“Offshore bird mortality cannot be studied the same way we study land-based wind sites – by searching the ground for carcasses. The sea is an extremely harsh environment. Birds and bats killed by turbines are likely to become fish food, sink or drift away with the currents.”
– Christine Morabito, “Did Mass Audubon Sell its Soul to the Wind Industry?” The Valley Patriot (June 2015)
Rationalizing Godzilla-sized industrial wind turbines has badly compromised the DC-based environmental movement. To the well-green-heeled, infrastructure-intensive wind turbines and solar arrays have to ecologically work. Or else the world is stuck with oil, natural gas, coal, not to mention nuclear, biomass, and hydro. Or else the time and emotions invested in the issue go to waste.
Imaging is the grand task of the eco-renewable lobby. Photoshop to green the scene. Mute the noise. Don’t picture the (otherwise unnecessary) transmission lines. No birds either. Just make wind turbines look as natural as the breeze.
Economically, ratepayers and taxpayers lose. Industrial wind requires long-term price-insensitive contracts, as well as endless DOE research grants, the perennially extended 2.4 cent/kWh federal tax credit, and local and state tax abatement. It’s hard making the uneconomic economic.
The other victims are the locals living in view and sound of wind turbines. Many have to be bribed to become neutral or supportive of such rural industrialization.
In the Crosshairs
Facing constraints onshore, the push is for massive offshore wind installations. “Take all of these offshore plans with a large grain of sea salt,” Robert Bryce warns.
The history of offshore wind in domestic waters is replete with canceled plans – yes, Cape Wind, I’m talking about you – cost overruns, cabling problems, and permit delays. Furthermore, offshore wind continues to be one of the most expensive forms of electricity generation. That high-priced juice will cost ratepayers untold billions of dollars over the coming years. That means higher-cost electricity for low- and middle-income consumers. The impact will be particularly hard in northeastern states like New York and in New England, where consumers already endure some of the highest electricity prices in the country.
The cheat word in the local wind wars is mitigation. This fig leaf is at its worst with offshore wind projects, all but one delayed in the face of bad economics and environmental controversies.
Mitigation involves cover up and denial. Mitigation can include softening the blows of brutal harm to landscapes and habitats by offering alternative spaces, perhaps a breeding ground. Or it can involve other simplistic ideas, such as painting the tips of turbine blades purple. Or it can involve money, sometimes lots of it, to count dead birds and bats.
Offers of alternative protection, say of a bat species, threatened or at risk or endangered, could end up in a negotiation for a fee for “mitigation,” or more research, that involves calculating numbers of losses, suggesting how the developer can buy into some sort of agreement with a Department, Agency, or Ministry, even a bird protection group that finds itself dealing with actual mortality numbers.
With this in mind, here is an update on offshore wind projects in the U.S.
Block Island (RI) Offline
America’s lone completed offshore wind project, 30-MW Block-Island project off the coast of Rhode Island, now four years old, went offline last year for costly seabed cable repairs.
Was this to be expected? “High-voltage lines—be buried at sea to carry power from the burgeoning offshore-wind sector and then inject it into the onshore grid—represent the most complicated, and as yet uncertain, aspect of an industry poised to boom,” E&E News explained. “From grid congestion to technical troubles, the offshore wind’s transmission challenge is the focus of growing attention as the industry advances.”
This setback further slows the Northeast offshore wind rush. Monopoly utilities blend in expensive offshore wind with lower-cost, flexible power. For captive consumers, they have no choice but to pay.
Icebreaker (Lake Erie)
The developers of Icebreaker, a proposed six-turbine project, eight miles off shore from Cleveland, pretend that their turbine area is “not heavily trafficked” by birds and bats. But Lake Erie is dense with criss-crossings and feeding/nesting areas and is one of the most abundant migration routes in the world.
As I summarized elsewhere, this proposal, a decade in the making, remains mired in controversy, with lawsuits and with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) placing numerous conditions for the pilot project to proceed.
Cape Wind (Nantucket Sound)
This project has been abandoned, but its sordid history is important for evaluating the current remake (Vineyard Wind, see below).
Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS), an organization “Protecting the Nature of Massachusetts,” reversed its opposition to the proposed 130-turbine Cape Wind project off Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard back in 2006. Based on climate alarmism and opposed to virtually every other form of energy, MAS’s “Adaptive Management Plan” had caveats.
Our support for the Cape Wind Energy Project is contingent upon these gaps being addressed with a finding of no ecologically significant threat. These gaps are:
• Nighttime distribution and behavior of hundreds of thousands of Long-tailed Ducks in and around Horseshoe Shoal;
• Movement of endangered Roseate Terns and threatened Piping Plovers during the late-summer to early-fall migration; and
• Abundance and distribution of migrating songbirds. Work on filling some of these gaps has begun or will begin shortly. We also propose adoption of an Adaptive Management Plan that includes a comprehensive and rigorous three-year monitoring program beginning at the construction phase; mitigation measures in the event that the project results in unanticipated ecologically significant adverse impacts; compensation for the use of public lands and waters; and enforceable procedures for decommissioning any abandoned turbines.
At the time, activist Barbara Durkin chronicled the huge conflict-of-interest between the environmental bird group and Cape Wind developers.
Mass Audubon appears to have a multi-million-dollar financial interest in the outcome of the Cape Wind permit application process as a self-appointed permit reviewing agency. If Cape Wind is constructed, they are in effect positioned to profit by counting bird carcasses, “monitoring,” while attempting to “solve” this problem; the industry term for this is “mitigation.” (Needless to say, counting dead carcasses is not a “solution.”)
Christine Morabito documented the unholy lead-up to the agreement. In February 2005, MAS noted that the Cape Wind Project was “laden with inconsistencies.” They argued heartily that a collision-risk analysis with a more thorough and ethical framework be completed.
February, 2005: “They stressed the need to assess impacts on endangered roseate terns, threatened piping plovers, migrating songbirds, federally endangered sea turtles, protected marine mammals and federally regulated fish populations.” Of high significance was their estimate of this major migration route: that between 2,300 and 6,600 birds would be killed per year, and “untold” millions of bats.
By March 2006, MAS had incoherently changed messaging: indicating that it had concluded now that the project would NOT pose a threat to avian species. They would not calculate what an “acceptable” number of deaths would constitute.
In a final statement, August 2013, Audubon claimed to have conducted intensive studies, including a visit to Denmark’s offshore wind farms (Nysted and Horns Rev) during the 2005 spring bird migration. However, MAS previously conceded “There are few offshore wind farms worldwide, and none of comparable size, from which to gauge the potential impacts of this project on birds and other wildlife.” Audubon announced, “To date, no collision mortality has been reported at the Danish offshore wind farms, although measuring mortality in the offshore environment is difficult.”
Difficult indeed – if not impossible – a fact confirmed by Vernon Lang, assistant supervisor of United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s New England Field Office, who called for more impact studies of Cape Wind. Promptly thereafter, he was reassigned.
VINEYARD WIND Remake (Nantucket Sound)
As noted in our Master Resource piece a year ago, Cape Wind was eventually defeated and its federal lease withdrawn. Another Nantucket proposal, 84-turbine, 800-MW Vineyard Wind, was withdrawn from the permitting process several months ago.
But with Biden’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the permitting game is back on. “Vineyard Wind still expects to reach financial close in the second half of 2021 and to begin delivering clean energy to Massachusetts in 2023,” a recent company announcement stated.
As with Cape Wind, Vineyard Wind is out to sidetrack true environmental protections. Enter the Community Foundation for Nantucket, which has accepted funding from Vineyard Wind to placate critics. But one doubter, Mary Chalke of Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, argues that the the area is a national landmark and disrupts the feeding/breeding ground for the North Atlantic Right Whale. She characterizes the entire proposal as “devastating.”
Joanne Levesque questions the “offer” to Town Officials, Select Board Members, and environmental groups of $34.4 million over 25 years. This trade for wildlife impacts, fishing rights, and tourism comes from national taxpayers and local ratepayers
Says Levesque: “Developers will say ANYTHING to gain permitting.”
