Sunday, September 8, 2013

New York's Ongoing Wind Energy Mistakes

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provides on its web site[i][1] many claims about the great progress and benefits achieved by promoting and subsidizing wind energy in the state – an initiative kicked off by former Governor Pataki and followed slavishly by each succeeding administration and legislature.

Unfortunately, like other promoters of wind energy, the DEC article tells less than half the true story about very high cost, low value electricity from wind energy and ignores completely its adverse environmental, economic, electric system reliability impacts, and its damaging impact on ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and electricity users in New York.

For example, the DEC article doesn't mention (a) incessant noise from wind turbine, (b) birds and bats killed by the huge machines, (c) the destruction of landscape, natural resources, scenic vistas, and animal habitat during construction and thereafter, or (d) the damage to property values and quality of life of those unfortunate enough to live near “wind farms.”

Neither does the DEC mention the high cost and low value of electricity from wind turbines.  The low true value of electricity from wind turbines is due to their intermittent, volatile, and unreliable output and their tendency to produce electricity primarily at night in cold and shoulder months when electricity is least needed, rather than on hot summer weekday late afternoons when demand is high.

Looking beyond the misleading DEC article, the fact that political leaders continue to push wind energy is particularly difficult to understand when looking at the following facts:

1.      New York’s first 15 “wind farms” completed before the end of 2010 have a total rated (or nameplate) capacity of 1,273.9 megawatts (MW).  During 2012 these 15 “wind farms” produced 2,321,500 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity. [ii][2]  Assuming very conservative capital cost numbers, the capital cost of these 15 “wind farms” in NY was probably around $2 billion.

The predominate demand for electricity in New York state is in the New York City (NTC) area. However, NY’s “wind farms” are located in upstate and western New York so the output from these “wind farms” must be transmitted to the NYC area, adding to the cost of the electricity and adding environmental damage when additional transmission capacity must be provided.
2.      Now consider a logical alternative:  A single 450 MW gas-fired combined cycle generating unit (or two 225 MW units) located near NYC, operating at only a 60% capacity factor, could have supplied just as much electricity — actually2,365,200 MWh[iii][3]  – with about one fourth of the capital cost and with less overall cost to consumers and taxpayers when fuel and O&M costs are added.

Furthermore, the gas-fired generating units would be reliable and dispatchable and thus available when needed, including times of peak electricity demand. Electricity is available from wind turbines only when wind speeds are in the “right” range.
[iv][4] They are highly unlikely to produce much electricity during times of peak demand, so they have little or no “capacity value.”

Also, there would be no need to add transmission capacity to bring wind-generated electricity to the NYC area from upstate and western NY.  Finally, a factor that should be important to political leaders:  a gas-fired generating unit would provide many more long lasting jobs than  “wind farms.”

The apparent low regard that NY political leaders have for the people and organizations dependent on electricity is illustrated by the extremely high electric bills that result from the state’s policies.  The average electricity price for residential customers in New York in 2012 was 17.69 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while the nationwide average in 2012 was 11.88 cents per kWh. [v][5] 

Therefore, New York’s average residential electricity prices are 53% above the national average.  A New York resident using 6,500 kWh of electricity per year will pay about $400 per year more for his or her electricity than if New York’s electricity prices were at the national average.  (Only Alaska, with 17.84 cents per kWh and Hawaii with 37.27 cents per kWh had higher prices.)  Consider the job and other local economic benefits if New York had allowed its approximately 8,000,000 residential electric customers to spend $400 per year – that would be $3.2 billion -- in their local economies.  

Unfortunately, the New York States’ Department of Environmental Conservation web site article cited earlier is but one example of the way that government officials and employees now use tax dollars to distribute false and misleading information that protects and promotes bad policies, helps special interest groups such as the wind industry, and/or promotes their personal preferences.

Glenn R. Schleede (former western New Yorker)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New York renewable power plan would cost $382 billion by 2030

New York renewable power plan would cost $382 billion by 2030  

Credit:  By Louise Downing - 2013-04-08 | Bloomberg | ~~
New York would need about $382 billion and wind turbines covering an area equivalent to 13 percent of the state’s land mass if it followed a Cornell University plan to derive all of its power from renewables.
Robert Howarth, a Cornell ecology professor, suggested last month the state could get half its power from wind and enough from solar, tidal and other forms of clean energy to replace fossil fuels by 2030. The plan for 254 gigawatts of generation capacity would cost about $1.5 million a megawatt, or $382 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The findings cast doubt on the ability of the state to eliminate oil, natural gas and coal from its energy supply. The Cornell proposal would require onshore wind turbines covering an area 3.3 times the size of New York City’s five boroughs.

“It’s too ambitious by 2030 to replace all the state’s power with renewables, although big progress could be made,” Angus McCrone, a senior analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London, said today. The projections, he said, look “unrealistic” for individual technologies.

The Cornell study published in the journal “Energy Policy” in March was done along with Stanford University. It called for 4,020 onshore turbines and 12,700 machines offshore harnessing the wind’s power. It also suggested 387 concentrated solar plants and 828 utility-scale photovoltaic generators. Wave, tidal and hydroelectric would supply much of the rest of the electricity.

Study’s Vision
The report envisions all vehicles running on battery power or hydrogen fuel cells and electricity-powered heat pumps replacing heating oil in homes. New York already gets about 11 percent of its energy from renewable sources, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Savings from reducing air pollution would top $33 billion, and a further $3.2 billion could be saved by reducing coastal erosion and extreme weather due to climate change, the researchers concluded.

