Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New York’s Energy Highway – It’s All About Wind

This will be news for many folks reading this discourse. Governor Andrew Cuomo has given birth to the New York Energy Highway and has created an energy Task Force and a new website you should have a thorough look at: http://www.nyenergyhighway.com

But first we need to re-examine what Cuomo said in 2010 when running for NYS Governor. He wrote a document he called Power NY; The New NY Agenda, Andrew Cuomo, 2nd in a Series in which he identifies NYS problems and his potential solutions for New York including energy. Here’s some Cuomo  philosophy from his Power NY document:

Make New York the Nation’s Leader in Wind
Wind is the most promising renewable
resource for large-scale energy generation in New
York. (page 73)

The Attorney
General’s Code prohibits conflicts of interest between
municipal officials and wind energy companies and
establishes public disclosure requirements on wind
companies. (page 74)

We must work hard to
address the lack of adequate transmission capacity
for renewable energy from upstate areas to the high-demand
downstate region (page 74-75)

Promote On-Shore Wind Projects...

Facilitate Siting (page 75)

As described in other
sections, the State should promote smart
transmission investments that expand the market for
wind power. Next, as described in sections below, the
State needs a new energy siting law that will create
an accelerated siting process—allowing for necessary
community input and protecting critical community
interests—that ensures that sound projects are
approved and permitted expeditiously. A new siting
law should include an expedited review and approval
for renewable energy.
Enter Into Power Purchase Agreement for
Off-Shore Wind When Economically Feasible (page 76)

Cuomo wrote another 2010 document called The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action. Here’s some of his thoughts from this document:

New York State already has ambitious goals to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable fuels, but not nearly enough is being done to meet those goals. To make more rapid progress, the New York State Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority must be made full partners in advancing energy related projects that will create jobs and grow the economy. Their efforts should include both major wind-power projects and making possible smaller “distributed generation” renewable energy projects by allowing net metering. (page 122)

New York’s farmers must be able to share in the benefits of emerging technologies. Alternative energy sources—ranging from wind to biomass—can create new economic opportunities for farmers. (page 124)

And Cuomo authored yet another 2010 document called The New NY Agenda – A Cleaner Greener NY which includes these thoughts:

            Moreover, we should build the smart grid to empower citizens to
reduce their energy costs and increase efficiency, support and foster the growth of clean tech businesses, promote onshore and offshore wind projects, create a new “NY-Sun” renewable energy tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy, jumpstart the use of solar thermal technology for water heating and enact a new fuel neutral power plant generation siting law that provides fast-track review and approval for efficient power plants that provide the most power and are located on existing plant facilities and for renewable energy projects. (page 48)

And lets not overlook NYS Lt. Gov. Duffy and what the Rochester, NY newspaper said in an article on Aug 20, 2010:
Duffy, who is running for lieutenant governor, said offshore wind farms were desirable as a source of renewable energy and, potentially, a source of jobs and economic growth for the Rochester region.

From Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State address:
We have an excess of generation capacity and tremendous
wind power potential in Upstate and Western New York and
north of the border in Quebec. We have tremendous energy
needs Downstate. Just as we built the New York State
Thruway to unite distant parts of the state, we will develop
an “Energy Highway” system that will bring excess fossil-fuel
energy from Western New York downstate, and also tap into
Upstate’s potential for renewable energy, like wind power.

The permanent Article X energy siting law
we passed last year will be a critical tool to help with meeting
our energy needs and protecting our environment in this

In late March 2012 the Wall Street Journal published an article announcing that the Obama administration cooked up a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with 5 Great Lakes states governors, including New York, to speed up approval of offshore wind factories. That’s right, Cuomo signed up for this after knowing how repulsive off shore wind factories were to NY counties bordering the Great Lakes. Jefferson, Oswego, Wayne, Monroe, Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua counties passed resolutions against offshore wind, the NYPA GLOW project, in 2010 and 2011.

The Conclusion---
May we hence conclude that Governor Cuomo is a HUGE supporter of wind energy and that his use of the words “renewable” or “clean energy” mainly infer wind energy? Solar, biomass, flywheels produce such minute amounts of electrical energy they can’t even be considered players in today’s commercial energy production. And can we conclude that Cuomo’s appointees (see below) for the New York Energy Highway Task Force as well as New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment - would be people that strongly support his position on energy, especially wind?