Here is just one example of their subterfuge. Not only do they gain permits based on serious errors, omissions, and misrepresentations of fact—ONCE a project is permitted, they use their professional skills to subvert an honest analysis of the operation’s impacts upon a community. As such it is my opinion that they act in violation of ethical standards as a result of grossly misrepresenting what they are “selling” to these local boards.
To some, this is grand corruption.
Conservationist and activist Dr. Helen Schwiesow Parker catalogues (personal communication) the flagrant dishonesty of offshore wind developers, “rapacious in their intent to occupy east coast waters of immeasurable historic and natural importance: Exaggerated promises of imaginary jobs, blithely dismissing impacts on tourism and offshore fisheries, shamelessly empty agreements to protect treasured species, all are part of the playbook.”
But she is heartened by the present moment, believing that local boards can indeed stand before the courts like David confronting a greed-drunk and unprincipled Goliath, and put an end to the Big Wind Charade once and for all.
This tenacity is mirrored in Audra Parker of the Cape Wind success.
“The alliance’s work will continue to be important to be sure we don’t abuse the asset that is Nantucket Sound.”
The tenacity and “dogged determination” of the alliance’s leadership, including Parker and others, has been a great part of their success to date, Smith said.
Adversaries to the proposed takeover of the U.S East Coast by industrial wind point to these ongoing problems in Europe:
Much is yet to come, but suffice it to say, offshore wind proposals, problematic economically, can and should die a natural death from environmental concerns.
Audubon can’t figure out what they’re doing. I’ll hazard a guess that its membership is full of anxiety-disordered, hand-wringing climate crazies who are rendered catatonic and schizophrenic by the certain knowledge that all those wind turbines do a pretty good imitation of bird Cuisinarts.
We will need to update the offshore wind developments, attempts to desecrate, and the pushback, in real time, pretty much. Changing political policies will require increased coastal vigilance. Your use of the word, Cuisinarts, is completely apt. Thanks for commenting.
What I think we all need to remember, is that impacts of noise during turbine construction, maintenance, and yes, decommissioning too, if that happens, will be enormous, and in cases not redeemable ever. Right whale and ocean noise studies in Canadian waters are ongoing. Disruption of entire species, bird, bat, aquatic life of all kinds, given the scope of the proposed areas for wind development on the Coast, can easily be seen to be enormous.
Dear Ms. Lange,
I also happen to be a sailor who spends time offshore. It’s hard enough to navigate New England’s frequent fogs, Nor’easters and the occasional hurricane without having to worry about dying after smashing into a massive pylon in the pitch dark of the middle of the night.
Dear Mr. John Garrett
Many sailors like yourself have indicated their fears. It is completely a reasonable fear. I know of an avid sailor on Lake Ontario, where they were proposing 400 massive industrial turbines offshore, about two miles out, Jens, now no longer with us sadly, and he repeatedly said if he were caught in a storm such as the first time he sailed across the Lake, it would have been curtains.
Rules for navigating differ….some have a 50 meter boundary for sailors, some turbine blades must be 22 feet above water level, and so on. With the increasing number of offshore factories, it is certain to be an increasing safety issue. Turbulence and rogue gusts are noted by sailors near UK offshore wind, and although I can’t put my finger on real accidents to date, I am sure they are out there and perhaps under reported.
Check your mast height! Better, don’t let the monsters IN in the first place.
Finally someone is bringing forth the subject of ‘grand corruption’. Thank you!
It’s time to thoroughly examine ‘regulatory capture’ as part of ‘grand corruption’ with both on land and off shore industrial scale wind turbines.
