Monday, April 27, 2015

Indianapolis Star Reader Uses Math to Blow Away Idea that Wind Power is Good for Consumers

The Indianapolis Star published a lengthy article yesterday about how wind turbines in Indiana could end up tripling due to new EPA rules:
New EPA rules coming down the pike will cut carbon emissions from coal and gas power plants for the first time and boost demand for clean power such as wind. One result: Indiana could see two or three times as many wind farms as it has now. 
In its latest projection of U.S. wind energy needs, the federal Department of Energy says only five other states are in line to boost their wind power sectors as much as or more than Indiana.
Indiana has a good shot at tripling its wind power capacity in the next decade or so, from the current 1,744 megawatts to 5,000 or more, says Sean Brady, Midwest policy manager for the wind power advocacy group Wind on the Wires.
That would require erecting 2,000 wind turbines to join the 1,031 that now dot the state's landscape north of Indianapolis. "Indiana has quite a large upside. It has a great opportunity for wind development," Brady said.     
Wind power, in addition, is expensive to install ($2 million or more per turbine) and controlled to a great extent by foreign companies, which doesn't bode well for winning a lot of public support.
Any growth in wind farms also would put more money in the hands of farmland owners, who rent the land needed for the turbines. Average rents in Indiana now run about $5,000 a year per turbine, which amounts to about $5 million a year in statewide turbine rent payments.
Still, pushback to wind persists at policymaking levels. And that opposition could harden as wind energy use spreads and utilities are forced to spend billions of dollars nationally building transmission lines to handle the increased flow of power from new wind farms, said Tom Tanton, director of science and technology assessment at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. The group has done studies suggesting federal subsidies to wind energy don't make economic sense.     
Tanton said wind farm developers are able to push "hidden costs" of wind energy onto utilities and ratepayers. Those costs include gas turbine plants required to back up wind power and balance its fluctuating energy flows caused by intermittent wind, he said.
A calculation accompanying one of the illustrations to the story indicates that "[a]ccording to idustry figures, one turbine can create enough electricity to power 580 average American homes."

An alert reader noted the absurdity of the math:
So if you take an average homeowners electric bill of say, $1,000 per year, just the cost of ONE of these turbines will take up the revenue of two hundred customers for ten years. Since the article mentions adding possibly 2,000 more turbines, that would account for the revenue produced by 400,000 residential customers over the next ten years. That doesn't even take into account cost overruns, maintenance, and the actual power consumed by these customers. Now throw in the land rental fees for the turbines, and you "lose" the revenue generated by another 10,000 customers, each and every year.
And that is before you even consider the cost of the federal subsidies and the higher electricity prices to consumers who are required to pay for the higher cost of wind-generated electricity.


Anonymous said...

Another great blog post, Paul; thank you.

These "alternative energy" schemes are little more than lucrative enterprises for special interests that could never get off the ground in the free market save for special federal tax credits and special legislation. Leftist must force reduced coal (and petroleum) usage to "create" a need for other energy sources.

In the last several years, national media carried stories- The Washington Post being one- about how wind power blades slicing through the air also slice through birds gliding the same air through which those blades swiftly churn. Congress and the Judiciary have stopped civic and water projects (sometimes for a snail darter or two)... but it seems liberals have little problem with avian death and destruction as long as the religion of ecology and "renewable energy" is preserved.

And in the end, it is always the consumer -whose already skyrocketing energy bills wreak havoc with their limited budgets-pay and contribute to transnational corporatists bottom line.

Anonymous said...

Why am I not at all surprised anyone at Gannett's ruined "Indianapolis Star" had not the thought nor the ability to do what any eighth grade graduate could conceive of or calculate?

Unknown said...

One reason, Anon, is that students who cannot make it in technical, science, grammar, rhetoric and logic gravitate to journalism.