Monday, March 31, 2008

Babcock & Brown to sell European wind facilities -- to itself

Hello, Enron!

The Financial Times reports (click on the title of this post) that Australian energy investor Babcock & Brown is hoping to cash in its European wind energy assets.

The likely buyer is Portuguese wind company Enersis, which is jointly owned by Babcock & Brown and Babcock & Brown Wind Partners.

Hmmm.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wind farm follies

A couple of recent news items show the folly of industrial wind.

First, a press release from the Major Electricity Users' Group (MEUG) of New Zealand describes how the unreliability of wind energy is costing utilities more on the spot market and requiring more diesel backup.
"[T]he underlying driver of current high spot prices is that water is relatively short because of low seasonal inflows and wind generation has been unreliable. These are the types of renewables the government puts much faith in to achieve its 90% renewables by 2025 target, assisted by a ban on new thermal power stations.

"Yesterday the Te Apiti wind farm had peak generation of approximately 30 MW. Installed wind turbine capacity at Te Apiti is 90 MW. Average wind generation for the whole day from Te Apiti was approximately 12 MW. Just when we need as much supply as possible to cover known outages and hence put pressure on spot prices, wind has been missing.

"Once again the expensive to run government owned Whirinaki power station burning diesel entered the market yesterday. Whirinaki has been used partly for 13 days over the last 5 weeks. If government dictates more wind generation should be built by banning new cheaper gas fired base load power stations, we will need a lot more Whirinaki type plants around New Zealand. The operating costs of Whirinaki are estimated to be in excess of 30 c/kWh so using diesel plants in the future to cover dry years or windless periods will penalise all consumers of electricity.

"The evidence that relying on more renewables rather than a mix of generation types will lead to extreme spot prices and the need for inefficient peaking thermal plant is happening almost everyday with the current prolonged summer weather. Government needs to heed the signs and urgently rethink the proposed ban on thermal generation," concluded Ralph Matthes, Executive Director of the MEUG.
Second, a Mar. 27 news story from the Colorodoan describes the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA)'s maintenance problems with their 10-year-old Vestas turbines. It also shows the sham of renewable energy credits, or "green tags", as a substitute for actual energy, since they cost the PRPA one-fifth what operating their own turbines costs.
Some components on Vestas Wind Systems-manufactured wind turbines at Platte River Power Authority's Medicine Bow Wind Project are failing more than 15 years earlier than expected, according to PRPA.

Since the Medicine Bow, which is in southern Wyoming, went online in 1998, 30 major outages have occurred on the wind farm's nine turbines due to component failure, said John Bleem, PRPA division manager.

Although outages vary, Bleem said repairs have led to turbines being down for as long as three months and costing as much as $100,000 -- paid for by Vestas under its manufacturer warranty set to expire in 2011. ...

"When that warranty expires, then it's treated just like a warranty on a car where we will be responsible for the cost of repairs," Bleem said. "We are negotiating service contracts; and those costs have gone up for repairs and maintenance on the machines, and it will continue to go up with labor rates and parts costs." ...

Historically, PRPA has bolstered its renewable portfolio through the purchase of renewable energy credits, or RECs, that allow it to invest in wind farms owned by others who pay for maintenance and repairs. ...

Although PRPA receives a majority of its renewable energy through RECs, its homegrown Medicine Bow project has been far more costly despite producing less energy.

"We spend two-thirds of our renewable budget on energy and one-third on purchasing RECs," Bleem said. "About 80 percent of our portfolio supply comes from RECs, and 20 percent is coming from energy. So what that tells you is that renewable energy is much more expensive than purchasing RECs."

Nearly five to six times more expensive.

"We pay about 1 cent (per kilowatt-hour) for RECs, and we pay about 5 to 6 cents (per kilowatt-hour) for the wind energy we produce ourselves," Bleem said. ...

PRPA has been negotiating with Vestas to extend its Medicine Bow warranty beyond 2011 with some success, but the final result will likely leave the power authority paying a higher premium and more for repairs to its nine turbines. ...

