Category — Windpower: History and Issues
“We ask that you deny any permit to LEEDCo for siting of 6-9 turbines in Lake Erie…. Sadly, it is extremely easy to refute and challenge the environmental guidance this project is putting before you. It is disappointing that this project has progressed even thus far.”
Many groups and individuals from OHIO and Canada and Europe, who care deeply about wildlife, birds, bats and habitat, have been communicating their concerns with the LEEDCo “Incubator” project proposed for 6-9 industrial wind turbines off the shores of Cleveland.
The signatories to this letter represent only a fraction of the sentiment about this proposed improper placement and immature concept of industrializing what is part of 20% of the world’s remaining fresh water reserves.
International Perspective: Ontario, Canada, has in place a precautionary PROVINCIAL offshore moratorium, and four others from Ajax, Pickering, Council of Scarborough, and the largest Conservation body in the province, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). These moratoria were the result of observations that the fresh waters of the Lakes deserve special caution and study.
To date, there is no information leading to a reversal of those decisions. The Lakes continue to be regarded both sides of the border as unique, having special problems of toxic waste filtered to the lakebed, unique patterns of wildlife and birds/bats, unique basin fragilities, unique intensive bird capital, and unique billions of dollars in birding and boating activities.
Ohio has one of the largest concentrations of birding activities in and around the Great Lakes, tens if not hundreds of millions, and as such deserves to be free of any industrialization that may confound this unique geography, habitat, and economy.
Dr. Paul Kerlinger and Associates has been engaged to comment on any possible effect of the 6-9 incubator turbine proposal, and we are concerned that his testimony is possibly an environmental grounding point for the project. We strongly object to acceptance of any commentary on this project proposal by Dr. Kerlinger, and Associates.
April 11, 2014 7 Comments
[Editor note: The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) has proposed to erect between six and nine industrial wind turbines just off the shore of Cleveland. The so-called INCUBATOR project is currently before the Ohio Power Siting Board.]
“We are thrilled to have the strong support of the environmental community in Ohio,” said LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner, citing letters from the Ohio Environmental Council, Nature Conservancy, Environment Ohio, Sierra Club, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, and Earth Day Coalition.
Barely were those words spoken, when a damning letter arrived (Part 2 tomorrow) from a much broader, bigger, and sophisticated group of environmentalists and consumerists.
The letter provided brutally clear information and frank talk about one of the wind industry’s leading carnival barkers, Dr. Paul Kerlinger and Associates, whose environmental testimony is universally controversial and corrupted by industry money.
Groups who signed onto the anti-LEEDCo letter are: [Read more →]
April 10, 2014 2 Comments
[Editor note: Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, is a leading researcher and disseminator of the problems of ‘green’ energy. His February 25, 2014, testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environmental and Public Works follows today and tomorrow.]
The focus of this hearing is on the economic benefits of ecosystems and wildlife and how they “are valuable to a wide range of industries,” including tourism. The purpose is also to examine “how the Administration is preparing to protect” ecosystems “in a changing climate.” The facts show that federally subsidized efforts that are being undertaken to, in theory, address climate change, are damaging America’s wildlife.
Furthermore, those same efforts have, for years, been allowing an entire industry to avoid federal prosecution under some of America’s oldest wildlife laws. My discussion will focus largely on the wind-energy sector, an industry that has been getting federal subsidies since 1992, and the impact that the wind-energy business is having on wildlife.  There are two key questions that must be addressed:
* Are all energy providers getting equal treatment under the law when it comes to wildlife protection? The answer to that question is no. * Is widespread deployment of wind turbines an effective climate-change strategy? The answer, again, is no. [Part II of Bryce post tomorrow]
Part I; Energy companies are not being treated equally when it comes to enforcement of federal wildlife laws. I have been writing about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act since the late 1980s.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service brought hundreds of enforcement cases against the oil and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, for violations of those laws. And rightly so. [Read more →]
March 19, 2014 5 Comments
“Projections show that wind generation will increase rapidly to approximately 6,250 MW by 2013. This vast amount of wind power interconnected to the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission grid will likely overwhelm the existing federal hydropower system’s ability to provide sufficient integration services in the future….
As the percentage of wind generation grows, the risk of having a major system event from an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases.”
- Technical Analysis of Pumped Storage Integration with Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest – Final Report, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (August 2009).
The magnitude and location of the current unfolding story of a large crack in the hydro-rich Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Central Washington became known only a week after the Grant County Public Utility District declared a potential emergency. Officials reported there is no immediate threat of a catastrophic breach in the dam but called the situation a “serious problem.” The cause of the crack probably will not be known for some time. The dam is still producing hydropower, but curtailed production from a water drawdown behind the dam could be felt by California electricity users.