Thank you Ms Sommer
The situation at Vineyard Wind, is in your face corruption, if you ask me. As you know, all of it is because communities, families, are asked to deliver their properties, livelihoods, even giving up mortgage capability at times, and of course, delivering the environment, or allowing the damage, turning a blind eye, in exchange for a few paltry things like a school yard improvement, a few better roads, funds to Trustees, some residents taking a few crumbs, too, to surmount their objections. Community Vibrancy Funds. It is so sad. In the case of Vineyard, the offer was 34.4 million dollars, spread over 25 years, in exchange I guess for fishing viability, tourism vibrancy, and loss of aesthetic, which of course is the least important, but important nonetheless. This was to be “secret” but the brave folks got the word out and the “deal” was returned. Bonnie Brady of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, addressing Governor Cuomo’s offshore wind ambitious, ridiculously anti democratic plans, says:
“You cannot eat energy,” Brady said. “You can, however, destroy your food security.”
Thank you, Sherri. You’ve done an excellent job providing
the devilish details on offshore wind.
Industry & trades publications v MSM outlets provide alarming details on offshore wind.
Foreigner-owned Vineyard Wind is the antithesis domestic generation. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (investment arm of Pensions Denmark) is JV partner with Avangrid (Iberdrola), form “Vineyard Wind”.
Vineyard Wind plans to create jobs overseas that would be funded by U.S. citizens, according to Vineyard Wind;
‘The Cape Wind Autopsy’ reveals safety concerns & regulatory capture that favors wind above life & limb.
Thank you, Sherri!
Thank you, Barbara Durkin! Protector of the oceans. “The Cape Wind Autopsy’ reveals safety concerns & regulatory capture that favors wind above life & limb.” SUPER LINK.
Jobs overseas, production overseas, maintenance from crews from overseas, but carnage and destruction for the US. Sounds about as wicked as can be. Yes, it it.
Why can’t we wake up to the suction cup of money going out of country? It’s massive.
Can’t resist quoting this, older but so on target:
Offshore wind is not cost-effective, and the forecasts of rapidly declining costs through increasing economies of scale are unrealistic. Absent continued subsidies—such as state mandates for offshore generation and renewable energy credits, which force electric utilities to sign long-term agreements with offshore wind developers at above-market prices—it is unlikely that any offshore wind facilities will be developed. These subsidies, along with the need for additional transmission infrastructure and backup sources of electricity, will increase the cost of electricity for consumers and reduce economic growth.
The actual costs of offshore wind projects borne by electric ratepayers and taxpayers are likely to be greater than advertised. Experience in Europe over the previous decade demonstrates that the performance of offshore wind turbines degrades rapidly—on average, 4.5% per year. As output declines and maintenance costs increase, project developers will have a growing economic incentive to abandon their projects before the end of their contracts to supply power. In contrast to the strict requirements for nuclear power plants, it is unclear whether offshore wind project owners will be required to set aside sufficient funds to decommission their facilities. This will likely mean that electricity ratepayers and state taxpayers will pay to decommission offshore wind turbines or pay higher prices to keep the projects operating.
The cumulative environmental impacts of multiple offshore wind projects along the Atlantic Coast—including on fisheries and endangered species—may be significant and irreversible. Also, mining the raw materials of offshore wind turbines, especially rare-earth minerals, has significant environmental impacts because those materials primarily are mined overseas, where environmental regulations are less stringent than in the United States. Dismissing environmental impacts that occur outside the U.S. while championing offshore wind’s alleged worldwide climate-change benefits is hypocritical.
The justification of subsidies for offshore wind based on increased economic growth, new industries, and state job creation is an appeal to “free-lunch” economics. The subsidies will benefit the well-connected few while imposing economic costs on consumers and businesses at large. END QUOTE
I sure wish I had a yellow marker. Free Lunch economics. Climate change arguments are hypocritical. But would add of course, a comment from Warren Buffett, who described wind turbine investments, saying they were only worth the subsidies, that was all. No material value.
Warren: Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.
But the US and all subsidized dumpings into wind power, so called power, is a massively generous bucket for international profiteers. We forget that money is lost forever. So is the land, landscapes, water, production efforts, wildlife, protection of communities, human and animal health, and integrity. Net zero.
As the author above states, will there be sufficient will power and funds to decommission? Likely not. Let’s turn to learning the lessons now, from Europe, sadly, before a boring and costly repetition.
