Oregon Lands Massive Wind Farm

In a stunning, dramatic development, General Electric has announced that it has won a 1.4 billion dollar contract to provide turbines for the largest wind farm ever in the United States — and Oregon is the site! This massive project in renewable energy is quite a feather in the cap of Oregon, long thought to be among the very greenest states.

Picture, if you can, 338 massive turbines churning away night and day, generating up to 2.5 megawatts of power EACH! New jobs, roads, power lines, and more are coming to Oregon. Just to run the “farm” will require 35 new workers added to the rolls in Oregon. This should bring our unemployment figures down to more reasonable numbers.

Wildlife will continue to thrive in this new environment as well. Most recent figures for bird kills per turbine per year are in the range of 4 to 5, so Oregon will only lose about 1521 birds per year, a very small price to pay for such power generation.

People will continue to thrive in this new environment, too, as most studies have shown only mild effects on people from low-frequency noise and infrasound generated by these farms. It can be assumed that only people living within 20 — 25 miles of the farm will experience any ill effects.

It is very clear that this is a major accomplishment for Oregon — well on its way of meeting its very high standards for the amount of energy generated by renewable, friendly means. The state and all those responsible for this achievement need to be commended.

There is only one problem, though, and it is a trivial one. ALL OF THE POWER IS GOING TO BE SENT TO CALIFORNIA. ALL OF IT — ALL THE TIME.

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  • eagle eye

    Oh, great, 30 square miles to generate the power (when the wind is blowing) of a smallish nuclear plant. But with a huge federal subsidy (and maybe from the state, too?) An eyesore for many miles around, I imagine. Something for Oregon to be proud of. Something for everyone — the timber interests have their clearcuts, the clean energy crowd will have their massive wind turbines.

    And after they’re built, there will be all of 30 or so permanent jobs.

    Weirdly, I find myself in apparent agreement with Jerry on this one.

  • Todd Wynn

    Jerry,

    I love the sarcasm.

    Is this the Shepherds Flat wind farm?

  • Anonymous

    Man. You guys are impossible to please. 400+ Oregon jobs during the two years of construction, 35 new jobs once complete (‘better than a kick in the ass’ as my old man used to say), the turbines are being assembled in Florida (more American jobs), are better than 50% manufactured in the U.S. (more American Jobs), the “farm” is being built on privately owned land (in a region where there are already plenty of wind farms), the people of the region support the industry (“wind is just another crop to harvest”), and each turbine is expected to generate more than $20,000 in tax revenues. What is the problem exactly? Oh, that the power is being sold to California… but, Jerry, doesn’t Oregon already sell it’s energy surplus to California?

    Todd, yes, we are talking about the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm.

    eagle eye, you bring up the only good argument against these wind projects, they are well subsidized by the state. The question is whether or not the subsidization is to our benefit or not. Personally, I am undecided on that front. I will say though that I don’t find wind farms to be an eyesore. I think they’re kind of cool actually. To each his own, I guess.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2009/11/tax_dollars_blow_away_in_wind.html

    • Jerry

      I believe I stated quite clearly that it was a trivial problem. Thus, your comment does not make sense. I am applauding this development and what it will do for Oregon. Hip Hip Hooray!

    • eagle eye

      The subsidy is fine if you don’t mind paying much higher electrical rates, directly (through higher bills) or indirectly (through higher national debt, crowding out of capital, etc).

      As for the visual impact: each of us has to decide that for himself, I guess. Some people think clearcuts look cool. Some people think giant wind turbines are cool. I think they’re both abominations. Oregon the environmental state. What garbage!

      There are other environmental impacts of the wind turbines, however. Massively on birds.

      Oh, one other thing. They only work when the wind is blowing.

      • Anonymous

        As I said, eagle eye, I am undecided on whether or not subsidizing these kind of projects (at the state or federal level) is to our benefit. I am not an economist and the repercussions of such subsidies can be difficult to perceive (for me). If, as you say, producing green energy for California is going to effect my own energy bill, then, yes, that annoys me a little bit. But the question remains, how much will it effect my electricity bill?

        As for the visual impact: I must confess some bias in this case. As an engineer these kinds of things are incredibly cool to me. Either way, I don’t get out that way too often (practically never), so, it’s really not my issue. With regard to clearcuts, I’ve honestly never heard a single person describe the appearance of a clearcut positively. In other words, it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but I get your meaning.

        And, yes, I am aware that wind turbines produce at about 30% efficiency compared to conventional power plants.

        • eagle eye

          I have some appreciation for engineering, but all too often in the twentieth century, the aesthetic impact has been horrific. Look at modern American cities and compare them to the old world. For the most part, I just want to weep in shame for our country and our age. A few exceptions, like New York (in the early part of the 20th century) and Chicago now. But darn few.

          Never heard anyone describe a clearcut positively? I have, I’ve actually heard people connected with the industry claim that they are beautiful, and the environmentalists lie when they say they are ugly. I’m not making this up.

          The subsidy issue isn’t going away any time soon. The wind industry would not exist in the U.S. without massive subsidies, that seems pretty clear to me. With all the disadvantages, and with the better alternatives — think nuclear plants, for instance — there’s no reason to be doing this boondoggle, except for the palms to be greased and the ideologies to be assuaged.

          • David Appell

            > Look at modern American cities and compare them to the old world.

            This comparison is absurd. Americans today consume about 100x the energy of those in the “old world.” You can’t generate that kind of power without compromises. Sure, we can do more to make the world more aesthetic. But there are very good reasons why we have created the sorry views we have today — because all of us want all the electricity we demand to power plasma screen TVs, computers, refrigerators, ovens, and all manner of other appliances.

          • eagle eye

            Yes, the comparison is absurd! It IS absurd when you look at the ugly built world of today and compare it to the beauty of old. We hardly even bother to think about how absurd it is, we are so used to it. Sort of like the old days when a lot of people didn’t see anything strange about slavery. Maybe abortion is similar, a lot of people think it’s just fine, maybe in the future people will wonder how it could have been that way.

            I realize that it is difficult to make the modern technology more harmonious with aesthetic values. But we could have done a lot better than we have. American residential areas were once beautiful in many cities — look at the older eastern and midwestern cities. Or rural towns, for that matter. Up until the post World War II era they were much different from the suburban squalor that has come since. Industrialization didn’t HAVE to be an aesthetic calamity.

            Anyhow, just because it has been a disaster doesn’t mean we need to further completely vandalize our landscapes (and ruin our economy with economic boondoggles) for lousy energy sources like wind power. There are other, cheaper, better, more reliable power sources. I will name four: natural gas, coal (the dirtiest), solar, nuclear (probably the best).

          • David Appell

            Yes, we could certainly do more in the way of aesthetics.

            But you have yet to explain how we can generate your 100x the energy of the “old world” without compromising something: aesthetics or cost.

            How exactly would you do this?

            David
            http://trueslant.com/davidappell

        • eagle eye

          By the way, engineer, you say you don’t over to eastern Oregon too often, but you think these turbines are kind of cool.

          Do you ever get over to the Oregon Coast? Do you have any particular spots you like? What would you think of hundreds of these monsters there? After all, there’s a lot of wind at the coast, its probably at least as good a place as the Columbia Gorge.

          • Anonymous

            What I meant when I said it isn’t my issue was that being that I will not see these things very often, whether or not they are attractive to me is sort of irrelevant. Those who will have to look at them every day are the ones who should be empowered to make all decisions with regard to the aesthetics of their region. Anyway…

            As a matter of fact, yes, I do enjoy the coast, and, no, I honestly would not mind. Have you ever seen an offshore wind farm? Super cool!!! LOL As a matter of fact (and I could be wrong), I swear I read somewhere that an offshore wind farm is being planned in Tillamook.

            P.S. I think your beef with the aesthetics of American cities (which I share) is more an issue of architecture than engineering. Moreover, it’s really an issue of money (or, how money is spent). “Old World” cities were built with the wealth that was pillaged from Africa, India and the Americas from the 15th century onward (i.e. colonial times).

          • eagle eye

            No accounting for taste. I think giant wind farms on or off the Oregon Coast will be a hard sale.

