Calling Out Windbagger’s Stealth Campaign to Spike Clean Energy

June 21, 2014

Above, Michigan Sierra Club ad calls out local congressman for not supporting good jobs and clean energy in the wind industry.

Below, Koch-sponsored legislation spikes further wind energy growth in Ohio.

Midwest Energy News:

With little discussion or fanfare, Ohio legislators have essentially put a stop to new wind farms in the state, industry experts say.

Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 483 on Monday, just days after signing another bill thatfreezes and alters Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. HB 483 includes revised setback provisions that will likely make new projects economically unfeasible.

The bill “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio,” says Eric Thumma, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.

Iberdrola’s Ohio wind farm projects include the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding County. About ten of its Ohio projects are fully permitted, but not yet constructed. The new law lets already-permitted projects continue, but only if no amendments to the permit become necessary.

Two additional projects in Putnam County and Van Wert County have not yet been permitted. Those probably will not go forward as a result of HB 483.

“It would take one of the projects from 50 turbines to 7, and another project from 75 to 3,” says Thumma. “The economics are not going to work if you have such reduced projects.”

For any new commercial wind farms, HB 483 will now require a setback of 1,125 feet from the tip of a turbine’s blades to the nearest property line. In practice, that will require setbacks of about 1,300 feet from each turbine’s base.

The new law makes an exception for existing facilities and ones that had already gotten permits. For those projects, the Ohio Power Siting Board measured the 1,125-foot setback to the outer wall of the “nearest, habitable, residential structure” on neighboring property. Otherwise, property line setbacks were roughly 550 feet.

HB 483 is part of Kasich’s mid-biennium budget review, and most of the law deals with tax cuts, spending for social programs, and other matters. An earlier version of the bill would havedoubled the maximum penalties for violations of gas pipeline rules. The Ohio House Finance Committee deleted that provision.

The wind setback provision appeared for the first time when the Ohio Senate Finance Committee reported the bill out in May.

“There was literally no public testimony” on the new setback provision, says Dayna Baird Payne. The Columbus lobbyist represents the American Wind Energy Association, as well as Iberdrola.

“They didn’t consult with industry. They didn’t consult with the Ohio Power Siting Board, who sites wind farms in Ohio,” Payne adds.

Indeed, the Ohio Senate spent barely ten minutes discussing the last-minute changes before passing the bill on May 21.

“A provision like this to change the setbacks will significantly hurt those projects in the pipeline and will significantly hurt jobs in Ohio,” protested state Sen. Mike Skindell, a Democrat from suburban Cleveland.

Issues regarding setbacks should be “debated [in] a reasonable manner, not just tucked away without any public discussion in a bill,” Skindell continued. “I’m dumbfounded.”

“Here we’re going to have a quarter-mile setback from a property line…for wind turbines,” Skindell added. “We only have a 100- or 200-foot setback for an oil or gas well being drilled next to a home.”

In response, Cincinnati-area Republican State Senator Bill Seitz railed against turbines’ noise, the possibility of snow being thrown from blades, and flicker that “would mess up even Tiger Woods’ game.”

 

 

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22 Responses to “Calling Out Windbagger’s Stealth Campaign to Spike Clean Energy”


  1. […] Above, Michigan Sierra Club ad calls out local congressman for not supporting good jobs and clean energy in the wind industry. Below, Koch-sponsored legislation spikes further wind energy growth in…  […]

  2. jimbills Says:

    Unfortunately, we’re probably going to see a lot of these shenanigans.

    One of my pet favorite causes is Amtrak, or really rail travel in general (while knowing that no system of transport is really green). I’m a member of NARP:
    http://www.narprail.org/

    I’ve been getting some stuff from them recently about Congressional tactics. First this:

    “Representative Paul Broun of Georgia asked his colleagues to send Amtrak ‘a message’ by putting forth two proposals to slash Amtrak’s funding.

    They sent a message, alright—but not the message Rep. Broun wanted.

