Thursday, June 9, 2011

Perry Puts People First

Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 11:11 am - taken from the The (Batavia, NY) Daily News

A de facto approval to put people first was approved by the Perry Town Board at their May 11, 2011, Town Board meeting.

In this anything for a buck world we live in today where all too often it seems people just dont care about one another any more the fact that the Perry Town Board put their citizens first when it came to siting an industrial wind installation within their town is absolutely refreshing to ones soul!

It is understandable that our town boards had to look at these projects when they first showed up six or seven years ago now, because of the potential income industrial wind salesmen seemed to be offering. However, the overwhelming evidence exposing industrial wind as the Emperor Who Has No Clothes,far outweighs the dollar signs and devastated communities left in their wake in the long run.

Health studies from around the world indicate that the setbacks recommended in Perrys new law are still inadequate to protect the health of nearby neighbors. The fact that these still-inadequate setbacks effectively ban industrial wind turbines in Perry because they now wont fit in, only highlights the absurd and dangerous nature of the wind industrys initially proposed setbacks.

The failure of many local governments across the state and nation to provide appropriate leadership on this issue has been appalling. Massive wind plants create incivility pitting neighbor against neighbor, and even family member against family member. A major duty of good government is to foresee, and prevent or eliminate this kind of incivility.

Those who endorse or profit from placing such industrial complexes near the homes of others evidently dont have a clue about how to foster civil society! Perrys Town Board is more than clued in! They have proven they are committed to common sense, grounded in common decency! Such leadership is increasingly rare, and correspondingly valuable.

Citizens here should be proud of Perrys Town Board! Rather than swallowing the usual snake-oil offered by corporate shills to make people believe that pigs can fly, the Perry Town Board approved no-nonsense wind regulations insisting on civility and reality, and ultimately keeping these hucksters at bay.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to say a well-deserved thank you to the Perry Town Board! You listened, and took the time to educate yourselves. We all greatly appreciate and admire your perseverance, courage and dedication to doing the right thing in the face of such great pressures. The result was the enactment of enlightened public policy which all towns should strive to emulate. Perrys new wind law will protect not only Perrys citizens, but all New York state taxpayers and ratepayers who are sick and tired of footing the bill for this corporate welfare scam. (See: "The corporate welfare bar" and "Wasteful, redundant schemes must stop")

The Perry Town Boards new industrial wind law is what responsible government looks like in a land where people still care about their neighbors! I am sure that Perry Town Board members sleep easy at night knowing they put people above money, and abided by Jesus commandment to Love your neighbor as yourself.

God bless you all, and thank you for putting people first in Perry!

Mary Kay Barton lives in Silver Lake.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NY Power Authority Chairman Does About-Face

Michael Townsend doubts viability of offshore wind farms

(article by Steve Orr of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper)

New York Power Authority board chairman Michael Townsend questioned Monday whether the authority's offshore wind farm proposal should go forward."From my perspective, I don't think that project is very viable at this time, politically or economically," said Townsend, a lawyer with the Perinton-based law firmHarris Beach.The authority, an independent arm of state government, has been reviewing five private-sector proposals to erect wind turbines in state waters of lakes Ontario or Erie. Officials are supposed to announce a decision by June.Townsend, appointed to the board in 2004 by former Gov. George Pataki, does not expect to be reappointed when his term expires later this month.He noted that authority President Richard Kessel, a champion of the offshore idea, had said offshore turbines would not be built where they're not wanted. County lawmakers in seven of the nine shoreline counties, including Monroe, have voted to express opposition to the plan for aesthetic, environmental and other reasons. "We're not being welcomed," Townsend said.He also said the project might be financially burdensome. Kessel had said the authority would support an offshore wind farm by signing a long-term power purchase agreement on terms favorable to its private development.But Townsend said the authority, which generates or purchases electricity for hundreds of business, government and other customers, might be "spread too thin" financially to sign an expensive agreement. That's especially true, he said, if the authority finalizes a costly purchase agreement to support construction of a huge transmission line under the Hudson River to carry power to New York City.He said that "unofficially, other board members agree" that offshore wind may be too expensive. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supported the offshore concept during his gubernatorial campaign as long as it was financially feasible, is "the big X factor," said Townsend, who pointed out that offshore projects elsewhere in the Great Lakes have been axed or frozen.Connie Cullen, a spokeswoman for the authority, said Monday that "while we greatly respect the opinions of our trustees, NYPA hasn't yet completed its review of the bids for the ... initiative. We hope to present the full results of the review to our trustees in the next couple of months."Townsend said the common wisdom is that John S. Dyson will replace him as chairman. Dyson chaired the authority during the Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo administrations, and he was named to the board again by Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.Townsend said he had nothing to say to rumors that Kessel, authority president since October 2008, could be leaving.Cullen said Kessel had no plans to

