Monday, June 27, 2011


The duping of Americans by the environmentalist movement continues, as wind farms use as much electricity from the fossil fuel grid as they produce. This article comes from reliable research derived for what I call the Wind Farm Swindle. The proof that it is a swindle, has been gathered from the very annals of the wind farm movement and from the companies involved in Turbine produced electricity itself.

If you've ever driven close to the huge wind turbine, I'm sure some of you have wondered how long it must take for the wind to start turning such large blades on some of these windmills and how they are stopped, when the wind gets too high for them to operate.

You won't hear anybody in the environmental movement or the renewable energy business tell you this, but as it turns out, all wind turbines use about the same amount of grid electricity as they produce. Large wind turbines require huge amounts of fossil fuel grid electricity to operate. Wind farms have to use electricity from the grid and of course, this large amount of grid electricity is never accounted for in relation to output figures.

Wind turbine functions that use fueled derived electricity are as follows:

•yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) -- the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together, weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine
•blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)
•lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.
•heating the blades -- this may require 10%-20% of the turbine's nominal (rated) power
•heating and dehumidifying the nacelle -- according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, "power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle, must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds"
•oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox
•hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)
•thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) -- 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost
•magnetizing the stator -- the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a "large" amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous "cage rotor" that encloses the generator shaft. At the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine's rated capacity in slower winds, possibly much more.
Using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not, particularly during important site tours.) It surely seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning. Along with the gears which increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind.

What all this amounts to is, each wind turbine actually uses more than 60% of its rated capacity in its own operation. Thus, each wind farm as a whole, produces only less than 25% of its annual rated capacity. This means that wind farms use twice the amount of grid electricity for every amount of wind-generated electricity produced.

I'm sure this is news to most Americans, who thought and naturally assumed that wind turbines only produced electricity and it never occurred to a normal person that these devices would actually require Fossil Fueled electricity to operate. Since no records of electricity usage is ever kept at these wind farms, this alarming fact has never become public knowledge.

Since it is admitted by everyone that wind generated electricity only amounts to around 1% of our total produced electricity, these hidden facts bring that figure down to a negative percentage at best. Using more electricity than it produces, green electricity is the reason for Cap and Trade, since green credits can be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

Killing perhaps millions of endangered bird species per year, degrading human health in the same manner as is experienced with people living near high voltage power lines. Ruining many of the earth's most scenic spots, with these huge steel monstrosities and above all, doing nothing in alleviating any fossil fuel electricity usage is the reason these expensive and dangerous eyesores must go.

In today's economy, we cannot afford to spend billions of dollars on a Nigerian like fraud, such as the wind farm swindle.

Wind power's effects gauged

PROPERTY VALUES: Company says Cape will suffer 40 percent decrease with 2 miles

A Chicago-based appraiser has decided that wind turbines in the town will depress property values of homes within two miles of turbines by up to 40 percent.

McCann Appraisal LLC reviewed the town's wind economics committee's report, outside sources, company research and the noise impact assessment from Hessler Associates Inc., Haymarket, Va., from April 2010 for Acciona Wind Energy USA's St. Lawrence Wind Farm's final environmental impact statement.

"After completing my review of the subject location, it is clear that numerous homes in the Cape Vincent area will be adversely impacted, and the best available evidence indicates that value loss of 25 to 40 percent or more will occur to homes within approximately two miles of the turbines," principal Michael S. McCann wrote. "This impact is not expected to be uniform, and some losses may well be lower and others higher."

The committee asked Mr. McCann to review the report and other evidence. Town taxpayer money did not support the analysis; private citizens donated for the cause.

Read the entire article

Saturday, June 25, 2011


New rules giving committees in Albany decision-making power on siting power projects at or above 25 megawatts passed overnight Tuesday night in the state Senate and Assembly.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, and Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, voted against the measure in a 117-13 vote. State Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, voted against the bill in a 59-3 Senate tally.

"While there are many provisions in this law I support, I could not vote for a law that would take control away from local communities," Mrs. Ritchie said in a news release. "The provisions that would allow projects as small as 25 megawatts to avoid local control left me no choice but to vote against this measure."

Mrs. Russell explained her opposition Tuesday night, saying that it usurped local control on siting projects in communities.

Read the entire article

Friday, June 24, 2011

New York State Senator George Maziarz blows off visiting citizens

State Senator George D. Maziarz (R), Chairman of the New York State Energy and Telecommunications Committee was visited in Albany today by several Cape Vincent citizens. Their mision was to ask the Senator to consider increasing the Article X language concerning megawatt qualifications for Article X siting rules from 25 megawatts to 80 megawatts.

As one of the visitors described their Maziarz experience over the phone to JLL, the Senator treated them with less than dignity and "blew them off". "He did not even listen to us," claimed one person who traveled all the way to Albany to talk to the Senator.

Maziarz is Republican and represents New York District 62 in Western New York.

The Senator's Phone number is (518) 455-2024.

NY Assembly Bill Would Create Wind Project Siting Task Force

The siting of wind facilities in New York is by and large a local affair. Unlike some states, New York does not have in place a comprehensive statewide framework for wind energy facility siting. Enter the state legislature.

Assembly Bill A04793 would establish a New York state task force on wind generating facilities siting to study the need to implement a uniform statewide policy regarding the siting and permitting of wind energy production facilities. The bill, referred to the Energy Committee, has no Senate “same as” as of 3/14/2011.

The Senate does have pending a somewhat related bill pending, however. Senate Bill S01086 would authorize and direct NYSERDA to conduct a comprehensive study of the potential siting processes required to establish wind energy production facilities. The Senate bill has been referred to the Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

With the legislative session set to end in a few months, at this juncture passage of either bill seems somewhat remote.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Howard officials dig right in

Howard, NY — Shovels dug into the ground Friday in Howard, kicking off construction for a renewable energy project seven years in the making.

Everpower Wind Holdings and Howard officials broke ground on the $100 million Howard Wind Project where 25 wind turbines will be built and possibly two more in the future.

“This is a great project for the town and a great project for landowners. I think when we’re done, everyone will be happy,” said Kevin Sheen, of Everpower.

Along with creating renewable energy, the project is a revenue windfall for the community. Howard, Steuben County, and the Canisteo-Greenwood and Hornell City School Districts will split $8.5 million over 20 years paid by Everpower.

Howard will receive the lion’s share – 51.5 percent.

“This is a rural community. We don’t have coming in and helping us with taxes,” Howard Supervisor Don Evia said Friday. “We’ve never seen something like this that can help offset land taxes. This will bring us some relief for 20 years, and hopefully into the future after that.”

The project wasn’t without a mix of controversy and misfortune.

Residents opposing the wind farm brought a lawsuit against the town, which was dismissed several years ago. And while work started on the project in December 2004, the economic recession slowed completion.