"There is regular scheduled maintenance," Bleem said. "Lubrication is the major thing as well as some minor components that need replacement like filters, but the biggest concern is unscheduled outages. The unscheduled repairs are what have us concerned the most."
wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Monday, March 24, 2008

4,000

Dead.

Tens of thousands maimed.

And of course there's the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, maimed, and displaced.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Family: Hillary Clinton's fascist spiritual guide

Barbara Ehrenreich writes:

There's a reason why Hillary Clinton has remained relatively silent during the flap over intemperate remarks by Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. When it comes to unsavory religious affiliations, she's a lot more vulnerable than Obama.

You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that "through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the "Fellowship," aka The Family. But it won't be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet's shocking exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.

Sean Hannity has called Obama's church a "cult," but that term applies far more aptly to Clinton's "Family," which is organized into "cells" -- their term -- and operates sex-segregated group homes for young people in northern Virginia. In 2002, writer Jeff Sharlet joined the Family's home for young men, foreswearing sex, drugs, and alcohol, and participating in endless discussions of Jesus and power. He wasn't undercover; he used his own name and admitted to being a writer. But he wasn't completely out of danger either. When he went outdoors one night to make a cell phone call, he was followed. He still gets calls from Family associates asking him to meet them in diners -- alone.

The Family's most visible activity is its blandly innocuous National Prayer Breakfast, held every February in Washington. But almost all its real work goes on behind the scenes -- knitting together international networks of rightwing leaders, most of them ostensibly Christian. In the 1940s, The Family reached out to former and not-so-former Nazis, and its fascination with that exemplary leader, Adolph Hitler, has continued, along with ties to a whole bestiary of murderous thugs. As Sharlet reported in Harper's in 2003:
During the 1960s the Family forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most anti-Communist (and dictatorial) elements within Africa's postcolonial leadership. The Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva, with Family support, was overseeing regular fellowship groups for Latin American leaders, while, in Indonesia, General Suharto (whose tally of several hundred thousand "Communists" killed marks him as one of the century's most murderous dictators) was presiding over a group of fifty Indonesian legislators. During the Reagan Administration the Family helped build friendships between the U.S. government and men such as Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise.
At the heart of the Family's American branch is a collection of powerful rightwing politicos, who include, or have included, Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe, and Rick Santorum. They get to use the Family's spacious estate on the Potomac, the Cedars, which is maintained by young men in Family group homes and where meals are served by the Family's young women's group. And, at the Family's frequent prayer gatherings, they get powerful jolts of spiritual refreshment, tailored to the already-powerful.

Clinton fell in with the Family in 1993, when she joined a Bible study group composed of wives of conservative leaders like Jack Kemp and James Baker. When she ascended to the senate, she was promoted to what Sharlet calls the Family's "most elite cell," the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, the Family's publicity-averse leader, that he is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."

Furthermore, the Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics. ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama's Minister Committed "Treason" But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero

Frank Schaeffer writes:

When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr.

Every Sunday, thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison, Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.

Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation's sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father's sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our "stand" by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American.

Consider a few passages from my father's immensely influential America-bashing book A Christian Manifesto. It sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to best-selling religious books. Nevertheless it sold more than a million copies. ...

Take Dad's words and put them in the mouth of Obama's preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet when we of the white Religious Right denounced America white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words "godly" and "prophetic" and a "call to repentance." ...

My dad's books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the "respectable" evangelical community and he's still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he'd take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad's Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler's Germany.

The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister's words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to "bear arms" as "insurance" to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s) roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as "fallen away from God" at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.

Today we have a marriage of convenience between the right wing fundamentalists who hate Obama and the "progressive" Clintons who are playing the race card through their own smear machine. As Jane Smiley writes in the Huffington Post, "[The Clinton's] are, indeed, now part of the 'vast right wing conspiracy."

Both the far right Republicans and the stop-at-nothing Clintons are using the "scandal" of Obama's preacher to undermine the first black American candidate with a serious shot at the presidency. Funny thing is, the racist Clinton/Far Right smear machine proves that Obama's minister had a valid point. There is plenty to yell about these days.