            The beautiful European cities came from pillage? I guess there was nothing comparable until colonialism came along, i.e. Chartres cathedral, the beautiful churches in what is not Belgium that were started after 1000 AD, the monasteries and castles in Ireland — yes, Ireland, that great colonial state! — were all based on pillage in Asia and the Americas.

            And I suppose the Europeans “stole” science from the Arabs and the American Indians, right?

          • Anonymous

            “No accounting for taste. I think giant wind farms on or off the Oregon Coast will be a hard sale.”

            They seem to work for “Old World” Denmark.

            “The beautiful European cities came from pillage? I guess there was nothing comparable until colonialism came along, i.e. Chartres cathedral, the beautiful churches in what is not Belgium that were started after 1000 AD, the monasteries and castles in Ireland — yes, Ireland, that great colonial state! — were all based on pillage in Asia and the Americas.”

            “And I suppose the Europeans “stole” science from the Arabs and the American Indians, right?”

            I thought that one might put a bug up your butt. Yes, the Renaissance (the source of the vast majority of the “Old World” qualities that we all admire) was financed by colonialism. That’s just the way it was, dude. It’s not an indictment per se. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but for most of human history equality has not been at the top of the agenda. All the great civilizations from China to the Arab world to Europe and the New World were all built on the backs of slaves and plundered treasure.

          • eagle eye

            Denmark’s offshore windfarms a good example, one of many, of Europe’s decline. Yes, they are appalling. I hope Americans will have more sense.

            Perhaps your rather crude wish regarding my personal comfort has blinded you to the fact that much of Europe’s glory — look at the things I mentioned — came before there was any hint of colonialism. Chartres cathedral a colonial product???

            And check out the Duomo in Florence — begun in the 1200’s.

            Or there’s this guy named Leonardo — he was 40 years old already when Columbus discovered America (for Spain, not Italy).

            Those things are due to colonialism?

            And I suppose we owe Newton’s Principia (1687) to the pillage of the Iroquois?

            And anyway, what does all of this have to do with modern industrialism?

            Wasn’t slavery abolished before the first skyscraper was built?

          • Anonymous

            “Denmark’s offshore windfarms a good example, one of many, of Europe’s decline. Yes, they are appalling. I hope Americans will have more sense.”

            eagle eye, first of all, take it easy. I like wind farms, okay? It’s not a big deal. I am not the same Anonymous you’ve been doing battle with in the other thread. I will be voting yes on both M66 and M67, alright?

            “Perhaps your rather crude wish regarding my personal comfort has blinded you to the fact that much of Europe’s glory — look at the things I mentioned — came before there was any hint of colonialism. Chartres cathedral a colonial product???”

            If it is the cathedrals that are what you admire so much about old world Europe, then I concede. Yes, the Europeans (I’m guessing the Catholic Church had some influence here) were wonderful builders of cathedrals long before colonialism and the Renaissance. And the “bug up your butt” thing was just an amusing (to me) figure of speech, I do not wish for its literal manifestation.

            “And I suppose we owe Newton’s Principia (1687) to the pillage of the Iroquois?”

            Again, I am not making an indictment of European culture (I’m of German-Irish descent and do not suffer from white guilt). White people are awesome, okay? They’re perfect! Unimpeachable! Never done anything wrong. I’m not sure what you want me to say, as I never diminished the intellectual accomplishments of white guys like Newton??

            “And anyway, what does all of this have to do with modern industrialism?”

            Hey man, you’re the one who brought up aesthetics and referenced old world Europe. All I can say is this, when I see a wind farm in full swing, it brings me some joy, okay? It gives me pause, causes me to reflect on the ingenuity of man (I’ve already disclosed my bias). You obviously see something different than I, and that is okay. I respect your opinion. It does not mean that I will adopt your opinion or that I think you should adopt mine. Friends?

          • eagle eye

            Look, you brought up colonialism — I think it has little to do with old Europe’s aesthetic and other accomplishments. And nothing to do with modern industrialism’s attributes, good and bad.

          • Anonymous

            eagle, with all due respect, I suggest you do some reading on the subject. Perhaps it is because I am a product of a liberalized educational system, but that European development from the 14th or 15th century onward was driven by the conquest of and extraction of wealth from the New World, Africa and India is not something that is debated; by historians, anthropologists, or whoever. Colonialism has everything to do with old Europe’s aesthetic whether you choose to believe it or not. They (the British, the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, et al) could not have afforded to build their beautiful cities otherwise. It’s all about the money, always has been. It’s as simple as that. As David Appell mentioned above, we have a completely different set of problems to solve these days. Things like electricity, sewage maintenance, roads, healthcare, et cetera take precedence, sadly, over and at the expense of aesthetics. We could never afford to build cities today the way we have in the past. So, the relevance of all this is the cost of the aesthetics that you desire. Could we do better? Of course we could! Like you said, no accounting for taste, but could we all afford to live in “designer” homes built by master craftsmen? You tell me… unless of course you’d prefer we regress to the Middle Ages, to feudalism, or even revert to a barter system. To hell with all this monetary policy, right?

          • eagle eye

            Hate to tell you, but European colonialism began at the end of the fifteenth century. (1492 and all that.) So even starting as late as the “fourteenth century”, you’re off by a couple of hundred years.

            And colonialism had little or nothing to do even with the Italian Renaissance, Venice, Bach, Beethoven, Newton …..

            As to modern ugliness and what to do about it: a wasteful, unreliable, ugly power source like wind turbines is not the right move.

            If you want engineering elegance, try nuclear power, especially the current developments — nuclear technology has progressed a lot since the U.S. shut down its nuclear construction.

            But then, even the engineers could think a lot harder about aesthetics, the way they used to — look at the Brooklyn or the Golden Gate Bridge, or the early skyscrapers.

            How to make power plants more aesthetically pleasing and less intrusive? And the power transmission especially?

          • Anonymous

            “Hate to tell you, but European colonialism began at the end of the fifteenth century. (1492 and all that.) So even starting as late as the “fourteenth century”, you’re off by a couple of hundred years.”

            This is my last post because you are beginning to become obnoxious. I said 14th or 15th century because I was referring to the uncertain time period when Europe began to come out of the Middle Ages and because I was not certain when the Portuguese established their first colonies in North Africa. A quick google search reveals the “official” start date of European expansionism as 1415 (early fifteenth century)… better?

            “And colonialism had little or nothing to do even with the Italian Renaissance, Venice, Bach, Beethoven, Newton …..”

            Man, you have no idea what you are talking about. I use the term Renaissance in a general sense to loosely describe the cultural movement and intellectual transformation of Europe from the fourteenth century through the sixteenth century. If you really believe that the old world Europe that you love and admire was not financed by colonialism, then you are pitifully naive.

            “As to modern ugliness and what to do about it: a wasteful, unreliable, ugly power source like wind turbines is not the right move.”

            Well, thankfully, it’s not up to you, is it?

            “If you want engineering elegance, try nuclear power, especially the current developments — nuclear technology has progressed a lot since the U.S. shut down its nuclear construction.”

            Um… nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering are not interchangeable. I am not a nuclear physicist. And though I don’t have anything against nuclear power plants (I use their product all the time) and would never deny their theoretical elegance, they don’t have quite the same effect on me.

            “But then, even the engineers could think a lot harder about aesthetics, the way they used to — look at the Brooklyn or the Golden Gate Bridge, or the early skyscrapers.”

            whatever

            “How to make power plants more aesthetically pleasing and less intrusive? And the power transmission especially?”

            Power transmission is a separate issue faced by all forms of power generation.

          • eagle eye

            Ah, you want to begin with the Portuguese capture of Ceuta in 1415. A small island in the Strait of Gibraltar that is now part of Spain. This is what you mean by colonialism? Then I guess Orcas Island is an American colony too.

            At least you’re a century closer to the right ballpark. You’re getting warmer!

            Except — real European colonialism — even exploration — didn’t start until the late fifteenth century. Details, I know.

            If you want to believe that colonialism was the cause rather than the effect of the rise of the West, I can’t stop you.

            But you’re still left with Chartres, Notre Dame, Oxford, the University of Paris, Venice, Copernicus (there were no extra-European Polish/German colonies in 1543) ….