Now construction begins on building electricity-generating turbines that stand 375 feet high.

Components will be received on-site by the end of June, with construction scheduled for completion by the end of August or early September, said Everpower Construction Manager Joe Pariano.

The turbines are expected to tie into the grid in mid-October, with an anticipated starting date of mid-December.

Two additional wind turbines might be constructed on 39 acres of private land south of Spencer Hill and South Woods roads, bringing the total number to 27.

The turbines will be constructed on 5,000 acres of farm land leased from private landowners.

Article X, Green Jobs To Be Part Of End-Of-Session Deal

Almost a decade after it expired, Article X – the state’s power plant siting law – is set to be renewed as part of the Legislature’s omnibus, end-of-session deal.

Renewing Article X would be a huge win for the Cuomo administration. The state has been without a power plant siting law since 2003. Legislators and advocates argue the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which provides up to 30 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester County, cannot be closed unless the siting law is enacted. Renewing Article X would clear a huge hurdle for Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his quest to shut down Indian Point.

Late Tuesday, Cuomo was optimistic that a deal could be reached.

“We are also trying to get Article X done, which is of tremendous importance of the state. It’s been years and years that we haven’t had Article X,” Cuomo said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll actually get that done.”

Key legislators were less cautious, more optimistic.

“We are literally one, relatively minor detail apart right now. We’re working those details out,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, an Ulster County Democrat who chairs the Energy Committee. “We pretty much came to an agreement.”

His Senate counterpart, George Maziarz, agreed, adding one sticking point remains: whether to include a sunset provision in the bill.

“It sunset, and the sun’s never come up since,” Maziarz said. “That was a big thing that we wanted on the Senate side. Now again, I’m not so sure the Assembly’s going to agree to that. We do not want the sunset. They probably will.”

Cahill said that on the contrary, the Assembly has agreed to make Article X permanent.

“Always on everyone’s shortlist is Article X,” he said. “This year it looks like we’re going to be able to get it through. And not only get it through, but get through a fantastic bill that is going to be made permanent.”

Cahill said the deal, which may be voted on as early as today, will provide siting oversight for power plants in excess of 25 megawatts of energy. Plants would be required to comply with federal homeland security regulations, air quality rules, environmental justice and public health provisions, as well as the state’s statutory energy plan.

The deal may also require the state to set up a “utility intervenor fund” of somewhere between $200,000 and $800,000, depending on the size of the plant, which would be provided by the power plant applicant to pay for legal fees.

The deal should also satisfy any lingering environmental justice concerns, Cahill said. For years, the Assembly blocked the law’s renewal based mainly on concerns that new power plants would be sited disproportionately in low-income, minority communities.

“We’ve stood for a long time in not agreeing until we were happy with the environmental justice provision,” Cahill said.

The deal will also include a companion piece to authorize “on bill” financing for the Green Jobs/Green New York program, which allows homeowners to pay for energy retrofits through loan payments. That program was first enacted in summer 2009.

There were almost no serious discussions on renewing Article X – which has become something of a perennial issue for Albany – until this month, when advocates say everything suddenly started to coalesce.

“After a lot of lobbying around energy issues this session, the governor’s office brought together both houses and parties a couple of weeks back,” said Dan Hendrick, a spokesman for the New York League of Conservation Voters, in an email. “Green jobs was a priority for the Assembly, Article X for the Senate. Everyone had something they could work with and negotiate for.”

Hendricks said the deal presents a significant improvement over the previous law. If a community is “environmentally overburdened,” he said, power plant applicants will have to commit to local offset programs before applications can be improved.

“We are very excited about both, Article X in particular, which has been one of our goals for years,” he said.

Kathy Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said that renewing Article X is essential to rebuilding the state’s economy.

“New York continues to need energy,” she said. “We’re trying to conserve, but the fact is that economic growth, particularly in technology-intensive industries, requires additional energy generation. Otherwise we’re stuck with a 20th Century electrical system.”

Maziarz credited Cuomo for making the deal happen.

“For years we’ve been talking Article X, passing different bills on Article X,” he said. “And you know, the governor really kind of drove it home.”

ARTICLE X: Legislation could be approved today - Wind farm siting may fall to Albany

If proposed state legislation is approved today, the siting of wind power projects in the north country will be decided by a committee in Albany, not local planning boards.

State and local wind power proponents have supported Article X in the past, saying that it limits to one year how long the siting approval and permitting process can take. Under local review, projects have lagged for three, four or more years.

Wind power opponents tend to oppose Article X out of suspicion of Albany's renewable energy policies and its push to build wind-power projects.

The Article X provisions will be part of a larger energy policy bill after a three-way agreement among the governor and legislature leaders, making passage likely.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great Lakes May Beat Atlantic To Offshore Wind

States along the Atlantic Coast are racing to be first in the country to put wind turbines offshore. But a group in Ohio says the first offshore wind farm in America isn't likely to be in the Atlantic, but in the fresh waters of Lake Erie about seven miles off the Cleveland coast.

A dull gray salvage boat chugs out of the Port of Cleveland on a calm spring morning; it's part of the early stages of what some hope will become a major industry in Ohio. But today, the prospect of dozens of massive wind turbines sprouting from the lake floor seems remote.

Right now, there's only one structure on the water — a century-old, iron-clad water intake "crib" that juts 30 feet out of the water. A helmeted diver tethered to a nearby boat sinks into the murky water. His job is to recover an ice sensor sitting 50 feet down on the lake bottom.

Meanwhile three engineers climb the metal steps to the crib's roof where storm-battered instruments are gathering wind data. One of them, Aaron Godwin, says the numbers demonstrate the lake's energy potential.

"Actually this would be a good example of a day where we would be generating some pretty decent power," Godwin says. "You'll see that the instruments are spinning faster as you go up in elevation; again, one of the reasons you come out here is because it's unobstructed; it's clean wind."

Lakes May Beat Atlantic to Offshore Wind

Promoters of clean wind say, in the next decade, hundreds of turbines in Lake Erie could produce 1,000 megawatts of power — enough for 200,000 homes.

The plan is to start next year with a five-turbine pilot project within sight of downtown Cleveland. Its $100 million cost would be raised from investors and loans.

Chris Wissemann, the project's developer, says that with turbine supplier General Electric, engineering giant Bechtel, and Texas-based Cavallo Energy on board, his company, Freshwater Wind, will likely win the nation's offshore wind race.

"The Great Lakes will really be home to offshore wind long before we see it in the Atlantic," Wissemann says.

Expensive Start-Up

But first engineers need to solve a problem that most ocean wind farms don't have — massive floes of shifting ice each winter.

