The cost of wind power

Massachusetts law requires that utilities obtain 3.5% of their power from “green sources”.  One of the projects that has finally received approval is called Cape Wind.  This will place 130 wind turbines in a 25 square mile area on public land in Nantucket Sound.  It will be owned by a private developer, and, all that is missing now is financing.  I suspect that means, money from Washington, D.C. Read more

Thousands of Golden Eagles in Danger, Due to Wind Farms

No matter what source of energy a nation uses to move its goods and services across this country there is a price to pay for any energy source.  With oil we can expect accidents to happen, and they have, most recently the Gulf of Mexico. But for this administration and environmentalists, wind farms and solar are renewable and cleaner.  However they too come with a price.  No I am not talking about the price to build and manufacture solar panels and wind turbines, but the effect that they have on local environments. Read more

In spite of the election, socialism marches on

This photo says it all…solar panels in the middle of the dessert.  Of course, that is where you would expect them to be, but, there is something missing…transmission lines to carry that power to where it can be used.  But, not to worry, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a plan.  And, it will cost you whether you use solar or wind power, or not.

Here’s how it works.

By some estimates the cost of building out new transmission lines to accommodate renewable energy and other new electric power sources could exceed $160 billion.

The environmentalists have decided that it would be really, really unfair for those consuming that power to pay the entire cost of the new transmission lines as has been our custom “from the beginning of time”.  So, they, supported by the White House and Democratic leaders, are proposing that everyone in the country pay for those costs via the mechanism of increased charges on your electric bill.

Of course, the “winner” states are quite happy to have someone else pay for their costs, but, what about the “loser” states?

Michigan will be sending hundreds of million dollars annually outside the state to fund transmission projects which not only provide little value to the State, but will actually harm our ability to develop our own renewable energy market.

And, Ian Bowles, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, calls the proposal,

a radical Soviet-style approach to transmission planning.

So, here is where we stand.  Billions of your tax dollars have already been (and will continue to be) spent subsidizing solar farms, and wind farms.  Now that we have done that, you will continue to pay through the nose in the form of higher electric bills (forever) to pay for the transmission lines associated with these power sources.

Call me silly, but, it seems to me that the companies who will “profit” from developing solar and wind power, as well as those using that power,  should be the ones who have to pay to deliver the power…not everyone else.

But, if this is the new norm, will you folks in Connecticut, for example, pay my power bill?  After all, it’s only fair…

Wind power generation may lead to higher CO2 emissions

Much was written here this past weekend about solar power.  So, I thought it only fair to give “equal time” to wind power.  It seems that recent studies are showing that any reduction in carbon emissions from the use of wind power to generate electricity is, nominal at best.

Before you dismiss this statement as “right wing” propaganda, please read on.  It will soon make perfect sense. 

Two laws of nature are at play here which cannot be altered by either good intentions, or government edict.  First, wind does not blow 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.  And second, to produce power efficiently, traditional coal or gas powered generators are designed to run continuously.  As to the second, think of it this way.

An automobile that operates at a constant speed—say 55 miles per hour–will have better fuel efficiency, and emit less pollution per mile traveled, than one that is stuck in stop-and-go traffic.

Because we expect that the lights will actually go on when we turn on the light switch, electricity generators must make sure that power is always available.  This leaves the electricity generator who relies on wind power to supplement its power supply with two options.  It can either “power down” it’s, let’s say coal fired plant, when it is receiving a great deal of wind powered electricity, and then “power up” the plant when the wind stops.  Or, it can leave the coal powered plant running continuously.

The former option (rush hour traffic) results in more CO2 emissions than running the generators continuously, but the latter option doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions from those levels that existed before the wind “supplement”.

Perhaps it comes down to what Kevin Forbes, the director of the Center for the Study of Energy and Environmental Stewardship at Catholic University, [said] ‘Wind energy gives people a nice warm fuzzy feeling, that we’re taking action on climate change…the reality is that it’s not doing much of anything.’

No one disagrees with the concept of clean energy.  It is something we should foster.  But, as my engineer friend said today, the issue is dependability and predictability.  In other words, we expect the lights to go on when we push the “on” switch.

And, government can’t legislate dependability and predictability, or, suspend the laws of nature for that matter, no matter how hard it tries.

The cost of “going green”

Three newspaper articles caught my eye today, on the energy front, that is.

