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A necessary step in any attempt to understand the outlook for US energy supply and demand Comments by Glenn Schleede for The owners and members of Associated Electric Cooperative, Incorporated At their 2004 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri
Government agencies and the wind industry have successfully portrayed wind-generated electricity as "green" and as a price-competitive, potentially significant alternative source of power which could reduce dependence on 'dirty' fuels. While wind generated electricity may make sense in some circumstances, industry and government claims for its widespread use are not currently supported by sound science or economic analysis of costs v. benefits.
Wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the United States. In 2003, the installed U.S. wind power capacity increased by 1,700 megawatts (MW) to a total of 6,374 MW.1 Most of this additional capacity came in large projects of 50 MW or more, typically owned by strategic investors who have developed or acquired a portfolio of projects. As wind power generation continues to grow, these large projects and experienced developers will likely continue to dominate wind power development. Because of their scale and access to capital, these large projects are the fastest way to move towards increasing renewable energy’s share of the generation mix—and they provide significant economic benefits to the communities where they are located, from payments to farmers for wind rights and turbine easements to construction-related spending to permanent operations and the maintenance staff at each project. At the same time, there has been a growing interest in community wind power development. While the notion of community wind varies, these projects are generally smaller scale (less than 20 MW), and are locally initiated and owned. Projects range from single turbines erected by municipal utilities, school districts and tribal reservations to larger multi-turbine installations owned by one or more local investors and landowners. These projects may capture and retain more of the economic benefits locally (both construction-related and ongoing returns) and drive continued reinvestment in the communities. As a result, community wind projects often enjoy more favorable community support than large-scale commercial projects. There have been numerous publications and conferences on community wind development, but less specific attention on options for project structuring and financing. The goal of this handbook is to identify critical financing issues and present several possible financing models that reflect the differing financial positions and investment goals of various project owners/developers. The handbook includes six sections: • Section I describes various models for community wind power ownership. • Section II examines sources of equity and debt financing and the steps necessary to secure this financing. • Section III identifies federal grant and loan programs and state incentives for wind power development. • Section IV reviews the federal tax incentives supporting wind power projects, the impact of these incentives on project economics, and limitations on utilizing these incentives. • Section V examines power purchase agreements and the value of green tags to community wind power projects. • The Appendix contains a list of operating community wind projects in the United States and a list of project consultants and financing resources.
Promotional brochure for conference on financing wind power projects held at the Metropolitan Hotel, NYC, December 3-5,2003
Many people accept the well-publicized claim that windmills will be able to supply a significant share of our country’s growing requirements for electricity. They also believe that wind energy is environmentally benign and a way to avoid emissions from other sources of energy for electric generation. Political leaders in windy states have even been persuaded that “wind farms” will provide economic benefits, principally through rental payments to landowners. As proposals to build “wind farms” have proliferated, however, the adverse impacts of wind energy are becoming clear to a growing number of citizens, consumers and taxpayers. They are learning that “wind energy” has adverse environmental, ecological, scenic and property value impacts. They are learning that many of the claimed benefits of wind energy are misleading or false, and that the true costs of wind energy are higher than advertised -- with those higher costs falling on taxpayers and electric customers.
Dr. Richard Truly, Director, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Dear Dr. Truly: It has come to my attention that an employee of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Mr. Larry Flowers: 1. Asserted, during public “forums” on wind energy held on March 25, 2003, in Ludington, Michigan, that I am in some way associated with the coal industry and, therefore, my analysis and writing concerning wind energy should not be considered credible. Over 150 people attended these public forums. 2. On March 27, 2003, distributed via email to one or more participants in the Ludington forums the attached undated, unsigned paper which questions the independence of my work, questions the truthfulness of my claim that my work on wind energy is self-financed, and makes other false and misleading statements. Mr. Flowers’ email forwarding the paper includes the following statement: “MI wind colleagues: here is a brief piece written in response to Glen [sic] Schleede misinformation. I suggest you distribute this to participants in the Ludington meeting…”
It's time to jump off the Production Tax Credit treadmill and work toward a more open, transparent support mechanism such as the Electricity Feed Law.
Lincoln Township in Wisconsin sent a survey to its residents to help assess the impacts of 22 turbines installed by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) and Madison Gas and Electric (MG&E), which went online in June 1999. A summary of the survey comments received is provided in the attached document. After the wind turbines went online, the Lincoln Township Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on new turbine construction.
Hager, a former Duke Energy engineer beginning his second term in the House, argues the mandate unfairly forces utility customers to subsidize renewable energy, which costs more than traditional forms. He says that runs against state policy ordering utilities to provide “least cost” electricity.