We've all heard the pitch about how wind is free and that once a wind facility is constructed the cost of generation is appropriately set low thanks to no fuel expense. We're also often reminded that no fuel cost means wind will help insulate consumers from wildly fluctuating energy prices.
With little fanfare last week, the ISO-New England released its latest report, New England 2030 Power System Study: Report to the New England Governors, summarizing the economic and environmental impacts of developing significant amounts of renewable sources within the region including substantial inland and offshore wind resources.
This week, Angus King, former Maine Governor turned wind developer, set out to correct the record on what he termed 'myths' about wind power now circulating. His opinion piece, while devoid of any substantive proof other than his say so and a link to his project's web site, in fact, was teeming with his own myths and half-truths that deserve clarification.
Serious questions raised concerning the credibility of the results
Last month, Judge Stephen Yelenosky of the Texas District Court of Travis County dropped a bombshell when he reversed the order of the Public Utility Commission of Texas ('PUCT') that awarded responsibility for constructing, operating, and maintaining transmission facilities necessary to deliver renewable (wind) energy to the population centers of the State.
The American Wind Energy Association ('AWEA') released its latest proclamation this week highlighting 2009 as another banner year for the wind industry. Nearly 10,000 megawatts of new capacity was installed in the United States, up from 8,300 megawatts constructed in 2008, the previous record year. Total installed capacity of wind in the US now stands at just over 35,000 megawatts.
Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.1 ('CHD') and Ontario have a problem, or at least they should.
Last September, Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury and others filed an appeal of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's (MEDEP) final order approving the Record Hill wind energy facility proposed for Roxbury, ME.
On November 17, the island community of Vinalhaven Maine celebrated the dedication of its 3-turbine community wind facility. The $14.5 million project, which was overwhelmingly supported by members of the local electric cooperative, was touted as a grand success. But before the celebratory speeches concluded and the glee of singing children faded, residents living within a half-mile of the facility made it clear the pulsating noise reverberating in- and outside their homes was unbearable.
Over the weekend, the UK papers broke the story that government officials suppressed the findings of a 2006 study on wind turbine noise and its effects on nearby residents.
Only a few years ago, electric energy policy was all about servicing the power needs of the region with the most reliable, least cost generation. Nowadays, power plant development equals economic development, or at least, that's the pitch.
Wind energy proponents insist industrial scale wind turbines have no diminishing effect on nearby residential property values. They point to several analyses prepared in the last six years (including REPP1, Hoen2, and Hoen/Wiser3) as evidence of their claims.
Eighteen months ago, Windaction.org reported that First Wind's Stetson wind facility (57-megawatts) in Maine would add no new renewable energy to the New England grid due to transmission constraints.
The unpredictability of wind energy will become more problematic as the country aims to deliver more remotely-sited generation to population centers on the east and west coasts. The U.S. Department of Energy and others have argued that geographically dispersing wind turbines nationwide might help to dampen the broad swings in available wind energy, but this provides no assurances that the energy will be where we need it, when needed.
Since 2003, with the discovery of significant bat kills at the Mountaineer wind energy facility sited on a forested ridgeline in West Virginia, the wind industry has been battling the issue of how best to predict and site wind facilities to avoid, or minimize the problem. High bat mortality has since been reported at project sites worldwide, particularly involving migratory species, prompting concerns of cumulative effects on bat populations.
This week, we decided to highlight Jonathan Fahey's piece "Take my juice" published September 7th in Forbes Magazine. Mr. Fahey does an excellent job explaining one of the serious consequences of deploying large quantities of wind on the grid. Read his article here (also provided below).
Last year, Rhode Island's Governor Carcieri entered his State into the race, wanting to become the first to see industrial scale wind turbines spinning off its coastline. His administration's initial step was to select Deepwater Wind as the preferred developer of two offshore projects. The first, a small pilot wind farm of 5-8 turbines to be sited in State waters within three miles of Block Island and the second, a 100+ turbine facility planned for fifteen miles off state shores in federal waters.
This week, USA Today explored the renewables debate as it applied to public lands. In the article, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the man responsible for protecting and providing access to our nation's natural and cultural heritage, declared his Department the "real department of energy". In fact, staff at the Interior Department, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are working at his direction to fast-track the release of millions of acres of public land for a massive deployment of renewable energy projects. Developers from around the world are lined up waiting to take advantage of the Obama administration's ‘hurry-up and get it done' renewables policy.
Last month, New Hampshire's Gov. John Lynch announced that 25-percent of the electricity powering the state's government buildings will now come from wind power.
There are several news stories we've been following that we thought important to highlight this week given the similarities to other cases our readers are involved with.