Category Archives: Wind
Bundler of Sunshine
May 22, 2012 5:00 am BY: Patrick Howley
Obama bundler’s husband has received more than a billion in DOE solar loans
New disclosures show that one of President Obama’s bundlers is the wife of an executive at an energy company that received a more-than-$1.2 billion Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee for a solar power plant.
Arvia Few is a bundler for the Obama re-election campaign who has promised to raise between $50,000 and $100,000. She began bundling for Obama in the first quarter of 2012. Her husband, Jason Few, is an executive at a company that has benefited handsomely from the Obama administration’s clean energy spending, records show.
The U.S. Department of Energy granted NRG Solar a $1.237-billion loan in September 2011 to help build NRG’s California Valley Solar Ranch, which is described as “a 250 MW alternating current PV solar generating facility” by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Few became senior vice president of Houston-based Reliant Energy in 2008. He was named President of Reliant in May 2009 when NRG Energy acquired Reliant for $287.5 million. He currently serves as executive vice president and chief customer officer of NRG Energy.
“This investment and its outcome represent a pattern in which the Obama Department of Energy took promises of technological development with an undue amount of credence,” says energy expert Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“On any given day, there are hucksters who say they can power the world. Unfortunately, there was also an administration that wanted to believe their claims,” Green said. “One has to assume that the administration was more likely to believe the people it knew.”
Other financial interests tied to the Obama administration have also invested in NRG Solar.
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy holds a stake in another NRG project that received a $967 million Department of Energy loan guarantee.
DOE announced a $967 million loan guarantee to NRG in August 2011 for its $1.8 billion Agua Caliente Solar Project. Agua Caliente will be one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the world upon its completion in 2014.
NRG acquired the Agua Caliente Solar Project from First Solar on August 5, 2011, as DOE announced the loan.
Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy bought a 49 percent stake in NRG’s Agua Caliente project in December 2011.
The multiple DOE loans did not stop NRG Energy from reporting a first-quarter 2012 loss of $206 million.
Even so, NRG has recently expanded its operations.
Since acquiring Reliant in May 2009, NRG Energy has also acquired the offshore wind development company Bluewater Wind, thermal energy company Northwind Phoenix, Texas-based South Trent Wind Farm, Green Mountain Energy Company, Texas-based Cottonwood Generating Station, and Energy Plus Holdings.
In November 2011, NRG Solar further expanded by acquiring the San Francisco-based developer Solar Power Partners.
“When you talk to a lot of people on the environmental left, there’s a deep desire to believe that wind and solar power can help us replace fossil fuels,” Green said. “It’s a naiveté that permeated the administration.”
Jason Few was named to TheGrio’s 100 list honoring “history-makers in the making” in February 2011 despite NRG’s multi-million dollar losses. Few was “turning a profit by greening Texas,” theGrio wrote. The article did not mention the Department of Energy loan program and its relationship with NRG Energy.
Jason Few and NRG Energy did not return calls for comment.
- First Solar CEO Admits the Majority of Jobs, Created by $3.1 Billion Taxpayer-Backed DOE Loan, Were Overseas (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Republicans Grill BrightSource CEO Over Energy Loans (theepochtimes.com)
USA: Eight Firms Plan to Develop Wind Farms Offshore Virginia
As reported by the Associated Press, the potential of the project, aimed at developing wind turbines in the U.S., situated off the Virginia cost and encompassing circa 113,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean, has been recognized by numerous investors including European ones.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in charge of supervising offshore wind development, published the names of companies that submitted the necessary documentation in order to be eligible for project implementation, those being:
Arcadia Offshore Virginia LLC, New Jersey based branch of Arcadia Windpower, Cirrus Wind Energy Inc., based in Nevada; enXco Development Corp., based in California; Fishermen’s Energy LLC, based in New Jersey; Iberdrola Renewables Inc., an American subsidiary of a Spanish company with offices on the West and East coasts; Orisol Energy US Inc., another Spanish offshoot with American offices in Michigan; Apex Virginia; and Dominion Resources.
The paperwork will be scrutinized by the government regulators, in order to determine what company meets the technical and economic prerequisites in order to be able to push forward with the project implementation.
On March 27, Virginia regulators gave their consent to what might be the first offshore wind turbine built in the United States. Even though the prototype turbine still awaits approval of the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers, it is said that it will be located in Chesapeake Bay and be able to meet the power needs of 1,250 households. The capacity of the wind turbine will equal to 5 megawatts of electricity and it should be ready for production by the end of 2013.