Report Questions Wind Power’s Ability to Deliver Electricity When Most Needed

Stuart Young Consulting, with support from the John Muir Trust, has released a report studying the ability of wind power to make a significant contribution to the UK's energy supply. It concludes that the average power output of wind turbines across Scotland is well below the rates often claimed by industry and government.

Indeed, for numerous extended periods of time all the wind turbines in Scotland linked to the National Grid muster less than 20MW of energy - that's enough power for a mere 6,667 households to boil their kettles for a cup of tea.

Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust, the U.K.’s leading wild land conservation charity, said: "This report is a real eye opener for anyone who's been wondering just how much power Scotland is getting from the fleet of wind turbines that have taken over many of our most beautiful mountains and hillsides. The answer appears to be not enough, and much less than is routinely claimed.

Stuart Young, author of the report, said, “Over the two-year period studied in this report, the metered windfarms in the U.K. consistently generated far less energy than wind proponents claim is typical. The intermittent nature of wind also gives rise to low wind coinciding with high energy demand. Sadly, wind power is not what it's cracked up to be and cannot contribute greatly to energy security in the UK."

Mr. Young said: "It was a surprise to find out just how disappointingly wind turbines perform in a supposedly wind-ridden country like Scotland. Based on the data, for one third of the time wind output is less than 10% of capacity, compared to the 30% that is commonly claimed.

At the end of the period studied, the connected capacity of wind power was over 2500MW so the expectation is that the wind network will produce, on average, 750MW of energy. In fact, it's delivering far less than everyone's expectations. The total wind capacity metered now is 3226MW but at 3a.m. on Monday 28th March, the total output was 9MW.

The report, Analysis of UK Wind Generation, is the result of detailed analysis of windfarm output in Scotland over a 26-month period between November 2008 to December 2010 using data from the BMRS (Balancing Mechanism Reporting System). It's the first report of its kind, and drew on data freely available to the public. It challenges five common assertions made regularly by wind industry and the Scottish Government:

1. 'Wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year'
In fact, the average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.

2. 'The wind is always blowing somewhere'
On 124 separate occasions from November 2008 to December 2010, the total generation from the windfarms metered by National Grid was less than 20MW (a fraction of the 450MW expected from a capacity in excess of 1600 MW). These periods of low wind lasted an average of 4.5 hours.

3. 'Periods of widespread low wind are infrequent.'
Actually, low wind occurred every six days throughout the 26-month study period. The report finds that the average frequency and duration of a low wind event of 20MW or less between November 2008 and December 2010 was once every 6.38 days for a period of 4.93 hours.

4. 'The probability of very low wind output coinciding with peak electricity demand is slight.'
At each of the four highest peak demand points of 2010, wind output was extremely low at 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.

5. 'Pumped storage hydro can fill the generation gap during prolonged low wind periods.'
The entire pumped storage hydro capacity in the UK can provide up to 2788MW for only 5 hours then it drops to 1060MW, and finally runs out of water after 22 hours.

[1] BMRS (Balancing Mechanism Reporting System) The source of the information on which this analysis is based is the Historic Generation by Fuel Type Data Files on theELEXON Portal website. Registration is required to create an account.

ELEXON Ltd is the Balancing and Settlement Code Company (BSCCo) defined and created by the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC and also known as the Code). ELEXON Ltd procures, manages and operates services and systems, which enables balancing and settlement of the wholesale electricity market and retail competition in electricity supply.

A wealth of information is to be found on the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service (BMRS) website at from where links to related sites are

Stuart Young and the John Muir Trust is grateful to ELEXON Ltd for permission to use its generation data, and for the not inconsiderable help I have had from the BSC Service

New York Wind: Much Ado for So Little

(Posted May 9, 2011)

The United Kingdom has long been regarded as having the best wind resource in Europe.

A 2005 analysis of hourly wind speeds collected from sixty-six locations across the UK, identified three characteristics of the wind resource that proponents rely on to justify an expansive build-out of wind energy facilities.