Here are the appointed members of Cuomo’s new energy Task Force - or the good old boys club:

Task Force Members:

·         Gil C. Quiniones
President and Chief Executive Officer, New York Power Authority (NYPA) (Co-Chair), lives in New York City
·         Joseph Martens
Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Co-Chair), lives in the Albany area
·         Kenneth Adams
President & CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development, lives in Brooklyn
·         Garry A. Brown
Chairman, New York State Public Service Commission, lives in Averill Pk. (Albany area)
·         Francis J. Murray, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), lives in Delmar (Albany area)

Quiniones is the replacement for the arrogant Richie Kessel, ex-CEO and Pres. of NYPA – you remember Kessel don’t you - biggest wind charlatan north of Manhattan. We already know NYPA’s position on wind, especially offshore wind as NYPA squandered millions of NY ratepayer dollars on the failed offshore GLOW project. Quiniones was part of that fiasco. And read between the lines of Quiniones presentation (in blue) made at the recent NY energy summit meeting April 4, 2012 at Columbia University where he was a featured presenter:
Higher costs to downstate consumers due to inability to access power from lower-cost power plants upstate  - do you think NYS would be concerned if upstate consumers paid higher electric costs than downstate consumers for the same reasons? Would there be any state effort to reverse this? Doubtful!

Limited downstate access to renewable energy generated upstate....

Build clean, economical new plants..... could economical new plants possibly be wind factories? Of course it is – what else could it possibly be? What’s clean about wind energy?
Encourage development of renewable generation could this possibly be wind factories? Its amazing how they all try so hard to avoid specifically mentioning WIND.

Be sure to check out Quiniones Energy Highway Overview illustration #3 showing a sketch of generation, transmission, distribution and consumers and note the wind turbines as part of the generation facilities. Then we see the sketch showing the power going over the high tension lines, then to the power poles and finally to the homes, apartments and factories in sunny downstate while upstate get nothing but unintended consequences and inverse condemnation from wind factories. No sunshine upstate – only gloom over the noisy, ugly wind factories. Quiniones message is there for those “in the know” however its humbly understated. Cuomo appointed Quiniones as President and CEO of NYPA.

If you’ve ever walked into NYSERDA headquarters in Albany you can’t help but be overcome with their dedication to wind energy with pamphlets supporting wind in the lobby as well as photos of turbines in the building and staff clearly speaking overwhelmingly in favor of wind energy. No question on where NYSERDA stands on wind energy! Francis Murray heads NYSERDA and he’s a huge wind supporter – and NYSERDA is all on your dime – a tax disguised as a “charge” on your monthly electric bill.

Now think about the Power NY Act of 2011 and its Article X section (co-authored by NY Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and NY Sen. George Maziarz) and its New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, "Siting Board" – the board of five unelected Albany bureaucrats that will site new power projects (wind factories) in NYS that are NOT wanted by the municipalities that are victimized by them. Think about how covertly both Cahill and Maziarz crafted this Power NY Act bill for Cuomo – acted on at night on the last week of the legislative session with zero transparency. The bill was wordsmithed with “feel good” items in the first and third sections unrelated Article X  to to make it extremely difficult for fellow legislators to say no – and few did say NO.  Tacked onto the bill is the disgusting Article X section that does the real damage to New Yorkers and the sole reason why this bill was designed via Cuomo’s shrouded direction. The bill strips New Yorkers of “home rule” regarding the siting of power plants and gives that task to the siting board whose members probably have never visited the community they will victimize. Did you know that EVERY downstate assemblyman and senator voted in favor of the Power NY Act of 2011 and Article X but I wonder how many of them fully realized they were signing off on home rule (for siting power plants) when they voted to approve this bill? Think of the Power NY Act as the enforcement mechanism for siting turbines but this will all play out in the courtroom soon after the first victimized town is selected. Home rule is something that’s been part of the state Constitution for decades – and to now take home rule away from New York municipalities is illegal. Here’s what Cahill said at a March 2012 Jefferson Community College forum when questioned about this:

…..when the state picks a compelling interest to legislate on, such as energy and the energy planning process and the energy siting process, and it is considered to be one of those compelling areas, the home rule laws take second place to this.

Its probable Cahill is standing on weak ground by making such statements but only time and an expensive legal showdown will clear the air – unfortunately at the expense of the taxpayers in the victimized community. Numerous NYS counties have passed resolutions opposing Article X of the Power NY Act. A statewide organization called Coalition on Article X (COAX) has organized to inform state residents about the Power NY Act, Article X and how New Yorkers will be hurt by this law. See the website http://coaxny.org/  for much more Art. X and "home rule" information.