Excellent overview of the horror show billing of “OFFSHORE WIND”, coming to a shoreline near you! The recent Biden hypocritical greenspeak and policy on offshore wind is complete madness in light of all of the untold losses of wildlife, pastoral seascapes, heritage coastline, irreplaceable fisheries, and wasteful subsidies being paid to foreign developers. You could not make this up!
The engagement of wildlife protection associations to be paid to play “hide-and-seek” counting dead carcasses is the same as hiring sleazy characters to count cash at betting houses; atrocious and sickening.
Thanks to Sherri Lange and Master Resource for staying on top of this file.
While bribery and regulatory capture support the BigWind scam, more and more people are learning the hard way that wind simply won’t work to power the planet: Californians sweltering in the heat, Germans and Brits freezing in the cold. Factories shuttered in South Australia, where the world’s largest (Elon Musk) battery empties in 4 minutes.
Energy portfolios increasingly tilted toward renewables increase the threat of enduring and devastating blackouts. When the wind picks up after a lull, turbines must be FED energy to get moving again, but where do you get the juice for that?
A Fall 2018 call-to-action report from The Institute of Engineering and Shipbuilding in Scotland (IESIS) noted that, “Being able to rapidly ‘Black Start’ the country is a public health priority and, rightly, a public expectation. In Scotland it is presently an unrealisable imperative…. Industry expectation for Scotland to Black Start has now risen to five days, and the replacement of large-scale dispatchable on-demand generation with weather-dependent intermittent distributed renewables is the cause.”
Speaking from Vineyard Wind territory in a weeks-long February freeze frame, “That’s a killer.”
Thank you, Michael. So well said. Complete.
Why can’t we learn from Europe, expensive, fraught with technical problems, slow permitting processes, tremendous objection from citizens.
Recharge News cites FIVE major obstacles to offshore wind: Angry Birds, Grumpy Neighbors, Sensitive Seafood Industries, Aviation and the Military, Installation Vessels. We can think of a few dozen more: impacts on tourism, recreation losses, amenity and aesthetics impacts, endangered species depletions, Ocean Noise, Eco Junk accruing, cable install problems such as Block Island (as noted, now disconnected), high Operating and Maintenance Costs, Electrical Infrastructure Costs, the obvious impacts for marine life include collision, habitat displacement, and exposure to electromagnetic fields and underwater noise. To name a few.
Repairs, lightening strikes.
COSTS: Studies (Weather Guard, Lightening Tech) suggest that initial costs are: (March 2020)
$2.6 – $4 million per average-sized commercial wind turbine
Typical cost is $1.3 million per megawatt (MW) of electricity-producing capacity
Then add Maintenance Costs: 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour produced, or
$42,000 – $48,000 per year
Add in exaggerated capacity to power homes, an industry standard that no one really knows how the numbers are created
Add in countless impacts to the environment not the least of which will be degrading magnets with REE content, unstudied electromagnetic habitat destroyers
The list goes on.
There is zero question that turbines act as eco traps, resting, nesting, or foraging opportunities.
Offshore and Onshore. “It has been suggested anecdotally that some species groups, such as migratory bats, raptors and seabirds, may be particularly impacted [9,10], which may at least be partly linked to visual acuity .” T
Jason Endfield reports on his blog, June 2019 from the Isle of Man
“Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%. The list goes on….
* The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is just a few miles away.
* Isn’t there a conspicuous connection?
The Isle Of Man (Irish Sea) wildlife charity Manx Birdlife has reported a shocking 40% decline in the populations of many species of sea birds around the island’s coast.
The worrying figures emerged following a comprehensive census that took place over two years. Whatever the reason for the sharp decline of the birds, it illustrates that something has gone very wrong.”
Wrong Indeed. From the Get Go.
Thank you, Dr. Helen Parker. Yes. Another myth buster. That wind (and solar) can maintain energy stability, and save the planet as well.
Complete mythology. It’s hard to imagine how political leaders can eat this costly lunch, and digest it, and support it, and aggrandize it, and cost it out to consumers. Amazing.
