Cohocton Wind Watch: March 2010
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


READ about the FIRST WIND Connection to the Obama Administration

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud




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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First Wind moves toward becoming public firm

Massachusetts wind farm developer First Wind Holdings Inc. took another step toward becoming a public company as it released year-end numbers showing operating losses of $57.1 million and assets of $1.7 billion, including facilities at seven wind farms across the country.

The company had revenues of $47.1 million in 2009, up from $28.8 million in 2008. First Wind also reported that the most significant chunk of its assets — $1.4 billion — is tied up in “property, plant, equipment, and construction in progress.’’

The company’s operating losses improved from $64.3 million in 2008.

First Wind, which was founded in 2002, has a “develop-to-own’’ business model, which means it creates and then runs its own wind farms. Its current operations include wind farms in the northeastern and western regions of the United States, including one in Maine and one in Hawaii. By the end of 2010, the company said, it plans to have six more projects operating or under construction.

The company has said it chooses its markets because they are “characterized by relatively high electricity prices, a shortage of renewable energy, and sites with good wind resources that can be built in a cost effective manner.’’

First Wind first registered for an initial public offering in 2008. On Friday, it filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicate progress toward that goal. The company announced the lead underwriters for its first stock offering: Credit Suisse Securities LLC, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co., and Morgan Stanley & Co.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment, citing the mandatory quiet period before an IPO.

First Wind, which has about 70 employees, moved its headquarters from Newton to Boston in October.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

PUC rejects Deepwater contract on price

WARWICK – The R.I. Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday rejected as too expensive a proposed power-purchase agreement between Deepwater Wind LLC and National Grid Plc, dealing a heavy blow to Deepwater’s plan to build a wind farm off Block Island.

The three commissioners unanimously voted down the 20-year contract despite strong support for it from Gov. Donald L. Carcieri. They said the deal’s projected cost of electricity did not qualify as “commercially reasonable” under a test required by state law.

In a statement, Deepwater CEO William M. Moore said he was “extremely disappointed” by the PUC’s decision, and suggested the company may abandon its projects here.

“This vote is a serious setback to Rhode Island’s plans to become the leader in the nation’s offshore wind industry,” Moore said. “With this vote, the plans to provide Rhode Island with clean, renewable wind power and to establish a green jobs hub at Quonset Point are in jeopardy. Deepwater Wind is now forced to reevaluate our plans for Rhode Island.”

A National Grid spokesman said the utility believed the PUC’s vote meant the end of the process, since the law provides no recourse for the two parties to present a revised contract.

At Tuesday’s hearing, commissioners said they felt torn between, on the one hand, supporting a project with strong political support and clear environmental benefits and, on the other, following their mandate to get the best deal for electricity ratepayers.

In the end, commissioners said they simply could not swallow the deal’s estimated above-market costs of $25 million a year.

Deepwater would have charged National Grid 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2013, the first year of the contract. Prices would increase 3.5 percent per year after that. (The ultimate retail price paid by customers would have been higher.) Under state law, National Grid also would have received a bonus for buying renewable energy.

The retail price of electricity for a home in Rhode Island currently is about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“What we are determining is the will of Rhode Island, the political will of Rhode Island, to … pay substantially above-market prices,” said Commissioner Paul J. Roberti, the most outspoken of the three.

The commissioners did acknowledge that the proposed wind farm and a transmission cable to the mainland could benefit Block Island because it would allow the island to stop operating its diesel generation plant. But commissioners said that was not enough reason to approve the contract because the same result could be achieved by building a cable on its own.

Commissioners also chastised the R.I. Economic Development Corporation for failing to provide evidence that a wind farm would have a positive impact on Rhode Island’s economy.

Commissioner Mary E. Bray said that while The Energy Council of Rhode Island, a manufacturing trade group, provided data that showed a wind farm would drive up electricity prices, the EDC failed to show how such a project would provide an economic boost.

Reaction from National Grid was muted. “There is not much more to say other than we’re disappointed,” spokesman David Graves said after the hearing. “We feel we’ve fulfilled the mandate of the statute that established the process.”

The governor released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he was extremely disappointed with the decision.

"I plan on meeting with legislative leaders to discuss other potential solutions," he added. "While the price for the power from this Block Island demonstration project is higher than current electricity rates, I, along with many others, feel that over 20 years this differential is likely to disappear. In addition, securing a small fraction of our state's energy needs from clean offshore renewable wind power is good, long-term, public policy."

Jerry Elmer, a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island office, said he was “dismayed that the [PUC’s] decision appeared to hinge on comparing current costs of heating our homes with oil and gas with the costs of renewable energy.”

“The PUC failed to factor in the benefits renewable-energy projects will yield in terms of price predictability, energy independence, and reduction in global warming pollution,” Elmer said.

The deal between Deepwater and National Grid was brokered by Carcieri last December after months of negotiations. At the time, the governor’s office said the agreement would increase the average residential customer’s monthly electric bill by $1.35.

The governor has clashed with the PUC in the past for what he saw as a lack of commitment by the commissioners to supporting renewable power.

In 2008, Carcieri called on the commission to force National Grid to sign long-term contracts to buy electricity from renewable sources. He argued that doing so would help reduce costs over the long term as supply constraints raise the price of other types of fuel.

Soon after, the General Assembly passed legislation essentially mandating that the PUC just do that, and contract negotiations between Deepwater and National Grid got under way.

First Wind set to test the waters with IPO

Maine's most prominent wind energy developer is attempting to go public and issue stock, aiming to fund aggressive growth plans.

Boston-based First Wind Holdings LLC is preparing an initial public offering, in which it hopes to list common stock on the Nasdaq market under the symbol WIND. The prospectus, which remains incomplete, doesn't specify the number of shares being offered or the price per share. Also missing is how much money the company hopes to raise.

The outcome of First Wind's effort could affect Maine's energy future and the public debate over how many wind turbines to erect and where to put them.

First Wind has benefited recently from hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money. Capital from private investors will improve its chances of carrying out its expansion plans, on a timetable that meets its financial objectives and complements government policies aimed at promoting wind power.

"It really will be a bellwether for how comfortable investors are with U.S. wind power investments," said Ethan Zindler, who heads North American research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

First Wind has three operating wind farms in Maine, at Mars Hill and a two-phase project at Stetson Mountain. It has at least two others pending -- Rollins and Oakfield. Together they would comprise 157 turbines and have the capacity to generate 235 megawatts.

Maine lawmakers have set a goal of installing 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2015. But that policy has led to pushback from residents who don't want to live near the giant towers and activists who say wind doesn't produce enough power to justify hundreds of turbines along Maine's forested ridge lines. They also say wind energy will increase power bills.

"Ratepayers are going to pay for all the government mandates," said William Downes, a financial analyst in Cape Elizabeth who has been tracking First Wind's IPO. "The market isn't driving this. The government is driving this."

First Wind has declined to comment on any aspect of its initial public offering. But a review of its stock proposal offers a look at what role the company may play in the evolving dispute over wind power in Maine.

EXPANSIVE PLANS

First Wind has a high profile in Maine, which is the cornerstone of its Northeast operations. The company also is very active in the West and Hawaii. It plans to have projects with a total capacity rating of 1,000 megawatts operating or under construction by the end of next year, and more than 2,000 megawatts by the end of 2014.

Wind farms are expensive to build, roughly $2 million for every megawatt of capacity. As is typical in the industry, First Wind has raised money from investors, borrowed from banks and, most recently, won grants and been promised loan guarantees from the federal government.

First Wind Holdings has two equity partners, which have put up money in exchange for ownership shares and generous tax benefits. They are affiliates of big private equity investment firms, D.E. Shaw Group and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC. Those partners would own the overall balance of economic interests after the stock offering, documents indicate.

In recent months, First Wind has used money from federal stimulus grants to help pay down hundreds of millions of dollars in bank debt and construction loans. Maine's Stetson I project was among those sharing $235 million in stimulus cash.

"Had stimulus for wind not come along last year, a substantial amount of development wouldn't have been done," Zindler said. "It threw the industry a lifeline."

The wind power industry is in the midst of a massive global expansion, Zindler noted, backed by government policies aimed at reducing dependence on petroleum and the effects of climate change. Big players are dominating that expansion, including two that own assets in Maine -- Iberdrola, the Spanish utility, and NextEra Energy, formerly Florida-based FPL Energy.

First Wind is unusual in the industry, Zindler said. It's an independent, New England company focused solely on wind development. For that reason, the company's pending stock offering will be an important market indicator.

First Wind prepared an IPO initially in September of 2008, hoping to raise $450 million. The offering coincided with the near-collapse of the financial markets, and the IPO was withdrawn.

The timing is much better now, Zindler said. The stock market is recovering and the federal government is strongly supporting renewable power development, with energy programs and stimulus funds.

UPFRONT ABOUT RISKS

Investing in any startup company is risky, though, especially one that relies on private investors and banks to grow in a capital-intensive industry. In its financial documents, First Wind details those risks, including:

• The eight-year-old company has $523 million in outstanding debt.

• It has substantial net losses from operations, totaling $191.2 million since it formed. Net losses and negative cash flows will grow as more development is done, although projects typically generate positive income after commercial operation, the company says.

• First Wind is heavily dependent on government policies, notably tax credits. Changes in such incentives would hurt the company's ability to get financing.

• Most of the company's revenue comes from the sale of electricity and renewable energy credits used to subsidize green power production. A significant, sustained decline in those prices could hurt project development.

First Wind has signed power purchase agreements, including a long-term contract with Harvard University for half the output from Stetson II. In southern California, it has a long-term agreement for electricity from its largest project, Milford I in Utah.

Downes is critical of the agreements, which he says will boost electricity prices for consumers. In Los Angeles, there's opposition to a proposed rate hike that would help the city get more of its electricity from wind and solar energy.