The study concluded that over a 35-year period from 1970 to 2005, there was never a time when the entire country was without wind, the wind always blew enough to generate electricity somewhere in Britain and that the resource tended to blow more strongly when demand was highest, during the day and winter months. The analysis found that wind would operate at an annual average capacity factor of 27% -- above levels found in Germany and Denmark -- and low wind speeds affecting most of the country (90%) would only occur for one hour every five years.

Last month, the 2005 study was put to the test.

The United Kingdom's leading wild land conservation charity, the John Muir Trust, released a report that examined wind power's actual contribution to the UK's energy supply. The findings, based on real-time energy production, were sobering. Wind generated at substantially below the 27% capacity factor and low wind events (defined as output falling below 10% of capacity) occurred over one third of the time, or almost nine months in aggregate.

The report created a firestorm for those tracking wind development. Legislators and energy policy experts immediately questioned whether the same reality existed in their area. Since preconstruction forecasts for wind power performance are based on wind speed data, what if the modeling overstated actual generation?

New York wind follows the UK's lead

In fact, we need only look to New York State to see an identical story line.

In 2005, the New York State Energy Research And Development Authority (NYSERDA) worked with General Electric torelease a study aimed at assessing the impact of large-scale wind generation on the reliability of the State's bulk power system and to understand the operational and economic effects of deploying 3,300 megawatts of wind (10% of New York's peak load).

The study concluded that New York could support a 10% penetration of wind into its grid system with turbines reliably operating at 30% average capacity factor or better. To its credit, NYSERDA acknowledged that most of the high wind output would occur during nighttime hours with some overlap occurring "late in the day when the wind output is picking up before the loads have fully dropped off."

Several years of wind generation data are now available and we took a look at how well NYSERDA and GE predicted output levels. We were particularly interested in project performance after developers had a year or more to address start-up issues.

By the end of 2010, New York State claimed fifteen wind energy facilities totaling an installed capacity of 1,275 megawatts. The projects are geographically distributed in the northern and western regions of the State but typically away from denser population centers including New York City with the highest demand for electricity.

Twelve of the fifteen projects comprise the bulk of the nameplate capacity (1225 megawatts). These facilities went into service in the years between 2006 and February 2009. Less than 50 megawatts of wind was installed prior to 2006. Since early 2009, wind development in the State has been largely stagnant with only one wind project built in the last two years. Iberdrola's 74 megawatt Hardscrabble project went online in February 2011.

The lull in construction has provided a valuable opportunity to evaluate two full years of wind generation and to assess whether the promises of New York wind have been realized.

The below table, prepared using the New York ISO's Gold Book data, provides an important glimpse at wind performance in New York in the years 2008-2010.

Promises meet reality

No wind project in New York achieved a 30% capacity factor and most are operating at well below this figure including Maple Ridge 1 and 2 touted by wind proponents as a premier wind site. Maple Ridge was forecasted to have a capacity factor of 34% prior to construction but has consistently operated around 25% -- a significant performance reduction.

Noble Environmental's projects produced at even lower levels. When the company sought community acceptance of its projects in upstate New York, John Quirke, an officer and founder of Noble, insisted their projects would operate at 30-35% of their nameplate capacity. In the tax agreement signed with Clinton County, New York, Noble went so far as to sweetened the deal by offering to pay a bonus of $1000/MW every time the annual capacity factor of any of their projects exceeded 35%. Clinton County officials had no way to verify the sincerity of Noble's offer since preconstruction wind data was confidential, but Noble certainly knew the truth. Noble's upstate projects operated with a 20% to 22% capacity factor in 2010.

Wind forecasts and project financing

When determining whether a wind energy project is worth the financial risk, a credit analysis is prepared based on conservative wind production. This production amount, known as the annual energy yield prediction, represents the average wind speed forecast for a project with a 90% confidence (P90). In other words, the wind production level that the project is expected to operate at 90% of the time.

The P90 figure needs to be within 12% to 15% of the average production figures in order to catch a bank's attention. If the difference between the average capacity factor (P50) and P90 is off by 20% or better, a project would be considered 'unfinanceable'. We can't know the P90 figures presented to investors for most of New York's wind projects, but our guess is that most of these projects would have been considered unworthy had actual production numbers been available. We'd be interested in knowing whether those who fronted the money for the projects would bother again.

