WindAction Editorials

Wind energy development on national forest lands

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing new directives pertaining to wind energy development on national forest system (NFS) lands.  To date, there are no wind energy facilities on forest lands so this direction will set the rules for an entirely new public land use across all national forests and grasslands. The Federal Register notice and other information about this matter can be accessed at http://www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2007-09-24-E7-18715
12 Nov 2007

CAISO wind generation forecast

According to California ISO's Integration of Renewable Resources draft report (http://www.windaction.org/documents/12510) wind generation on a typical summer day peaks during periods of low demand and is at its lowest production levels when electricity demand is high.
5 Nov 2007

Electric grid interconnection request activity

An analysis of grid interconnection requests within U.S. portions of North America reveals that proposed wind energy development as of October 2007 totals up to 164,900 MW. This information, based on data compiled within the last two months, is regionally distributed as follows (rounded to the nearest 100 MW):
29 Oct 2007

Wind power in Germany

By the end of 2005, Germany's installed capacity of wind energy connected to the grid represented 18,300MW. The control area for transmission operator E.ON Netz GmbH included close to 7,600MW or 41% of the total installed. According to E.ON Netz's report entitled Data and Facts Relating to Wind Power in Germany (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/11871), wind availability for 2005 was below average. This helps explain why the average wind power feed-in within E.ON's control area for that year was only 1327 MW, or 18%. The lowest feed-in for 2005 was 8MW (0.1% capacity) and occurred just after noon on May 5, 2005.
22 Oct 2007

Green-e renewable energy program

The Green-e Renewable Energy Program's seal of approval is provided to all wind and other renewable energy projects which adhere to a set of national standards and pay a fee. According to the Green-e website ( http://www.green-e.org/ ), "The Green-e logo is the most trusted symbol in America for high quality renewable energy. The logo is backed by the Green-e program, the nation's leading independent certification and verification program from the Center for Resource Solutions." However, the only "environmental" criteria used to determine whether a renewable energy project qualifies for "green-e" certification is if it generates electricity from fuel sources other than fossil fuels, nuclear and hydropower greater than 5 MW (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/12207). If a wind project slaughters thousands of bats and birds annually, destroys hundreds of acres of forest or important wildlife habitat, is built on public land, or impacts a scenic viewshed or "dark sky" reserve, the facility, nonetheless, would be awarded the coveted "Green-e" marketing stamp-of-approval without questions or reservations.
16 Oct 2007

Promises of jobs

The wind industry has incented rural communities to host wind energy installations with promises of jobs for local workers, the bulk of which are short-term, construction-related positions. After the facility is operational, only 1-2 people are employed full-time near the site per 50 megawatts of installed capacity. The facility largely runs unattended and is monitored remotely from locations in Europe and elsewhere.
24 Sep 2007

Landowner agreements

Wind developers encumber the private land on which they propose to build a wind plant through a legal contract referred to as a Wind Energy Easement Agreement. Landowners often sign these agreements without first receiving advice from an attorney. An attorney reviewed one such agreement. His comments, embedded in this document http://www.windaction.org/documents/11774 , highlight the common pitfalls of signing without legal advice. A second contract, often referred to as a Good Neighbor Agreement, might be executed between a developer and landowners who own property near the project site but whose land will not host turbines. One agreement can be found at http://www.windaction.org/documents/11807 along with comments provided by an attorney. Other examples of agreements can be found on windaction.org at http://www.windaction.org/documents/2435
17 Sep 2007

Bird mortality

Wind proponents regularly assert that bird mortality at wind energy sites averages at a low 2.3 birds per turbine per year. These collision figures were derived from outdated, and inadequate bird mortality studies conducted at land-based wind projects in western United States. William R. Evans, well-known ornithologist with expertise in nocturnal bird migration provided a critique of these studies in his 2004 testimony on the Chautauqua (NY) proposal ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11726 ) where he states the Erickson, et.al. 2001 studies are "now widely seen as prematurely conceived." Evans continues, "the high mortality figures associated with cats and windows predominantly involve plentiful species that are common in suburban and residential neighborhoods or in the vicinity of farms, whereas the species killed at commercial wind turbine facilities and communications towers are largely neotropical migrant songbirds; species of conservation concern that nest in our wild lands." Recent bird mortality research from Europe ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11725 ) found that collisions can vary substantially between sites with mortality as high as 103 to 309 birds/turbine/year. The researchers state that "[mortality] results of individual wind farms can not be generalized" but that "the collision mortality is mostly related to the number of (flying) birds present (at rotor height)". The Erickson et.al. numbers are inappropriately used by proponents to bolster their claims that pre-construction avian surveys are an unnecessary expense.
11 Sep 2007

Who pays for the infrastructure?