The Art. X section is so cleverly worded that nobody would pick up on home rule being snatched from New Yorkers by this bill until days after the acceptance vote was made. Cahill must have cherished this exploit and how slickly it passed with little question or controversy. And Cahill praises his Article x law because there is limited money available called "intervenor funding" for unfortunate wind victimized towns to use to save their ass. Cahill doesn't bother to explain that this funding is available to many different group including groups that want wind energy. The pot of intervenor funding money isn't really what Cahill tries to convince people it would be used to help their cause while it may actually go the other way - against them. All this is what Cuomo had in mind when he scribed his: The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action.  The Power NY Act of 2011 creates a new board to force unwanted electrical wind plants on New Yorkers and here is the siting board lineup - the unelected bureaucrats:

New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment members:

·         Joseph Martens
Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Co-Chair)
·         Kenneth Adams
President & CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development
·         Garry A. Brown
Chairman, New York State Public Service Commission
·         Francis J. Murray, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
·        Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H.
           Commissioner, NYS Department of Health, lives near Albany

With the exception of Dr. Shah - are we experiencing a Déjà vu ? Do you see a duplication here? Maybe a conflict of interest? Ask yourself - could this possibly be ethical? What did Cuomo once promise about ethics? A shortage of volunteer bureaucrats maybe? Governor – what have you done? Four of the 5 members of the NY Energy task force and NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment are the SAME  people!  These are Cuomo’s “yes” men and the ultimate good old boys club. (We wonder how much an MD might know about the energy highway, siting power plants, etc. and appointed by Cuomo to boot) Think about this - if the Task Force recommended an action -  do you think the Siting Board would question it? Isn't this all ethical?

Now look at the NY Energy Highway web site home page for a peek at:

The Energy Highway

Wind turbine population is how Cuomo sees future electrical power being generated for downstate NY and NYC. This could be your upstate town! And of course this complies with Cuomo’s promised New NY Agenda(s). But what happens when the wind isn’t blowing?  Think about how many wind turbines it would take to power your home when the wind speed is zero MPH. And think about the Task Force – suggesting the wind factory debacle for upstaters for the benefit of downstaters and dressing it all up by overstating how many jobs the project will produce. And then consider the separate NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting forcing the wind factory on a municipality that loathes wind - as a result of the Power NY Act of 2011 and its Article X. This is the future of New York State energy through Cuomo’s & Assemblyman Cahill’s eyes but shared also by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand – all downstate NY Democrats united supporting wind energy.

Cuomo and his gang are ignoring the sound advice of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) that has repeatedly advocated placing the power generators near where the power is needed. Cuomo simply won’t accept this. Cuomo’s NY Energy Highway website info says that 67% of New York’s generating facilities statewide are 30 years and older and 22% are older than 50 years. Could anyone possibly think that a wind factory could last beyond 20 years? The Energy Highway website map shows the need for power is from Westchester County south and especially western Long Island. Upstate has excess power – why erect wind factories trashing upstate? What’s in all this for upstate except problems?  NYISO claims there’s a serious bottleneck getting power from upstate to downstate declaring aging transmission lines need repairs and replacement especially from Oneida County to Albany and south as far as Dutchess County. Placing wind turbines in Westchester County and on western Long Island would bypass that bottleneck. Can you imagine if upscale Westchester County and affluent Long Island would tolerate a wind factory in their neighborhoods – no way. Then why should upstate NY accept this vandalism of the countryside? And Cuomo wants to kill the Indian Point nuclear power plant (Westchester Co.)  that supplies 30% of NYC power but Cuomo has no alternate source for replacing that lost nuclear power. Cuomo hasn’t yet given an indication of support for the largest power project ever perceived in NYS history – the Champlain Hudson Power Express – that could bring 1,000 Mw of power from hydro Quebec to Yonkers, NY via cables placed under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River - a $2 billion energy project – privately financed too, clean, carbon free dependable energy. Its time Cuomo took the blinders off and realized wind energy is a poor, unacceptable choice. Governor what are you thinking?

