Turbines in Invenergy’s California Ridge wind farm dot the landscape of Pilot Township in western Vermilion County, north of Oakwood. Invenergy is considering additional wind farm development in Vermilion, but some residents opposed to wind energy are lobbying the Vermilion County Board for ordinance changes that could stifle additional development.
HOPE — An airplane that never takes off. A diesel truck idling. An interstate highway. Tennis shoes thumping in a dryer.
That’s how several Vermilion County residents who live in the California Ridge wind project describe the various noises from wind turbines near their homes.
“Sometimes it sounds like a plane that never leaves … other times like a diesel pickup or semi parked outside, and it idles all night. It depends on the wind direction,” said Jeremy Lomax, a Vermilion County resident in the California Ridge wind project who, along with several other wind farm residents, is lobbying the Vermilion County Board to increase the distance a wind turbine can be built from the foundation of a house.
According to Lomax, Ted and Jessica Hartke, Jean and David Miles and Gina Isabelli — who all live within the project area — noise and shadow flicker from the turbines ranges from tolerable some days and nights when the wind isn’t blowing to severe other days and nights and affects either their quality of life, health or both in various ways.
It’s a familiar scenario playing out in other parts of the state, the nation, even the world — people living near wind turbines are voicing concerns about noise, shadow flicker, declining property values and other issues with this clean renewable energy source that the U.S. Department of Energy claims can provide 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and reduce projected emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, by 25 percent.
Just last week, the Iroquois County Board significantly increased its setback of 1,500 feet between turbines and houses of nonparticipating landowners — those without a wind turbine lease.
The new setback is now 12 times the rotor diameter, which would be about 3,936 feet for a 1.7-megawatt GE turbine with a rotor diameter of 328 feet.
Iroquois also approved noise limits on the turbines, along with a requirement that wind farm developers prove shadow flicker would not affect nonparticipating landowners who live within one mile of a turbine.
Residents within the California Ridge wind project voiced their concerns along with Iroquois County residents facing the same issues.
Iroquois County Board member Charles Alt voted for the changes to the county’s wind ordinance. He said they were prompted by complaints from residents in the county, not only about noise from the turbines but also other issues, like road agreements with the wind companies.
Alt said there were also residents who argued against the changes, including landowners in the Wellington and Hoopeston area who have the possibility of leasing their land for a future wind farm development. Alt said that development may not happen now due to the changes.
“It seems like the controversy on wind energy is growing,” he said, explaining that those with wind turbines on their property generally are okay with them, but others who live nearby are having issues. “We have to think about everybody in the county.”
Alt said the effects of wind turbine noise and other issues is still a big question. But there have been residents from within all the area wind farms voicing concerns with noise and other issues. He said not all their stories are the same, but they are close, and he can’t believe they are all making it up. He said the wind companies disagree with such claims, and board members have challenged them for proof.
“And I can’t see why we should OK something that draws this much controversy from people who don’t have anything to do with them,” Alt said.
In Vermilion County, the board increased its setbacks two years ago from 1,000 feet to 1,200 feet. A proposal earlier this year from county board member Chuck Nesbitt to increase the setbacks even more, to 1,320 feet from a property line and 2,640 feet from the closest primary structure, did not gain support from an independent panel, which recommended no action to the county board.
But residents from the California Ridge project have not given up and continue to lobby Vermilion County for increased setbacks. Vermilion County officials argue that a 1,320 feet setback would eliminate such large sections of land from consideration for a wind turbine that it would effectively be a ban on future wind farm development.
Online for about a year now, the California Ridge wind project was developed by Chicago-based Invenergy and is the first wind farm in Vermilion and Champaign counties, stretching from western Vermilion, where there are 104 turbines, mostly in Pilot Township, to eastern Champaign, where there are 30 turbines.
Mostly rural, Pilot has a population of about 580 people, and many homes have wind turbines nearby. But more than a dozen residents there, including Lomax, the Hartkes, the Mileses and Isabelli, have put up vinyl signs on their properties with messages railing against the wind farm. One says “Welcome to wind turbine hell; home of the noisy turbines.”
Earlier this year in response to wind turbine complaints, the Vermilion County Board organized a public hearing. Residents packed the Potomac Grade School gym. About half of the comments championed the construction jobs and income for local business from the wind farm in addition to rebuilt local roads and local property tax revenue it will generate for schools and other taxing bodies. But the other half of the comments came from the Hartkes, Lomaxes and other residents upset about noise, shadow flicker and other issues.
The controversy doesn’t seem to be swirling in Champaign County, where the setback requirement is the same as in Vermilion: a minimum 1,200 feet from a wind turbine to the house of a nonparticipating landowner. John Hall, Champaign County planning and zoning director, said no one has lobbied Champaign County to increase its setback. And, he said, he is anticipating an application for a new wind farm development in northwestern Champaign County.
And more wind farms are a possibility in Vermilion, too.
Apex Clean Energy Inc., based in Virginia, already has a permit for its planned development in northwestern Vermilion County, called the Hoopeston wind project. Dahvi Wilson with Apex Clean Energy said the company is in the final stages of development for Hoopeston Wind, but there are still some key milestones that need to be met before the company determines a construction date and the number and size of turbines.
And Invenergy has plans for a phase two development of its California Ridge farm and does not have a permit yet. Alissa Krinsky, director of communications with Invenergy, said increased setbacks could have a real impact on those plans.
With more than 40 wind projects online, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in the number of utility-scale wind turbines and total megawatts installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association. In 2012 alone, Illinois added more than 823 megawatts, ranking it fifth in the nation in the most new capacity added last year, but the percentage of Illinois’ electricity provided by wind in 2012 was still under 4 percent, according to the association.
Vermilion County officials argue that in the absence of county-wide zoning, the county cannot legally deny a property owner from leasing his land, which would be the case if setbacks were increased to the point that wind farm development would not be possible.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the county has no zoning, no land-use policy and is not a home rule county, so if the county increases setbacks significantly, effectively banning wind farm development, then the county has, in effect, created a zoning ordinance and has taken property rights away from property owners and could be legally liable.
But Lomax, the Hartkes, Isabelli and Rankin-area residents Darrell and Kim Cambron have continued to attend Vermilion County Board meetings and publicly make their case, reiterating their complaints about noise and other issues, and calling for increased setbacks from property lines, not the foundations of their houses.
“To have a current setback of 1,200 feet, I guess they think we don’t play outside, swim in the pool, ride our horses, work in our shops — all closer to the turbine than the foundation of our home,” Isabelli said.
Jean and David Miles said there is a whining or humming noise when the turbines are repositioning. Sometimes there’s a clunking or thumping from the rotating of the turbines, according to the Miles family and Isabelli, in addition to the constant whooshing from the blades turning. Lomax said the severity depends on the direction of the wind and the position of the turbines. David and Jean Miles said depending on the blade position and revolution speed, the turbines can sound like a jet engine. The Hartkes also compare the noise to an airplane in their backyard or diesel engines running.
The Miles family and Hartkes said the noise affects their sleep, and causes anxiety and headaches.
The Hartkes said they notified their local Invenergy representative and began reporting all noise events to the company, documenting the noise and weather conditions, hoping it would help Invenergy determine what conditions were causing the problem. The Hartkes said that within the first four months of California Ridge going operational, Invenergy shut down multiple turbines at their request on more than 50 occasions. The Hartkes said it was an improvement, but it still left the family sleep deprived and suffering from a number of health issues. Invenergy told them, the Hartkes said, to find contractors and get quotes for soundproofing their house. But the Hartkes did some research, and they said they learned it’s not possible to soundproof against the type of “noise/infrasound produced by wind turbines.” In May, the Hartkes said, Invenergy stopped turning off turbines at their request.
“The negative impact of this project on our family life, health and ability to live in our home and enjoy our property has been severe,” the Hartkes said in a statement. Ted Hartke said the family has retained an attorney.
In 2009, Dr. Nina Pierpont’s book, “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment,” was released. According to Pierpont, wind turbines emit infrasound — sound waves with frequencies below the lower limit of human hearing — and low-frequency noises that cause various symptoms in people, which she called Wind Turbine Syndrome.
There is conflicting research and medical opinions on whether wind turbines cause health issues, and in 2009, the American Wind Energy Association, the wind industry’s main trade group, and the Canadian Wind Energy Association brought together a panel of professionals from a variety of disciplines to review current literature on the perceived health effects of wind turbines and concluded that subaudible, low-frequency sound and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to human health.
According to the wind energy association, noise generated by wind turbines are in the range of 35 to 45 decibels at a distance of 1,148 feet, almost the same distance as Vermilion County’s setback of 1,200 feet. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a noise level of 40 decibels is equal to a running stream or refrigerator humming. The Hartkes, Miles family and Isabelli said the noise from the turbines is well beyond the noise their refrigerators make.
Krinsky said an independent noise study is in the process of being completed at the California Ridge wind project, but did not elaborate on the study.
“We are committed to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and look forward to continuing to produce clean, renewable energy as a key economic participant in the community,” she said.
Vermilion County is not the only county, and Illinois is not the only state, where Invenergy and other wind companies are clashing with residents over noise and other complaints. Just last month, a man in Oregon filed a $5 million lawsuit against Invenergy over noisy wind turbines claiming problems with sleep, headaches and other health issues.
The following story includes a connection to the 42-turbine Ubly wind project and resulting lawsuit.
Troubled wind project target of FBI scrutiny, industry criticism
ZUMBROTA, MINNESOTA — The New Era wind project appears likely to have its state-issued permits revoked this fall after missing two deadlines that required it to either begin construction or surrender its permits by Aug. 23, according to a Minnesota Public Utilities spokesperson.
That course of action could finally close the book on what’s been the most controversial wind project in state history.
The 78-megawatt project was first proposed in 2008 by National Wind. During the past five years, five lawsuits have been filed, ownership has changed hands twice, fines have been levied for illegal lobbying and — in the most recent development — the Federal Bureau of Investigation apparently has conducted interviews as part of a potential fraud investigation.
Four local critics of the $180 million wind project, representing opposition groups Goodhue Wind Truth and the Coalition for Sensible Siting, say they spent a January morning in St. Paul detailing their concerns to two FBI investigators. Developers have spent more than $15 million seeking state permits, according to a filing at the PUC, while local opposition has spent six figures in the protracted legal battle.
“(The FBI is) always interested to hear from citizens,” said Marie McNamara, a Goodhue farmer who co-founded Goodhue Wind Truth. “I remember them saying they were hearing concerns from other citizens across Minnesota (about the wind industry). Overall, we were concerned about a lot of shenanigans. We were concerned about the investments and money being lost by local people.”
Added Mary Hartman, a Rochester woman who attended the FBI meeting: “My impression was the FBI is very frustrated and they wanted to meet with us because we’ve been very active. They took all of our documents for their files.”
An FBI spokesperson declined to confirm or deny such a meeting took place, or if there’s an active investigation into New Era founder and CEO Peter Mastic. That’s standard operating procedure, according to the spokesman. However, critics note the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Renewable Energy SD, which allegedly bilked Minnesota farmers out of millions, just days after their meeting with the FBI.
If the FBI is investigating, it wouldn’t be Mastic’s first time facing legal scrutiny.
Mastic, who hasn’t responded to Post-Bulletin phone calls in 10 months, is the former CEO of Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power. Noble Power was part the nation’s first attorney general’s investigation into wind companies in 2008 for alleged improper activities in New York. The issue was resolved without legal action when Noble signed a new “code of conduct” policy in 2009.
Mastic’s company also encountered legal issues in Michigan while developing the 42-turbine Ubly wind project. After years of controversy, during which Mastic worked as the project’s managing director, 20 residents filed a lawsuit in 2010 seeking damages for alleged adverse health effects,emotional distress and economic damages; Noble Power sold the project in 2008, but still was named in the lawsuit. The parties settled out of court in February 2012 for an undisclosed amount.
Mastic became the lead developer for the Goodhue County project when he was named National Wind’s president on Jan. 10, 2011. He purchased the project outright in October 2012 from Texas billionaire T. BoonePickens, becoming the sole owner and renaming it New Era.
While permitting has been stalled because of unresolved concerns about local wildlife, National Wind sued Belle Creek Township in December 2011 and filed a lawsuit against local farmers in May 2012 for attempting to cancel their participation contracts. Mastic’s New Era was then sued by Xcel Energy in June 2013. The Belle Creek issue was resolved without court proceedings, and Xcel recently reached an out-of-court settlement with New Era.
However, the legal matter with a handful of farmers — who reportedly constitute 25 percent of the project’s footprint — remains an unusual situation.
The local residents were personally served the legal paperwork about 15 months ago, but New Era has yet to file the matter in court. That legal uncertainty means farmers remain bound by the contract’s confidentiality agreement and, more importantly, still have an encumbrance on their property. As such, they can’t sell, subdivide,refinance or otherwise act without consent from New Era, according to the farmers’ legal counsel, Dan Schleck.
Joe Sullivan, regional policy manager for advocacy group Wind on the Wires, contends that the various legal situations “doesn’t give a black eye to the whole industry,” noting citizen support for renewable energy — and wind in particular — remains strong, according to a recent Minnesota Environmental Partnership survey.
However, one of the most experienced wind developers in the state believes that public perception of wind is “getting worse” because of the headlines created by New Era and Renewable Energy SD. Dan Juhl says he’s not received a single complaint from the public while developing 22 wind projects in his 35-year career with Juhl Energy, which is headquartered in Pipestone, Minn.
He pulled no punches in recent criticism of the New Era development.
“When we do them, we start at ground zero,” said Juhl, who has developed projects in Dodge Center, Lewiston and Altura. “The Goodhue project, the project that’s been five years in the meat grinder, they didn’t go to the community first. They just came in and said ‘We’re going to do this here.’ They didn’t get the community involved and ask ‘Do you want to be part of this? Where should we site (the turbines)?’
“They just went in like the big guys and bullied their way in. They said ‘This is where we’re going to build and you’re going to like it.’ Well, no they’re not. It’s human nature to fight that.”
As one of the politicians who has “pulled out the stops” in the debate over wind energy, I take exception to the May 19 op-ed from Clean Wisconsin.
I represent the 197,000 good folks of Wisconsin who live in the heart of wind country, where dozens of those massive turbines dot the landscape. To reduce this debate to a series of clichés that does everything except accuse my neighbors of being un-American misses the point.
As a Wisconsin state senator, I’ve introduced several bills in the Legislature on the wind issues, but none of them has anything to do with the politics of wind.
This is primarily a public health issue, and, if we are moving toward wind as an energy resource, it is imperative we site these turbines in a responsible and safe manner.
In my district, there are many families that have developed serious health issues because the turbines were placed too close to their homes. The problems run the gantlet from nausea to overwhelming migraines to heart arrhythmia.
We depended upon the state Public Service Commission to decide where a turbine can safely be located. The commission blew it. The PSC worked with Clean Wisconsin last winter to determine if the turbines were causing the health problems of my neighbors.
The final report said something extremely important: “We recommend additional study on an urgent priority basis…”
We simply don’t know all we need to about how bad the wind turbine health impacts are, and it is irresponsible to advocate building more turbines until we know the answers.
The rest of the world is more advanced in wind energy. Why don’t we follow their lead on placement?