          • eagle eye

            By the way — you seem to assume that I will favor the Measure 66 and 67 related tax increases. You will have to look long and hard to find where I have ever said that!

          • Anonymous

            You’re right. I had assumed that. So, you’re not? Whatever.

          • eagle eye

            I’m still open to persuasion on the tax increases, I genuinely haven’t made up my mind. I happen to think raising taxes would hurt the always-crummy Oregon economy. I don’t like that they are, in part, permanent. I also don’t like that they target only the well-to-do. Any or all of those could be a deal-breaker for me.

            On the other hand, I don’t pretend that it will be painless if the state budget is cut. I know a good many people who will be hurt in various ways. I don’t fantasize about the unions suddenly begging to take pay cuts, any more than I expect the cost of a car wash or a trip to the dentist to go down just because people are having a hard time. I know it won’t work that way.

  • Anonymous

    This is GE’s payoff for using its “news” and entertainment outlets as propaganda arms of the Democrat Party. Most of this is being paid for with your tax dollars. $1,400,000,000 / 30 jobs = $47 million per job. What a bargain! Oh, but wait, there’s that $6.7 million in tax revenue!

    I’ve nothing against wind farms, so long as they are not directly subsidized with tax dollars. Income tax breaks for wind farms are OK with me, but tax credits (direct government subsidies) or grants are not.

    • Anonymous

      I hate to break it to you, friend, but the tax credit maxes out at $10 million. The service contract between GE and Caithness is for ten years. $6.7 million X 10 years equals $67 million. $67 million minus $10 million equals $57 million in long run revenue.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn’t one of the beefs about a LNG terminal that the natural gas would be going to California?

    I prefer more Nat gas use and supplies for electric generation and to run vehicles if the adjustment can be made.

  • Bob Tiernan

    Do the Kennedys own any land here so they can stop this like they
    stopped the one near their armed-guard-protected compound on
    Cape Cod?

    Bob T

    • Anonymous

      I couldn’t agree more, Bob. We should not allow renewable energy to interfere with scenic tourism or the thriving fishing industry in central oregon, certainly not when the lives of 1500+ birds/year are at stake. In fact, I think we should ban house cats and glass windows while we’re at it!!! And I don’t care if those stupid central Oregon farmers want to diversify their economy. Don’t they make enough money as it is? Greedy bastards.

  • Anonymous

    wow. a billion dollars is more than the entire projected budget gap the state faces for the biennium, when they need to raise taxes to maintain social services for our 200,000 unemployed. so what do we do with that much money? build a wind farm that will only create a handful of jobs while pumping energy into a different state.

    absolutely bloody brilliant.

    • Anonymous

      Are you retarded?

      • Jerry

        Easy fellas. No need for name-calling on this blog.

  • Anonymous

    *anonymous:*

    We should not allow renewable energy to interfere with scenic tourism or the thriving fishing industry in central oregon, certainly not when the lives of 1500+ birds/year are at stake. In fact, I think we should ban house cats and glass windows while we’re at it!!! And I don’t care if those stupid central Oregon farmers want to diversify their economy. Don’t they make enough money as it is? Greedy bastards

    *Bob T:*

    In other words, there aren’t enough “Do as I say, not as I do” lefties in the area to put a stop to it, like they (not the conservatives) killed the windfarm off Nantucket.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • eagle eye

      The farmers are welfare ranchers, this “industry” wouldn’t exist without massive subsidies from the likes of Obama and Ted K.

      It’s amusing to see how these “conservative” ranchers rally round the pig trough when they have a chance.

  • Todd Wynn

    The perfect example of misguided tax credits is the Shepherds Flat wind farm. Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm, once completed, will be known as the world’s largest onshore wind farm, consisting of over 21,000 acres with 303 wind turbines that could provide 909 megawatts (MW) of electricity in full capacity. It turns out that largest wind farm isn’t necessarily being built in Oregon because of wind resources; it happens to be the massive incentives Oregon shovels at wind developers and the relatively close proximity to California.

    In 2007, Oregon ramped up the BETC from 35% to 50% of the upfront capital cost of renewable energy generation and also increased the cap of eligible project costs to $20 million per project. Since Shepherds Flat will be completed in three phases, the developer could claim up to $30 million dollars in tax credits. This is $30 million that could have been in the state budget to fund other state needs.

    In addition to the BETC, the developer has initiated discussions with Gilliam and Morrow County about providing a 15-year property tax exemption. Under the exemption, Shepherds Flat would pay only $1 million annually in property taxes plus service fees. Without an exemption, average annual property taxes would amount to $18 million. This means that these counties lose out on $17 million dollars annually for 15 years due to property tax exemptions which amounts to a total loss of $255 million.

    If the tax breaks would provide many new green jobs and clean energy for Oregon then the loss in tax revenues might be justified. Unfortunately, both of these conjectures are simply just false.
    As far as job creation is concerned, Shepherds Flat is expected to provide up to 250 jobs during construction but these are only temporary jobs. Once built, the facility will only create 25 full time permanent jobs.

    To put this into perspective, in order to incentivize the wind developer to locate in the state, Oregon will lose out on tax revenues totaling $288 million ($30 million BETC and $255 million in property tax exemptions) that could have helped to support state and local governments. Broken down per permanent job, the state has ‘spent’ about $11.5 million per permanent job. This is hardly a logical job growth model.

    What about the wind farm’s energy being produced to serve Oregon energy demand and provide clean power that can be counted towards our renewable portfolio standards? When the project was approved, Michael Grainey, then Director of the Oregon Department of Energy stated, “This is a tremendous day for renewable energy in Oregon…we have taken a large step toward meeting Governor Kulongoski’s climate change goals by developing clean, renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This also helps meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement of 25% renewable electricity by 2025.”

    Apparently many in Oregon have been duped because none of the Shepherd’s Flat power will be consumed in Oregon nor will it provide a credit towards the renewable portfolio standard. The entirety of the wind farm’s energy output will be bought by one utility: Southern California Edison (SCE), a utility serving only Californians. SCE signed a contract with the Shepherds Flat developer to purchase the electric energy and the environmental attributes of the energy produced by the wind farm for 20 years. Because of this contract, SCE will be able to increase its renewable energy portfolio from its current 16% to over the California state-mandated 20% by 2010.

    When the contract was signed, Stuart Hemphill, SCE vice president stated, “This contract is a crown jewel in our renewable energy portfolio. The project is attractive to SCE because of its size, near-term delivery and its competitive price.” California is obviously gaining all of the ‘benefits’ of Shepherds Flat and Oregon is paying for it.

    It is unfortunate that in the legislature’s fervor to create a renewable energy economy in Oregon and blindly supporting a green agenda, state and local governments are handing out generous tax breaks like the BETC for a wind farm that creates a miniscule amount of jobs, doesn’t provide any energy for Oregon, and doesn’t help the state reach its renewable energy goals.

  • Anonymous

    “Since Shepherds Flat will be completed in three phases, the developer could claim up to $30 million dollars in tax credits. This is $30 million that could have been in the state budget to fund other state needs.”

    The operative word in the first sentence is “could”. I don’t think anyone is going to let that happen. Shame on us if we allow ourselves to be swindled in this manner, particularly considering the energy is going to California.

    “In addition to the BETC, the developer has initiated discussions with Gilliam and Morrow County about providing a 15-year property tax exemption. Under the exemption, Shepherds Flat would pay only $1 million annually in property taxes plus service fees. Without an exemption, average annual property taxes would amount to $18 million. This means that these counties lose out on $17 million dollars annually for 15 years due to property tax exemptions which amounts to a total loss of $255 million.”

    Now, why would Gilliam and Morrow County do something like that? At this stage in the game no less?

    “To put this into perspective, in order to incentivize the wind developer to locate in the state, Oregon will lose out on tax revenues totaling $288 million.”

    LOL. Todd, that is pure BS. But you go right on ahead believing and trying to convince others of that nonsense. What is your interest in all this anyway? Just a concerned citizen?

    “California is obviously gaining all of the ‘benefits’ of Shepherds Flat and Oregon is paying for it.”

    Yeah… we Oregonians are so gullible. Taken advantage of again by those mean old business folks. Shucks. Maybe we should raise the corporate minimum tax? Oh!!! Maybe we should start taxing them 0.1% of gross revenues after $500k?