Hudson Valley residents are still proud of their historic successful fight to save Storm King Mountain — northern gateway to the fabled Hudson Highlands — from a Con Edison proposal to build the world's largest pumped-storage hydroelectric plant – a 17-year battle beginning about 1963. Who can blame Scenic Hudson for trying to protect their majestic landscape on the Hudson River but how is this any different than the hydroelectric plant on the Niagara River? Isn’t the Niagara Gorge just as beautiful as the scenic Hudson Valley? Maybe now is the time for the Storm King Mountain pumped-storage hydroelectric plant to be revived as a replacement for the Indian Point nuclear plant Cuomo wants to dismantle. Electric power is needed in this Hudson Valley area – why shouldn’t Hudson Valley residents accept part of the negatives that solve their power problems? Maybe they’d like a wind farm instead? Upstate doesn’t need a wind farm or its power and we already have the Niagara hydro power project. Why should downstate, NYC and LI escape a little industrialization that helps them? Do you think Cuomo’s Task Force or Siting Board would locate a power plant along the Scenic Hudson? In Westchester County?

Some Answer(s)
The answer is not hundreds or thousands of wind turbines littering the NYS landscape or waterscape in producing intermittent, low quality, expensive power. The answer is not expensive solar or biomass or flywheels – these technologies cannot produce meaningful amounts of commercial energy. Here are some possible answers to a shortage of power downstate and on LI.
(1)   NYS accepting and encouraging the Champlain Hudson Power Express and its host – Transmission Developers Inc., to bring clean and affordable Canadian hydro power to Yonkers - needs immediate endorsing and state approval to begin construction as soon as possible. This is a project that needs fast tracking.
(2)   Correct the power bottlenecks where needed as NYISO requests
(3)   Replace decades old power lines and infrastructure where needed as NYISO requests
(4)   Conversion of coal power plants to natural gas should be investigated and pursued as soon as possible where cost effective and practical.
(5)   NYS should become a leader in promoting modular nuclear or mini nuclear power plants that will produce power that’s affordable, reliable, clean and green and be located on small parcels of land (less than 10 acres) near where the demand for additional power is greatest. Modular nuclear units could be small enough they could fit into a 2-car garage. Modular or mini nuclear power plants, also called local reactors, CANNOT meltdown, they’re affordable and safe. NYSERDA would be the state agency to promote mini or modular nuclear and provide taxpayer seed money to encourage this energy development. NYSERDA could be effective here and should be directing money to encourage developing this source of energy instead of squandering taxpayer money on intermittent wind, & expensive solar and biomass. Billionaire Bill Gates gave his backing to the nuclear power renaissance, investing $50 million in TerraPower, a nuclear power research company that is hoping to design a new generation of reactors. Hyperion, a New Mexico-based manufacturer, has said it plans to start delivering 25-megawatt reactors, which are about the size of a garden shed and cost around $25 million, in 2013. Can you imagine the tons of jobs makers of these mini nuclear power generators would provide if NYS industry was smart enough to be first to design, manufacture and market this technology for the world?

There is considerable information on modular and mini nuclear energy sources on the internet. Unfortunately, Id say its more likely to snow in July than for Cuomo to accept nuclear energy at any level.

Although Cuomo’s Energy Highway may touch on energy other than wind – make no mistake about the ultimate Cuomo motive – this is all about wind factories and forcing wind factories upon upstate New York via Article X because downstate wouldn’t tolerate these massive machines and the harm they bring. Wherever you hear or read the word "renwables" from Cuomo - replace that word with wind turbines. The NY Energy Highway website FAQ sections says:

This bold proposal for an “Energy Highway” promises to help provide reliable, economical power to New York’s homes and businesses for the next half century…

There is nothing reliable about wind, its expensive and NOT economical and no wind factory would come close to lasting a half century. Wind benefits are oversold. Its time politicians woke up to the half-truths, exaggerations and outright lies propagated by the corrupt wind industry for their own self-serving benefit. After getting by the mouth watering appeal and opportunity rhetoric – the wind energy sideshow fails to live up to is hype and will actually help drive America into fuel poverty. Staking our future energy needs on intermittent, expensive, non-dispatchable wind is folly and a money waster. Investing public money in wind factories misdirects funding that would be better invested in more promising clean energy technologies. We do not need to infest beautiful New York State landscapes or waterscapes with steel forests of 500’ tall lightening rods. Cuomo’s NY Energy Highway is all about wind, an assault on resident’s health, property values, natural resources, the environment, people’s quality of life and more.

Lastly is a wind turbine image that shows the horrible truth of the matter - the photo is from Hawaii where the weather is perfect 365 days a year. Would you like this scene in your town? This is exactly what a wind farm will look like in 20 years. Would you like it in your town?

Deralict wind turbines

Photo acknowledgment – treedork, Flickr

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