Data from the ice sensor recovered from the lake bottom will help engineers like Dave Mattheisen design foundations that can withstand those icy pressures, without "over-engineering" them. Each turbine will cost more than $20 million — so much money that it could take decades to recoup the investment.

But Wissemann insists the high costs of the pilot project will be outweighed by the long-term benefits.

"What we're talking about here now is a project that maybe produces high-priced power, but the trade-off is to get jobs," he says.

'The Math Doesn't Work'

But not everyone believes it's worth it.

Cleveland industrialist Dan Moore has stakes in a dozen businesses, including one that builds turbine blades. But he says the numbers Wissemann is throwing around just don't add up.

"The concept of building windmills in Lake Erie is nonsense. $100 million for 3.4 megawatts it doesn't even come close to making sense," Moore says. "It's Alice in Wonderland." (Moore is referring to his projections of production for a pilot project to test the proposed wind farm.)

Moore thinks high-priced wind energy won't work in a region that needs electricity to power heavy industry.

"The math doesn't work, you're off by a decimal point," he says.

Some other Great Lakes players are backing away from offshore wind turbine development because of environmental concerns. In Michigan, lawmakers and residents are concerned about disturbing the lake's natural beauty. Meanwhile in Canada, all of Ontario's offshore power projects have been put on hold.

Political, Economic Challenges

But backers in Ohio say they've looked at the realities, and they're still optimistic. Lorry Wagner, head of the non-profit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., says he understands the challenges.

"We know we have to get [the cost] down to approximately half of what it is today and that's an immense challenge, we don't have any illusions about how difficult this is going to be," Wagner says.

The world's first freshwater wind farm went online last year in Lake Vanern, Sweden. Engineers in Cleveland are hoping to benefit from lessons learned there. And they say the project's engineering problems are actually the easiest to solve — it's the political and economic challenges that are likely to remain the thorniest.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Big Wind must be transparent

Wind energy is cited among the green alternatives to fossil fuel, but environmental and community groups are irritated about the handling of a massive project to transmit energy to Oahu from windmills on Lanai and Molokai. They should be provided more access to preliminary work on the plan by state agencies and Hawaiian Electric Co., and hold project members to promises of full access and participation at future venues.

HECO is seeking a "power purchase agreement" from the Public Utilities Commission to recover $4 million from ratepayers in costs for studies associated with the Big Wind, or Interisland Wind, project. The PUC has endorsed the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which mandates that 40 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2030, so the studies are consistent with the state's goals. The path to getting there, though, has the potential to keep lay people in the dark until it emerges as a fait accompli.

Even Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is complaining that "no one can tell us where the cable will run, its overall cost or how it would interconnect with the grids on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.... We need a clear, complete, accurate, detailed analysis for the cable system before we agree to finance it on the backs of the ratepayers."

For several years, the state, U.S. Department of Energy and HECO have analyzed the Big Wind project and "concluded that an undersea cable system is technically feasible, cost-effective and financially viable to serve the public interest and benefit," according to an introduction to state legislation prepared by project participants. HECO now is studying the actual particulars, such as the route for the cable, said Robbie Alm, executive vice president.

To Mayor Arakawa's concerns, Alm said a connection with Maui island has not been decided yet.

The U.S. Department of Energy has begun preparing its environmental impact statement on the project and the state will begin work on its EIS after the federal document is completed, Alm said. At that point, possibly this fall, the public will be allowed full access and participation in the process, he said, In addition, he said, the project will need 70 state permits, each of which will be subject to public hearings before being granted.

A big part of the concern at this stage stems from the fact that the PUC is a quasi-judicial state agency whose primary focus is regulations and rates, with dockets full of technical verbiage; its required level of public hearings is not structured like, say the City Council or the state Legislature, both of which hold multiple readings and hearings on issues.

Indeed, the present process consists of "technical studies to determine the possibility of adding large amounts of wind and solar energy to the Oahu grid," HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg told the Star-Advertiser's Alan Yonan Jr. The results of those studies "do not mean the Interisland Wind project will be done, only that it is possible," he added.

Well, the studies surely seem to go beyond that uncertainty.

The attempt by Honolulu-based Life of the Land to intervene so it could gain access to all the information about the project has been rejected by the PUC. The environmental organization's executive director, Henry Curtis, said his attempt to obtain public documents from the state has been resisted. Curtis said the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said it would cost Life of the Land $15,000 for photocopies of all its Big Wind material, and the PUC would charge $8,000 for copies of its documents.

PUC Chairwoman Hermina Morita says it complied with the law on Curtis's request, which asked for an overabundance of information (see today's Letters to the Editor), and that anyone can view the commission's website.

But while the PUC is not bound by the information disclosure standards of other state agencies, it needs to be acutely aware that public accessibility and understanding is crucial to what would be the priciest, most controversial public utility project in the state's history, even at this pre-EIS stage. The movers and shakers need to ensure comprehensive openness as the state environmental impact statement process unfolds with an abundance of hearings and thorough public scrutiny.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Breaking News: Pork Lawsuit Argument Announced

October 12, 2011, 2pm Albany. A Tea Party Rally against corporate welfare will be held at 12 noon on the Capitol steps. Stay tuned for details and save the date.

Note: we won in the Appellate Division five to zero.

The name of the case is Bordeleau v. State of New York.

Oral argument will be held at the Court of Appeals, NY’s highest court.

For more information google “pork lawsuit.”

Cohocton Wind Watch is a petitioner in this legal action.

A ‘bait and switch’ in Orangeville

On May 5, 2011, the Orangeville Town Board held the first of five work sessions for the Stony Creek wind turbine project. The project details given to the Town Board by Invenergy is not the same project as proposed in the original plans. The only thing the same is the name.

The new plans were incomplete but any issues could not be discussed because the public is forbidden to speak at these work sessions. Eric Miller of Invenergy stated one of the major changes was the increase in turbine size. Mr. Miller stated it was minimal and only 7 percent increase. Mr. Miller was correct to a point. Each blade will be 29 feet longer and compared to the total turbine height it is 7 percent.

In comparison to the original turbine in the DEIS this new model turbine is closer to 45 percent larger in area, thus much noisier and this turbine is going from the original 1.5 MW to 1.6 MW. This will also change the shadow flicker duration and ice shedding distance as well. The towers also had to be moved and transmission lines relocated. To put it bluntly it’s not the same project.

Invenergy’s Mr. Miller produced computer-generated photos of the larger turbines. Views with turbines carefully positioned by trees, buildings, hazy days and even from other towns miles away. We don’t live miles away. The turbines will be 1,320 feet from our homes, 700 feet from our property lines and 477 feet from the center of the roads. Mr. Miller says they tried to take the pictures on clear days but ...

