Sanders opposes state wind moratorium proposal

Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG, holds up a photo of fracking. Photo by Andrew Stein

Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG, holds up a photo of fracking. Photo by Andrew Stein

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., just jumped into the middle of one of the Vermont Legislature’s hottest debates.

On Monday, Sanders vehemently opposed a three-year moratorium on wind generation projects more than 500 kilowatts in capacity. The Senate proposal has bipartisan support and was ushered in by loud and frequent protests to Vermont’s ridgeline wind development this past year.

Sanders told reporters at a press conference that he was sticking his neck out on this issue because he is concerned about the national implications of a short-term ban in Vermont. He plans to introduce national legislation next month that would tax carbon dioxide emissions, and he said that Vermont must continue to lead the country in measures to curb climate change — including the expansion of Vermont wind generation.

“I am deeply concerned that currently there is an effort in the Legislature to put a moratorium on the construction of new wind projects,” Sanders said. “I strongly disagree with that effort; not only in what it will mean for our state in terms of transforming our energy system, but what it will mean nationally.”

On Thursday, in his Church Street office, Sanders sat flanked by leading advocates of utility-scale wind development in Vermont. Sitting at the table with Sanders were: Paul Burns, director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group; Chris Kilian, Vermont director of the Conservation Law Foundation; Gabrielle Stebbins, director of the trade association Renewable Energy Vermont; and Don Hooper, northeast regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation.

Sanders said that if the proposed moratorium were approved it would fan the flames of the fossil fuel industry.

“I have no doubt that if Vermont ceases new wind development the message will go out all across the country, spread by well-funded coal and oil companies, that even in Vermont, even in progressive Vermont, even in environmentally conscious Vermont, there is not a serious commitment to combating global warming,” Sanders said. “It is my hope that Vermont will hold its head high and lead this country in terms of transforming our energy system and in combating this horrendous danger of global warming.”

Both Sanders and Kilian defended the state’s energy permitting processes, which frequently came under fire this past year by protestors of large-scale wind development. Their chief complaint was that the public did not have a loud enough voice over such permits. Partly as a result of these complaints, Gov. Peter Shumlin created a siting commission to assess these processes.

“It would be totally inappropriate for some wind energy company to bulldoze their way through a project,” Sanders said. “There is a thoughtful process that must take place, involving community input … I applaud and respect the processes we have in the state of Vermont.”

Kilian — who said his organization was involved in the permitting of currently operating wind power projects in Vermont — rejected the notion that the public doesn’t have a say over permitting as it now stands.

“I feel that the Public Service Board in particular … (has) done an excellent job of including public input through public hearings and through broad public participation,” he said. “I can understand people not being happy with the results, but I don’t think it’s fair to call for this moratorium based on a lack of public participation.”

Ridgeprotectors, an anti-wind group, says renewable electric generation projects have a limited impact on climate change.

“Atmospheric scientists tell us that the phenomenon variously referred to as climate change or global warming is likely caused and certainly exacerbated by elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Ridgeprotectors said in a statement. “If we trust that conclusion then the solution is reduction of those emissions at their sources. In Vermont, 92.6 percent of emissions come from transportation, structural heating, agriculture and commercial/industrial operations.”

Republican Sen. Joe Benning, who was a principal architect of the moratorium bill, panned Sanders just after his announcement.

“Bernie Sanders rose to power fighting for the little guy against big-moneyed corporate interests,” Benning said. “Now he ignores the cries of Vermonters caught in the crosshairs of huge corporations, whose powerful lobbyists and high-priced lawyers use a frustrating maze of regulatory bureaucracy to threaten their cherished mountain homes. … How sad.”

Andrew Stein

Comments

  1. Lance Hagen :

    So the net for wind power is:
    – No or insignificant reduction in CO2
    – Power costs are 3 to 4 times higher than existing power
    – Ridge lines are scared. Natural environment destroyed.
    – Potential health risks

    Why would anyone want them!

    Oh yea, I forgot …… it is to make the likes of Mr. Blittersdorf (ex VPIRG Board Member) and industrial ‘wind developers’ even richer.

    • Kathleen Nelson :

      Blittersdorf may have been a past member of VPIRG but he is a current member of Renewable Energy Vermont, the lackey arm of the American Wind Energy Ass(es). Why the media continues to refer to organizations like REV and VPIRG as “environmentalist” is a real mystery. It like saying Deb Markowitz, over at the ANR, cares about wildlife (after she issues kill permits for endangered species).
      Take a real good look at the organizations that are opposing the moratorium and you will find the true definition of hypocrite.

      • krister adams :

        For $1,500? Bernies get’s no use of other donations you cited as he is a registered Independant.

  2. Patrick Cashman :

    Let’s take a look at the Blittersdorfs’ donations courtesy of opensecrets.org for 2011/12:

    $25,800 to the Democratic National Committee
    $20,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    $20,000 to the Vermont State Democratic Committee
    $1,500 direct to Bernie

    Mind you, this is just the Blittersdorf donations for 2011/12.

    I can’t imagine why Bernie would come out against the moratorium.

  3. Kilian feels : “I feel that the Public Service Board in particular … (has) done an excellent job of including public input through public hearings and through broad public participation,”

    The VT-PSB has shamefully bent over backwards to use bogus vendor-provided data to make IWT ridge line energy costs appear much less/kWh than if REAL WORLD values were used.

    IWT vendors continuing to claim CFs = 0.32 or better on ridge lines is a misrepresentation
    IWT vendors continuing the claim IWT lives of 25 years is a misrepresentation

    Here we have an example of people such as Klein, Smith, Cheney, Sanders, Welch, Leahy, Kilian, Hooper, Lyons, Shumlin, Dostes, Schnure, Patt, Blittersdorf, the PSB, VT-DPS, and subsidy-chasing IWT developers, IWT vendors, etc., all holding hands, sticking to their mantra of RE talking points, singing the praises of IWTs on ridge lines. Completely irrational behavior, if one looks at ACTUAL “facts on the ground”.

    LOWELL MOUNTAIN WIND ENERGY COST RE-ESTIMATED

    Gaz-Metro/GMP used a “vendor-predicted” CF of 0.33 and a “vendor-predicted” 25-year life to obtain bank financing, federal and state subsidies and “Certificate of Public Good” approvals for its ridge line Lowell Mountain IWT project, a.k.a. “Kingdom Community Wind”.

    GMP calculated the levelized cost of Lowell heavily subsidized energy at 10 c/kWh. It would be 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per EIA/US-DOE.

    But ACTUAL ridge line CFs are 0.25 or less, and ACTUAL lives are 15 -20 years.

    The ACTUAL energy cost would be 10 c/kWh x CF ratio 0.33/0.25 x Life ratio 25/17 = 19.4 c/kWh

    This compares with Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee nuclear energy at about 5-6c/kWh, inflation or grid price adjusted, and grid energy at about 5.5 c/kWh.

    GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years at 4.66 c/kWh, inflation adjusted.

    SHEFFIELD MOUNTAIN CF

    Sheffield Mountain 2012 CF = 0.23 vs 0.32 claimed by promoters to get VT-PSB approvals. This CF is about equal to weighted average (0.234) of the below 6 Maine ridge line sites.

    MAINE RIDGE LINE CFs

    Here are some numbers regarding the much less than expected results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months.
    http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/maine_wind_thru_3q2012m1.pdf

    Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353; uniquely favorable winds due to
    topography.
    Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
    Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
    Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
    Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
    Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197

    The Maine weighted average CF = (42 x 0.353 + 57 x 0.254 + 26 x 0.227 +132 x 0.238 + 60 x 0.238 + 50.5 x 0.197)/(42 + 57 + 26 + 132 + 60 +50.5) = 0.247; excluding Mars Hill, the CF would be 0.234.

    Note: CF reduction due to aging is not yet a major factor, as all these IWTs were installed in the past 5 years.

    BOLTON VALLEY SKI RESORT CF

    A recent check of the Bolton Valley website in January 2013

    Actual power production after 39 months (3.25 yrs) was 509,447 kWh from October 2009 to-date.

    Actual capacity factor for 39 months = 509,447 kWh/(3.25 yr x 100 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.179; a shortfall of 47.4% of the 0.34 promised.

    Value of power produced = (509,447 kWh x $0.125/kWh)/3.25 yr = $19,594/yr; if O&M and financing costs amortized over 15 – 20 years are subtracted, this value will likely be negative. STILL A VERY BAD INVESTMENT.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

    • krister adams :

      Mr. Post: I understand that yiou fervantly want to advocate your cause. But believe me, your turning off an awful lot of folks with your lengthy commentary and endless citings.

  4. Did I hear correctly on VPR tonight that the director of VPIRG said Vermonters who support the wind moratorium were “opposing Evolution” on the way home from work tonight? That is some really embarrassing hyperbole if so.

    • John Walters :

      Yeah, usually the “embarrassing hyperbole” comes from the antiw-ind crowd. See Mr. Hagen above for a prime example.

      Sure, Lance, the entire Vermont environmental community and Bernie Sanders have sold their principles to make David Blittersdorf rich. Uh-huh.

      • Carl Werth :

        Well, John, appearnaces seem to paint that picture.

        • Karl Riemer :

          “appearnaces” don’t paint that picture at all. Deliberately deceptive propaganda paints that picture. People who’ve dedicated themselves for many years to thoughtful, serious consideration of environmental policy, making difficult decisions with far-reaching consequences, are being painted as rash and underhanded by people with single-issue, reactionary passion and no regard, zero regard, for truth or consequences. Ridgeprotectors and Vermonters for a Clean Environment are our NRA, willing to say anything, convinced their narrow position, and only their narrow position, is just and therefor justifies any lie, any slander, any wild speculation, any tactic, any alliance. For them, prevalence of their position supersedes all other considerations. This is a complicated, difficult question with no simple, good answer, but the people trying to answer it are being savaged by unprincipled reactionaries whose preferred solution is mind over matter, pretending that by redefining a problem it can be wished away.
          What’s right in this debate isn’t obvious to me. I believe it’s not obvious to any thoughtful, fair-minded observer. However, what’s wrong is increasingly obvious. What’s wrong is the deluge of deliberate misinformation and self-righteous vituperation from people for whom the right answer is obvious. They are anything but thoughtful, anything but fair-minded, they have the courage and passion of conviction but, as far as I can tell, no morals whatsoever. They repeat, endlessly and loudly, the most outrageous lies and hysterical exaggerations about the technology, the impacts, the decision-making process and anyone with a different point of view. The sad thing is they may very well turn out to be correct in their position but they are unambiguously evil in their strategy. They’re building an ends-justifies-the-means political movement that harkens to the John Birch Society and Minutemen. They are so sure they’re right that anyone who disagrees must be venal, anyone in opposition must be corrupt. The consequences of utility wind development pales in comparison to the consequences of unscrupulous political action.

    • Kathy Leonard :

      Paul Burns consistently resorts to slurs when discussing opposing views. In itself, that’s merely distasteful, but coming from the Executive Director of a statewide non-profit, that is an embarrassment and I challenge VPIRGs Board of Directors to re-assess his ability to lead when he lacks basic civility when speaking with either the public OR long-time members.

