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Wind farm endorsement blows past facts

Tip of the hat to our reader, Jerry, for this article.

Joan Null, Larry Long, Glenn R. Schleede, Tom Stacy — Journal Gazette — October 2013

Heavily subsidized Ohio farm unlikely ever to be self-sufficient

We are very concerned that the article about the Blue Creek Wind Farm, “Winds of change blow across Ohio” (Oct. 7), submitted by Van Wert area Chamber of Commerce CEO Susan Munroe, is highly misleading.

Munroe claims that the 304 megawatt Blue Creek Wind Farm, built in northwestern Ohio by a subsidiary of Spain-based Iberdrola, provides substantial energy and economic benefits. However, her claims appear to be based heavily on information from Iberdrola, not on an objective analysis of facts about wind energy. Those facts call into question key points made in the article. For example, Munroe appears not to know that:

•Electricity from wind is very high in true cost and low in true value.

•The principal reasons that companies such as Iberdrola build wind farms (including Blue Creek) are generous government tax breaks and subsidies provided to wind farm owners.

•The cost of government financial subsidies for wind energy is borne by taxpayers, including Ohio taxpayers, and is in addition to the cost of electricity from wind that shows up in electric bills.

•Her favorable appraisal of wind energy ignores the adverse environmental, economic, electric system reliability, scenic and property value effects of wind farms. These adverse effects have been demonstrated in the U.S. and other countries where wind farms have been built.

Munroe’s article cites $5 million in lease payments and local tax payments by the wind farm owner, Iberdrola, as having a favorable economic effect, but she seems not to recognize that these payments pale in comparison to:

•The $172,688,076 grant from the U.S. Treasury Department awarded to Iberdrola on Aug. 20, 2012, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the capital cost of the Blue Creek Wind Farm. The cost of that grant money is borne by taxpayers, including taxpayers in Ohio.

(Spain-based Iberdrola is a substantial recipient of U.S. government tax breaks and subsidies. Iberdrola’s Feb. 24, 2011, news release announcing 2010 earnings (“highest ever”) included the following: “The Group has benefited from more than $1 billion in U.S. government incentives for wind power, the largest obtained to date by any renewables company.” News releases on 2011 and 2012 earnings do not state the amount of Iberdrola’s U.S. wind tax breaks and subsidies, but the company continues to receive them for each of its U.S. wind farms either as production tax credits ($0.023 per kilowatt hour of electricity produced, a 10 percent investment tax credit or a U.S. Treasury cash grant such as that for Blue Creek. Iberdrola is also eligible for 5-year depreciation deductions.)

•The higher costs of electricity that will be paid by Ohio’s electric customers due to the state’s “renewable portfolio standard” that requires that an increasing share of electricity sold in the state be produced by using “renewable” energy sources such as Iberdrola’s wind farm.  Continue reading full article here…..

Glenmore TurbHouse

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One Comment on “Wind farm endorsement blows past facts”

  1. jerrygraf December 31, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Thanks for the tip of the hat.

    The Blue Creek Wind Farm required an investment of $600 million, touted as the largest investment in wind in Ohio in 2011. As indicated in your article above, this was offset, in part, by a federal stimulus grant for more than $172 million; and other government dictated incentives, such as Ohio’s SB 221 renewable energy mandates.

    A bit of additional research and analysis indicates that the 304 MW (nameplate capacity) wind farm in western Ohio is producing at a capacity factor of only 29.7%; which means that the wind farm is only capable of providing around 790,000 MWh of intermittent electricity per year. This can be verified by information provided by the US EIA in EIA-923 2012 Data and also EIA-923 2013 Data.

    Unfortunately, once again, there is no hope of paying back the $600 million investment thru the sale of useful electricity at market rates. As always, there must be heavy doses of subsidies from the taxpayer and individual customers to offset the losses and provide Iberdrola with a profit.

    If you would like a link to see the analysis and background information, let me know.

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