So many renewable energy projects, so much money, so little need

You ever get the feeling your public officials are playing fast and loose with your money?

The latest example appears on tomorrow’s agenda when the Clark County Commission sits down to hear zoning issues. One of the issues to be addressed is whether to allow an extension of time for Duke Energy’s permit to build a wind farm on Bureau of Land Management land east of Searchlight. The permit is set to expire. (The original proposal included windmills west of U.S. 95 as well, but Harry Reid lives there and for some explicable reason revised plans have excluded windmills there.)

The matter originally was slated for the so-called consent agenda, a number of non-controversial matters that are generally voted on as a block without discussion. But I’m told the item will be heard separately to allow some residents of the area to comment.

California windmills

The plan is for Duke to erect up to 87 windmills that would produce 200 megawatts of power. One problem is: NV Energy plans to purchase only 250 megawatts of renewable energy in 2014 and 2015 to comply with a state law mandating the company purchase 25 percent of its power from “green” energy sources by 2025. The Searchlight project is but one of dozens  of solar and wind projects proposed on BLM land in Southern Nevada alone.

My best calculation is that Duke is seeking the permit extension merely to hedge its bet. The 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year and Congress has not yet seen fit to extend it, though Reid is expected to push for it. Without that tax break, most experts say such wind projects cannot be viable financially. If the tax credit expires so will the wind projects.

And that is merely one way the “green” energy companies pick your pocket. NV Energy is paying a wind farm near Ely nearly 10 cents a Kwh, about three times the cost of generating with natural gas or coal.

And pay no attention to the government doublethink in which the feds want to protect sage grouse from extinction but will allow only 2,000 egg-sucking ravens to be killed each year under the Migratory Bird Act, while windmills are given a pass when they kill migratory birds.

Robert Bryce at the Manhattan Institute has just published a paper revealing a number of ways in which taxpayers and ratepayers shell out for wind energy:

  • On a per-unit-of-energy-produced basis, the PTC (production tax credit) provides a subsidy to the wind industry that is at least 12 times greater than that provided to the oil and gas sector and 6.5 times greater than that provided to the nuclear industry.
  • More than two-thirds of the American population live in states that have mandated the use of renewable electricity, and those mandates are imposing significant costs on ratepayers. (Nevada, of course, is one of those.)
  • If viewed solely as a job-saving measure, a one-year extension of the PTC will cost about $329,000 per job.
  • Despite numerous violations, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — has unofficially exempted the wind industry from prosecution under the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts. If Congress extends the PTC, federal taxpayers will, in effect, be subsidizing the killing of federally protected birds.

Bryce reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 440,000 birds are killed annually by wind turbines, a violation of federal laws punishable by fines of $250,000 and/or two years in prison. But no windmill operator has ever been prosecuted.

“No other segment of the energy sector gets as much preferential treatment as the wind-energy industry,” Bryce concludes. “Up until last year, the corn-ethanol industry enjoyed both a mandate and a subsidy. Congress ended the corn-ethanol subsidy, but the industry still enjoys a mandate. The wind-energy sector is lobbying hard in Congress to retain the production tax credit even though more than 220 million people live in states with mandates on renewable-electricity production. The wind industry has had 20 years of subsidies. If it cannot manage to stay in business without subsidies, it doesn’t deserve to be in business.”

But the BLM beat for giving free public land to “green” power companies goes on and on. Below is a map of the dozens of projects now in the works. All are dependent on subsidies and mandates, without which all would deservedly wither and die, as they should.

Click on the map to see a larger version online.

Will the Clark County Commission tomorrow aide and abet this ongoing slit purse racket?

13 comments on “So many renewable energy projects, so much money, so little need

  1. Steve says:

    Harry still lives in Searchlight? I could’a swore he lives in DC at the Ritz Carlton!

  2. brucefeher says:

    Put the windmills on the Mall by the Capitol Building in Washington. When congess is in session there will be enough hot air to generate enough geen energy for everyone!

  3. Never work, Bruce. Windmills automatically shutdown when the wind speed exceeds 55 mph.


  4. […] Of course, neither has the company yet signed a buyer for any electricity it might someday produce, nor has Congress extended the production tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour that makes such projects financially viable. […]

  5. Rincon says:

    In one of the other posts, it was stated that wind power is three times as expensive as that from coal.
    The above post is predicated on wind power being far more expensive than coal. I consider this assumption to be questionable. To show a different perspective (read: different pack of lies), I have below claims made by the other side, which I don’t believe either:

    “The cost of electricity generated from wind is now at record lows: several projects in high resource areas (US, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico) display a levelised cost of energy – excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance – below EUR 50/MWh ($68/MWh). This compares to current estimated average costs of $67 per MWh for coal-fired power and $56 per MWh for gas-fired power.” (In $/kWh, the figures would thus be less than $0.068/kWh for wind, $0.067/kWh for coal, and $0.056/kWh for gas-fired power.)

    Note that the calculated costs exclude subsidies. Garnering “facts” from organizations that promote an agenda such as Clean Technica or the Manahattan Institute is bound to lead to false conclusions. As usual, I believe the truth is in the middle.

  6. Steve says:

    90 billion in one year for green energy subsidies = 50 years of oil subsidies. Simple math.

  7. Then why does Spring Valley wind farm charge NV Energy 9.8 cents a Kwh, Rincon?

  8. Rincon says:

    I have to conclude that your analysis is correct Thomas. I poked around and, although I found lots of “dependable sources” that claimed 4-6 cents/KWH as the present cost for wind power, I cannot find any analysis or excuse given for the 9.8 cent figure. The vast majority of sources don’t even mention the cost per KWH. I’m amazed and saddened by the superficial coverage that passes for news reporting.

    The National Review article sums it up nicely. Any time you start hearing about how something creates jobs, hold onto your wallet. “Making jobs” is the most shallow excuse possible for any project.

    Thanks for the education. That’s why I’m on this blog.

  9. The only way to make renewables cost out is to a apply a huge artificial cost for carbon output, Rincon. But that doesn’t take into account the idle factor that increases the carbon out of fossil fuel plants needed for power on windless and sunless days.

  10. Steve says:

    And that effect results in MORE carbon taxes too!

  11. Rincon says:

    Once I slept on it, a couple of other things came to mind which might explain the disparity of figures, perhaps only partially (I can’t go down without a fight – It’s against my religion 🙂 ). It’s hard to accept that a large number of sources claim that coal and wind are similar in cost and yet on this project, the cost doesn’t appear to be close at all. Are all of the sources wrong? I’m still not sure.

    I believe the new transmission lines for the Spring Valley plant are 240 miles long. I looked up the cost of transmission lines and the stated cost is 1.5-2 million dollars per mile. That would make the cost of the lines somewhere near 360-480 million dollars. The cost of the project was given as $250 million. That makes the transmission lines more expensive than the wind farm itself, if my figures are accurate, although the transmission lines should last longer than the turbines. When average figures are given for the cost of wind, coal, etc. power generation, I would assume them to not include transmission costs since these are so variable. Is it possible that much of what NV Power is paying for is the questionable practice of locating a power source 240 miles away from where the electricity is to be used?

    Another thought: In Illinois, we can buy power directly through independent producers. Com Ed only gets paid for only power delivery, which does not include the cost of the producer delivering the power to Com Ed. If NV Power is doing the same thing, is it possible that the 9,8 cents/KWH is the retail price?

  12. […] the lowest ratios in the country, according to Wind Action. But fear not for the owners. They are paid 9.8 cents per kWh by NV Energy, about three times the cost of natural gas-fired electricity. The state has […]

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