General and USA
For an industry all puffed up about its supposed environmental virtue, green energy sure is attracting a dirty crowd. Witness its latest entrant, Italy's Mafia. The mob knows a good fraud when it sees one. Mafia soldiers have moved in on the something-for-nothing world of green energy.
Worldwide, the blogosphere pulses with indignation about solar subsidies.
But the peculiar thing about all this wrath is how rarely it is directed at what is becoming a remarkably destructive aspect of renewable energy: its ability to drive down wholesale electricity prices.
As an investor in and consultant to the battery industry, I'm delighted by the opportunities that intermittency abatement creates. My interests will thrive no matter who pays. As a member of an industrial society who thinks reliable electric power ranks right up there with shelter, food, water and a fast Internet connection, I want to ensure that the hidden costs of intermittency abatement are paid by the people who create the problem.
In 2008 candidate Barack Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs. He laid out a plan to invest $150 billion over 10 years that would advance a clean-energy economy built around biofuels, hybrid cars, low-emission coal plants, and renewable sources such as solar and wind. How many has he actually created?
The entire aesthetics of mile after mile of High Country vista was destroyed. Ted, a retired Forest Service wildlife biologist, mentioned to me the depredation caused by the wind turbines to the hawks, owls and other raptors in the vicinity. He also mentioned that the "whoosh, whoosh, whoosh" noise of the blades was maddening to any wildlife, livestock or humans within sound of them. As concerning to the biologists was the disruption all of this had caused to the migration patterns of the elk and mule deer.
Erecting thousands of wind turbines along a major migration corridor would seemingly fail a fundamental requirement for bird-safe wind energy: correct siting. A World Bank document about one of the Tehuantepec wind farms states "avian impacts are not expected to be significant," but a case study of another wind farm admits "concern about the potential cumulative impacts of the many additional wind farms planned in the same general area."
King profited from a law he passed as governor, took taxpayer money he did not need from President Obama's discredited "Green Energy" loan program and personally benefited from Obama's failed stimulus spending bill. That's a political trifecta. In addition to being the "King of Spending," look for Republicans to crown the former governor as the "King of Wind" and the "King of Cronyism."
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Fact is the wind companies are getting by with murder. They are allowed by eager politicians and a handful of agenda-driven groups to flippantly throw out boilerplate numbers that have no basis in scientific fact. They don’t produce facts because they don’t have to. Wind is in vogue and the uninformed but trusting public is not getting the data to make informed decisions about wind’s appropriate use.
AWEA's biggest member companies may be promoting wind energy -- and in the process they are reaping lucrative subsidies -- but they are also among the world's biggest users and/or producers of fossil fuels. Many of those very same fossil-fuel companies have garnered billions of dollars in tax-free cash grants and/or loan guarantees from the US government to deploy "clean" energy.
We live in a world where agency approval is deemed the gold standard. ...If the agency is rushing to the business interests of its lobbying friends, and avoiding its mission of providing the safest product to the public, then what value, if any, does the approval of the agency mean to consumer safety?
In order to merely keep up with the growth of global electricity use, the wind industry would have to cover 96 square miles every day with wind turbines. That's an area about the size of four Manhattans.
Glib economists might suggest that such a feat could be achieved, but that ignores another key question: Where will we put all those turbines?
A government folly is playing out in our state's Capitol over a wind electricity project a group wants to build in Clark County.
At the root of this folly is a federal requirement. Believe it or not, a wind farm developer can force a utility company to buy its electricity, even if the company doesn't want it.
This gets worse. The wind power might cost more than the company wants its customers to have to pay for electricity.
There's an energy jobs boom going on in America, but it's in oil and gas, not green energy. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, oil and gas production now accounts for 440,000 jobs, an increase of 80 percent since 2003. ...If only the federal government would just can its political agenda, quit kowtowing to lobbyists and environmentalists, put the American people first and get the heck out of the way.
A new and thoughtful look at the fight against Big Wind is Laura Israel's new film, Windfall, a documentary that focuses on the fight over the siting of wind turbines in the small town of Meredith, New York. Indeed, Israel's film underscores an essential question: what, exactly, qualifies an energy source as "green" or "clean"?
[Windfall is] a reminder that whenever a virtually unregulated industry (as in this case) offers capitalists a chance to defraud the little guy and make a bundle, they'll do it. It's a tantalizing case study that suggests ordinary people still have the power to steer a course between faceless bureaucracies and greedy capitalists, but only just - and only if they can find a way to overcome their differences and work together.
"Windfall" left me disheartened. I thought wind energy was something I could believe in. This film suggests it's just another corporate flim-flam game. Of course, the documentary could be mistaken, and there are no doubt platoons of lawyers, lobbyists and publicists to say so. How many of them live on wind farms?
Sadly, once the layers of "woulds, coulds and shoulds" were peeled back, I found industrial wind failed to keep its environmental promises. Save the canned boilerplate responses to criticisms, the wind industry offered nothing conclusive to demonstrate it would significantly reduce emissions or close fossil fueled
plants. There is no conclusive evidence that one coal plant has been closed as a direct result of the installation of tens of thousands of wind turbines. Not one! I've asked advocates to name one facility. Answer . zippo!
When the public rallied behind the Bluewater Wind offshore project four years ago, the drama played out against a backdrop of economic prosperity, high -- and rising -- electricity prices, and no reason to doubt a federal commitment to the price subsidies underpinning the pioneering idea.
But today, with almost all of that changed, Bluewater's owner, NRG Energy, faced the new normal.
The subsidies available for wind projects allow Duke to earn returns on equity of 17 to 22 percent.
In other words, for all of the bragging by the wind-industry proponents about the rapid growth in wind-generation capacity, the main reason that capacity is growing is that companies such as GE and Duke are able to goose their profits by putting up turbines so they can collect subsidies from taxpayers.
Energy rates continue to climb. Xcel customers have endured a 21 percent rate increase over the last six years with another 20 predicted over the next six, thus reducing consumers' purchasing power. Continuing the trend of budget shortfall, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects Colorado's 2012 budget shortfall to be $450 million, 6.2 percent of the state's general fund.