Wind turbines don’t make economic sense.

Original article source:

http://www.savewesternny.org/economics.html

“Heaven knows that West Virginia has always stepped up to the plate to contribute to our nation’s energy security. But we now have a situation where speculators are staking claim to some of our most scenic areas and erecting these monstrosities that produce little energy and are made possible only by a tax credit.” — Rep. Alan Mollohan, US Congressman, WV


Useful facts:

If every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road. Source: www.energystar.govAccording to the Natural Resources Defense Counsel if the U.S. could raise fuel efficiency standards on American cars by 7.7 miles/gallon we could eliminate 100% of Middle Eastern oil imports into this country.

According to the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), wind energy can produce, at most, a mere 1.7% of NYS’s electrical needs. The cost to the taxpayer for this 1.7% would be $879 million/year.

Across New York, more than 5,000 megawatts of wind projects are proposed. Current operating limits of the power grid allow for only 3,300 megawatts to be constructed, according to a report by New York Independent System Operator.


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  • ABS Energy Research’s 2006 Wind Power Report; Detailed study finds “disturbing results” for wind power: “These studies are the first real evidence showing how wind actually works, as opposed to what has been claimed, and come from some of the most authoritative voices on energy in the world. Reports from E.On Netz, the system operator with the largest wind power feed-in in the world, and Eltra of Denmark, which had the largest percentage wind power contribution, show disturbing results.”

  • Testimony of The Business Council of New York State before The Assembly Committee on Energy The Assembly Subcommittee on Renewable Energy: March 21, 2006 by Anne Van Buren in The Business Council of New York State…”Let me be clear from the start – we are not opposed to renewables. Our companies have been the beneficiaries of the state’s most abundant form of renewable energy – hydropower. What we do object to is being forced to subsidize those renewables that are not cost competitive… Adding significant amounts of wind power does not negate the need to add more baseload generation, to ensure system reliability during periods of peak demand. Until we add significant baseload capacity in this state we are not likely to reap the benefits of a truly competitive marketplace where supply will respond to demand…

    Rather than striving to increase the cost of electricity, state leaders should fulfill the promise of the State Energy Plan by reducing government-mandated surcharges on energy bills. Such efforts, along with a determined effort to site new generation and transmission facilities, will pay off in more competitive energy costs for both residents and businesses – and more good jobs for New Yorkers. “

  • Wind Energy Cost Comparisons: by Christopher C. Pflaum, Ph.D, PresidentSpectrum Economics, Inc., August 2005…An easy-to-understand comparison of the costs associated with wind, coal and nuclear power production.

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing THE EFFECTS OF INTEGRATING WIND POWER ON TRANSMISSION SYSTEM PLANNING, RELIABILITY, AND OPERATIONS Report on Phase 2: System Performance Evaluation, Prepared for THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY by GE Energy Consulting: Draft, February 3, 2005: (page 32) “The results show that the effective capacities, UCAP, of the inland wind sites in New York are about 10% of their rated capacities, even though their energy capacity factors are on the order of 30%. This is due to both the seasonal and daily patterns of the wind generation being largely “out-of-phase” with NYISO load patterns. The offshore wind generation site near Long Island exhibits both annual and peak period effective capacities on the order of 40% – nearly equal to their energy capacity factors. The higher effective capacity is due to the daily wind patterns peaking several hours earlier in the day than the rest of the inland wind sites and therefore being much more in line with the load demand.”

  • The Good and the Bad Regarding Wind Energy: 01-20-05 press release from Frank Miller, Republican Representative for the 12th District, Kansas…The electricity produced actually costs taxpayers more than wind advocates admit. They do not factor in the cost of tax breaks that ordinary taxpayers must make up, nor do they consider the cost of providing conventional back-up power plants to balance out the power produced by windmills. Finally, they do not consider the cost of transmitting this electricity from the windmills to existing major high voltage transmission lines. Since the windmills are unpredictable, the transmission capacity is only used part of the time, resulting in a higher than normal cost for transmission… This is costing a lot of money with very little return.”