    In a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress banded together to reject Rep. Broun’s amendment to slash Amtrak’s budget by $340 Million. Undeterred, the Congressman from Georgia offered a second amendment to cut Amtrak funding, by $34 million this time. Again, the assembled body overwhelmingly rejected these cuts by a voice vote.”

    Then this the next day:

    “In a flurry of after-hours activity, the U.S. House of Representatives tacked on several anti-Amtrak amendments to the House Transportation Appropriations bill yesterday.

    As we reported on Monday, Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) two attempts to eliminate funding were rebuffed in a bipartisan fashion. Last night, an extreme amendment offered by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to kill six long distance routes was also shot down.

    However, late in the evening, three anti-rail amendments were tacked on just before the bill was passed:

    Denham (R-CA) amendment prohibiting any funds in the Act from being used during fiscal year 2015 for the California high-speed rail project – adopted by a vote of 227 yeas – 186 nays.

    Gingrey (R-GA) amendment prohibiting any funds in the Act from being used during fiscal year 2015 to subsidize Amtrak food and beverage service – adopted by voice vote.

    Sessions (R-TX) amendment prohibiting any funds in the Act from being used during fiscal year 2015 to support the Amtrak route with the highest per-passenger subsidy (the Sunset Limited) – adopted by voice vote.”

    It’s a game of neverending whack-a-mole with these guys.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Is that the “lies from the pit of hell” nutjob?
      Perhaps he fears Amtrak is Hell on Wheels.


    • These people are backward minded Luddites cheering for the good ole days of wasteful consumption making America strong. They don’t rail why? Because they have oil lobbyists funding their elections. The us system of legally sanctioned bribery is an obscenity.

      • jimbills Says:

        Most of them show direct campaign contributions from the Kochs. They also have ties with the rail shipping industry, which often has problems with Amtrak for traffic issues:
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-02/amtrak-barred-from-rulemaking-power-for-freight-railroad.html

        Guys like Broun will cover the issue with free-market philosophies, which plays well to their base, but it’s really about pleasing their campaign contributors. There’s a direct assault taking place on Amtrak, and unlike the similar assault on the USPS, there is no competing free-market corporation to take its place. Killing Amtrak would effectively kill long-distance rail passenger service, forcing more into the heavier emitting travel options. We built the rail infrastructure a century ago using public funds, and now we have to give it all to the “free market” cuz’ this is Merikka.

  3. andrewfez Says:

    Isn’t wind balanced by gas? Does wind cause a net reduction in gas use at this point in our grid restructuring? You’d think there may be scenarios where the Republicans would want wind in order to sell more gas, at least to begin with? Guess it depends on Michigan’s mineral portfolio, and who’s bribing who ’round there, &c. too…


    • There is a lot of anti-fracking sentiment in the NW part of the mitt, especially after a waste-hauler sprayed toxic-laden frack water onto some roads in Benzie county in lieu of the proper dust-suppression brine.  Unfortunately for wind, it relies on natural gas and the supply of natural gas cannot be maintained without fracking.  When that understanding percolates through society, support for wind is bound to take a hit.

      • andrewfez Says:

        We have this battery bank in WV that can both charge in 15 minutes, and provide 32MW for 15 minutes afterwards. It provides quick bursts of power to the grid for frequency regulation, and my understanding is that a battery can respond in milliseconds which makes its regulatory service more valuable (and thus it may be able to charge a premium) when compared to something that takes 1, 10, or 20 minutes to respond. Wind turbines charge the batteries.

        I’m wondering at what point, comparing a gas turbine plant against a battery bank with the same output capacity, could the latter significantly replace the former (say, arbitrarily, a 50% reduction in the gas plant’s use (by the grid))? Would it be at 1 hour storage? 2, 4, 8, 16? (assuming there was enough supply going into the bank at all times) Or perhaps a better formulation of the question is what is the average use time for a typical conventional ‘regulatory’ generator for any one call from the grid operator?