      Burns has alienated many VPIRG’s members who–while they could understand an opposing view–cannot accept being spoken to this way. In addition to calling ridgeline wind opponents ‘opposed to evolution,’ and ‘ignoring science’ he has previously called them climate deniers, as a class — making up these charges out of whole cloth. When I asked him about that he snapped back at me that he was “proud of that accusation.” The predominance of those supporting a moratorium are highly science-literate and have offered sophisticated evidence backing their positions. But for Burns, the cheap shot comes easily.

      Vermont is slipping into BIGNESS, into corporate, top-down, cookie-cutter solutions when our past shows us that we are a state capable of smaller, diverse, community-based solutions (such as distributed energy) that better suit our needs as well as our character.

    • Annette Smith :

      Here is part of what he said Paul Burns said at the press conference: “I believe that is uh you might call it our Kansas moment. You might remember back in 2005 the Kansas board of education rejected science and decided that the public schools there were not going to teach evolution and would instead move to a creationism based science curriculum. The question now to us in Vermont as we face climate change, perhaps, well I believe certainly the most significant environmental issue of our time is what will we do in Vermont when faced with this choice? Will we reject science? Or will we do our part? Will we step up? Will we be part of the solution, will we take responsibility for our energy future?”

      The video of the press conference is here:
      http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/wind-energy

  5. Why is Senator Sanders so afraid of a debate on the pros and cons of constructing gigantic wind turbines on Vermont mountain ridges or in the valleys for that matter?

    If Senator’s and the wind proponent’s arguments are sound, they’ll win and the turbines will go up. But, I’d guess that Senator Sanders and the wind industry know that they arguments are weak and thus cannot risk a debate.

  6. Kilian feels : “I feel that the Public Service Board in particular … (has) done an excellent job of including public input through public hearings and through broad public participation.”

    Wind energy in Vermont is not about CO2 emissions reduction, but about schlepping federal subsidies to Vermont to benefit the wealthy few at the expense of the many.

    World CO2 emissions in 2011 = 33,990 million metric ton, Vermont’s CO2 emissions in 2011 = 8.1 million metric ton; only 4% of that from generating energy. How much difference can Vermont make? Answer: NOTHING.

    The VT-PSB has shamefully bent over backwards to use bogus vendor-provided data to make IWT ridge line energy costs appear much less/kWh than if REAL WORLD values were used.

    IWT vendors continuing to claim CFs = 0.32 or better on ridge lines is a misrepresentation.
    IWT vendors continuing the claim IWT lives of 25 years is a misrepresentation.

    LOWELL MOUNTAIN WIND ENERGY COST RE-ESTIMATED

    Gaz-Metro/GMP used a “vendor-predicted” CF of 0.33 and a “vendor-predicted” 25-year life to obtain bank financing, federal and state subsidies and “Certificate of Public Good” approvals for its ridge line Lowell Mountain IWT project, a.k.a. “Kingdom Community Wind”.

    GMP calculated the levelized cost of Lowell heavily subsidized energy at 10 c/kWh. It would be 15 c/kWh, unsubsidized, per EIA/US-DOE.

    But ACTUAL ridge line CFs are 0.25 or less, and ACTUAL lives are 15 -20 years.

    The ACTUAL energy cost would be 10 c/kWh x CF ratio 0.33/0.25 x Life ratio 25/17 = 19.4 c/kWh

    This compares with Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee nuclear energy at about 5-6c/kWh, inflation or grid price adjusted, and grid energy at about 5.5 c/kWh.

    GMP is buying 60 MW of Seabrook nuclear energy for 23 years at 4.66 c/kWh, inflation adjusted.

    SHEFFIELD MOUNTAIN CF

    Sheffield Mountain 2012 CF = 0.23 vs 0.32 claimed by promoters to get VT-PSB approvals. This CF is about equal to weighted average (0.234) of the below 6 Maine ridge line sites.

    MAINE RIDGE LINE CFs

    Here are some numbers regarding the much less than expected results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months.
    http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/maine_wind_thru_3q2012m1.pdf

    Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353; uniquely favorable winds due to
    topography.
    Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
    Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
    Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
    Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
    Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197

    The Maine weighted average CF = (42 x 0.353 + 57 x 0.254 + 26 x 0.227 +132 x 0.238 + 60 x 0.238 + 50.5 x 0.197)/(42 + 57 + 26 + 132 + 60 +50.5) = 0.247; excluding Mars Hill, the CF would be 0.234.

    Note: CF reduction due to aging is not yet a major factor, as all these IWTs were installed in the past 5 years.

    BOLTON VALLEY SKI RESORT CF

    A recent check of the Bolton Valley website in January 2013

    Actual power production after 39 months (3.25 yrs) was 509,447 kWh from October 2009 to-date.

    Actual capacity factor for 39 months = 509,447 kWh/(3.25 yr x 100 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.179; a shortfall of 47.4% of the 0.34 promised.

    Value of power produced = (509,447 kWh x $0.125/kWh)/3.25 yr = $19,594/yr; if O&M and financing costs amortized over 15 – 20 years are subtracted, this value will likely be negative. STILL A VERY BAD INVESTMENT.

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

  7. Kevin Jones :

    Reasonable people can surely disagree as to whether a wind moratorium is or is not good energy policy. But we should not let anyone fool us that the Vermont legislature’s current renewable energy policies, the SPEED and Standard Offer programs, are either producing additional renewable energy on a regional basis or benefiting the climate. Any credible energy policy analyst should recognize that the Vermont SPEED program is fundamentally flawed in that it encourages the sale of renewable energy credits (RECs) into out of state programs. All of the Vermont wind projects are participating in the SPEED program and thus the utilities are largely selling their RECs into out of state programs rather than retiring them for Vermont load. All other New England states, NY, NJ and other states with reputable renewable programs all require the retirement of RECs to meet thier state renewable goals. Even the American Wind Energy Association would tell you that in order to promote the creation of additional renewable energy it is important for state programs to retire the RECs but Vermont’s sham renewable program does not. Since you cannot sell the same green MWH twice (that is called fraud) what Vermont customer’s are purchasing when their utilities sell the Wind RECs out of state is brown power that has the attributes of the residual New England mix (e.g. Vermont utilities are exporting the green energy and collecting the revenue from the RECs and importing higher carbon energy from the New England grid). The factual result is that as the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer programs grow, rather than reducing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions, it increases them. If this sounds convoluted then you are beginning to understand why I call these Vermont programs the most fundamentally flawed renewable energy policies in the nation — not exactly the national Vermont model we can be proud of.

    The organization NEPOOL tracks REC sales and assigns environmental attributes to New England energy purchases. The Vermont SPEED resources, including all the wind projects, are given the environmental attributes of the residual mix. Check out the link below and see that Vermont’s legislature is assisting our utilities in increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and that rather than buying renewables we are largely purchasing gas, nuclear, coal, and oil generation.

    https://www.nepoolgis.com/myModule/rpt/myrpt.asp?r=112

  8. Stan Shapiro :

    There is no credible proof that industrial wind turbines inVermont will have any impact on climate change.I thought that the picture of Burns was with a wind turbine on our ridge lines .It really looks the same.?VPIRG and it’s cohort need to publicly state how much money they receive from wind developers so that people will understand why they are supporting the destruction of our most important and defining natural resource.People who are reviled by ridge line development come from all walks of life and all political parties.They are united by their love of what makes this state a wonder.Shame on those who embrace the rash notion that we must do everything without thoughtful consideration of the consequences.

  9. Mary Barton :

    Apparently Bernie Sanders is energy-illiterate, on the take from Big Wind, or both — none of which bodes well for tax- and rate-payers. Wouldn’t it be a novel idea if our elected “public servants” actually had to know something about energy before picking & choosing winners & losers in the energy marketplace?!

    See Bjorn Lomborg’s interesting WSJ article on this issue, & other articles on mafia involvement, cronyism and corruption surrounding Big Wind, & then ask Bernie what’s in it for him!?

    Climate Change Misdirection:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323485704578258172660564886.html

    “Big Wind Energy Subsidies: A Hurricane of Carnage, Cronyism and Corruption”:
    http://greencorruption.blogspot.com/2013/01/big-wind-energy-subsidies-hurricane-of.html?m=1

    “Sting operations reveal Mafia involvement in renewable energy”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/sting-operations-reveal-mafia-involvement-in-renewable-energy/2013/01/22/67388504-5f39-11e2-9dc9-bca76dd777b8_story.html

    “Taxing the Rich to Fund Cronyism”:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/338410/taxing-rich-fund-cronyism-veronique-de-rugy#

    Bernie should also read: “The Wind Farm Scam,” by Dr. John Etherington, and “Power Hungry: The Myths of Renewable Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future,” by Robert Bryce (both at Amazon.com)

  10. Josh Fitzhugh :

    I am not an expert on this but when you consider the cost of wind, it seems to me you have to include some factor for the cost of backup power when the wind does not blow. What that factor should be I have no idea. But to exclude it would be like saying a cake can be all frosting.

    Certainly from a CO2 perspective there is some benefit to wind power and I would think it should be part of our power grid. But the question really is whether our mountaintops are a good place for it. I don’t think so. And it is really hard to understand how any organization which cares about nature and recreation and tourism would think so.

    Leaving aside any financial incentives Bernie has for supporting wind power, he seems to believe that Vermont’s reputation as a “green” state is more important than what it might look like if turbines poked up from every major hilltop (along with ancillary road infrastructure). If this were to “cure” the CO2 issue I might agree with him, but it won’t. So what we risk is losing the sense of Vermont, the combination of small towns and fields in harmony with human sized mountains in a natural setting, that makes us unique worldwide. It seems a good time for a moratorium to make sure we get this right.

  11. Mike Feiner :

    I just want to know where you all were when we were asking for a moratorium on planting genetically engineered seed in the state? Talk about a threat! Not a peep. A moratorium on wind is the wrong way to go. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a process for every proposal, but a moratorium should be reserved for things that can literally take on a life of their own if unchecked, and wind is not that thing. We might want to consider a moratorium on the PSB, however, which has clearly taken on a life of its own; in fact, I think the half life of its making any decision on VT Yankee is actually longer than the nuclear waste itself!

    • Mike,
      See my above comment regarding the lack of wind energy on Vermont ridge lines, but the VT-PSB approves ridge line IWTs anyway, basing its approvals on bogus vender-predicted values.

      Those vendors know better, as do I, but misrepresent anyway, and the AWEA PR and misrepresentations causes the Vermont lay public, including legislators, to swallow the bait. Read this article.
      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/169521/wind-turbine-energy-capacity-less-estimated

      VT-PSB and Lack of Due Diligence:

      The VT-PSB, VT-DPS, etc., likely knew CFs on Vermont ridge lines would be less than the vendor-predicted values (the evidence was on the FERC website), but approved the above 3 projects anyway, after pro forma hearings.

      It should be obvious to the VT-Public Service Board and other government entities, whereas IWT project developers make claims of IWTs having:
       
      – CFs of 0.32 or greater, this claim should be discounted to at most 0.25, based on actual ridge line results.
       
      – Useful service lives of 25 years, this claim should be discounted to at most 17 years, based on actual useful service life results.
       
      The spreadsheet levelized energy cost analyses prepared by IWT project developers, currently based on their dubious claims, should be revised to better reflect the real world, rather than an “Alice in Wonderland” world.
       
      Failure to base approval decisions on realistic spreadsheet-based analyses is, as a minimum, a lack of due diligence, or, if facts were known to the VT-DPS, as is the case with the Lowell Mountain and Sheffield Mountain approvals, a malfeasance of a public trust; both have legal consequences.
       