Touché!

Vatican Lists “Polluting” Among Modern Sins.

Unless it's offset by carbon credits.

--Ironic Times, Mar. 17, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Clinton brings it on

Back in January, Gloria Steinem argued that supporting Hillary Clinton is the radical progressive choice and that if Barack Obama was a woman he wouldn't have gotten anywhere.

Thursday, Geraldine Ferraro added that if Barack Obama wasn't black (his father was from Kenya) he wouldn't have gotten anywhere, either.

So, Obama is the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination simply because he's black and not a woman (that must be why John Edwards, the born-again populist, bombed: not black). Whereas Clinton's bid (justified mostly on the basis of enormous name recognition, having been married to a recent President -- not such a great symbol of feminist achievement) fell apart as soon as it faced a challenge because she's a white woman.

And that's why Ferraro and Steinem support Clinton and want you to as well: because she's a woman. It's sexist to oppose Hillary but not sexist to support her only on that basis. And it's progressive, not racist, to oppose Obama because he's a black man.

They seem to be trying to reclaim the Nixonian coalition of wine-track bigots and beer-track bigots for the Democrats.

The 3 a.m. phone call ad made that clear, invoking fears of the predatory black man threatening suburban tranquility. It is compounded by Clinton's refusal to denounce (and reject) claims that Obama is Muslim.

If Clinton was any other 2nd-term senator, she wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Her success relies more on fame than anything else (I mean, Laura Bush has the same pre-Senate "experience" that Clinton claims), and when a viable alternative to her soap opera candidacy overtook it she has resorted to racist fear mongering to try to stay in the running.

To recap: In South Carolina, she tried to belittle Obama's success as merely due to high African-American (sexist, racist) turnout. But after Obama starting to prove his electability with whites, both men and women, she tried to claim that it was because she was a woman. Now it's also because he's black. So now, her effort is to make his African heritage (and his Arab name) a liability rather than an asset (ignoring the obvious fact that he's simply the better candidate for the majority of all voters). These are not the actions of a progressive, or even of a liberal. In Hell, Richard Nixon is cackling.

Monday, March 10, 2008

CLF calls for industrial development of 300 miles of Maine's wild mountain ridges

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) of New England participated in the Maine Governor's Task Force on Wind Power Development, which issued its recommendation for installing 3,000 MW of wind power by 2020 on Feb. 14. In a press release the same day, CLF expressed its support and excitement, believing that it would "help avert the disastrous impacts climate change could have on our region and economy".

The output of 3,000 MW, at an average rate of 25% capacity, would be equivalent to about half of Maine's current electricity consumption (though much less of 2020's likely needs). But Maine exports a fourth of its power and is already arranging with New Brunswick to export its wind-generated power.

Given that the wind rarely blows in proportion to electricity demand, and blows erratically with high variation, that makes sense. The utilities have quite enough of a challenge to keep supply and demand in balance. The most practical way to deal with the huge and largely unpredictable swings of wind power -- which, unlike the power from other facilities, they have no control over -- is to make sure the grid is big enough to absorb it as insignificant. That is how Denmark manages its "20%" wind: by using its large international connectors so that the wind is only 1% of the total, which can be easily balanced by Sweden's substantial hydro capacity (thus no carbon savings).

And that is why building heavy-duty roads to access 300 miles of Maine ridgelines for the erection of thousands of giant industrial wind turbines will not "help avert the disastrous impacts climate change could have" -- not even a little.

Even if Maine tried to balance the fluctuating wind energy -- using their abundant diesel and natural gas capacity -- those plants would be forced to operate less efficiently and less cleanly, canceling much -- perhaps all -- of the expected benefit.

When there is no record anywhere in the world of a single thermal electricity plant shutting down, nor of any measurable reduction of fossil fuel use or emissions, due to wind energy on the grid, it is rash indeed to call for the destruction of 300 miles of mountain ridgelines for such an unlikely prospect of actual benefit.