  • Wind energy costly to move: February 6, 2006, Associated Press …”Wind energy sounds great in theory. In practice, it can be extremely costly, a Nebraska Public Power District official said. After wind energy is generated, it must be stored and moved. If transmission lines required for the task don’t meet specifications, it can cost as much as $500,000 per mile or more to update them, said Doug Mollet, water systems and renewable energy manager for NPPD.

    “If you don’t have the transmission, it falls apart from an economic perspective,” Mollet said. “

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing Big Money Discovers The Huge Tax Breaks… While Taxpayers and Electric Customers Pick up the Tab: by Glenn Schleede, former Executive Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (1981), Senior VP of the National Coal Association in Washington (1977-1981) and Associate Director (Energy and Science) of the White House Domestic Council (1973-1977). Mr. Schleede also held career service positions in the U.S. OMB and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission… “Hidden behind all the hype surrounding wind farms is that the true cost of electricity from wind farms and damage to the environment is much greater than the advocates of wind power would admit… Bird kills, scenic destruction and emissions from the backup gas turbines are not included in the hype by wind advocates. This latest report shows how big money and unknowing politicians have foisted wind power on the public; with the tax payer picking up the bill.”

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing An analysis of Whole Foods’ January 9, 2006, “wind energy” Purchase: By Glenn R. Schleede, Round Hill, VA…”Three of the interesting conclusions from the analysis:

    • “109 huge (32+ story, 350+ foot), low electricity producing wind turbines will be needed to produce the 458,000,000 kWh of ‘wind generated’ electricity that Whole Foods has (in theory) purchased.”

    • “$1 million spent for energy efficient light bulbs would avoid the use of 171,550,000 kWh of electricity over 5 years — which is more than 3 times the 56,064,000 kWh of electricity that a $1,000,000 wind turbine might be able to produce over 20 years!”

    • “Like the leaders in other organizations that have undertaken similar pseudo-environmental actions, it appears that Whole Foods executives thought only about the favorable PR benefits they would enjoy, while failing to consider the adverse impacts of their action.”

  • Global Status Report, Policy Landscape / Power Generation Promotion Policies: Renewable Energy Policy Network For The 21st Century… “Energy production payments or tax credits exist in several countries, with the U.S. federal production tax credit most significant in this category. That credit has applied to more than 5,400 MW of wind power installed from 1995 to 2004… The production tax credit has helped to make wind power a “mainstream” investment in the U.S. in recent years, capturing financier interest in the sector… Some countries or states/provinces have established renewable energy funds…The largest such funds are the so-called “public benefit funds” in 14 U.S. states. These funds, often applied to energy efficiency as well as renewable energy, are collected from a variety of sources, with the most common being a surcharge on electricity sales. These 14 funds, all initiated between 1997 and 2001, are collecting and spending more than $300 million per year on renewable energy. It is expected that they will collect upwards of $4 billion for renewable energy through 2012.”

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat for viewing E.ON Netz Wind Report 2004 [21 pages]: E.ON Netz GmbH, the largest grid operator in Germany…”even more serious is the fact that wind power plants of the usual type have so far disconnected themselves from the grid even in the event of minor, brief voltage dips, whereas large thermal power stations are disconnected only following serious grid failures.  Faults in the extra-high-voltage grid can therefore result in all wind power plants in the affected region failing suddenly. This means that within a very short time, the wind power supply of up to 3,000 MW can fail, thereby putting the grid stability at risk.”

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat for viewing E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005 [24 pages]: …”Wind energy cannot replace conventional power stations to any significant extent…The more wind power capacity [on] the grid, the lower the percentage of traditional generation it can replace.”