- Virginia Offshore Wind Turbine (jeceblog.com)
- Virginia Offshore Wind Turbine Positioned to be First in U.S. (renewableenergyworld.com)
- Virginia Approves First Offshore Wind-Energy Turbine For US Waters (hardware.slashdot.org)
- Dominion interested in Va offshore wind generation (mysanantonio.com)
Germany: Siemens to Convert Wind Energy into Gas
Siemens AG (SIE) has revealed its intention to introduce technology in 2015 that will enable conversion of wind-turbine electricity into gas, providing wind farms with an alternative revenue stream when the grid is fully charged.
Michael Weinhold, Chief Technology Officer of Siemens’ Energy Businesses, says the electrolyser, a soccer-field sized plant that converts power into storable hydrogen, is in the testing phase, reports Bloomberg. It offers a promising capacity necessary for overcoming the challenge of how to harness fluctuating electricity output from wind farms, especially at night when demand is the lowest.
Munich-based Siemens allocates 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on annual bases to devising new technology for the energy industry. Wind farms have faced hardship in commercial terms because power cannot be stored on a large scale, however the converted hydrogen can be stored by feeding it into the gas grid.
“The main problem today is the mismatch of renewable power generation and demand,” Weinhold said in an interview. “If we can offer solutions to solve that, we have a business case.”
- Siemens Wind Power Parts Hub Opens In Oklahoma (earthtechling.com)
- West Texas Wind Farms (txu.com)
- Wind farms: even worse than we thought… (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
Why Wind Power Doesn’t Live up to its Environmental Promises
By MasterResource | Wed, 18 January 2012 01:33
“I cannot abide the suggestion that we must sacrifice our environment in order to save it. This is an absurd argument enabling this energy imposter’s invasion of delicate habitat with little return. … Environmentalists must consider the possibility that industrial wind, by its failure to perform to stated goals, does not then qualify for this sacred consideration.”
The heavily funded and admittedly effective U.S. industrial wind lobby portrays its product as descending from old-world windmills. Close your eyes and you’ll surely imagine these magnificent machines gently turning in the breeze … each kilowatt arriving at your reading lamp courtesy of a rosy–cheeked Hummel child.
Existing solely to save the planet by generating clean, affordable and environmentally friendly electricity, you can be sure that any addition to the plant owner’s bank account is purely accidental.
In reality, the U.S. industrial wind business was rescued by Ken Lay and Enron with quick, low-risk profit as its core goal. As Gabriel Alonso, chief executive of Horizon Wind Energy LLC – one of America’s biggest wind developers, often reminds his employees … their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution … “This is about making money!”
Once a Believer
I was not always this cynical. I wanted to believe that industrial wind would replace fossil fuelled power plants and, until two years ago, defended its arrival here. Like many West Virginians, I wanted the destruction of our mountains by those who profit from the blue diamond stopped … NOW!
I believed industrial wind offered the best opportunity to accomplish that goal and, even recognizing industrial wind also consumes our forest lands, it seemed an excellent alternative to the coal industry’s horribly destructive mountaintop removal mining process.
Sadly, once the layers of woulds, coulds and shoulds were peeled back, I found industrial wind failed to keep its environmental promises. Save the canned boilerplate responses to criticisms, the wind industry offered nothing conclusive to demonstrate it would significantly reduce emissions or close fossil fuelled plants. There is no conclusive evidence that one coal plant has been closed as a direct result of the installation of tens of thousands of wind turbines. Not one! I’ve asked advocates to name one facility. Answer … zippo!
I fully expect advocates to point to many studies which validate their woulds and shoulds. But the studies they point to carry their own fair share of woulds and shoulds as well.
We’re even asked to disregard the increased emissions generated by fossil fueled plants as they inefficiently try to compensate for wind’s constant variability and accept that, on their word alone, when the wind is blowing, a coal plant, somewhere, is not running. That’s equivalent to some self-appointed Giraffe Control Officer bragging that not one has been spotted in Charleston during his watch.
Consider this measure instead. US industrial wind capacity at the end of 2010 exceeded 40,000 MW. The U.S. has some 490 coal power plants with an average size of 667 MW. A direct one-to-one trade would have closed some 60 coal plants. Again … name one!
Bringing this closer to home … Edison Mission Energy is heavily invested in Appalachian coal-fired power plants even as it grows its Appalachian wind plants. Can we expect Edison to replace its fossil plants as it opens wind plants with equivalent MW capacity? Will any of the major players holding significant interest in both fossil fueled plants and wind plants make this commitment? I suggest they will not, as long as there is profit to be made from each.
The sad truth is that industrial wind does not replace fossil-fueled electricity generators. It does not reduce emissions. It does not provide affordable, on-demand electricity. The relatively miniscule amount of electricity generated typically arrives when it’s not needed and cannot effectively be stored. Industrial wind, true to Ken Lay’s intent, is a profit center founded on favorable legislation, mandated renewable energy goals and funded by taxpayer subsidies.
