Articles filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
It took an energy insider this past week to expose the dirty little truth about the future of wind energy - it's too costly, too unreliable and only getting more so because of government subsidies. Take that, you green zealots.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's wind energy agenda has led Commonwealth communities into expensive capital expenditures. Now, agencies, under his watch, fortify his agenda and turn theirs back on the community. Falmouth is left windburned and forced to fix itself.
The Falmouth Board of Selectmen and the Falmouth Finance Committee held a joint April 4 meeting and unanimously stood by the selectmen's prior vote to remove the town's wind turbines, despite receiving none of their requested financial assistance from the state to do so. The latest estimate is that it will cost the town about $14 million to remove both Wind 1 and Wind 2.
The underlying issue in New England is that gas pipeline capacity is inadequate to keep prices steady in times of high home heating demand, said Vamsi Chadalavada, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISO New England. ISO is leading a study focused mainly on reliability, but reliability is intertwined with price, he said.
"Wind energy has so much potential, and the completion of this project will be a big step forward in reducing our reliance on volatile, foreign fossil fuels," boasted Gov. Patrick this past December upon the completion of the Hoosac turbines. If wind energy does indeed have such potential, it should not be reliant upon the government for its business. Until wind energy, or any new source of energy, can exist without government intervention, it is obviously not suitable for popular consumption.
The three articles collectively ask town meeting members to: appropriate money to cover debt obligations the town holds for construction and maintenance costs; fund the dismantling and disposal or relocation of the turbines; and supplement the fiscal 2013 and 2014 operating budget as necessary due to the turbines being curtailed or shut down.
Groups of pro-wind residents living near wind turbines within weeks become anti- wind as soon as the 400 foot turbines start to spin. The operators of the turbines quickley find themselves in front of local boards and court. ...performance of wind turbines in New England showing that the economic life expenses of onshore wind turbines is very short in some cases between 3 and 5 years, not the 20 years projected by the wind industry and government projections.
Connecticut and Massachusetts negotiated agreements with the two companies that set the stage for regulatory approval. In Massachusetts, Northeast Utilities and NStar agreed to buy more than a quarter of the power that would be produced by the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm as a condition of the deal.
Those customers aren't the only ones who are being fleeced. Even at high premiums the entire wind industry would be blown away by conventional power sources if not for huge taxpayer subsidies. According to a 2008 Energy Information Agency (EIA) report, the average 2007 subsidy per megawatt hour for wind and solar was about $24, compared with an average $1.65 for all others.
Unlike in the Massachusetts pact, where NSTAR, based in Boston, agreed to buy more than one-quarter of the power generated by Cape Wind, Connecticut negotiators did not reach a deal for the companies to purchase locally generated alternative power. Connecticut officials said in response: Cape Wind's energy is renewable energy, but it's pricey, and they didn't see a value in locking ratepayers into higher generation rates.
The headlines focused on NStar's commitment to purchase 27 percent of the expensive power to be generated by Cape Wind - something the utility had been loath to do. Less noticed was another concession NStar made: that it would not use any hydropower to meet state-mandated renewable energy targets for the next five years.
Eleanor Tillinghast, a longtime critic of the Patrick administration's efforts to proliferate land-based wind turbines, said the Patrick administration's report recalled public health officials' slow realization about the scale of the AIDS epidemic, as well as on tobacco and asbestos issues around the county.
Today, with fewer than 6,800 customers in the program, a typical family buying all its power from the wind farms pays about $23.94 more per month than a basic service customer, or about 30 percent extra when delivery charges are included. Those rates will increase again in March by $8 for customers buying all their power from the Green program.
Keenan and his co-chair, Sen. Benjamin Downing, said their decision to relegate the wind siting bill to a study - a move that nearly always spells defeat for bills - was intended to give the committee more time to advance narrower legislation focused on the siting standards used for land-based wind projects. ...The bill was sent to study without objection from any of the 10 members on hand.
A federal order issued last fall is intended to make it easier to construct transmission lines, costly and controversial projects that are notoriously tough to build.
"It's a one-sided report," said Virginia Irvine of Brimfield, a town where a proposed wind farm caused great controversy. Neil Andersen lives near a wind turbine in Falmouth and says he is upset with the findings. "I got to the first page saying that my problems, my health problems, don't exist."
"From the time we first became aware of the bill in 2009, we were up against the Statehouse leaders, the media, and the ‘green' groups," said Eleanor Tillinghast, a member of Green Berkshires. "It was quite a fight. From the Cape to the Berkshires, we all pitched in to protest this unprecedented and dangerous piece of legislation. And to their great credit, our legislative leaders listened and reversed course on the bill."
In making his decision, Downing said he had considered what he heard from constituents and state officials during 15 hours of hearings on the bill held in Hancock and Barnstable. The siting bill has been fought by those opposed to putting wind energy projects near residential areas.
"The senate president supports local control and is not in favor of the bill," Schroeder wrote in an email to the Times. "The Senate plans to review other bills pending before the Legislature that address the costs of energy and our renewable energy goals." Opponents of the siting bill praised Murray's change of heart.
Keisch said wind turbines on ridges would be "devastating to property values" in the county, would cause utility rates to go "up instead of down," and are not a reliable source of energy. "You say that they should be part of the mix, but I think until we really understand the scientific basis for it, there are other alternatives," Keisch said.