Last April, Reuters and others reported poor winds in some western states during the first quarter of 2015. We checked the preliminary production data released by the Energy Information Administration for that period and, sure enough, the production numbers were way down. The attached spreadsheet compares Q1'15 performance against the same period in 2014. A summary of the capacity factors for the states reporting wind project information is provided below. The full data can be accessed by downloading the attachment on this page. Texas, California, Iowa, Oklahoma and Illinois, which account for 50% of total installed wind in the US, each experienced significant reductions in output for the first quarter. NextEra Energy confirmed the reduction in Texas performance during its first quarter earnings conference call.
The output of DOE's models are easy to promote but reality paints a very different picture. DOE's Vision assumes 7 GW of wind built per year between 2014 and 2020, followed by 12 gigawatts per year between 2020 and 2030, and 17 GW every year after until 2050. The Agency points to the progress since 2009 as proof that a more aggressive wind roll-out is possible. But in many ways, the success of U.S. wind in those years is the very reason wind development will not grow, but continue to slow.
“Before Americans are asked to pay more billions for an energy resource that still, after 23 years, cannot stand on its own two feet, Congress should ask DOE to get out of the vision business and report on the practicality of wind energy reaching even 10% of the U.S. power market.”
Clearly, the interpretation of what constitutes “begin construction” is important, yet at no time during the two years since the PTC was extended with this wording did the IRS bother to seek public comment under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), the federal statute that requires federal agencies to provide notice and an opportunity to comment before promulgating rules.
Cape Wind was the wrong project, at the wrong time, and the wrong place. It was too big and costly. Its impacts were poorly mitigated and its benefits highly questionable. In the end, it was the regulatory arrogance of the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the Obama Administrations that did the most harm. A lot of people were offended and willing to stand up to the abuses. Remember, it was Massachusetts’ spirit that triggered the Revolutionary War.