First Wind has 25 days after its initial public offering to issue stock and raise money, Downes said.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nutrition Action for Energy Appetites: Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future—by Robert Bryce

Nutrition Action for Energy Appetites: Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future-by Robert Bryce

With Power Hungry, energy journalist and Austin apiarist Robert Bryce marshals lots of accurate numbers in context to make plain how modern culture exacts power from energy to save time, increase wealth, and raise standards of living. He also dispenses common sense to citizens and policy makers for an improved environment, a better, more productive economy, and more enlightened civil society. Inspired by the environmental economics of Rockefeller University's Jesse Ausubel and the University of Manitoba's prolific Vaclav Smil, he makes the case for continuing down the path of de-carbonizing our machine fuels-a process begun two hundred years ago when we turned from wood to fossil fuels and huge reservoirs of impounded water. As the world's population continues to urbanize, people will inevitably demand cleaner, healthier, environmentally sensitive energy choices.

Today, the world uses hydrocarbons for 90 percent of its energy, getting a lot of bang for its buck. Bryce offers convincing evidence that, over the next several generations, particularly since broad energy transformations require much time and financial investment, relatively cleaner burning natural gas will provide a bridge to pervasive use of nuclear power-" the only always-on, no-carbon source than can replace significant amounts of coal in our electricity generation portfolio." And if nuclear ultimately becomes the centerpiece for the electricity sector, which constitutes about 40 percent of our total energy use, this development would accelerate the de-carbonization of the transportation and heating sectors as well.

His narrative transcends the current climate change debate. He thinks the evidence on either side is equivocal, at best provisional, and, even if it could be proven conclusively that humans were responsible for precipitously warming the earth by producing a surfeit of carbon dioxide, there is little that could be done about the situation now that would be consequential or practical, except embrace imaginative adaptation approaches.

Bryce organizes his ideas around four interrelated "Imperatives" that serve as a prime motif for human history and explain much contemporary circumstance: power density, energy density, scale and cost. He shows that, although energy is the ability to do work, what people really crave is the ability to control the rate at which work gets done-power. Performing work faster means more time to do something else. This begets an appetitive feedback loop, where more power unleashes more time to produce more power. As the scale of this process increases, costs are reduced, making what power creates more affordable.

In terms of economic efficiency and improved ecosystems, producing the most power in the smallest space at a scale affordable by all is what present and future enterprise should ensure.

The power density of fossil fuels, expressed in watts, BTUs, or horsepower, has been the lynchpin of our modernity, although they will eventually become depleted, perhaps over a few centuries or much sooner, as various peak oil and coal scenarios suggest. (Bryce shows that worldwide oil's marketshare has fallen over the last 35 years and the rate of decline will likely continue.) And they do have negative environmental consequences. Particularly coal, with such environmentally treacherous extraction techniques as strip mining/mountaintop removal, and toxic emissions. But their overall benefits at present outweigh the negatives in a comprehensive cost benefit analysis. Which is why they're so popular.

Hydrocarbons lift people out of poverty, literally empowering them to better health, wealth, and productivity. "The key attribute of hydrocarbons is their reliability," a precondition for coordinated economic and social convergence, which is the very hallmark of modern life. Planning to replace their capacity successfully will demand great ingenuity and the most advanced technology-not hyped-up premodern gadgetry like industrial wind technology.

Over the first seven chapters of his book, Bryce lays out the gargantuan scale of our energy consumption, bound on the one side by the existence of nearly seven billion people and the thirst for increasingly denser power supplies on the other. He shows why, if oil didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. Deploying helpful charts and graphs throughout, he demonstrates that we will not, indeed cannot, quit using hydrocarbons any time soon, since our daily consumption is equivalent to 226 million barrels of oil, equal to the total daily output of twenty-seven Saudi Arabias.

The world consumes nearly 7 billion horsepower a day, albeit unevenly, since Americans consume energy at 18 times the rate of people in Pakistan and India. America leads the world in reliable horsepower and produces about 74 percent of the primary energy it consumes. Moreover, it has more hydrocarbon reserves than any other nation. Yet, despite all this power, the United States leads the world in energy efficiency and per capital carbon emission reductions over the last fifteen years.

So why are so many willing to trade the high power density of coal, natural gas, and oil for such unreliable, low-power-density sources as wind and solar? Part II, The Myths of Green Energy, attempts to answer this question. Bryce looks closely at the claims for wind especially and debunks them all as mainly the result of snake oil, a too-gullible public suffused in scientific illiteracy, "happy talk" from media (viz, Thomas Friedman), and self serving bombast from industry pundits like T. Boone Pickens. Thinking that wind technology, for example, could put a dent in the use of fossil fuels as an "alternate" energy source is just plain goofy, akin to believing that a book of matches could melt a glacier. Believing that corn and cellulosic ethanol are friends of the environment and consumers is downright Orwellian. In truth, they reduce efficiency and performance while damaging machine engines, and raise the cost of food by shrinking food supply while depleting millions of acres of soil and siphoning off a sea of water. For shame.

Bryce reinforces the theme of his previous book, Gusher of Lies. The energy business is so vast and intricately global that it dooms any nation's quest for energy independence. Those who think more hybrid cars, wind machines, and solar cells will free the United States from its dependence on imports will be shocked to discover that those technologies hinge on rare earth elements obtainable almost exclusively in China. Which fact largely explains why the Chinese are rapidly becoming a dominant manufacturer and exporter of "green" technologies.

Bryce relishes challenging flimflam. Power Hungry demolishes the notion that oil is dirty; that carbon capture/sequestration schemes can be globally effective; that cap-and-trade/taxation/renewable energy credit ideas for reducing carbon dioxide emissions can do anything but worsen the situation, at the expense of tax and ratepayers; that plug-in electric cars will soon revolutionize the transportation sector; and that efficiency, desirable as it is as a means of conservation, can change the world.

Bryce's conclusions about better policy follow the logic of Sherlock Holmes: "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." By eliminating the imposters and exposing the disingenuous, he is then able to engage in rational discourse about the genuinely probable technologies that will in future slake our ginormous craving for power.

He states the problem in a way that suggests solutions. If society seeks cleaner air and water, if consumers seek cheaper energy, if environmentalists seek open vistas and large swaths of untrammeled nature, if politicians seek a significant reduction of greenhouse gasses while maintaining, even expanding, the power requirements of modernity-then the future of energy conversion for electricity must hinge on increased use of natural gas in the near term while the world prepares for nuclear power over the long haul. Given the magnitude of the situation, anything else is hope. And prayer.

Recounting the sorry recent history of natural gas supply, Bryce explains how pandering politics and the coal industry combined to reduce its availability, making the public think the resource had been exhausted, However, new discoveries of extensive shale deposits in the United States, along with improvements in extraction technologies, now make natural gas much more available. That it burns 50 percent cleaner than coal, emits no toxic particulates, and is so versatile, make it the ideal transitional fossil fuel for the next generation or so. As more supplies become available, costs will continue to drop, making natural gas more appealing to consumers. To protect against damaging the ground water and pollutant leakage through gas lines, the industry would have to be carefully regulated, particularly in remote areas during the extraction process.

Still, as good as they are, carbon-based fuels, even those as beneficial as oil and natural gas, continue to put us at odds with our potential for informed stewardship of the planet. Our best scientists tell us we must do better in achieving goals of sustainable biodiversity and healthier ecosystems. To do so, we should sooner than later move beyond sloganeering and heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

As Bryce says, "nuclear goes beyond green." It provides two million times the power density of fossil fuels and can be contained in a small area, preserving the countryside. Concerns about its safety because of exaggerated news accounts of the damage inflicted by the Three Mile Island/Chernobyl accidents, along with the dramaturgy wrought by Hollywood, have allowed fear mongering to prevail over sound science. Despite not building a single nuclear plant in thirty years, the US still has more nuclear facilities than any nation in the world. US nuclear plants have a capacity factor of 92 percent, significantly better than any other generating system. Even though nuclear has only 11percent of the nation's installed capacity, it nonetheless satisfies 20 percent of demand. The nation's largest grid, the PJM, uses nuclear for 35 percent of its generation, and has done so safely for over twenty years.

For the last thirty years, France has employed nuclear for 80 percent of its electricity consumption. The French reprocess most of the spent fuel, capturing the uranium and other materials so that they can be sent through the reactors again, reducing "the volume of waste by a factor of two or three." Moreover, Bryce highlights the prospects for a fusion-fission transmutation system in the near future that would create additional fuel for electricity and medical applications. It would also substantially reduce radioactive half-life time-while preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The potential for newer, smaller, safer nuclear power plants is enormous, and Power Hungry explores a range of what is probable. Today, the capital costs of large nuclear plants are very high, but they can run continuously without interruption day and night year after year. Their long-term maintenance costs are relatively low. Compared with building a large hydro dam, however, which has enormous negative environmental consequences for entire watersheds, construction costs for nuclear are a bargain. Contrasted with the incredibly high capital costs of wind projects, which provide only sporadic energy and no modern power performance, nuclear is incomparable, for there is no apples-to-apples comparison to be made with wind. How can one compare the best performing car ever made with a clunker that never works as desired?

Bryce brings his narrative sweep to a conclusion by calling for rethinking what the notion of green should mean. In particular, he urges that environmentalism return to the days when those commanding the movement revered hard facts, treasured good science, and understood that culture was part of nature, not mystically outside of it. They knew the "hard truth" that "energy production is not pretty, cheap, or easy." Although they may have been initially seduced by the allure of "renewable energy," they would have finally understood that the whole concept of renewables is problematic, since nothing is continually renewable; they only appear that way from the short perspective of human time. As many have discovered about the only widely effective renewable, impounded hydro, simply because a source of power is clean-burning does not make it "green." Informed environmentalists should know that the current push for wind technology is based on the mistaken belief that wind is greener than hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas.