    “It is unfortunate that in the legislature’s fervor to create a renewable energy economy in Oregon and blindly supporting a green agenda, state and local governments are handing out generous tax breaks like the BETC for a wind farm that creates a miniscule amount of jobs, doesn’t provide any energy for Oregon, and doesn’t help the state reach its renewable energy goals.”

    Uh huh… 400+ plus jobs during construction, and I’m so sure you’re concerned with Oregon reaching Ted K’s renewable energy goals.

  • Steve Plunk

    Simple physics tells us wind power is a nonstarter. Energy is a function of mass and velocity. Wind is kinetic energy we turn into electricity. Unfortunately that kinetic energy has little mass and low speed. We are trying to wring out energy from a source that has little.

    The energy gain when burning petrol is quite high as we convert a tiny amount of mass into energy. This is Einstein’s famous E=MC2. Nuclear does even better at converting mass into energy through atomic reaction. Wind will never approach this level of efficiency even if the wind blew all the time.

    Policy makers are ignoring the basics of energy production and opportunistic con men exploit that ignorance. Subsidies have become the mothers milk of shady operators.

    • David Appell

      Steve Plunck: you’re very wrong.

      The generation of energy by burning fossil fuels is a chemical reaction, and the yield is far, far below the theoretical maximum predicted by Einstein’s equation.

      > Simple physics tells us wind power is a nonstarter.

      Wrong. If you integrate the kinetic energy of wind over the size of the turbine, you’ll find that, indeed, the turbines generate ~1 MW. That’s an easily measured number, actually.

      David
      http://trueslant.com/davidappell

      • Steve Plunk

        Sorry David, you’re wrong. The energy created by burning fuel or nuclear is far more than harnessing kinetic energy of wind. Yeah, you can measure it but it still a very small amount.

        BTW, while you’re here, what’s your take on Climategate? Fudging numbers, stifling dissent, attempting to quash peer review, certainly science at it’s worse.

        • David Appell

          > The energy created by burning fuel or nuclear is far more than harnessing kinetic
          > energy of wind. Yeah, you can measure it but it still a very small amount.

          Prove it.

          Tell us how much energy is generated by conventionally burning a liter of oil.

          Then compare that to mc2.

          Show us both numbers.

          • David Appell

            Steve, in your silent absence I have calculated a few numbers.

            Burning gasoline generates about 32 MJ/l, according to Wikipedia.

            mc2 for a liter of gasoline is about 9 billion MJ.

            So, you see, there’s a huge, huge difference between chemical reactions and nuclear reactions — a difference of a factor of about 300 million.

          • eagle eye

            You might check out the article by William Tucker — I haven’t read it but I’ve read other stuff by him — his point is that wind is a very diffuse power source — compared to nuclear fuel (which Tucker favors) and even conventional chemical fuel.

            Nobody is going to dispute that nuclear fuel is far more concentrated in power than chemical fuel. That’s a straw man.

          • Steve Plunk

            Now compare that to harnessing kinetic energy. I wasn’t silent, read my link below.

        • Steve Plunk

          William Tucker explains this all very brilliantly with the following essay.

          http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=2469

      • eagle eye

        I’m afraid Steve Plunk might be in a little deep when he starts talking about relativity. But hey, I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about Einstein’s theory of gravity the other day. He balled up so many things, it was so hilarious I couldn’t keep track! And then there are Al Gore and now Sarah Palin writing learned articles about science. So give poor Steve a break.

        He has a point, anyway. It will take 300 or so of these monsters will generate as much as a nuclear power plant — when the wind is blowing, otherwise, tough luck.

        This is a very diffuse energy source, by comparison to a conventional power plant.

        Just look at the acreage they take up.

        • David Appell

          > It will take 300 or so of these monsters will generate as much as a nuclear
          > power plant — when the wind is blowing, otherwise, tough luck.

          So? They are mostly placed in very rural areas. And they generate no waste. Where are you going to put the waste of your nuclear plants, and make sure if it safe for ~1M yrs?

          > Just look at the acreage they take up.

          Yet, they generate no aerosols or ozone, which contributes to many human health problems and human deaths. How does that factor into your considerations?

          • eagle eye

            “Very rural areas”? Does not the scenic beauty outside the urban areas count for anything? The Oregon Coast, for instance?

            It’s not true that wind power will displace aerosols, etc. Because of the intermittency of wind, either conventional power plants will be needed — and then they will be used — or extremely costly, environmentally disruptive power transmission systems — or both.

            Nuclear waste lasting a million years? Another howler! Actually, after a few hundred years, the waste in no more dangerous than uranium ore, which isn’t stored anywhere.

        • Steve Plunk

          Eagle, E=MC2 and relativity are two different theories. I’m not in too deep. Your condescension is misplaced and unappreciated.

          • eagle eye

            E=mc^2 and relativity two different theories? One of the best howlers yet! Maybe you can even get on the air with Rush!

            You may not appreciate my tip, but you might learn something if you followed up on this.

          • Steve Plunk

            Eagle, I’m not trying to pick a fight but they are different. A quick Wiki look will confirm. Regardless we agree about Tucker. Really, I don’t even listen to Rush so why keep dragging him into this? It’s the message not the messenger we all need to focus on.

          • eagle eye

            You brought physics into it, not me. E = mc2 is a direct consequence of relativity. Einstein’s second paper on relativity in 1905 briefly derived it as a kind of afterthought to his first paper on relativity, of that same year.

            Here’s a translation of the second paper, if you’re interested:

            http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/E_mc2/www/

            Look at the bottom of the link at the name of the collection in which it is published in a book.

            I’ll bet they also teach this stuff in advanced physics courses at SOU. Certainly they do at UO.

            You’re right, this has little to do with Tucker (except that he used E = mc2 as the touchstone for his article, to illustrate the diffuseness of other power sources in comparison with nuclear, of which he’s a big fan.)

          • UO student

            You guys squabble too much.

            eagle is right about relativity. Sorry to bring this news, Steve. m_0c^2 the 4th component of a relativistic 4-vector. Beautiful distilling of Einstein theory by Minkowski space-time. Learned about it at UO.

            Steve is right about Tucker. Maybe he brought it upon himself about about rel and E =, but you’re picking a few nits, eagle. Like that UO prof who gave me a 98 on the final. He’s underpaid, by the way. I’m not kidding. Great teacher, a bug up his nostrils about minus signs. He says I was lucky it wasn’t 95. I said “what about grade inflation?”

            Who’s the other guy here? Too many threads. Appell? Not the one that fell on Newton’s head. A little physics humor??!! Plunk is right, hope you don’t go funk, Appell. eagle right too. “diffuse energy”. Nice.

            My idea: a big underground nuke plant in Eugene. It will drive the crazies nuts. Keep the homeless warm. Maybe pay to keep the county jail going. Win-win-win, that’s what they teach at UO LCB (Lundquist college of business).

          • David Appell

            Again, Steve, I am waiting for your proof.

            As I wrote above, burning gasoline generates about 32 MJ/lilter.

            Yet that same mass of gasoline would generate, by nuclear reactions and Einstein’s equation, 90 billion MJ/l

            See the difference? See how you’re wrong?

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Or do you believe things in the absence of facts?

            You stating something does not establish it as a fact. Sorry.

            You use a lot of questionable sources, as noted. That is why I simply do not believe that because you state something it is a fact.

            That doesn’t mean I do not believe in facts, it simply means I do not believe your statement.

            Your conclusion that because I do not believe your statement means I do not believe in facts does undermine you as a logical presenter of anything however.

          • David Appell

            Rupert wrote:
            > You use a lot of questionable sources, as noted

            Pure unadulterated Bullshit.

            What is wrong with the findings of the Environmental Law Institute, Rupert? Why are they “questionable?”

            Huh? Please tell us.

            All you think is wrong is that they don’t come to a conclusion you like. That’s a very cowardly and chickenshit position. And very, very laughable. Intellectually, you look like a clown.

            You look like a fool, trying to dismiss such scholars who are far more educated and dedicated than you. They have done far more work that you ever will. You should be ashamed.