In Germany and Australia, turbines must be at least a mile from a home. In Britain and Denmark, new wind turbines are banned. Yet in Wisconsin, we think one-quarter mile is far enough? What on Earth can the PSC know that the rest of the world has missed?
We owe it to everyone in Wisconsin to slow down this rush to grab land for wind turbines. The turbines damage our health, they put our wildlife at risk and, frankly, we don’t need them. Wisconsin already has far more electric generation ability than we need for the next 20 years.
Adding more capacity simply pushes up costs for all electric users. Wisconsin electric users paid an extra $200 million as of last year for the privilege of using wind generation.
Shame on Clean Wisconsin for turning this into a political debate at a time when we can’t even answer the most basic of public health questions. Whom do the wind turbines harm, and how long-term are their effects?
I know three families that have moved from their homes and dozens more that can’t afford to yet would like to move because of the negative health impacts. I wonder if attitudes would be so cavalier if these symptoms were caused by the oil and natural gas industry?
There is plenty of time to debate the politics of wind — and when supporters are ready to discuss massive taxpayer subsidies and the fact we already create too much electric power in Wisconsin now — it demands further real-world discussion.
Until then, Clean Wisconsin is entitled to its opinions, as are my constituents. But it is not entitled to its own facts, particularly when its opinion is driving some people from their homes and dramatically devaluing others’ homes.
State Sen. Frank Lasée (R-De Pere) represents the 1st Senate District.
Turbines complicate sales of abutting homes
Realtor Susan Whitehead said she has been trying to sell a property on Weeden Road for two years. That property was put on the market for reasons unrelated to the turbines, but Whitehead said buyers ask about the machines, which are visible across Little Bay, “100 percent of the time.” “They ask about the noise, they ask about the flicker, and then they don’t put in an offer,” she said.
Tipton County changing future wind farm setbacks
Turbines must be half-mile from residential dwelling.
By Ken de la Bastide, Kokomo Tribune – August 24, 2013
INDIANA – The setbacks for the placement of future wind turbines in Tipton County have been changed to 2,640 feet from the nearest residential dwelling.
Members of the Tipton County Plan Commission voted Thursday on several proposed changes to the county’s wind ordinance.
The commission set as the minimum setback distance at 1,500 feet from a wind turbine to the nearest property line, but then added the provision that a turbine has to be a half-mile (2,640 feet) from the nearest residential structure.
Commission members also approved a recommendation that no wind turbine be located within one mile (5,280 feet) of a municipal boundary or county boundary.
Jason Henderson, president of the Plan Commission, said residential non-participating property owners could waive the setback requirement in writing.
The proposed changes to the wind ordinance would not impact the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County being planned by juwi Wind.
The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals earlier approved a conditional use permit with the conditions the turbines can’t be placed within 1,500 feet of a non-participating residential property line and required a property value guarantee.
The BZA will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Tipton High School auditorium to consider juwi’s proposed property value guarantee.
Henderson said he will work with an Ad Hoc Committee of six local residents to develop a procedure for complaints filed against the wind farm operator. He said the process has to include an arbitrator and a fee for filing of a complaint.
Several other changes in the county’s wind ordinance were approved by commission members including:
All lighting shall adhere to but not exceed requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration. The ordinance will include a provision for an FAA approved Aircraft Detection System to activate the red lights on the top of the tower when aircraft approaches the wind farm.
Limited shadow flicker from the passage of the turbine blade between the sun and the residence to not more than 30 minutes per day and not to exceed 30 hours in a year. Future wind companies will be required to use the latest technology to prevent shadow flicker.
Set the noise level at 5 decibels above the ambient sound levels for an area. Applicants have to present information from an independent acoustical engineer to determine the ambient noise level.
Members approved a “Good Neighbor” notice requiring companies to provide written notice to all property owners within 1,320 feet of a wind farm. The notice has to be delivered within 30 days prior to any official action being taken. The notice should include a map, opportunity to meet with company officials and a list of county government steps required to obtain approval for a project.
US wind installations sink to zero in Q2
July 31, 2013 by Graham Clews – Windpower Monthly
US wind growth has ground to a halt this year, with no new installations completed in the second quarter of 2013, figures from the American Wind Energy Association show.
Q1s installation figure was the equivalent of one GE1.6MW turbine
The new figures are even worse than Q1′s 1.6MW of new installations, effectively just one GE 1.6MW turbine.
The next slackest period for wind power in the States was the first quarter of 2010, with 541MW of completed installations. The figure for the final quarter of 2012 was 8,380MW.
In its report, the AWEA accepted that the wind power industry ‘slowed dramatically’ in the first half of 2013, and it cited the late extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and ‘historic levels’ of installation at the end of 2012 as reasons.
But it insisted that activity was ‘picking up’ in the industry, listing as evidence more than 3,950MW of long-term power purchase agreements signed, and more than 1,300MW of self-builds announced, by utilities since January.
There was 1,280MW of wind power under construction across eight US states as of June 30.
The AWEA also said that 22 requests for proposals (RFP) have been issued so far in 2013 for wind-inclusive energy, of which 11 were wind-specific.
A number of these RFPs said the extension of the PTC had driven their timing, and in some cases a fast-track approval process had been developed to take advantage of the extension.
Why U.S. wind installations have slowed (Posted August 2, 2013)
This year, the wind industry added just 1.6 megawatts of new operating capacity in the United States, a 0.0027% increase over 2012 installations.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) wasted no time blaming the precipitous drop in development on a lack of long-term, predictable federal policies which in ‘wind speak’ means uncertainty surrounding extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC).
It’s true that incremental extensions of the PTC have had an impact on slowing wind development but other, more significant factors contributed to this year’s drop-off, the primary one being the expiration of Section 1603 cash grants.
The massive infusion of public cash lavished on big wind under ARRA changed the economics of the industry overnight. Projects that otherwise made no economic sense became viable with the grant money. In other cases, applications were pushed up in order to take advantage of the handouts. The industry’s project pipeline was emptied by the end of 2012 and it could take several years before additional proposals reach the shovel-ready stage.
During the period when the grant program was in effect (2009-2012) roughly 30,000 megawatts of new wind was installed, more than doubling the wind capacity in the country. The U.S. never experienced that rate of growth under the PTC alone. With natural gas prices at record-lows and continued flat demand for electricity, it’s no surprise the stimulus-induced wind bubble collapsed and will likely push installations back to mid-2000′s levels. The production tax credit, if extended, will still offset above-market wholesale prices for wind power but the credit will not drive the same level of growth.
AWEA touts the rosy potential for new wind development as utilities announce RFPs for more renewables. According to Liz Salerno , the group’s director of data analysis, utilities “see value of having 20-year contracts that provide electricity at lower costs than ever and that protect against volatility in fossil fuel prices.”
That’s a statement only a wind promoter could believe.
Wholesale prices for wind may be somewhat lower, but they’re still above market. In states where renewable portfolio standards have been adopted, utilities likely have no choice but to accept expensive contract prices in order to ensure compliance with the mandates.
The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) proved decades ago that such long-term power contracts do not lead to lower costs. In fact, with contracts in place, it’s the wind developers that are shielded entirely from market price fluctuations. There is no cost benefit to ratepayers, nor will there be until the end of the contract, which by that time the turbines will have reached the end of their useful life.
Even if wind developers are able to secure project financing, critical challenges face wind development which will make adding new capacity more difficult. These include the lack of transmission capacity, a lack of good wind sites, and increasing operation and maintenance costs.
But a key obstacle that developers prefer to ignore is public opposition which has grown steadily in the last few years, particularly in rural areas where onshore projects are likely to be sited.
While people may accept the concept of wind power, siting is a different matter.
A Wind Energy symposium conducted in Western Massachusetts last year found that 96 percent of the participants supported local control over siting of industrial-scale wind projects, 63 percent supported an “outright ban” in their own towns – or anywhere in the region – and the same number agreed that approval of such projects should require the unanimous consent of all landowners within a 3-mile radius.
The residents of Massachusetts are not alone. Distrust and negative sentiment toward wind developers and their projects run deep and have cropped up in every state where projects have been proposed.
May 25, 2013 by Ariel Wittenberg in South Coast Today
FAIRHAVEN - When Peter Goben, 52, first met his wife Christine, he thought it was fate that they both had grown up in New Bedford but dreamed of living in Fairhaven. Together they built a house in town, raised five children there, and never thought they’d leave, Goben said, until the turbines came.
Goben’s Teal Circle home is located just 1,200 feet from Fairhaven’s two wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant. He lives across the street from a home where the state conducted its noise testing of the turbines and found a violation.
Goben said he believes in the need for renewable energy, and was worried about noise but willing to give it a try when the town announced it was building two so close to his backyard.
Now, after a year of sleeping on the living room couch because the turbines are too loud in his bedroom, Goben is leaving Teal Circle and moving back across the harbor.
“The kids are upset because this is their home, but they don’t live here anymore,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to stay here when I can only use half my house.”
Goben is not the only Fairhaven resident who, after months of complaining about the turbine noise with no relief, is looking to move.
Justin Downey has lived on Timothy Street his entire life, in a home built by his great grandparents. He said his fiancée and their three children moved to Martha’s Vineyard to be with her parents six months ago because the turbines were keeping their 8-year-old son up at night and affecting his schoolwork.
Downey stayed behind until he can find a job on the island and sell his home.
“I used to see my kids all the time; now it’s just when I can get on the ferry,” he said. “It’s sad, but going back and forth all the time is too expensive.”
Downey said he tried selling his home and put it on the market for what he considered to be a low asking price of $209,000.
After a few months of “watching buyers come by, look at the turbines and drive away,” Downey took it off the market and said he is now hoping to find someone to rent it.
Realtor Susan Whitehead said she has been trying to sell a property on Weeden Road for two years. That property was put on the market for reasons unrelated to the turbines, but Whitehead said buyers ask about the machines, which are visible across Little Bay, “100 percent of the time.”
“They ask about the noise, they ask about the flicker, and then they don’t put in an offer,” she said.
Because of this, the asking price of the home has dropped from $389,000 to $244,900, Whitehead said.
Trying to sell a home near wind turbines is something Falmouth real estate agent Margaret Gifford said is not easy. There, residents have been battling to shut the turbines off for the past two years, and Gifford said agents swap stories of houses languishing on the market for years at a time, being passed around from broker to broker.
“The houses near the turbines are not ones that sell quickly,” she said.
Real estate agents are required to inform buyers of anything about a house that might depreciate its value. In the case of turbines, Gifford said they “disclose themselves” but she does caution buyers to make sure they see homes when the turbines are spinning.
Patricia Favulli, acting director of the Falmouth Assessor’s Office, said she has not seen evidence that home values have been affected by the turbines and that houses near the Falmouth turbines have been sold “close to or more than” the assessed value.
On Teal Circle in Fairhaven, Goben considers himself lucky that his home was on the market for just two weeks before an offer came in, something he attributes to the newly built Wood Elementary School nearby. He expects the sale to close by the end of the month at a price 7 percent below what he asked. Since his house went on the market, Goben said some of his neighbors, who are also affected by noise from the turbines, have accused him of “abandoning” their cause.
“But I did my part. I voted, I went to meetings. Nothing is changing here,” he said. “The only thing left to do was go.”
Applause broke out the Fairhaven Town Hall, after the Board of Health voted to shut down the Fairhaven wind turbines from 7 at night until 7 every morning, effective immediately.
The Health Department received over 400 complaints.
“What people are experiencing is chronic sleeplessness, being woken up in the middle of the night. They are experiencing headaches. What’s really, really hard for some of the families is that some of the children are affected” said Louise Barteau, a wind turbine opponent.
The decision brought tears to some who’ve fought the turbine battle for years.
Dawn Devlin, a wind turbine opponent said, “It’s enough for now, so that for the people who are affected, can get some sleep and get healthy again.”
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “For now the shutdown of the wind turbines is a temporary solution, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But if the developer does not find a permanent solution to the noise problems, they could be shut down for good.”
The developers of Fairhaven Wind – which operates the turbines – attended the meeting, but declined our request for an interview.
In a surprise move the Board of Selectmen voted that Fairhaven Wind had breached its lease because of noise violations, and it has 30 days to fix them.
Dr. Barbara Acksen, from the Fairhaven Board of Health said, “We had been told that if the DEP found that the turbines were in non-compliance, that they would direct the Select Board to shut them down, and I was very surprised that they didn’t.”
Testing showed that the wind turbines were too loud, especially at night.
Obama administration gives wind farms a pass on eagle deaths, prosecutes oil companies
Published May 14, 2013
A wind farm in Colorado is shown here. (AP Photo)
CONVERSE COUNTY, Wyo. – The Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind farm for killing eagles and other protected bird species, shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret, an Associated Press investigation has found.
More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Each death is federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind energy company has been prosecuted, even those that repeatedly flout the law.
Wind power, a pollution-free energy intended to ease global warming, is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s energy plan. His administration has championed a $1 billion-a-year tax break to the industry that has nearly doubled the amount of wind power in his first term.
The large death toll at wind farms shows how the renewable energy rush comes with its own environmental consequences, trade-offs the Obama administration is willing to make in the name of cleaner energy.
“It is the rationale that we have to get off of carbon, we have to get off of fossil fuels, that allows them to justify this,” said Tom Dougherty, a long-time environmentalist who worked for nearly 20 years for the National Wildlife Federation in the West, until his retirement in 2008. “But at what cost? In this case, the cost is too high.”
Documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press offer glimpses of the problem: 14 deaths at seven facilities in California, five each in New Mexico and Oregon, one in Washington state and another in Nevada, where an eagle was found with a hole in its neck, exposing the bone.
One of the deadliest places in the country for golden eagles is Wyoming, where federal officials said wind farms had killed more than four dozen golden eagles since 2009, predominantly in the southeastern part of the state. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the figures. Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren’t required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.
When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.
“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.
The Fish and Wildlife Service says it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities and seven have been referred to the Justice Department. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to discuss the status of those cases.
In its defense, the wind-energy industry points out that more eagles are killed each year by cars, electrocutions and poisoning than by turbines. Dan Ashe, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s director, said in an interview Monday with the AP said that his agency always has made clear to wind companies that if they kill birds they would still be liable.
“We are not allowing them to do it. They do it,” he said of the bird deaths. “And we will successfully prosecute wind companies if they are in significant noncompliance.”
But by not enforcing the law so far, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds. And while companies already operating turbines are supposed to do all they can to avoid killing birds, in reality there’s little they can do once the windmills are spinning.
Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors the size of jetliners.
Flying eagles behave like drivers texting on their cell phones — they don’t look up. As they scan for food, they don’t notice the industrial turbine blades until it’s too late.
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in an interview with the AP before his departure, denied any preferential treatment for wind. Interior Department officials said that criminal prosecution, regardless of the industry, is always a “last resort.”
“There’s still additional work to be done with eagles and other avian species, but we are working on it very hard,” Salazar said. “We will get to the right balance.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed a rule that would give wind-energy companies potentially decades of shelter from prosecution for killing eagles. The regulation is currently under review at the White House.
The proposal, made at the urging of the wind-energy industry, would allow companies to apply for 30-year permits to kill a set number of bald or golden eagles. Previously, companies were only eligible for five-year permits.