        I seem to recall you had an article about combining a nuclear reactor and a battery to provide to the grid a while back.

        Incidentally I wonder if storage were magically free and abundant, if that alone could cut our emissions back? (For example, could it replace a significant amount of generators that are on hold, spinning?)

        http://www.cnet.com/news/no-wind-no-problem-with-giant-battery-bank/


        • at what point, comparing a gas turbine plant against a battery bank with the same output capacity, could the latter significantly replace the former (say, arbitrarily, a 50% reduction in the gas plant’s use (by the grid))? Would it be at 1 hour storage? 2, 4, 8, 16?

          Good question.  I don’t have any authoritative answers ready to hand.  However, a battery which can supply the gas turbine’s output power for a duration equal to the GT’s startup time would allow the GT to remain off once the battery was charged.  This is on the order of 15-30 minutes for a simple-cycle gas turbine.

          That time could be extended by allowing the RE systems to over-produce beyond basic electric demand, and using dump loads for down-regulation.  This would add a further margin to the system, as the dump loads constitute carbon-free (or even negative-carbon) spinning reserve; only once they were all shut off would you need to tap the battery.  Dump loads need to be cheap and controlled by the grid operator.  Hot-water tanks, “heat batteries” and direct use for space heat (in season) are potential dump loads with good potential.  Dumped power should be billed to the customer at a discount versus the fuel displaced.  RE producers should not receive FITs or PTCs for dumped power, but the customer charge minus transmission fees.  That would discourage uneconomic over-building.

          I seem to recall you had an article about combining a nuclear reactor and a battery to provide to the grid a while back.

          I believe you are referring to this.  Feel free to try to shoot holes in my spreadsheet, it’s easy to get things wrong and I welcome corrections.

          if storage were magically free and abundant, if that alone could cut our emissions back?

          It depends how much the storage losses are.  Off the top of my head, it looks like you’d be better off using storage if its losses are lower than the efficiency ratio between the more-efficient and less-efficient generators.  E.g. if your choices are a 40% efficient OCGT and a 60% efficient CCGT plus storage, the CCGT wins if storage has losses less than 1/3.

          • andrewfez Says:

            =However, a battery which can supply the gas turbine’s output power for a duration equal to the GT’s startup time would allow the GT to remain off once the battery was charged. This is on the order of 15-30 minutes for a simple-cycle gas turbine.=

            I’m going to assume around 15 minutes would be ok for frequency response, if the capacity was sufficient:

            I saw a chart on wiki, where in an idealized failure scenario, the frequency response kicked in and then gradually pulled down over 15 minutes, whilst spinning reserve throttled to a higher level (and was supplemented by non-spinning reserve). Spinning reserve’s output over it’s normal baseline lasted about 30 minutes in the scenario, then as it returned to baseline, a replacement reserve came online to relieve the SR.

            In that scenario it seems as if a battery that could perform for about an hour (or a little less) could work not only as frequency response but also as an offset of SR’s push over baseline or as a supplement. Probably a costly way of doing things; that’s probably why the WV experimental bank was only built for 15 minutes of work…


          • Without seeing the same chart, it would be impossible for me to comment on it.

            The grid-scale batteries I’ve seen in the news have been put in places like small towns at the very end of single, unreliable transmission lines.  The purpose is to act as a large-scale UPS, to keep the local grid powered for a few minutes while faults on the line are cleared and breakers are reset.

            It is enlightening that the batteries being touted, including your 32 MW unit in WV, are not scaled to power loads for a few days of lull, or even overnight.  They’re balancing generation surges and sags on a scale of minutes.  They are addressing some of the regulation requirements of the grid, but the large-scale storage needed to go fully RE is far, far beyond this (roughly 2 orders of magnitude).


  4. Meanwhile “sunny” Germany has a 50%+ day electricity from solar:

    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-germany-day-energy-percent-solar.html


  5. The video isn’t about permit requirements, it’s about tax credits.  Subsidies.  People paying for electricity from their income taxes, something that doesn’t even appear on their electric bill.