  12. Fred Woogmaster :

    “Moratorium” sounds like death; three years is a long time. Given the importance of this issue and the unanswered questions and legitimate concerns raised within our citizenry, a pause is in order to answer those questions and to resolve those concerns. If Senator Sanders’ point of view in relation to the larger picture is valid, a shorter pause and deeper inquiry would be prudent. The money involved surely makes this matter far more complicated; we witness over and over again how the quest for profit and the power of money can stifle the will and still the voice of the people. A prudent pause for the people, with a fuller inquiry, cannot hurt. Insufficiently explored “opposing truths” can leave deep scars in communities.

    • Carl Werth :

      Those are wise words, Fred.

      Clearly, just from the amount of posts on these Wind Moratorium stories I have read – one can easily see that there is still much to debate and consider. Often in life, things are not known and considered until they are put into use. Like many of those who are pro-moratorium, I am not anti-wind or a dis-believer of climate change, I just don’t want to trade one of our most treasured resources without knowing that we have traded it for something which is truly worthwhile and not just for something which only made us feel good in the short term, but really did more harm than good over time. We seem to be in such a hurry – and I understand what the argument behind that hurry is – but if there is this much opposition (so much so that a big gun like Senator Sanders felt he needed to enter the fray), maybe there IS more to discuss and debate before we rush on ahead.

  13. Senator Bernie Sanders and VPIRG’s Paul Burns violate truth and public trust along with responsibility to Vermonters.
    Their performance yesterday demonstrates only their most recent attempts to manipulate through outright misrepresentation of facts. They apparently think the public is ignorant. Sanders-Burns high-ground reaches as high as Vermont mountain-tops, while those of us who know better stand firmly on solid ground: industrial wind turbines – IWT – are actual contributors to carbon emissions just as surely as corporations like GMP are contributors to political campaigns.
    Bernie appears to have become part of what he says he despises: corporatocracy. Burns has repeatedly shown himself to be publicly arrogant, rude and dismissive of voices he doesn’t want to hear.
    Bernie’s complicity in the epidemic of corporate influence in Vermont is now undeniable, as is his failure to attend to, among others, his Northeast Kingdom constituency.
    Bernie made public statements (pre-re-election Summer ’12) promising to meet to talk with us about IWT, but never kept that promise. Bernie apparently has allowed or instructed the chief of his Vermont office,to further prevent our attempts to have the promised conversation. These tactics have been hostile and antithetical to how Bernie portrays himself – a politician who cares for the ‘ordinary’ people. He claims to work to protect us from oligarchy, corporatocracy, cronyism and the like.
    But Bernie is now a crony.
    Burns is well-known to us for his unmitigated hostility to those who have attempted direct conversations about IWT. We are witness to his characteristic disdain, disinformation and distortions when confronted with differing perspectives.
    That Sanders and Burns would partner in opposition to the Moratorium is proof-positive that we who oppose IWT –Industrial Wind Turbines- must be doing something right.
    We will continue to Speak Truth to Power.

    • Rob Roy MacGregor :

      Whereas no wind opponent has ever labeled a wind proponent “corporate shill”, or “capitalist crony” or “pinhead” or whatever…..

      Surely no wind opponent has ever been guilty of transmitting ” disinformation and distortions when confronted with differing perspectives.”

      And certainly no wind opponent would ever suggest that the large majority of Vermonters and environmental groups who support wind development are “ignorant”…..

      I’m thinking “people in glass houses….”

  14. Bruce Post :

    With apologies to Joyce Kilmer:

    Trees.

    I think that I shall never see
    A windmill lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Windmills are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    • Bruce, there’s no need to apologize to Joyce Kilmer for sharing that beautiful poem, having added one important embellishment!

      Words often fail me when I try to express my dismay at the desecration of Robert Frost’s beautiful Vermont. But I will do my best.

      FOR A WINTER BIRD

      By Ellin Anderson

      Do not go to the mountains,
      Little bird with velvet wing,
      For none will greet you with a smile,
      And none will hear you sing,
      Nor hear the crystal fountains
      Go gently whispering
      Through snow upon the hillside, while
      Man’s avarice is king.

      Do not go to the ridgeline,
      For lordlings of the air
      And those who snarl, “What’s mine is mine,”
      Are not inclined to share.
      They say the devil never sleeps,
      And neither shall the bear
      In places where Hell’s roaring keeps
      A crying child from prayer.

      Stay with me by the dovecote,
      Where never cruel blade
      Shall make the fairest and the best
      Lament what man has made;
      Lest velvet wing and tuneful throat
      Lie broken in the glade,
      For hate and wind can shred a nest,
      And we are all afraid.

      © 2012 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be copied or used in any way without written permission from the author.

      http://home.earthlink.net/~ellingreeranderson/index.html

      • Bruce Post :

        Thanks, Ellin, that is both a beautiful and a troubling poem.

        If you don’t know this book, take a look at it: “The Natural Alien — Humankind and Environment,” by Neil Evernden. Here is one quote from the book, a passage by Bill Duvall, that crystallizes the division between those environmentalists who support mountaintop destruction by wind turbines versus those who oppose it:

        “There are two great streams of environmentalism in the latter half of the twentieth century. One stream is reformist, attempting to control some of the worst of the air and water pollution and inefficient land use practices in industrialized nations and to save a few of the remaining pieces of wildlands as ‘designated wilderness areas.’ The other stream supports many of the reformist goals but is revolutionary, seeking a new metaphysics, epistemology, cosmology, and environmental ethics of person/planet.”

        That latter stream contains a lot of room for poetry. The former seems reduced to mere numbers, i.e. just doing the math.

        • Since poetry and nature are both things of beauty,
          it is natural to see the preservation of Vermont’s
          incomparable landscape being defended by two
          Vermonters who, by quotation or original composition,
          express their dismay at the destruction of our precious ridgelines.

        • You are welcome, Bruce!

          Please read this poem — you can savor it over many days, because it’s long — and glory in the beauty of unspoiled New England. Mountaintops are sacred to Native Americans, AND THESE DESTROYING FIENDS DO NOT CARE. It is said that the great Chief Passaconaway was drawn up to the summit of Mount Washington in a sled drawn by wolves, and thence to the Great Spirit. I’d sooner believe in that than the man-made climate change malarkey. Let’s save the planet by fighting pollution. Why are there still open toxic sewers in the USA, like the one in New York City where that poor dolphin died last weekend? ‘Global warming’ seems to have taken some of the focus off individual polluters.

          http://archive.org/stream/narrativeandlege09561gut/wit0210.txt

          “The Bridal of Pennacook” by John Greenleaf Whittier

  15. John Greenberg :

    Three responses:

    First, those who support a moratorium appear to suggest that the issues surrounding wind energy are being considered for the first time with the 3 recent projects in Vermont. Moratorium proponents appear to be blissfully unaware that alternative energy has been front and center both in Vermont and around the world since the oil crises of the 1970s. In particular, Vermont’s DPS, PSB and legislature have been studying, regulating and monitoring these issues for decades. Similarly, Vermont’s permitting processes have also been evolving for almost 4 decades. Are 30-40 years of deliberation really so insufficient that we require another 3?

    Second, it is essential that we NOT reduce energy pollution issues to global warming alone. Climate change is important, of course, but air, water and radioactive pollution are as well. Climate change won’t matter very much if we no longer have breathable air or drinkable water.

    All sources of energy should be weighed against one another, considering ALL their environmental costs.

    Third, the notion that wind energy doesn’t displace CO2 emissions is simply nonsense, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how electric grids function.

    Two studies will help those interested understand the questions better. The first, by Charles Komanoff, makes an essential point: there is an important difference between retiring a fossil fuel plant and simply not using it. Even if no coal or gas plant retires, to the extent they remain idle while wind power generates electricity for the grid, carbon releases to the atmosphere ARE reduced. Komanoff concludes: ” … when wind turbines are operated as parts of an interconnected grid for which the dominant share of energy is provided by generators burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), wind power generation displaces fossil fuel use at a nearly 1-for-1 rate. The amount of fossil fuels “saved” or “avoided” by the wind turbines may be estimated at around 90-95 percent of the fuel that ordinarily would be required to generate the same amount of electricity at fossil-fuel generating plants in the absence of the wind turbines.” The whole study is worth a read: http://www.komanoff.net/wind_power/Wind_Power%27s_Displacement_of_Fossil_Fuels.pdf

    The second was a study for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, actually one of a whole series outlining the effect of dedicating roughly 20-30% of the US grid to wind power. On page 14, the study for the Eastern US concludes: “Carbon emission reductions in the three 20% wind scenarios do not vary by much, indicating that wind displaces coal in all scenarios and that coal generation is not significantly exported from the Midwest to the eastern United States….” The whole executive summary can be found here: http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/pdfs/2010/ewits_executive_summary.pdf and links to the full study and to studies for other regions here:
    http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/ewits.html

    • Lance Hagen :

      John, your quoted reference, by Charles Komanoff, seems to have a major inconsistency.

      He is claiming that they buy supplemental power, when the wind isn’t generating power, at $0.75 to $2.00 per MWh. He uses this as his basis to calculate to amount supplemental power needed to support wind generation.

      The problem is, if you convert his supplemental power cost to something we recognize in $/KWh, he is paying $0.00075/KWh to $0.0020/KWh. Compare this versus grid price of $0.055/KWh. So he is claiming he is paying only 1.4% to 3.6% of grid price for his supplemental power. At those prices, we should buy all of our power from the source of his supplemental power.

      • John Greenberg :

        Lance:

        I’m afraid you didn’t read the Komanoff article very carefully.

        First, Komanoff is relying on an interview, from 2007, with the head of the PJM grid in Pennsylvania, not ISO-NE. The figures quoted are PJM’s, not Komanoff’s.

        Second, to understand these figures, you need to distinguish different kinds of reserve power needed to maintain the grid. Synchronized reserve is provided by units which stand ready to supply power to the grid “on extremely short notice,” “against a sudden loss of the single largest generating unit on the entire system.” There must be enough to replace the power of the largest unit on the grid, which is usually roughly 1,000 MW. Since wind farms generate far less than this, they necessitate no additional synchronized reserve.

        The price to which you refer is for “supplemental reserve,” which is power needed to replenish the supplemental reserve if a generator goes offline suddenly, so that the entire system can maintain a sufficient amount of power needed to meet the demand AND maintain the correct amount of synchronized reserve.

        Komanoff quotes PJM chief Karl Pfirrmann as saying: “PJM pays generators to be available to provide this supplemental reserve. Because the need for this reserve is based partially on supply-side considerations, we allocate a portion of the costs to the generators in instances when their actual production deviates from their scheduled production. Its cost is deducted from the payments they otherwise receive for their energy deliveries. The cost is nominal, however, ranging from about 75 cents to $2 per megawatt-hour. (emphasis added)”

        Komanoff uses Pfirrmann’s figures to calculate the amount of fossil fuel power replaced by wind turbines, even after taking into consideration wind’s portion of supplemental reserves. He concludes that: “88%-96% of the “theoretical” fossil fuel savings for wind power — the savings that would be calculated from equating each kilowatt-hour of wind generated with a kilowatt-hour of fossil fuels avoided — remain after allowing for reserve requirements.” (p.9)

        • Lance Hagen :

          John, I did read the article and, yes, I understand the all the concepts.