“It’s basically guaranteeing a black box for 30 years, and they’re saying `trust us for oversight’. This is not the path forward,” said Katie Umekubo, a renewable energy attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who argued in private meetings with the industry and government leaders that the 30-year permit needed an in-depth environmental review.
But the eagle rule is not the first time the administration has made concessions for the wind-energy industry.
Last year, over objections from some of its own wildlife investigators and biologists, the Interior Department updated its guidelines and provided more cover for wind companies that violate the law.
Under both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the death of a single bird without a permit is illegal.
But under the Obama administration’s new guidelines, wind-energy companies don’t face additional scrutiny until they have a “significant adverse impact” on wildlife or habitat.
That rare exception for one industry substantially weakened the government’s ability to enforce the law and ignited controversy inside the Interior Department.
“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not do this for the electric utility industry or other industries,” Kevin Kritz, a government wildlife biologist in the Rocky Mountain region wrote in internal agency comments in September 2011. “Other industries will want to be judged on a similar standard.”
The Obama administration, however, repeatedly overruled its own experts. In the end, the wind-energy industry, which was part of the committee that drafted and edited the guidelines, got almost everything it wanted.
“Clearly, there was a bias to wind energy in their favor because they are a renewable source of energy, and justifiably so,” said Rob Manes, who runs the Kansas office for The Nature Conservancy and who served on the committee. “We need renewable energy in this country.”
Wind Energy Proponents Unable to Prove that 500 ft. Wind Towers
Don’t Harm Nearby Families
For more information contact: April 4, 2013
Rob Kovach (608) 266-3512
State Senator Frank Lasee is standing up for families that have been hurt by 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines, demanding proof that these towers are safe before more are built. Democrats and environmental activists are pushing for more wind power in Wisconsin despite a lack of impartial scientific evidence showing that industrial wind turbines are safe.
“I have spoken with children who have suffered a range of symptoms and families that have been forced to move after 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines were built near their homes. The harm caused by these 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines is real. The science purporting to showing they are safe doesn’t exist,” said Lasee.
“Until we have solid scientific evidence showing that 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines are safe, we should stop subjecting Wisconsin families to the physical and financial harm they cause,” stated Senator Lasee.
Lasee has introduced bills this session to protect families hurt by 500 foot industrial wind turbines. SB-71 is a measure that gives local units of government the power to enact ordinances that protect their constituents. A second bill will let families that harmed by 500 foot industrial wind turbines to sue in court for medical, moving, damages and other costs associated with 500 foot wind towers built too close to their homes.
Landowners terminate agreements with wind developer
By Lucia Suarez | STAFF WRITER | April 08,2013
PITTSFORD — Two more landowners have terminated their easement agreements with the developer of the proposed wind project along the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.
According to documents filed with the Pittsford town clerk in early March, Gardner Stone and his son Todd ended their relationship with Grandpa’s Knob Renewable Energy, the project proposed by developer Reunion Power.
The documents filed show that the Stones, who own 1,000 acres on the ridge, entered into an agreement with the project in August 2007, but last year the company failed to make evaluation period payments on the property as required under the agreement.
A condition under a section of the easement agreement allows the owner to terminate the agreement if a payment is not made within 30 days of notice of default. The documents state that the Stones sent the company a notice of default in late October before the termination was written up.
Steve Eisenberg, co-owner and project manager of Reunion Power, confirmed Friday that the Stones had terminated the agreement. He said it was unfortunate, but they are changing things and the project is still going on.
“It’s still in a hiatus, but we are still pursuing the project,” Eisenberg said. “I would not be pursuing it if I did not think it was viable.”
Stone, who owns G. Stone Motors in Middlebury, said Friday the condition in the agreement was his way out, but other factors also contributed to his family pulling their support.
“The main reason was they stopped paying the rent of the land,” Stone said. “But I was not aware of the devastation on the mountain they were going to have.”
When he signed the agreement with Noble Environmental, who used to own the project before Reunion Power purchased the rights and agreements in 2010, he thought the project was a win-win for the county, Stone said.
He said when the project changed hands he was not comfortable with the transactions, and when the scope of the project was expanded to include larger turbines, that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.
“I was not enlightened about the devastation,” Stone said. “I thought it was the right thing for the community and the state. But then I started doing my own research … We weren’t enlightened with that. I am very pleased (with terminating the agreement).”
The Stones are not the only property owners to terminate their agreements with Reunion Power. Last year, Derek Saari, who also owns property in Pittsford, terminated his easement agreement.
Reunion Power is proposing an 18- to 20-turbine wind project on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline in the towns of West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford.
Wind farm project up in the air
Friday, April 12th, 2013 By Amy Kronenberger
Energy company looking to sell its turbine projects
Future industrial wind farm development in Mercer County is getting turbulent as BP America announced it will sell its wind energy division.
BP spokesman Matt Hartwig said the Great Britain-based company decided to sell its American wind division “as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company and reposition the company for sustainable growth into the future.”
The sale would include interests in 16 operating wind farms in nine states, as well as a portfolio of projects in various stages of development. One of the projects is the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm that would build about 60 turbines in southern Van Wert County and five to seven in northern Mercer County.
BP has received 17 leases from landowners in northern Mercer County to construct the generators.
A buyer could accept the 17 leases and move forward, cancel the leases or renegotiate.
“That would be up to that company on where they go from there,” Hartwig said. “It would be up to the new owner to decide whether to continue that project or go another direction.”
Lease holder Royce High of Ohio City said BP officials have not notified him of their intention to sell. He said he wouldn’t have a problem working with a new wind company and signing a new lease if necessary.
“Everybody’s negative about (wind energy) and I have no idea why,” he said. “We’re going to have to do something to make our country more energy efficient. That’s the reason I signed; I thought it would help the country.”
John Gamble, a lease holder from Rockford, said he would be willing to work with a new company to continue the contract. He believes the project would bring a lot of revenue to the community.
“It seems like with almost any type of progress there are people opposed,” he said. “Probably when they built the railroad through Rockford, there were people opposed.”
Hartwig said the sale would be contingent on the offers. BP is the largest wind company in the U.S., he said, and if company owners are not happy with the offers, they won’t sell.
Roy Thompson, co-chair of Neighbors United, a group of residents in northern Mercer County against the development of turbines, said his main concern is which company will have the highest bid.
He believes the two most likely companies are Iberdrola Energy, a Spanish company that owns the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties, or Horizon Wind, a subsidiary of a Portuguese company.
“(This would be) another giveaway of the $12 billion – 2013 budget funding – subsidy money to non-national corporations while we cut school and healthcare funding,” Thompson said.
Lease holder Jerry Rolsten, Mendon, believes wind energy is a good investment. He said he’s heard people complain about noise from turbines but couldn’t hear anything when he visited the Blue Creek Wind Farm.
“You can go to that rest stop in Van Wert off (U.S.) 33 – there’s one really close to that,” he said. “I’ve never heard a sound from it. I think it’s all hogwash.”
Roger Brown, BP’s business developer for Long Prairie Wind Farm, in December asked Mercer County Commissioners to consider forgoing taxes on the turbines for a payment from the company. The commissioners have not taken any action.
Commissioner Jerry Laffin on Wednesday said BP and Brown have not contacted them about the sale. He doesn’t know what will happen if a new company approaches them.
“Our doors would be open to talk to them about the project, but it would be about the bottom line and we would cross that bridge when the time came,” he said.
Hartwig said BP remains committed to alternative energy in America. The company continues to research new biofuel technologies and supports academic research in that area at various institutions.
Cape Cod community considers taking down wind turbines after illness, noise
By Molly Line Published February 26, 2013FoxNews.com
Wisconsin lawmaker’s bill gives property owners right to sue wind turbine operators
April 16, 2013 / 6 Comments
By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — A state lawmaker who has stood at the forefront in the fight in what he asserts to be the real and present dangers of wind turbines on Tuesday plans to introduce a bill giving harmed property owners living next to the massive towers the right to sue for damages.
Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, says his bill would enable anyone who is harmed by 500-foot industrial wind turbines the ability to sue the wind tower owner as well as the owner of the land on which the tower is located. Plaintiffs would be able to seek damages for the loss of property value, cost of moving, medical expenses, pain and suffering, attorney fees, and any other loss as a result of the industrial wind turbine that is “too close to their home or property,” the senator noted in a statement.
The legislation would apply whether or not the wind tower was legally sited, Lasee said.
Wind turbines continue to generate controversy in Wisconsin. Sen. Frank Lasee is pushing a bill that would give property owners the right to sue wind turbine operators for damages.
“This bill makes it easier for families that have been hurt by 500(-foot) industrial wind turbines to receive compensation for their losses,” Lasee said in the release. “It is unconscionable for a family that has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their home that they have lived in for years to be forced to move because an industrial wind tower is built nearby, or wish that they could move and just can’t afford it.”
Lasee, who has sought a moratorium wind turbine construction, stresses studies that show the dangers to those who reside nearby the renewable-energy producers.
The senator’s latest bills would appear to be written in defense of people like Sue and Darryl Ashley, who, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, moved their family out of their Glenmore home in 2011 to free their then-16-year-old daughter from the constant headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation they claim were caused by the nearby Shirley Wind Project wind turbines.
But the Public Service Commission’s Wind Siting Council in 2010 concluded the “scientific evidence does not support a conclusion that wind turbines cause adverse health outcomes.”
There were 11 commercial wind farms with 634 megawatts of operating capacity in Wisconsin in 2012, mostly in eastern Wisconsin.
The Energy Center of Wisconsin, an independent nonprofit that “seeks solutions to energy challenges through innovative research and education,” notes a modern wind turbine will produce about 50 decibels of noise at a distance of about 300-600 feet.
“This is comparable to the sound of light traffic at a distance of 100 feet, or the typical sounds of a private business office,” the organization states in a report.
The Wisconsin Towns Association has called on the state of Wisconsin to halt further installation of wind turbines across the entire state, until proper and thorough studies are done to clarify the impact of turbine infrasound and low frequency noise on human health.
A PSC environmental assessment on the proposed Highland Wind Farm, a 102.5 megawatt wind electric generation facility in St. Croix County, determined that the “potential impacts of the project would not have a significant environmental effect on the human environment,” although the report does acknowledge there is a “wide variability in how people react to wind turbine noise and that noise produced by wind turbines could be unusually noticeable or distressing to individuals with increased sensitivity to auditory stimuli.”
Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:32 am | Updated: 8:19 am, Thu Mar 7, 2013.
Brett Boese Kenyon, Minn. — The plug has reportedly been pulled on what could have been the largest wind project in Minnesota history.
EDP Renewables, formerly Horizon Wind, recently mailed project participants in Goodhue, Rice, Dodge and Steele counties letters informing them that the initial contract period was up and it would not be renewed, which would have required additional payments to be made. Numerous calls seeking feedback from EDP’s Texas office were not returned, but Goodhue County Planning Commission member and project participant Bernie Overby confirmed the news this week.
“We didn’t get a reason,” Overby said. “All of a sudden we got hit by these letters and we were surprised, but attitudes about (wind energy) have changed over time. Several of (the participants) were relieved.”
While details about the project remain something of a mystery since an official site permit was never filed at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the local wind development has been in the works for years and had reportedly acquired wind rights to hundreds of thousands of acres between Zumbrota and Northfield.
Overby’s 80-acre property in rural Kenyon was tentatively slated to receive two turbines, but he wasn’t particularly upset about the news that EDP was letting the project die.
“I can tell you there are some happy people, some not happy people and some people that aren’t sure if they’re happy or unhappy,” said Overby, who was on a fishing trip and unable to recall his compensation from EDP. “Initially, it looked good, sounded good. It was a pretty good amount of money they were going to pay us to only take up about two acres of land (per turbine), but there’s been a lot of publicity about this wind stuff since we initially signed up, much of it negative.”
Minnesota is currently fifth in the country in installed wind capacity and has an ambitious goal of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. However, Goodhue County has become ground zero for the resistance due to lingering health and environmental concerns that critics feel have not been adequately addressed by state officials.
The bitterly contested 78-megawatt New Era wind project sited near Zumbrota has spent more than $14 million seeking its state permits since 2009. It’s been vigorously opposed by two citizen groups, which have spent six figures fighting the project.
Previous to that, Kenyon Wind received a state permit for an 18.9-megawatt project in 2007. However, those permits were allowed to expire in 2011 without constructing the project after a different citizens group raised similar concerns.
Another project near Goodhue developed by Geronimo Wind is currently in limbo as the New Era project is played out before a national audience.
Coal: the cleanest energy source there is?
By Gene J. Koprowski How Green Published February 20, 2013FoxNews.com
At a research-scale combustion unit at Ohio State University, engineers are testing a clean coal technology that harnesses the energy of coal chemically, without burning it. Here, doctoral student Elena Chung (left) and master’s student Samuel Ayham (right) display chunks of coal along with pulverized coal (bottle, center) and the iron oxide beads (bottle, right) that enable the chemical reaction. (Jo McCulty / Ohio State University) Researchers have discovered a stunning new process that takes the energy from coal without burning it — and removes virtually all of the pollution. The clean coal technique was developed by scientists at The Ohio State University, with just $5 million in funding from the federal government, and took 15 years to achieve. “We’ve been working on this for more than a decade,” Liang-Shih Fan, a chemical engineer and director of OSU’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory, told FoxNews.com, calling it a new energy conversion process. “We found a way to release the heat from coal without burning.” The process removes 99 percent of the pollution from coal, which some scientists link to global warming. Coal-burning power plants produced about one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide total in 2010, or about 2.3 billion metric tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ‘We found a way to release the heat from coal without burning.’ – Liang-Shih Fan, a chemical engineer and director of OSU’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory Retrofitting them with the new process would be costly, but it would cut billions of tons of pollution. “In the simplest sense, conventional combustion is a chemical reaction that consumes oxygen and produces heat,” Fan fold FoxNews.com. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.” And simply put, the new process isn’t. Heating, Not Burning, Coal Fan discovered a way to heat coal, using iron-oxide pellets for an oxygen source and containing the reaction in a small, heated chamber from which pollutants cannot escape. The only waste product is therefore water and coal ash — no greenhouse gases. As an added benefit, the metal from the iron-oxide can be recycled. “Oxidation” is the chemical combination of a substance with oxygen. Contrast this with old-fashioned, coal-fired plants, which use oxygen to burn the coal and generate heat. This in turn makes steam, which turns giant turbines and sends power down electric lines. The main by-product of that old process — carbon dioxide, known chemically as CO2 — is released through smokestacks into the earth’s atmosphere. Fan’s process, called “coal-direct chemical looping,” has been proven in a small scale lab at OSU. The next step is to take it to a larger test facility in Alabama, and Fan believes the technology can be commercialized and used to power an energy plant within five to 10 years, if all goes smoothly. The technology generated 25 kilowatts of thermal energy in current tests; the Alabama site will generate 250 kilowatts. Can Coal Ever Be ‘Clean’? Some environmentalists are skeptical of the technology, and of the idea of clean coal in general. “Claiming that coal is clean because it could be clean — if a new technically unproven and economically dubious technology might be adopted — is like someone claiming that belladonna is not poisonous because there is a new unproven safe pill under development,” wrote Donald Brown at liberal think tank Climate Progress. Yet the federal Department of Energy believes that the process can create 20 megawatts to 50 megawatts by 2020, said Jared Ciferno, the agency’s director of coal and power-production research and development, in a statement. The government plans to continue to support the project, as well as the concept of “clean coal” in general. Meanwhile, Fan is exploring the possibility of establishing a start-up company and licensing the process to utilities, and has the potential to patent 35 different parts of the process. Other scientists and experts are enthused about the prospects for this technology. Yan Feng with Argonne National Laboratory’s Environmental Science Division, Climate Research Section, called it “an advancement in chemical engineering. “It is very important that we act on CO2 capturing and sequestration as well as emission controls of other warming agents like tropospheric ozone and black carbon.” Adds a spokesman for Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Company, a global Fortune 250 chemical manufacturer that works in clean energy, “researchers continue to uncover innovative ways to use coal efficiently/sustainably.” Concludes Dawei Wang, a research associate at OSU, the technology’s potential benefits even go beyond the environment and issues like sustainability. “The plant could really promote our energy independence. Not only can we use America’s natural resources such as Ohio coal, but we can keep our air clean and spur the economy with jobs,” he said.