Power Hungry also urges renewed support for the International Atomic Energy Agency; putting the skids on the ethanol boondoggle by short-circuiting Iowa's stranglehold on presidential primaries; pushing for greater scientific/engineering literacy and less political grandstanding in public policy; banning mountaintop removal coal extraction techniques; and imposing coordinated reality on national energy policy. The policy goal should be to promote "cheap abundant energy" consistent with the protection of sensitive habitat, vulnerable species of flora and fauna, and a more diverse and empowered planet.

The book covers so much ground across so many topics that it is unfair to quibble about details that are not fully accounted for. Bryce gets the important ideas right. He spends much time trimming the sails of the industrial wind fandango, in part because he knows it is inconsequential as an energy source but also because public dollars invested in it represent dollars not spent on effective power. He couldn't find a shred of empirical evidence that wind has been responsible for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions in the production of electricity-or that it has contributed to any reductions in fossil fuel use. Even in the wind poster nation of Denmark. Instead, he found only "projections" offered up by industry trade organizations or government agencies beholden to wind success that were uncontaminated by reality-much like college football polls.

Most importantly, he tells why wind can't offset meaningful CO2 emissions or replace fossil fuels. To do this, he introduces the work of engineers like Australian Peter Lang, Canadian Kent Hawkins, and Britain's Jim Oswald, who demonstrate how wind's existential volatility and unreliability must make everyone and everything involved with wind integration work much harder just to stand still, in the process greatly increasing both cost and thermal activity. Wind is a fuel supplement that requires a lot of supplementation, since no one can be sure how much of its capacity will be available for any future time. A wind plant's output unpredictably bounces around between zero and its maximum possible yield.

The challenge is how to reconcile the square peg of firm reliability with the round hole of wind's fluttering caprice. Since it must match supply perfectly with demand at all times, no grid can allow wind volatility to be loosed by itself: It must be entangled with proactive, highly dynamic conventional generation to make its capacity whole. More than 70 percent of any wind project's maximum capability must come from reliable, flexible conventional generation, typically natural gas units working inefficiently to do so. These inefficiencies accumulate quickly, eventually consuming more fuel in the same way that an automobile does in stop-and-go traffic.

As Lang shows, even the best possible thermal entanglement with wind, comprised of several types of natural gas systems, can save only 15 percent more CO2 than can be achieved with the natural gas systems alone, without any wind. Inefficient use of natural gas systems with wind, such as responsive open cycle units normally used only at peak demand, would save no net carbon dioxide emissions. As Hawkins shows, using a combination of coal and natural gas for wind balancing results in more carbon emissions than would be the case without any wind. Any fossil fuel saved when it is sporadically displaced by wind is often consumed in even greater volume as it is called upon to compensate for wind's relentless skittering.

More than 2500 skyscraper-sized wind turbines, spread over 500 miles of terrain, and a passel of natural gas units at 90 percent of wind's maximum output-and hundreds of miles of new transmission lines/voltage regulation-would be required to provide parity with the capacity of a 1500MW nuclear facility.

Bruce makes vividly clear that wind is neither clean nor green-and is in the hunt solely because of massive government support, which is 23 times the per kilowatt-hour subsidy given for fossil-fired plants that produce copious reliable capacity. It provides only sporadic energy-not modern power performance. Wind is not only inimical to all the primary goals of modern electricity production-reliability, affordability, security; it also actively subverts them. It is not cutting edge, effective, and progressive; rather, it is antediluvian, dysfunctional, and uncivil.

In many ways, wind resembles the character Major Major Major Major, made so indelible by Joseph Heller in his immortal Catch-22. Like wind, even when the Major was in, he was out. Even more apropos is the connection with Major Major's father, a Calvinist alfalfa farmer who received a public subsidy for every acre of crop he did not grow, using the money to buy more land on which not to grow alfalfa. He thought such practice was divinely ordained, proclaiming, "You reap what you sow," while maintaining that federal aid to anyone but farmers was "creeping socialism." With only a few word changes, this is the line trumpeted by the American Wind Energy Association on behalf of its limited liability companies.

Spawned, then supported, by government welfare measures at considerable public expense, wind produces no meaningful product or service yet provides enormous profit to a few wealthy investors, primarily multinational energy companies in search of increased bottom lines through tax avoidance. Wind does reap what it sows, masquerading as a power source to hide its real identity as an Enronesque tax shelter generator.

Power Hungry sets the stage for an inquiry about why wind has become so politically attractive. Gullibility and dimwittery are surely part of the explanation, as Bryce suggests. But the real causes may have more to do with the nefarious acquiescence of our regulatory and government agencies-combined with how the power industry itself has embraced wind. Why aren't utilities in general, and regulatory agencies and grid controllers in particular, being held accountable for what they're doing to ratepayers by supporting generation that must destabilize the electricity supply/transmission system? To what extent are corporations that are heavily involved with coal, natural gas, and oil also involved with wind? The bipartisan dive to the bottom now enabling the wind scam is worthy of another book.

As it is, Power Hungry provides a grand tour of our energy landscape in the best journalistic tradition of serving the public good, exposing the cant of received wisdom and using the authority and weight of good numbers to put ideas into proper perspective. Bryce's numbers provide giant shoulders upon which to stand, allowing us to see farther and better, increasing our knowledge and improving the odds for institutional wisdom. There are few things more important to the world's life, liberty, and happiness than an enhanced ability to convert abundant energy into high power at affordable cost. Robert Bryce, with buoyant bonhomie, marks the way.

Jon Boone
March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Only fools or heavy gamblers or folks laundering money would buy based upon these figures

First Wind had total equity of $769.7 million, and $879.7 million of debt as of Sept. 30, 2009, including $267.3 million of turbine-supply loans, $181.2 million of project term debt, and $431.2 million of other debt.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009, the company had $30.5 million in revenue, up from $21.7 million for the same period in 2008, according to the filing. Its net loss was $47.3 million for the three quarters in 2009, higher than in the 2008 period when the net loss was $38.4 million.


Editors note: Below are comments from a reader

The only people who would buy stock in a company with those basic figures would be fools (who recently bought shares in the Brooklyn Bridge) or heavy gamblers or folks laundering money.

Wind-Power Developer First Wind To Price IPO In April--Source

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- First Wind Holdings Inc., a developer of wind-power projects, is gearing up to price its initial public offering in April, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The developer, which is backed by D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners Inc., is now canvassing opinions via its underwriters to arrive at a potential valuation, said the person, in an interview with Clean Technology Insight.

The company's spokesman declined to comment.

The original IPO documents filed in July 2008 from First Wind listed Credit Suisse Group (CS, CSGN.VX), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) as bookrunners for the deal. Recent updates to the S-1 form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission didn't have any bookrunners listed. Representatives of these banks weren't available for comment.

Boston-based First Wind seeks to be listed on the Nasdaq Global Market. Should it go public, it would be the only pure-play wind-power developer trading on a major U.S. exchange. There are developers on smaller exchanges, including Juhl Wind Inc. (JUHL) on the over-the-counter Bulletin Board and several on Canadian exchanges, as well as European companies such as Iberdrola Renovables SA (IRVDY, IBR.MC) and EDP Renovaveis SA (EDRVY, EDPR.LB) whose shares are listed on European and U.S. exchanges.

First Wind originally registered around the same time as another developer, Noble Environmental Power LLC, which has since pulled its IPO.

As for First Wind, "they have many more assets that are spinning, are so much more mature than a year ago," the person said about its plans to try to price the deal shortly. In 2009, First Wind added three new operating projects, totaling 385 megawatts, to the three it already had in operation, according to a February update to its S-1 filing. It plans to add 294 MW across seven new projects this year.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009, the company had $30.5 million in revenue, up from $21.7 million for the same period in 2008, according to the filing. Its net loss was $47.3 million for the three quarters in 2009, higher than in the 2008 period when the net loss was $38.4 million.

The company should be able to add between 200 MW and 300 MW of power each year, the person said. First Wind hopes to have 1,000 MW of projects operating or under construction by the end of 2011 and 2,000 MW by 2014, according to the filing.

First Wind had total equity of $769.7 million, and $879.7 million of debt as of Sept. 30, 2009, including $267.3 million of turbine-supply loans, $181.2 million of project term debt, and $431.2 million of other debt.

The wind-energy sector is growing rapidly in the U.S., though companies are highly dependent on prices of fossil fuels such as natural gas, which are currently relatively low and against which wind competes, as well as on government incentives, some of which are due to expire soon.

"Over the near term, there are some significant hurdles that may hinder growth below the levels of 2009," which was a record year, said Tim Stephure, senior analyst with the North American Wind Power Advisory Department at research firm Emerging Energy Research. He spoke in an interview with Clean Technology Insight about the wind-power market in general, but declined to discuss First Wind directly, saying that Emerging Energy helped the company with its prospectus and is under a non-disclosure agreement.

The U.S. recession meant industrial growth slowed, lowering demand for energy in general and cutting prices for natural gas. This, in turn, is putting pressure on prices for wind-power energy, said Stephure. In some places, wind- power energy prices are about half of what they were in early 2008, he said.

In First Wind's case, the company had an "average realized energy price" for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009, of $77 per MW/hour, down from $84 per MW/ hour in the same period in 2008, and $108 per MW/hour in 2006. That average price includes factors such as prices for renewable energy credits, transmission costs and hedges.

"Developers are having a hard time getting the terms they need," said Stephure, especially given that many developers are still installing turbines they bought during a turbine shortage when they cost more than they do now.

There is still demand, said Stephure, in states with very strong renewable power mandates. That includes the Northeast region, where a lot of First Wind's efforts are concentrated. The company is active, for example, in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. Not only do Northeast states have stringent renewable-energy mandates to meet, but electricity there in general is expensive, making it easier for wind power to compete. New England had the highest retail price of electricity of all U.S. regions, according to the U.S. Energy Information, with an average of $16.32 cents per kilowatt/hour in 2009.