          But I’m afraid you failed to look at the math and just took Komanoff’s analysis as presented.

          So let’s look at the math using Komanoff’s numbers (and not grid cost numbers of today)

          Coal burned to make electricity = $1.72 per million BTU
          Fossil-fuel ‘heat rate’ = 10,000 BTU/KWh
          Cost to generate coal electricity = ($1.72/10^6 BTU)*(10^4 BYU/KWh) = $0.0172/KWh = 1.72 c/KWh

          Now using Komanoff’s number of $2.00 per MWh for purchased supplemental power

          Cost of supplemental power = ($2.00/10^6 Wh)*(10^3 Wh/KWh) = $0.0020/KWh = 0.20 c/KWh

          So if one believes Komanoff’s analysis he is purchasing supplement power at a rate of only 12% of what it cost to generate this supplement power. His analysis fails the consistency check.

          • Lance Hagen,

            I read the Komanoff article, do understand the concepts and I conclude it is mostly garbage that the AWEA, etc., would agree with.

            John Greenberg,

            All grids have synchronized (3600 rpm) spinning capacity (usually OCGTs) in service 24/7/365, more MW during the day than at night. NO energy is sent to the grid, unless necessary per grid operator command. It uses about 6-8 % of rated output fuel flow.

            With up to about 3% annual wind energy on the grid, most grids, including the New England grid, can cope with the variability and intermittency of wind energy. On most grids, it become a problem above 3%, including in Northern Germany, Texas, Colorado, etc.

            ADDITIONAL capacity of spinning generators is required as the annual wind energy increases, and ADDITIONAL capacity of quick-ramping OCGTs, inefficiently operating in part-load-ramping mode, is required to balance wind energy ebbs and surges.

            Interconnection between grids is helpful, because it hands some of the balancing function to the generators on the connected grids, if they are ready, willing and able.

          • John Greenberg :

            Lance Hagen writes: “Now using Komanoff’s number of $2.00 per MWh for purchased supplemental power…”

            First, the number is NOT Komanoff’s. It’s Pfirrmann’s. Pfirrmann is the CEO of the grid operator PJM. Are you suggesting that he doesn’t know how much the grid he runs pays for supplemental power?

            Second, Komanoff’s (not Pfirrmann’s) calculations explain the difference between the amount of generation provided by the wind turbines to the grid when they’re operating (10M BTUs) to the amount of supplemental generation required by their operation (463,000 to 1.163M). To get these figures, he is using $ per MW and then BTUS per MW.

            His calculations are fully explained in his footnote: “The calculation is as follows (using $0.75): $0.75/MWh = (“X” Btu / MWh) x $1.72/million Btu. Canceling the MWh terms and dividing both sides by $1.72/million Btu yields: “X” = $0.75 / $1.72 x million Btu, or X = 0.436 x million Btu, or 436,000 Btu. The same calculation using $2.00/MWh yields 1,163,000 Btu. “

            Komanoff’s point is NOT about dollar amounts. It’s about the amount of fuel displaced in the difference between the power provided by the wind turbines and the supplemental power required because of the intermittency of the turbines.

          • John Greenberg :

            Willem Post calls Komanoff’s analysis “mostly garbage that the AWEA, etc., would agree with,” but fails to tell uys why. Instead, he repeats the point Komanoff underscored: namely, that grids have spinning reserves WITH OR WITHOUT wind turbines.

            Mr. Post then goes on to assert that when wind becomes a significant enough component of a grid’s power, intermittency becomes more of an issue. That’s not a point anyone disagrees with either, although there might be disagreement as to when that point is reached. ISO-NE has said that it is not concerned about less than 20% penetration, and that figure is many years in the future.

            So we are left with the question: why, specifically, is Komanoff’s analysis “mostly garbage?”

          • Karl Riemer :

            Wind is not only a force of nature. It’s also a metaphor. Specifically, it describes Willem Post’s posts. Trying to tease out substance and rational analysis from his rants is arguing with the wind.

    • Justin Boland :

      Josh, thank you for introducing data. However, both NREL links get 404 errors for me.

      Working versions of the NREL link – I think:

      HTML precis: http://www.nrel.gov/wind/news/2010/803.html

      However, their link to the full PDF is currently down. I have located a very interesting powerpoint style presentation of the information, though:

      http://wiki.glin.net/download/attachments/950463/GLWC+EWITS+Webinar_Schuerger+and+Zavadil.pdf

      • pete blose :

        The site map on the NREL site will take you to the full study report

  16. Will Amidon :

    This is about corporate greed right here in Vermont. The VPIRG board is loaded with, and the group partially funded by wind industry titans who stand to profit from developing Vermont’s ridgelines. They have called in a political favor from Senator Sanders, who likely doesn’t know much about how wind energy actually works. Wind in Vermont will not slow climate change, and will soon be eclipsed by more effective technologies with smaller footprints. It is not our obligation to sacrifice our mountains just to set an example for the country. We can lead in other ways, like passing tough conservation measures and promoting clean transportation. Vermont has a long history of protecting our wild places and making smart development choices. Would we give zoning permits to out-of-state real estate developers who wanted to build 25 story apartment buildings on ridgelines? Thanks Bernie.

    • Rob Roy Macgregor :

      Been to a major ski area lately?

      • krister adams :

        which fuels the VT economy?

    • Karl Riemer :

      Would we build interstate highways through our river valleys? Would we build bridges, causeways and rail beds across our lakes? Would we build smoke-belching coal-fired power plants next to, even below, our cities? Would we allow a nuclear generator in Vermont? Oh, wait…

  17. From the Burlington Free Press, August 23, 2012. People, you were warned about Vermont’s fluffy ‘pink’ bunny and his ties to Blittersdorf! No one should be surprised at what he just did. Bought and paid for. A raging hypocrite, just like Al Gore.

    http://energizevermont.org/2012/08/burlington-free-press-macgovern-takes-shot-at-sanders-for-ties-to-wind-energy-backer/

    Republican U.S. Senate hopeful John MacGovern on Thursday called on Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to give back $7,000 to David Blittersdorf, a Sanders campaign contributor and wind energy developer engaged in an ongoing property rights squabble with landowners in Milton.

    “The hypocrisy that is so blatant in Blittersdorf’s pay-to-play politics, and Sanders’ gleefully accepting his contributions, is a perfect example of what motivated me to get involved in this race,” MacGovern said in a statement released by his campaign.

    Ellin Anderson
    Brownington, VT
    http://www.125.com

  18. pete blose :

    John Greenberg’s post demands a response.

    Not from me; I totally agree with him. But John presents detailed information that directly contradicts specific statements by several other previous posters.

    So how about it Willem Post, Stan Shapiro, Kevin Jones, Kathy Leonard, Lance Hagen: What do you say?? Is John’s information . . . somehow tainted . . . completely fraudulent . . . misinterpreted . . . or just plain wrong for some other reason??

    I challenge someone to poke holes in the information John has presented. Otherwise much of the argument against big wind fails completely.

    • Justin Boland :

      A Vermonter by the name of Eric Rosenbloom has actually been on Komanoff’s case since 2005 at least. Komanoff is primarily an advocate for Carbon Tax and an expert in the economics of traffic patterns. His rhetoric in support of wind has been consistent throughout New England, and always short on data:

      http://www.aweo.org/Komanoff.html

      Willem Post has a much better grasp of the physics and economics of energy and I haven’t seen anyone capable of really engaging him here yet. I have learned a great deal studying his voluminous posts, but completely understand if his data-heavy presentation style is a turnoff for people.

      • pete blose :

        Did you actually read either of the studies cited by John Greenberg?????? I’m betting that you did not.

        Komanoff’s study certainly contains far more data than Rosenbloom’s ad hominem drival.

        I have invited Willem Post to “poke holes” in the studies cited by John Greenberg. As yet he has not. But then you claim to have learned a lot from Willem Post. Well, let’s have a little data from you. If you don’t like Komanoff tell us what’s wrong with the NREL study cited by John Greenberg. No need to hold back. Make sure to double check your citations because I will check every one.

        • Howdy.

          As a NEK native who is here to learn and conversate about this issue, I would like to formally ask you to calm down. Move more slowly in making assumptions about me, my motivations and my opinions, and I earnestly promise to do the same.

          As I noted to John – who I called Josh, darn – the links to his NREL material was 404’d. I tracked down some working links, too, because my personal interest is locating and sharing quality information. I am still learning, and I have printed off about 50 pages of material to digest this week. I am grateful to John for providing the brainfood.

          I hope you can understand if I’m not going to take your challenges and opinions seriously in the future, though. You haven’t offered very much to this conversation — please do next time you post something.

          • pete blose :

            Justin,

            You will note that I replied to your previous post by trying to help you find the NREL study after you got 404’d

        • Peter Romans :

          Is the NREL based on empirical data? Is this the modeling conjecture in which the DOE uses some information supplied by the American Wind Energy Assoc, the industry lobby? What is implied when Komanoff says “extrapolate”, “model”, “can expect”? Does he include measured data from ramping coal plants? Would you embrace a new pharmaceutical drug because the industry says no one died from it yet?

        • Pete,
          On the internet, you will find numerous critical articles about the NREL studies on wind energy. The AWEA supports these studies, because they make the case FOR wind energy.

          In general, NREL studies are based on a standard methodology that used assumptions that turn out to be incorrect, if actual grid operations data are studied.

          Here are several studies using 1/4-hour grid operations data of the Irish grid, some performed by professors and dr. engineers. The AWEA has debunked them.

          A summary of wind energy CO2 emission reduction effectiveness versus annual wind energy percent, for various grids is shown below:

          1.0 at 0% wind energy on any grid.
          0.95 (my assumption) at 0.6%, New England grid.
          0.70 (calculated by Dr. LePair) at 3.36%, the Netherlands grid; based on at least 10 years of actual fuel and production data.
          0.706 (calculated by Dr. Udo) at 12.6%, Ireland grid; based on deficient EirGrid data.
          0.53 (calculated by Wheatly) at 17%, Ireland grid; based on SEMO data, which are more accurate than EirGrid data.

          Note: Wind energy CO2 reduction effectiveness = CO2 intensity (metric ton/MWh) with no wind/CO2 intensity with wind. Ireland = 0.279, 17% wind/0.53, no wind = 0.53, based on SEMO data.

          Note: Government officials and wind energy promoters, such as the EWEA, BWEA, etc., usually claim one MWh of “clean” wind energy offsets one MWh of “dirty” fossil fuel energy, which is true regarding energy, but not regarding CO2 emissions, because of the inefficient operation of the other generators on the grid due to wind energy.