Renewable Portfolio Standards are coming under attack. The latest locale is Kansas, where the Republican-led legislature says that green energy mandates are distorting markets. Policymakers are also threatening repeal, noting that the environmental community is blocking an advanced coal project there. It’s all part of the national discussion over whether requiring utilities to either procure or to produce a percentage of their offerings from sustainable sources is a good thing. Free market thinkers are inclined to say that if wind and solar energy can be economically provided and if they are reliable, then they will be faithfully produce and consumed. Others say that the state mandates are giving producers the certainty they need to make expensive investments by providing ready-made markets for their products. As the technologies mature and as more players enter the market, those windmills and solar panels will get better and cheaper. That’s the basic idea in which President Obama has twice campaigned, and won. In the case of Kansas, it’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, has long fought for public investments in wind energy, saying that they are responsible for billions in economic development in his state. Kansas adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard in 2009, which requires utilities to provide 15 percent of their power from green energy by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. The state is set to hit its goals, primarily by adding wind energy — without burdening consumers. So, what’s going on? Lawsuits have delayed the construction of an 895-megawatt “supercritical pulverized” coal plant there. But the local Capital-Journal says that newly-erected hurdles are causing conservative policymakers there to respond by trying to either dump or to delay the current portfolio standards. Nationally, about 30 states have enacted some variation of those green standards. Those rules, in fact, are given credit for the installation of roughly 60,000 megawatts of renewable energy generation, says IHS Emerging Energy Research. It says that a few utilities in Washington, Maine, Colorado and New Hampshire are in good shape to meet short-term goals. Others, though, will need to hustle. “With increasing challenges including low power pricing and uncertain federal policies, escalating RPS demand will define the timing and location of renewables growth across the U.S. over the next few years,” says IHS Renewable Power Research Director Alex Klein. He adds that the signing of power purchase agreements is the main way that utilities are complying. Expect Resistance
Recently, two critics of the portfolio requirements have begun nationwide efforts to roll them back: The Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which say that those mandates are tilting the scales and causing consumers to pay more. But their critics are are also pointing out that the two groups are getting their funding from oil and coal interests. Regardless, enacting green energy mandates and actually applying those standards are a challenge. Wind and solar, for example, are intermittent resources that must be firmed up by a resource that can juice up on short notice. Critics say that the ramping up and down of generation is both inefficient and dirty. At the same time, the electric grid must be expanded to accommodate the additional electrons. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. is saying that about 32,000 miles of transmission wires are projected over 10 years. Getting all that up and running, it adds, is critical to green energy’s fate. California, for example, aspires to get a third of its generation from green energy by 2020. The latest 2012 data indicates that sustainable fuels now comprise 20 percent: Wind is at 63 percent while geothermal and solar photovoltaic are at 17 and 11 percent, respectively. By the time the mandates are fully enacted, wind and solar PV will make up 35 percent and 37 percent of that 33 percent target. “Projects face a number of hurdles,” says Sara Kamins, energy advisor to the California Public Utilities Commission, in a phone conversation. “But our forecasts show we can achieve 33 percent with projects under development — and we have 7 more years to get there.” Sempra, Southern California Edison and PG&E are all on schedule. Public policy is supporting the development of green energy resources. But environmental groups should expect resistance to their cause given their own opposition to competing generation, which may also use the latest technologies. That’s what happening in Kansas, and it may also be factoring into the motivation of fossil fuel-backed organizations. EnergyBiz Insider has been awarded the Gold for Original Web Commentary presented by the American Society of Business Press Editors. The column is also the Winner of the 2011 Online Column category awarded by Media Industry News, MIN. Ken Silverstein has been honored as one of MIN’s Most Intriguing People in Media. Twitter: @Ken_Silverstein [email protected]
Here’s another story of broken promises from another wind energy company. Keep in mind that wind facilities do change ownership and today’s promises can quickly change.
County Commissioners Say: Windpark’s tax payment half of what was expected
January 25, 2013 by Donna Jordan in The Colebrook Chronicle
A disagreement has broken out between the Coos County Commissioners and Brookfield Power-which owns the Granite Reliable Windpark–over what was expected for that payment. The County was expecting a payment of $495,000, while the windpark only submitted $249,175.
Just one year after the start up of the windmills in Dixville Notch and Millsfield, the company that owns the Granite Reliable Windpark in those two unincorporated places is already at odds with the County Government over how much it needs to pay in property taxes.
At a meeting of the Coos County Commissioners this week, it was learned that Brookfield Renewable Energy Group has paid about half of what the County Commissioners were expecting for the windpark’s 2013 payment in lieu of taxes (abbreviated to “PILOT”) property taxes to the County. A disagreement has broken out between the Coos County Commissioners and Brookfield Power-which owns the Granite Reliable Windpark–over what was expected for that payment. The County was expecting a payment of $495,000, while the windpark only submitted $249,175.
The windpark is capable of producing and transmitting up to 99 megawatts of power per year for the newly installed windmills which travel along the mountaintops of Dixville Notch and Millsfield. In a letter to the Commissioners, along with the tax payment of $249,175, Brookfield Renewable Energy explained that ISO-New England (which regulates the power grid in New England) requested that the windpark “curtail” its output, which is at 49.835 megawatts. Brookfield stated that, according to its agreement with the County, the payment for 2013 is based on $5,000 per megawatt produced, resulting in the $249,175 payment. The Commissioners, however, were expecting $495,000, a price they feel was settled at for the 99 megawatts that the company is capable of generating. That PILOT money received for the windpark is divided between the unincorporated places of Dixville and Millsfield.
Without those expected funds from Brookfield Renewable Energy, other property owners in Dixville and Millsfield could see an increase in their property tax bills for 2013. County Administrator Jennifer Fish said she is not sure at this point how the Commissioners will address the lack of revenue for the two unincorporated places. The Commissioners, said Fish, will wait until after Feb. 1 before discussing how to handle the lowered payment from Brookfield. “The company has until Feb. 1 to make their tax payment,” said Fish. The company did pay $420,000 in January 2012 for the 2012 property taxes. (It had first paid a deposit of $75,000, which was followed by the balance of $420,000.) She said if the balance of $245,825 is not paid by Feb. 1, the Commissioners will likely be conferring with the County’s Attorney. “They are saying that, according to the way they interpret the agreement, they only have to pay $5,000 per each megawatt produced, and that they were not permitted to generate energy at full capacity. That’s not the way I or the commissioners interpret the agreement,” said Fish.
According to Brookfield Power, the payment in lieu of taxes for megawatts produced per year is a “common” payment in lieu of taxes agreement, unless a different agreement is reached. The agreement with Granite Reliable Windpark was signed by the Commissioners in March 2008, and read: “One Time Payment: Granite Reliable Power agrees to make a one time payment of $75,000 to the County within 15 days of the effective date of this agreement. First Payment: The first payment GRP makes under paragraph (a) of this section shall be reduced by $75,000.” A paragraph referring to the specifics of the agreement states, “If the Windpark is built as proposed, it will be a 99 megawatt Windpark and the annual PILOT will be $495,000 ($5,000 per megawatt per year).”
The agreement does not appear to specify that the PILOT is based on power produced. Joanne Walsh, a Communications Specialist and spokesman for Brookfield Renewable Energy Group responded to an email from the Chronicle and explained, “Brookfield will continue its attempts to resolve this issue with the County. We believe that the payment due under the PILOT is directly tied to the amount of electricity we are permitted to produce. Unfortunately, the Granite project has been often curtailed at the direction of the New England ISO. For an explanation about curtailment orders, please contact ISO-New England.”
Activist Group Claims Government Subsidized Green Energy Projects Are Worthwhile
The free-market vs. government cronyism By TOM GANTERT | Jan. 9, 2013 | Follow Tom Gantert on Twitter
In a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, two analysts from the Union of Concerned Scientists make the argument that President Obama’s investments in green technology were a good deal. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ John Rogers, a senior energy analyst in the Climate and Energy Program, and David Friedman, the senior engineer in the Clean Vehicles Program, described the well-publicized bankruptcies of Solyndra and A123 Systems as “a few falling acorns” and call critics “Chicken Littles.”
President Obama’s green energy investments have received a lot of publicity in Michigan because four of the largest nine green companies to go bankrupt had Michigan ties. The Heritage Foundation did an analysis of 19 bankrupt green energy companies that failed even though the government had promised financial assistance up to $2.6 billion. Proponents of limited government say the Union of Concerned Scientists is missing the point about government investment in green companies.
“Whether the Obama Administration’s investments in clean technologies succeed or fail, the fundamental problem is that the federal government is risking taxpayer dollars to bet on companies in the first place,” said Heritage Foundation Spokeswoman Rachael Slobodien. “Regardless of their fate, the government should not be ‘investing’ in these technologies or companies, especially in the energy market where there is already ample demand and diverse supply. We should be equally infuriated about the successful companies. These are companies that have profitable products to offer and do not need taxpayer support. There is a phrase for subsidizing successful companies: corporate welfare.
“As Heritage’s Nick Loris has explained many times before, ‘Two kinds of companies seek subsidies: economically uncompetitive companies, which need the subsidy to survive, and potentially competitive companies, which use subsidies to pad their bottom lines. Neither case can be justified.’ “ Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said the Union of Concerned Scientists’ contention that the incentives are working because many companies are still operating is flawed.
“It’s not because the program is working. It’s because they are giving this money to large companies,” de Rugy said. Well-established wind-farm owning corporations such as NRG ($145.5 million) and NextEra Energy ($955.5 million) received multi-millions in cash from the federal government, de Rugy wrote. NRG had $27.2 billion in assets in 2012 and NextEra Energy had $60.3 billion in assets in 2012, according to Forbes.com. “I’m sorry. These are big companies that could get capital without the help of the government,” de Rugy said. “That’s the real scandal.” ~~~~~
Invenergy, Xtreme to Store Illinois Wind Power in Batteries
By Andrew Herndon – Dec 18, 2012 2:23 PM ET
Invenergy LLC, a closely held renewable-energy developer, is installing Xtreme Power Inc.’s storage systems at an Illinois wind farm to provide electricity when the wind isn’t blowing.
The Grand Ridge wind farm in La Salle County, southwest of Chicago, will use lithium-titanate batteries capable of storing 1.5 megawatts of power, Invenergy said today in a statement.
The storage system will let Chicago-based Invenergy “balance supply and demand” on the grid operated by PJM Interconnection LLC, according to the statement. Terms weren’t disclosed.
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at [email protected]
Blade breaks on wind turbine near Armstrong, Illinois
Credit: By WILL BRUMLEVE, Paxton Record editor | Thu, 11/29/2012 – 3:37pm
ARMSTRONG — The firm that operates the recently built California Ridge Wind Farm in Vermilion and Champaign counties said it is looking into how a wind turbine’s blade broke on Tuesday night. Chicago-based Invenergy LLC released a statement Wednesday, saying that one of the wind farm’s 134 turbines “experienced a broken blade last night” but how the damage occurred was not immediately known.
“As designed, the turbine automatically ceased operation, and no one was injured in the incident,” the statement said.
“As a company that prides itself on the safe operations of our wind farms across the country, we will determine exactly what occurred in this particular situation.”
The turbine is located near Illinois 49 and Vermilion County Road 2700 North, a few miles southwest of Potomac and south of Armstrong.
The 214-megawatt wind farm was built this year, spanning a portion of Champaign County north of Royal and south of Penfield, as well as an area in western Vermilion County north of Oakwood and south of Gifford and Potomac. Of 134 wind turbines erected, 104 are in Vermilion County.
Invenergy has not officially declared the start of full commercial operations at the California Ridge Wind Farm, but a company official said that will happen soon. It was the second turbine blade to break at wind farms in East Central Illinois this year. In June, the blade of a turbine at the Settlers Trail Wind Farm near Sheldon in Iroquois County broke. That wind farm is operated by E.On Climate & Renewables North America, based in Chicago.
E.On contacted GE, which manufactured the turbine, as part of its investigation into what occurred.
Matt Tulis, communications manager for E.On, did not immediately have information available Wednesday about the investigation’s findings.
Source: By WILL BRUMLEVE, Paxton Record editor | Thu, 11/29/2012 – 3:37pm | www.rantoulpress.com
U.S. slaps duties on China wind towers as high-level talks begin
Published December 18, 2012
WASHINGTON – The United States on Tuesday pressed forward with plans to slap steep punitive duties on wind turbine towers from China, keeping up friction on the clean energy front as it welcomed a high-level Chinese delegation for trade and economic talks.
The U.S. Commerce Department set final anti-dumping duties ranging from 44.99 to 70.63 percent on utility-scale towers manufactured in China to offset what it said was unfairly low pricing and additional countervailing duties of 21.86 to 34.81 percent to combat Chinese government subsidies.
The department also slapped final anti-dumping duties of 51.40 to 58.49 percent on wind towers from Vietnam.
A U.S. trade panel has final approval over the duties and is expected to vote on the case in late January.
The action came as a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Wang Qishan was in Washington for the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting, a high-level bilateral forum to address barriers to trade and investment.
Wang will attend a dinner on Tuesday evening hosted by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and is expected to meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday morning.
The main meeting on Wednesday takes place against the backdrop of high-stakes negotiations between President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that begin early next year.
The White House is also pushing for an increase in the nation’s $16.4 trillion statutory debt cap as part of any deal. The U.S. Treasury expects to reach the debt ceiling by year-end and will likely run out of options to free up more borrowing capacity by sometime in February, risking a potential default.
China is the United States’ largest creditor, giving it a deep interest in Washington’s budget debate.
U.S. companies are not expecting sweeping new commitments from China from Wednesday’s meeting, but are hoping for action on longstanding concerns ranging from Chinese barriers to U.S. farm products to policies that pressure U.S. companies to transfer valuable technology to China to do business there.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Dan Grebler)
Dec. 18 abatement vote could make or break project
By Scott Smith
KOKOMO TRIBUNE - December 7, 2012
TIPTON — A major battle looms in Tipton County between landowners hoping to cash in on a new wind farm and opponents of further expansion, as the Tipton County Council must decide on tax incentives.
More than 50 opponents came to the council meeting this past Monday, and more than a dozen speakers came out against a proposal to cover most of Prairie Township and the area between Sharpsville and U.S. 31 with wind turbines.
Council members voted 6-0 to declare the 10-square-mile area a revitalization area, making it eligible for property tax abatements.