First Wind is also active in the West and Hawaii, all strong renewable-energy- mandate markets with high electricity pricing.

The wind-power industry is also highly dependent on incentives. For example, a cash grant offered under the federal economic stimulus package passed in 2009 applies only to projects that start construction in 2009 or in this year.

In the past, when other federal incentives, particularly production tax credits, were allowed to expire, wind-power installation rates dropped only to pick up again when the tax credits were reinstated. Any introduction of local content requirements, for example, could also affect developers, noted Stephure.

First Wind received $115 million through the cash grant program as of the end of September 2009. It also received conditional approval for a federal loan guarantee that would help fund one of its Hawaiian projects. It hopes to receive more loan guarantees, said the person who is familiar with the company's plans.

Another constraint in the wind-power market is transmission. Several of First Wind's projects, however, are connected to lines that have more capacity available for additions in power generation, the company said in its prospectus.

On the positive side, prices for wind turbines and other components are declining and this equipment is easier to access now than it was two years ago, said Stephure. He estimated that wind turbines are now about 20% to 25% cheaper than they were in early 2008. First Wind has no commitments other than to one turbine supplier, Clipper Windpower PLC, for projects it will have in construction this year, the company's filing said.

(Dow Jones Clean Technology Insight covers news about public and private clean-technology and alternative-energy companies.)

-By Yuliya Chernova, Dow Jones Clean Technology Insight; 212-416-2020; Yuliya.chernova@dowjones.com

Geneva must adopt a strong wind energy law and apply it to Zotos

March 27, 2010

Finger Lakes Times
218 Genesee Street
Geneva, New York 14456

Dear Editor:

Andy Flynn owns a house and 33 acres of land across the tracks from the site where Zotos International wants to locate two wind turbines. The towers would be 330’ tall, and the blades would have a wingspan of nearly 170’. Andy and his family are concerned about the health impacts of living near the proposed turbines.

There are good reasons why Andy, the hundreds of residents living at the nearby Courtyard apartments, and the workers at the industrial park should be concerned. Dr. Nina Pierpont, an upstate New York physician and scientist, has extensively studied the often debilitating symptoms experienced by adults and children living near large industrial wind turbines. The symptoms, which Dr. Pierpont calls “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” include sleep disturbance, headache, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, ringing in the ear, visual blurring, rapid heart rate, and problems with concentration and memory. People with a prior history of migraines, motion sickness, or inner-ear damage are especially vulnerable to “wind turbine syndrome.” The Maine Medical Association and France’s National Academy of Medicine have enacted resolutions warning of the potential adverse effects of wind energy facilities on public health.

What is the City of Geneva doing to protect the health of people living, working or playing near the Zotos site? Not enough. At the urging of the city’s Code Enforcement Office, a proposed wind energy law was recently drafted. Unfortunately, the proposed ordinance falls far short of any meaningful protections for Geneva residents. It would allow wind turbines up to 450’ in height in any zoning district, and fails to prohibit their placement near residences, schools, or in locations that would adversely impact scenic lake views.

Most disturbingly, city officials insist that the proposed new law, as weak as it is, cannot be applied to the Zotos project. They mistakenly believe that it would be illegal to compel Zotos to meet any new standards since its application is already pending. That is not the law. New York courts have consistently held that an applicant does not have a “vested right” to construct a project unless it has obtained all necessary approvals, and undertaken substantial construction, prior to the effective date of the more restrictive ordinance.

Geneva residents must demand that their elected officials enact a wind energy law that will truly protect their health and the character of their community. Then the tough standards must be applied to the Zotos project.

Sincerely,

Arthur J. Giacalone

GLWC Best Practices to accelerate wind in the Great Lakes region

In fall 2009, the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative Commission was awarded $99,740 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program to identify and promote Best Practices to Accelerate Wind Power in the Great Lakes Region and Beyond. The project will identify and promote the policies and practices to increase market acceptance of wind across the region. The GLWC will partner with other regional organizations to ensure that best practices developed reaches those best positioned to use them in developing policy at the state and local level. Additionally, the project will coordinate with other groups that received awards under the same funding opportunity to ensure timely and effective delivery of products and services.

The project had a formal kickoff meeting and webinar in October and has hit the ground running. The project team is being led by Larry Hartman with the Office of Energy Security of the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Angela Piner with HDR One Company. A Summary and Analysis of State and Provincial Land-Based Wind Farm Siting Policy in the Great Lakes Region will be released shortly as a background document to support this project. The project team has also developed criteria for evaluating what constitutes a “best” practice and is beginning to compile a list of candidate best practices.

Do you know of a policy or practice that should be considered a “Best Practice?” Nominate a “best practice” by sending an email to vpebbles@glc.org .

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are Cape Vincent public officials knowingly and willingly allowing the health of its town citizens to be affected by wind turbine development?

That question was put to me yesterday by a reader who stopped by my home to drop off a copy of Wind Turbine Syndrome, by Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD. (JLL and others have donated copies which are available at the Cape Vincent Public Library).

Dr. Nina's extensive report documents a consistent and often debilitating complex of symptoms experienced by adults and children while living near large industrial wind turbines (1.5-3 megawatts). It examines patterns of individual susceptibility and proposes pathophysiologic mechanisms.

Symptoms include sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausa, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering that arise while awake or asleep.

This study suggests that communities that allow 1000 to 1500 ft. setbacks, like those in New York State, may have families who need to move after turbines go into operation.

One conclusion made by Dr. Nina's report is that 1.24 miles remains the baseline shortest setback from residences and schools.

The pro-wind, however, would disagree with her findings. But ask yourself this. Or, if you don't trust your own judgement, ask a fifth grader.

Who should you trust with the near future health and safety of the entire Town of Cape Vincent?

A. A Spanish wind developer receiving millions in taxpayer subsidies and will most likely sell the project soon after it is completed.

B. Cape Vincent town and school board officials who are also wind contract holders or who have close relatives who are wind contract holders?

C. A medical doctor who has done extensive research based on experiences with multitudes of existing wind projects.

As my visiter was headed out the door, yesterday, his last comments were:

"The facts are in, the knowledge is out there. If the town of Cape Vincent, the developers, their sound defenders, and the landowners have that knowledge, but ignore the warnings, does that make them liable for the inevitable medical problems that will hit the Town of Cape Vincent like the plague in just a few short years?"

My visitor brings forth some good questions to think about as the wind contract holding town of Cape Vincent officials struggle with a new wind law that they want to be favorable to BFW, eh?

11 firms plan wind farms by Steve Orr

The New York Power Authority said Tuesday that 11 companies have indicated they intend to submit proposals for offshore wind farms in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

"I'm shocked that we got so many," said Richard M. Kessel, the authority's president and chief executive. "It certainly shows me that people are taking this very seriously, developers in particular. From what I understand, there are companies from all over the world. I think this project has attracted international attention."

The authority hopes to promote construction of one or more wind farms in the waters of the two Great Lakes that border New York. The agency has said there is room for as many as 1,000 turbines in Lake Ontario and 1,200 in Lake Erie, though it doesn't expect that many to be proposed.

Off the shoreline of Monroe County is one of four broad areas in Lake Ontario that the authority believes are suitable for turbine construction. The turbines likely would be 400 feet or more high and would be at least two miles offshore.

Winds are stronger and more persistent over water, though turbines are more expensive to build.

The authority wants each wind farm to generate up to 500 megawatts of electricity — the same capacity as the Ginna nuclear power plant in Wayne County.

The Power Authority issued a request for proposals in December and asked developers to express interest by last Friday. Formal proposals are due June 1. If all goes as planned, Kessel said one or more projects could be selected by year's end.

"I think it's going to happen. I think its time has come," Kessel said. He said he expected half as many expressions of interest. He declined to identify the 11 firms or provide specifics of their notices to the authority.

While there are more than 25 offshore wind farms in Europe and several under development in Asia, there are none in North America and none in fresh water.

Kessel acknowledged there has been opposition to the authority's plans in some quarters, particularly at Lake Ontario's eastern end. Citizen groups have formed there to oppose the project, and county lawmakers in Jefferson and Oswego counties have gone on record against the concept.

The Wayne County Board of Supervisors is holding a public hearing on the idea March 31.

Kessel reiterated earlier statements that the authority would take note of local concerns. "Where there's opposition, we'll go somewhere else. There's lots of room."

Glenn R. Schleede 3/24/10 Letter to Democrat and Chronicle

March 24, 2010

The Editor
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Dear Editor;

Regarding Mr. Orr's article in today's D&C, the fact that NYPA CEO, Richard Kessel, is "shocked" that NYPA received 11 indications of intent from developers to submit proposals to build "wind farms" in Lake Ontario shows that he is truly out of touch.

Does he really not understand that enormous federal and state subsidies and friendly federal and state officials virtually assure the profitability of unreliable "wind farms" with all the cost and risk flowing to taxpayers and electric customers, and adverse environmental impacts hitting those close to the "wind farms"?

Perhaps Mr. Kessel, the Governor, and other NY state officials would understand better if there were a few 400+ foot wind turbines on the front lawn of the capitol building in Albany, the NYPA headquarters in White Plains, or Mr. Kessel's estate.

Sincerely,

Glenn R. Schleede (former Western New Yorker who remembers an unobstructed Lake Ontario)
18220 Turnberry Drive
Round Hill, VA 20141-2574
540-338-9958

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Windmills stir up a storm in Cape Vincent

Cape Vincent, NY -- Across the St. Lawrence River from Cape Vincent, 86 windmills — each more than 400 feet high from base to blade tip — tower over Canada’s Wolfe Island.

They’ve been there less than a year, a preview of what could be in store for Cape Vincent if two proposed wind farms, totaling more than 100 turbines, are built.