I did not come to the “dark side” willingly. At the suggestion of a friend, I attended a presentation on industrial wind at which the speaker systematically destroyed any notion that industrial wind has earned a seat at the US energy table.
Expecting yet another NIMBY rant, the presenter [ed. note: John Droz Jr.] instead based his case that industrial wind is a failed technology on science alone. There was little mention of view-shed, bat/bird kills, noise or health issues, all of which I’ve since learned are serious issues in their own right. The presenter focused primarily on the poor performance and high cost of industrial wind and the fact that it could never replace current generators, my main reason for initially supporting industrial wind.
Knowing that the two key representatives of our proposed wind plant were introduced as being in the audience, I could hardly wait for the question-and-answer session. This was going to be a knock down for the ages! Just wait until they set this clown straight!
Then, the presenter wrapped up and said the magic words I’d been waiting for … Any Questions? My gladiators stood up and walked out! Not a word! No defense! How could they let this brutal attack stand?
That was my turning point. Suspicion drove me to read any article I could find about industrial wind, and the more I learned the more I disliked these monstrous contraptions which were scheduled to invade my Appalachian Mountains by the tens of thousands.
What I Have Learned
Before this event, I was willing, like many of my friends, to sacrifice a mountain view, some bats and birds and even the hard earned tax dollars these wind folks would pick from my pocket if it meant the greater good would be served.
What I learned, however, lead me to the conclusion that there is no trade.
• Coal plants will continue to exist at pre-wind levels and the mines will remain open in order to supply them.
• Emissions will not be reduced as a result of industrial wind. When asked if wind power was reducing carbon emissions, Deb Malin, a Bonneville Power Authority Representative, answered, “No. They are, in fact, creating emissions.”
• Not only will the surface destruction brought about by mountain top removal mining not be reduced as a result of wind plants, industrial wind will bring destruction well above the ground in areas not previously impacted by mountain top removal.
• The cumulative impact of long stretches of deadly 450 foot tall whirlybirds along our fragile mountain ridges will set a deadly gauntlet for many migratory species with no real benefit to show for the sacrifice.
• The arguably unnecessary remote wind installations require long runs of forest fragmenting high power lines required to bring the occasional electricity generated to a point of use.
• My picked pocket only serves to benefit the wind developers.
I cannot abide the suggestion that we must sacrifice our environment in order to save it. This is an absurd argument enabling this energy imposter’s invasion of delicate habitat with little return. Sacrifice is, after all, a forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of something one considered to have a greater value or claim. Environmentalists must consider the possibility that industrial wind, by its failure to perform to stated goals, does not then qualify for this sacred consideration.
My comments here are my own. I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, but do not speak for the organization in this commentary. I serve as editor of the Allegheny Treasures blog, an amateur site intended not to answer questions, but instead to stimulate discussion of industrial wind among readers, as I hope to do in this piece.
I arrived at my opinions after all consideration to the argument presented by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other industrial wind support groups. I’ll be the first to admit I could be wrong, as I was when I supported industrial wind just two years ago. If a persuasive argument can be made to sway me back, I assure you I’ll happily move.
But I should warn you, the argument must begin with a list of coal- plant closings and not easily manipulated speculative “data.” Empty promises will not justify consuming even one more square inch of Appalachian forest.
Oh, before I’m criticized on the property rights issue … I firmly believe that you should be allowed to do anything you wish with your property as long as it brings no harm to others. But whatever you choose, don’t ask me to underwrite your adventure with my tax money in the form of subsidies, grants, or any other considerations from which you profit.
I am not insulted at the NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) moniker the wind advocates apply to me. I would take it one step further and suggest they call me a NOPE (not-on-planet-earth)!
I believe we are all responsible for our environment and must challenge every intrusion. We cannot accept, without question, the possibility that what has been portrayed as a solution may, in fact, create additional ills, no matter how much we want to believe.
Moving the country away from fossil fuels is one thing; choosing an alternative with no proven track record in accomplishing this effort, especially one with industrial wind’s potential for serious environmental destruction is quite another.
By. Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan is a “no party” West Virginian with a self-described “nose for nonsense.” A semi-retired Project Management and Transportation Consultant, he worked as Transportation/Materials Manager for an international manufacturer of large hydro turbine equipment and, before that, as Materials Manager with a Fortune 500 company.
“While I can’t claim to be an environmentalist,” Morgan adds, “growing up along the Allegheny Front dictates a respect for the environment and demands scrutiny of any intrusion.”
- (MONITOR) Ruth Lea: Wind power is one of the great follies of our age. #windfarms (dreadnoughtuk.wordpress.com)
- Wind power is expensive and ineffective at cutting CO2 say Civitas (telegraph.co.uk)
- Encouraging Investment Is Key To U.S. Offshore Wind Development (earthtechling.com)
- Scheme to finance onshore wind farms (premierlinedirect.co.uk)