Larger, noisier turbines require larger set backs. Mr. Miller said they did noise studies but would not disclose when and where and the results. We the people of Orangeville want to know the locations of the studies and done by who? Have any of these new, larger turbines been installed in any wind projects? Have any noise studies been done under actual conditions and not some computer-simulated report using ideal conditions?

The residents of Orangeville at the April 14 Town Board meeting were lead to believe that the new, revised maps of the project, changes in the locations of the turbines, transmission lines, modifications to the turbines to be used by Invenergy, etc., would be available on Invenergy’s website for the public to review. Nothing in regards to the Stony Creek project has been updated.

Again the public is being kept in the dark about the bait and switch. As a concerned Orangeville resident I asked Invenergy’s Michael Mulcahey if I could have a one-page copy of the project site and I was denied. Why? The new maps were to be displayed on the conference table at the Orangeville Town Hall and that has not been done.

There have been substantial changes in the project and no public input allowed at the work sessions. Not that the Orangeville Town Board and Invenergy are trying to slip this through real fast but they cut the work sessions to four meetings because “they made so much progress at the first meeting.” In less than two hours digested hundreds of pages of information. I must say, amazing ... I would hope the Orangeville Town Board would request the complete and accurate information and get advice from an independent source for the good of Orangeville.

Paul Jensen


Ontario unable to tell if wind farms exceed noise limits, activists say

Anti-wind farm activists have released leaked documents that they say show the Ontario government cannot tell if the giant industrial turbines meet provincial noise regulations.

A 2009 memo from a Ministry of Environment officer, obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, said the Liberal government imposed noise limits as it approved wind farms, even though it has no way to tell if they comply with the limits.

“MOE currently has NO approval methodology for field measurement of the noise emissions from multiple noise sources,” the senior environmental officer wrote. “As such there is no way for MOE field staff [and I would submit anyone else] to confirm compliance or lack thereof with the noise limits set in the approvals.”

The memo is proof the Liberal government isn't telling the whole truth about wind farms, Wind Concerns spokesman John Laforet said.

“They've said in black and white they have no way to ensure compliance with the certificate of approvals, yet they willingly and knowingly continue to issue them,” said Mr. Laforet. “If there is unenforceable compliance, you're just letting industry do what it wants and the government is rubber-stamping it.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday he had not seen the leaked memo, but added that the government based all its approvals of wind farms on scientific evidence.

“We had a three-judge panel confirm that we have always relied on the best science available in terms of coming up with our setback requirements and noise regulations,” he said. “We've got some of the toughest in the world, and certainly the best in North America.”

The Progressive Conservatives said there is a lot of anger in rural Ontario at the Liberals for imposing wind farms on communities.

“We believe the decisions regarding the establishment of the wind farms should be left to the local communities,” said PC critic Elizabeth Witmer. “Rather than Queen's Park making these decisions, we believe in local decision making. Right now, people feel absolutely powerless.”

The Liberals are ignoring complaints from local residents about noise from the wind turbines keeping them up at night and even making some people sick, and they should admit they can't ensure compliance with noise levels, Mr. Laforet said.

“I think the government has been completely dishonest on this whole issue,” he said. “They are afraid of science, which means they're covering something up and we'd like to get to the bottom of what that is. There's no harm in an independent study unless there's something that they're hiding.”

The Liberals will pay a price in lost seats in the Oct. 6 election, especially in rural Ontario, if it doesn't back off the wind projects very soon, warned Mr. Laforet, who's been on a six-week tour of the province organizing anti-wind-power groups.

“We're visiting 18 Liberal ridings where we've got opposition to wind groups on the ground and we're actively organizing to use the election as a referendum on the Green Energy Act and on industrial wind farms,” he said. “If the Liberals were smart, they would take this opportunity to detach themselves from the industrial wind lobby in hopes of saving some of their seats in rural Ontario.”

The Liberals put a moratorium on off-shore wind farms after people in suburban Toronto complained about a potential installation in Lake Ontario, a move Ms. Witmer called part of the “Liberal seat-saver plan.”

The Ministry of the Environment said it takes compliance seriously, but did not say if it had come up with a way for field officers to measure noise from multiple wind turbines since the memo was first issued.

“We have always been able to measure noise levels and detect any exceedance of our stringent 40 dB requirement,” said press secretary Jonathan Rose. “This limit is what the World Health Organization recommends as protective of human health.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pattern Energy Begins Construction on Nevada's First Wind Farm

Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern) today announced it has begun construction on the Spring Valley Wind project. The project is located on public lands in northern Spring Valley, approximately 30 miles east of Ely, Nevada, and will be the state's first wind energy project.

The 150 megawatt (MW) Spring Valley Wind project will take approximately one year to build and will create approximately 225 jobs during construction, with a preference given to qualified local workers and contractors. The wind project will also create up to 13 full-time permanent positions once operational and generate new business and tax revenue for the state and White Pine County community.

"I'm pleased that construction has begun on Nevada's first utility-scale wind farm, creating jobs that help diversify our economy," said Senator Harry Reid. "Wind is an abundant natural resource that Nevada can harness on our path to become energy independent. Projects like this will convert our vast renewable energy potential into new economic opportunity and make Nevada a global leader in clean energy."

"Pattern is honored to be constructing Nevada's first wind project, which will provide groundbreaking mitigation measures to minimize impacts on the environment, including preservation of cultural resources, funding for sage grouse, curtailment standards, modified electrical lines to reduce risks to birds, and an advanced radar system for monitoring birds and bats that will allow us to turn off the turbines when species are identified in the area," said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy.

"Many people in Nevada, particularly Senator Reid, have been at the forefront of encouraging renewable energy in the United States and in the state of Nevada, and we are proud to be the first company to bring wind power to the Senator's home state," added Garland. "We also appreciate the collaborative efforts of all those involved in the environmental review and permit process, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, NV Energy, the local tribes and the Sierra Club."

Pattern has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy for the sale of energy produced by Spring Valley Wind, which will equal the power needs of approximately 45,000 local homes. Pattern's Spring Valley Wind project is expected to generate more than $20 million in tax revenue for White Pine County and the state of Nevada's Renewable Energy Fund over the next 20 years. Pattern has selected Mortenson Construction to manage construction of the project, which will use 66 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines and utilize an existing 230 kilovolt transmission line for electricity distribution.

Spring Valley Wind will be Pattern Energy's fourth operating wind project in North America and is one of seven projects that Pattern expects to bring into construction over the next 12 months, consisting of more than 1,300 MW of new installed capacity. Pattern Energy currently operates 520 MW of wind power projects in North America.