Just as surely as the river divides the U.S. from Canada, the windmill plans have divided Cape Vincent.

On one side: supporters who see the windmills as a source of income for struggling farmers, tax revenue for the town and county, and jobs, however temporary, in a community whose economy is dependent on summer tourism and a state prison.

On the other: opponents, many of them summer residents, who see the turbines as a blight on the gateway to the Thousand Islands and a threat to wildlife, health and property values.

And in the middle: town officials who are trying to come up with a law to regulate wind development, even as questions about conflicts of interest have dogged every move. Two members of the five-person town board, and three members of the five-person planning board, either personally hold wind leases or have relatives with wind leases, meaning the leaseholders or their families stand to profit if the wind farms are built.

“It’s certainly tied the town up in knots,” said town attorney Mark Gebo (pronounced JEE-bo).

It has also energized the Cape’s anti-wind forces, led by the Wind Power Ethics Group.

“I think these folks have to recuse themselves,” said Clifford Schneider, retired from the state fishery in Cape Vincent and a WPEG member. “People should make decisions for this community without having this haze overhead.”

WPEG pressed the point at the ballot box, in court and in complaints to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Last summer, windmill opponents sat down with a representative of Cuomo to lay out their conflict of interest claims. Later in the year, he announced agreements with wind developers on a “code of conduct” that mandates disclosure of deals between developers and town officials and rules to limit their influence on local governments. Cuomo’s office “is aware of complaints regarding the Cape Vincent projects and we are reviewing them,” a spokesman said.

Then, in a hotly contested election in November, 10-year incumbent town supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck was defeated by WPEG’s leader, Urban Hirschey. Hirschey won by 23 votes, aided by absentee ballots cast by seasonal residents who voted from their winter homes.

Cape Vincent is just one of many North Country communities grappling with big wind. More than 1,200 megawatts of wind power are on the drawing board in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, from Galloo Island to the St. Lawrence River. In addition, the New York Power Authority is seeking proposals for 500 megawatts of offshore wind in the Great Lakes; Lake Ontario is one likely site.

Cape Vincent Councilman Donald Mason, a former dairy farmer who has a wind company lease, said he’s not influenced by it.

“At far as I’m concerned, I’m just doing what I think is best for the town,” Mason said. “It’s tough to have anything in this little town. There’s one way in — one way out. This is the best thing that’s come along that I can see in my lifetime.”

Opponents see the windfall from wind as short-term and shortsighted.

If the Cape Vincent wind farms are built, “the state of New York will be giving away one of its most beautiful areas based on a green agenda,” said Art Pundt, of Flagstaff, Ariz., a seasonal resident whose family has had property in Cape Vincent since 1949.

As the fight drags on, Pundt said, the damage to Cape Vincent grows deeper. “Neighbors don’t talk to neighbors. Businesses are afraid to speak up. Sociologically, wind has torn this town apart.”

Powerful wind

One thing everyone in Cape Vincent can agree on is this: It’s windy.

Hirschey, 71, a retired manufacturing executive, has a waterfront home on the Lake Ontario side of town. He had a small wind turbine until it blew down — twice.

“I can attest there’s a lot of wind here,” he said.

The town is largely farmland, though the number of working farms can be counted on two hands, according to Rienbeck and Mason, who sold his cows six years ago.

It’s about 100 miles from Syracuse to Cape Vincent. The one way into town is north on Route 12E. Cresting a hill just over the town line, Wolfe Island’s windmills loom in the near distance. At night, their red lights blink to warn passing aircraft of their presence.

Tibbetts Point Light House — 69 feet high — guards Lake Ontario’s outlet into the St. Lawrence River.

The village of Cape Vincent hugs the riverfront. Turn right, and Route 12E becomes Broadway, lined with stores, restaurants, a post office and businesses that cater to boaters.

Turn left, and it’s three miles to Tibbetts Point along a road lined alternately with stately mansions and single-family homes, with views of the river and Wolfe Island’s turbines. The town’s year-round population is around 3,400, and grows by 8,300 when seasonal residents return in the warmer months.

The annual French Festival, around Bastille Day in July, celebrates the area’s heritage as the place where veterans of the Napoleonic Wars settled. The town’s historical museum occupies a stone building that served as a barracks for soldiers during the War of 1812.

Cape Vincent’s war over wind began around 2005. The U.S. affiliate of the Spanish energy company Acciona SA proposed the 79-megawatt St. Lawrence Wind Farm. Acciona originally planned to erect 130 turbines, but reduced that number to 53, said Peter Zedick, project development manager.

Around the same time, BP Wind Energy, a U.S. affiliate of British Petroleum, proposed a 140-megawatt project called Cape Vincent Wind Power Project, adjacent to the Acciona site but further inland. The number of turbines started at 140, but it is likely to be fewer since the turbines are expected to be bigger and a second phase is on hold, project developer James Madden said.

The developers signed up property owners to lease their land for the turbines and transmission lines. Zedick declined to say how many lease agreements Acciona has, or their value. Madden said BP has about $15 million in local contracts with 65 to 70 landowners.

Among town officials holding wind contracts are current Cape Vincent Town Board members Donald Mason and Marty Mason (no relation); former town board member Joseph Wood; Planning Board Chairman Richard Edsall; and Code Enforcement Officer Alan Wood. Town officials who are related to wind contract holders include Planning Board member Karen Bourcy and Andrew Binsley.

With leases in hand, the developers went to the town planning board for permission to build.

Residents worry about noise, birds, landscape

In New York, the siting of windmills is a local matter, subject to zoning laws and site plan review. The State Environmental Quality Review Act requires local governments to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity they are permitting.

The Cape Vincent Planning Board appointed itself lead agency for the SEQR studies.

Acciona and BP submitted lengthy environmental impact statements, enumerating all the ways the proposed windmills would affect birds, bats, roads, soil, noise and historic and cultural resources. They supplied photo simulations showing what the windmills would look like from various vantage points around the town.

The developers acknowledge their projects will have a cumulative impact on the region.

“Should all projects currently proposed or under consideration be constructed, the area in an approximately 13-mile radius of the town of Cape Vincent would include over 350 utility scale wind generating turbines each likely exceeding 390 feet in height,” said the St. Lawrence Wind study.

“While not continuously visible,” it continued, “wind-generating turbines would be dominant and widespread from local roadways, homes and various places of interest. Turbines would also be visible on the horizon from vantage points on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River along approximately 50 miles of waterway, from Clayton west and south to Southwick State Park, Jefferson County.”

At public hearings, Cape Vincent residents aired concerns about turbine noise, the fate of migrating birds, the health effects of “shadow flicker” caused by the sun shining through rotating windmill blades and, not least, the radical transformation of the town’s landscape.

Councilman welcomes jobs, tax contributions

Supporters point to the economic impact the wind developments will have on the town.

According to the developers, each wind farm will create about 200 temporary construction jobs and five to 10 permanent jobs. The wind farms will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in leases, infrastructure, equipment, materials and labor. Madden said BP’s local tax impact alone would be more than $1 million a year.

“There’s a lot of money to be made from it for the town, county, school, landowners,” said Mason, the town councilman. “We have no industry here at all. We have summer people, thank God we have them, but our town has dropped right down. There’s one grocery store, one gas station, one bank, a couple of restaurants and that’s it.

“If these landowners and farmers can make a few bucks to keep their taxes paid, they won’t lose their land,” he said.

The economic argument doesn’t fly with Rob Aliasso, co-chairman of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent, an alliance of citizens groups from the Lake Ontario shoreline seeking to put the brakes on wind development.

“You can only look at the economic benefits by netting them out against other effects,” Aliasso said. “Let’s say Cape Vincent puts a project in. The development creates 20 full-time jobs and 200 construction jobs. How many jobs will be lost on the other side? How many people would sell their homes? What would happen to the tax base?”

Hirschey, who used to run a business, said the developers had yet to make the economic case for wind power, which is heavily subsidized by the state and federal government. “In this day and age, with an almost unlimited natural gas supply and hydropower available from Quebec, electricity is relatively cheap,” he said. “There are a lot less expensive ways to produce power than wind.”

Aliasso said “green fervor” surrounding wind power — a renewable resource that doesn’t pollute — obscures the negative impacts of industrial wind turbines in areas that are environmentally sensitive and depend on tourism.

“Nothing is entirely good in this world,” he said.

‘Wind law’ in the works

Shortly after his win, Hirschey said he hoped he could be a “healer” in the divided town.

At his first town board meeting Jan. 14, he proposed a moratorium on wind development. It was voted down, 3-2.

A committee of town officials and residents went back to work on a “wind law” to regulate placement of turbines and other issues, the outlines of which were agreed to Feb. 6.

Cape Vincent’s two wind farms are not close to being built. Acciona hopes to start construction on St. Lawrence Wind in 2011, Zedick said. BP’s Madden said 2012 would be “optimistic” considering the political climate in the town and the state.

“I really think that most of the people are trying to do just what they think is right. There’s a wide range of what people think is right,” said Gebo, the town attorney. “Wind has gotten to be emotional. It’s hard to have a logical discussion about it. It’s been a difficult struggle in Cape Vincent, for sure.”

Alesi bill promotes regional wind-farm planning

Senator Jim Alesi wants the state to consider a regional approach to wind farms.

Alesi's the sponsor of legislation that would establish a task force to look at wind-farm siting and permitting policies across the state. Currently, it's up to local governments to review and approve wind-farm applications. But in a recent newsletter to constituents, Alesi said the current system can pit communities against each other.

"By looking at the placement of wind farms on a region-by-region approach, rather than the current patchwork approach, energy firms, municipalities, and residents will all benefit," he said in the newsletter. [Alesi didn't return messages seeking comment.]

