In March 2007, HB 1281 increased the RPS to 15% from 2015–19 and 20% from 2020 forward, as well as extending a separate renewable-energy requirement to electric cooperatives, among other changes. HB 1001 of 2010 expanded the RPS to 30% for 2020.
Eligible renewable-energy resources include solar-electric energy, wind energy, geothermal-electric energy, biomass facilities that burn nontoxic plants, landfill gas, animal waste, hydropower, recycled energy, and fuel cells using hydrogen derived from eligible renewables.
The PUC has issued rules to implement the RPS. The rules were amended as required by HB 1001 in August 2010. The PUC’s rules generally apply to investor-owned utilities (IOUs). Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities serving more than 40,000 customers are still bound to the separate requirement approved by the legislature. [Read more →]
April 5, 2011 19 Comments
[Editor’s note: The feasibility and desirability of aggressively pursuing offshore wind turbines has entered the national discussion. This post by Lisa Linowes, executive director of Industrial Wind Action Group, contributes to this debate.]
We were treated this week to the Department of Energy’s latest advocacy on wind energy: a new report proclaiming the benefits and feasibility of developing wind power along the coastal waters of the United States. The report adds little to the claims touted in DOE’s “20% Wind Power by 2020″ (2008), but this time the focus is on 54,000 megawatts of electrical wind capacity off our eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Water depths on the Pacific Coast, according to the DOE, still pose a “technology challenge”. 
Offshore Wind in the U.S. today
Currently, there are no operating offshore wind plants anywhere in the country. The controversial Cape Wind project (130 turbines) proposed nearly ten years ago is still under fire. Wealthy property owners on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard were joined by Wal-Mart, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and wind developer TransCanada among others in protesting the no-compete, high-priced power purchase agreement under review by the State of Massachusetts.
In Rhode Island, approval of Deepwater Wind’s pilot project is under appeal by the state’s Attorney General and others over alleged illegalities by the legislature in pushing the project through. Delaware’s Bluewater Wind project is in limbo due to poor economics and growing public opposition to expensive renewable energy. A fight sparked in Michigan over a 1000 megawatt wind facility in Lake Michigan packed hearing rooms with angry protests. And the same response came from communities along northern New York after NYPA sought bids to build turbines in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
None of these projects, in total, match the scale and cost of what DOE claims can be built. [Read more →]
October 14, 2010 9 Comments
Editor’s note: Notwithstanding some recent gains, e.g. Cape Wind’s Interior Department permit, the projected U.K. Thames Array, and the politically motivated Danish pronouncement of renewed offshore installations, global offshore wind has progressed very slowly, especially in Germany. This article by Ms. Linowes, founder of the Industrial Wind Action Group, provides some of the reasons why offshore wind is such an environmental and economic troublemaker.
After nine years of debate and millions of public and private dollars, the decision to permit America’s first offshore wind project fell on the shoulders of one man, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar. Hindsight notwithstanding, there was no chance Salazar could disapprove the Cape Wind application. Does anyone doubt the Obama administration would dare to ignore the tsunami of political favoritism already bestowed on the project, no matter how unjustified? And given the administration’s stated goal to nurse the U.S. economy back to health through the green movement, a denial of the permit would have unleashed a public firestorm virtually impossible to contain.
Let’s face it, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound had an uphill battle in the message war from the beginning. As early as 2003, even before Windaction.org was organized, everyone knew about the wealthy ‘NIMBYs’ (“Not in my backyard”) on the Cape waging war against the one opportunity in the region to see renewables built in a substantial way.
At the time, New England had less than ten megawatts of wind installed, and most people were convinced Cape Wind represented an environmentally safe, low cost, economically beneficial development that could lead the nation in eliminating our reliance on fossil fuel. The NIMBYs, even those with the Kennedy name, were discredited in the press as little more than self-serving hypocrites unwilling to take one in the view for the betterment of the whole.
This attitude still prevails today in some quarters but the realities of wind energy’s flaws are beginning to take hold and we believe the Alliance and its supporters will ultimately be vindicated.
The announcement of Salazar’s decision opened an emotional relief valve and pressure built-up over nine years was volcanically released. Stories about Cape Wind’s approval flooded the web with words like ‘Finally!’ splashed across the screen. The public was informed in no uncertain terms that Cape Wind would be built, offshore wind in the U.S. was on the upswing, and the country had officially established itself as a player in the offshore arena.
From my perspective, Salazar’s action was significant, but not for the reasons stated above. Rather, from this point forward, politics and public opinion will no longer drive the discourse. The Cape Wind decision and the public record on which it’s based will be challenged on the facts to determine whether the project is commercially reasonable and whether it will operate in compliance with existing laws. To be frank, there is no assurance Cape Wind will survive the scrutiny. [Read more →]
May 2, 2010 13 Comments
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, speaking in Atlantic City in April, added more hot air to the discussion about offshore wind when he stated that windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
Yet such would require offshore wind turbines stacked almost a hundred miles deep from Maine to Florida. I’m disappointed Salazar didn’t take a few minutes for fact-checking and back-of-the-envelope ciphering before his speech or he would have discovered that his estimates are pure bluster.
I am reminded of all this as I read of Germany’s plan to get offshore wind in the mix, forcing power-grid operators to build sea cables at their expense and requiring buyers to pay $0.21/kWh for the power. And all this for an inferior product–intermittent power. [Read more →]
July 28, 2009 6 Comments