Meeting the public's goals

NY ratepayers who are subsidizing wind development in the State are also receiving considerably less than promised. Square miles of New York's most rural areas have been transformed into industrial power plants, communities and families are split over project opposition, and homeowners have been driven from their homes due to turbine noise, shadow flicker and other nuisances. If tax revenue agreements with communities were negotiated based on inflated capacity factors, actual payments will be lower.

State and local officials have long encouraged wind as an economic development tool for rural areas, but at some point the public needs to know whether the projects are delivering on the primary plan i.e. to see more renewable energy on the grid. At capacity factors in the low- to mid- 20% range, many more wind turbines and related infrastructure (transmission) will be needed to meet State mandates which will increase costs and impacts.

Our review only looked at average annual capacity factors and did not consider the hourly and daily variability of the resource and whether the wind helped meet peak demand needs. But looking at average performance alone is enough to suggest New York's wind is not worth all the fuss.


Wind Power Promises and Predictions Gone Awry

April 26th, 2011

by Jack Sullivan

The predictions and promises made by wind developers for Northern New York in 2005-2007 can now be analyzed in the light of a number of wind projects that have been in operation for 3 or more years.

I have scrutinized a number of news articles, press releases, and meeting minutes from the above period on wind power. Developer promises have come to pass in nearly none of the cases.

Most of the wind plant statistics I have quoted refer to the 106.5 MW capacity Chateaugay project. (All are verifiable). I use Chateaugay because it is in Franklin County and is the largest of the four area wind plants. The other three -- Clinton, Ellenburgh, and Altona -- have virtually identical outputs.

John Quirke of Noble Power said that local wind projects should average 30-35% of their listed capacity. In 2010, however, the Chateaugay wind plant only averaged 20.6%. The predicted value was exaggerated 58% over actual. According to Public Service Commission Report #09E-0497, if transmission losses and wind project electric use are subtracted, the wind projects only returned about 10% of their advertised capacity to consumers.

Noble’s Mark Lyons said the Chateaugay project would produce enough electricity to power 33,000 homes. The actual output of 192,000 MWh in 2010 would power fewer than 18,000 homes, again a significant exaggeration over estimate. There is a huge caveat in these figures, since Chateaugay had 1,222 hours of no output (that’s more than 50 days). Since this down time is unpredictable, Chateaugay can supply reliable electricity to ZERO homes. The low average value of NNY wind speeds coupled with a very high degree of variability means Northern NY is NOT suitable for economically viable nor dependable industrial wind installations.

In hyping a tentative 70 turbine project for Malone, Noble's Mark Lyons predicted it would create up to 45 jobs. This sounds like an exaggeration since the 195 turbines at Tug Hill created less than 40 jobs. The job creation aspect of wind projects is also often over-inflated. A Dept. of Energy document tells of a loan guarantee to First Wind for $117 M for a project to create 10 jobs. That’s nearly $12M per job.

All of Noble’s presenters claimed that wind would produce cheap electricity since the fuel is free. The reality? Chateaugay’s electricity cost of $38 MWh is more than 20% higher than the cost of power from the FDR Seaway hydro plant. Maybe wind power should be touted as “not so cheap electricity”. The sale of electricity in Chateaugay will not be sufficient to pay for the turbines before they are worn out!!

Chuck Hinckley said “there is no evidence of property devaluation near large wind turbines”. In fact, there are a number of well done professional studies that have found significant property devaluation near wind turbines. Studies done in Texas and Wisconsin are among the best. Some local realtors avoid listing properties near turbines because they are hard to sell.

Dan Boyd, Noble’s project manager, stated on several occasions that wind power could reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Any such effect is laughingly small. The entire 2010 energy production at the Chateaugay wind plant is equivalent to a mere 17 minutes of imported oil. Since oil and electricity generally serve different uses, the effect is negligible. To produce 25% of imported oils energy would take approx. ½ million turbines occupying 30+ million acres (5 Adirondack Parks). An impossible dream.

All of Noble’s spokepersons claimed that free and clean windpower would combat global warming. No one mentioned the huge carbon emissions debt created when building a wind project.

An in-depth study by the internationally respected Pacific Research Institute found that a typical project must operate for 7 years at full capacity before it pays back all the emissions produced in manufacture and construction. Since our local wind plants operate at about 20% capacity, it would take 30+ years to become emission free. Not bad for machinery that the manufacturer (GE) says will last 20 yrs.

