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Green energy is all the rage, and Ohio is jumping on the bandwagon with little regard for financial considerations. The proposed offshore wind turbine project in Lake Erie is an example of wasteful spending in the name of going green and creating jobs.
About $18 billion is needed for wind farm construction in Australia to meet government renewable energy targets. But weak electricity prices and a troubled subsidy scheme threaten to jeopardise returns on projects. ...Without subsidies, current electricity prices would need to triple to justify new wind capacity, which costs about $2.5 million per megawatt to build.
New Jersey's Division of Rate Counsel estimates that building 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capability could cost $5.6 billion over the next 20 years and cost average ratepayers $5 to $8 surcharges on their monthly bills.
Last month, the State of Massachusetts approved the most expensive power purchase agreement in the country -- a 15-year contract negotiated between Cape Wind and National Grid to sell one-half the project's 468 megawatts at 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour.
As many as 1,700 green energy jobs in southwestern Ontario are to be announced this week, according to Queen's Park sources. The announcements are part of an energy policy blitz as the provincial Liberal government tries to take the offensive on the energy file.
Europe's energy consumers must pay 20 cents per kWh generated, plus an additional 5 cents per kWh for transmission costs. They must pay this regardless of whether they need the electricity at the moment, and despite the fact that a kWh of wind electricity is worth less than 3 cents on the Leipzig Power Exchange, due to the intermittent and highly variable nature of wind.
South Dakota's wind energy industry is confident that if given the right incentives, short-term production gains would be a boon for the state's economy, and in 15 years, the state could be producing 10 times as much energy from wind as it is today. ...Not everyone shares this optimistic view. "Your state is being used because it has land," was the blunt assessment of Lisa Linowes, executive director of the New Hampshire-based activist group Wind Action. Linowes said the wind industry's economic forecasts typically don't take into account higher utility rates or the unreliability of wind as a power source. That the industry has potential to expand is a testament to years of government preference, not merit, she said.
First Wind Holdings Inc., the operator of wind-energy projects backed by D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, said it withdrew its initial public offering because of unfavorable market conditions. The company had already postponed an offering of 12 million Class A shares at $18 to $20 each last month.
Ontario unveiled a sweeping long-term power plan on Tuesday that throws the province's support squarely behind renewable energy, but also brought bad news for consumers who will see their electricity bills double by 2030.
Minnkota President and CEO Dave Loer said with a soft economy, there are few buyers. The company is buying energy at an average price of $.045 from wind developers and selling to the surplus energy market at about $.02, Loer said. "That translates for us into about a $20 million loss," Loer said.
"This decision will not only raise costs for our members, but also establishes a dangerous precedent of regulatory rubber-stamping of renewable energy contracts with absolutely no concern for the ratepayer," said Robert Rio, vice president at the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
Minnkota Power Cooperative, which supplies electricity for a wide swath of eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, has been delivering a jolt to its member rural electric cooperatives. A combination of factors involving the economics of wind power in Minnesota have led the power provider to tack on a surcharge adding almost 10 percent at the wholesale level.
BPA will also recover the costs of integrating rising amounts of wind power into the transmission grid through a separate wind integration charge paid by wind developers and purchasers. That rate will be determined through the same process of setting power rates.
The green campaign wastes scarce and precious technological and entrepreneurial resources indispensable to the nation's future. Now it is debauching America's most precious venture assets. It must be defeated, not appeased.
Higley said concerns about the wind farm underscore the significance of the lawsuit that his group and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group filed last year after the commission approved the wind farm. The commission didn't use its most exhaustive review process for the project because it was located outside Wisconsin, but Higley and Todd Stuart of WIEG said it's possible the transmission challenges would have become apparent earlier if the more detailed review process had been used.
Wisconsin Power & Light got a slap on the wrist from state regulators for not making it clear that there will be problems getting electricity out to consumers from a major wind farm the Madison utility company is building in Minnesota. Last April, WPL requested a $35.4 million rate boost for 2011, primarily to help pay for the Bent Tree wind farm near Albert Lea, Minn.
Outside of manufacturing, wind jobs are not so much in demand. One example: on the new Prairie Wind development near Minot, N.D., there are 77 turbines but the project requires just eight operations and maintenance employees, or about one for every 14 megawatts. As a job-creator, wind proponents themselves admit that coal plants put many more people to work.
Due to a variety of factors, including the volatility of wind energy, its managers have predicted rates may have to increase at least 6 percent in both the 2012 and 2013. ...Because wind is so variable, BPA has to maintain other reliable base generation to handle energy fluctuations, which also adds to its financial pressures.
The head of Bonneville Power Administration told local utilities Tuesday that the agency proposes keeping rate increases lower than projected for the next two years, but ratepayers will get less certainty in return. ...Franklin PUD and other smaller utilities in the region said their increases will not be as large because they don't have the same renewable energy requirements as bigger utilities.
Even as many politicians, environmentalists and consumers want renewable energy and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, a growing number of projects are being canceled or delayed because governments are unwilling to add even small amounts to consumers' electricity bills. Deals to buy renewable power have been scuttled or slowed in states including Florida, Idaho and Kentucky as well as Virginia.