The first, entitled Welfare Wagons, begins as follows:

Congratulations. You’re about to buy a fancy new Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt . . . for someone else.

It seems that the cost of producing an electric car is considerably higher than what most would be willing to pay for the car.  So, Obama is offering a $7500 tax credit if you purchase one, and, an additional $1100 tax credit if you purchase (as you must), a charging station.  That is unless you live in cash starved California, or Georgia, or Tennessee, in which case you will receive “consumer tax credits” of up to an additional $5000.

The U.S. government is deeply in debt.  In people and nations with their backs to the wall, one looks for signs of rationality.  Running up more debt to subsidize electric runabouts for suburbanites is not such a sign.

And, then we have this article, The Price of Wind.  After nearly a decade, approvals have finally been granted for Cape Wind Associates to locate 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.  Cape Wind will sell their “power” to National Grid, an electric utility serving Massachusetts.  Cape Wind has asked state regulators to approve a rate (for that sale to National Grid) of 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour beginning in 2013, and rising 3.5% annually thereafter.  Just one small problem…consumers in Massachusetts currently pay about 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

There’s comic irony in this clean energy revolution…given that taxpayers will be required to pay to build Cape Wind and then be required to buy its product at prices twice normal rates…

And finally on the energy front, Senator Lieberman (I.Ct.) and Senator Kerry (D.Ma.) introduced the Senate version of “cap and tax” today.  Your electric bill will increase considerably because utility companies will be taxed by the federal government just for the priviledge of doing business, and, in turn, these companies will pass that tax on to you the consumer in the form of higher rates.  But, don’t worry,

[t]he legislation would immediately send two-thirds of the revenues from emissions permit sales directly back to consumers as refunds on their utility bills…

Anyone wonder where the other one-third will go, or, better yet, why the federal government is taking the money from us in the first place?

So, for those of you living in Massachusetts, this news is a “triple wammie”.  Wait a minute, I have a home in Massachusetts.

Caution: wind turbines may be hazardous to your health

That caution label might soon need to be affixed to any wind turbine built in this country. Why, you ask?  Well, it seems that there is increasing evidence that these giant power generators are making people ill.

Here is but one case study.

In 2007, a phalanx of wind turbines were built around Charlie Porter’s property in rural northern Missouri. Soon, Mr. Porter began to have trouble sleeping. So did his wife and daughter. The noise, he told me, made sleeping almost impossible. “We tried everything—earplugs, leaving the TV station on all night.” Nothing worked. Late last year he moved his family off their 20-acre farm.

Curiously, as soon as he did so, his family’s symptoms ceased.

Of course, the critical thinker will say, well, that doesn’t prove that the problem was caused by wind turbines.  But, before you reach that conclusion, read on.

Identical symptoms have been reported by people living near wind turbines in New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario, New Zealand, Australia, Nova Scotia, England, Ireland and Italy.  The people affected all report the same symptoms…sleep disturbance, headaches and vertigo.  At least two physicians, Dr. Nina Malone of New York, and, Dr. Robert McMurtry of Ontario have begun to study these cases.

Wind turbines produce both audible and sub-audible sound.

The health effects of low-frequency noise on humans are not well understood. The noise in question often occurs at, or below, decibel levels that are commonly considered a public nuisance. And detecting low-frequency noise requires sophisticated acoustic gear.

So, what does the wind industry have to say?  It has labeled the symptoms “psychosomatic”, affecting only a “small number of sensitive individuals”, and, and lacking evidentiary support.  Thinking about that statement, one has to ask, why then are identical symptoms being reported by people all over the world?  And, as to evidentiary support, the large deployment of wind turbines is only recent, so the investigation is just beginning.  The state of Vermont, however, is taking the matter seriously enough that it has proposed legislation that would require that no wind turbine be located within 1.25 miles of any residence.

By 2030, environmental and lobby groups are pushing for the U.S. to produce 20% of its electricity from wind. According to the Department of Energy, meeting that goal will require the U.S. to have about 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity, an eightfold increase over current levels. Installing tens of thousands of new turbines inevitably means they’ll be located closer to populated areas.

Given that, the wind industry’s approach of  basically sticking its head in the sand, and attributing the symptoms to “psychotic, overly sensitive people”, seems quite detached from reality, and definitely counterproductive to resolving the problem.