The offshore wind turbines would cover an area of about 4,903 square miles, and onshore machines would cover a further 1,000 square miles, according to calculations based on Bloomberg New Energy Finance data for how much space each turbine would occupy. By comparison, New York City covers 305 square miles, and the state about 47,200 square miles.

“A different combination, such as with more residential and small-scale photovoltaic, and greater use of energy efficiency, might be more realistic by 2030,” McCrone said.

To meet the target, the report’s authors suggest measures including the establishment of a Green Bank, introducing feed-in tariffs, or premium payments for small-scale energy generation, and implementing a goal for at least 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020.


 RE: WIND SUBSIDIES IN THE SENATE BILL and the claim 37,000 jobs will be created (unfortunately the PTC subsides were extended anyway - till the end of 2013)
Glenn's comments:
1.  37,000 is a "made up" number.
2.  Electricity from wind is high in cost and low in value.
3.  Billions in capital investment dollars have been wasted, with many of those dollars going to other countries for turbines, towers and blades.
4.  Those capital investment dollars could have been used more productively and employed many more people than the few employed in erecting and operating wind turbines.
5.  Hundreds of millions in higher costs for electricity and in tax burden have been shifted from the pockets of ordinary taxpayers and electric customers to the pockets of "wind farm" owners.
6.  Those dollars could have been used by taxpayers and electric customers to buy goods and services that would have employed many more people than are employed in the wind industry. 
7.  federal tax breaks and subsidies have added to deficits and to the national debt -- which debt will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren.
8.  Look at the situation in NY.  A reliable gas-fired generating unit build in the New York City area could have produced more electricity than all of New York's "wind farms" -- and made it unnecessary to expand transmission capacity from upstate and western New York.
9.  In summary, the costs of electricity from wind turbines FAR outweigh the benefits.


How a Little Island Stopped a Huge Industrial Wind Project

Despite many victories, communities around the world are still facing a plague of industrial wind projects that like hideous War of the Worlds steel monsters are destroying communities, mountains, and wildlands, slaughtering birds and bats, sickening people and driving them from their homes.
Even though these wind projects do not reduce greenhouse gases or fossil fuel use, they have dreadful environmental, social and economic impacts on whole regions. But they are a tool for energy companies and investment banks to make billions in taxpayer subsidies that get added to our national debt.
The good news is that communities worldwide are learning how to defeat these dreadful projects. More and more laws and moratoriums are being passed against them, while other projects are defeated on legal grounds or by overwhelming public opposition.
In Hawaii, an industrial wind project that would have constructed ninety 42-story turbine towers across seventeen square miles of Molokai has been defeated by a determined two-year effort of the island’s residents. In the process we learned many tactics, which I’ve tried to summarize below and are further described in Saving Paradise:

1.       Show wind projects for what they are: industrial. Not environmental, not green, not renewable, and cause no reductions in greenhouse gases or fossil fuel use, no long-term jobs and few short-term ones.
2.       Don’t be nice. These wind developers are your enemies: they want to destroy where you live, steal your money (property values), and are quite happy to literally drive you from your homes. They will lie, cheat, bribe, buy politicians, and do whatever else they can to win. They won’t be fair and you can’t trust them.
3.       Create a group and get your community behind you. Point out property value loss, human health issues, environmental destruction, tourism impacts, and all the other dreadful results of industrial wind. If you have a homeowners’ associations, make them aware of the danger so they can join the fight.
4.       Publicize your case. In the newspapers, TV and radio, on blogs and in nationwide petitions. Use videos and  good graphics. Go viral, worldwide. Develop a good professional website with lots of information and ways for viewers to participate. Community members should write op-eds and letters to the editor. A very powerful tool is frequent press releases that pass on news reports from National Wind WatchIndustrial Wind Action Group and other organizations about the devastating impacts of industrial wind. These press releases should be sent to all relevant media outlets and local, state and national legislators.
5.       Do mailings to everyone. In Molokai we sent two mailings to all the island’s 2,700 addresses. The first mailer described the dangers of the project and included a survey with a stamped return envelope. We had a massive response, with 97% of responses against the project, and our group gained hundreds of new members. A year later we sent a second mailer with photo mockups showing how the turbines would tower over homes and landscapes. This mailer also included a bumper sticker which many residents then put on their cars.
6.       Be visible. Put up lots of signs, both homemade and professionally done. Put up billboards if you can. Professional signs show you mean business, and are taken more seriously.
7.       Find legislators who will help you. On the state level, Republicans are often more responsive and more concerned about the environment than traditionalist Democrats who have bought the idea that wind is environmental (or who are receiving contributions from wind companies).
8.       Litigate. Find every avenue to impair or slow the wind developers. Once the Washington industrial welfare subsidies are removed, industrial wind companies will vanish overnight.
9.       Get property value loss appraisals. Average losses of 40% or more are being reported; in Molokai, one of the reasons the landowner planning the project cancelled it was they estimated a 75% property value loss on their lands near the project. Publicize the loss of assessed value at county level, and how that will reduce tax revenues. In most cases, property value loss far exceeds any revenue the county might receive from the project.
10.   Civil disobedience. Politicians and energy companies are terrified of this. Don’t be afraid to go to jail to protect the land and homes you love. On Molokai we planned if necessary to start a hunger strike on the island, and there were people ready to starve to death to protect our island. The level of your commitment is equal to the level of your success.