Pattern Energy Group LP is an independent, fully integrated energy company that develops, constructs, owns, and operates renewable energy and transmission assets in the United States, Canada and Latin America. With a long history in wind energy, Pattern's highly-experienced team of scientists, engineers, construction experts, and legal and financial professionals has developed, financed and placed into operation more than 2,500 MW of wind power projects. Pattern's development pipeline exceeds 4,000 MW of renewable energy projects and includes multiple transmission projects. Pattern currently has 520 MW of wind energy in operation in the U.S. and in southern Manitoba, Canada. With offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, New York, and Toronto, Pattern is strongly committed to promoting environmental stewardship and is dedicated to working closely with landowners and communities to develop and operate premier renewable energy projects. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vt. wind developer sends no trespass notices for construction zone

SHEFFIELD, Vt. — A number of Vermonters opposed to construction of a wind power project in Sheffield say they've been sent "no trespass orders" by the developer.

An attorney representing a group of residents of Sheffield and Sutton opposed to the 16-turbine, $90 million project says it's a mystery to her why First Wind didn't just post "no trespassing" signs.

Stephanie Kaplan tells the Caledonian Record "maybe sending these notices is more intimidating and therefore more to their way of doing business."

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne says the notices are needed because the area is becoming a busy construction site. He doesn't know how many notices were sent.

The first turbines could arrive at the construction site next week.

Kaplan says she is seeking an expedited appeal with the Vermont Supreme Court.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Law would restrict turbine noise

Morristown is one step closer to enacting a law that would outline a strict set of requirements for wind turbine developers, perhaps setting a new standard in the process.

The town's proposed wind energy law, which has a more stringent set of guidelines for proposed turbines than other towns in the area, was presented before the St. Lawrence Planning Board last week. The board recommended approval of the plan pending certain adjustments.

"We want to have this project go," board member Thomas L. Jenison said. "It is a big step in the right direction."

Morristown, which has no wind energy law in place, has been in the process of creating the law for nearly three years.

Read the entire article

BP considering different turbines for Cape

BP Wind Energy's Cape Vincent Wind Farm is evaluating other turbines to use in the wind farm, new project manager Peter A. Gross told the Planning Board.

"The project continues to be attractive to BP," he said during the board's meeting last week. "The fundamentals of the project are still strong."

But other, newer turbine models could work better than the proposed GE 1.6-megawatt turbines. A change in model would require updates to the supplemental environmental impact statement, he said, which could take some time.

The board also heard a plan to expand Angel Rock Waterfront Cottages, 34311 Route 12E. Owners Daniel M. and Carol A. Thomas asked to erect 10 cottages on 3.9 acres they purchased adjacent to their lot, where there are 14 cottages.

Read the entire article

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finally, a govt. has the balls to shut down loud (infrasonic) windfarm! (Scotland)

The local authority has forced Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to shut down a Sutherland wind farm after the company breached planning controls by failing to deal with excessive noise from the development.

People living close to the Achany wind farm near Rosehall are claiming their lives are being made a misery by the constant noise, and are angry that their complaints are being ignored.

In an unprecedented move, Highland Council issued a temporary stop notice on the 23-turbine wind farm at 3pm on Monday.

The turbine blades at the £55 million, 40MW windfarm, which came on stream in July last year, stopped turning that night.

The stop notice will remain in place for a month, until July 4, with the shut down representing a huge financial loss to the power company.

Highland Council’s principal planner Gordon Moonie confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that it was the first time the authority had issued a notice of this type.

He said he was unaware of any other council taking similar action.

“This temporary stop notice was introduced under a 2006 Act and it hasn’t been used very often, but it is quite an effective way of dealing with a breach of planning control. In a sense it affects the company where it hurts—in their pocket,” he said.

Mr Moonie revealed that the problems with Achany had been ongoing for about a year, with constant complaints to planners about noise.

“We were getting complaints from the local people and the community and we weren’t getting any action from SSE, so we decided that the best way forward was to serve this temporary stop notice,” he said.

“It means that the windfarm has to cease operating and we can then get round the table and agree a way forward that is in everyone’s interest.”

According to the stop notice, SSE breached planning controls by failing to provide a scheme for mitigating noise levels prior to the development coming on stream.

They also failed to comply with a request to measure noise levels at two local properties—Rosehall Cottage and a home at Durcha—when specifically asked to do so following complaints from the householders.

The Durcha property is just 2km away from some of the turbines.

The company has further breached planning controls by failing to notify the local authority of the date the development first supplied electricity to the National Grid.

Local resident Andy Simpson is the chairman of Kyle of Sutherland Against Braemore (KoSAB), the group protesting against a proposed wind farm at Braemore, near Lairg.

He told the Northern Times: “The householder at Durcha has been complaining bitterly about the noise in certain weather conditions and said it has made life unbearable at times.

“Therefore, I’m really pleased that Highland Council have done the right thing.

“However, it gives me grave concern that a developer appears to have dismissed a genuine noise complaint once a wind farm has been constructed.

“This surely shows scant care or empathy for local communities from these large corporates.”

He added: “An even greater cause for concern is the proposal for Braemore windfarm which KoSAB estimate is within 2km of 83 houses.”

Rosehall resident Colin Gilmour, who chaired the Achany Windfarm Liaison Group said: “When Achany became operational in July 2010, we closed the liaison group down because in effect we did not really have any more to do with the development and we were not aware at the time that SSE had not met these conditions.

“However, the issue of noise from Achany has come up at the liaison group set up for the Rosehall Hill wind farm which is being constructed by E.ON.

“There is now a worry that houses at Durcha could be affected by noise from both wind farms and that one operator will blame the other.

“They need to sort out the Achany issue before Rosehall Hill wind farm becomes operational.”

Mr Gilmour continued: “The householder at Durcha is particularly affected when the wind is coming from the north-east or in certain weather conditions. But he will be even closer to some of the Rosehall Hill turbines.

“Highland Council became a bit exasperated in the end with SSE over Achany because they just didn’t meet the conditions.”

When asked for a comment, a spokesman for SSE yesterday (Thursday) responded: “Following a request from the Higland Council, we have temporarily suspended generation at our Achany wind farm, near Lairg. We are working closely with council officials and will be meeting representatives later today. We are confident that we can reach an agreement with the council very quickly.”

Thursday, June 09, 2011

APOV: Perry puts people first

A “de facto” approval to put people first was approved by the Perry Town Board at their May 11, 2011, Town Board meeting.

In this “anything for a buck” world we live in today — where all too often it seems people just don’t care about one another any more — the fact that the Perry Town Board put their citizens first when it came to siting an industrial wind installation within their town is absolutely refreshing to one’s soul!

It is understandable that our town boards had to look at these projects when they first showed up six or seven years ago now, because of the potential income industrial wind salesmen seemed to be offering. However, the overwhelming evidence exposing industrial wind as the “Emperor Who Has No Clothes,” far outweighs the dollar signs and devastated communities left in their wake in the long run.

