Wisdom From A Friend

John Droz, Jr., is a physicist who has spent a lot of time studying the impact of wind farms and wind energy. The following is the result of some of his research:

Wind Energy: Local Economics 101

What about the claim that industrial wind energy projects are a “financial boon” to hard-pressed rural communities? On the surface that sounds plausible, but to evaluate this assertion this we need to look a bit deeper. This is a two part answer…

First, we do not select our electrical energy sources based on the economic impact to host communities. Instead our electrical energy sources are chosen because of their reliability, true cost to ratepayers & taxpayers, proximity to demand centers, dispatchability, etc.

Wind energy fares poorly on ALL such metrics — which is why wind salespeople try the sleight-of-hand tactic to talk instead about local taxes, local lease payments, etc. We need to be careful about getting tricked by such marketing tactics.

Secondly, the only way that we can know if these projects are genuinely an economic asset, is if a proper NET financial analysis is done. In other words we need to do a comprehensive and objective investigation into the pros and cons of these projects.

We know the positives, as the developers and their proponents have done a fine job at spelling out the possible benefits: property tax income, lease payments to selected landowners, several construction jobs, a few permanent jobs, etc.

But what about the negatives? How do we come up with the numbers on the other side of the equation, so that we can do an accurate NET financial assessment? The answer is to carefully research studies done by independent experts — i.e scientists, academics, economists, physicians, etc. who generally have no dog-in-the-fight.

After carefully doing that research here are some reasons why a wind project can be an economic liability to a host community:

1 – Independent experts have concluded that local agricultural income can decrease as: a)bats being killed will reduce crop yields, b) turbines can affect local weather [up to 15 miles away!] which will also lower crop yields, and c) in some cases, farmers with turbine leases will reduce or terminate operations. For much more on this, see here.

2 – Studies from independent experts have concluded that there can be serious hydro-geological consequences from wind projects. Here is a sample study done in Vermont.

3 – Studies from independent experts have concluded tourism will drop in the region. For example, North Carolina State University (avid wind proponents) surveyed tourists. Although the majority of the visitors stated that they supported wind energy, 80%± said that they would not vacation in an area where wind turbines were visible. Some other studies that have concluded that tourism will be reduced are listed here.

4 – Studies from independent experts have concluded that property values will decrease for residences within 1± miles of a wind project. This was the conclusion of largest study in the world on this topic, done by the London School of Economics. Here is an extensive list of other studies and articles that came to the same conclusion.

5 – Studies from medical professionals have concluded that some nearby citizens will experience adverse health effects. The biggest concern is from infrasound (noise we can not hear). The World Health Organization has stated (p53) that infrasound is more problematic than audible sound. Infrasound can be so harmful that the US military is researching weaponizing it. Over a hundred studies have concluded that there will be health consequences (here is a representative sample, including cancer).

6 – Studies from independent experts have concluded that industrial wind projects can cause major eco-system damage. See this sample study (esp. pages 103-122).

7 – Studies from independent experts have concluded that industrial wind projects can harm wildlife and livestock animals. Sample reports: here, here, here, here and here.

8 – Studies from independent experts have concluded that industrial wind projects can adversely affect local hunting (and possibly fishing). Here is an explanation of that.

9 – Research by independent experts has shown that wind projects can cause serious interference with military facilities. Here is an overview of the topic.

10-Despite implications otherwise, leaseholders can suffer economic losses. See this explanation of 40+ possible legal and financial liabilities to signing turbine leases.

So what might the NET be after taking the positives and negatives into account? A sample analysis was done of the proposed NY Horse Creek wind project. The conclusion is that the NET economic impact would likely be a loss of $10± Million a year. For comparison, an analysis of the NC Timbermill wind project was also done. The conclusion is that there could be a NET economic loss of $12± Million a year.

So before any community can say that a “wind project is a financial windfall,” a comprehensive and objective financial analysis must be done. Right now, no one in any federal, state or local agency, is thoroughly investigating these wind energy liabilities.

Without such an analysis, all financial claims are simply one-side of the economic equation — and are not an accurate representation of the NET economic impact. The evidence to date indicates that wind energy is the “gift” that keeps on taking.

Let me know any questions (email: “aaprjohn at northnet dot org”). john droz, jr. physicist 5/31/19

PS — For additional information on all of these costs, please see WiseEnergy.org.

Wind energy is probably a good idea, but we are not there yet in terms of technology. If the free market were allowed to function in the energy industry, we might get there faster.