Then there’s the mercury problem. Through cement use, wind projects have released enough airborne mercury to render most of the fish in the Adirondacks inedible.

Mark Lyons and Chuck Hinckley insisted that Noble would pay its fair share of taxes. Yet the PILOT agreement with Franklin County has most homeowners paying 10 times the tax rate that Noble does.

In the PILOT agreement with Clinton County IDA, Noble offered to pay a bonus of $1000/MW every time the annual capacity factor of any of their projects exceeded 35%. The problem? No NY wind project has ever exceeded a 35% annual c.f. Probably none east of the Mississippi has ever done so. Did Noble know this? If so, it was a con.

Lyons insisted that all the land around turbines could have the same use it could have had before they were installed. Not quite. If a turbine had to be sited say 1500’ from a home for health and safety reasons, then future homes could be built no closer than 1500’ to existing turbines. Thus, each turbine would exclude 160+ acres from home building.

Lyons and others claimed that 1&1/2 times the tower height was a safe setback from roads, trails and other areas frequented by people. Basic physics, however, shows that debris from blades at normal operating speeds can fly up to 1000’ far more than 1&1/2 tower heights. The runaway turbine that self-destructed in Altona in 2009 could theoretically throw debris up to 1640’. 1&1/2 tower height setbacks are woefully inadequate, actually downright dangerous.

Lyons and Hinckley maintained that noise was not a problem and the sound emitted by turbines was “no louder than a refrigerator”. Neighbors soon found the turbines at times much louder than a refrigerator. Medical experts are just learning that sound undetectable to the human ear (infrasound) is causing serious health problems. This is known as Wind Turbine Syndrome(WTS). These problems have been diagnosed in hundreds of people worldwide who live near wind turbines. This has led the prestigious French Societe de Medicine to recommend 2 km. (1.24mi.) between turbines and all houses.

Lyons said their turbines only turned at 20 RPM’s therefore they were little threat to birds. A little math shows that the tip speed of a 20 RPM 240’ diameter rotor is nearly 180 mph. -- certainly fast enough to do in most birds!

One has to wonder if the huge discrepancy between what the wind developers promised and what ultimately transpired is due to ignorance of a fledgling company that did not do its homework or the result of a concerted deceptive propaganda campaign designed to dupe a naïve and trusting rural populace?


Jack Sullivan is a member of the Malone (NY) Town Council. An earlier version of this article appeared in the Malone Telegram on April 19, 2011.

Rochester (NY) Gas & Electric wind scam

Something suspicious this way blows

Did you get the letter from RG&E? You know, the one where they want you to “do your part to support a clean energy solution for our community.” It’s called “Catch the Wind Program.”

RG&E thinks it would be just great if we “choose wind power” and “reduce our carbon footprint, advance green jobs and the economy, encourage energy independence, and make a difference for future generations.” All you have to do is pay an additional $7.50 per month. That’s to cover the expense of producing 300 kilowatt-hours of wind-generated electricity that’s sent to the New York State power grid.

The letter says that signing up at the 300 kwh level per month has an environmental benefit of planting 30 tree seedlings or not driving 3,006 miles per year. And as more people sign up, more wind farms are built to meet the demand. And they’ll give you a certificate each year you complete the program.

Let me get this straight. I should pay $7.50 per month more than I pay now to pretend I’m getting electricity from a wind farm so that RG&E (now owned by the Spanish company Iberdrola) can sell that same electricity to the power grid? Let’s say I fall for this; just how would that 300 kwh coming down the line from the wind farm know to exit at my house?

In other words, they can’t produce electricity from wind power as cheaply as other sources. So they try to get customers to subsidize operational losses by twisting the environmentally friendly facts. They get nice tax credits for building wind farms while they pad their bottom line with customer subsidies. It’s “Catch the Wind” all right, if “wind” stands for Wonderfully-Intentioned Naïve Dupes.

I am absolutely in favor of sustainable, clean energy; the sooner, the better. The energy industry has to figure out how to create and deliver it transparently and economically. I’d gladly send $7.50 per month to a non-profit organization dedicated to this outcome. Trying to hoodwink the public to line Iberdrola’s pockets is an insult to intelligence and intention.

But I’m sure it’s a nice certificate.


(taken from National Wind Watch)