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat for viewing IEA_Annual_Report (in English): Asahi Shinbun, a Japanese language newspaper reported on May 18, 2005 that Japanese utilities severely limit the amount of wind power on their systems, because “introducing too much of the electricity, whose supply can fluctuate wildly, can cause problems for utilities’ power grids. … If there is no wind, the utilities must rely entirely on other facilities. And even when wind power can satisfy all of the demand, they must continue operating thermal generators to be ready for any abrupt shortfalls in wind power.”

  • Wind – Facts or blowing hot air?: by L. M. Schwartz, The Virginia Land Rights Coalition. “…windmills do not allow any other power plants to be taken out of service, and contribute little, if anything, toward carbon emissions reduction.”

  • Requires Adobe Acrobat for viewing Wind Farms whip up Division in Whitehall: A leading government scientist has criticised the wind farms springing up across the country as “bloody eyesores” and has said they will never supply more than a fraction of Britain’s energy needs.

  • Germany shelves report on high cost of wind farm-produced energy: by Tony Paterson in Berlin (01/30/2005) “A damning report warning that wind-farm programmes will greatly increase energy costs and that ‘greenhouse gases’ can be reduced easily by conventional methods has been shelved…The report also states that the government will have to spend an extra €1·1 billion on laying almost 600 miles of new cable and that power plants will have to be replaced or adapted to cope with the inherently large fluctuations in wind-derived energy.

    The research also cast doubt on one of the main arguments for wind power: that it cuts the amount of “greenhouse gas” polluting the atmosphere. The report says that almost the same effect can be achieved – at substantially reduced costs – by installing modern filters at existing fossil-fuel power plants.”

  • Why Renewable Energy Is Not Cheap and Not Green: Robert L. Bradley, Jr., National Committee For Policy Analysis; “Problems of Wind Power”…”What the Yergin task force failed to consider is that the federal government’s crash course in wind-related research and development has been a bust to date, and further commitment may be doomed as well. Paul Gipe, one of the nation’s leading advocates of wind energy, has pronounced the U.S. effort through the early 1990s “a chimera. . . nothing more than ‘welfare for the educated’… One byproduct of DOE centralization and largesse has been the professional corruption of the American Wind Energy Association, which, Gipe states, ‘fell into the trap of measuring its success by the size of taxpayer subsidies’.”

  • US: Alternative-Energy Quest Is Blocked by a 1953 Law: NY Times, 06-21-04…” At the root of the issue is a 1953 state law, often called the ‘bidding act,’ intended to protect taxpayers from careless spending and graft. The law presents a problem for Pleasant Valley, which is the first town in New York State to use only wind power, as well as 20 other towns that are partly dependent on wind for their power needs. The law also could present problems for Gov. George E. Pataki’s plan to get the state to use renewable energy for 25 percent of its needs by 2013.”

  • Goldrush – Windfarms & Why They Are So Profitable: Though the example used is for the UK, this is a good explanation of Renewable Energy Certificates or “green credits” and how profitable they actually are to developers…”If we have one 2.2 MW turbine putting out just 1MWh for 12 hours a day (25 percent rated capacity) it earns around £1200. If we multiply that by 365 days in the year we get £438,000 or getting on for half a million quid – and that is just very conservative output on one turbine. Multiply that by say 30 turbines in the average windfarm and we have over £13,000,000 or thirteen million pounds per annum. If you own ten windfarms……..over say 20 years we start getting into big numbers like two and a half billion green ones – and that is only at 25 percent efficiency…

    So perhaps you can see why banks and investment houses are scrambling to get a slice of the action. Right now trading markets are being set up world wide to deal in Green certificates and the EU is jumping firmly on the bandwagon. The price for Green certificates is on the rise and who knows what they will be worth ten years down the road when even more stringent carbon emission penalties are imposed.”

  • Estonia Halts Expansion Of ‘Expensive’ Windmills: November 16, 2005, The Baltic Times…Einari Kisel, head of the Ministry of Economy and Communications’ energy department, puts it bluntly: “We do not want to have too many wind mills,” he says. “The price of wind energy is expensive. The unstable production causes additional costs to other producers.”
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