          • Anonymous

            Rupert, the ELI is a questionable source? Could you explain why? I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m just trying to figure out what is what. Does the ELI have a sketchy reputation or something?

            Here is the full quote:

            “A study released by the Environmental Law Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization, shows that the federal government has provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels totaled approximately $72 billion over the seven-year study period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled $29 billion over the same period. The vast majority of subsidies support energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases when used as fuel. Moreover, just a handful of tax breaks make up the largest portion of subsidies for fossil fuels, with the most significant of these, the Foreign Tax Credit, supporting the overseas production of oil. More than half of the subsidies for renewables are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the use of which, while decreasing American reliance on foreign oil, has generated concern about climate effects.ese figures raise the question of whether scarce government funds might be better allocated to move the United States towards a low-carbon economy.”

            http://www.eli.org/pdf/Energy_Subsidies_Black_Not_Green.pdf

            Here is another seemingly non-partisan source (I am not familiar with either of these organizations) that seems to support what David is saying:

            http://www.pennenergy.com/index/power/renewable-generation/display/8914104241/articles/renewable-energy-world/bioenergy/2009/11/the-federal-energy-subsidy-scorecard-how-renewables-stack-up.html

            Lastly, I don’t think David was drawing any conclusions with regard to your beliefs and their relationship to fact. I think he was asking if you have better information, and if you do could you please share it. Do you have a more reliable source that claims renewable energy receives more subsidization than fossil fuels?

    • Anonymous

      I’ll add to David’s comment that the subsidizing of the renewable energy industry is rationalized as being a wise investment in infrastructure. In other words, it is for the greater good.

  • David Appell

    > so Oregon will only lose about 1521 birds per yea

    Let’s put your uninformed sarcasm into perspective.

    * power lines in America kill about 150M birds/yr
    * auto collisions kill about 70M birds/yr
    * buildings kill about 100M+ birds/yr
    * pesticides kill about 70M birds/yr
    * cats kill about 40M birds/yr

    Source: American Wind Energy Association, http://www.awea.org/faq/sagrillo/swbirds.html

    So your conclusions about bird deaths are clearly false and merely express your bias. You thought you were being clever, and yet all you did was expose your ignorance.

    • Jerry

      If we got rid of windows we could save birds and energy.

  • eagle eye

    Wow, really hard to tell if this is all tongue-in-cheek or not. I can’t tell if the great satirist Jerry is serious or not.

    Highly weird to hear so many erstwhile anti-government, free market types coming out here for this massively subsidized, government-financed boondoggle.

    I guess you’ve all turned into Obamaites?

    Or maybe when the scam goes into the pockets of rural Oregon types, that makes it OK?

    Or maybe this is all a trick on dean aka v. person?

    • David Appell

      > Highly weird to hear so many erstwhile anti-government, free
      > market types coming out here for this massively subsidized,
      > government-financed boondoggle.

      Are all you anti-government types equally opposed to the ~$50B/yr subsidies and tax breaks given to the fossil fuel industry?

      • Anonymous

        Oh, snap!

      • eagle eye

        Oh, hogwash. The profits on a gallon of gas are far less even than the taxes I pay when I fill up. And then the oil companies have to pay more taxes on the profits. Whatever else there is to be said about it, oil is about the most honestly priced energy source there is.

        • David Appell

          > Whatever else there is to be said about it, oil is about the most
          > honestly priced energy source there is.

          Really?

          Examine the US budget and underlying legislation.

          Report back to us on the number you obtain for subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

          I’m waiting.

          • eagle eye

            You came up with this nonsense, you do the report.

          • David Appell

            Environmental Law Institute:
            http://www.eli.org/pressdetail.cfm?ID=205

            For the period 2002-2008… “the lion’s share of energy subsidies supported energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.

            “The research demonstrates that the federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Fossil fuels benefited from approximately $72 billion over the seven-year period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled only $29 billion.”

          • Rupert in Springfield

            I think most people here, myself included would be more than happy to end whatever mysterious oil subsidies you are talking about.

            Frankly I would start with Al Gore and his scam with selling off the US Navel reserve of Tea Pot Dome fame a few years back for a song.

            Id be more than happy to end the subsidies. I have a feeling they are not any $50B because I bet if I looked I would find a bunch of nonsense like assumed health costs and other stuff totalitarians like yourself have a tendency to thro into the mix.

          • David Appell

            > I think most people here, myself included would be more than happy to end
            > whatever mysterious oil subsidies you are talking about.

            Your actions bely this claim. You people here never bitch about the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, but only about those to the renewable energy industry, even though they are significantly less. That demonstrates either a serious ignorance, a serious bias, or both.

            David
            http://trueslant.com/davidappell

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Your actions bely this claim

            No they don’t as you have repeatedly made this charge and I have repeatedly stated I would happily end oil subsidies tomorrow.

            Most people I know of associated with this blog would love to end oil subsidies and I have heard them say so both here and in person.

            >You people here never bitch about the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, but only about those to the renewable energy industry, even though they are significantly less.

            Well, thats because what you are saying is a flat out lie. People have a tendancy to want to build oil wells and power plants without having to go to the department of government hand outs first. Not so with wind farms etc.

            >That demonstrates either a serious ignorance, a serious bias, or both.

            No, it just simply demonstrates that I dont accept that fossile fuels are subsidized more than wind and solar simply because you say so.

            I see no evidence of this being the fact and the reality of the situation is that logic tells us you are wrong.

            To wit – if fossile fuels were subsidized more than wind and solar, then wind and solar would be far more profitable industries compared to fossile fuels than they stand today.

            There is also reason to suspect your claim. Lets face it, you consider James Hansen a reasonable and unbiased source regarding AGW, so it is probable your claim that fossile fuels are subsidized more than wind solar comes from a similer source.

          • David Appell

            Rupert wrote:
            > No, it just simply demonstrates that I dont accept that fossile fuels are
            > subsidized more than wind and solar simply because you say so.

            Rupert, what you “think” is irrelevant. This is a matter of facts.

            If you have better facts, then present them, with sources.

            Or do you believe things in the absence of facts?

          • Conscience of a Moonbat

            Now it is clear that David is a ClimateGate denier. It’s just too painful to admit it when your entire religion is shown to be a fraud and a hoax. The biggest hoax in history. So now, at last, these ‘bat crap comments with open ended questions are plain to see for what they are: a spiritual disorder.

          • David Appell

            Climate science is not a “religion,” no matter how much you try to twist it as such.

            That’s a very weak defense, which tells me you do not understand the underlying science and have made no attempt to do so. I’ve very sure you know what I mean.

            Climate change is about _science_. There is simply no other explanation for the climate of the last few decades without envoking man’s contribution. The IPCC 4AR spells this out very precisely.

            Have you read the 4AR? Please, tell us. I’m very sure you have not.

            In the scientific debate, your opinions are uninformed and have no consequence. And yet you dare to think you know better than people who are far more educated than you, far more dedicated, who work far harder than you.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Climate science is not a “religion,” no matter how much you try to twist it as such.

            Climate science may not be, but AGW increasingly does increasingly resemble a religion both in its clerics and the congregation.

            After the revelations of Climategate we know scientists have destroyed the original data and have worked to quash any dissent. That’s about as close to a religion as one can get. Destroy the data that would enable checking of your conclusions and crush out any dissent when people don’t want to simply trust you on your numbers.

            What about the believers?

            Well, they behave exactly as faith based members would.

            Was your faith shaken at all by Climategate? Of course not. Have you said maybe we need to step back and examine some of these charges, because if true they open up a whole can of worms as to the validity of the AGW claim.

            Of course you haven’t.

            So we have another aspect of religious belief – Unquestioning faith in spite of objective evidence.

            Its pretty much a text book case of religion. You might not like that, but it is the current state of affairs.

            You want to prove me wrong and maybe be taken seriously as someone interested in science rather than religious agenda?

            Try taking a step back and admit that the East Anglia revelations, which give strong evidence to the claim dissent was quashed, deserve thorough investigation before drastic AGW measures can be taken up.

            That’s what a reasonable person would do. A religious zealot however would remain undaunted in their belief system.

            >And yet you dare to think you know better than people who are far more educated than you, far more dedicated, who work far harder than you.