Dark Ages Transition, as some call it. The German experience displays an energy confusion of the highest order, and costliest. Sudden surges and collapses in supply. “Their endless seas of solar panels are plastered thick with snow and ice and, accordingly, producing two fifths, of five eighths of very little. (This was as of Jan 24 2021)
And their 30,000 wind turbines have downed tools, too. With bitterly cold, dead calm conditions across the country, wind power output has been reduced to an occasional trickle.
Power rationing is the only thing that’s preventing a total collapse of Germany’s grid; during the first week of January the country narrowly avoided widespread blackouts following the total collapse in wind and solar output.”
Highest electricity prices in the world.
Pray that sanity will prevail in US Offshore Wind.
Thank you, Sherri!
It’s tedious, but important, to establish the threats to public safety posed by offshore wind. BUT, under lead regulator, DOI BOEM/MMS, (deemed a,“culture of ethical failure”, by DOI OIG), an overwhelming body of evidence offered by navigators, public officials, airports’ officials, etc., that Cape Wind posed a threat to publicly to safety was ignored, but preserved:
The inefficiency, redundancy, costs, tech failure, we reiterate to coax believers to look at its defects.
Wind is a biz where developers are paid More to Not produce, is just one defect.
Dr John Constable, the director of REF, said: “The reckless policy of wind farm construction in Scotland… has created an ongoing bonanza for wind farms, which are actually paid more per unit to stop generating than to generate.”
In 1984/‘85, Enron Wind at Tehachapi launched wind globally according to US DOE.
EPIC ENRON II
SUNEDISON FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION WITH $16.1 BILLION IN DEBT
‘Shareholder Voice: SunEdison (SUNE) is the new Enron!’
Equities Staff | Sunday, 29 January 2017 08:12 (EST)
“A group of shareholders for SunEdison requested attention to their investment
I am writing to you to bring attention to the current SunEdison Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, SunEdison Prime Clerk case docket (16-10992) filed April 21, 2016 Honorable Judge Stuart Bernstein.
We are group of over 1000 shareholders both U.S and International. We are seeking justice. We are actively searching for media’s help to get our voices heard. SunEdison is the new Enron!”
Thank you, Barbara Durkin. Thank you for linking us to your excellent 16 page submission.
QUOTE (From Barbara’s submission to Brendan McCahill, Brendan McCahill Environmental Engineer U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Region)
“Over the course of 30 years, transiting
vessels alone may result in 21 spills from vessels colliding with one of the proposed action
structures. When the presence of the proposed action components are combined with transiting
vessels, the possibility for a spill over the 30-year period increases slightly to 22.443 spills. The oil
spill probability analysis shows that only 7 percent of all spills expected in Nantucket Sound
during a 30 year period could be attributed to the addition of the proposed facility. It is possible
that 2 spills attributable to the proposed action itself could occur during the same 30 year period.
Of these spills, there is a 90 percent chance that they would involve 50 gallons (189 liters) or less,
and a 1 percent chance they would involve volumes of 10,000 gallons (37,854 liters).” UNQUOTE
The Icebreaker project (in litigation) will have massive amounts of oil and lubricants, 404 gallons each turbine. It will leak, it will cause harm to the drinking water, inevitable. Europe is now reporting (France), degradation of magnets in blades, impacting hair and blood of humans and animals. RREs. Coupled with EMF pollution. (Coupled also with aerosolized particles of the lubricants.) One farmer has lost 400 animals. Suing. Why would we not think this is happening elsewhere, or that it would not happen in our East Coast Oceans?
The rush, though, continues, profits speak.
I encourage us all to copy this link and contents into a file for safe keeping.
Offshore wind is indeed, a Bonanza. And where do we think profits will go? Offshore? Europe, Asia?
But as you note, the flaws of the industry are becoming common knowledge, the failures, the obfuscations, the tawdry inducements to accept dangerous and unacceptable environmental ruin.
I personally think offshore wind failures as they accrue, Europe and elsewhere, will give the complete “nod” to the general oversized failures everywhere.
Locals and fishing orgs show up in full force for this public meeting.
Bonnie Brady was there!