The vote on the actual abatements will be 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Tipton County Foundation offices, and council president Scott Friend said he hopes people make their voices heard.
Friend, who said he’s leaning toward voting against the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, added that he expects a large crowd at the meeting, after seeing such a big turnout Monday.
“I just think people are seeing the impact this is going to have on Tipton County,” Friend said. “I hope as many people show up as possible.”
If the abatements pass, it’s likely that Boulder, Colo.-based juwi Wind Energy will construct up to 94 wind turbines, mostly in Prairie Township, but also extending 2 miles to the east of U.S. 31, ending at the outskirts of Sharpsville. If it moves forward, the wind farm will be located between 200 North and the Howard County line, and 400 West and the Clinton County line.
The company is expected to invest between $100 million and $300 million for a project developers say is expected to produce between three and eight full-time jobs.
Councilwoman Suzanne Alexander said she’s torn on how she will vote, in part, she said, because the council vote seems like the culmination of a long process.
Landowners began signing contracts with juwi three years ago, at the height of the recession, and the company now says it has contracts with 50 property owners, covering about 150 parcels of land.
“I kind of get the feeling that the county council is the last little step in this process. It even comes across to me that we’re the last little stepping stone for what’s almost a signed, sealed agreement,” Alexander said.
The property tax abatement issue, however, could stop the project in its tracks. Asked if she thinks the project will move forward without the abatement, Alexander said “probably not.”
“The tax abatement is too valuable to [juwi],” she said.
Friend said there has been a drastic change in public reaction to wind turbines in Tipton County since the Wildcat Wind Farm, now under construction in eastern Tipton County, was approved and given abatements.
“The first meeting we had [for the Wildcat project] we didn’t really have anyone stand up who was against it,” Friend said. “This last meeting was much different. It was exactly the opposite … now that the first farm’s gone up, people are more aware of what it will do to the landscape.”
Matt Heck, senior project developer on the juwi project, said the project cannot move ahead without both the local abatements and federal tax incentives.
Congress is currently debating an extension of the credits, which may expire at year’s end. The developers of the Wildcat project, E-On Climate & Renewables, is pushing to get the turbines up and running by year’s end to ensure the project will receive the federal subsidies.
Heck also said the project can’t move ahead under a separate proposal discussed Monday, which would limit the length of the county’s abatement to seven years. Heck said the standard length of abatement in Indiana for this type of wind project is 10 years.
The difference between a seven-year abatement and a 10-year abatement is about $709,000 in additional taxes the project would pay to the county, according to Friend.
“A seven-year abatement just doesn’t make it feasible and it doesn’t make it competitive either, if every other developer we’re trying to compete with for the same pool of buyers. It’s not realistic,” Heck said.
The project would likely be owned by a consortium, as a limited liability corporation, and with an escrow account in place to provide for the dismantling of the turbines decades from now, in the event the owners aren’t willing to.
The county stands to earn somewhere between $700,000 and $1.78 million in payments from the project, in addition to property taxes, and individual landowners stand to profit.
But Alexander and Friend both said they want to do whatever the majority of the citizens want.
“We are working for the citizens. They help us make the decision. They live in the area. They are the ones affected,” Alexander said.
A new worldwide survey of offshore wind installations takes a look at why it might be slow going in the United States, which still doesn’t have any.
Navigant Consulting, reviewing conditions at the end of last year, found that building a wind machine offshore in Europe cost about 4 million euros (around $5.1 million) per megawatt of capacity. By comparison, wind turbines built onshore in the United States (the only point of comparison for now) cost about $2 million per megawatt.
Building offshore is not all downside; for one thing, there is more wind, so identical machines onshore and at sea will produce wildly different amounts of electricity. And winds offshore tend to blow around the clock, delivering some energy during daylight, when electricity sells for a higher price in the wholesale markets. On land, the wind blows mostly at night, producing electricity at an hour when the market for electricity is depressed.
The Navigant study found that costs in Europe were increasing and are now 50 to 100 percent higher than they were when the first large-scale projects were built.
“The main reason is they are moving further offshore into deeper waters,” said Bruce Hamilton, a wind expert with Navigant. “The easy sites are getting used up.’’ But the wind is better farther offshore, he said, so the electricity may not cost more over all even if the machine does.
Still, the numbers indicate that such electricity would not be competitive in America. According to Navigant, operation and maintenance – separate from the cost of building the machines – costs about 39 euros, or about $50, per megawatt-hour. That is almost as high as the average wholesale price of a megawatt-hour in New York State — $59 last year.
Wind installations in the United States benefit from a production tax credit and other tax breaks, but “it’s just not competitive,” Mr. Hamilton said. “People won’t do it unless they’re forced to.’’
But costs could come down, he said.
Navigant said two projects could go into service off the East Coast in 2014: Cape Wind, near Cape Cod, Mass., and Fishermen’s Energy, off the New Jersey coast. Each benefits from a law passed by a state legislature.
The firm is tracking three other proposals along the East Coast, three off the Texas coast and one on the Ohio shore of Lake Erie for which site surveys have already been conducted or leases or power purchase agreements negotiated.
Governor “Jim Jones” Shumlin Leads Vermont To Environmental Mass Suicide – “An Incredible Tragedy”
By P Gosselin on October 10, 2012 www.notrickszone.com
The following video makes it clear why Peter Elliott Shumlin is one of the dumbest, if not the dumbest, governors in America. That’s a pretty tough accomplishment with states like Oregon, California and Maryland in the field.
Shumlin thinks that reducing Vermont’s fossil energy consumption (which is not even measurable on a global scale) by a couple of percentage points will lead to a gentle climate for his state and prevent flooding there (2:25). Watch the video! I don’t know if he’s a swindler, or a complete moron.
So radical Shumlin is when it comes to protecting the climate with windmills that he has become an environmental Jim Jones who is ready to lead the state to commit mass environmental suicide.
And like the followers of Jim Jones, many Vermonters believed, and they all lined up behind the Jim Jones Shumlin’s wind energy movement – cheering on the army of wind turbine builders that would soon invade the state and disfigure it permanently – thinking it would bring them salvation. Today they are shocked and horrified. They now realise the punch is spiked with death.
The video above interviews an entire series of opponents, many are kooky environmentalists, some openly admitting they had been duped by the windpower pipe-dream (e.g. see 7:45 mark). They were all conned by Al Gore’s AIT film. They were all suckered by the “consensus” science that never was. They were manipulated by the media and politicians. And in a state of panic, they all thought something had to be done quickly.
Although many have since woken up to the true horror of the wind energy punch brewed by Shumlin, most are still convinced of man-made climate change. This is because they have been too lazy (or too damn stupid) to actually take a look at the hard data of historical climate.
How can people get so nutty? That’s the question that we often ask about Nazi Germany, isn’t it? It has to do with group-think reaching a certain tipping point. Eventually madness loses its brakes and turns into a runaway train that can’t be stopped. That’s what happened in Vermont.
Let’s recall that Vermont gave Obama something like 68% of the vote in 2008 (the greatest of all 50 states). So when that level of political onesidedness (cluelessness) grips a state, it’s little wonder that really dumb things like Shumlin can happen. The state lost its brakes. The state didn’t used to be that way. Things started to get especially bad after I left 30+ years ago.
Today the tiny state of Vermont is busy permanently altering and industrialising 200 miles of mountain ridgelines with 500-foot wind turbines – thinking this will rescue the planet. This, if allowed to continue, will turn the state into an environmental catastrophe of Soviet dimensions. What will Vermonters gain from it all the sacrifice? A theoretical cooling of the global climate by 0.0000000000041°C over the next 100 years. They’ll still have to buy flood insurance.
Fortunately, it is not only in Vermont that people are sobering up from their drugged green stupor and are starting to focus on the consequences of their runaway collective madness: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/9597461/Soviet-style-wind-farm-subsidies-to-face-the-axe.html
T. Boone Pickens departs state wind project
Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune Updated: October 12, 2012 – 9:22 PM
Proposed wind farm west of Goodhue will still go forward, new owner said.
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has sold his stake in a controversial wind farm proposed in Goodhue County, Minn., but its new owner says the project is going ahead.
Dallas-based American Wind Alliance, founded by Pickens in 2009, said Friday that it has sold 100 percent of the company behind the Minnesota project, whose name has been changed to New Era Wind Farm LLC. The financial terms were not disclosed.
The proposed 50-turbine wind farm, once estimated to cost $180 million, would be located west of the city of Goodhue, about 60 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. Citizens have fought the project because of concerns about potential noise and unpleasant shadows from spinning blades and about threats to protected eagles and bats that might hit the blades.
Peter Mastic, who formerly headed a Minneapolis wind development firm that worked on the project, said in an interview Friday that he is the sole employee and owner of New Era Wind Farm.
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Mastic said he intends to pursue the project with the help of a local advisory board and, eventually, local investors. The advisory board of local farmers decided on the new company name, he added.
“They wanted something that signified a re-engagement with the community and a new beginning,” said Mastic, who indicated that the board members’ names will be disclosed later.
Although the project has a site permit from the state Public Utilities Commission, its avian and bat protection plan is pending. Mastic said the company will submit a revised plan and will seek a federal permit for the “incidental take” or killing of protected species.
Pickens’ company, Mesa Power, said it believes the Goodhue project will be built. “For strategic reasons, Mesa Power is redeploying its wind development efforts,” the company said in a statement.
Mastic said he will go ahead with the project even if the federal production tax credit for wind farms is allowed to expire on Dec. 31. The fate of many wind energy projects hinges on whether the subsidy is extended by Congress, which won’t consider the matter before the elections.
Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, would buy electricity from the wind farm as part of a commitment under a state law to purchase energy from community-based producers.
Until July, Mastic was the CEO of Minneapolis-based National Wind, which launched the Goodhue project, but ended its role as developer in August. National Wind recently was acquired by Trishe Wind Energy Inc., a wind development group based in India.
Pickens, a Texas oil and gas entrepreneur, was recently listed by Forbes magazine as the 360th richest American, with a net worth of $1.2 billion.
Green energy startups aren’t getting the kind of government help they’ve had in the past, and investors say that’s reason for them to stay away from the industry.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Green energy startups are feeling the sting of rejection by investors concerned about falling energy prices and the future of government support.
The boom in natural gas has hurt the competitiveness of alternative energy. And proposed budget cuts would force the government to dial back support of wind farms, solar panel manufacturers, ethanol producers and makers of alternative fuel cars.
In response, investors say they won’t lend money to green energy companies, especially startups, because they haven’t proven they can be profitable on their own.
Rosa McCormick, managing director of Wild Basin Investments in Austin, Texas, said that’s particularly true for doomed solar panel makers, such asSolyndra and Abound Solar. U.S. companies can’t lower prices enough to compete with solar panels imported from China, which provides big subsidies.
“The bottom fell out of that market,” McCormick said. “No one wants to touch that. It’s toxic from an investor point of view.”
U.S. wind energy companies face a different set of problems.
A federal tax credit that pays 30% of costs for new wind farms is set to expire at the end of this year. If Congress doesn’t renew it, new turbine construction could “dramatically slow,” according to a recent Energy Department report.
Orders for new turbines for 2013 have already dropped, and the industry is in for “a significant shakeup,” according to Matt Kaplan, associate director of IHS Emerging Energy Research in Cambridge, Mass.
Another headwind moving against that industry — and the growth of green energy in general — is the falling price of natural gas, which is less than half what it was just a few years ago. Why invest in alternative energy when natural gas is abundant and cheap?
Time to let the pernicious production tax credit for wind power blow away
As Congress works to reduce spending and avert a debt crisis, lawmakers will have to decide which government projects are truly national priorities, and which are wasteful. A prime example of the latter is the production tax credit for wind power. It is set to expire on Dec. 31-but may be extended yet again, for the seventh time.
This special provision in the tax code was first enacted in 1992 as a temporary subsidy to enable a struggling industry to become competitive. Today the provision provides a credit against taxes of $22 per megawatt hour of wind energy generated.
From 2009 to 2013, federal revenues lost to wind-power developers are estimated to be $14 billion-$6 billion from the production tax credit, plus $8 billion courtesy of an alternative-energy subsidy in the stimulus package-according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Treasury Department. If Congress were to extend the production tax credit, it would mean an additional $12 billion cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years.
There are many reasons to let this giveaway expire, including wind energy’s inherent unreliability and its inability to stand on its own two feet after 20 years. But one of the most compelling reasons is provided in a study released Sept. 14 by the NorthBridge Group, an energy consultancy. The study discusses a government-created economic distortion called “negative pricing.”
This is how it works. Coal- and nuclear-fired plants provide a reliable supply of electricity when the demand is high, as on a hot summer day. They generate at lower levels when the demand is low, such as at night.
But wind producers collect a tax credit for every kilowatt hour they generate, whether utilities need the electricity or not. If the wind is blowing, they keep cranking the windmills.
Why? The NorthBridge Group’s report (“Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit”) finds that government largess is so great that wind producers can actually pay the electrical grid to take their power when demand is low and still turn a profit by collecting the credit-and they are increasingly doing so. The wind pretax subsidy is actually higher than the average price for electricity in many of the wholesale markets tracked by the Energy Information Administration.
This practice drives the price of electricity down in the short run. Wind-energy supporters say that’s a good thing. But it is hazardous to the economy’s health in the long run.
Temporarily lower energy prices driven by wind-power’s negative pricing will cripple clean-coal and nuclear-power companies. But running coal and nuclear out of business is not good for the U.S. economy. There is no way a country like this one-which uses 20% to 25% of all the electricity in the world-can operate with generators that turn only when the wind blows.
The Obama administration and other advocates of wind power argue that the subsidy provided by the tax credit allows the wind industry to sustain American jobs. But they are jobs that exist only because of the subsidy. Keeping a weak technology alive that can’t make it on its own won’t create nearly as many jobs as the private sector could create if it had the kind of low-cost, reliable, clean electricity that wind power simply can’t generate.
While the cost of renewable energy has declined over the years, it is still far more expensive than conventional sources. And even the administration’s secretary of energy, Steven Chu, calls wind “a mature technology,” which should mean it is sufficiently advanced to compete in a free market without government subsidies. If wind power cannot compete on its own after 20 years without costly special privileges, it never will.
Major layoffs coming to Fort Madison plant
by KHQA Newsdesk
Posted: 09.18.2012 at 1:37 PM
FT. MADISON, IOWA — Siemens Corporation has announced a major layoff at their facility in Fort Madison.
A wind energy equipment manufacturer says it will lay off 615 workers in Iowa, Kansas and Florida in part because Congress has not renewed a tax credit for wind energy.
Steve Bisenius, executive director of the Lee County Economic Development Group said that it’s a sad day for both the county and the region.
“It is stunning, unbelievable,” he said. “We look at the wind industry and see that there is a slowdown in the industry. No question, one cannot be totally surprised.” Steve Bisenius, executive director of the Lee County Economic Development Group, said.
Siemens Energy Inc. says it told workers the news Tuesday at plants in Fort Madison, Iowa; Hutchinson, Kan., and Orlando, Fla.
The biggest cuts will come in Fort Madison, where 407 workers at a wind turbine blade factory will be out of work. About 220 workers there will be retained.
The company blamed difficult market conditions due to lack of congressional action on a wind energy tax credit as well as increased use of natural gas-fired power plants and an overall sluggish economy.
