Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wind: Not as Green as You Think . . .

In case you missed it in all the post election clutter, a local physicist, John Droz, Jr., had an interesting opinion piece in the Observer Dispatch on the negatives of wind farms. It is well worth reading. His conclusions:
"1) there is no consequential environmental benefit to industrial wind power, and 2) it is being promoted because it is an extremely lucrative business opportunity."
The problem with wind energy is that without TAXPAYER/RATEPAYER subsidies, it would not be financially feasible -- and it has a HUGE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT.

One reason why electric rates are so high in NYS (contributing to our region's decline) is the state requirement that major suppliers must buy any renewable energy that is developed, and must buy it at a certain minimum charge which is in excess of the cost of other forms of energy. This means that you, the rate payer, are being forced to subsidize a method of energy production that is not cost effective. If so called "green" energy were cost effective, there would be no need for forced purchases at guaranteed minimum prices.

Wind farm purveyors often seek property tax breaks from their host communities. The tax breaks have been cited as necessary to make these projects financially viable. Again, that should tell you that wind farms are not cost effective, and that you, the taxpayer, are being forced to subsidize private business -- business that will create no jobs to speak of. To make matters worse, if any of the turbines were to catch on fire, or if there would be vandalism, the burden to resolve these problems would fall upon the local municipality -- the municipality that is not collecting a fair share of taxes from the business.

Coal is to the US what oil is to Saudia Arabia. There is plenty of it and it is more cost effective than wind power. Someone said they would rather have 20,000 wind turbines than 20,000 coal plants. How about 2 coal plants instead of 20,000 turbines? That is probably closer to the truth. Environmentally, thousands and thousands of acres will be affected by wind farms, while a few strategically placed coal fired plants would produce a more reliable stream of electricity, at lower costs, and affect only a fraction of the acreage. Technology has progressed to the point that these coal-plants do not have the impacts they once did. Nuclear, of course, is another option.

If the power from these wind farms were needed locally, it might be reasonable to tolerate them. But the fact -- often cited by NYRI -- is that Upstate NY has more than enough power for its own needs. Anyone who finds thousands of turbines strewn about our landscape acceptable must also accept miles and miles of power lines to get the power to the downstate market. And that is why politicians who push tax breaks by Herkimer and Oneida Counties for wind farms while opposing NYRI are not making sense. You cannot have one without the other.

The bottom line, echoing Mr. Droz, is that, at least for Upstate, wind farms are not about protecting the environment, and not about producing power efficiently. Rather, they are about producing "profit" for certain well-connected companies and people.

There is nothing wrong with "profit" as long as ALL those bearing the costs share in it -- but that will not happen. NYRI is not planning to reimburse homeowners along their power line for losses in property values, must less than give them a share of the profits.

People who are talking about going "green" are not looking at all the consequences and who they will fall upon.


Rebecca Mecomber said...

Thanks for an absolutely excellent post that is overdue for attention. You are correct about the promotion as mainly a lucrative deal for businesses. I know a guy in the Town of Warren who has been fighting a lone (and losing) battle against this so-called "green" source of energy.

It really is amazing to see how duped the public is about so many things forced down our throats.

Anonymous said...

Please don't chose to not publish this because it disagrees with the moderator's POV.

The NYISO is not required to allow ANY renewable energy offered onto the grid, and "major suppliers" (transmission operators?) AREN'T required to buy wind energy any more than you are required to pay for a car once you chose to buy it after thorough inspection and research and then agreement to purchase. When wind produced electricity is purchased, it does NOT cost rate payers more. It sells at the lowest cost of electricity at any given time because it has no fuel costs, thus making it the cheapest form of energy generation. This actually makes electricity prices lower.

before touting coal as the answer, it's important to recognize the vast environmental damage from coal, by looking not just at coal plants, and the acid rain and othe rparticulate matter from coal plants, and the huge CO2 emissions, but the EGREGIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION ASSOCIATED WITH COAL MINING, and transport.

Additionally, coal plants will start costing rate payers more through government programs absed on their high CO2 output, and this is why the attorney general in NYS is targeting coal generation companies who have not fully discolsed info to their investors about the probability of profit margins ropping due to these government regulations. COAL IS NOT GREEN - ABSOLUTELY NOT GREENER THAN WIND. NO WAY. THERE IS NOTHING LESS GREEN INFACT.

Please look up "mountaintop removal" and you may very well stop trying to fight windmills, and start trying to fight the leveling of appalachian mountains and the filling of their valleys minign for coal.

windmills aren't permanent fixtrues. they come in something like 7 or 8 parts. they can be taken down very quickly. and seeing them isn't environmental destrcution - maybe alteration, but the environment isn't destroyed.

Need I talk more about the abundant new money that wind farms bring to their communities at no new expense to them?

Wind in someone else' backyard is great, but in our backyard, it isn't. such is life. If i had to have one type of energy generation in my backyard, wind would beat out all others I can think of.

Anonymous said...

... "Wind: Not as green as you think..."

You're wrong! It's green all right, just in another sense!

Strikeslip said...

To Other Side -- I have no problem with posting other points of view (as long as they are respectful). That is how I learn things.

I may have misspoken when I said that suppliers had to purchase "any" renewable energy that is developed, because there are surely technical requirements that must be met before power is allowed onto the grid. However, assuming technical requirements are met, it has always been my understanding that National Grid and others were required to purchase any such alternative energy that producers had to sell -- at a guaranteed minimum price -- as a matter of state policy to encourage the development of alternative forms of energy. Weren't they complaining about that a few years ago? I still believe this is the case, but if I am wrong, I stand corrected.

As far as wind energy being cheaper, if that were true, why do people have to pay more for it? See
Green Up Providers and the additional costs per kWh.

You are correct that there are some pretty severe environmental impacts from open coal mining -- but open coal mining does not have to be allowed -- that is a choice that has been made by the people of Pennsylvania and other places where it is practiced. If it were up to me I would not allow it, but they have. They could ban it if they wanted.

OUR choice as Upstaters is whether or not to allow our countryside to be covered with windmills. Since we have no power shortage, its a no brainer: WE DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS.

Anonymous said...

John Droz's piece on Windmills is an excellent, well-written information news article.

I commend him for informing the people as to the downside of these so-called energy producers. I do agree with Strikeslip in that these types of alternative energy are HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED by State and Federal Governments with TAXPAYER dollars. Why must this be?

If energy speculators want to build, they must assume the risk involved. To be compensated with subsidies is ludicrous and against public policy in the instant case.