All those wind turbines do more than ruffle a few feathers

This week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press, discusses one of the problems with wind turbines.

While making a presentation recently to a meeting of the Audubon Society in North Las Vegas, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Brian Novosak flashed on a screen in the darkened room a stark description of the fowl carnage taking place at the Altamont Pass Wind farm in the Diablo Range east of San Francisco — between 2005 and 2010, 55 to 94 golden eagles were killed each year, as well as upwards of 718 burrowing owls and up to 9,300 passerines (your basic songbirds).

Simulation of what windmills may look it east of Searchlight and near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagle.

“The Fish & Wildlife Service is getting more aggressive with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,” Novosak said.

Closer to home is Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind farm near Ely, where a golden eagle was recently killed.

A BLM spokesman said Spring Valley wind has a mortality threshold for golden eagles of one.

If another golden eagle is killed a Technical Advisory Committee will meet and recommend what mitigation to take, which could curtail operation of turbines or even shut down turbines.

The federal government’s disparate treatment of various industries whose operations have resulted in the deaths of eagles or migratory birds has become an issue of late. While an oil well driller was indicted for killing a single bird, owners wind turbines have been untouched.

This past week the Interior Department gave the go-ahead for a second utility-scale wind farm on public land in Nevada. This one is east of Searchlight, near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagles.

Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to increase the percent of electricity that must come from renewable generation by 2025 from 25 percent to 35 percent — with no regard for cost or consequence.

This video is from 2007:

Read the full column at the Ely or Elko websites.

One stop shopping for all that’s wrong with wind generated electricity

Over the past couple of years, we’ve documented the fact that industrial-size intermittent renewable energy projects, especially wind turbines, can cause more harm than good — increase carbon emissions, kill jobs, increase power bills. All obtained from various sources.

Windmills near Kincardine, Ontario

Now, a Canadian professor of economics has put all this together in one letter to the Ontario Energy Board in Toronto.

Here are a few pertinent excerpts from the letter from Ross McKitrick, Ph.D. in economics at the University of Guelph in Ontario, addressing concerns about the feasibility of a proposed K2 Wind Power Project.

On the excessive cost and practicality of the project:

“Ontario already has surplus baseload generating capacity. In addition, wind output is out of phase with demand, peaking at hours and seasons when demand is at a minimum. Consequently Ontario frequently has to dump power on the export market at a substantial loss. Data available on the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) website (, supported by findings of the AGO (Auditor-General of Ontario) report (p. 112) indicate that in every year since 2006, approximately 80% of the time that wind turbines have been supplying power to the grid, the entire output of the wind sector is surplus to current demand and has to be dumped on the export market. Because of the provisions of the Green Energy Act, the system operator is required to buy all available wind power at 13.5 ¢ per kWh, well above the domestic market price, and prices received for exported power are typically less than 4 ¢ per kWh (AGO 2011, p. 112). They are even negative at times, meaning we have to pay other jurisdictions to take the surplus power from us. The AGO estimated (p. 112) that from 2005 to 2011, Ontario lost $1.8 billion on these transactions. …”

Using wind turbines in a grid actually increase greenhouse gas emissions:

“Since wind energy is intermittent, additions of wind turbines to the system also require additional gas-fired power plants, with a capacity of about 50% of the rated capacity of the wind turbines, to be spinning in the background, providing constantly-variable offsetting changes in power output (AGO Report p. 91). Thus wind energy, as actually utilized, is not zero-emissions. According to calculations by the Wind Energy Task Force of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, continued expansion of wind energy, in the context of Ontario’s existing surplus of base-load power, will require replacement of non-emitting base-load sources (mainly nuclear) with a wind/gas mix. … The net effect of replacing nuclear with a wind/gas mix will be an increase in both criterion air contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions.”

As the canard that building wind turbines creates jobs, the professor concludes that they kill more jobs than they create:

“The Province claimed that the renewables strategy would create 50,000 new jobs. But the AGO found that 40,000 of these were at most temporary construction jobs lasting only a year or two at most. Also, evidence from other jurisdictions on which the Ontario policy was based showed that the increases in energy costs would dampen growth in other sectors to such an extent that for every permanent job created in the renewables sector, between two and four jobs would be lost in other sectors. …”

About the only thing the professor left out was all the bats and birds that windmills kill.

According to Basin and Range Watch, a dead golden eagle was found at the base of a wind turbine at the Spring Valley Wind farm near Ely on Feb. 25. The group’s website reports the find prompted federal agencies to demand the company survey all 66 turbines for dead birds.

“BLM says that the project has now ‘reached but not exceeded’ the take threshold for golden eagle of one take,” the group said. “If they get another take this may trigger curtailment and other measures.”

Fox News reported in December, “A study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that 10,000 birds — almost all that are protected by the migratory bird act — are being killed every year at the wind farm in Altamont Pass, Calif.”

Tell me again, Harry, how wonderful windmills are. Too bad you won’t be able to see those in Searchlight from your house.