The task force would weigh the development of a "standardized formula for the siting of" wind farms, the potential for a statewide permitting procedure, and the possibility of compiling a statewide list of wind farm-appropriate sites. The siting formula would use factors like proximity to residential areas, impact on adjacent communities, and visual and sound impacts. The 15-member task force would issue a report to the governor by December 31.

This type of power plant siting process was in place from 1992 to the end of 2002, though wind farms weren't covered under the enabling law. Article X of the Public Service Law provided a framework for state-level reviews. When the law expired, local governments resumed review and approval responsibilities. State legislators weren't able to agree on a renewal bill.

Alesi first introduced his bill in 2007, but it's sat in the energy committee and has lacked an Assembly companion bill. This year, however, Assembly member Richard Brodsky may introduce companion legislation. If Alesi's bill is amended to match the Assembly bill, the energy committee can reassess the bill, says Adam Tableski, communications director for Senator George Maziarz, who chairs the committee.

Scots wind farm shut over safety fears after 150ft turbine blade falls off


EUROPE'S largest wind farm ground to a halt after a 150ft blade snapped off one of the turbines.

All 140 of the giant machines were immediately shut down at the £300million development near Glasgow until they could be inspected.

Engineers at Whitelee wind farm, which is run by ScottishPower Renewables, were trying to work out why the blade came crashing down.

They are looking into whether lightning could have struck the turbine or if it was caused by a mechanical problem.

It sheared off and hit the ground in the early hours of Friday morning in blustery conditions.

Automatic systems alerted operators in the control room to the damage and they immediately closed down the unit.

All 420 blades in the wind farm were being examined following the accident.

Last night, more than 50 turbines were expected to have been inspected and safely returned to operation.

The process is expected to be completed by Friday.

Whitelee wind farm's visitor centre, which is managed by Glasgow Science Centre and had been due to reopen after the winter break yesterday, stayed shut.

German company Siemens, who supplied the turbines, are also understood to be investigating.

The 360ft turbines are so massive that engineers have been able to climb inside them to try to detect the problem.

Over the weekend, the site at Eaglesham Moor, 13 miles from Glasgow city centre, was cordoned off to keep visitors away. Raymond Toms, 45, a teacher from East Kilbride, spotted the broken turbine as he cycled past on Sunday.

He said: "I was out for a bike ride and I saw one of the massive blades had broken clean off. It was quite unnerving really.

"You can walk right up to these things normally and touch them.

"The public have access to the network of pathways nearby.

"I have grave concerns over the safety of the public, who can walk right up to the turbines.

"It's worrying that if one of these could fall off then perhaps another one could.

"It's made me think about going too close, that's for sure. It's just lucky this took place at night, when nobody was around."

Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This type of incident is exceptionally rare and highly unusual.

"However, the safety of our people and the public is our first priority.

"While the investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing, our engineers continue to conduct an internal and external examination of all turbine blades at the wind farm".

A spokesman for the firm added: "Investigations are ongoing, and a number of possibilities including mechanical failure and lightning strike are being considered.

"Operators in the 24-hour control room immediately closed the turbine down.

"This is a highly unusual situation. I've not heard of this kind of incident happening in 30 years."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wind turbine industry is spreading falsities

As confirmed by the Wind Action Group (WAG) in a March 9 News article, the wind turbine industry is plagued by myths.

One is that wind power will reduce our dependency on oil. Since oil provides less than 3 percent of our country’s electricity supply, this assertion is laughable.

Wind advocates falsely claim turbines will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal and gas for electricity generation, and provide a cheaper alternative to these reliable power sources.

Denmark proves otherwise. Although it has more than 6,000 turbines, not a single fossil-fuel plant has closed in Denmark and in 2007 it burned as much coal as it did in 1999. The great Danes also have the most expensive electricity rates in Europe.

Another myth is that turbines do not have an adverse impact on nearby residents. As documented in the peer-reviewed Wind Turbine Syndrome, by Dr. Nina Pierpont, turbines in residential areas are deleterious to health. From the D’Entremont family in Nova Scotia to Charlie Porter in Missouri, home abandonment is often a tragic solution to the inimical turbines.

Unfortunately, the Machias Town Board is using WAG for legal guidance in crafting its wind law; a sad case of a pro-wind tail wagging the policy-making dog.

Bradley L. Parker

Machias

NYS Towns resolution calls for continued local wind siting oversight

From the 2010 Legislative Resolutions of the Association of Towns of the State of New York:

Resolution No. 9: Preserve and Strengthen Local Government’s Role in the Siting of Energy Generation Facilities

Whereas, Governor Paterson signed Executive Order 24 of the year 2009, setting forth a goal to reduce current greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within the state 80 percent below levels emitted in the year 1990 by the year 2050; and

Whereas, the wind energy facilities (WEFs) will likely play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and

Whereas, the proper regulation of the siting and installation of WEFs is necessary for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and welfare of neighboring property owners and the general public; and

Whereas, local governments have successfully developed, implemented and administered local WEF siting laws and policies with the input and guidance of local taxpayers, residents, business and agricultural representatives, environmentalists, energy generators, planners and lawyers; and

Whereas, the Wind Code of Conduct negotiated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and agreed to by the predominate players in the Wind Energy Market has addressed potential conflicts of interests in the siting of wind energy facilities; and

Whereas, Article X of the Public Service Law (PSL), which set forth the siting procedure to construct and operate major power generation facilities with a capacity of 80 megawatts or more, expired Dec. 31, 2002, thereby requiring electric generating project developers to undergo local zoning review and environmental review pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law);

Now Therefore Be It

Resolved, that the Association of Towns calls upon the Governor, State Legislature and State Agencies to develop new laws and regulations that will preserve local authority over the siting of WEFs; and Be It Further

Resolved, that legislation authorizing the renewal of the state siting procedure for power generation facilities (PSL, article X) should include measures to enhance local government participation in the siting process such as, but not limited to: ad hoc membership on the state siting board, adherence to local siting polices, required community host agreements, and/or access to intervener funds.

2010%20leg%20resolutions.pdf

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blowing Our Tax Dollars on Wind Farms - Ron Stephens Radio Program

Ron Stephens be guest hosting for Doug Shapira of the Owen Sound Free Press this weekend.

Join Ron and his guests for thought provoking conversation and solutions.

On Sat., March 20th at 5:30 pm Eastern ( The view from inside Canada) I will be joined by William Kay of Environmentalism is Fascism

On Sun. the 21st, 3:30 pm Eastern, (The Oath Keepers) I will be joined by Colette McLean an outspoken critic of the wind industry and govt. that supports it.

This is talk radio – so pick up the phone and call. Light up the switchboard and have your voice heard.

Many are already aware of the threats to our nations – call in to speak with our guests or share your thoughts and solutions.

Click on the photo below and follow the instructions to call in -

dial 712-432-8773
you will be asked for pin -179441
Then *5

Friday, March 19, 2010

First Wind eyes IPO amid maturing loan

Even as it prepares an initial public offering, First Wind Holdings Inc. has been amassing more than half a billion dollars in private equity, a new regulatory filing indicates.

But the company has not yet posted a profit, and its financial strength is likely to be tested as a short-term loan worth $231.5 million approaches its June maturity date.

Nonetheless, its ability to raise private capital has proven impressive, according to an updated IPO filing posted last week. From 2007 through the end of 2009, First Wind piled up more than $668 million in equity investment from private equity firms, primarily D.E. Shaw & Co. and Madison Dearborn Capital Partners, the new document reports. Earlier this month, First Wind added a $117 million federal loan guarantee for a Hawaii wind project, backed by stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy.

However, First Wind also has hefty debt to pay — and soon. The company also reported in last week’s filings that it has renegotiated terms for loans from its primary lender, HSH Nordbank AG, worth $231.5 million. First Wind is now on the hook to pay off those loans in full by June 30, its updated IPO filing states.

That figure dwarfs First Wind’s reported revenue. In 2007, the most recent year it has reported, total revenue was $12.3 million and its net loss was $68 million. Founded in 2002 as UPC Wind, First Wind filed for an IPO in August 2008 aiming to raise $450 million.

Company spokesman John Lamontagne declined to discuss filings related to the company’s planned IPO, but pointed to new projects and expansions of existing projects now under development in Hawaii, Maine and Utah.

“These projects have a lot of upfront costs, as you can imagine, but not a lot of long-term maintenance costs,” he said.

Heavy upfront borrowing and spending are the norm in the wind-energy business, said Ethan Zindler, head of North American research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. First Wind’s hefty cash infusion from its private equity backers may put it in a good position among U.S. companies, as overseas wind developers have consolidated, squeezing independent domestic wind developers that require outside capital.

“The more cash in your war chest, the better your position to develop projects on favorable terms,” Zindler said. “The long-term question is whether markets will remain receptive to clean technologies.”

In addition to the uncertain future of energy markets, First Wind has run up against government obstacles.

In 2008, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo investigated First Wind and another wind developer, Noble Environmental Power LLC, amid allegations of improper dealings with public officials. That investigation is ongoing, but the initial issues with First Wind have been resolved, said Cuomo spokesman John Milgrim. “They have been responsive and responsible,” he said.

First Wind has not been shy about using its war chest to lobby the federal government. Last year, the company spent $465,000 with Washington lobbyists, according to records maintained by the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, its private equity owners have deep connections in President Barack Obama’s White House. National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers worked at D.E. Shaw starting in 2006, after stepping down as president of Harvard University.

Madison Dearborn has close ties with Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, becoming one of his largest financial contributors while he represented Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a prepared statement, First Wind said its lobbying activity has been necessary due to changes in government stimulus for clean-technology projects after the collapse of credit markets in 2008.

The company went through “a rigorous application process” for its federal grants and loan guarantees, it said in its statement.

Citizen Power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference Resolution

The Citizen Power Alliance supports a federal and state policy of rational, reliable and responsible renewable energy. In order for alternative energy to fulfill this standard, fiscal accountability must be an integral part of any energy production program.