This is a political game that the CLF should be ashamed of. They should be opposing this obvious industry putsch into our last rural and wild places, not abetting it.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Maine, ecoanarchism

Jamaicans for Obama

[ These are audio-only files. ]

Calypso legend The Mighty Sparrow:



Reggae from Cocoa Tea:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spain hits wind power limit

Spain marked a new record Tuesday afternoon, with wind energy accounting for 28% of the country's electricity supply (click the title of this post for the story). But even before that figure was reached, the national grid ordered it cut.

Thy had to do that because there was insufficient excess capacity (backup) available to compensate for the expected subsequent drop in the wind, and the capacity of the connector with France for importing energy is too small. The Spanish national grid appears to consider 25% of the power demand being met by wind -- which was reached once before, on Jan. 16 -- to be the limit.

That level of production is rarely seen, of course, but as more turbines continue to be erected it will become an increasingly frequent problem. On average, wind produces less than 10% of the electricity used in Spain, but since Spain supplies a lot of Portugal's power as well that average is less when both countries are considered. (This is also a point to remember about Denmark, which has large interconnectors with Sweden, Norway, and Germany, on which larger grid Danish wind represents less than 1% of electricity use.)

Click here to see real-time and historical Spanish wind energy production graphs.

wind power, wind energy

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Vestas wind turbines falling apart

A 10-year-old Vestas turbine near Århus, Denmark, was spinning out of control during a storm on Feb. 22, 2008. It effectively exploded when one of the blades hit the tower (see the dramatic videos below). According to a Feb. 25 report by Kent Kroyer in Ingeniøren, "large, sharp pieces of fiberglas from the blade rained down over the field east of the turbine, as far as 500 meters from the base of the turbine". Another collapse occurred in Sidinge [Vig?], Denmark, 2 days later: "one of the heavy blades flew 100 meters through the air and crashed to the ground with a boom". Kroyer continues: "It has not even been a month since a similar Vestas turbine at Nås in Gotland, Sweden, lost a blade in the same way as in Sidinge. In that case the blade flew 40 meters and hammered down in a field. A neighbor described the bang as 'a sonic boom or a car accident'. Before the New Year, a Vestas turbine in Northern England collapsed, and a month earlier a Vestas turbine collapsed in Scotland." Note that this is a 10-year-old model and much smaller than today's behemoths.




wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sorry, it's only 26 new coal plants in Germany

[Sources for claims made in response to Wendy Williams' defense of Cape Wind in Parade magazine, Mar. 2]

According to Der Spiegel, Mar. 21, 2007, Germany is planning 26 new coal-fired electricity plants. And according to the New York Times, June 20, 2006, 8 are on a fast track for completion by 2010 or so. I apologize for any confusion caused by my misremembering the figures as, respectively, 28 and 6. [The original post has been corrected on this blog.]

Several analysts have shown that most -- up to 84% in the west -- of Denmark's wind-generated electricity is exported: e.g., Hugh Sharman in the May 2005 Civil Engineering, and David White in the July 2004 Utilities Journal.

The data showing fossil fuel use for electricity going up instead of down as wind energy on the grid increased are in the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2007 from BERR.

It is according to the Danish Wind Industry Association that the last increase in wind energy capacity was between 2002 and 2003.

The near-unanimous (24 of 28 communities surveyed) rejection of more (and much larger) turbines in Denmark was reported by Politiken on Feb. 17 (click here for rough translation by National Wind Watch).

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Notes from Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit, II

Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit, Feb. 7, 2008, San Diego, Calif.

Session: Strategic Wind Developers' Perspective on Wind Development

Moderator:
Tim Callahan, Partner, Mayer Brown LLP

Panelists:
Eric Blank, Executive Vice President, Development Division, Iberdrola USA
Sam Enfield, Wind Energy Development, PPM Energy
Declan Flanagan, CEO, Airtricity North America
Peter Duprey, CEO, Acciona Energy North America

Where in the United States is the growth [of the wind sector] expected to continue? The Midwest looks good, although nimbyism and lack of transmission are restraints there. Lack of transmission on the Great Plains is a drawback. The Northwest has issues with transmission as well, although deals are in the works to make it happen. There are premier sites in this region.