          Example: At 17% annual wind energy, each 1 MWh of wind energy on the Irish grid has a CO2 emission reduction effectiveness of only 0.53, and, as more wind energy is added, the effectiveness ratio decreases.

          http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
          http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
          http://docs.wind-watch.org/BENTEK-How-Less-Became-More.pdf
          http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
          http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
          http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
          http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html
          http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf

      • Justin,
        Thank you for the compliment. I have the high respect for Eric Rosenbloom and think his writings about RE are among the best

    • Kevin Jones :

      Pete,

      It seems like you may not understand my comments because nothing John Greenberg stated contradicts the points I made about the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer programs and how resources that participate in them (all Vermont wind projects) do not result in a net increase in renewables in the region nor do they reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions (they actually increase them). I have had VPIRG’s senior clean energy staff in my office and they have agreed with these points that I make and have filed similar comments before the PSB. Vermont utilities have actually filed similar comments before the PSB. John himself has actually commented in the past that he does not dispute the points that I make about the SPEED program. Joh’s comments are about wind as a generic technology not how wind resources whose RECs are sold impact thier regional benefit in Vermont. I actually believe that wind can play a valuable role nationally as an important part of our energy supply and I have consulted for wind developers and worked on wind integration studies and offshore wind feasibility studies. With this favorable view of wind as a technology and a wealth of experience I am no fan of building wind on Vermont’s ridgelines because there are much more appropriate places for the technology that do not have even close to the same environmental impact and where they can be more appropriately spaced away from people’s homes. The amount of wind generation that will ever be constructed on Vermont’s ridgelines is such a drop in the bucket that to me it makes no sense to continue to divide our communities.

      What we need Pete are well designed public policies that will actually have a positive impact on climate change and that can build community support for effective action. As I explained in detail in my previous post, the Vermont SPEED and Standard Offer programs are sham renewable energy programs that neither result in a regional increase in renewables or a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Given this it is hard for me as an energy economist and native Vermonter to explain to my neighbors what the justification is for the damage to our ridgelines. Those that claim that a wind moratorium would be a step backward on climate change are ignoring the reality of the current Vermont policy which is the most fundamentally flawed renewable energy program in the nation. So there is your response. The holes are crystal clear for anyone that is well versed in these issues. I challenge you to take the time to learn more about these programs. When you do I think you will have a different impression about who is responsible for making Vermont a lagard on both renewable energy and climate change policy.

      • pete blose :

        Kevin, I owe you an apology. I do and did understand your original comment and should not have included you in my challenge for a response. It was a mistake made in haste.

        • Karl Riemer :

          Perhaps a 3-minute moratorium…

    • Pete,
      See my above post.

      John Greenberg is intelligent, writes well, has factual data, but is not an energy systems analyst, whereas I have about 40 years of energy systems experience and the proper technical education as a basis to judge, for example, the quality of a Komanoff article.

      You will find my articles under Willem Post on THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE.

  19. Annette Smith :

    The studies cited by Greenberg are not based on the New England grid or what is actually happening with wind integration. We use practically no coal and oil, and Komanoff’s study is about PMJ and NYISO, not ISO-NE. He says coal plants can ramp quickly in response to wind in those other grids. Whether or not that is true there, it has nothing to do with what is happening in the New England grid.

    Last week the energy siting commission did a site visit to the most efficient combined cycle natural gas plant in the ISO-NE grid. It is a ramping plant (at the request of ISO-NE), not a baseload plant. It is 752 MW operating at 70% efficiency. The COO of the plant explained to us that his plant is called up after wind, hydro and nuclear, and before biomass and the other single cycle and combined cycle plants that are less efficient.

    After the siting commission’s meeting was over, I asked him how his plant operates in response to ramping for wind. One word “inefficient” tells the story. I asked him if there is a 1 MW to 1 MW offset of wind to fossil fuels, and he said that when his plant ramps down to let the wind in, his plant is operating inefficiently and is not saving fuel. He could not answer the question about whether his plant is reducing GHG emissions, or whether it might actually be increasing GHG emissions. Nobody seems to know the answer to that question.

    I asked him about GE’s flex generator that is designed for natural gas plants to ramp efficiently in response to the wind. He is aware of it, says it is not installed in his plant or any other New England plant. He said there is a plant that is considering adding one in Mass. but right now it is theoretical.

    So people can pull out all the modeling and philosophy they want, but the fact is that right now New England has seen $2 billion invested in 767 MW of less than 30% capacity factor wind energy, and we do not have any natural gas plants in the New England grid that are designed to ramp efficiently in response to the wind.

    There is no evidence that the NE grid is reducing fossil fuel emissions or reducing GHG emissions, and it may be that with the ramping of inefficient plants GHG emissions are increasing.

    I’ve asked numerous times in the comments on this site for evidence to support the notion that GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption is being reduced. Prove it!

    • John Greenberg :

      Annette Smith claims: ‘The studies cited by Greenberg are not based on the New England grid or what is actually happening with wind integration.”

      But in fact, Komanoff quotes liberally from an interview with PA grid operator PJM, specifically “PJM on Wind,” interview with Karl Pfirrmann, Interim President and CEO of PJM Interconnection, published by PennFuture, in E-cubed, Vol. 9, No. 5 – December 5, 2007, . The PJM region runs from Delaware in the East to Illinois in the West and New Jersey in the North to Kentucky in the South. (Komanoff, p. 3 footnote 5).

      In addition, the interviewer specifically says to Pfirrmann: “You now have several years’ experience with wind generation. ….” (Komanoff, p. 6) so Pfirrmann’s comments clearly ARE based on wind integration in that system.

      The NREL study is also based on actual experience integrating wind into grid systems.

      Ms. Smith is correct that the systems mentioned in the studies are not the ISO-NE system, but she provides no explanation as to how or why NE’s grid should be different from all the others in the world. It is noteworthy that, while Ms. Smith seems to think that the issues are different here, ISO-NE does not.

      • pete blose :

        John,

        I don’t understand your comment “the systems mentioned in the studies are not the ISO-NE system,” ISO_NE is mentioned throughout the NREL study. Am I reading the wrong study??

        • John Greenberg :

          Sorry, I was referring to the Komanoff article.

    • Annette,

      “It is 752 MW operating at 70% efficiency.”

      You asked good questions and you received good answers. I wish I had been there, because I am very familiar with such plants.

      As your tour guide implies, the CCGT is used as an intermediate plant, i.e., not base-loaded, not peaking, not synchronous spinning; the output is as required by the ISO-NE to meet daily demand.

      Operating such a plant in part-load-ramping mode to balance wind energy surges and ebbs is inefficient.

      The maximum efficiency of CCGT plants is 60% (GE-flex), much better than ALL other generators. In addition, it has a capacity factor of about 0.85; i.e., lots of energy, efficiently produced, at a low price. It makes money selling at about 5.5 c/kWh to the grid, or under long-term contracts.

      Here is a comparison with Maine and Vermont ridge line energy:

      Maine Ridge Line Wind Energy: 

      Maine plans to have 2,000 MW of IWTs by 2015 and 3,000 MW by 2020. About 400 MW were in operation at the end of 2012.
       
      All US IWT owners connected to the grid have to report their quarterly outputs, MWh, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC. The data is posted on the FERC website, and, with some effort, can be deciphered.
       
      Below are some numbers regarding the much less than expected results of the Maine ridge line IWTs for the past 12 months.
      http://www.coalitionforenergysolutions.org/maine_wind_thru_3q2012m1.pdf 
       
      Mars Hill, 42 MW, CF = 0.353; uniquely favorable winds due to topography.
      Stetson I, 57 MW, CF = 0.254
      Stetson II, 26 MW, CF = 0.227
      Kibby Mtn 132 MW, CF = 0.238
      Rollins, 60 MW, CF = 0.238
      Record Hill, 50.5 MW, CF = 0.197
       
      The Maine weighted average CF = (42 x 0.353 + 57 x 0.254 + 26 x 0.227 + 132 x 0.238 + 60 x 0.238 + 50.5 x 0.197)/(42 + 57 + 26 + 132 + 60 + 50.5) = 0.247; excluding Mars Hill, the CF would be 0.234.
       
      Note: CF reduction due to aging is not yet a major factor, as all these IWTs were installed in the past 5 years.
       
      Bolton Valley Ski Resort:

      Since October 2009, the Bolton Valley Ski Resort has had a Vermont-made, 100 kW “community” wind turbine, project capital cost $800,000 (includes a $250,000 gift from the Clean Energy Development Fund, a.k.a. RE slush fund), vendor-predicted energy production 300,000 kWh/yr, for a CF = 0.34, vendor-predicted estimated useful service life 20 years.

      A recent check of the Bolton Valley website in January 2013 indicates actual energy production from October 2009 to-date (39 months or 3.25 yrs) was 509,447 kWh, for an actual CF = 509,447 kWh/(3.25 yr x 100 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.179, 47.4% less than the vendor-predicted CF of 0.34 to obtain VT-PSB approval. Like selling a car and telling the new owner it will do 34 mpg, whereas it actually does only 18 mpg. Also, an early indication of poor CFs on Vermont ridge lines.

      Value of energy produced = (509,447 kWh x $0.125/kWh)/3.25 yr = $19,594/yr; if O&M and financing costs, amortized over 15 – 20 years are subtracted, this value will likely be negative.

      http://northernpower.kiosk-view.com/bolton-valley
      http://www.northernpower.com/pdf/specsheet-northwind100-us.pdf  
      http://www.boltonvalley.com/upload/photos/552Wind_Tower_Info_Sheet.pdf
      http://www.northernpower.com/pdf/Northwind100GeneralSpecification.pdf 

      Sheffield Mountain:

      Vermont Electric Cooperative, VEC, purchased energy from the Sheffield Wind LLC project (16 IWTs, each 2.5 MW = 40 MW) since it came on line in October 2011. Under two Power Purchase Agreements, PPAs, VEC purchased 2 x 20,124 MWh in 2012, for a VEC-calculated CF = 0.23, less than the vendor-predicted CF of 0.32 or better, to obtain VT-PSB approval.

      Note: The Maine ridge line IWTs had a 2012 CF = 0.234; data source FERC website. See above.

      VEC paid 10 c/kWh for the energy and received 5.5 c/kWh by selling Renewable Energy Credits, RECs, to out-of-state entities that should have reduced their CO2 emissions, but likely did not want IWTs on their ridge lines.  

    • Annette,

      “I’ve asked numerous times in the comments on this site for evidence to support the notion that GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption is being reduced. Prove it!”

      The New England grid has a significant component of gas turbines compared to its annual wind energy percent. Accordingly, the gas turbines do the balancing. ISO-NE personnel stated they do not yet “notice” wind energy on the grid, because it is only 0.6% of the annual supply. Inefficiencies due to spinning, start/stop, part-load ramping, etc., are minimal and the effectiveness would likely be about 0.95.

      A summary of wind energy CO2 emission reduction effectiveness versus annual wind energy percent, for various grids is shown below:

      1.0 at 0% wind energy on any grid.
      0.95 (my assumption) at 0.6%, New England grid.
      0.70 (calculated by Dr. LePair) at 3.36%, the Netherlands grid; based on at least 10 years of actual fuel and production data.
      0.706 (calculated by Dr. Udo) at 12.6%, Ireland grid; based on deficient EirGrid data.
      0.53 (calculated by Wheatly) at 17%, Ireland grid; based on SEMO data, which are more accurate than EirGrid data.

      Note: Government officials and wind energy promoters, such as the EWEA, BWEA, etc., usually claim one MWh of “clean” wind energy offsets one MWh of “dirty” fossil fuel energy, which is true regarding ENERGY, but not regarding CO2 emissions, because of the inefficient operation of the other generators on the grid due to wind energy.