    Wind as a technology is not just years but CENTURIES old.  The modern wind industry is decades old.  Why does it still need subsidies?  When can it stand on its own?

    • miffedmax Says:

      Just as soon as the oil industry.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Yup, and the nuclear industry too.

        Some of the FF subsidies will be very hard to get rid of because they support lower prices for low-income people, eg. LIHEAP – http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/liheap

        Cutting those is politically risky, especially after this past cold winter.

        It’s one of the reasons why I’m disappointed that building standards like Passivhaus haven’t yet caught on significantly. IMO that’s where the bulk of subsidies should be going, not so much to the purchase of fuel.


        • and the nuclear industry too.

          The nuclear industry has been a net tax payer for decades.  What are claimed to be “subsidies” turn out to be defense-related, or claims that Price-Anderson is a “subsidy” when in truth it forces all nuclear plants to shoulder liability for an accident at any of them and thus increases insurance costs.

          Cutting those is politically risky, especially after this past cold winter.

          It’s only going to get worse in New England if Vermont Yankee shuts down.  The NG pipeline system will have to find another 110 million cfd/day of gas to replace the power using gas turbines (moved over the already-inadequate pipeline system), or the equivalent in fuel oil or jet fuel.  It will get ugly and very, very expensive.

          I’m disappointed that building standards like Passivhaus haven’t yet caught on significantly. IMO that’s where the bulk of subsidies should be going

          Until the existing building stock is retrofitted (how much does that cost?), people will still need the fuel/energy.  The lack of Passivhaus standards during the last building boom was a lost opportunity—IMO an almost criminal waste.


  6. Yeah, we better save money on rail and renewables, but keep all those wonderful subsidies for oil, coal, and gas.
    https://climatecrocks.com/2012/06/28/fossil-fuel-subsidies-dwarf-those-for-renewables/
    Save pennies on renewables… Spend bucks on oil cos, cuz they neeeed them, the poor little oil cos.


  7. Nuclear and oil subsidies? 5 to 10x renewables. Hypocrisy at its finest. Typical windbagger nonsense. You even hear blog complainers wanting to remove wind PTC. There isn’t any! It was on a renewal basis that expired in 2013! Yet Nuclear has a PTC until 2020 and FF have had subsidies for a century. No more BS about wind being around for long. It’s about how long it’s had subsidies.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/09/27/early-fossil-fuel-nuclear-energy-subsidies-crush-early-renewable-energy-subsidies/
    https://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/16/conservative-senator-calls-out-hypocrisy-of-fossil-fuel-incentives/

  8. Gingerbaker Says:

    E-P:

    Unfortunately for wind, it relies on natural gas

    News to me. I thought it used the power of the wind. In other words,….
    wtf are you talking about?

    E-P:

    “The modern wind industry is decades old. Why does it still need subsidies?”

    Because the future of humanity depends on renewables and they make up a tiny proportion of our energy generation?

    Because, in case you missed the point of this very article billionaires are manipulating state and U.S. Congresses to destroy the industry. So, again…… wtf are you talking about?


    • News to me. I thought it used the power of the wind. In other words,….
      wtf are you talking about?

      I’m talking about the reason that “Greens” use amongst themselves to justify getting rid of nuclear power.  Here is a partial transcript, starting from 57 seconds:

      The one thing we know for sure about solar and wind is that they vary.  We draw a picture of wind and solar, it looks like this:  goes up and down.  And of course, utilities must keep the lights on all the time.  So variable wind and solar need backup.  Well, you can’t back up renewables with baseload power generation.  It doesn’t work!  What we need are nimble power plants which can be quickly and economically turned on and off to match our variable solar and wind.  Now these are called “peaking generators”, and they typically burn natural gas.