            Who dares to speak above the voice of Pharaoh!

            Get real – Scientists these days have about as much credibility as a congressman. That’s a good thing by the way as science has always been one of the most political of professions. It is good for the populace to view scientists and their claims with a healthy degree of skepticism as science has always been at the forfront of political manipulation throughout history. Our time is no exception and AGW is just another in a long series of those manipulations.

            So what’s bugging you? Is it the fact that all us uninformed people had been saying for years that there sure seem to be a lot of scientists out there saying dissent was being quashed and now we have been proven right by Climategate?

            You don’t have to be a scientist to know when you are being hosed.

            Now more than ever, with so many scientists reliant on government funding it is hardly surprising they render the results government wants.

            Or are you one of these clowns who think that line only works one way?

            I bet you would leap all over anyone who brought up research done by an oil company.

          • David Appell

            >>Climate science is not a “religion,” no matter
            >> how much you try to twist it as such.

            > Climate science may not be, but AGW increasingly does
            > increasingly resemble a religion both in its clerics and
            > the congregation.

            Pure bullshit, and profound ignorance from Rupert.

            The fact is, modern climate cannot be explained with anthropogenic factors. It’s that simple.

            If you can explain it, Rupert, then show us the proof. Stop your ignorant bloviating and show us the proof. Your calculations a paper, anything….

            Average global temperatures have been increasing by about 0.16-0.18 C/decade since about 1975. Show us the factors and the calculations that support such a large rate of increase.

            Put up, Rupert.

          • David Appell

            Rupert wrote:
            > …AGW increasingly does increasingly resemble a religion both in its clerics and
            > the congregation.

            Again, pure ignorant bullshit.

            AGW is accepted because there is simply no other way to explain modern climate without incorporating modern factors.

            There is absolutely no “religion” or “faith” involved. This is a matter of mathematics.

            If you, Rupert, can explain the last several decades of climate without man’s influence, then present your proof. Or shut up.

          • v person

            “After the revelations of Climategate we know scientists have destroyed the original data and have worked to quash any dissent. That’s about as close to a religion as one can get.”

            No we don’t know that. The original data in question still exists. They apparently only got rid of one version of that data and that was decades ago. We also don’t know that the scientists in question worked to “quash *any* dissent.” What they tried to do, unsuccessfully as it turned out, was to keep 2 whole papers out of the mix. Those papers ended up being published and were chock full of errors.

            None of this has anything to do with religion. Scientists in all fields trash each other and their respective findings. Its called intellectual competition, not religion.

            “Was your faith shaken at all by Climategate? Of course not. ”

            This is a “do you still beat your wife” question. If one did not have any “faith” to begin with, other than faith in accepting the facts as they are instead of as we wish them to be, then there was no faith to be shaken. The real question is whether anything turned up in the emails that changes to facts or the science. So far, the answer is no.

            “Try taking a step back and admit that the East Anglia revelations, which give strong evidence to the claim dissent was quashed, deserve thorough investigation before drastic AGW measures can be taken up.”

            Or support moving ahead with a gradual reduction in CO2 emissions, which will cost little according to the CBO, and if it turns out the science is wrong end the program later on.

  • Elgin47

    It is a provable fact that 30 jobs in a typical frontier rural Eastern Oregon county have the equivalent economic impact of over 10,000+ jobs in Multnomah County. I can prove it with census numbers, so don’t go there. Gilliam County has a population density of 1.6 people per square mile – Multnomah County density is 1518/sq. mi. – see below.

    The rural Eastern Oregon vs. urban Western Oregon – particularly in the “Big Five” counties – economic proportionality (or any other proportionality for that matter) and population density disparity is always difficult for urban folks to grasp. That’s if they care enough to try, which unfortunately many – BUT NOT ALL – do not. I have many friends in Portland, Salem, etc. so I’m not generalizing here – but neither should other people generalize in their assumptions about what does or does not represent viable investment.

    Eastern Oregon wind project developers directly provide several hundred jobs in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties – and those jobs are still there, generating dollars and the turn on those dollars in those counties.

    Oh yeah – you city boys have something to eat because the “welfare farmers” farm – it may come as a shock to somebody who’s never been off the pavement but Safeway and Fred Meyer don’t really make the food.

    • eagle eye

      Ho ho Elgin, farmers grow food, I didn’t know that, they didn’t teach us that where I grew up back in the midwest, I thought those cornfields were part of Disney World.

      I’m happy to pay the market price for farm goods, no problem.

      But wind power is a massively subsidized boondoggle.

      When the farmers start pigging up the sty with that, they’ve turned into welfare queens. Just like the city kind, except the farmers get far more out of it.

      Again, really a hoot when the rugged free market types start lining up for the wind power feed! I suppose next you’ll join your pal Obama in supporting cap and trade.

      I’d have less problem with the wind business if I didn’t know it only exists because of massive direct government subsidies.

    • David Appell

      > It is a provable fact that 30 jobs in a typical frontier rural Eastern Oregon county
      > have the equivalent economic impact of over 10,000+ jobs in Multnomah County. I
      > can prove it with census numbers, so don’t go there. Gilliam County has a population
      > density of 1.6 people per square mile – Multnomah County density
      > is 1518/sq. mi. – see below.

      No.

      Economics doesn’t work like that.

      Regardless of population density, it still takes roughly the same amount to live in eastern OR as in Multnomah County. Sure, it’s maybe 25% less, but that’s about it. It’s not the factor of 1000 like you’re trying to imply.

  • Elgin47

    I’m not going to get into a little battle with you, “eagle eye”, but just a couple of things:

    I said wasn’t generalizing, so:

    If you aren’t either -1) a “city boy” (regardless of your midwestern cornfield heritage); or -2) someone who’s “never been off the pavement”; then you shouldn’t be terribly incensed by my comments (which were admittedly and deliberately sarcastic) – this stuff wasn’t directed at you, so your outrage is not only misplaced but likely manufactured.

    You can’t pay market price for farm goods because the government perverts the economics of the market. I don’t like it either, never have. And while I could be wrong, I suspect I’ve been around the farm business a little longer than y’all – again the cornfield thing notwithstanding.

    Wind power is indeed subsidized, but so was the REA – and FWI I find electricity really comes in handy – and often – at least for us out here in the hinterlands.

    Frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about with respect to “pigging up the sty” and ‘welfare queen” comments. I’m thinking maybe you really are a city boy so there’s no sense in going down this path.

    Your observation about me and Obama/cap and trade is both uninformed and laughable, something to which anyone who knows me would readily attest. Nice try, but dead wrong on that one, dude. While I could be wrong, you sound like a faux conservative to me, and good luck with that.

    • eagle eye

      Elgin — I see no reason for massive subsidies for electricity, it’s a long time since REA, the Great Depression, and all that.

      By pigging up the sty, I’m talking about erstwhile rugged ranchers who are happy with a massive boondoggle like wind power, who don’t give a damn about ruining the landscape, all for the payments (bribes?) they get for the use of their land. Yes, I call them welfare ranchers. And those who call themselves conservatives are faux conservatives to me. Complete fakes!

      And even aside from that, there’s the little matter of the massive farm subsidies. You may say you don’t like them, I can’t tell, but someone out there in rural America does, it’s not the city guys who keep yammering for them.

  • Jerry

    Water will be our next thing to send to CA.

  • John in Oregon

    An interesting exchange occurred up thread that deserves more consideration. Steve Plunk raised the question of utility and energy density. David Appell responded by asserting that Steve was wrong. Then unfortunately the discussion went off into the weeds with challenges to calculate the Joules of energy produced.

    David said > *Wrong. If you integrate the kinetic energy of wind over the size of the turbine, you’ll find that, indeed, the turbines generate ~1 MW. That’s an easily measured number, actually.*

    As best I understand David’s meaning here, he is correct. Restating with a more useful prospective, a 1 MegaWatt (MW) turbine will produce 1 Million watts at the design wind speed lets say that’s 30 Kph for our example. With this comment David leaves the impression that the turbine will produce 1 MW X 8,760 (Hours in a year) to equal 8,760 MegaWatt hours (MWH) of energy.

