WindAction Editorials

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.” 
6 Aug 2007

Lisa Linowes of IWA Appears on CNN

SEPTEMBER 3, 2006 -- CNN Sunday Live program, which airs 7pm today, features an interview with Industrial Wind Action Group's executive director, Lisa Linowes, representing concerns with unchecked wind power development.
3 Sep 2006

http://www.windaction.org/posts?p=15&type=Editorial
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