What regions of the United States are more difficult to develop and why? Landowners are understanding more about the industry. Upstate New York is "not a reality". 70% of construction in 2007 was on sites 100 MW or bigger. This trend will continue. A 30 MW project costs as much as a 100 MW project because of the mobilization costs, making these smaller projects less feasible.

Are there regions in the United States that are over-built? West Texas is reaching saturation but will continue to grow as new transmission is built.

What are the major constraints and challenges to expansion in the industry? Turbine manufacturers are sold out though 2009. Developers have to settle for second and third choices for equipment. The scarcity of turbines is hurting the smaller players and it will continue to get tighter for them. It is also putting more stress on marginal projects.

In 2001 there was one manufacturer in the U.S. Now there are seven. These new entrants are hampered by a lack of subcontractors and suppliers as well as a competent workforce. The industry is still competing with traditional generation, which is also slowing things down.

Is a Federal RPS necessary for the industry to continue growing? Absolutely. "If this doesn't happen in the next administration we can all start looking for other jobs."

Is the extension of the PTC necessary for the sector to continue growing? If it doesn't happen in 2008, and be retroactive to 1/1/08, it will set the industry back two years. "If we don't get at least a one year extension of the PTC in 2008, projects will shut down for lack of financing." "Tax credits are always taken from somewhere else that is getting them. We are getting a stronger 'pushback' from those who stand to lose them [oil and gas interests]." "We have bipartisan support but the extension has always been attached to legislation that fails for some other reason." "It is hard to spend money when there is doubt about the future of the industry."

Are all the best sites (Class II) developed or being developed? Are less desirable sites economically feasible? "The low hanging fruit from a siting perspective has already been picked."

Is off-shore a realistic possibility in the United States? These projects are quite expensive, especially the further from shore and deeper they are.

Is transmission becoming a significant constraint to development, and if so, how can this constraint be overcome? "Transmission is the biggest restraint to development. We need to go to larger projects to justify new transmission costs." This will be a problem for a while. The question of who will pay for new transmission is a tough political issue.

Are NIMBY issues becoming more prevalent? How does a developer overcome these challenges? "Nimbys are cropping up everywhere, especially in the
East. It is a cottage industry. Friends of this and friends of that are very effective at networking and putting out pseudo-science. They are still fighting on a project by project basis, however." "A new AWEA guidebook will be out soon that deals with how to fight nimbys." "National Wind Watch is very sophisticated and is helping local groups get organized."

Baby boomers seeking second homes and realtors are a huge threat to development, especially in New England. They have the resources to mount campaigns against projects. It's better in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain regions where communities are dependent on local projects. Expansion is easier also.

Is the industry still grappling with environmental considerations, or have these become more manageable? Bat problems are turning out to be a serious issue. Fifty or sixty kills per turbine are significant numbers and are causing concern. "Fortunately, bats are not charismatic creatures so this doesn't carry any weight."

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Notes from Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit, I

Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit, Feb. 7, 2008, San Diego, Calif.

Session: Independent Wind Developers' Perspectives on Wind Financing and Development

Moderator:
Lee Goodwin, Partner and Co-Chair, Energy, Utility and Infrastructure, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP

Panelists:
John Calaway, Chief Development Officer, Wind North America, Babcock & Brown
Doug Carter, Vice President of Development, Invenergy
Craig Mataczynski, President, Renewable Energy Systems
Jan Paulin, President and CEO, Padoma Wind Power, LLC/an NRG Energy, Inc. company
Niels Rydder, Chairman and CEO, Oak Creek Energy Systems, Inc.
Florian Zerhusen, Managing Director, Windkraft Nord USA, Inc.

The U.S. has 200,000 MWs of potential wind energy. Within ten years we will reach 100,000 MW of development "as long as there are adequate policies in place". The industry is consolidating at light speed. Major capital risk is being spread out over large portfolios. It is all about the economies of scale. The dominant players will be the bigger guys. Transition to utility ownership is just starting.

As the technology advances and taller turbines become available sites in Ohio and Indiana will become more desirable. No breakthroughs in technology are anticipated, just incremental advances.

