New Hampshire's RPS draining the State's economy
This week the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission opened a docket to consider possible changes to the State's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the law which mandates increasing percentages of the State's electricity demand be met with renewable energy. The program peaks at 25% renewables by 2025.
The NH-PUC acted after it learned a whopping $19.1 million in penalties under the mandate were paid by utilities in 2011 -- penalties that were passed on to NH customers. Penalties are exacted when in-state utilities are unable to deliver sufficient renewable energy (measured in megawatt hours) to meet their yearly, and escalating renewables obligation.
The $19.1 million was deposited into a government administered "renewable energy fund" to support pet thermal and electrical renewable energy initiatives. This was in addition to the $6.3 million pilfered from consumers in the same year through the sale of carbon allowances under RGGI.
Most NH residents are unaware how much of their energy dollars are pouring into State coffers to pay for projects they will never benefit from. But even worse, most NH State legislators have no idea how the New England RPS market works or why NH's RPS policy, in the context of the larger regional market, is likely to fall short of its goals each year while costing consumers far more than forecasted when it was first adopted in 2007.
The ISO-New England is reporting that wholesale electricity prices fell nearly 23% in 2012 to their lowest levels since 2003, yet New Hampshire's electricity consumers are paying some of the highest prices in the country thanks, in part, to poorly defined renewables policies that benefit a select few. The NH PUC has the authority to amend the annual renewable percentages to lessen the economic burden on consumers. Under this docket, it's time for consumers to stand up and be heard.
The pain of living with wind turbines
Cary Shineldecker and his wife, Karen, are caught in the middle of a wind farm development in Michigan. Consumers Energy's Lake Winds Energy facility in Mason County which consists of fifty-six 1.8 MW Vestas V100 turbines was put into service on Thanksgiving day in 2012. The turbines stand 476-feet tall with property setbacks of just 952 feet (2x turbine height). There are 5 turbines within a ½ mile of Cary's home, 13 within 1 mile and 26 turbines within 1.5 miles.
Symptoms reported by Cary include continual headaches, pressure in head and ear, turbine sound outside and inside his home, sleep disturbance almost nightly, thumping, rumpling, pulsing felt in the head and chest, the need to sleep in the basement on gusty nights.
Wind Wise Radio spoke with Cary this week to understand the impact of the turbines on the community and on his quality of life. Listen to Cary's own words and ask yourself when you last heard of a power plant in the United States, that under normal operating conditions, was driving entire neighborhoods from their homes.
Wisconsin Towns Association calls for moratorium
The Wisconsin Towns Association voted this week to adopt a resolution calling on the state of Wisconsin and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to place a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind turbines "until further studies are done, solutions are found and the state's wind siting rule is modified."
In its resolution, the Association cited a December 28, 2012 report filed with the State's PSC which examined the low-frequency noise and infrasound emanating from large-scale wind turbines at the Shirley Wind Farm in Denmark, Wisconsin. The homes of three families were tested, each located a different distance from the turbines. All three families reported adverse health effects since the wind facility commenced operation and three have been forced out of their homes after experiencing symptoms of the type associated with wind turbine syndrome.
First Circuit Court of Appeals rules that offshore wind is no match for reliable generation
This month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rejecting a challenge to the Seabrook nuclear power plant's relicensing posed by environmental groups in New Hampshire.
At issue was whether offshore wind energy can serve as an alternative to reliable electricity generation.
The NRC ruled that offshore wind is NOT a reasonable alternative for baseload generation produced by nuclear power plants. The NRC further concluded that the intermittent nature of wind power means that it cannot be considered baseload without effective energy storage mechanisms, and that storage technology is not sufficiently demonstrated at this time. FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff could take a lesson from the NRC.