Category — Windpower: History and Issues
“The [2004 California Energy Commission] study also discussed how higher raptor mortality occurred when smaller towers were “upgraded” with larger turbines and proportionally longer blades. These wind turbines offered what raptors perceived as intermediate to very big windows of opportunity to fly through what looked like open spaces between towers…. However, the industry … rapidly installed thousands of these much larger turbines across America … and focused attention on new study results that reflected far less accurate (and honest) searches and surveys.”
In 1984, the California Energy Commission concluded in regard to the state’s wind industry: “[M]any institutional, engineering, environmental and economic issues must be resolved before the industry is secure and its growth can be assured.” Though it was between the lines, the primary environmental issue alluded to was the extreme hazard that wind turbines posed to raptors.
But the wind industry pretty much knew that there was little that could be done to make its propeller-style turbines safe for raptors. With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at speeds up to 200 mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half – or left with a smashed wing, to stumble around for days before dying.
To hide this inconvenient truth, strict wind farm operating guidelines were established – including high security around turbines, gag orders in agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies. [Read more →]
March 14, 2013 20 Comments
“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
- James Hansen, Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid, July 29, 2011.
Climate-change activist James Hansen speaks truth to power when he tells wind + solar = energy advocates “renewable energies are grossly inadequate for our energy needs now and in the foreseeable future.” He adds:
Recently I received a mailing on the climate crisis from a large environmental organization. Their request, letters and e-mails to Congress and the President, mentioned only renewable energies (specifically wind and solar power).
Such a request offends nobody, and it is worthless. Indeed, it is much less than worthless. If you drink the kool-aid … you are a big part of the problem.
But this has not prevented the Michigan Environmental Council and its affiliates from making a full-throated appeal for far higher renewable energy mandates at Gov. Rick Snyder’s statewide series of energy roundtable meetings.
The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and its allies have chosen one unifying theme for these events: coal-fired electrical generation kills people, and renewable energy (wind) is the cure.
To that end, the MEC commissioned a report called: “Public Health Impacts of Old Coal-Fired Power Plants in Michigan.” Analyzing the health care impacts of fine particulate emissions from Michigan’s nine oldest coal-fired generation plants, MEC concludes that : “the Michigan-specific health-related damages associated with [fine particulate] emissions from the nine coal-fired facilities [are] $1.5 billion annually…” [and cause] … 180 premature [coal emissions] deaths per year in Michigan.” [Read more →]
March 13, 2013 11 Comments
“Renewable energy subsidies harm the reliability of Texas electricity markets by resulting in artificially low sales prices, victimizing conventional energy generators and investors. Why build a new gas-fired plant when spot prices might be below production cost because wind receives a $0.02/kWh federal production tax credit?”
Last month, a cold front propelled Texas to a new record for wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind-generated electricity provided 9,481 MW on Feb. 9, almost 28 percent of the power generated in ERCOT at that time. This surpassed the previous record of 8,667 MW set only two weeks earlier.
Hold the applause. These records are being set because of Texas’s renewable-energy mandate–the strictest in the nation–and a raft of special tax subsidies. This government largesse harms taxpayers, consumers, and businesses as documented in a study released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) last November.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when thinking about renewable energy and related subsidies: [Read more →]
March 12, 2013 6 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.
The remainder of this post highlights parts of the study (in blue). [Read more →]
March 8, 2013 5 Comments
“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
“The misconceived greening of children calls for a major grassroots pushback to entirely de-list wind power from curricula. Rip those wind power pages out of textbooks. Or one day soon, tell the truth about industrial wind, NOT story book bucolic tales of wind ‘farms’ or ‘parks’.”
Any parent involved with their children’s homework or school knows that “green” is in. But too often more than that, “green” notions are presented as self-evident truths where there should be critical thinking and discussion. Also too often, federal and state funds are being dispensed to create the ‘greenest’ possible hearts and minds for tomorrow.
Such is the case with an industry that is economically useless and environmentally destructive: industrial wind power.
A website of the U.S. Department of Energy, Wind Powering America, describes how schools can receive taxpayer funding for wind projects. The site provides links to wind-friendly educational materials from Canada, California, Idaho, the Dakotas, Montana, and Arizona.
Alaska is on this list, where the U.S. Coast Guard assisted and provided a wind turbine for Mt Edgecumbe High School. “The options for education are really limitless,” states Kat Keith of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power. “Using wind energy as a hands-on tool, students can learn about physics, math, and other energy applications.”
Yes, the applications are limitless.… And that is a problem.
Wind companies and their trade groups are also involved. In Ontario, my province, teachers are asked how they feel about corporate logos in schools in exchange for such “benefits” as free computers. The response is often negative, but industrial-wind propaganda abounds in textbooks, learning materials, and kid-friendly websites.
Take a peak at these corporate “green” programs all around you. [Read more →]
February 11, 2013 20 Comments
Part I yesterday addressed the drivers and flawed approaches to current energy policy in many developed Western countries. Part II today describes the rational approaches necessary to best position us to withstand all challenges/threats that face us, both known and unknown.
Time frames are an important consideration in assessing the various elements of sensible and feasible energy policy programs. Here are the periods used in this discussion, which are nominal in nature:
- Short term (Up to about 10 years) – In this time frame, major radical changes in our energy infrastructures are not advisable and should be avoided, because energy is so intrinsically bound up in everything we do. Ill-advised, extensive tinkering with these is dangerous to our well-being. Best use must be made of reliable and powerful energy sources which are consistent with existing energy infrastructures and uses. Sufficient, sound R&D initiatives must be established. This is largely an initiation period.