Health studies from around the world indicate that the setbacks recommended in Perry’s new law are still inadequate to protect the health of nearby neighbors. The fact that these still-inadequate setbacks effectively “ban” industrial wind turbines in Perry because they now “won’t fit in,” only highlights the absurd and dangerous nature of the wind industry’s initially proposed setbacks.

The failure of many local governments across the state and nation to provide appropriate leadership on this issue has been appalling. Massive wind plants create incivility — pitting neighbor against neighbor, and even family member against family member. A major duty of good government is to foresee, and prevent or eliminate this kind of incivility.

Those who endorse or profit from placing such industrial complexes near the homes of others evidently don’t have a clue about how to foster civil society! Perry’s Town Board is more than clued in! They have proven they are committed to common sense, grounded in common decency! Such leadership is increasingly rare, and correspondingly valuable.

Citizens here should be proud of Perry’s Town Board! Rather than swallowing the usual snake-oil offered by corporate shills to make people believe that pigs can fly, the Perry Town Board approved no-nonsense wind regulations — insisting on civility and reality, and ultimately keeping these hucksters at bay.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to say a well-deserved thank you to the Perry Town Board! You listened, and took the time to educate yourselves. We all greatly appreciate and admire your perseverance, courage and dedication to doing the right thing in the face of such great pressures. The result was the enactment of enlightened public policy which all towns should strive to emulate. Perry’s new wind law will protect not only Perry’s citizens, but all New York state taxpayers and ratepayers who are sick and tired of footing the bill for this corporate welfare scam. (See: "The corporate welfare bar" and "Wasteful, redundant schemes must stop")

The Perry Town Board’s new industrial wind law is what responsible government looks like in a land where people still care about their neighbors! I am sure that Perry Town Board members sleep easy at night knowing they put people above money, and abided by Jesus’ commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

God bless you all, and thank you for putting people first in Perry!

Mary Kay Barton lives in Silver Lake.

Companies Recruit Rock Climbing Enthusiasts to Repair Wind Turbines

When repairing wind turbines became his full-time job five years ago, Josh Crayton was awed by what he calls "the fantasticness of it all."

"It didn't seem real," Crayton, an avid rafter and rock climber, recalled of his first days at Rope Partner, a Santa Cruz, Calif., company. "To get to use my climbing skills and my rope knowledge was great."

Rope Partner soon had him climbing up 260-foot turbines with a rope, a harness and a partner. Once he got to the top, his tasks on wind turbine blades could involve everything from repair to cleaning to even painting. At any point in the year, his work locations could range from the Midwest to Texas.

However, extreme weather, such as high winds, also came with the territory -- which is why many days had him only "hoping to be in the air all day," Crayton said. He soon became accustomed to a transient lifestyle that shipped him across the country to various wind farms for weeks at a time.

"It's difficult work," he said. "You receive an itinerary, jump on flight and travel to the spot. Assuming all of your materials and bags make it with you, you'll start work the next day."

Many of the world's wind turbines are starting to age. According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are now more than 197,000 turbines in the world. In the United States, there are more than 36,000. Both numbers are growing rapidly, which is why avid outdoors enthusiasts like Crayton are finding themselves increasingly in demand.

Two prevailing forms of repair dominate the industry. One has repairmen using machinery like cherry pickers to reach the blades. But another growing practice puts workers like Crayton to the top without all the expensive equipment. Like rock climbers, they reach the top with their arms and legs and little else.

Spending the day hanging out

The method appears to have at least two major advantages. "It's far more cost-effective and generally safer, because you have a main line and safety line," said Christyne Mortensen, an office manager at Ropeworks Center of Excellence, another organization that employs rope workers to fix turbines. "We have easier access and can go anywhere on the turbine."

Based in Reno, Nev., Ropeworks employs about 50 workers who repair wind turbines across the country and in some cases internationally. As wind becomes more prominent in regional electricity systems, the need to keep wind turbines running efficiently has become more critical. Then there is the economic factor: "All those big companies want to save money," Mortensen said. Taking machinery out of the question helps lower the cost.

Rope workers tend to cluster in the windier parts of the country. They're housed in hotels and typically work a 10-hour day. As in their rock climbing forays, they customarily enjoy lunch with a view, packing food like chili and canned soup up to the top of a turbine, which typically stands 300 feet high.

A job can take anywhere from a few days to months. At Ropeworks, a job will usually take two weeks. Repairs on wind turbines can be for a variety of reasons. At Rope Partner, which does similar work, Mason Baldwin lists wear and tear from debris and repairing the turbine blade's fiber glass as typical tasks.

"Like in car, mechanical parts are going to fail," said Baldwin, an office assistant at Rope Partner.

Much of the work could change as existing turbines continue to get older. "It's young industry," Baldwin said. "We probably don't even know what we'll have to deal with in future as problems start to rise and machines start to age."

What happens to blades as they age

Employees of Ropeworks, which was known as Skala until technology tester Mistras Group purchased it this past December, mostly come from rock climbing backgrounds. Mistras, which tests many aspects of wind turbines, purchased the company to "complete our portfolio to provide a one-source solution for the wind industry," said Ralph Genesi, Mistras' group executive vice president of marketing and sales.

"Blades happen to be an area right now that are seeing a lot of damage as they get older," Genesi said, adding that fluctuation in the climate can cause blades to separate and disbond.

One of Mistras' reasons for the acquisition lies in supporting Ropeworks' growth. It amounts to a bet on the growth of what is still a small industry. Genesi estimates that about 15 rope-climbing turbine repair operations exist. He sees room for expansion. "As [wind farms] get larger, they're going to have to be more reliable," he said.

While rope workers tout their technique as a cheaper alternative to using machinery, there are still tasks where both methods might intersect. Heavy machinery might be hard to transport to remote areas where wind farms are often located, but they can lift technology up to the turbines that can used to methodically detect early signs of blade cracking, for instance. Still, in terms of the actual repair itself, rope workers usually do the trick.

To affirm the safety of the job, both Ropeworks and Rope Partner require their workers to be certified by the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians before being hired. The SPRAT certification is a weeklong class offered across the country.

Training keeps the accident ratio low. Off the top of her head, Mortensen can recall two accidents, one resulting in death, where both people didn't have their ropes properly tied.

To be sure, rope climbing jobs aren't limited to green energy. While Rope Partner, according to Baldwin, does the "occasional kind of screwball job," Ropeworks has recently expanded into repairing oil rigs.

As for Crayton, he has since come down to earth and works as a blade services manager for Rope Partner, a role he said he grew into. Still, he sometimes goes aloft to do the work that originally drew him in. For him, the thrill hasn't gone away.