But what did the infrastructure consultants MWH (quoted above) mean when it stated in a technical report for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in 2009 about the problematic integration of hydropower and wind energy: “the risk of having a major system event for an unpredicted change of the wind energy level increases”?
According to the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the U.S.: “Spring and summer are the seasons of maximum wind power” for the Columbia River Corridor. Spring is also when snowmelt fills the reservoirs behind dams. [Read more →]
March 17, 2014 No Comments
“From Ireland to New Zealand and Massachusetts to Wisconsin, there is growing outrage among rural and semi-rural homeowners about the encroachment of massive wind projects. The European Platform Against Windfarms now lists some 600 signatory organizations from 24 countries. In the U.K. — where fights are raging against industrial wind projects in Wales, Scotland, and elsewhere — some 300 anti-wind groups have been formed. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., about 150 anti-wind groups are active.”
- Robert Bryce, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong (Public Affairs, 2014)
The World Council for Nature (WCFN) was founded September 20, 2011, to defend Nature against aggression–and perhaps none more egregious than the dilute energy sprawl of wind turbines enabled by government-qua-man. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” John Muir once said.
And what would Muir think of his Sierra Club today, pitting Washington, DC-alligator-shoed environmentalists against the grassroots who encounter the crony wind turbine industry in the wilds? WCFN recently was informed that Danish taxpayers’ money is being spent to the tune of €2,665,688 ($480,000) to spy on associations and citizens’ groups of windfarm victims (present or potential). The name of the program is “Wind2050 – Multidisciplinary study on local acceptance and development of wind power projects.” [Read more →]
March 4, 2014 No Comments
“The future belongs to the efficient. The future belongs to the best, not the bottom feeders of ‘all of the above’. Let consumers decide, and keep taxpayers out of it.”
“Parents, would you favor your son or daughter dating ‘all of the above’?” This is the question I pose in my talks to the argument for wind power proffered by the renewable-energy advocates and the Obama Administration.
More recently, I have come up with a simple word slide to delve a little more deeply into the AOTA argument for a major presentation I have coming up. First, some background.
University of Houston Debate
I am preparing for a debate next Tuesday night at the University of Houston considering the topic:
Renewable Energy: Need for Government Support?” 2013/2014 Energy Symposium Series, Critical Issues in Energy, University of Houston (Houston, Texas). Sponsored by UH Energy and the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 
I will have two opponents. Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) supports extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and has a long history of voting for special government favors for (qualifying) renewable energy. Rep. Green also supported the failed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill). [Read more →]
February 28, 2014 1 Comment
“We have a long way to go before Chairman Camp’s tax reform bill is final and, no doubt, the debate over tax-extenders will be rigorous. But this is a rare opportunity for American taxpayers to once and for all eliminate the near-permanent temporary tax credits.”
Members of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) descended on Capitol Hill this week for a two-day member-only marathon to educate Congress on why the wind production tax credit (PTC) needs to remain a priority for American taxpayers. The PTC expired at the end of 2013.
Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens’ wind power business in the Americas and a member of AWEA’s Board, touted his expectation of receiving a positive response from D.C. lawmakers. ‘We’re going to ask for as long an extension [of the PTC] as we can get to bridge the gap until we get a comprehensive energy policy,” he said.
But by the end of the day yesterday, the future of the PTC dimmed.
On Wednesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his long-anticipated proposal to reform the U.S. tax code which offered no consideration for reinstating the PTC. But that’s not all. According to the bill, the uncapped, 20+-year tax credit, which currently stands at 2.3¢/kWh, would no longer be adjusted annually for inflation which means that projects now receiving the PTC would see their subsidy reset back to 1.5¢/kWh. [Read more →]
February 27, 2014 1 Comment
Wind Turbine Bird Killings, Disinformation Continue in California (Golden eagles, bald eagles, and more)
“The grim reality is that fewer than 500 golden eagles remain in California. When will authorities wake up to windpower?”
The golden eagle is a vital species in rapid decline, and most of this demise has been relatively recent. Although it has never been publically acknowledged, the primary reason has been the development of wind energy in the middle of the eagle’s foraging habitats.
Ironically, during this golden eagle population crash, bald eagle populations have increased dramatically because, up to now, their habitats have been spared the ravages of wind development. This too will soon change, however, as wind energy installations are built in their wetland habitats across America.