- Medium Term (approximately next 30 years) – This period should ensure improvements in: (1) the best practices across the fuel life-cycle; and (2) technologies for existing energy infrastructures. R&D is important to the success of this but should also be at least equally directed to new technologies needed in the longer term. This is a transition period.
- Long Term (beyond approximately 40 years) – This period is the realistic time frame for new technologies to start to make major, fundamental changes to existing energy infrastructures. It is a period of fulfilment of energy policies and programs put in place starting today.
In general terms, these time frames put activities and developments roughly into the first and second half of the 21st century. It is emphasized that these are not rigid boundaries, but realistic expectations of developments. Pleasant surprises are always possible and could change some aspects. It also best positions our societies to meet unpleasant surprises against which reliable, extensive and powerful energy sources are the best defense. [Read more →]
January 17, 2013 1 Comment
For well-being, present and future, including overall governance, health and medical care, financial, economic, human rights, equality, peace, security and liberty, etc., we have to stop playing political games with energy policy in the developed countries in the West and turn to sound approaches.
In particular, Europe must withdraw from its desperate and destructive attempts at regaining some measure of world ‘leadership’, which it deservedly lost in the 20th century as a result of succumbing to dangerous extremist policies in many areas, including political, social, judicial, economic, military and international matters.
Europe’s ”leadership” conceit includes questionable, radical energy policies, particularly in electricity systems, to ”de-carbonize” the world with “new” (really ancient) renewables. This futility is wasting resources on a grand scale as is now beginning to be realized (here and here).
Unfortunately this may be a case of too little too late unless we act now to get off this lemming-style dash to catastrophe, energy being the master resource. We face more than one such ‘cliff’ today, and any that can be avoided must be.
This cannot be stated too strongly. It is not an argument from a special interest point of view or in support of any specific economic theory, not to say that any of these is necessarily invalid. It is from the perspective of what is best for mankind, and based on the work of internationally respected energy experts. I repeat a disclosure statement which I have stated before.
The case for the current flawed energy policies (primarily focussed on electricity) in the West is based on issues surrounding climate change, 21st century industrial development (jobs), fossil fuel and nuclear concerns, and energy independence/security. The following is a necessarily brief overview of very complex matters, but should serve to provide an instructive, broad context.
Part I today addresses the drivers and flaws of current energy policies in many developed Western countries. Part II tomorrow deals with sensible approaches, which are quite evident, but apparently politically impossible within most Western democracies. [Read more →]
January 16, 2013 2 Comments
Dear Carl Pope: What About the “Cuisinarts of the Air” (Sierra Club term still part of the windpower debate)
“Tension in the room mounted. The old man … pleaded with the [California] planning commission to protect his pigeons from ‘the Cuisinarts of the air’. The arrow went straight home, sending up a roar from the audience. A new image had been created, and the cameras flashed it across the country. Although often credited to staging by Cerrell and Associates, the term was conceived by the Sierra Club.”
- Paul Gipe, Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995, p. 450.
“I once believed in the Sierra Club, until the CLUB ( an insular bunch of activists who aren’t looking at the entire picture but only at their own agendas) started fully supporting [windpower] …. Everything the environmentalists (including myself for 20 years) have worked so hard to protect, is now being destroyed or in jeopardy. Wind factories are industrial projects.”
- Jen Gilbert, Dear Sierra Club (Canada): I Resign Over Your Anti-Environmental Wind Support (June 7, 2011).
I am reminded of the Sierra Club’s all-too-brief War on Wind whenever I read either a piece by Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of the Left environmental group, or more recent Sierra Club fare pretending that industrial wind turbines are “green.”
Pope’s Huffington Post piece last week, “The Lessons of the Battle Over Tax Increases for the Wind Industry,” praised the one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for new wind construction on purely economic grounds. “Cheapness is not the only economic advantage wind and solar bring to the electricity sector,” he opined. “They are already generating huge numbers of new jobs and supply chains.”
Cheaper? What about the high up-front infrastructure costs required to turn such a dilute energy source into electricity? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind-generated electricity is substantially more expensive than power generated from natural gas, and solar is much more expensive than windpower. [Read more →]
January 14, 2013 7 Comments
I am writing in response to your recent article by Richard Mertens, “Wind Energy: Boom Sputters as Industry Tax Credit is Set to Expire.” This piece describes the plight of wind-industry workers and their families in the face of political uncertainty with the Production Tax Credit at risk. The implicit assumption of Mr. Mertens is that these jobs are worthy for a better environment and for a more sustainable energy future.
Please consider a very different view: that this industry is an artificial construct of cronyism; squanders resources at the expense of consumers and taxpayers; and toys with workers and their families who continually find themselves at the mercy of temporary political majorities.
Being a Christian myself, I am not sure how supporting a business that is based on mistruths and bilks taxpayers and ratepayers out of billions of their hard-earned dollars can in any way be considered “Christian.” The industrial wind scam is the furthest thing from being “Christian” that one could ever imagine – and I say that based on my own personal experience of dealing with the wind industry over the past 10 years. [Read more →]
January 11, 2013 6 Comments