"It's fantastic because it offers a little bit of a better life," he said.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Turbines Killing Birds, Bats

The law of unintended leftist consequences has come home to roost again, this time in the form of dead birds. The Los Angeles Times reported early this week that wind turbines are killing the raptor population in California's Altamont Pass, where thousands of the unsightly machines mangle and mutilate 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

According to the Times, thousands of raptors are dying annually because of the turbines, which have been killing the avian beauties for three decades.

Yet the report is nothing new. Environmentalists have known about the bird-chopping machines for years.

Altamont Pass Abbatoir

According to the Times, the death count for golden eagles alone is "67 a year for three decades." That's 2,000 dead eagles, which does not count the eaglets that were not hatched. Even worse, the Times reports, "about 2,000 raptors are killed in the Altamont Pass by wind turbines, according to on-site surveys conducted by field biologists. The toll, however, could be higher because bird carcasses are quickly removed by scavengers."

Nationwide, about 440,000 birds are killed at wind farms each year, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The American Wind Energy Assn., an industry lobbying group, points out that far more birds are killed each year by collisions with radio towers, tall buildings, airplanes, vehicles and in encounters with hungry household cats.

The Times report, however, merely echoes a long-time complaint. In 2005, USA Today offered the same story:

The size of the annual body count — conservatively put at 4,700 birds — is unique to this sprawling, 50-square-mile site in the Diablo Mountains between San Francisco and the agricultural Central Valley because it spans an international migratory bird route regulated by the federal government. The low mountains are home to the world's highest density of nesting golden eagles.

Scientists don't know whether the kills reduce overall bird populations but worry that turbines, added to other factors, could tip a species into decline. "They didn't realize it at the time, but it was just a really bad place to build a wind farm," says Grainger Hunt, an ecologist with the Peregrine Fund who has studied eagles at Altamont.

But back to 2011. Such is the bird body count that avian biologists worry whether the turbines might chop a species into extinction, the Times reports.

"It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production," said field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program. "We only have 60 pairs."

Sadly, the paper reports, California condors, which were driven to the brink of extinction, are "a successfully recovered species that is expanding its range into existing and proposed wind farms in Kern and Fresno counties." One energy company's plan will erect 102 turbines on more than 12,000 acres east of the Piute Mountains. According to the Times:

A risk assessment of that project warned that condors spend considerable time soaring within the potential rotor-swept heights of modern wind turbines, which are more than 200 feet tall. It also pointed out that condor roosts are as close as 25 miles away.

That means the leftie Californians who mooned over the loss of the condor decades ago are willing to risk killing the beautiful birds to bring their vision of wind power to fruition. By 2030, the state decreed in April, 33 percent of the state's power must come from renewable resources. What will that mean for the condor?

"We taxpayers have spent millions of dollars saving the California condor from extinction," said Gary George, spokesman for Audubon California. "How's the public going to feel about wind energy if a condor hits the turbines?"

Turbines Kill Bats

Birds, of course, aren't the only victims of the remorselessly spinning metal blades. Bats fall prey to them as well. But they aren't chopped to pieces.

According to Scientific American, the turbines create subtle but, to the bats, massive changes in air pressure that kill the flying mammals. Autopsies on 188 bats killed in Canada "showed that nearly half showed no external injuries — as would be expected if the giant blades had smashed the flying mammals to the ground."

Bursting pulmonary blood vessels killed the bats, the magazine reported in 2008, "suggesting that the air pressure difference created by the spinning windmills had terminated them, not contact with the blades."

As the wind moves through a wind turbine's blades, pressure drops behind them by five to 10 kilopascals (a pascal is a unit of pressure), and any bat unlucky enough to blunder into such an undetectable low pressure zone would find its lungs and blood vessels rapidly expanding and, quickly, bursting under the new conditions.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

New York invests in wind, hydro, landfill power

New York is investing nearly $191 million in wind, hydroelectric and landfill-to-gas projects to provide renewable energy access throughout the state. The funds will be awarded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) and will cover 17 projects.

NYSERDA estimates that these power projects will produce nearly $500 million in economic benefits over the expected 20-year life of the facilities. The projects will be funded through the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), is tasked with ensuring that at least 30 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2015.

Once operational, the 17 projects will add 315 megawatts of renewable capacity to New York’s generator resource base and produce about 1 million megawatt-hours per year of clean renewable energy. That will provide power to supply approximately 145,000 homes per year.

The wind projects chosen will go to farms in Steuben, Wyoming, Cattarugus and Clinton counties. The hydroelectric work will expand an existing facility in Saratoga County as well as re-powering three other facilities.

“New York has one of the most ambitious and responsible renewable energy targets in the nation: 30 percent by 2015. These projects represent the future of energy in New York State and will result in a grid that is efficient, affordable, clean and reliable for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said.

Monday, June 06, 2011

NYISO wind power generation statistics for 2010

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) releases annually statistics about every generation facility connected to New York’s electrical grid. Data related to wind generation in 2010 is found below.

Many wind opponents cite to wind capacity factors as an illustration that wind power is inefficient. The reader is reminded that these data are rough figures. The spreadsheet below provides no explanation as to why the numbers are what they are (for instance, what role does down time play?), nor is any comparison made to any other type of generation fuel, such as hydro, natural gas or nuclear. Using NYISO’s numbers, a strict comparison of actual generation to theoretical maximum generation may show wind in a favorable light when compared, for example, to a variety of fossil fuels including natural gas.

The spreadsheet is here: 2011 NYCA Wind Generating Facilities Final. Shaded columns indicate extrapolated data not produced by NYISO.

For more information, visit NYISO’s website, Planning Documents & Resources, at

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Hearing set on latest Maine wind farm

A proposal to build a wind farm with as many as 27 turbines on eastern Maine’s Bowers Mountain is scheduled for hearings before state regulators later this month.

The public will have an opportunity to comment before the Land User Regulation Commission on June 27 and 28. A presentation by the commission’s staff and testimony by the applicant and the interveners will be held June 28 and then continue July 6 in Bangor.

The application for the $136 million development was submitted by Champlain Wind LLC, a subsidiary of First Wind, a Massachusetts company that has other projects in Maine. The project would have a maximum energy output of 57 megawatts.

The proposed project is about 10 miles east of Lee in Carroll Plantation and Kossuth Township, Penobscot County. It is located within the area designated for expedited permitting. The project is the latest of several operating, under construction, or proposed in Maine.

Groups opposed to large-scale wind projects continue to push for more stringent regulation of wind power projects. On Friday, Friends of Maine Mountains called for passage of a bill establishing minimum setbacks for industrial wind turbines, while still allowing property owners to allow reduced setbacks.

Several other bills proposing new restrictions or aimed at weakening a 2008 law that streamlined Maine’s wind-power regulatory laws have been killed.

Friday, June 03, 2011

House of Representatives hearing on renewable energy siting

The U.S House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee held on June 1 a full committee oversight hearing on “American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters, Part II – The Wind and Solar Industry Perspective.”