Proper studies would easily document and explain the decline of golden eagles. But the studies are not being conducted – deliberately, so as to hide and obfuscate what is happening. The clear history of eagle nesting failures and habitat abandonments near wind projects has been hidden from public view, as wind projects have expanded across California and our western states.
Among the undisclosed impacts are those that occur when adult eagles are killed by a turbine during the egg and downy stages of a nesting cycle. During this critical 8-9 week period, there is a 100% probability of a complete nest failure if one adult eagle is lost. A single parent cannot possibly hunt, incubate eggs, and protect its young from the elements.
This history of golden eagle nesting failures near California wind turbines is never clearly stated, but the evidence is there for anyone who wishes to observe or read about it. Some of this impact is revealed in the last environmental impact documents submitted to support expanding the Shiloh wind project in California’s Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area, although those documents also suggest that a turbine-related nesting failure recently occurred in this area.
Bald Eagles at Risk
The same fate is coming to our bald eagles. This great bird’s population has been expanding in the wetland habitats of California, and the Sacramento River delta provides good foraging and nesting opportunities for them. Adult bald eagles have been seen near the Montezuma Hills WRA turbines, and a possible (never verified) bald eagle nest site was reported nearby on Grizzly Island. [Read more →]
February 26, 2014 No Comments
“The level of emissions savings provided by wind plants has never been conclusively determined, taking into account all the factors.”
Part I yesterday questioned the analysis and robustness of Joseph Cullen’s study, “Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Wind-Generated Electricity”.  Part II completes the commentary on this paper, covering:
- Questionable data, which seriously inhibits any analysis of wind performance
- Interstate trade in electricity, an often overlooked, but important, consideration in understanding impacts on emissions
- A summary of the acknowledged shortcomings of this paper
- Questionable opinions/claims made
The level of emissions savings provided by wind plants has never been conclusively determined, taking into account all the factors. Further, there is no published accurate, minute-by-minute, actual fuel consumption or emissions by individual plant, especially for systems with notable levels of wind present. Note the limitations in the Katzenstein and Apt paper looked to by Cullen for corroboration as discussed in Part I.
In general, government reported emissions are estimates based on calculations using assumptions and relatively simple algorithms. In some cases, actual measurements are taken but are no better than those calculated as reported by the International Energy Agency (see page 35).
“Commercial instrumentation is available for monitoring CO2 concentration and flue gas volume flows. Given the limitations of such instrumentation, the accuracy of directly measured CO2 release is probably no better than that derived by indirect calculation.” (emphasis added)
A report by The Sustainable Energy Authority in Ireland, “Renewable Energy in Ireland”, in Appendix 1 also refreshingly recognizes the limitations to existing reporting methods.
“The assumption underpinning this approach is that the renewable plant is displacing the last plants to be dispatched to meet electricity demand, i.e. the marginal oil and gas plants. There are clear limitations in this analysis but it does provide useful indicative results.” (emphasis added for “indicative”, which is taken to mean “suggestive”)
“The limitations and caveats associated with this methodology include that it ignores any plant used to meet the associated reserve requirements of renewables. These open cycle plants will typically have lower efficiency and generate increased CO2 and NOx emissions compared with CCGT and these emissions should be incorporated into the analysis. The purpose of presenting a simplified analysis here is to provide initial insights into the amount of fossil fuels that are displaced by renewables and the amount of emissions thereby avoided.” (emphasis added)
The issue raised in the last quote speaks to the comments made in the Robustness section in Part I. [Read more →]
February 14, 2014 7 Comments
“The nature of the short-term operation of an electricity system is more like that of a machine than a market.”
A paper published by Joseph Cullen in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (November 2013), “Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Wind-Generated Electricity”  is important in two regards. First, using Texas data, it shows that even with notable emissions savings attributed to wind, the highly subsidized cost of wind is exceeded only by high estimates of the social costs of pollution.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly, his paper provides an opportunity to illustrate where wind-performance analyses fall short. This is the subject of this two-part post today and tomorrow, and is independent of the issue of carbon dioxide social benefits versus social costs.
Professor Cullen first determines how much electricity production of other generator types is offset by the presence of wind plants in the grid using a reduced form econometric model based on “…observed behavior and current market conditions.” The time frames for production are 15 minute intervals and two hour ahead forecasting by market participants. The market-oriented approach is exemplified by the following quote:
“When low marginal cost wind-generated electricity enters the grid, higher marginal cost fossil fuel generators will reduce their output.” (emphasis added) [Read more →]
February 13, 2014 6 Comments