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.

We Have Forgotten Our Priorities

Colorado’s 9 News posted a story yesterday about a proposed change in the number of permits for bald and golden eagle deaths under the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This is about wind farms.

The article reports:

“Bald eagles were taken off the endangered species list in 2007,” Bove said. “Not that many years has passed since they were taken off this list and now the federal government is proposing to take four to six thousand of these birds.”
 
The federal government also wants to issue these permits on a 30-year-basis instead of the current 5-year process. Bove says the whole process is not mandated as it is for companies who may kill bald or golden eagles incidentally.
 
“These permits are voluntary and that in effect as I believe and many groups believe is one of the main problems with this whole issue,” Bove said.

It’s time to look at wind energy realistically. The wind does not blow all the time. All wind energy needs fossil fuel energy as a back-up to keep electricity flowing 24 hours a day (something Americans expect). Wind energy is more expensive than fossil fuel energy (particularly electricity generated by natural gas, which is clean burning and plentiful in America). Without government subsidies wind energy would not be feasible. This is another example of the government choosing winners and losers, and in this case, the winners will hurt the finances of the average American rather than provide a cheaper source of energy.

The killing of the bald and golden eagles is bad enough, but the fact that it is done to reward certain companies in the name of green energy is obscene.

Irony On Parade

Last week President Obama declared war on coal. He’s been leading up to this for a while so it was no surprise, but he finally did it. The President sees coal as a danger to the environment and wants to replace it with other forms of energy–one of those forms being wind energy. Well, wind energy is not perfect either.

On Thursday, the U.K. Mail Online reported that as British bird watchers watched the rare white-throated needletail soar through the skies it was killed by a windmill.

The article reports:

A group of 40 enthusiasts dashed to the Hebrides to catch a glimpse of the brown, black and blue bird, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia.

But instead of being treated to a wildlife spectacle they were left with a horror show when it flew into a wind turbine and was killed.

John Marchant, 62, who had made the trip all the way from Norfolk, said: ‘We were absolutely over the moon to see the bird. We watched it for nearly two hours.

‘But while we were watching it suddenly got a bit close to the turbine and then the blades hit it.

‘We all rushed up to the turbine, which took about five minutes, hoping the bird had just been knocked out the sky but was okay.

‘Unfortunately it had taken a blow to the head and was stone dead.

This is not a new problem with windmills. CBS DC reported in May of this year that the Obama Administration had decided not to fine or prosecute wind energy companies when birds are killed by windmills.

The article reports:

The result is a green industry that’s allowed to do not-so-green things. It kills protected species with impunity and conceals the environmental consequences of sprawling wind farms.

More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren’t required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.

Almost all of the birds which have been killed by windmills are protected under federal environmental laws, but because the Obama Administration has an agenda of supporting wind energy the wildlife protection laws are not being enforced in these cases.
The article illustrates the double standard:

The Obama administration has refused to accept that cost when the fossil-fuel industry is to blame. The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.

But PacifiCorp also operates wind farms in the state, where at least 20 eagles have been found dead in recent years, according to corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by The Associated Press. They’ve neither been fined nor prosecuted. A spokesman for PacifiCorp, which is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, said that’s because its turbines may not be to blame.

Someday we may look back on the Obama Administration and wonder whatever happened to equal justice under the law.

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