Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Wind Power Brings Prosperity, Anger"

Let me put up my usual disclaimer first: I am not against developing and installing wind power or any other renewable source of energy.

That said, I am passionately against claims by ardent antinuclear activists that wind, solar, and biofuels are the ultimate panaceas to our energy needs.

Each energy technology has its pros and cons but if we take a realistic look at our energy needs and if we evaluate different technologies with the same set of objective criteria we will find that we need them all. We need to thoughtfully deploy them in ways that optimize our use of natural resources, land and private and public investment while minimizing the impact to the environment and to the economy.

This article on CNN demonstrates that finding that optimization is not going to be easy. While some paint wind power as a benign power sources, there are people who abhor the impact it has had on their lives:

Yancey knows the towers are pumping clean electricity into the grid, knows they have been largely embraced by his community. But Yancey hates them. He hates the sight and he hates the sound. He can't stand the gigantic flickering shadows the blades cast at certain points in the day.
Digging into the article, I’m a little confused about the cost of the project. The article reports that it was $400 million but it also says that each 1.65 MW capacity turbine cost about $3 million and there are 195 of them which I calculate to be $585 million. Oh wait, here we go…
In New York, companies benefit from the fact that the state requires 25 percent of all electricity to be supplied from renewable sources by 2013. They also get federal production tax credits in addition to "green" renewable energy credits, which can be sold in the energy market.
Ok, so someone is subsidizing the project to the tune of about $185 million, or about 32% of the start-up cost. Plus the owners of the wind project receive
federal production tax credits in addition to "green" renewable energy credits, which can be sold in the energy market.
But wait, there's more.
Eventually, officials from Lowville, Martinsburg and Harrisburg, along with Lewis County legislators, negotiated a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that gave the three jurisdictions $8.1 million in the first year…
So in addition to support from the state which is interested in meeting its renewable portfolio mandate, after 15 years, the company will pay NO LOCAL TAXES. Holy smoke. Why didn’t I think to invest in this project? Seems like the owners just can’t lose. In comparison, nuclear power plants currently receive no production tax credit (though there were provisions for them in the 2005 Energy Policy Act for the first few plants in the first few years of operation) and to my knowledge, all pay local taxes. I’m most familiar with the Surry and North Anna power plants which pay about $10 million a year in local taxes.

It all makes the $6600 per turbine per year paid to the landowners look a bit paltry, though.

Some in the community are thinking the same:

People have mixed feelings about the enormous scale of the project. They question what will happen when the 15-year agreements expire. There are concerns about the impact of turbines on bird and bat populations. Some accuse lawmakers of getting too cozy with wind developers -- allegations that prompted New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to launch an investigation into two wind companies and their dealings with upstate municipalities. (The investigation does not involve Maple Ridge.)

Such concerns have prompted some towns to pass moratoria on industrial turbines in order to learn more. Malone and Brandon recently banned them completely.
So towns don’t want wind turbines and much of the state’s leadership and legislature don’t want nuclear. New York State is no place for large scale solar. What does that leave?

8 comments:

Mike 134 said...

We will never be free of oil or any existing energy technology. Everyone wants change but "not in my backyard" well then who's? certainly not in a wilderness,that needs to be preserved.....not near people....NIMBY

BTW O'hare airport is in my backyard...

lad said...

Ontario is not ensuring that wind projects are safely sited well away from highways and public areas. Large ice chunks can be thrown up to 300-400 metres,but the turbines are allowed about 150 metres from major highways. Turbines are also being allowed too close to major transmission corridors. It doesn't take much imagination to realize what will happen if one of the huge blades is thrown onto power lines.

Anonymous said...

The wind generators are being resisted simply because it is change. If you have had to deal with meager profits or even a loss on a farm no matter HOW hard you work, as I have, you would understand the joy that this new crop of electricity brings to the farmers out there that are bold enough to participate in wind projects. The intrusion of a pig farm is FAR MORE annoying than a wind turbine and anyone that says it isn't is deluded. If the neighbors don't like it they should move and let someone who doesn't care move in and put up their own turbine, helping in a small way to save the planet from real damage caused by fossil fuels.

dinkwink said...

I feel Mister Yancey's pain.. especially since our tax dollars are being wated on a feel good-do nothing (at all) solution like wind. But, some people are in their element, ignorant bliss...and getting paid for it.

By the way, I hope you don't need life saving medical evacuation via helicopter, because (in Wisconsin) Flight for Life doesn't fly into tower clusters. Enjoy your $4-5K per year. Your neighbors really be suffering...


Mike Winkler
Author of
(Wind Power...It Blows!ISBN 9780615180199)

Anonymous said...

The answer is that if these windmills cause so much disturbances to families, then we should locate them offshore. Ocean cities have larger populations, generally speaking, than inland cities, so the effect would be very efficient. Additionally, offshore windmills would not create sound above the ocean waves, and would get more exposure to wind, creating more electricity, than if placed inland.

dinkwink said...

I disagree.
Wind towers add nothing to peak load generation. They, in fact, will increase the number of plants that have to be built (coal/NG/Nuke) because each one has to be run at a lower efficiency level to compensate for the inefficiencies that wind brings to the grid.
Call it what it is, a tax boondoggle and government cheeses under a feel good umbrella of deceit. In short, hogwash. Ask people who now host the turbines (in private) what they think. I doubt many of them feel "bold", if they are informed about what wind energy really is. The cold fusion of today.

Anonymous said...

Never forget that the single largest manufacturer of wind turbines in the US is an influential member of NEI.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a book on the subject. If you only knew how your tax dollars were being used, to increase your electric bill.... It is simply disgusting.

Wind Power...It Blows!

(Cut and paste and Google it)