Tax Breaks & Subsidies or Australia / New Zealand
Driven by concerns about climate change and security of electricity supply, public and political commitment to renewable energy has never been stronger.
Generous financial support and market interventions have encouraged extremely rapid deployment in many European states and it is now a commonplace of the financial press that environmental business has become mainstream.
And so it should. But some are now asking whether this rapid growth, and politically-driven target setting at local and national level, is creating a secure position for environmental technologies, one grounded in the realistic perspectives of engineering and science, or, on the other hand, a mere flash in the pan caused by speculative, subsidy-hunting developments.
A wealth of data about the renewable energy experiment worldwide, and particularly in Europe, is now slowly emerging, allowing decision makers to evaluate the success of their policies. These results, as you would expect of real-world data, are mixed, and as we all get to grips with the implications, a change in the way the renewable energy sector operates is likely.
RALEIGH - It's hard to run a business when nobody wants to buy what you're selling. Some businesses have found a way around this obstacle: Get the government on your side.
This is the reality in the renewable energy industry, where excessively high prices keep the industry from being competitive. North Carolina has a voluntary program, called NC GreenPower, which allows the public to voluntarily support renewable energy. The participation rate has been dismal. Renewable energy sold through the program accounts for only about .01 percent of all electricity sold in the state.
The state Senate passed Senate Bill 3 since North Carolinians won't voluntarily support renewable energy. Apparently, the state Senate thinks people must be forced to support renewable energy against their will.
You will notice on these editorial pages lately a number of individuals espousing the "Truth" about the Gamesa Wind Project on Shaffer Mountain. With very little research I was able to find a few "Untruths" presented by Tim Vought of Gamesa on this last go around published on Friday.
The Letter from Mr Nick Wragg suggests that I am making false claims about wind farms, however I don't need to as the data is readily available and most people in South Gippsland are well aware the ones in this region are underperforming.
Nick says that on average wind farms produce 30-35% of their maximum capacity which is what the Bracks Government and the wind industry use to calculate the number of households to be supplied with electricity and the amount of greenhouse gas that can be saved. It might have been legitimate to use this capacity factor range four or five years ago when we didn't know any better but data from operating wind farms in Australia now reveals that a much lower range should be used.
Auswind CEO, Dominique La Fontaine, should publish her "facts" about wind energy in a forum where they can be scrutinised by the ACCC for accuracy. The realities of the South Gippsland turbines are there for all to see. Five out of 12 turbines at Toora have been broken down for over six months. One of the six turbines at Wonthaggi has been at a standstill for months and a second is looking pretty ill. Actual production figures from Wonthaggi in June 2006 show capacity factors of less than 20%, not the 33% claimed on the developer's website.
Simply put the Oak Prairie wind farm is a good example of how developers and the county boards are ripping off the American taxpayers who fund these projects through subsidies. They are simply locating these projects wherever they can find a farmer/landowner who does not care about his neighbors and they think the resistance will be light (low income areas). There is no concern for power output. This is costing us all millions of dollars; many MW's of energy and gives the wind power industry poor performance numbers.
RALEIGH - Are you willing to pay higher electricity rates to support renewable energy? If so, you're one of only about 10,000 people in North Carolina who is.
That's because the well-publicized N.C. Green Power program has given state residents an ample opportunity to buy power derived from sources such as solar, wind and hog waste. Yet only 10,000 have signed up, or about .01 percent of the population. As a referendum on renewable energy, N.C. Green Power is a pretty clear indication North Carolinians aren't interested.
Yet legislators are gearing up to force people to buy energy from renewable sources ($10 per month worth, phased in to as much as $30 per month later). So in what has become business-as-usual, the General Assembly is set to introduce yet another hidden tax that, if passed, will mandate that 8-plus million of us buy what we have elected not to buy -- expensive energy with negligible environmental benefits.
Consumers are paying some of the highest electricity rates in the nation, which severely limits the ability to attract and retain good jobs. Yet we add further costs to every electric consumer's bill to fund programs that, though intended to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables, lack proportion, rationality, accountability, and oversight.
It's time to stop piling on these added charges to our electric bills and start examining and coordinating the myriad programs we have.........Consumers also pay about $25 million annually into a fund disbursed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to site and encourage projects using renewable power. Renewable power is a good thing, when it is economically viable, but for now electricity from sources such as wind and solar power is much more expensive than existing sources. We should not levy new taxes to fund more expensive power.
How did Gamesa Corporation, a wind-energy company from Spain, find Shaffer Mountain, a small section of the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania, which lies in Somerset and Bedford counties?
Although we do not know all the details, we do know in 2004, that Gov. Rendell and Kathleen McGinty, secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, enticed Gamesa to abandon plans to build in Texas, by promising Gamesa that it would receive millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits, financed with taxpayers' money.
Federal income tax shelters will allow Gamesa to avoid paying taxes owed and thereby recover two-thirds of the capital cost of each turbine - about $2 million each.
We also know that Gamesa has received tax-free status through 2018 by locating on land that is a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone. Even before Gamesa started construction in our state, the company had purchase agreements and letters of intent to sell 400 megawatts worth of wind-generated power to Pennsylvania utilities.