      In other words, the “Green” vision forces the replacement of carbon-free nuclear base-load power with a substantial fraction of carbon-emitting peaking power at relatively low thermal efficiency (because the high ramp rates required to back up wind and PV do not work well with combined-cycle plants, which have a steam cycle running on the exhaust heat of the gas-turbine topping cycle).

      the future of humanity depends on renewables

      You may want to examine that premise more deeply, starting with the definition of “renewables”.  It may be news to you, but the oceans contain on the order of 2 billion tons of uranium, and rivers deliver another 32,000 tons every year.  Total human energy consumption is equivalent to just 5000 tons of uranium per year.  Uranium is as renewable as anything under the sun.

      they make up a tiny proportion of our energy generation?

      Maybe that’s because, due to that self-same variability, they’re not very good for meeting human needs.  The Iron Rule of Power Generation states only 24/7 power can replace 24/7 power.

      Ask yourself this:  had renewables been well-suited to supply our needs, why would anyone have turned to burning coal in the first place?  You will not fix that mis-match with subsidies.  If “renewables” are not available when people need heat and power, they will turn to whatever is available.  If you leave them only carbon-based fuels as an alternative, that’s what they’ll use.  Now, you may claim that the atom is not “renewable”.  However, there’s more than enough uranium and thorium to get humanity through the next century or two even with light-water reactors.

      The next 30 years is when the scale of the unfolding climate catastrophe will be determined:  either we will limit it, or it will go to Paloecene-Eocene Thermal Maximum levels and perhaps beyond.  Had the “no nukes” movement not blocked the progress of nuclear energy back in the 1970’s, we might perhaps have a number of large and nearly carbon-free electric grids around the world (not just in Sweden, France and Ontario).  Those would have been a foundation for entire carbon-free economies.  However, “environmentalism” made the world safe for coal instead.  Denmark burns coal in most of its power stations.  Germany’s “Energiewende” replaces nuclear with lignite.  Isn’t it time to recognize the insanity?

      in case you missed the point of this very article billionaires are manipulating state and U.S. Congresses to destroy the industry.

      You might note that those self-same billionaires regard nuclear as an enemy too.  Hint, hint.


    • BTW, here is what James Hansen has to say about the subject (emphasis added):

      Renewables can do it.  People who entreat the government to solve global warming but offer support only for renewable energies will be rewarded with the certainty that the U.S. and most of the world will be fracked-over, the dirtiest fossil fuels will be mined, mountaintop removal and mechanized long-wall coal mining will continue, the Arctic, Amazon and other pristine public lands will be violated, and the deepest oceans will be ploughed for fossil fuels.  Politicians are not going to let the lights go out or stop economic growth.  Don’t blame Obama or other politicians.  If we give them no viable option, we will be fracked and mined to death, and have no one to blame but ourselves.

      … there is an asymmetry in how alternative energies are presented to the public,
      and I believe this asymmetry is having a large impact on prospects for stabilizing climate.  Asymmetry first became obvious to me when I pointed out to a friend some of the limitations of one of the renewable energies.  He said “Jim, don’t criticize renewable energies!  It is o.k. to advocate nuclear power, but don’t do it by criticizing renewables!”  I appreciate the rationale, so I always emphasize that we need contributions of all the capable energies (and I point out that I have spent a lot of money on solar panels for our and our children’s homes).  However, it is now clear that there is no reciprocity, and the lack of uniform objectivity presents the public with a distorted picture of alternative energy choices.  The asymmetry finally hit me over the head when a renewable energy advocate told me that the main purpose of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) was to “kill nuclear”. I had naively thought that the purpose was simply to kick-start renewables.  Instead, I was told, because utilities were required to accept intermittent renewable energies, nuclear power would become less economic, because it works best if it runs flat out.  What to do when the wind is not blowing?  The answer was: have a gas plant ready as back-up.  In other words, replace carbon-free nuclear power with a dual system, renewables plus gas.  With this approach CO2 emissions will increase and it is certain that fracking will continue and expand into larger regions.

      There you have it.  His words, not mine.  You can either try to save the climate, or you can be a Green.  There is no middle ground.


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