Category — Windpower: History and Issues
“Cost, even if it were accurately calculated, is much different than true ’value’, especially in the case of the intermittent, unreliable electricity from wind. This elementary fact cannot be unknown to energy specialists at the U.S. Department of Energy, or their political leaders. The fact that DOE issued such misleading material is sad. The fact that it is done at taxpayer expense is despicable.”
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has, once again, issued a misleading document attempting to justify the massive tax dollars, subsidizes, and tax breaks that are being spend on renewable energy. The December 6, 2013, release is titled “The Clean Energy Economy in Three Charts.”
Unfortunately, this release will mislead gullible reporters and news outlets (it was reposted at Breaking Energy). Expect it to appear elsewhere. I hope others will take the time to challenge this blatant taxpayer-funded propaganda when they come across it.
Wind Energy Section
There is too much false and misleading information in the DOE release to correct with a single comment so I will deal only with the section on “wind energy.” In their attempt to defend wind energy, the authors picked two highly misleading statistical measures that have long been so recognized by serious observers of energy markets: [Read more →]
January 9, 2014 6 Comments
“Here’s to a post-PTC world. One where, in Lisa Linowes words, ‘the industry shifts their business plans away from those based on tax avoidance to plans based on energy production’.”
Last month, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) held a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill to discuss the problems of wind power in light of the debate about whether to extend the long-standing (1992–) production tax credit (PTC). The event highlighted a new IER study calculating the “taker” and “payer” states from the PTC, Estimating the State-Level Impact of Federal Wind Energy.
I moderated the panel. Panelists included Travis Fisher (IER) and three leading grassroots activists: Lisa Linowes of New Hampshire, Tom Stacey from Ohio, and Kevon Martis of Michigan. Lisa, Tom, and Kevon are wind-power experts whose volunteer work is inspired by the economic waste and wholly unnecessary degradation of rural life.
I began by describing wind power as the perfect imperfect energy due to its economic and environmental drawbacks. Converting wind energy to electricity, indeed, has been a perennial folly since the 19th century for reasons explained in books of the day.
I identified industrial wind as a “crony industry,” given its tip-to-toe government dependence. Such is different from consumer-friendly industries that might be populated by some crony companies (firms desiring special government favor at the expense of competitors, ratepayers, or taxpayers).
Travis Fisher, coauthor of the new IER study, explained his methodology of comparing PTC tax receipts per state to tax payments from that state. The straightforward analysis found takers and payers in unusual places. Texas wind producers were the biggest takers, and California taxpayers the biggest payers, given where the wind turbines spin. [Read more →]
January 7, 2014 4 Comments
Thinking back over the past 12 months, it is amazing the things the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition have accomplished together.
We attended nearly every Energy Forum in the state and brought informed speakers and testimony before the MPSC and MEO.
We strengthened our ties with our Ohio brethren, excluding college football:
December 23, 2013 5 Comments
“It is precisely the fact that the market does not respect vested interests that makes the people concerned ask for government interference.”
- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (1940), p. 334 [4th Edition, 1966, p. 337].
Government goes to those who show up. The wind industry got there first (concentrated benefits, diffused costs). But the pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom movement has staged an impressive counter attack against government-dependent cronyism. Energy politics dates from the mid-nineteenth century in the United States–but never has more than one hundred pro-liberty groups spoken with one voice before.
Will the wind Production Tax Credit expire as scheduled at the end of this year? The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) hopes not. Why? Because continued expansion depends on the timing of this huge subsidy (see this graph by the editors of Real Clear Energy).
Letter and Signatories
Here is the November 4, 2013, letter to Congress from more than 100 signatories, big and small, city and grassroots, energy related and not. More signatories may add to this list.
Dear Senators and Representatives: [Read more →]
December 18, 2013 2 Comments
“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousand fold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine – the special pleading of selfish interests.”
- Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1946)
A year ago, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) was desperately fighting against the scheduled expiration of its most prized federal subsidy, the wind production tax credit (PTC). As I wrote at that time, AWEA’s argument–please government, keep our activity going for job creation and other economic gain–rested on a basic, long-debunked fallacy of economics.
AWEA believes that wind’s ”is” equals ”ought”–that recorded activity is a per se good. But there is an opportunity cost of action–what is not seen but known to exist from the economic law of scarcity.
Wind interests conclude that resources expended by them come from thin air rather than from the productive sector (taxpayers, ratepayers). Resources that do not go to wind, in other words, are resources lost to the economy as a whole.
This is wrong. A free-market redirection of resources away from wind power would free land, labor, and capital (the factors of production) for goods and services as determined by consumers, not government. [Read more →]
December 16, 2013 3 Comments
“The combination of the federal PTC and state RPS policies has shielded wind developers from the basic supply and demand forces present in a healthy competitive market. As a result, we are fast-tracking the construction of expensive renewable resources that are variable, operating largely off-peak, off-season and located long distances from where the energy is needed.”
As IER’s recent study found, the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) disproportionately benefits States with renewable energy mandates by distributing the high cost of their policies to taxpayers at large. And the benefit is enormous — at $23/MWh, the PTC’s pre-tax value of $35/MWh equals or exceeds the wholesale price of electricity in many parts of the country.
No traditional source of electric generation receives a federal subsidy as generous and condition-free as the PTC.
Since most of the wind deployed in the US is located in, or adjacent to states with RPS mandates, project owners are also eligible to earn significant out-of-market revenues in the form of renewable energy credits. [Read more →]
December 12, 2013 6 Comments
“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  in most markets to generate and integrate into the grid can only save $25-35/MWh of fossil fuel.  [Read more →]
December 11, 2013 2 Comments
“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 2 Comments
“Many people point to the mandates of Ohio Senate Bill 221 or other such legislation in other states, which require the use of fashionable generation methods for electricity, as justification for subsidizing investment into economically questionable energy generation projects.
To me this is an exercise in circular logic, mandating that we have to use more expensive means of generating electricity, and then using the rising cost of electricity to justify subsidizing more expensive means of generating electricity.”
Jerry Graf – Effective Energy Strategy (March 2013)
In an editorial response printed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (10/21/2013), four co-authors make the following points with regard to the Blue Creek Wind Farm and wind energy in general.
I have rearranged their words for brevity and direct the reader to the Journal Gazette website to read verbatim. Our rebuttal letter follows:
Electricity from wind is very high in true cost and low in true value
Electricity from wind turbines is low in value because it can’t be counted on to be available when needed, and it is most likely to be produced at times when it is least needed. Wind turbines tend to produce most of their electricity at night in cold months, not on hot weekday afternoons in July and August when demand for electricity is highest. Furthermore, the electricity from wind tends to be low in value because the output can’t be counted upon to be available at the time of peak demand, unlike reliable (“dispatchable”) generating units that can be called upon to produce whenever needed. [Read more →]
December 3, 2013 5 Comments
Bird Kills: The Evidence and Publicity Mounts (Sierra Club, Audubon must stop deceiving memberships)
“Combined together, these clever [evasive] techniques mean that most carcasses are ‘missed.’ In fact, 90% or more of the slaughter can easily be hidden. This … is certainly not ‘scientific or ‘green.’ But it is certainly effective.”
The Wall Street Journal recently published several letters and articles on the environmental impacts of wind energy, adding to a growing body of reportage of wind power’s cruel, ironic byproduct.
Making the public aware of this extremely important issue is essential, because the wind industry has been using bogus research and other methods to hide its slaughter of millions of birds and bats that are supposedly protected by law, putting some species on a path to extinction.
1. Delayed Search: At Altamont Pass in California, mortality studies have employed 30-90 day search intervals since 1998. These excessively long search intervals ensure that most carcasses disappear before the next search is conducted. In addition, even as wind turbines have grown larger and larger over the years, search areas for carcasses have deliberately been left unchanged. [Read more →]
November 21, 2013 8 Comments