But how did Gamesa find Shaffer Mountain? It's simple: Shaffer Mountain has wind.
Any suggestion by the Bracks Government that the power from wind farms would just supply the grid and offset that used by the desalination plant is clearly a deception aimed at smudging reality. The fact is, wind turbines in South Gippsland, like at many other places around the globe, produce little power and what they produce is unreliable.
This reminds me of the situation in the late 70's. The government had created an artificial energy shortage. To combat it they created a plethora of programs that did help. It took Ronald Reagan almost no time at all to fix the problem by getting the government out of the way of those people that are producing what you and I need.
Instead the Senate is considering imposing a massive new tax which will be added to the fuel we buy AND the products we buy. And they'll be giving that money out in politically expedient but economically wasteful ways just like Jimmy Carter did.
This is crazy. We have people that are professionals in the energy field and they are being shut out of the debate. Instead the Senate's listening to the tinkerbells who probably can't handle the self-service pumps at the gas station.
We applaud any effort to offer incentives to increase the use of renewable and alternative energy sources to power Michigan.
But we hope the 25-percent goal can be reached by offering incentives, not by issuing mandates. The cheapest source of energy in the United States is coal. For the time being, at least, renewable sources of energy are a more expensive alternative. It would not bode well for economic development in Michigan if the state had astronomical energy costs.
Taralga Wind Farm
June 19, 2007
in Extract from NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard and Papers Tuesday
The villagers should have a forum to voice their feelings so they are not left with a nasty taste in their mouth and resentment in their gut. Further, negotiation with local people with local knowledge might even produce better outcomes for the proposed wind farm. If the Government is to achieve its renewable energy targets we know it has few choices. It can dot the crowded coastline or it can fill up the interior with these turbines. I am sure the Government would not allow hundreds of wind turbines around Newcastle, Wollongong or Sydney without very close and careful community consultation. The people of country New South Wales, and particularly the people of Taralga, no matter whose side one is on, deserve the same respect.
Thanks for publishing Congressman Molohan's rebuttal to your article. He is right. I find it hard to believe that, after all the facts and truths about wind energy that have been revealed during the past 2-3 years, that somebody at HNN would approve the initial story that you published.
It is 20 months now since British Airways proudly announced a new scheme to deal with climate change: for the first time, passengers could offset their share of the carbon produced by any flight by paying for the same amount of carbon to be taken out of the atmosphere elsewhere. "I welcome warmly this move from BA," said the then environment minister, Elliot Morley.
And how much carbon has BA offset from the estimated 27m tonnes which its planes have fired into the air since that high-profile moment in September 2005? The answer is less than 3,000 tonnes, less than 0.01% of its emissions - substantially less than the carbon dispersed by a single day of its flights between London and New York. The scheme has been, as BA's company secretary, Alan Buchanan, put it to a House of Commons select committee earlier this year, "disappointing".
Declaring that climate change is a real and serious threat won't raise too many eyebrows these days. But where the debate really starts to warm up is in asking how much energy consumers should pay towards eradicating the threat of climate change.
Soundings by Ofgem suggest that most people expect a reduction in emissions to come at a price. What's not clear is whether the amount people anticipate paying will match what they may be asked to pay.
Much of upstate New York, from north of Albany to Buffalo, from the Catskills to the Adirondacks, is in danger of being transformed beyond recognition by industrial wind parks. Some 50 of these wind parks are being planned and even built.
All of this is being done in the name of clean energy and saving the planet. But it isn't clear that wind power is such a panacea in the battle against global warming that developers of these wind parks should be allowed to run roughshod over some of our loveliest land. What we need are statewide siting guidelines that take other environmental factors, including visual impacts, into consideration.
In the Williams/Whitcomb world of tabloid journalism, there is no room for thoughtful discussion, for weighing costs against benefits, for understanding that self-interest is at work on both sides of the issue or for any kind of honest discussion. Such thoughts would get in the way of the facile thinking and cynical blather that fills their book and that is now commonplace on TV, radio and the Internet. Do you find yourself bored now that Don Imus and Rosie O'Donnell are off the air? Does the Internet no longer meet your need for trash talk? Then read this book. You won't learn anything substantive from it, but it'll be great entertainment.
Consequently, Iberdrola's $18,000 contribution offer to Mahanoy Township for its Locust Ridge wind energy facility represents less than 12 percent of the national average payment made by windplant owners to local jurisdictions. Furthermore, Mahanoy is getting about half of the low-end range of payment for a wind energy project ($750 per MW vs. $1,400 per MW), which is roughly seven percent of the top-end payment to local communities from wind energy project owners ($750 per MW vs. $11,000 per MW).
Energy has a price - as consumers we are painfully aware of it when the gas bill surges or the cost of a litre of petrol catches us by surprise.
When it bites our wallets we tend to blame oil companies, Middle Eastern sheikhs or Russian oligarchs, depending on prejudice or the last news headline.
Less understood is the political price of energy, but it was the hidden message in the reams of paper published yesterday by Alastair Darling, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
For years the Government ignored the warnings about crumbling nuclear plants and the need to scrap dirty coal power stations.
Finally someone has grasped the uranium fuel rod.