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.

Sometimes The Lies Are Just Funny

The Daily Caller posted an article today about President Obama’s claim that he started the oil boom in America. Somehow that’s not the way I remember it.

The article reports:

Former president of Shell Oil Company John Hofmeister said former President Barack Obama had nothing to do with America’s increased oil production and actually frustrated many areas of the energy sector.

Obama claimed he was responsible for America’s recent oil boom during an event hosted by Rice University’s Baker Institute on Tuesday night and Hofmeister challenged his assessment.

…“The facts are the facts. And, yes, the production did increase throughout his term,” Hofmeister said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday. “But, frankly, he had nothing to do with it.”

“This was production in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado — North Dakota in particular. And these were all state decisions made with industry applications for permits. The federal government had no role.”

The article notes the roadblocks President Obama put in the way of accessing American oil:

Hofmeister said Obama opposed the energy industry at every turn with his actions against offshore drilling and his handling of the Keystone Pipeline.

“If anything, he was trying to frustrate the efforts by taking federal lands off of the availability list — putting them just, no more drilling [sic]. He shut down the Gulf of Mexico for a period of six months,” he said. “[He] changed the regulations from an average of 60 to 80 pages per permit to 600 to 800 pages per permit. He also never approved the Keystone XL pipeline after dangling all the potential customers for eight years. And it was in the eighth year when he said no Keystone Pipeline.”

“I would say that he was not a leader when it comes to energy,” Hofmeister said.

As far as President Obama’s opposition to the Keystone Pipeline goes, as long as that pipeline was not built, the oil was shipped via the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, owned by Warren Buffett, a close friend of President Obama. On February 21, 2013, I reported the following (article here):

If the Obama administration holds firm on blocking Keystone, the big loser will be TransCanada Corporation. But who will the big winners be? American railroads:

And of them, the biggest winner might just be the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Obama supporter and Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. In December, the CEO of BNSF, Matthew Rose, said that his railroad was shipping about 500,000 barrels of oil per day out of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and that it was seeking a permit to send “crude by rail to the Pacific Northwest.” He also said the railroad expects to “eventually” be shipping 1 million barrels of oil per day.

President Obama did not facilitate the energy independence of America. He did, however, do a pretty good job of lining the pockets of some good friends.

The Free Market Works Every Time

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article about the energy industry in Mexico. The article is about a recent move by the Mexican government to end state control of the energy industry in Mexico. The decision to deregulate has paid off.

The article reports:

The government began auctioning off rights two years ago to drill in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. On Tuesday, an international consortium of energy companies said they had discovered a large oil field, and another firm said it had discovered more oil than expected in a separate area.

The overhaul of the Mexican oil and gas sector in recent years eventually ended the state energy company’s seven-decade domestic monopoly on exploration and production. The aim was to arrest years of declining oil output, blamed on a slow-moving public sector that lacked the technology to exploit opportunities in deep-sea drilling, or shale oil and gas.

The two announcements on Tuesday appeared to suggest that Mexico’s strategy, which was met with criticism when it was first pushed through, was succeeding.

The consortium, made up of Premier Oil of Britain, as well as Talos Energy of Texas and the Mexican company Sierra Oil and Gas, said that it had discovered a field containing more than one billion barrels of oil in shallow water 40 miles off the Mexican coast. Riverstone Holdings, an American private equity firm that specializes in energy investments, owns 45 percent of Talos Energy and 43 percent of Sierra Oil and Gas.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when there is an incentive to accomplish it!

There are two things to note here–like it or not, fossil fuel is the basis of the current world economy, and an improving Mexican economy may help slow down the pace of illegal immigrants coming to America from Mexico. This is a win-win situation for Mexico and for America. The free market works every time it is tried.

A Short Story With A Big Impact

Yesterday CNN posted a very short article that may have a big impact on the politics of the Middle East.

The article reports:

In what could be the largest natural gas discovery in history, Italian energy company Eni says it has unearthed a “supergiant” gas field in the Mediterranean Sea covering about 40 square miles.

The gas field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Eni says that’s the energy equivalent of about 5.5 billion barrels of oil. The company won’t know the field’s true size until it begins to develop it.

Eni already has a presence in Egypt and expects to be able to develop the field quickly. It is possible that the field could satisfy the natural gas needs of Egypt for decades to come.

So why is this important? As the wealth from this discovery flows into Egypt, we can expect the Muslim Brotherhood to become more active in the country. Egypt has been one of the few countries in the Middle East to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood successfully. This is somewhat ironic since the Muslim Brotherhood began in Egypt. Egypt has been dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood since 1928. The Brotherhood was responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat and played a role in the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. At various times in its history, Egypt has jailed and executed members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood government that was set up after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Egypt has been moving toward peace with Israel and alliances with western countries. This discovery should mean that Egypt will continue to move in that direction.

Would You Trust These People With Your Investment Portfolio ?

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about the investments the Obama Administration has made in alternative energy companies.

The article reports:

The Romney campaign later clarified that he was talking about the DOE’s 1705 loan program which doled out $16.1 billion to green energy companies, accordingto the Washington Post. Of the 33 companies that received 1705 loan guarantees, only three have declared bankruptcy.

The article further reports:

The blog Green Corruption’s “Obama green-energy failure” list contains 23 bankrupt and 27 troubled green energy companies which were backed by the federal government. This list uses data compiled by the Heritage Foundation, but also includes some things the conservative think tank doesn’t.

According to the Heritage Foundation, $80 billion was set aside in the 2009 stimulus package for clean energy loans, grants, and tax credits, and 10 percent of these funds have gone to companies that have filed for bankruptcy or are in dire straits.

As I have said before, I believe there will come a day when green energy makes sense. I also believe that day will come after the free market has culled out the technologies that do not work and the technologies that do work have naturally risen to the top of the pile. Government subsidies interfere with that process and actually slow down the successful development of green energy–not to mention the amount of money the government has lost in picking winners and losers (mostly losers).

As taxpayers, we have the right to invest our money where we chose to invest it. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the right to make investments in green energy for us.

 

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