“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.
And don’t forget correcting for intermittency to put wind (and solar) on a quality par with conventional generation. A recent analysis for the American Traditions Institute puts the all-in wind costs at $0.15/kWh compared to the EIA’s wind estimate of $0.096/kWh.
And wind and solar on a per-kWh basis receive a multiple of government subsidies than do fossil fuels, a differential that cannot fall back on the argument that politically correct wind is an infant industry.
Windpower critic Kevon Martis takes Carl Pope to task with this following argument:
Mr. Pope’s case rises and falls on one sentence: “In 20 years producing power from amortized wind turbines will be even cheaper, because they won’t need fuel.”
But producing electricity from 20-year-old turbines won’t be cheap, it will be impossible. Why? They will be exhausted and out of service.
How do we know this? Michigan wind developer and operator DTE Energy’s engineer said so under oath:
Q: “What do you expect to be the average service life of the generator?
A. I expect the average service life of the generator to be 20 years.
Q. What do you expect to be the average service life of the other
miscellaneous components of the wind turbine generators?
A. I expect the average service life of the other miscellaneous components of the wind turbine generator to be 20 years.
Q. How did you come to that conclusion?
A. My conclusion about the balance of the equipment is based on the turbine design life of 20 years…”
So free “fuel”? Sure. Free turbine after 20 years? Certainly not, according to the wind industry itself.
So we must now ask the obvious question: If Mr. Pope of the Sierra Club does not know how long modern wind turbines are designed to operate, why have we wasted our time reading his pabulum?
And what about the bird carnage documented by Paul Driessen in his recent post, Killer Energy (Time to Apply Endangered Species, Wildlife Laws to Windpower?)? Driessen takes the “Cuisinarts of the Air” seriously and concludes:
Put bluntly, wind energy is unsustainable. It kills unconscionable numbers of bats, raptors, and other birds. It requires billions in perpetual subsidies – and billions more for (mostly) gas-fired backup generators. It impacts millions of acres of scenic, wildlife, and agricultural land – and uses vast amounts of raw materials, whose extraction and processing further impairs global land, air, and water quality.
Driessen welcomes a world without industrial wind as a better world, economically, environmentally, and politically. “A far more rational public policy would cut the crony out of capitalism and double out of standards,” he says. “Fair field, no favor.”
Is Pope or the new leadership at the Sierra Club listening to grassroot environmentalists who have turned against industrial wind from what they have experienced up-close? Do DC environmentalists listen to their sisters and brothers–or really care about the wilds remaining so?
Carl Pope, the Sierra Club, and other Washington, D.C. environmentalists should take to heart what Jen Gilbert wrote in his post, Dear Sierra Club (Canada): I Resign Over Your Anti-Environmental Wind Support:
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 the Green Energy Act (Canada).
[Such] is placing turbines everywhere and anywhere. This includes in pristine areas, in and around fresh lakes, on mountains, on ridges, on the Niagara Escarpment, near communities. Such activity is blasting, drilling, destroying the environment, and it has stripped away the rights of municipalities and the proper consultation of the public.
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. Every industrial project has had strict laws put in place to protect the environment. The Green Energy Act no longer protects those laws. Wind turbine factories are no different and should get no special treatment. Especially, when big greedy companies or individuals are the only people benefiting.