July 22, 2005

"Wind power needs support"

Frank Steinberg of PowerWorks writes in yesterday's Tracy (Calif.) Press:
Thank you for writing a positive editorial about the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass. It is nice to know that not all newspaper editorial staffs are politically correct and like to bash capitalism. ...

... We are just trying to do our best by generating environmentally friendly wind power and make a living in an industry that we can be proud of. We have no other agenda.

Since I have worked in the wind-power industry for the past 20 years, I know that most of the wind-power companies in the Altamont Pass have worked very closely with biologists and environmentalists over the past 20 years to mitigate bird fatalities.

What is never said is that the many things that these so-called experts have suggested to reduce bird fatalities have NOT worked.

These mitigation programs have cost these companies millions of dollars, and we have gotten little to show for it.

Why would we now believe that larger turbines would be the solution to reducing bird deaths? To replace 180 of our smaller turbines with 12 large turbines would cost our company $28 million. That is a very large capital investment for a small company like ours.

This burden cannot be put solely on our shoulders. They should get a government-funded study to implement their measures to reduce bird deaths.

The California Senate just passed an energy bill that calls for 20 percent of California’s energy to be produced by renewable energy. Where is the support of our lawmakers? Congressman Pombo is doing an excellent job in revising the Endangered Species Act, but even he is under attack from all sorts of environmentalist groups.

Yesterday, I contacted Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews’ office and asked if she would be interested in sponsoring a bill that would exempt companies from state sales tax for installing renewable energy equipment (Idaho currently has such a law).

Lawmakers need to put there money were their mouths are. If the lawmakers can approve $61 billion for education, they can approve a few million for renewable energy. Without tax incentives and support for the wind-power industry by lawmakers I don’t believe we can achieve 20 percent renewables by 2010.
Interesting that this defender of capitalism is blatantly asking for a government handout. Also that he is clearly questions the claim that larger modern turbines are more bird safe, that the only way for his company to succeed is to "revise" the Endangered Species Act. He's right that lawmakers should think more thoroughly about the implications of their mandates, but geez, what a self-centered little whiner! Maybe wind power isn't the great renewable source some people -- especially those in the business -- think it is. It's certainly amusing to hear that this self-described "environmentally friendly" energy source can't make money if it's forced to actually be environmentally friendly.