The hearing focused on the challenges of siting renewable projects on public land.

Representatives from various industry participants presented testimony, including from the American Wind Energy Association, Cape Wind Associates, Offshore Wind Development Coalition, and the Center for Energy Policy and Finance of Stanford University.

While permitting was the chief issue, Roby Roberts of AWEA (and a Horizon Wind official) commented that the greatest hurdle facing the wind energy sector currently

is the lack of a consistent and long-term federal policy to support renewable energy. Despite bipartisan support, tax credits for wind and other forms of renewable energy have been on-again, off-again. The production tax credit, which is the key existing federal tax incentive for wind energy development, expires at the end of 2012. Failure to extend this incentive will result in a large tax increase on wind energy developers that will be reflected in the cost of wind power, making it less competitive with competing sources that also receive federal incentives. We request that Congress block this tax increase and extend the production tax credit for wind energy this year. Given lead times for project development, it is important to act now to avoid a lull in development post-2012. Business decisions for 2013 are already being made.

Here for Full Committee Oversight Hearing on “American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters, Part II – The Wind and Solar Industry Perspective”

The hearing followed the May 13 Full Committee Oversight Hearing on “American Energy Initiative: Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters, Part I – Department of Interior Officials”.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

New York Wind: Much Ado for So Little

The United Kingdom has long been regarded as having the best wind resource in Europe.

A 2005 analysis of hourly wind speeds collected from sixty-six locations across the UK, identified three characteristics of the wind resource that proponents rely on to justify an expansive build-out of wind energy facilities.

The study concluded that over a 35-year period from 1970 to 2005, there was never a time when the entire country was without wind, the wind always blew enough to generate electricity somewhere in Britain and that the resource tended to blow more strongly when demand was highest, during the day and winter months. The analysis found that wind would operate at an annual average capacity factor of 27% -- above levels found in Germany and Denmark -- and low wind speeds affecting most of the country (90%) would only occur for one hour every five years.

Last month, the 2005 study was put to the test.

The United Kingdom's leading wild land conservation charity, the John Muir Trust, released a report that examined wind power's actual contribution to the UK's energy supply. The findings, based on real-time energy production, were sobering. Wind generated at substantially below the 27% capacity factor and low wind events (defined as output falling below 10% of capacity) occurred over one third of the time, or almost nine months in aggregate.

The report created a firestorm for those tracking wind development. Legislators and energy policy experts immediately questioned whether the same reality existed in their area. Since preconstruction forecasts for wind power performance are based on wind speed data, what if the modeling overstated actual generation?

New York wind follows the UK's lead
In fact, we need only look to New York State to see an identical story line.

In 2005, the New York State Energy Research And Development Authority (NYSERDA) worked with General Electric torelease a study aimed at assessing the impact of large-scale wind generation on the reliability of the State's bulk power system and to understand the operational and economic effects of deploying 3,300 megawatts of wind (10% of New York's peak load).

The study concluded that New York could support a 10% penetration of wind into its grid system with turbines reliably operating at 30% average capacity factor or better. To its credit, NYSERDA acknowledged that most of the high wind output would occur during nighttime hours with some overlap occurring "late in the day when the wind output is picking up before the loads have fully dropped off."

Several years of wind generation data are now available and we took a look at how well NYSERDA and GE predicted output levels. We were particularly interested in project performance after developers had a year or more to address start-up issues.

By the end of 2010, New York State claimed fifteen wind energy facilities totaling an installed capacity of 1,275 megawatts. The projects are geographically distributed in the northern and western regions of the State but typically away from denser population centers including New York City with the highest demand for electricity.

Twelve of the fifteen projects comprise the bulk of the nameplate capacity (1225 megawatts). These facilities went into service in the years between 2006 and February 2009. Less than 50 megawatts of wind was installed prior to 2006. Since early 2009, wind development in the State has been largely stagnant with only one wind project built in the last two years. Iberdrola's 74 megawatt Hardscrabble project went online in February 2011.

The lull in construction has provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate two full years of wind generation and to assess whether the promises of New York wind have been realized.

The below table, prepared using the New York ISO's Gold Book data, provides an important glimpse at wind performance in New York in the years 2008-2010.

Promises meet reality
No wind project in New York achieved a 30% capacity factor and most are operating at well below this figure including Maple Ridge 1 and 2 touted by wind proponents as a premier wind site. Maple Ridge was forecasted to have a capacity factor of 34% prior to construction but has consistently operated around 25% -- a significant performance reduction.

Noble Environmental's projects produced at even lower levels. When the company sought community acceptance of its projects in upstate New York, John Quirke, an officer and founder of Noble, insisted their projects would operate at 30-35% of their nameplate capacity. In the tax agreement signed with Clinton County, New York, Noble went so far as to sweetened the deal by offering to pay a bonus of $1000/MW every time the annual capacity factor of any of their projects exceeded 35%. Clinton County officials had no way to verify the sincerity of Noble's offer since preconstruction wind data was confidential, but Noble certainly knew the truth. Noble's upstate projects operated with a 20% to 22% capacity factor in 2010.

Wind forecasts and project financing
When determining whether a wind energy project is worth the financial risk, a credit analysis is prepared based on conservative wind production. This production amount, known as the annual energy yield prediction, represents the average wind speed forecast for a project with a 90% confidence (P90). In other words, the wind production level that the project is expected to operate at 90% of the time.

The P90 figure needs to be within 12% to 15% of the average production figures in order to catch a bank's attention. If the difference between the average capacity factor (P50) and P90 is off by 20% or better, a project would be considered 'unfinanceable'. We can't know the P90 figures presented to investors for most of New York's wind projects, but our guess is that most of these projects would have been considered unworthy had actual production numbers been available. We'd be interested in knowing whether those who fronted the money for the projects would bother again.

Meeting the public's goals
NY ratepayers who are subsidizing wind development in the State are also receiving considerably less than promised. Square miles of New York's most rural areas have been transformed into industrial power plants, communities and families are split over project opposition, and homeowners have been driven from their homes due to turbine noise, shadow flicker and other nuisances. If tax revenue agreements with communities were negotiated based on inflated capacity factors, actual payments will be lower.

State and local officials have long encouraged wind as an economic development tool for rural areas, but at some point the public needs to know whether the projects are delivering on the primary plan i.e. to see more renewable energy on the grid. At capacity factors in the low- to mid- 20% range, many more wind turbines and related infrastructure (transmission) will be needed to meet State mandates which will increase costs and impacts.

Our review only looked at average annual capacity factors and did not consider the hourly and daily variability of the resource and whether the wind helped meet peak demand needs. But looking at average performance alone is enough to suggest New York's wind is not worth all the fuss