      Example: At 17% annual wind energy, each 1 MWh of wind energy on the Irish grid has a CO2 emission reduction effectiveness of only 0.53, and, as more wind energy is added, the effectiveness ratio decreases.

      http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/64492/wind-energy-reduces-co2-emissions-few-percent
      http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
      http://docs.wind-watch.org/BENTEK-How-Less-Became-More.pdf
      http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
      http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
      http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
      http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html
      http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf

  20. pete blose :

    Thank you Annette,

    I am so disappointed with your post. I thought you could do better.

    Let me get this straight. Your rebuttle to John Greenberg is based on a single undocumented personal conversation with a single individual who could not answer the question whether or not a single particular ramping plant was decreasing or increasing GHG emissions . . .?

    You refer to the studies cited by Greenberg as “modeling or philosophy.” That is an unreasonable characterization as anyone would agree who has actually read the studies.

    In fact the Komanoff study included not only the PMJ and NYISO but also lengthy references to a Minnesota study and a UK study as random examples of numerous studies that all confirm the conclusions reached by Komanoff.

    In fact the other study cited by John Greenberg, the NREL study, specifically includes the New England ISO.

    I can only conclude that your post assumes that no one reading Vermont Digger has the time to actually read detailed information.

    On the other hand your little private “study” at the ramping plant can be fairly characterized as “non information”

    For those seeking real information I suggest actually reading both studies cited by John Greenberg. Perhaps then we can have a real argument. WARNING: if you are an oponent of big wind you will encounter serious cognitive dissonance.

    • Peter Romans :

      Mr Blose, I saw nothing in Ms. Smith’s response that warrants your snide comments. You may want to read NREL more closely, including the footnotes. The source for some of their “data” is the American Wind Energy Assoc. I was shocked to see that a federal agency used information from the industry lobby for their modeling. A cynic might be led to believe that everyone is for hire. If you find any empirical evidence, folks might take you seriously.

      • pete blose :

        I can’t find the footnotes. Can you direct me? I found a bibliography but no footnotes.

    • Annette Smith :

      Show me a study of the New England grid and which fossil fuel plants are reducing their fossil fuel consumption. What is happening in Texas or PMJ or NYISO is entertaining but not illuminating. What we know for sure is that natural gas is changing the marketplace, even resulting in nuclear power being shut down because of cost. Wind energy right now is an extraordinarily expensive technology at a time when we do not need more electricity, especially when it has not been shown to reduce GHG emissions or fossil fuel consumption. I am disappointed that in four years of looking, nobody can provide me with evidence specific to our New England grid system.

      • John Greenberg :

        Annette:

        1) Please explain why you believe that “What is happening in Texas or PMJ or NYISO is entertaining but not illuminating.” You keep asking for experience-based data. I presented some to you. Now you dismiss it because it is based on experience elsewhere. Exactly what is it about New England’s grid that you believe is so distinct from others around the world that the experience from grids in other areas becomes completely irrelevant?

        2) Your statement that wind energy “has not been shown to reduce GHG emissions or fossil fuel consumption” is directly contradicted by the studies I’ve cited previously. In responding to the Komanoff article, please explain specifically how he has failed to show that fossil fuel consumption is reduced by “88%-96%,” as cited above (p.9) Either your statement is false, or you should be able to show us specifically how Komanoff is incorrect. Komanoff presents his evidence clearly stated and documents it. What’s yours?

        3) Please tell me why the following analogy is false or misleading. Drugs are introduced to the market after studies on groups of patients. But unless you’re part of the study group, they weren’t tested on YOU. Are the studies just “entertaining but not illuminating” because you were not part of the study group? Do you therefore refuse to take any drugs unless you were part of the initial study group?

        Isn’t the whole point of empirical science to induce generalizations from a finite set of experiments until contradicting facts invalidate our conclusions?

  21. Jim Barrett :

    Sanders opposes anything and everything that will harm the private sector and that is why he supports alternative energy……it has nothing to do with saving anything. It has to do with making private companies pay more and more to support an industry which is faltering all over America…….wind and solar. He wants competition for the small oil companies in Vermont so he can get a gas was going and destroy small businesses. A true socialist and he even admits it but doesn’t run as a socialist!!!!!!

    • Karl Riemer :

      Breathtaking. Truly, dazzlingly, breathtaking.
      The capacity to believe anything – the ability to say anything: imagine the freedom and clarity of being bound only by one’s own imagination.

  22. Charles Laramie :

    I have enjoyed reading all of the comments above. Both Pro and Con. I was up on Hanley Mountain near West Rutland last week. I hiked up there with my brother. We also enjoy hiking a lot in the Adirondacks.

    The site Vermont Yankee is on is zoned for two Nuclear Power Plants. Anti-Nuclear activists are much the same as our leaders in Washington…say terrorists and the American people will give you the Red Light for War…fear is a great motivator…say nuclear accident and people will tell you Wind Mills on hills are safer and more efficent…again fear is the factor…Wind Mills in Vermont will never be able to replace the power created by one Nuclear Power Plant and what you do recieve will in the end be more expensive. It’s really that simple.

    There is a saying that never fails…”Follow the money.” $8,000 to the Shumlin campaign, $7,000 to the Sanders Campaign and $4 dollars in tax breaks. This seems like a pretty good trail to begin following. Happy hunting!

  23. pete blose :

    And so, finally, we come to the point. Thank you Charles Laramie. Many – perhaps most- certainly not all – wind oponants are pro nuclear.

    • Steve Wright :

      Show us your data on that conclusion, Pete. And then turn on spell-check.

      Within the past 48 hrs many of us mountain advocates have been labeled “creationists, “climate deniers” and now, “pro nuclear.” Does this mean the mountain-blasters are running scared?

      First they ignore you, then they call you names, then they fight you, then you win–or something like that.

      This is getting funnier by the minute but there’s lots more room for a more creative use of labels. Get busy out there. We need an occasional laugh midst all the bile.

      How about LaMarckians? Anti-Myotians? Pro-trinitrotoluenists? Caterpilarites?
      Alidadists? Schistists? Granitites?

      • Carl Werth :

        No doubt! – ” Many – perhaps most- certainly not all – wind oponants are pro nuclear.” – is by far the best line of comedy ever posted on vtdigger.org since it went online. Just awesome!

      • pete blose :

        Stove,

        I thought that was a fair comment in response to Charles Laramie’s post. I took his post as expressing a pro nuclear sentiment. Am I wrong about that? Perhaps Charles could clarify.

        In any event I have read a number of letters to the editor that clearly expressed anti wind and pro nuclear sentiments.

        Have I struck a nerve here?

        • Steve Wright :

          Spell check still not working. It’s Steve, not “Stove.” I am not nearly so warm as my stove.

          Our group of mountain advocates includes scientists, medical professionals,
          teachers, students, foresters, loggers, retired professionals, librarians, carpenters, builders, birders, hunters, anglers, businessmen and women and others who care about protecting the Vermont landscape and Vermonters.
          The name-calling and various characterizations of all these people are childish and funny. They bespeak a certain insecurity among those doing such.

          No, you haven’t “struck a nerve.” You made a mistake in characterizing “most” of my colleagues as “pro-nuclear.” That’s a long way from the truth. Fact is we don’t have litmus tests of personal ideologies. I would even bet we have some Baptists among our members standing shoulder to shoulder with atheists.
          How exciting is that?

          • pete blose :

            Steve,

            I’m not saying you have a litmus test. But I don’t think calling someone pro nuclear is “name calling” if it’s true. I have friends who are pro nuclear. Likewise I have friends who are among your group of mountain advocates. And I have friends who are anti nuclear AND anti big wind. Its all OK.

            I don’t think either position is a “personal ideology.”
            I just think maybe its relevant if someone is anti big wind and also pro nuclear and I think its OK for me to bring that up in this discussion. Would you agree?.

            It is a fact that a number of your mountain advocates are pro nuclear and anti big wind. I didn’t say most. I said “many and perhaps most.” -and I think that’s worth talking about.

            I don’t want to pretend to be too nicey nice. I’ve explored utility scale wind in depth and I don’t agree with you. And I’ve been anti nuclear for over 35 years.

        • Carl Werth :

          Pete, in your mind, does pro – moratorium = anti – wind?
          Does anti – IWT on Vermont ridgelines = ainti – wind?

          • pete blose :

            No; I understand the nuanced arguments and I don’t agree. It is by far the best line of comedy posted on VTDigger.org since it went on line. Just awful!

  24. For what conceivable reason would a certain Federal legislator confuse his role by coming and sticking his nose into the State legislature’s business? Could it be that his campaign coffers are filled with contributions from industrial concerns who have found a way to profit from Al Gore’s monumental global warming climate change scam? The senator may soon learn that the compassion felt by Vermonters for those people and wildlife creatures who suffer from these nefarious wind farm schemes trumps any dedication to the latest liberal fad.

    • Thanks, Richard, for reminding everyone that the topic of this thread, as indicated in the URL, is SANDERS.

      http://energizevermont.org/2013/01/times-argus-opinion-bernie-betrays-the-little-guy/

      Times Argus: Opinion: Bernie betrays the little guy

      “Less that a year ago, Sen. Sanders sent out a form letter saying he wouldn’t respond to the plight of rural towns battling wind developers because he doesn’t intervene in local or state political processes. That idea sure went out the window in a hurry….”

    • Joe Stern :

      Gee, why would a VT resident be allowed to have an opinion on a VT issue after having the audacity to gain elected office?

      Nice little “shoot the messenger” campaign by the anti-wind contingent.

  25. Justin Boland :

    Pete Blose, thanks for the tip re: NREL site map.

    Found another very relevant data point via NREL — a 1999 vintage assessment of Vermont’s wind coverage, in terms of ideal sites for installations:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy00osti/27507.pdf

    (I also did not realize that Searsburg was the site of New England’s first wind farm.)

    • pete blose :

      Justin,

      I looked at that wind map several years ago when considering wind as a component for a community-wide micro-grid in Ryegate Vermont (which was never built). What is your conclusion from that assessment?

      • My biggest conclusion was surprise at how vague and pre-paradigm the methodology was, really. I can see why Vestas has sunk so much profit into their Firestorm “supercomputer” array for real-time calculation and machine learning. It’s exciting to think that meterology might become an actual science in the next decade!

        In terms of wind power, I remain baffled as to why the conversation isn’t about US coastlines, which are clearly indicated on NREL national map. I remain suspicious that low property costs and weak local government is the main reason the NEK is the focus for Vermont’s wind power projects, not any actual EROI.

  26. Here is an article from VPR regarding wind energy causing grid problems in the NEK.

    http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/97331/grid-constraints-mean-less-power-output-from-wind/

    The current system is minimal, because the NEK demand has been minimal. To suddenly feed up to 63 MW of Lowell wind power into such a grid destabilizes/ congests it.

    It is somewhat similar to a lot of traffic coming from a major highway onto a country road, except wind energy, as electromagnetic waves, travels at almost the speed of light on power lines.

    This requires detailed study that will take at least 6 months, plus redesign, plus build-outs. Whomever said wind energy is not a disruptor? $100 million? $200 million?

    A reason FOR the 3-year moratorium is to have time to study the existing NEK grid, redesign it and rebuild it.

    Bernie is against the moratorium, because he has a political RE agenda, but he does not know the technical details, as do so many other people.

    Shumlin & Co also do not understand the technical details; they wanted to build as many IWTs as possible, as quickly as possible, create facts on the ground that are irreversible.