In a statement, Siemens says the industry is seeing a significant drop in new wind turbine orders.
Employees learned about the layoffs Tuesday. The layoffs will go into affect Nov. 19. Employees will receive severance pay based on their years of service, including a minimum four-weeks pay for employees with six months or more of service. Company spokeswoman Melanie Forbrick said Siemens will provide career counseling and $5,000 of education and retraining benefits.
The company received $3.4 million in tax incentives under the U.S. Department of Energy’s manufacturing tax credit program for the Fort Madison facility expansion, according to the company’s Web site. In total, the company currently employs 600 people in Fort Madison with more than 150 indirect jobs created by its presence in the city.
Bisenius said that his organization will contact the offices of U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin to see what effort can be taken to get the tax credit extended.
Harkin, who visited the plant in August, released a statement Tuesday.
“I’m surprised and disappointed by today’s announcement about the impact on the affected workers and their families,” the Cumming, Iowa Democrat said. “Today, my thoughts are with each of them.”
Iowa Republican Sen. Grassley’s office also released a statement blaming policies and regulation for the plant’s layoffs.
“My heart goes out to the people losing jobs. When you’re in that situation, it’s a depression, not a recession, for you and your family,” he said. “In this case and others, the market conditions described by the company emphasize the need for certainty of policies out of Washington, from the production tax credit for wind to the threat of other taxes going up and heavy-handed regulations that make it harder for businesses to sustain and create jobs.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Federal spending on clean energy falls short on jobs, but wind and solar advance
WASHINGTON – What has America gotten so far from President Barack Obama’s spending on clean energy, and has it been worth the cost?
The multibillion-dollar outlays of the past four years had equally big goals: putting people to work right away, but also future jobs in a growing global endeavor to cut pollution and the risks from climate disruption.
The federal spending has become an issue in the 2012 campaign. Republicans say the federal government squandered taxpayers’ money, whether it was on $27-a-gallon biofuels for a test of an aircraft carrier battle group last month, subsidies for renewable energy or the taxpayers’ loss of $535 million to the bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra.
Four years ago, the Democrats’ promises on clean energy were all about jobs. As Obama took office seeking nearly $1 trillion in spending and tax cuts to boost a free-falling economy, he wanted to include green energy spending and he stressed the job benefits.
“We’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels, constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs,” he said on Jan. 16, 2009, in a speech pitching the stimulus proposal.
On jobs, the promise fell short. The White House said its clean-energy stimulus funds created 224,500 jobs. An independent study this year concluded that 70,000 jobs were added to clean technology industries from 2007 to 2010. That study was done by the Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute and the World Resources Institute.
Obama and his team argued that spending on clean energy would have other benefits. They said it would help the United States get some of the renewable energy manufacturing that otherwise would go to China, where energy technology is subsidized. It also would create jobs in the future and help the environment.
“Whenever the government has been involved in so-called stimulus, it’s really more than stimulus,” said Diane Lim Rogers, the chief economist for the Concord Coalition, a budget watchdog that advocates for fiscal responsibility.
The 2009 stimulus, she said, was aimed at helping people make ends meet, increasing demand for goods and services in order to create jobs, and making a long-term shift in the way resources are used in order to better reflect social values and costs.
In the case of the clean-energy spending, that third part included a way of addressing climate change.
Renewable energy doubled from 2006 to 2011 and prices fell, according to the Brookings-Breakthrough-WRI report.
Construction began on the first nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, and U.S. companies got a share of the market in advanced batteries and vehicles. But nearly all clean-tech industries depend on subsidies or other supports in order to compete with oil and gas.
After spiking to $44.3 billion per year in 2009 with the first year of the stimulus, federal support for clean technology is on track to total $11 billion annually by 2014.
“Judged by the standards of short-term job creation, the energy investments may not have performed brilliantly,” said Mark Muro of Brookings, one of the authors of the report.
“However, over the medium and longer term, these programs will in time be viewed as critical investments in research and development, early-stage deployment and broader scale-up of important new technologies.”
Most of the tax preferences for energy efficiency and renewable energy, which were expanded with the stimulus bill, expired at the end of last year. The wind industry is fighting to keep a production tax credit that will expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends it.
The industry’s trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, says wind-manufacturing jobs in the U.S. increased from 2,500 in 2004 to 30,000 today. Overall, the wind industry employs 78,000 people. The association argues that the tax credit is essential for the growth of wind, and that without it nearly half the jobs would be lost.
To some, taxpayer support means the market isn’t really ready for renewable energy.
David Kreutzer, a research fellow in energy economics at the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, argued that wind and solar industries don’t stimulate growth because they depend on subsidies.
“To the extent you put resources to electricity that make it more expensive than it would be if produced conventionally, that would retard economic growth,” Kreutzer said.
Congress considered a plan in 2009 to attack climate change by making fossil fuels more expensive. When it died in the Senate, the Obama administration turned to clean-energy support instead.
The idea was to help these industries get started so that they could grow and eventually compete with fossil fuels. Part of that strategy was the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantee program.
Besides Solyndra, two other solar companies, out of 33 companies in the loan-guarantee program, filed for bankruptcy.
Abound Solar borrowed about $70 million for solar manufacturing plants in Colorado and Indiana, and taxpayers will be out about $40 million to $60 million after the company is liquidated, the Department of Energy estimated.
Beacon Power Corp. qualified for a $43 million loan guarantee for an energy storage plant in New York. The company had assets that attracted a buyer, and taxpayers received 75 percent of the loan amount back.
Others moved ahead, including a large solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert where 2,100 workers are building the $2.2 billion facility with parts made in 17 states. A wind farm in Oregon has employed 1,000 construction workers and has purchased components from 15 suppliers in nine states. Half of the planned 338 turbines are built and operating.
Another major way the government is pushing clean energy is with the military.
For example, the Defense Department is working on a plan to find private contractors to build and operate solar, wind, biomass or geothermal plants at military installations.
No additional dollars from Congress would be needed, Katherine Hammack, the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, said last week.
Hammack said the renewable energy plants would save money. The plant operators would sell some energy to the military bases, and any extra energy could be sold off base. The bases would get reduced energy costs in exchange for the use of their land.
The Navy has been pushing the development of biofuels from plants other than food crops as a way of reducing dependence on Middle East oil and the volatile world market price.
In July, in the largest international maritime exercise in the world, a Navy carrier strike group was powered on a blend of petroleum and biofuels made from animal fats and algae.
The government made its biggest biofuel purchase ever for this test: 450,000 gallons for $12 million, or $27 per gallon.
“We’re in a unique position, relative to commercial aviation or shipping, to play a leading catalyst role in the early establishment of the market,” said Thomas Hicks, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for energy.
The Navy played the same part when it shifted from sails to coal, and from oil to nuclear power, Hicks said. But alternative fuels will have to become cost-competitive before the military uses them, he said.
The federal government plans to spend $510 million in a partnership with private companies to get a few refineries built to produce biofuels that can be blended with petroleum and used in the same vehicles and military equipment that use oil today.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., have led efforts in Congress to block the military from pursuing biofuels, arguing that they’re a waste of money.
Sharon Burke, the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy, acknowledged that it’s impossible to say when the military will have a ready supply of competitively priced biofuels.
But the military thinks decades ahead, she said, when the U.S. could be faced with unfriendly oil suppliers, an end of easy oil or increasing climate problems.
“There will come a day when there won’t be enough petroleum in the global market to meet global demand,” Burke said.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/08/12/3756391/federal-spending-on-clean-energy.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy
New Wind Farms in the U.S. Do Not Bring Jobs
By JONATHAN KARL (@jonkarl)
Feb. 9, 2010
Despite all the talk of green jobs, the overwhelming majority of stimulus money spent on wind power has gone to foreign companies, according to a new report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C.
Nearly $2 billion in money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been spent on wind power, funding the creation of enough new wind farms to power 2.4 million homes over the past year. But the study found that nearly 80 percent of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines. So Where Are the Jobs?
“Most of the jobs are going overseas,” said Russ Choma at the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He analyzed which foreign firms had accepted the most stimulus money. “According to our estimates, about 6,000 jobs have been created overseas, and maybe a couple hundred have been created in the U.S.”
Even with the infusion of so much stimulus money, a recent report by American Wind Energy Association showed a drop in U.S. wind manufacturing jobs last year.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the flow of money to foreign companies an outrage, because the stimulus, he said, was intended to create jobs inside the United States.
“This is one of those stories in Washington that when you tell people five miles outside the Beltway, or anywhere else in America, they cannot believe it,” Schumer told ABC News, “It makes people lose faith in government, and it frankly infuriates me.”
Matt Rogers, the senior adviser to the Secretary of Energy for the Recovery Act, denied there was a problem.
“The recovery act is creating jobs in the U.S. for American workers,” said Rogers, “That is what the recovery act is about, that is what it is doing. Every dollar from the recovery act is going to create jobs for the American workers here in the U.S.”
How Did This Happen?
Several of the large European turbine manufacturers had limited manufacturing facilities in the United States, but there was nothing in the stimulus plan that required that the turbines, or any other equipment needed for the wind farms, be made here, said Rogers. There are strict “Buy America” provisions in the Recovery Act, but this Green Energy Stimulus initiative turned the existing tax credits into cash grants, bypassing the “Buy America” provision.
Iberdrola, one of the largest operators of renewable energy worldwide, is based in Spain and has received the most U.S. stimulus dollars — $577 million. It buys some of its turbines from another Spanish manufacturer, Gamesa, which has a U.S. connection. Gamesa has two facilities to manufacture turbine blades in Pennsylvania, but the company said the market forced it to temporarily lay off nearly 100 workers.
Eric Sheesley was one of those laid off from the Gamesa plant before Thanksgiving. “When we’re employing other countries, we can’t feed our kids at home. It gets hard you know.” Sheesley had a glimmer of hope when a letter arrived this week telling him to report back to work next week.
One reason so much money is going overseas is that there is not much of a wind power industry in the United States — only two major American manufacturers make wind turbines: General Electric Energy and Clipper Wind based in Carpinteria, Calif. Even those companies do a significant amount of their manufacturing overseas. General Electric told ABC News that GE’s Renewable Energy business has 3,000 employees around the world, 1,350 here in the United States.
How to purchase something twice in Massachusetts using a semi quasi state agency !How in the world did the Town of Falmouth buy two turbines in 2010 valued at 5.2 million each through the MTC ? The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative bought these two turbines in 2004 and kept them in a warehouse at $3300.00 per month until the politically embarrassing turbines were sold to the Town of Falmouth through some Beacon Hill backdoor deal with our federal funds in 2010.How did stimulus funds get used for two turbines that were so old they had NO warranty left on them ? These turbines were sold like a used car ! The federal prosecuters need to probe this whole deal ! http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-9751.pdfENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONAGENCY[FRL–9142–5]Notice of a Regional Project Waiver of Section 1605 (Buy American) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to the Town of Falmouth, MAAGENCY: Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA).ACTION: Notice.SUMMARY: The EPA is hereby granting a waiver of the Buy America requirements of ARRA Section 1605 under the authority of Section 1605(b)(2)[manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality] to the Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts for the purchase of a foreign manufactured wind turbine to be installed at its existing wastewater treatment facilitysite.http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2008/08/04/weekly7-MTC-puts-mothballed-wind-turbines-on-auction-block.htmlFriday, August 8, 2008MTC puts mothballed wind turbines on auction blockAs a result, the two turbines, originally purchased in 2005 for $5.2 million each went on sale last week.
Schumer said the way to revitalize the domestic wind power industry and to create green jobs is to require that at least some of the turbine equipment to be made in the United States.
An American Farm With Chinese Jobs
Perhaps the most controversial wind project is one that has yet to receive stimulus money.
A Chinese company called A-power is helping to build a massive $1.5 billion wind farm in West Texas. The consortium behind the project expects to get $450 million in stimulus money.
Walt Hornaday, an American partner on the project, said it would create some American jobs. “Our estimation,” he said, “is that we are going to have on the order of 300 construction jobs just within the fence of the project.”
But that’s in addition to 2,000 manufacturing jobs — many of them in China.
Lauren Reynolds, a reporter at ABC’s San Diego affiliate 10 News, paid a visit to the vacant office of A-power.
To read more about how wind energy companies in San Diego are forced to spend their federal stimulus dollars abroad, go to today’s San Diego Tribune and the Watch Dog Institute’s Web page.
Exelon pushes to scrap wind subsidy
Company that showcases its green footprint outrages power advocates seeking tax extension
August 03, 2012|By Julie Wernau, Chicago Tribune reporter
With nearly half of its profits coming from its nuclear fleet and low-cost wind power cutting into its margins, Exelon is in Washington leading a fight to kill a tax credit the wind industry says is crucial to its survival. (John Smierciak, Chicago Tribune)
Exelon Corp.has been a climate change evangelist for 20 years, billing itself as one of the greenest, lowest-pollution-emitting power producers in the country.
But with nearly half of its profits coming from its nuclear fleet and low-cost wind power cutting into its margins, Exelon is in Washington leading a fight to kill a tax credit the wind industry says is crucial to its survival.
“The (production tax credit) has been in place since 1992, I believe,” Exelon Chief Executive Christopher Crane said in a conference call with investors and analysts Wednesday. “And I think that’s enough time to jump-start an industry, 20 years. So we’ve made it known, even as a wind company, that it should be stopped.”
Crane, who comes from the nuclear power industry and took over the helm of Chicago-based Exelon this year, also said $425 million the company had earmarked for wind investment in 2013 and 2014 will likely flow to other technologies, in particular, solar, if the tax credits are not extended by their expiration date at the end of 2012.
The company’s lobbying has outraged wind power advocates and runs counter to efforts by wind power and utility industry groups that count Exelon as a member.
“Exelon has been advertising for years how green the company is. They’ve been showcasing wind turbines on their materials. They’ve been proud of their sustainability footprint,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center. “Exelon coming out to oppose reasonable incentives that are working to spur wind power development is just tone-deaf.”
Learner added that other forms of power generation also receive subsidies, and that “everyone would like to pick and choose the subsidies they want and get rid of others. Wind power is growing significantly enough that Exelon appears to fear it will erode the market price for its nuclear generation and it wants to stymie a competitor. That’s what going on.”
David Loomis, director of the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, said at a news conference last month that the wind power industry is “on the cusp of seeing real price declines, which is why the subsidy is needed. In three to five years wind energy will be cost competitive with other forms of electrical generation without the subsidy.”
Wind power provides a fraction of power in the U.S., but once the turbines are running, they depress electric prices because wind as a fuel is free. At certain times, such as the middle of the night, wind power can help drive electricity prices to below zero, experts said.
“Primarily as zero cost wind enters the system, fewer and fewer coal and gas plants are needed to meet electricity demand, and that lowers the marginal cost in the market for power,” said Travis Miller, director of utilities research at Chicago-based Morningstar. He added that the surge in wind investments in Exelon’s backyard is compressing margins for its nuclear fleet.
A recent study by Synapse Energy Economics, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., confirmed that Midwest wind installations are driving down electricity prices.
Exelon also has been hurt by low natural gas prices, which are driving down prices overall, and a lower demand for power. The company Wednesday reported second-quarter net income of $286 million, or 33 cents per share, on sales of $5.95 billion — below Wall Street expectations.