Note:  I have linked a few of the studies listed in this paper. To go to the original paper and get the complete list go here.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

The New York Post reported yesterday that in a commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loans of the graduating class. Wow.

The article reports:

Billionaire tech investor Robert F. Smith stunned college graduates on Sunday as he gave their commencement speech — offering to pay their student debts despite it costing an estimated $40 million.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith told the 400 graduating seniors at the all-male Morehouse College in Atlanta.

“This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

The announcement was initially met with stunned looks — before the graduates broke into cheers and tears at the largest gift ever given to the historically black college.

This is brilliant. The students were graduating–they had completed their studies–they had not dropped out. Now the students were faced with serious debt that they had accumulated in order to pay for their college education. Now they are free to pursue whatever career they choose without having that debt hanging over their heads. Paying off these debts not only helps the students, it helps America by making sure those student loans were quickly paid off. Wow.

Failing To Save Money

New Bern, North Carolina, is a beautiful city (rebuilding after Hurricane Florence). Obviously, rebuilding is costing a lot. The City Alderman are doing a good job of trying to repair the damage done by the hurricane, but it is costing a lot. In addition to the cost of the hurricane, New Bern is now faced with the cost of a U.S. House District 3 primary election, possible run-off election, and off-year election to replace Congressman Walter Jones. That has brought up the issue of the cost of elections–they are expensive.

In the March 21-27 issue of The County Compass (I could not find the letter on the website, I actually have the paper. This is a link to the website.), New Bern Alderman Jeff Odham explained a way that the City of New Bern could save money on elections and increase voter turnout in municipal elections. New Bern normally holds its municipal elections in October every four years (2013, 2017, 2021, etc.). Alderman Odham proposed holding municipal elections in March during federal election primary elections. This change would decrease the cost of municipal elections from roughly $36,000 (if there is no runoff) or $55,000 (if there is a runoff) to less than $5,000. What a fantastic idea. If the elections are held during the primary, the runoff can be held during the general election in November, again at a cost of less than $5,000. This resolution would have to be approved by the Board of Aldermen and sent to Raleigh so that the legislature could modify the charter of the City of New Bern.

Last night the Board of Aldermen rejected the resolution. Among other things, the proposal would result in the current Board of Aldermen serving a three-year term instead of a four-year term. A number of the Aldermen objected to that. They were willing to cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars in order to serve for one more year. The Aldermen that voted against the proposal were Aldermen Best, Aster, Harris and Bengel.

Mayor Dana Outlaw, Alderman Kinsey and Alderman Odham voted for the proposal. It is unfortunate that the other Aldermen were not interested in a savings of at least $30,000 every four years. I will not be voting for my current Alderman (who voted against the resolution) in the next election.

Better Late Than Never

Yesterday The Hill reported that the Justice Department has announced that it has found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

The article reports:

The DOJ previously argued in court that the law’s pre-existing condition protections should be struck down. Now, the administration argues the entire law should be invalidated.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in December that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of law is therefore invalid.

The DOJ said Monday that it agrees the decision should stand as the case works its way through the appeals process in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the department said in a short letter to the appeals court.

The article concludes:

Many legal experts in both parties think the lawsuit, which was brought by 20 GOP-led states, will not ultimately succeed. The district judge who ruled against the law in December is known as a staunch conservative.

The case centers on the argument that since Congress repealed the tax penalty in the law’s mandate for everyone to have insurance in 2017, the mandate can no longer be ruled constitutional under Congress’s power to tax. The challengers then argue that all of ObamaCare should be invalidated because the mandate is unconstitutional.

Most legal experts say legal precedent shows that even if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of ObamaCare should remain unharmed, as that is what Congress voted to do in the 2017 tax law that repealed the mandate’s penalty.

This is another example of the consequences of Congressional inaction. First of all, the government has no business in healthcare or health insurance. It the government wants to make a few minor rules to make sure people can obtain healthcare, that is fine, but other than that, we need to go back to free market healthcare. Our current policies have made insurance more expensive than it should be and care more expensive than it should be. We need to go back to the days of knowing how much things cost and being able to shop around for our care.

What’s A Few Billion Amoung Friends ?

The Washington Examiner reported yesterday that according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Obamacare will cost $1.76 trillion over the next ten years. Originally, the program was projected to cost $940 billion.

The article reports:

Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.

It’s time to repeal this awful law before it totally bankrupts us!

 

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