    Rah, rah is not an energy policy.

  27. Rob Pforzheimer :

    The fossil fuel industry isn’t opposed to wind because they know it replaces nothing.
    In fact the fossil fuel industry (BP, Gaz Metro, Enbridge, GDF Suez, Iberdrola, Exelon, FPL, etc) is a large part of the wind industry. They build wind projects for the tax credits, grants, accelerated depreciation, etc.

    In 2001, Sanders got a $1 million grant for UPC/First Wind to start Sheffield and has been greasing the skid for big wind for over a decade. To date his friends, First Wind has received $454 million in DOE 1603 grants and a $119 million dollar loan guarantee.

    Sanders failed to mention First wind’s permit from the ANR to kill endangered bats, or the families with children suffering from noise and infrasound that can’t sell properties made worthless by these useless projects, or the PCP and dioxin on the poles in GMP/VEC’s 14 miles transmission line from Lowell to Jay, or the destruction of prime wildlife habitat, or that the PSB process is a farce, or that there’s a glut of generation in NE…..
    Sanders is a hypocrite. Sander’s carbon bill will go nowhere. His assertion that VT is a leader is laughable.

  28. Karl Riemer :

    If anyone makes it all the way to the end of this, and has an answer (as opposed to a stance):
    much of the argument is about electrical generation capacity, specifically where and how much exists in relation to demand. Many assertions also hinge on the minor rôle electric power generation plays in various considerations of pollution ramification. My question:
    isn’t the ostensible purpose of wind and solar power generation to substitute electricity for fossil fuels in transportation, heating and manufacturing? Isn’t the whole idea to make its rôle much greater, if not completely dominant?
    If the idea is to replace fossil fuel in the future by creating capacity today in anticipation of and to facilitate qualitative changes in demand, isn’t any argument based on current demand and current capacity at best irrelevant?
    That’s not a leading question; I sincerely don’t understand quibbling over fine points of the economics of tweaking a system everyone agrees is outdated and destined to be fundamentally altered. Competing visions for the future are worth debating, but the one thing we won’t see is a little more of or a little different from what we have now. We’ll soon be burning a lot of cheap gas, or frizzling a lot of all-in uranium, or spinning a lot of wind turbines, or, not inconceivably, burning coal to beat the band. Possibly someone will unlock the secret to residential fusion generators but, realistically, we’re on the brink of a seismic shift in orientation, away from invisibly distant power plants burning visibly limited fuel, toward something more immediate and sustainable. Something is coming to your town, not just to run your lights but hopefully your car and your radiators and the machines where you work. The question isn’t usefully about 5% here or 10 MWH there, the question, I think, is about which among the available options is most likely to successfully replace, soonest and most completely, petroleum.
    Isn’t that the point, and if that’s the point, isn’t most of this discussion beside the point?

    • John Greenberg :

      Karl Riemer is correct to note that our energy debates need broader horizons. It’s a point I’ve tried to make here and elsewhere, but not as clearly as he has.

      Since virtually everyone agrees that for both environmental and economic reasons we will be unable to depend on fossil fuels for many more years, the obvious question is what will replace them.

      Those whose constant refrain is to note that Vermont’s electricity demands are met with far smaller carbon load than its transportation needs are only re-stating the problem, not providing a solution. As Riemer suggests, we must begin thinking about a future where the current status quo can no longer be maintained.

      As is always the case with energy issues, we should turn first to efficiency, and thanks to Obama’s decision to raise fuel standards, we WILL be driving far more efficient vehicles in the future. Conservation can also play a part: we can drive less (indeed, as a nation, we already are doing so). But neither provides a truly long-term solution to the problem, since we will always have residual transportation needs, especially in rural areas like Vermont.

      Similar considerations pertain to meeting our heating needs, currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

      It follows that we need to consider our energy demands in a much broader context than we are accustomed to, and that our economic and environmental considerations need to extend past ASSUMING one fuel or another will meet a given need, to asking ourselves what the LEAST damaging, least cost solution will look like in the future. The fact that few drive electric cars now does NOT imply that we won’t do so in large numbers a decade or two from now.

      As long as we’re gazing into the future, we need to consider one further point: namely, the role of grids in meeting our needs. Smart grid and smart meter technology can play a significant role in evening out our consumption of electricity, lowering peaks and, if we begin to depend on electricity for meeting entirely new needs like transportation, by raising base-load demand. Many of these strategies involve driving consumption towards late night hours when demand is otherwise low, by plugging cars in to charge at night, and even, in some visions, to use their batteries during the daytime to recharge the grid itself. Some of these same strategies can used to overcome the intermittency problem associated with wind and solar power: smart technology (including smart appliances) can shift loads to times when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and away from times when they’re not.

      One final point, as long as we’re being visionary. It is absolutely essential not to allow our current obsession with global climate change – which DESERVES to be a central consideration right now – to become our ONLY environmental consideration. The air quality crisis in Peking in the last few weeks and the Fukushima disaster of last year should remind us that global warming is NOT the only environmental issue we face, nor even the only potentially catastrophic one.

      That’s precisely why I keep harping on making decisions by considering all of the energy alternatives, and ALL of the environmental costs and benefits associated with each.

  29. Follow this link to see photos of a wind tower that exploded in Northern Britain:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2071633/UK-weather-Wind-turbine-EXPLODES-hurricane-force-gusts-batter-Northern-Britain.html

    “They might claim that specific wind turbine had an excellent record, but it’s not true in general.Over 100 have caught fire in the past decade alone. At least one has caused a massive forest fire (in Australia it burnt out a national park). Another fire in Australia last year ended with an article about it, including comments from the fire service that noted there’s nothing that can be done about them. They can’t use water to put out the fire (because of the electricity) at best they can put out the spreading embers. But they also can’t get too close, because debris sheds off them, even blades, which can go through a roof a mile away, as has been discovered in Germany. And when it gets icy? They can throw ice up to 2 miles, so don’t get close at all! Explains why they’ve caused 80 injuries and 70 deaths in the last 10 years alone.”

  30. John Greenberg,

    “Grids have spinning reserves WITH OR WITHOUT wind turbines.”

    That is correct, but as annual wind energy percent on the grid increases, they need a GREATER capacity of spinning reserves that use about 6-8% of rated fuel flow, but send no energy to the grid.

    Grids have units in start/stop mode, but as wind energy percent on the grid increases, they need a GREATER capacity of units in start/stop mode AND they perform the start/stop function more often, up to 24/7/365.

    Grids have units in part-load-ramping mode to ramp up and down with daily demand, but as wind energy on the grid increases, they need a GREATER capacity of units in part-load-ramping mode and they are in that mode more often, up to 24/7/365

    The above three modes are are inefficient without wind energy on the grid, but with wind energy on the grid, the inefficiencies of these modes have much greater impacts and require much more fuel/kWh and emit much more CO2/kWh, thereby offsetting what wind energy was meant to reduce.

    http://www.clepair.net/IerlandUdo.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/BENTEK-How-Less-Became-More.pdf
    http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-okt-e.html
    http://www.clepair.net/Udo-curtail201205.html
    http://www.clepair.net/statlineanalyse201208.html
    http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf

    “ISO-NE has said that it is not concerned about less than 20% penetration, and that figure is many years in the future”

    I doubt ISO-NE grid engineers, who know the limitations of the NE grid, would actually make such a statement.

    Lowell and Sheffield have had to curtail production, per ISO-NE requests, because the NEK grid cannot take even this little wind energy, as reported in the press yesterday.

    Maine ridge line units have had to curtail during the past 5 years due to grid inadequacies.

    20% annual wind energy is possible on the NE grid, but it would require about $10-$15 billion in grid modifications.

    Currently, with only 0.7% annual wind energy on the NE grid, there are only minor stability/integration problems, as noted above.

    As more IWTs are added in the coming years, some major NE grid modifications dollars need to be spent, as has been the case in other states.

    • John Greenberg :

      Willem Post quotes one of my comments, namely the one posted at 10:45 on Jan 30 above, and the remainder of his comments appears to be in response to my own. (Apologies for the cumbersome reference, but I don’t know a better way to do this, since Willem chose not to directly “Reply” to my comments.)

      Mr. Post picked one small point on which to disagree, so let’s clear that up first.

      ISO-NE has a good deal on its website indicating that it does not foresee major problems integrating wind resources for many years.

      For example, in 2008, in a Powerpoint presentation, John Norden, ISO’s Manager of Renewable Resource Generation wrote: “In the Queue
      •1,845 MW in the Queue
      –462 MW offshore
      –1,383 MW onshore
      •At these current levels we do not see major operational or planning issues that would inhibit system operations at the macro level” http://www.iso-ne.com/committees/comm_wkgrps/prtcpnts_comm/pac/mtrls/2008/may202008/a_wind_norden_5-20-08.pdf [For perspective, Vermont’s peak electrical load is around 1,000 MW and no one is suggesting meeting anything like all of it with wind alone]

      The “New England Wind Intergration Study: Final Report” conducted for ISO by GE in 2010 concluded: “The study results show that New England could potentially integrate wind resources to meet up to 24% of the region’s total annual electric energy needs in 2020 if the system includes transmission upgrades comparable to the configurations identified in the Governors’ Study.” (p. 14) http://www.iso-ne.com/committees/comm_wkgrps/prtcpnts_comm/pac/reports/2010/newis_es.pdf

      The actual statement about 20% to which I referred in my previous comments came, I believe, from a presentation made by an ISO representative to a Vermont legislative committee in the fall of 2009, a few months before the Senate voted against VY relicensing.

      In any case, as noted in my previous comment, while there may be disagreements in the technical community about exactly what the threshold is beyond which wind’s intermittency will become problematic, there is NO disagreement that it is not an issue at today’s levels. As Mr. Post notes and ISO clearly states as well, as the portion of the grid’s power from wind increases, there will need to be corresponding technological and other investments. Offsetting their costs, however, is will be the rising amounts of power being generated. Mr. Post says all of this in his own way in a variety of his comments above.

      More important than this small point to which he DID respond, however, is what Mr. Post chose NOT to answer. In the same comment to which he is responding here, I noted that he had called the paper by Charles Komanoff that I cited “mostly garbage that the AWEA, etc., would agree with,” and I asked him to tell us why: “So we are left with the question: why, specifically, is Komanoff’s analysis “mostly garbage?””

      Mr. Post has written all around the point, but failed to answer my question. Reading his circumlocutions, however, the reason is obvious. He actually agrees with Mr. Komanoff: power generated by wind turbines – despite being intermittent – does displace generation from other sources, and DOES reduce CO2 emissions on the grid. (Komanoff and Post both note that the relationship is not 1 to 1, though Komanoff quantifies it as 1 to > 88%).

      Given the amount of discussion here (and elsewhere) about whether or not wind energy displaces other – carbon emitting – forms of generation on the grid, and whether or not Komanoff has made egregious errors, as Lance Hagen suggests, or has somehow failed to provide data relevant to New England, as Annette Smith suggests, or has provided “garbage analysis” as Mr. Post suggests, it would seem germane to the discussion to provide specific reasons why the Komanoff article is not credible.

      So Mr. Post, once again, I’d ask you to answer my straightforward question as to why Komanoff is wrong, or alternatively, to concede that he is, in fact, correct.