In response to questions posed by the Tribune, Exelon said it will only invest in wind power if the technology makes sense economically. Exelon’s portfolio consists of 55 percent nuclear; 28 percent natural gas; and less than 3 percent wind power.
Edison Electric Institute, the industry association for shareholder-owned electric companies, and the American Wind Energy Association, which both count Exelon among their members, have supported the extension of the wind production tax credit.
Illinois U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk have announced their support for the extension. The state was second in the nation for the amount of wind power it installed last year and is fourth for overall wind power installed. Thirteen wind power businesses have their global or North American headquarters in downtown Chicago.
Crane told investors this week that subsidizing a single source of power can create distortions in the market.
“Exelon is part of a growing contingent of companies and other stakeholders who recognize that the production tax credit for wind has achieved its goal of jump-starting the wind industry and after 20 years, should be allowed to sunset as required by the existing law,” the company said in a statement.
“These groups agree that it is now time for federal government to stop picking energy technology winners and losers through subsidies like the PTC and to allow market forces and state and local renewable portfolio standards to work. Exelon is a leading wind energy company and supported Illinois’ 2007 legislation, creating a goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.”
Edison Mission Bonds Worth 54 Cents in Bankruptcy, JPMorgan Says
By Mary Childs on August 02, 2012
Bondholders of Edison International (EIX) (EIX)’s generation unit may recover 54 cents on the dollar in an increasingly probable bankruptcy scenario for the unprofitable power producer, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts.
Edison Mission Energy’s bonds are trading at about 54 cents, which JPMorgan high yield utilities analysts Dave Katz and Bayina Bashtaeva estimate to be recovery. Edison Mission may need to cut its $3.7 billion of debt (0223076D) by more than the $1 billion the company has forecast, they wrote in a note today. Chief Executive Officer Ted Craver said the company would have to reduce a “sufficient” amount of debt to be able to achieve credit metrics allowing it to refinance the remainder, according to a July 31 earnings conference call.
“This is an indication Edison would like to pursue a greater than $1 billion reduction,” the analysts wrote.
Edison International, owner of California’s second-largest electric utility, said yesterday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its money-losing, unregulated generation unit may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The net loss at Edison Mission Group widened to $110 million from $30 million a year ago on lower power prices and higher fuel costs, the Rosemead, California- based company said yesterday.
Edison Mission spokesman Doug McFarlan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Edison Mission’s $500 million of 7.5 percent senior unsecured notes due June 2013 dropped to 54.8 cents on the dollar, from as high as 100.25 cents on Aug. 3, as of 1:26 p.m. in New York, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Its $500 million of 7.75 percent notes due June 2016 fell to 53.8 cents today, Trace data show.
Edison Mission has been hurt by a slump in power prices and rising environmental-compliance costs for its coal-fired power plants, and is in talks with bondholders to restructure debt and may have to reorganize its generation unit under new ownership if talks are unsuccessful, Craver said on a conference call with investors.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Goldstein at [email protected]
Blaze in battery warehouse shuts down Oahu wind farm
Second fire in two years at First Wind facility
UPDATED 8:01 AM HST Aug 02, 2012
Firefighters were forced to fight a burning building without water on the North Shore Wednesday, when a battery warehouse at an Oahu wind farm went up in flames.
The battery warehouse caught on fire at the First Wind wind farm for the second time in two years. But unlike last year’s small fire, the latest blaze shut down the wind farm’s huge turbines.
Smoke poured from the First Wind facility before five in the morning.
“The fire was out of control when we got to it,” said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Terry Seelig.
On fire was the 10,000 square foot battery warehouse, where electricity is stored from the farm’s dozen wind turbines. The flames caused the burning batteries to release toxic smoke, creating a challenge for emergency crews called in to fight the fire.
“This was a very dangerous environment to fight a fire in because of the confined warehouse. There were small isles with racks of batteries, small enough that it makes it difficult to maneuver — much less shoot water on them,” said Seelig.
In fact, fire crews did not spray water on the burning batteries, which would have created a lot of toxic runoff but would had very little effect on the electrical fire. Instead, they brought in a thousand pounds of a chemical suppressant. By the time that arrived on the North Shore and emergency crews went into the warehouse, it was too late to stop the flames.
“The battery warehouse was an innovative new technology. We pre-planned for an emergency like this, but we’ve never seen anything like this on this scale,” said Seelig.
The wind farm was shut down. The huge turbines stood still as the fire raged out of control inside the warehouse. Because of the smoke and flames, the entire building then started to collapse, which forced emergency crews to stay outside.
The flames and heat were kept from spreading to other buildings but firefighters had no other choice but to let the fire burn itself out inside the battery warehouse.
Wednesday night, fire crews turned over the site to First Wind personnel who watched the smoldering building. After the burned warehouse cools off, investigators, including experts from the mainland, will go in to piece together what happened.
There is no estimate on when the wind farm may be up and running again or if the fire will affect the other Oahu wind farm now under construction.
Copyright 2012 by KITV All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
IBERDROLA’S ANSWER TO WIND TURBINE NOISE? GIVE RESIDENTS NOISE GENERATING MACHINES
By Miriam Raftery
July 20, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Iberdrola Renewables wants to build an industrial wind turbine facility on 15,000 acres in East County’s McCain Valley.
What happens if neighbors complain of noise?
In Fairfield, New York, weary residents asked town officials to measure noise levels at Iberdrola’s Hardscrabble wind facility. The results found levels above the legal limit of 50 decibels. But instead of reducing the noise, Iberdrola gave noise generating machines to residents in hopes of drowning out the whooshing and whirling turbine sounds. Note: The machine is set at the lowest setting in this audio link.
“It’s torture. You cannot sleep with this frequency of noise,” resident James Salamone said of living just 1,500 feet from the nearest turbine. The noise machine did not work, he told WKTV.
Another resident likened the noise to the sound of a plane that never stops.
Iberdrola has said that as a long-time community partner, it is working with neighbors to solve thep roblem.
On July 13, the town’s council voted unanimously to test the equipment–and under the resolution adopted, if the problem is not resolved in Fairfield by September, town officials have the right to pull the plug and order individual turbines—or the entire project—shut down.
“Is this what we all have to look forward too?” asked Parke Ewing, a resident in the quiet desert town of Ocotillo, where Pattern Energy is building a similar wind energy facility just 1,500 feet from the nearest homes. “Residents receive complimentary noise machines from wind turbine developer…I’ve heard it all now.”
Hinesburg company has trimmed 30 jobs since May
6:53 PM, Jul 18, 2012
Written by Dan D’Ambrosio - Free Press Staff Writer - Business
A stumbling wind industry has led to more layoffs at NRG Systems in Hinesburg — 12 workers were let go Monday following an initial round of 18 layoffs in May, according to a spokesperson.
Abby White, manager of corporate communications, said the layoffs were in response to an industry that is in “dire straits” because of uncertainty surrounding a production tax credit stalled in Congress. The tax credit, which goes to wind farm developers based on their production of electricity, expires at the end of the year.
“With so much uncertainty, developers are not investing,” White said. “All that upfront capital has dried up, so you see companies like ours and hundreds of other parts suppliers, such as blade manufacturers and steel suppliers, are really feeling the loss.”
NRG makes equipment to assess the potential for wind power of different sites as developers make the decision on where to put their turbines. White said that because the company is involved in the early stages of development it’s feeling the effects of the industry limbo before some other suppliers.
“We are an early indicator of what might come and it’s scary,” White said.
The workers laid off Monday will receive severance pay and are eligible for unemployment and NRG’s employee assistance program, the same as the employees laid off in May, White said.
NRG’s largest market is in the United States, where White said it appears the wind industry is headed off a cliff in 2013. Unfortunately, the company’s second largest market — China — has also tanked, but might soon rebound.
“The Chinese have essentially had a dramatic slowdown in the development of new wind farms,” White said. “We see it as potentially a short-term problem.”
Unlike the United States, where the wind industry is essentially at the mercy of policies enacted by Congress, China’s centrally controlled government can quickly ramp the wind business up or down, White said. China has developed a lot of new wind power capacity over the past few years, she said, and now needs to build the infrastructure to deliver that electricity to the market.
“They essentially need to catch up in bringing capacity online,” she said. “That’s where they are right now, building out the transmission lines and getting them connected.”
White said the Chinese economy is still growing, along with the demand for energy, and the Chinese government also has incentives in place for wind developers through a feed-in tariff that provides market stability for renewable energy.
“Going forward there will be an uptick in activity (in China),” White said.
NRG began the year with 118 employees and is down to about 86 employees today. White said that in addition to cutting costs, the company is also working to diversify its offerings. Instead of focusing exclusively on early stage development of wind farms, providing the sensors, towers and data loggers that allow companies to assess sites, NRG will also begin providing the tools needed to maximize the production of a wind farm that’s already up and running.
“Existing wind farms need to figure out how to get the most power and most useful life out of their turbines,” White said. “We’re positioning ourselves to serve that market.”
NRG also has a product to serve the utility-scale solar industry, a solar resource assessment system, White said.
“We as a company are doing everything we can to weather this storm and control our own destiny,” she said. “That’s a mix of cutting costs and vigorously pursuing diversification.”
Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or ddambrosio@ burlingtonfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at www. twitter.com/biz_bfp.
Economists Without Calculators
Be wary of op-eds in the New York Times that tout an “environmental revolution.”
By Robert Bryce
JUNE 27, 2012
Last week, just before the opening of the U.N.’s Earth Summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro, the New York Times ran an op-ed that decried the rapid rise in carbon dioxide emissions during the two decades since a similar meeting was held in Rio.
The authors of the article — Christian Azar, a professor at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, and two economists from the Environmental Defense Fund, Thomas Sterner and Gernot Wagner — claimed that the world needs to “kick its addiction to fossil fuels” and that renewable energy provides the road to salvation because “the seeds of an environmental revolution are being sown.”
The authors’ solution was a familiar one: a carbon tax and/or a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Never mind that the failure of the meeting at Rio shows, yet again, that a global carbon tax or emissions cap stands absolutely no chance of being implemented. Further, let’s ignore the claim that we have an “addiction” to hydrocarbons, which remain the cheapest, most abundant, most reliable source of energy for billions of people all over the world.
Instead, let’s consider the issue that Azar, Sterner, and Wagner — along with nearly every other proponent of “green” energy — refuse to consider: scale. A simple bit of math shows that even with the rapid expansion that solar-energy and wind-energy capacity have had in the past few years, those two sources cannot even meet incremental global demand for electricity, much less make a dent in the world’s overall demand for hydrocarbons.
Between 1985 and 2011, global electricity generation increased by about 450 terawatt-hours per year. That’s the equivalent of adding about one Brazil (which used 485 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2010) to the electricity sector every year. And the International Energy Agency expects global electricity use to continue growing by about one Brazil per year through 2035.
How much solar capacity would be needed to produce 450 terawatt-hours? Well, Germany has more installed solar-energy capacity than any other country, with some 25,000 megawatts of installed photovoltaic panels. In 2011, those panels produced 18 terawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, just to keep pace with the growth in global electricity demand, the world would have to install about 25 times as much photovoltaic capacity as Germany’s total installed base, and it would have to do so again every year.
The scale problem is equally obvious when it comes to wind.
At the end of 2011, the U.S. had 47,000 megawatts of installed wind-energy capacity. (Only China, with 62,000 megawatts, had more.) In 2011, all the wind turbines in the U.S. together produced about 120 terawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, just to keep pace with the growth in global electricity demand by using wind energy, we would have to install about 3.75 times the total current installed wind capacity in the U.S. every year. That means that global wind-energy capacity would have to increase by about 176,000 megawatts each and every year.
That would be an enormous challenge, given that between 2010 and 2011, global wind-energy capacity increased by just 41,000 megawatts. That’s a record increase, and one that advocates of renewable energy are quick to laud. But those same advocates refuse to acknowledge the energy sprawl inherent in wind energy, nor will they admit the growing backlash against the wind industry.
Let’s consider the extent of the energy sprawl if wind energy were to supply that 450 terawatt-hours per year of incremental electricity demand.
The power density of wind energy is roughly two watts per square meter, or about five megawatts per square mile. That means that by the end of 2011, the U.S. had covered a land area of about 9,400 square miles, just slightly smaller than the state of Maryland, with wind turbines. Therefore, to keep up with the growth in global electricity demand by using wind energy alone, the global wind industry will need to cover a land area of some 35,000 square miles — about the size of Indiana — with wind turbines. And it will have to do so every year from now through 2035.
That metric’s still hard to grasp, so let me put it another way: In order to merely keep up with the growth of global electricity use, the wind industry would have to cover 96 square miles every day with wind turbines. That’s an area about the size of four Manhattans.
Glib economists might suggest that such a feat could be achieved, but that ignores another key question: Where will we put all those turbines?
Wind turbines in Lincolnshire
If you think offshore wind is the answer, the costs will easily be double those on land. But placing more turbines offshore is meeting stiff resistance, and putting them on land isn’t easy either. The backlash against wind energy is global, and it’s growing. Europe alone has more than 500 anti-wind groups. In the U.K., where fights are raging against industrial wind projects in Wales, Scotland, and elsewhere, some285 anti-wind groups have been formed. In May 2011, the BBC reported that some 1,500 protestersdescended on the Welsh assembly, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be halted.
One of the biggest issues for wind projects is noise. Numerous studies have demonstrated the deleterious health effects caused by the low-frequency noise and infrasound generated by large wind turbines. The Canadian province of Ontario has been Ground Zero for the fight. According to Beth Harrington, a volunteer spokesperson for several Ontario-based environmental groups, about 40 families in Ontario have been forced out of their homes due to wind-turbine noise.
In January the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the province’s biggest farm organization, called for a moratorium on new wind-project developments, saying that the push for wind energy had “become untenable” and that “rural residents’health and nuisance complaints must be immediately and fairly addressed.” Last July, Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal examined the noise issues related to large-scale wind projects and concluded that “the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
Several countries are establishing minimum setbacks to keep wind turbines from being built too close to residential areas. In February, John Kelly, a member of Ireland’s Seanad, introduced a bill that will require large new wind turbines to be at least 1.5 kilometers from any residence. In mid-2011, the Australian state of Victoria responded to the public uproar over wind-project siting by announcing that it would enforce a two-kilometer (1.25-mile) setback between wind turbines and homes. Earlier this month, in the U.K., the Lincolnshire county council imposed an identical setback from homes, and the council’s leader, Martin Hill, told a local newspaper that “enough is enough . . . Not only are these things spoiling our beautiful countryside for future generations, they could also seriously damage our tourism industry. Who wants to spend their holiday looking at a 400-foot turbine?”
Hill went on to ask “who wants to live next door” to a wind project. “People enjoy living in Lincolnshire because we have a great way of life, not because the landscape’s blighted by wind farms.”
Here in the U.S., about 140 anti-wind groups have been formed. And an analysis of public records and newspaper clippings shows that more than three dozen cities in eight states have passed ordinances that either ban or restrict construction of large-scale wind projects. Indeed, people in rural areas around the world are complaining about being “blighted by wind farms.” That can be seen by looking at newspaper stories from Missouri, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Taiwan, Ireland, and New Zealand.