    Another way of saying this is that with a large enough collector useful amounts of energy can be collected from low density sources. This is where the discussion swings to Steve’s point, which is the utility or energy density of wind as a power source. Wind is not a constant source of power.

    Frequently the wind will be less than 30 Kph, often not at all. Less than 1 MW is produced. Sometimes the wind will be greater than 30 Kph, requiring the turbine to feather and shut down. Again less than 1 MW is produced.

    The industry has addressed this lowered output by name plate de-rating. Generally between 20 and 30 percent the typical 1 MW generator would produce something like 1,752 MWH not 8,760 MWH.

    That is s long term average and as Steve was suggesting far from all of the story. If it were one would only need to build four more turbines. The real question is will the wind blow when people need power? Frequently a very large wind collector will recover nothing.

    Wind power is what I call rude power, not well behaved. Wind blows when it wants, its power a bad mannered boy. Thus we have the enviros solution, the smart grid. An attempt to compel energy usage based on sporadic availability. Wind blows at 3 AM, that’s when you take your shower. For this simple reason both the UK and Germany have found wind power can never provide more than about 4 to 9 percent of total load power.

    Which brings us to Todd Wynn’s point. > *The perfect example of misguided tax credits is the Shepherds Flat wind farm. Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm, once completed, will be known as the world’s largest onshore wind farm, consisting of over 21,000 acres with 303 wind turbines that could provide 909 megawatts (MW) of electricity in full capacity. It turns out that largest wind farm isn’t necessarily being built in Oregon because of wind resources; it happens to be the massive incentives Oregon shovels at wind developers and the relatively close proximity to California.*

    Generally I prefer the free market open trade point of view. But lets be honest about what those misguided tax credits really are. They are a government subsidy intended to allow an unprofitable industry to be marginally competitive. A subsidy obtained by taping the limitless tax coffers of Salem. When Salem runs out they can just get more by raising taxes on the people of Oregon.

    Oregon tax payers subsidizing the “green power” needs of California. Needs that exist only because of California government meddled in that states energy market sector.

    Which brings me to a question that Todd Wynn may be able to answer.

    In the last few weeks AltaRock Energy has removed its drill rig and informed the government that the Geysers geothermal project about 100 miles north of San Francisco will be abandoned. AltaRock Energy has another project at the Newberry Volcanic Monument.

    Todd is it possible this can become another Oregon subsidy of the power needs of California?

    David Appell I would be interested in your comments on two points.

    1] Darwin Station Zero?

    And

    2] What do you think of the speculation that Keith Briffa may be Deep Cloud, the CRU whistle blower?

    • v person

      My understanding is that wind turbines placed on favorable sites generate at maximum capacity around 1/3 of the time. They generate some electricity more like 75-90% of the time. The companies that build them estimate how many electrons they can sell over the 20 year investment span, negotiate a price with utilities, and then turn the meter on. More wind electrons mean fewer coal or other electrons, so to whatever extent they produce it is to the good if one doesn’t like air pollution.

      New capital intensive industries need favorable government treatment to get doing. The US has been providing this since the building of canals, followed by railroads, and favorable tax policies have included nuclear energy (which only exists at all because of government R&D, and even the internet for that matter, also largely developed by the government. Why make such a fuss over wind energy? Are we that in love with cheap coal and all the problems burning it creates?

      I’m all for the free market as well. But the air I breathe should not be free for utility companies to use as for waste disposal.

      • Todd Wynn

        In order to function properly, the electricity grid must remain in perfect supply and demand equilibrium. This means that adding an inconsistent power source such as wind turbines to the grid is difficult for BPA to balance energy properly. When the wind begins blowing and wind turbines begin generating electricity, another power source must be ramped down or shut off in order to prevent an overload of electricity. In the Pacific Northwest and under BPA, hydroelectricity is ramped down in order to accommodate wind power. This means that the production of wind power is not directly offsetting any emissions at all. In fact, it is simply replacing another renewable energy source (I consider hydro renewable although others may not in Oregon).

        Technically, new wind farms do not add any direct energy capacity to the electricity grid because they must always be backed up by another power source. This means that helping to fund new renewable generation from wind farms does not necessarily prevent new fossil fuel plants from being built. In fact, it may actually encourage new fossil fuel plants to be built. Often where hydroelectricity is not used to back up inconsistent renewable power, natural gas plants are used. In order to support wind power, fossil fuel plants, such as natural gas are operating with the wind to cover the times when the wind turbines are not producing energy. This type of back up, known as spinning reserve, can be ramped up or down quickly depending on demand of electricity or unavailability of wind. Because of the difficulty and length of time to start up and shut down a fossil fuel plant, spinning reserve is necessary to make sure the energy on the grid stays in supply demand equilibrium. Spinning reserve is similar to leaving a car idling; the generator is running but it is not producing electricity. While fossil fuel plants are operating in spinning reserve they are still emitting pollution and greenhouse gases while producing no electricity. In Germany, for instance, the heavy integration of wind power has not reduced carbon emissions at all and additional coal and natural gas plants have been constructed to “ensure reliable delivery”. Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM, one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities, has stated that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

        • David Appell

          > Technically, new wind farms do not add any direct energy capacity to the electricity grid
          > because they must always be backed up by another power source. This means that
          > helping to fund new renewable generation from wind farms does not necessarily
          > prevent new fossil fuel plants from being built. In fact, it may actually encourage
          > new fossil fuel plants to be built.

          FF plants may be built, but they will be used much less often with wind power in place. That’s the whole point. No one says wind power will supply 100% of our power needs. They say it will provide a certain percentage that is carbon-free. And that’s the really important part for the future of our civilization.

          Besides, people are only just starting to look at how wind energy might be stored. Do not dismiss such research yet, especially as more research money become available to address the problem.

          • Todd Wynn

            Actually running the fossil fuel plants on spinning standby can produce more emissions and pollutants than running flat out at their most efficient rate of operation.

            Developers can build a 100 MW wind farm to provide variable non dis-patchable energy but that 100 mw must be backed up by other sources. Lets say it is backed up by a 100 MW natural gas plant…..so we construct 50 or so turbines and take up a few thousand acres in eastern oregon along with the construction emissions since the material requirements for wind turbines are up to 40-50 times greater than for gas powered plants per unit of output and can have only half the useful life.

            Then we build a natural gas plant to run on spinning standby to back up the wind. We are essentially building two power plants for the energy of one.

            It may very well be more ‘environmentally friendly’ to just make the 100 mw natural gas plant which provides continuous power to the grid.

          • David Appell

            Ultimately it does not matter if backup sites are spinning all the time or not. The need to cut carbon emissions is the paramount concern for everyone.

            I doubt that meteorologists cannot predict the weather/wind enough to know when to tell FF sources to “spin up” or lay dormant.

            It is also necessary for us to develop backup batteries/hydro storage/other means to temporarily store excess wind energy.

            But most importantly of all, no society has the right to say “we must have all the electricity we want” at the expense of the ability of future generations to exist.

            If you want limitless power, put up enough solar panels on your property. You can have all the solar power you want.

            If, as a last resort, power must be rationed so our race survives, then it must be rationed. We can shunt power to the most critical needs, and the rest of us will survive — just as the US invasion of Iraq devastated their infrastructure and required them to live without electricity for most of the hours of a day. Perhaps we will see what it’s like to have have our country ruined by other’s greed. It’s only fair.

          • Todd Wynn

            David,
            “No society has the right to say “we must have all the electricity we want” at the expense of the ability of future generations to exist.” – Really? Is this really your argument?

            “If you want limitless power, put up enough solar panels on your property. You can have all the solar power you want.” – Limitless except for….um….when the sun doesn’t shine. I suppose hospitals and emergency rooms can just wait for the sun to shine before surgeries. Also, residential PV produces power at about 54 cents a kWh. Do you expect all people to be able to afford that? Did you know that just last year alone 1 in 20 Oregonians had their electricity shut off due to non-payment?…. And this was at 7-10 cents a kWh. This idea would literally be leaving people out in the cold.

            “If, as a last resort, power must be rationed so our race survives, then it must be rationed.”- Wow…..no comment to this other than I am glad you are not in a position of political power.