      • John,
        “At these current levels we do not see major operational or planning issues that would inhibit system operations at the MACRO level”

        Macro, is correct, but, as you know, the devil is in the details; see my above Maine, Lowell and Sheffield comments.

        By the way the study was by GE and GE sells wind turbines, electrical gear, OCGTs and CCGTs. Conflict of interest? It is somewhat like the fox advising on the lock for the henhouse.

        “The actual statement about 20%………”

        I have not disagreed with the 20%, and, as I stated above, there is no problem at the current annual wind energy percent of 0.7%, other than the integration problems experienced by Lowell, Sheffield and in Maine.

        David Hallquist is of the opinion the $10 million dynamic-reactive system for Lowell will not be an adequate solution to the NEK grid problems and more modifications will be required; I agree with David. Without expensive modifications, the NEK grid is inadequate to deal with multiple Lowell Mountain IWT facilities.

        The 20% is feasible, but at great cost. The report also mentions the capital cost for grid modifications of weel in excess of $10 BILLION. As a general rule, with enough money even pigs can be made to fly.

        “He actually agrees with Mr. Komanoff: power generated by wind turbines – despite being intermittent – does displace generation from other sources, and DOES reduce CO2 emissions on the grid. (Komanoff and Post both note that the relationship is not 1 to 1, though Komanoff quantifies it as 1 to > 88%).”

        Komanoff, and I, and all other energy systems engineers, agree wind energy displaces other energy on the grid 1 for 1, but regarding reducing CO2 emissions, it gets more complicated.

        Above, I gave as references a number of studies performed by professor doctor engineers in the Netherlands and an energy systems engineer in Ireland. The studies were of the Netherlands’ grid and the Irish grid which each have significant components of gas turbines, as does the New England grid.

        Both nations provide detailed data for analysis. Using such data, Wheatly, the Irish engineer, calculated that enough additional Btu/kWh are needed due to the inefficient operation of the gas turbines (as I described above), to cause the wind energy to be only 53% effective regarding CO2 emissions at 17% annual wind energy on the grid. At a lesser annual wind energy percent, the effectiveness percentage would be greater.

        If Komanoff had access to the Irish/SEMO data, he would likely have come to the same conclusion, as would many other energy systems analysts, instead of the 88% he calculated based on the data of HIS grid; that percentage decreases with increasing annual wind energy on the grid.

        http://docs.wind-watch.org/Wheatley-Ireland-CO2.pdf
        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/89476/wind-energy-co2-emissions-are-overstated

        • John Greenberg,

          Below is a critique of the Komanoff article by Kent Hawkins. Please read Kent’s critique.

          http://www.masterresource.org/2010/04/case-study-on-methods-of-industrial-scale-wind-power-analysis-part-i/

        • John Greenberg :

          Here’s where we appear to stand at present. Willem Post and the article he cites below by Kent Hawkins agree with Charles Komanoff’s analysis that, at least at low levels of grid penetration such as those we see currently in New England, the introduction of utility scale wind turbines DOES reduce the use of carbon gas producing power sources and therefore emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere. I responded to Lance Hagen’s and Annette Smith’s objections, and have yet to receive a response. So having traveled full circle, we appear to have arrived back at the sole point I was trying to make when I introduced the Komanoff article into this discussion about 60 posts ago (Jan 29, 10:51 AM for those keeping score): when Vermont wind projects come on line, they DO replace greenhouse gas emissions.

          Post’s and Hawkins’ qualification about low levels of grid penetration seem reasonable and consistent with my admittedly limited knowledge and reading on this subject. Nevertheless, I’d make 3 observations which provide a bit of perspective.

          First, in 2012, non-hydro renewables (some of which are not intermittent) collectively constituted .7% of the ISO-NE grid, and that INCLUDES solar, biomass, geothermal, etc. In other words, the limiting factor of large-scale penetration by intermittent renewables that Post and Hawkins are worried about is a LONG way off in New England.

          Second, since both of them raise the example of Denmark, it is worth noting that Denmark’s land mass is a bit over 16,000 square miles, whereas New England’s is more than 4 times that (a bit under 72,000). In the literature I’ve read, a recurring point is that when the wind isn’t blowing in one area of the grid, it may well be blowing in another, and that therefore wind farms on a grid are far less intermittent than one single turbine or one isolated project would be. Obviously, the greater the land area, the greater the chances of variation, so intermittency in New England is likely to be less of a problem than in Denmark, based on their respective sizes alone.

          Third, Vermont is a VERY small player in New England; its entire peak load is roughly 3%+ of the grid’s output. Yet no one is suggesting that we meet 100% of that demand with power from utility scale wind turbines. The most ambitious suggestion I know of is contained in VPIRG’s “Repowering Vermont” study, where its most ambitious “strong growth” scenario calls for 28% penetration by wind power. Were this far-reaching goal fully realized – and we’re not at all close – Vermont wind farms would then be supplying just 1% of the New England grid‘s power. Obviously, Vermont is not the only player in the development of wind in New England, but this too gives some perspective to the issues Willem Post is raising.

          • John,

            “Obviously, the greater the land area, the greater the chances of variation, so intermittency in New England is likely to be less of a problem than in Denmark, based on their respective sizes alone.”

            John, it is more complicated, as the German lay people, including legislators (not their energy systems engineers) are beginning to realize.

            In Northern Germany, where most of Germany’s wind is, there are well-documented, major problems with variability and intermittency of wind energy.

            Germany exports some its variable energy to the Netherlands (which has a significant component of gas turbines and many other commercial interests with Germany), has some of it balanced by the hydro plants in Norway and Sweden (as does Denmark with most of ITS wind energy), and tried to have some of it balanced by Poland, but Poland does not want it, because it would upset its grid. Poland is building a big switch.

            In Southern Germany, where most of Germany’s sun is, there are well-documented problems, on sunny days, with the daily variability (from zero MW at 6 am, to about 14,000 MW at noon, to zero at 6 pm) of solar energy.

            Germany exports some of this “around-noon-time” energy to France which has a significant component of hydro plants for balancing it, and tried to have some of it balanced by the Czech Republic, but the Czech Republic does not want it, because it would upset its grid. The Czech Republic is building a big switch.

            North-South HVDC lines would solve most of these problems, but they have been delayed by at least 10 years, due to high cost and NIMBY.

  31. John Greenberg,

    “First, in 2012, non-hydro renewables (some of which are not intermittent) collectively constituted 0.7% of the ISO-NE grid, and that INCLUDES solar, biomass, geothermal, etc. In other words, the limiting factor of large-scale penetration by intermittent renewables that Post and Hawkins are worried about is a LONG way off in New England.”

    Post and Hawkins are not “worried”. We are raising valid issues that WILL arise if 20% wind energy goals ARE implemented, such as the:

    – huge capital costs (tens of $billions, per NREL reports) for IWT facilities and for grid modifications
    – high-cost variable, intermittent wind energy, c/kWh
    – wind energy CO2 emissions reduction effectiveness being about 0.53 at 17% wind energy, i.e., much less than the AWEA, et al, would admit to

    It is called foresight and planning.

    This was obviously not sufficiently practiced by the VT-PSB and VT-PSB, in coordination with the ISO-NE, regarding proposing and rushing the implementation (likely due to vendor/developer pressure on politicians, etc., to get to subsidies as quickly as possible) of multiple Lowell Mountain type IWT facilities in the NEK. The resulting wind energy production losses will go on for at least a year or more, ALL at the expense of Vermont rate payers.

    The below website has accurate energy source data.

    http://www.iso-ne.com/nwsiss/grid_mkts/enrgy_srcs/index.html

    Here is some perspective.

    Latest 2012 GWh data on the ISO-NE website:

    NE total energy 116,935
    gas 49,573
    nuclear 36,116
    oil/gas 11,505

    wood/refuse 3,392
    refuse 2,848
    wind energy 1,170 (1.0%)
    solar 36

    It will be decades before wind and solar will be meaningful quantities in this energy source mix.

    • John Greenberg :

      Willem Post concludes: “”It will be decades before wind and solar will be meaningful quantities in this energy source mix.”

      That was precisely the point I made above: there’s plenty of time to confront the problems which could arise from intermittent renewable power being a significant factor on the grid, since these problems arise only when these sources become “meaningful.”

      In the meantime, CO2 IS being reduced. Most of the scientific community seems to believe that there is little or no time remaining to begin reducing CO2 emissions.

      • John,
        “In the meantime, CO2 IS being reduced.”

        True, but a more nuanced statement would add “at a reasonable cost”.

        I think the cost/ton of CO2 reduced with IWTs on ridge lines is far in excess of what is reasonable. As Vermonters, currently befuddled with PR blather, gain more of the facts, they will agree.

        Assume fully paid-for, 40-year-old coal plants that emit 3.3 million metric ton of CO2/yr were replaced with one base-loaded 500 MW CCGT plant that produces the same energy, but emits only 1 million metric ton/yr.

        CCGT plant amortization payment $31,581,607/yr, or 0.901 c/kWh
        Cost of CO2 emissions reduction $13.89/metric ton

        Note: Recent market prices of CO2 are $8, $12 and $20 per metric ton in Europe, California and Australia, respectively.
        The above is all explained in detail in this article.

        http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/171561/co2-emissions-and-chevy-volt-vs-honda-civic-ex-l

        With IWTs on ridge lines, which produce junk energy that upsets the grid, as many Vermonters now know, it is much higher, i.e., several hundred dollars/ton

        I could easily provide the calculations, but do not want to make this too long. May be some other time.

  32. Vanessa Mills :

    In his poignant and powerful book, “The Speech,” Bernie Sanders wrote about the dangers & damages of corporate control. He had my vote for years because of what he supposedly represented. This is an outrage that he should now align with those who are exercising corporate dominance
    over the people who are crying out, who are living with the day-to-day impacts of Big Wind, who are trying to be heard that we can respond to the grave issues of climate change WITHOUT impacting our carbon-sink forests and watersheds (i.e Vermont ridgelines)and without impacting property values, property rights, tax bases and health! Grievous shame on you, Bernie!

    • Vanessa,

      Stop voting for these sell-out politicians. Mostly, they are doing “RE constituent service” to build up their “campaign chests”.

      IWTs on ridge lines are there, not to reduce CO2 emissions, but because of subsidy-chasing IWT project developers, most of them already multi-millionaires, want to become even richer, at the expense of Vermont’s household and businesses.

      They want to build as many IWTs on ridge lines as quickly as possible to get as many subsidies as possible and “save” the world from climate change. Little Vermont a world savior?

      World CO2 emissions 33,990 million metric tonnes
      Vermont 8.1 million metric tonnes, 75% from vehicles and buildings, 4% from energy generation.

      Says Bernie, a US Senator: Vermont should be a world-renowned RE leader. Irrationality to the nth degree.

      The rush to build IWTs on ridge lines in the NEK to “create jobs”, turns out to be a problem, as the NEK grid cannot take the variable, intermittent IWT energy.

      One would think the VT-DPS and VT-PSB, instead of being busy approving IWT projects, would think to first study the NEK grid.

      http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/97331/grid-constraints-mean-less-power-output-from-wind/?utm_source=VBM+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=91b049b6c7-E_E_News_1_31_20131_31_2013&utm_medium=email

  33. Tess Beemer :

    save the ridgelines- put some towers on the Moran Plant . After 20 years thats still there.

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