There’s a wealth of easily web-searchable information on the wind-turbine noise problem, including this long report from the Australian Senate. If Azar, Sterner, and Wagner wanted an individual account of the problem, they could have read aboutSamantha and Carl Stepnell, who were forced to abandon their home in rural Australia due to infrasound produced by a large wind project built near their 4,200-acre farm.
Alas, rural landowners appear to be of little concern to the economists from the Environmental Defense Fund and their Swedish co-author. Instead, they claim that the “solar and wind revolution is just beginning.” Had they bothered to use a calculator, they could have seen that their “revolution” is a thoroughly inadequate response to a global issue.
Op-ed writers are welcome to their own opinions, but not their own facts. It’s well past time for a real debate — using actual numbers — about global energy policy. But the chance for that debate is only harmed by glib claims about an “environmental revolution” that can occur only if we make energy much more expensive.
— Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
China’s Ming Yang Wind Power Group Looks to Buy Vestas Wind Systems
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According to an inside source, China’s Ming Yang Wind Power Group Ltd has plans to offer $1.72 – $1.97 billion to buy the Danish based Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the largest wind turbine manufacturing company in the world. It is likely that this takeover is part of a plan to diversify into other markets due to the decline of wind power in China.
Growth in China’s wind sector has started to slow this year, and as a result revenues have also started to drop. The Chinese government introduced a stricter approval process which has reduced the amount of new projects being installed, and therefore demand is falling. At the same time supply is increasing which, according to Zhang Chuaiwei, chairman and CEO of Ming Yang, is reducing profit margins in the industry. In the first quarter of this year Ming Yang’s revenue has dropped by more than 70 percent.
Zhang expects “that the wind power industry in China will continue to face difficulties and will see further reductions in newly installed capacity in 2012. Nevertheless, the unusually demanding conditions now prevalent in the industry may prompt further market consolidation, which we believe we will benefit from as a leading market player.”
As well as difficulties at home, Chinese wind turbine manufacturers are now facing 26 percent taxes on exports to the US.
In response, Chinese wind energy companies have been establishing bases in Europe and India, hoping to access other foreign markets and avoid the duties on turbines sold in the US market.
Ming Yang also has plans to move into India by buying a significant stake in the Reliance Group unit Global Wind Power Ltd.
The windmill is located behind the football stands at Erie Middle School. (David Rauch/[email protected])
ERIE – The Erie school district is touted as the first in the United States to power more than one building with a single wind turbine.
But district officials say they are not happy, because the turbine hasn’t brought the promised savings.
With the current rate of savings, the district now estimates the payback time will be twice as long – 24 years instead of 12, Superintendent Brad Cox said.
Through a public records request, Sauk Valley Media has obtained correspondence between the district and Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., which was general contractor for installation of the turbine.
The 230-foot-high turbine has been in operation more than 3 years. It’s supposed to save the district on energy costs. Whatever is not used is sold to ComEd.
According to the district, the estimated savings from the turbine in the second year amounted to $140,253. But over the last couple of years, the savings have fallen short of what was promised in the original contract with Johnson Controls, Cox said in an April 10 letter to the company.
The shortfalls were $36,669 in the second year and $51,987 in the third, totaling $88,656, he said.
The district asked the company to forward a check for the shortfalls “at your earliest convenience.”
Johnson Controls disagreed.
“When the parties entered into the performance contract, it was understood and agreed that JCI cannot control wind speed or consistency,” Claudius Anderson, a Johnson Controls regional operations manager, said in an April 23 letter to Cox.
The parties agreed to projected energy savings based on good-faith engineering estimates of energy production, Anderson said.
Johnson Controls cited the contract, in which the Erie district agreed that the company “shall not be held responsible for the achievement of such project benefits, as the actual realization of those project benefits is not within JCI’s control.”
The district’s claim for payment for an “alleged energy savings shortfall is not consistent with – nor is it in the spirit of – the agreement,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson didn’t return a call for comment.
The turbine cost the district $3.5 million. Of that, $720,000 came from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation, a nonprofit group that started with a $212 million endowment from ComEd in 1999. The district owes the rest.
Can Floating Turbines Save Wind Power? (From: Popular Mechanics)
Two new concepts for floating wind turbines put the future of wind energy out to sea.
BY STEPHANIE WARREN
December 22, 2011
The best place to build the wind farms of the future is the open ocean. While the breeze can be frustratingly variable on land, if you travel just 20 miles off the coastline, the wind blows at a consistent clip of around 33 feet per second.
But along most parts of the coastal United States, the ocean floor drops off quickly. That makes standard offshore turbines, the kind that are fixed to the sea bottom for stability, too expensive to be worth it. Two companies, Sway and Principle Power, are currently testing a new kind of technology to combat this problem: floating wind turbines.
Principle’s turbine is called WindFloat; the company has a prototype currently working in the waters off Portugal. It sits atop a base formed by three pontoons anchored to the seafloor by cables. Its 240-ton nacelle (gear housing) turns to meet the breeze, the way a land-based turbine does.
Sway’s prototype, operating in Norway, is more of a small tower. Its center of gravity lies below the structure’s center of buoyancy, which lets it stay upright even in stormy seas. With Sway, the entire tower rotates to get in the best position to capture wind.
Though these prototypes are currently in Europe, the United States is keeping a close eye. The Department of Energy, which estimates that wind power could cover 20 percent of our energy needs by 2030, has contributed funding to both systems. The hope is that offshore wind power can alleviate some of the problems hampering that energy source in America now.
For instance, traditional wind farms are on land, many located in the Plains states. Although they can generate a substantial amount of power, the problem is transporting that power to the big cities that need it most, many of which are located hundreds of miles away in coastal areas.
By contrast, regular “fixed bottom” off-shore wind turbines are built close to the coast, within easy transport distance to large, power-guzzling cities. But they too have their cons, says Fort Felker, director of the National Wind Technology Center. For one, most residents of coastal towns simply don’t want their ocean views interrupted by wind turbines. Another is that anchoring these wind turbines to the ocean floor is expensive and difficult, and the noise can disrupt marine animals. Two hundred feet is considered the maximum depth for fixed-bottom turbines, and two-thirds of the U.S. coastal ocean is deeper than this limit, Felker says.
Deep-sea offshore wind turbines have the potential to solve many of these problems. Their floating construction is ideal for the deep coastal waters of the U.S. And since they don’t have to be fixed to the ocean floor, they can be assembled conveniently on dry land before they’re launched (and it’s possible that they can be pulled back in for repairs as well). Because the towers are far off-shore, they won’t offend coastal residents, and they’re perfectly positioned to take advantage of the open ocean’s strong and steady winds.
The key to making floating wind turbines work is a design that collects enough energy to justify the cost of building and installing them. Luckily, experts say, the technology already has a head start: Offshore oil and gas drilling companies have long dealt with the engineering challenges of floating designs. “The challenge for the wind industry is to adapt these technologies and extract costs so that we end up with an efficient, renewable energy system,” Felker says.
WindFloat’s base adjusts the water level in three columns to keep the turbine level. Engineers designed Sway’s tall, slender tower so that its center of gravity lies below the structure’s center of buoyancy, allowing it to remain steady even when seas are turbulent.
WindFloat saves steel by placing its tower on a column instead of on a platform. The Sway design economizes and gains structural support with steel cables. Its blades are mounted downwind—the opposite of most turbines—to keep them clear of the cables.
WindFloat’s 100-ton nacelle, or gear housing, turns to meet the breeze, like a typical land-based turbine. The Sway’s entire tower rotates on a universal joint that connects the turbine to the tension-leg anchor; the blade clearance from the wires remains constant.
A growing national coalition opposed to perpetuating industrial wind giveaways and mythical wind-power benefits has inspired thousands of Americans to call their senators and representatives – and defeat four different subsidy bills. A shocked American Wind Energy Association(AWEA) began aggressively recruiting well-connected political operatives and co-sponsors, Republican and Democrat alike, who introduced more proposals to extend the production tax credit (PTC). It also launched parallel efforts in many state legislatures.
To confront AWEA claims, taxpayers and ratepayers should seek an education in wind energy.
Energy 101: It is impossible to have wind turbines without fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Turbines average only 30 percent of their “rated capacity,” and less than 5 percent on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most. Hydrocarbon-fired backup generators must run constantly, to avoid brownouts, blackouts and grid destabilization owing to constant surges and fall-offs in electricity to the grid.
Energy 201:Despite tens of billions in subsidies, wind turbines still generate less than 3 percent of U.S. electricity. Thankfully, conventional sources keep our country running – and America still has centuries of hydrocarbon resources, if only our government would make them available.
Economics 101:It is impossible to have wind turbines without perpetual subsidies – mostly borrowed from Chinese banks and future generations. There is no credible evidence that wind will be able to compete economically with traditional energy in the foreseeable future, especially with abundant natural gas costing one-fourth what it did just a few years ago. It makes more sense to rely on the plentiful, reliable, affordable electricity sources that have powered our economy for decades, build more coal and gas-fired generators – and recycle wind turbines into useful products (while preserving a few as museum exhibits).
Economics 201:As Spain, Germany, Britain and other countries have learned, wind-energy mandates and subsidies drive up the price of electricity – for families, factories, hospitals, schools, offices, churches and shops. That means two to four traditional jobs are lost for every wind or other “green” job created. It means the 37,000 jobs that theAWEA claims the U.S. wind industry creates (via $5 billion to $10 billion in combined annual subsidies, or $135,000 to $270,000 per wind job) are likely costing the United States 74,000 to 148,000 traditional jobs every year.
Environment 101:Industrial wind-turbine projects require enormous quantities of rare-earth metals, concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and other raw materials; for highly inefficient turbines, multiple backup generators and thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Extracting and processing these materials, turning them into finished components, and shipping and installing the turbines and power lines involve enormous amounts of fossil fuel and extensive environmental damage.
Environment 201:Wind turbines, transmission lines and backup generators also require vast amounts of crop, scenic and wildlife habitat land. A typical 600-megawatt coal or gas-fired power plant requires 250 to 750 acres, to generate power 90 percent to 95 percent of the year; a 600-megawatt wind installation needs 40,000 to 50,000 acres (or more), to deliver 30 percent performance. Because wind installations must go where the wind blows, hundreds of miles from our cities – transmission lines add thousands more acres to every project.
Environment 301:U.S. wind turbines slaughter nearly half a million eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, ducks, geese, bats and other rare, threatened, endangered and otherwise protected flying creatures every year. But while oil companies are prosecuted for the deaths of even a dozen common ducks, turbine operators have effectively been granted a “007 license to kill” exemption from endangered- and migratory-species laws and penalties.
Environment 401:Even if carbon dioxide does contribute to climate change, there is no evidence that even thousands of U.S. wind turbines will affect future global temperatures by more than a few hundredths of a degree. Carbon-dioxide emissions from backup generators (and wind-turbine manufacturing) offset any reductions from wind installations, and rapidly increasing emissions from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and other developing countries dwarf any possible U.S. wind-related CO2 reductions.
Human Health and Welfare 101: Skyrocketing electricity prices owing to “renewable portfolio standards” raise heating and air-conditioning costs; drive families into fuel poverty; increase food, medical, school and other costs; and force companies to lay off workers, further impairing their families’ health and welfare. Audible and inaudible turbine noise causes fatigue, headaches, dizziness, irritability, sleep problems and vibro-acoustic effects on people’s hearts and lungs. Landowners receive royalties for having turbines on their property, but neighbors receive no income and face adverse health effects, decreased property values and difficulty selling their homes.
Real World Civics 101: Politicians take billions from taxpayers, ratepayers and profitable businesses to provide subsidies to Big Wind companies, who buy turbines mostly made overseas – and contribute millions to the politicians’ re-election campaigns, to keep the cycle going.
It is truly government gone wild and is unsustainable. Americans can contact their elected representatives to demand science-based energy policies. These reasons could be a good way to start the conversation.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2010).
Wind-farm foes say feds caved
Emails detail political pressure
By John Zaremba and Dave Wedge
Saturday, June 16, 2012 - Updated 2 days ago
Federal air-safety officials — buckling under political pressure from the Obama and Patrick administrations to approve Cape Wind — were strong-armed into tak– ing “inappropriate shortcuts” in their review of the offshore energy farm, project opponents charge.
“You’ve got a very clear green agenda from the Obama administration, and a very clear agenda from the Patrick administration, wanting to have America’s first offshore wind farm, seemingly at the expense of public safety and fishermen, and other public interests,” Audra Parker of the anti-Cape Wind Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound told the Herald. “It’s like offshore wind at any cost.”
In a letter to acting Federal Aviation Administration head Michael Huerta, Parker said bombshell internal emails the group obtained through a public-records request “make clear that FAA has made decisions based on political factors rather than the recommendations of the pilots, who use this airspace every day.”
A White House spokeswoman did not reply to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Patrick said the project “advanced based on the merits plain and simple. Final FAA approval will only come after serious consideration is given to public safety and ways to mitigate any potential risks.”
The documents — many created when the FAA was reviewing Cape Wind’s air-safety risks — contain repeated references to political support for the proposed 130-turbine farm five miles offshore of Cape Cod.
Some of the documents’ comments include:
• From an internal slideshow presentation in May 2010: “The Secretary of the Interior has approved this project. The Administration is under pressure to promote green energy production. It would be very difficult politically to refuse approval of this project.”
• In a May 2010 email from another manager to a host of recipients, regarding concerns about the turbulence planes leave in their wake and the subtle effects of wind turbines on surrounding climate:
“Who is willing to go tell the White House that we are halting wind development because there might be wake turbulence or micro-climate effects?”
• In an August 2010 email about the options available to upgrade Cape Cod airspace to digital radar — a measure to allay fears the turbines might confuse air-traffic controllers — concludes, “All of this is moved by politics, as well.”
In October, a federal court ordered the FAA to reopen its review of Cape Wind, saying the agency downplayed risks the project poses to small aircraft.
Parker said the documents cry out for a congressional probe.
“I’m looking for either some sort of a hearing, or an inspector general investigation, to determine whether the FAA was doing their job,” she said.
“This is putting public safety at risk.”
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Microsoft and Sprint join growing list of major companies calling on Congress to extend wind energy tax credit
WASHINGTON – Microsoft and Sprint – both Fortune 100 companies with substantial commitments to renewable energy – delivered a letter today to Congressional leadership asking for an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power – scheduled to expire in December 2012.
The letter calls on Congress to act immediately to extend the PTC before it expires at the end of the year. More than 400 wind manufacturing facilities in 43 states are facing imminent risks of layoffs and shutdowns for lack of orders.
Nearly half of the world’s largest corporations plan to moderately or significantly increase investment in renewable energy over the next five years, according to research by Ernst & Young released last week. Microsoft and Sprint are the largest “wind customer” companies to call on Congress to extend the PTC, ranking 37th and 90th, respectively, in the Fortune 500, with combined annual revenues of over $100 billion. They join 15 other major U.S. companies and consumer brands, including Starbucks, Nike, Campbell’s Soup, Staples, and Yahoo!, who signed a similar letter in February.
“The PTC has enabled the wind industry to slash wind energy costs – 90 percent since 1980 – a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of wind energy,” the letter states. “Failure to extend the PTC for wind would tax our companies and thousands of others like us that purchase significant amounts renewable energy and hurt our bottom line at a time when the economy is struggling to recover.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Microsoft is the