Public policy must be coherent and balanced. Alternative electric production must stand the test of scientific scrutiny and must meet or provide greater efficiency than current generation methods.

Energy policy must require dependable methods of generation that can supply electricity on demand with cost effective grid compatibility, at current capacity levels and close to end use destinations.

Electric policy must serve the primary function of providing useful energy at competitive costs that fuel commerce, while protecting the health and safety of the public and not negatively impacting consumers.

Government agencies must not be tools of “Special Interests”. The industrial wind industry has not demonstrated that their fundamental purpose is the generation of usable and efficient electricity. Costly permanent government subsidies are not incentives. Utilities are regulated enterprises for public benefit. A claim of “Green” does not equate with automatic public interest.

In order to achieve the legitimate mission for sound energy policy, the following requirements are necessary for strict regulation of industrial wind projects:

1. Precise minimal set back and siting regulations based upon worldwide experience, manufacturer’s recommendations, and using accepted scientific noise evaluation.

2. Full disclosure of net electricity generated and integrated into the grid. Accounting of the amount of electricity required to run and maintain the wind project. Complete transparency and proof of wind velocity data, proof of adequate wind patterns for sufficient economic production.

3. Inclusion of industrial wind turbines under state building codes, with professional oversight during construction and maintenance, along with state and federal health and public safety enforcement.

4. Require escrow funds for the full cost of de-commissioning of projects before permitting and proof of NYS liability insurance and workmen’s compensation coverage before construction.

5. Demand audited financial statements, proof of ownership and upstream identity of the developer.

6. Elimination of local tax exemptions (PILOTS), REC certificates, and all forms of state and federal corporate welfare transfer payments, credits, grants and government guaranteed loans.

7. Any stimulus funds require US ownership and manufactured turbines and local employment.

8. Reject Cap and Trade schemes, hedging of non-existent REC’s, derivatives, credit default swaps, and financial instruments that drive up rate costs for electric consumers.

9. Demand strict and comprehensive enforcement of state and federal anti-trust violations.

10. Keep “Home Rule” while establishing strict minimum state regulation standards under a new Article X that protects the public health and safety, property values and environmental quality of rural life.

Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition 2010 Wind Energy Recommendations

A bi-partisan group of 29 state governors, among them New York State Governor David Paterson, released a set of recommendations to advance the potential of wind power. The recommendations are:

1) Adopt a Renewable Electricity Standard

2) Develop New Interstate Electric Transmission System Infrastructure as Needed to Provide Access to Premier Renewable Energy both On-Shore and Offshore

3) Support Coastal, Deep Water, Offshore Wind Energy Technology Research and Development

4) Streamline Permitting Processes for Both Offshore and On-Shore Wind Development Projects

5) Dramatically Expand Wind Research, Innovation, and Collaboration

6) Extend the Treasury Department Grant Program Created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Adopt a Long-Term Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) with Provisions to Broaden the Pool of Investors Eligible to Participate

(Click to read and download entire report)

“Wind Turbine Syndrome with Dr. Nina Pierpont” (ABC News, Australia)

When it comes to wind farm protests the hottest topic for the last couple of years has been Wind Turbine Syndrome. That’s the name given to the range of symptoms described by some people who live close to wind farms. At this stage illness caused by wind farms is a medical and scientific theory, but people affected are adamant that it is the power generators making them sick.

Yesterday there were newspaper reports that the state’s Chief Health Officer, Dr John Carnie, had reiterated the DHS stance that there is nothing in the health claims. At the Morning Show we invited Dr Carnie onto the programme to explain why that is the stance, but we were told by a spokesman he was unavailable for us for the rest of the week.

We did however manage to get in touch with Dr Nina Pierpont. Dr Pierpont is a Medical Doctor who has investigated and written about members of her local community who believe they have suffered health consequences from wind farms. Nina Pierpont is the doctor who coined the phrase Wind Turbine Syndrome.

(Click to listen to the radio interview)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another wind power vote

Another Southern Tier wind farm may be voted up or down tonight. Elected leaders in the town of Howard, Steuben County are scheduled to vote on granting a license to EverPower Wind Holdings, which wants to erect about 25 wind turbines in the town.

The Howard project will be closely watched, as the track record in this part of the state has been mixed. To be sure, there is a working wind farm with 50 turbines in Cohocton, the town immediately north of Howard. And to the northwest in Wyoming County, there are four farms with 236 turbines total by my count.

But a citizens group in the Wyoming County town of Orangeville has filed suit in hopes of halting what it considers an ill-conceived project there. And in Prattsburgh, another Steuben county town, one wind developer walked away from a proposal. A second developer, Ecogen Wind, is in a protracted legal battle with town officials who haven’t been supportive of that company’s proposal. Ecogen also is suing the neighboring town of Italy, Yates County, where half of the 33-turbine project would be built.

In Howard, EverPower filed a public disclosure statement indicating that it has done business with several members of the town board and planning board by leasing land from them for turbines or infrastructure. The disclosure was filed in accord with the voluntary “code of ethics” for wind developers negotiated by the state Attorney General’s office. Citizens in Howard have complained about conflicts of interest, and unsuccessfully brought a lawsuit over a conflict of interest claim a couple of years ago.

This potential for conflict of interest - major landowners in rural towns often serve on elected or appointed boards - is a major bugaboo in upstate New York. Citizen groups in Orangeville and numerous other towns where turbines are proposed have raised similar concerns.

You can read more about the proposal at the company’s Web site. If opponents have a Web site, I haven’t found it yet.

We’ll post results of the town action as soon as we get them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Upstate NY Power to cover legal expenses for Hounsfield

The town of Hounsfield can forward all legal bills from Schwerzmann & Wise P.C. law firm to Upstate NY Power Corp.'s mailbox.

Upstate NY Power Corp., developer of the Galloo Island Wind Farm, will foot all of the legal bills incurred by the town regarding the lawsuit brought against it by the town of Henderson.

"It won't cost the taxpayers in the town any money," said Dennis G. Whelpley, town attorney.

Mr. Whelpley said Upstate NY Power is responsible for any expenses Hounsfield is faced with regarding the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm because the firm will have no project if a judge rules in favor of the town of Henderson.

The town of Henderson brought legal action against Hounsfield on Feb. 5 when it asked a judge to annul the town of Hounsfield Planning Board's site plan approval for the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm. Henderson filed a state Supreme Court Article 78 proceeding against Hounsfield, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Upstate NY Power.

The town of Hounsfield Planning Board approved the site plan for the wind farm Jan. 6, and Henderson is asserting that the State Environmental Quality Review Act was incomplete and that the requirements for the

SEQR were never met by DEC.

Bert Bowers March 17, 2010 letter to Supervisor Aubertine and Paul Norton

March 17, 2010

Supervisor Aubertine
Members of the Lyme Town Board
Mr. Paul Norton, Chairman
Members of the Lyme Planning Board

Re: Ethical Considerations Regarding the Revision of Lyme’s Wind Facilities Law

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It will be of the utmost importance to take steps to insure that any deliberations and any decisions made regarding the proposed law governing the siting of wind turbines in the Town of Lyme be conducted in a way as to be free of any influence or perceived influence by wind developers or those who have signed contracts with wind developers. It is clear from the situation in our neighboring community of Cape Vincent that all of the proceedings there with respect to wind turbines have been tainted by corruption fostered by the actions of the wind developers. We must do everything we can to avoid any perception that Lyme’s decisions are similarly tainted.

We have in Lyme some situations where members of the Town Board or the Planning Board must remove themselves from participation in any discussion of or any actions taken with respect to the wind law to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.

The wind developers have recently complied with the Attorney General’s request by filing documents listing leaseholders who are town officials or have close family members who are town officials. The documents released by BP and Acciona both name Mr. Donald Bourquin, a former member of the Lyme Planning Board and a recently elected Town Board member as a relative of those having signed lease agreements and expecting payments from wind developers. I believe, therefore, that Mr. Bourquin must recuse himself from any participation or decision making with respect to Lyme’s wind law. This is in no way a reflection on Mr. Bourquin’s character or judgment. He has been a capable and energetic public servant and the town will continue to benefit from his work in other respects. If he stays away from the process, it will remove any concern about his influence and any possible criticism of his motives.

I also have concerns regarding the objectivity of Supervisor Scott Aubertine. Although he is not listed in the disclosures from BP or Acciona as an interested party, I am concerned that he has demonstrated a pronounced tendency to promote the developer’s interests. Scott sent a letter on March 25, 2008 addressed to “Fellow Councilmen and Planning Board Members,” demonstrating his concern for the interests of the developer. His cover letter transmitted BP’s proposal for modification of “Lyme’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Ordinance,” together with his own slight modifications to BP’s plan.

In his letter Scott states, “I feel my proposal offers a fair and equitable compromise between BP’s proposal and the proposed zoning laws.”

My questions to Scott are as follows:

• Our proposed zoning law was the result of extensive work and research by the Lyme planning board assisted by interested citizens. It was based on the results of a town-wide survey of taxpayers and vetted by several public hearings and a review by the county planning board. What justification can there possibly be for modifying Lyme’s law to suit the wishes of BP?
• If, as seems apparent in your letter, you have chosen to represent BP’s point of view, how can you also fairly represent Lyme’s citizens as you were elected to do?
• What is the legal basis for giving BP’s management and shareholders or any other developer, a voice in the affairs of our community?

Scott Aubertine’s proposal to compromise the law developed by the efforts of Lyme’s Planning Board by adopting portions of BP’s proposal indicates a clear conflict of interest with respect to wind energy issues. As a public official, he cannot fairly represent the interests of our residents when he has chosen to represent BP. That he has done this following a detailed survey, two public hearings where a clear majority advocated adoption of the law, followed by a review before the County Planning Board, resulting in only some small changes in the wording and organization of the law, reveals an intent to sabotage the law resulting from the combined thoughts and efforts of our residents in favor of the commercial interests of the developer.