            It is obvious that we cannot engage in a legitimate conversation about the flaws of wind generation. I concede and realize that I cannot reason someone out of something that they weren’t reasoned into to begin with. It is a waste of time and energy…

          • David Appell

            > I suppose hospitals and emergency rooms can just wait for the sun to shine
            > before surgeries.

            No, and I don’t advocate that. I do think you or I can go without power for a few hours if hospitals need it more than you or I do. But I don’t think we have to live in the Dark Ages to solve AGW. We have to install renewable energy on a massive scale. We have to take advantage of all cutting-edge technologies and tap the smarts of all the nano- and opto- and phontonic- and bio- and engineerin graduates coming out of school. We need to be funding the educations of 10x as many. We need to fund their research and cut them all the tax breaks we can. They are, literally, the future of our civilization.

            Even in just the last years we’ve seen ideas come out for energy-saving technologies — some good (like wave power), and some bad (as with ethanol) that could help solve the problem. Such ideas would never have come about in the ’90s when we were fat and happy on fossil fuels. Science, ideas, and regulations all help push such ideas forward — in fact, help to create them.

            We can just sit back and burn fossil fuels, as you seem to prefer, and continue to endanger our lives via a buildup of GHGs. Or we can attack the problem and try to solve it.

            PS: Todd, I’m still waiting to hear which journal editors the CRU scientists “forced out?”

            Also, residential PV produces power at about 54 cents a kWh. Do you expect all people to be able to afford that? Did you know that just last year alone 1 in 20 Oregonians had their electricity shut off due to non-payment?…. And this was at 7-10 cents a kWh. This idea would literally be leaving people out in the cold.

            “If, as a last resort, power must be rationed so our race survives, then it must be rationed.”- Wow…..no comment to this other than I am glad you are not in a position of political power.

            It is obvious that we cannot engage in a legitimate conversation about the flaws of wind generation. I concede and realize that I cannot reason someone out of something that they weren’t reasoned into to begin with. It is a waste of time and energy…
            #17.1.1.1.1.1.1 Todd Wynn on 2009-12-15 15:55 (Reply)

          • David Appell

            > Also, residential PV produces power at about 54 cents a kWh.

            That’s not my understanding — what is your information source?

            What would the price be if the solar industry got all the subsidies that the fossil fuel industry does? Be sure to include the price of all our wars in the Middle East?

            > Do you expect all people to be able to afford that? Did you know that just
            > last year alone 1 in 20 Oregonians had their electricity shut off due to non-payment?….
            > And this was at 7-10 cents a kWh. This idea would literally be leaving people out in the cold.

            Since when do conservatives worry about some people being out in the cold? That scenario is called “capitalism.”

            Of course, no one should be cold or unable to afford clean environmentally sound electricity. We can being by taxing wasteful industries until they change their ways to keep from polluting the common environment.

            Then, since it’s far more important that everyone in the state/country/world have heat, we can tax windfall profits on Wall Street (which have lately been coming straight from the bailouts of taxpayers anyway — capitalism for thee, socialism for me) and rescinding tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s obscene that some people should live in ugly wealth while others literally scavenge for food from the ground.

        • v person

          “This means that adding an inconsistent power source such as wind turbines to the grid is difficult for BPA to balance energy properly.”

          Yes…so it is difficult. But they are already learning how to do it successfully. Lots of things are difficult. America has the technical capacity to overcome difficult problems. Its part of our genetic code. Ignoring problems is easier I suppose.

          “In the Pacific Northwest and under BPA, hydroelectricity is ramped down in order to accommodate wind power. This means that the production of wind power is not directly offsetting any emissions at all.”

          Your conclusion is faulty. When hydro power is ramped down, that means more water is stored behind dams that can be used later, and that hydro can and does displace fossil fuels. The key impediment in the NW to reducing fossil fuel use is continued burning of coal at Boardman based on coal being cheap.

          “Technically, new wind farms do not add any direct energy capacity to the electricity grid ”

          The capacity of the grid is based on the number of high voltage lines. No generating plant adds capacity to the grid. Only adding new power lines adds capacity to the grid. Every wind turbine adds new electrons to the grid.

          You seem to think electricity is in constant supply and demand, with or without wind. It isn’t. Power use varies a lot over the course of a day and seasonally.

    • Todd Wynn

      John,

      I would assume that geothermal can and will be subsidized through the BETC.

      Yet I would not assume that this facility is going to be built. As soon as it is about to come online or be officially ‘approved’, there will be a great number of protesters against it.

  • Mort

    These bird killers will revolutionize the way Oregon gets its revenue.

  • John in Oregon

    VP your numbers are in the ballpark > *wind turbines … generate at … around 1/3*. The output is not expressed in time however, the useful measure is watt hours. 30 percent is the typical theoretical number based on wind history. 20 percent is the typical number based on real turbine experience from the Brits, Spanish and Germans. Either way 20 to 30 percent is the ballpark for energy opportunity due to wind availability.

    But we need to take the next step. The Brits, Germans and Spanish found it isnt as simple as 20 percent de-rating. What happens when the wind blows when demand for power is low? As Todd pointed out > *When the wind begins blowing and wind turbines begin generating electricity, another power source must be ramped down or shut off in order to prevent an overload of electricity.* So we cut back power from Bonneville dam and spill the water instead. That’s power wasted. This is what happens when the wind energy opportunity does not line up with the supply / demand balance.

    VP I think you may misunderstand the electric power supply / demand balance. You commented > *You seem to think electricity is in constant supply and demand, with or without wind. It isn’t. Power use varies a lot over the course of a day and seasonally.*

    You are correct the demand changes constantly. Todd is not saying the demand is constant. He is saying the power supply must constantly exactly equal the demand. If it does not and the supply is less than demand then a brown out results. If however supply is greater than demand then an over volt condition results. Both are bad.

    David Appell correctly points out that > *No one says wind power will supply 100% of our power needs. They say it will provide a certain percentage that is carbon-free.*

    Currently the real life numbers for wind are that 4 percent of total power is easily achievable. Perhaps as high as 9 percent with careful power system management and design. The real life examples also show near zero carbon gain, in some cases a carbon loss.

    The only carbon free energy source is nuclear.

    David did touch on the single most important point for wind / solar. > *Besides, people are only just starting to look at how wind energy might be stored. Do not dismiss such research yet, especially as more research money become available to address the problem.*

    Storage is something I have been talking about for some time. Problem is there is nothing on the theoretical horizon that fills that need let alone a technology mature enough for a demonstration project. A great deal of basic research is still needed. Superconductor Ring storage and CNT storage are still in the theory stage. Where is the Star Gate ZPM when you need one?

    VP said > *When hydro power is ramped down, that means more water is stored behind dams that can be used later, and that hydro can and does displace fossil fuels.*

    This is only true when the reservoir is half empty AND there is no minimum stream flow requirement. The ability to store water on the fly for later use is more often not the case.

    David Appell, up thread I asked you two questions. These were not trick or gutcha questions. I am interested in your thoughts on Darwin Station Zero and the speculation that Keith Briffa may be Deep Cloud, the CRU whistle blower.

    Todd: Senator Wydens announcement of “recovery act” money to AltaRock Energy was via DOE. That’s the Federal sugar on top. I agree with you the facility will be blocked. Just as the California project died.

    I notice you commented > *“If, as a last resort, power must be rationed so our race survives, then it must be rationed.”- Wow…..no comment to this other than I am glad you are not in a position of political power.*

    That’s the problem isnt it? There is no shortage of self appointed “experts” that wish to make the “correct” decisions for people so they can be instructed how to live their lives. Liberty is such a silly thing when its wasted on the people. Uneducated people who just waste Liberty on their own selfish goals. Thus we get comments like *I do think you or I can go without power for a few hours if hospitals need it more than you or I do.* Of course who better to make those decisions than the un-elected expert bureaucrats in Government.

    David you asked > *Todd, I’m still waiting to hear which journal editors the CRU scientists “forced out?”*

    Your question is rigged. You asked a straw man question. As you asked it the answer is none. The CRU as an institution did not put pressure on editors. That honor fell to a core group of IPCC related scientists affiliated with a number of institutions including CRU. Further the goal was not to push out journal editors. The goal was to embargo publication of any contrary research. That pattern is quite clear in the CRU Climategate emails.

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