In the rush to legislate renewable energy mandates, state legislators failed to consider needed infrastructure. Onshore wind plants are typically built hundreds of miles from load centers in areas with little or no transmission. Now states are scrambling to socialize the cost of transmission, a cost normally borne by the generators. Burdening ratepayers with this is contrary to the rules and recommendations held by utility commissioners as recently as a few years ago. Comments to FERC by the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners and the Vermont Department of Public Service ( http://www.windaction.org/documents/11629 ) make the point this way: "If a generator is not required to pay for transmission upgrades and the cost is instead to be socialized across all load, then generators will choose their location based on other factors, such as where land is cheaper or emissions permitting is easier, rather than where good transmission planning or market economics would dictate. On the other hand, if the cost of transmission associated with locating in these other areas were borne by the generators themselves, these economic tradeoffs would be internalized and economic location would be more likely to occur. As currently proposed, the costs are not borne by generators, which could lead to uneconomic grid expansion." Further skewing the economics, in the case of wind, 70% of the costly transmission line's capacity will be un-utilized.
4 Sep 2007

Economics and quality issues

In a July 9, 2007 Wall Street Journal article ( http://www.windaction.org/news/10617 ), wind power was described as "basically a cottage industry, until recently", and the race to build wind facilities worldwide has created a turbine shortage. Manufacturing of the turbines, and their 8000 specialty parts, is being squeezed, raising prices and the potential for quality problems. Current reports from Germany ( http://www.windaction.org/news/11519 ) detail quality problems with installed turbines, "...wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim... Fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation after only limited operation". Last week, a Siemens wind turbine at PPM's Kondike III site in Oregon collapsed killing one person and seriously injuring a second ( http://www.windaction.org/news/11547 ).
27 Aug 2007

Eco-dream versus reality

Energy policymakers in Massachusetts, Delaware, and elsewhere see a future where 1000’s of giant wind turbines, blades reaching to 300-feet in length, will populate the deep waters off the U.S. coast from Maine to Cape Hatteras (NC) and beyond. They envision wind energy as the primary source of electricity for eastern population centers. The fickle nature of wind will be 'corrected' by building new onshore gas plants that generate during low wind conditions. Little has been voiced publicly about this eco-dream. Is it even possible using existing infrastructure? or will a new super-grid need to be created? How much of the enormous cost will be borne by the public? While money is being expended today, have there been policy and technical discussions reviewing the feasibility? There is very limited experience worldwide for deep-water wind development and none in the U.S. It's worth noting that the near-shore Cape Wind (MA) and LIPA (NY) projects, both heavily reliant on public subsidies and existing infrastructure, will each cost nearly a billion dollars to build. The one Texas offshore proposal, with subsidies, has been deemed economically unviable and scrapped by the developer.
20 Aug 2007

Migratory birds and bats

New York's Maple Ridge wind energy facility (195 turbines) will slaughter up to 10,000 migratory birds and bats annually. The collision rate reported after the first fall season mortality survey were 34.12 targets per turbine or 6700 collisions, 72% of which are migrating bats (see: http://www.windaction.org/documents/8533 ). IWA estimates yearly collisions to rise to 10,000 after accounting for spring migration and other year-round migrants. Reports that cite the number of carcasses recovered are not representative of the number of birds and bats actually killed.
13 Aug 2007

Ecological impacts on bats

Dr. Thomas H. Kunz and others, in their peer-reviewed paper entitled “Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions, research needs, and hypotheses”, detail the significant risk that industrial-scale wind turbines pose for migratory and local bat populations in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands region of the United States. The authors project that by 2020, annual bat fatalities at wind energy facilities in this region alone can reach 111,000 bats. Kunz and others also state that their preliminary projections of cumulative bat fatalities are “likely to be unrealistically low, especially as larger and increasing numbers of wind turbines are installed.” (See http://www.windaction.org/documents/11179 )
6 Aug 2007

http://www.windaction.org/posts?p=14&type=Editorial
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