As part of a continuing education program, as a member of the Planning Board, I have attended the Tug Hill Commission’s annual conference on local government at JCC. One of the sessions, given in 2008, concerned ethics of public officials. Some specific examples of the types of activities that violate ethics laws of New York State include:

— No officer should use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others.
— No officer should engage in any transaction as representative or agent of the municipality with any business entity in which he has a direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of his official duties.
— An officer should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
— An officer should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.

To illustrate the seriousness of such ethical lapses, the prescribed penalties for such violations are a fine (up to $10,000), a suspension from office, and/or a removal from office. Ethics claims against local representatives would be made to the local county District Attorney.

Because Scott Aubertine has clearly chosen to represent BP’s position against the clearly expressed preferences of the people he was elected to represent, he has given a reasonable basis for the impression that he can be influenced and has and will raise suspicion among the public that he may be engaged in acts which are in violation of his trust. Scott cannot fairly represent the interests of the residents of Lyme in this matter and consequently must recuse himself from further discussions or any voting having to do with the issues of wind turbines or related installations in the Town of Lyme.

The new members of the Lyme Planning Board will also need to be questioned as to any involvement with wind developers before taking part in discussions of the proposed law. All of our public officials must first represent the wishes of the citizens of Lyme, whom they represent, while carefully upholding all appropriate laws. It is imperative that no public official represents or gives the appearance that he represents any outside interests that might compromise his capacity to act in the interests of the residents and taxpayers of the Town of Lyme.

If Mr. Aubertine or Mr. Bourquin are not willing to voluntarily remove themselves from proceedings having to do with the revision and adoption of a wind law in the Town of Lyme, the Board should ask the town attorney to contact the Attorney General’s office. I believe that Mr. Gebo, our attorney, has opined that none of the Town Board members have conflicts according to the town’s ethics law. I believe the town’s law is improper as, while towns may enact their own ethics laws, such laws may not be less stringent than the state ethics laws.

Sincerely,

Albert H. Bowers III

NTPA CHIEF KESSEL ARGUES WITH LEGISLATOR ORMSBY AND GETS BOOs IN THE PROCESS

Monday, March 15, 2010

New York county opposes Lake Ontario wind farm proposal

Oswego County in upstate New York has passed a resolution in opposition to New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) request for proposals to develop a wind farm as large as 500megawatts offshore Lake Ontario.

The 20-4 vote by the Oswego County Legislature came after a two-hour session in which residents voiced their opposition and support for NYPA’s high-profile Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project (GLOW). No NYPA representatives were present

The state agency is looking to develop a wind farm in either Lake Ontario or Lake Erie as New York State borders both.

NYPA has set a 1 June deadline for proposals by developers to site between 40 and 170 turbines in water depth of 150 feet or less. It will select a developer by the end of this year and could sign project contracts by May 2011.

Given the project could be the first freshwater wind farm in North America, it will be subject to potentially lengthy regulatory and environmental reviews, something NYPA officials say they expect.

New York State’s turbulent politics may impact on the project. Governor David A. Paterson, who has been a strong, vocal proponent of renewable energy development including offshore wind, has been embroiled in allegations of improper conduct as a public official and announced he would not run for election in November.

Paterson, as lieutenant governor, replaced Elliott Spitzer in March 2008, who resigned amid a sex scandal. The downfall of Spitzer, who also promoted clean energy, did not slow state funding for solar energy development, offshore wind advocates point out.

Still, the state is reeling under the weight of fiscal deficits that may total $9bn in 2011, which may impact on New York’s ability to continue co-funding clean energy programs going forward. The legislature is under fire from media such as The New York Times and state residents for what has been described as its incompetent and lethargic response to the budget crisis.

NYPA is the largest state-owned, nonprofit power organization in the US and has its own revenue stream. Agency officials intend to press ahead with GLOW in part, to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard that calls for obtaining 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

At the Oswego meeting, some state representatives and residents said their opposition to placing turbines in the lake was based on lack of information from NYPA about the project.

“The project has not been thought through,”Karl Williams, president of Henderson Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, told the legislature.

Other critics said Oswego County would obtain little economic benefits as turbines would not be made there, while the turbine towers would have a negative impact on recreational boating, sailing and fishing. Another argument was that any wind farm would hurt property values.

The Oswego location has good wind resource. It is unclear if NYPA will now attempt to persuade Oswego officials to reconsider their opposition given opportunities exist in other counties.

Project proponents argued that Oswego had an excellent opportunity to take the lead in what could become a multi-billion energy sector.

The fantasy of wind power for Maryland

An Abell Foundation report recently trumpeted the supposed "potential" of offshore wind to provide two-thirds of Maryland's electricity needs. Talk about hot air. With about 100,000 industrial wind turbines in operation around the world -- 35,000 in the U.S. alone -- there is not a shred of empirical evidence that wind has been responsible for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions in the production of electricity -- or that it has contributed to any reductions in fossil fuel use.

Although 20 percent of Denmark's installed electricity capacity consists of wind energy, much more than half of its actual generation is exported, for grid security reasons, to elsewhere in Scandinavia, where it displaces highly flexible hydro generation at no savings in CO2 emissions but with substantial cost to Danish ratepayers. Moreover, hydro imported from the rest of Scandinavia is used to balance most of the wind volatility that remains in Denmark, so that any CO2 offset there is due to hydro, not wind.

If Denmark did not have the Scandinavian "sink" in which to dump its considerable excess wind, and if that sink did not have hydro as its principle source of power, Denmark would be awash in both carbon dioxide emissions and wind turbines in the production of electricity. As the journalist Robert Bryce has written, "In 1999, Denmark's daily coal consumption was the equivalent of about 94,400 barrels of oil per day. By 2007, despite a 136 percent increase in the amount of electricity produced from wind, Denmark's coal consumption was exactly the same as it was back in 1999."

The apotheosis of wind technology was embodied in the wonderful Clipper ships of the 19th Century. There's a good reason they are now consigned to museums. The energy requirements of 2010 insist upon precision, controllable machine performance that passes stern tests for reliability standards. Wind technology is completely inimical to reliable performance standards. Our modern system of power insists on capacity value -- getting a specific amount of energy on demand and controlling it whenever desired.

And so the issue is how to make people believe that a source of energy that relentlessly, continuously destabilizes the essential match between supply and demand, is highly variable and unresponsive, and provides no capacity value (while being inimical to demand cycles) can effectively provide two-thirds of Maryland's electricity. Although there are indeed vast stores of energy in the ocean's winds, the trick is to convert them to useful power. Energy is the ability to do work and power is the rate at which work is done; wind technology delivers fluctuating energy at a rate appropriate for 1810 -- even with a flotilla of wind rigs anchored offshore.

Imagine that Maryland had 500 skyscraper-sized wind turbines -- say, 100 in the mountains, 200 in and around the Chesapeake Bay (by far the best wind resource within the state's interior) and another 200 offshore -- with a total installed capacity (that is, the optimum performance of the turbines) of 1,250 megawatts. Odds are that the capacity factor for all that installed wind would not exceed 30 percent (for a variety of reasons). Consequently, the area's grid, which generates more than 140,000 megawatts at peak demand times, would get an average yield of only 375 megawatts from all that wind. Sixty percent of the time it would generate less than 375 megawatts, and 20 percent of the time, especially at peak demand, it would produce virtually nothing.

All this wind wouldn't dent a grape in the scheme of things. What must happen when, for example, 1,000 megawatts of wind energy drops in an hour to less than 50, as it sometimes would? Tripling the number of wind turbines would magnify the problem.

More than 70 percent of any wind project's installed capacity must come from conventional generation that performs inefficiently as it quickly ramps up and back to balance wind's relentless volatility. This is not "supporting" or back-up generation but rather pro-active, reliable power that must be actively entangled with wind to make it work. Given the dearth of hydro in the PJM, this means the inefficient use of fossil fuels, particularly coal units.

Yes, any grid can "integrate" wind volatility, at least up to certain levels of penetration. But not without substantial increased costs, both in dollars and CO2 emissions. Wind behaves much like a drunken driver. Imagine what must happen to "integrate" a substantial number of drunks on our highways, and you get some idea of what is necessary to incorporate wind as it staggers its way around the grid. Maryland wind would play a dysfunctional role in terms of improving the state's grid security and reducing greenhouse gases.

Industrial wind is perhaps the silliest modern energy idea imaginable. In the final analysis, it's a faith-based proposition, requiring people to close their minds and clap their hands to revive it from a life-and-death struggle against unbelief, bringing the technology back from the oblivion that the steam engine consigned it to hundreds of years ago.

Throwing vast amounts of the public's treasure down the rathole of wind is to deny investment in infinitely more effective technologies -- such as nuclear -- that will preserve the energy requirements of modernity. It is incredibly irresponsible.

Wind may seem like cutting-edge and progressive technology. In reality, it's antediluvian and uncivil. Only authoritarian government would force such nonsense on anyone's backyard.

Jon Boone, a Western Maryland resident, is a former college administrator and longtime environmentalist who has written and spoken extensively on the subject of wind energy. His e-mail is bjboone@verizon.net

Click on link to submit your SEC complaint on the
First Wind Holdings Inc. IPO public offering


TEN Reasons
Why the SEC should not allow First Wind to be listed on NASDAQ

First Wind Holdings Inc. 12/22/09 SEC S1/A IPO Filing

First Wind Holdings Inc. 7/31/08 SEC S1 IPO Filing

May 14, 2010 addition to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

August 18, 2010 amendment 7 to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

October 13, 2010 Filing update to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing

New October 25, 2010 Filing update to the First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S1A IPO Filing


FIRST WIND Lays an Egg WITHDRAWS IPO
after Wall Street no confidence in company




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