Posted: - taken from the The (Batavia, NY) Daily News
Thursday, June 2, 2011
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 resign.SORR@DemocratandChronicle.com
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)