Up until now the industry has done everything by tax incentives. How do we think long term? We copy the Spanish model and price in external costs of burning coal to make wind look better. We need both an RPS and a PTC.

One panelist said that they have established minimum setbacks; they want to be a long-term owner on good terms with their communities. They will not 'flip' their projects (like some he could mention). They advocate responsible development. He advises not to try to put too many turbines in a project at the expense of neighbors.

More states are developing guidelines for wildlife protection.

Is the FAA another hump to overcome? "One guy out of Pennsylvania is now in charge of all the work with turbines at the FAA. He is reasonable and easy to work with." The Department of Defense is another story.

An audience member asked whether turbines built in waterfowl flyways were causing fatalities. A panelist answered saying that, "it was not a problem in Iowa because waterfowl are daytime flyers and they don't get into trouble." "A few nocturnal migrants will get clipped." As towers get higher this could become a problem.

Another question from the audience was if the oil industry felt threatened by the wind industry. There was a murmur of laughter and apparently the answer was "no". A panelist said that real estate agents and well heeled neighbors were a bigger problem.

Another question, "was the uncertainty of the PTC affecting business?" The answer, "It affects my sleep more than the business, we need some other value driver or we will be looking for work. We will start loosing qualified people if we don't see some change soon. People will move to other industries."

A panelist said that the PTC was "getting old" and another questioned "the prudence of continuing with a one trick pony". Cap and trade, carbon tax, federal RPS, being able to trade across state lines were all mentioned as ways to get away from the PTC. The problem is "all or nothing".

On the financial side, new players are now bound by the bottom line of quarterly reports not the long-term view. The risk is now on the balance sheet. Equity must now sponsor the risk not turbine manufacturers. Turbines for 2011 must be ordered now with a capital outlay, while projects may not be firmly set.

Florian Zerhusen said that his company has determined it isn't feasible to propose projects east of the Mississippi River. In reference to all the talk about getting beyond the PTC, he said that the industry must put their costs on consumers; they must pay to make wind projects work. He pointed to the fact that in Italy wind receives 12 cents per KW. He said that state RPSs are driving the market at the moment.

The cost of raw materials (copper, steel, transformers etc.) for turbines has increased substantially.

Transportation is now 10% to 15% of the total cost of a project.

Oklahoma is building a turbine manufacturing facility. No one wants to invest in manufacturing because of the uncertainty of the industry.

"Wind will never become competitive unless it is recognized that coal has other costs -- it's not possible."

Turbine warranties have been cut because it is a sellers' market. "We can only hope that there will not be massive failures as in the past." Machines are new and have not been tested in the field. Will they perform for twenty years? Most warranties are for two to five years.

Manufacturers are walking off site sooner and sooner. No one knows how much maintenance will cost over twenty years. Consumers must assume these risks.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Lessons from Europe

Denmark produces 20% of its electric power from wind, but is able to use less than 20% of it, exporting most of it to larger neighbors that can absorb it. Plans to double that figure over the next few decades are already running into fierce opposition from potential host communities. Denmark hasn't added new wind capacity since 2004. Off-shore projects have proven to be prohibitively expensive and technically problematic.

In Germany, more than 22,000 MW of wind turbines cover the country, generating 5% of its electricity. Yet 26 new coal plants are still planned, and 8 are on a fast track. Emissions continue to grow, because the grid has to continue operating as if the wind turbines aren't there -- because more often than not, they aren't generating electricity when there is an actual need.

In Britain, the Dept. of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform reports that fossil fuel use for electricity increased -- not decreased -- 1.5 times more than the production from wind turbines from 2002 to 2006. (That's after accounting for reductions in nuclear, hydro, and imports during that period and for increased consumption.)

The modern wind industry was created by Enron in the 1990s, and it remains a harmful tax avoidance scheme, industrializing our few remaining open spaces and mountain forests and siphoning public funds away from real solutions.

[This was written in reply to Cape Wind propagandist Wendy Williams' article in the March 2 Parade magazine. See later post for references (click here).]

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism