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View Diary: Wind power: birds, landscapes and availability (I) (128 comments)

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  •  "Ugly" can stop a project (none)
    Being a former Cape Codder, I was familiar with the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, which was heavily opposed by the well-to-do coastal residents because of NIMBY concerns about their views of the ocean.

    I left a couple of years ago, and don't know the current status of the project.  Considering the objections in an area with no viable evacuation strategy in case of an accident at the nuclear power plant just off the Cape, the objections to wind power seemed particularly short-sighted and stupid.

    Lies are the new truth.

    by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 09:57:25 AM PDT

    •  Remember our recent Supreme Court decision? (none)
      Eminent domain, baby.

      How could this not apply? It's for national security.

      •  It's in the sea (none)
        Nobody owns it.  The coastal dwellers are just afraid it will affect their property values, so they're trying to obstruct.

        Lies are the new truth.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 10:12:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so fast, (none)
          Romney has been getting cocky as of recent. This article explains that he wants to be able to zone state waters as they do with private land, as to frustrate efforts to place the wind farm in Nantucket Sound. The initiative was revealed at Craigville Beach, to the usual circus that consisted of representatives and local activists.

          I wish I knew/cared less about these things.. then of course, I wish I didn't live so close to whiny BushvotesTM who can't learn to pilot their sailboat drunk around 140+ ft. wind turbines.

    •  I'm from Osterville, (4.00)
      and Walter Cronkite has been yapping about the desecration of the view available from our beaches of Nantucket Sound. This is a disagreeable argument for why we shouldn't have the turbines out there, because I actually think it would be a unique sight for the tourists that pack in over the summer. If they don't like it, they can free up a parking spot at my beach so that I might be able to go there every so often.

      My only hesitance regarding allowing the turbines to be installed is that both sides of the argument have their numbers on how the installation will affect local electricity capacity. From Save Our Sound:

      An average of 170 MW, which supplies 1% of New England's electricity. Wind is variable and thus no electricity can be produced when the wind's not blowing.

      And according to Cape Wind Associates,

      The La Capra model uses projections of future demand, fuel prices, existing unit retirements, new unit additions and power plant-specific information to generate hourly estimated clearing prices. Depending o­n the resources available each hour, the PROSYM dispatch algorithm selects the lowest cost combination of bids from generating sources and available imports to meet the electricity demand in the region modeled. In essence, it simulates how the electricity spot market in the Northeast works. To ensure greater accuracy of the results, La Capra compares its forecast to historical trends and includes methodologies that capture "price spikes" and the impact weather has on load.

      Furthermore...

      Based o­n a comparison of the two simulations, along with judgement regarding the range of other potential outcomes, La Capra found that the addition of Cape Wind electricity would exert a downward pressure o­n wholesale electricity market prices, leading to a savings of approximately $25 million per year for the New England electricity market.

      This is what bothers me, that both sides are picking and choosing the facts that cater to their own causes. The local Army Corps didn't make it any easier on us by only allowing 60 days for public comment, which led to heated debate from our trusty hard-left representatives.

      What we need before we start stamping all of these wind projects is an independent verdict on whether or not the cost outweighs the benefit. It happens in business more often than not, so why not now?

    •  Vineyarder here (4.00)
      Being on Martha's Vineyard, I'm pretty used to the anti-Cape Wind arguments.  Several of the ones I hear the least seem to me to have pretty crucial merit.  And you might be able to set me straight on them, since they don't enter into the "how can you disturb the pristine beauty of Nantucket Sound" typical anti-wind argument.

      One is--who the heck are Cape Wind?  It seems to me like this is a pretty vigorous little energy enterpreneuship--nothing wrong with that on the face of it--but I've not seen anything really detailing what the long-term top-line profits they're intending to make off of Nantucket sound are.  My horse sense is that they wouldn't be in this if they didn't intend to make a killing for their VC's.  Again, nothing wrong with that in any given business, but their proposal for exclusive, unimpeded, and unregulated access to the Sound is based on...what?  That they were the first group to lay claim to it?  This whole aspect of the agreement seems like it was crafted by the Dick Cheney or something.

      I've not seen an oversight body that can deal with this in a licensing mode and can hold them accountable yet (mind you, I know there have been a few turns of this in the last month or so that I haven't kept up with).  There are precedents to look at in monitoring the region's interest here--think about community Cable TV licensing--but I've just not heard that business model.  Mind you, I'm not looking to regulate the top end possibilities for this right out of it for them, I just want something to keep regional control over the regional waterway asset, recognizing that the wind turbine project is an excellent application for it.

      Second point is just a fact, and an extrapolation from it.  Pro-Cape Wind people think they'll be powering their hot tubs in Chilmark based on the Nantucket Sound wind turbines, as in there's a direct return to the cape/island power systems directly.  That simply isn't true--whatever energy is generated has to be dumped back into the New England energy grid--that's a requirement of being a user of the grid (and this I have from extremely knowledgable sources on that aspect of the topic).    Nothing wrong there--you come to the meal every night, you contribute the vegetables when they grow for you.  That's the spirit of regional power.

      With that in mind, let's get back to that top-line profit for Cape Wind...who amortizes their rather hefty construction and operation costs?  It's never been clear to me in their muttering about "leveraging nominal and normative regional contributive costs" that it won't be people on the Cape and Islands forking over higher electric bills to basically line the pockets of Cape Wind Series "A" bond holders with no appreciable benefits to us.

      Third is a significant liability issue, I'd think, and a wonder as to who is going to pick it up if it comes to fruition.  These turbines seem pretty vulnerable in a vicious Nor'easter.  What happens if they all topple and get whacked?  I have a definite vision of 100 broken turbines in ten years, sitting in the water like dead birds or broken umbrellas, blocking shipping and abandoned with Cape Wind gone on to find someplace with more predictable weather patterns to set up their next shop.  There is no escrow or liability agreement for removing or fixing broken turbines if in Cape Wind's estimation they become transiently unprofitable.

      I'm concentrating on the negatives--I completely understand the real and potential benefits here, and even as a guy who boats and fishes the sound occasionally, the NIMBY aspects of this seem very easy to accept to me.  Most of my concerns revolve around not being in a position to get exploited by the Cape Wind people in a well-meaning effort to make a very meaningful contribution and setting an example in putting green energy in the mainstream in the US.  

      For those of us who are on the edge of being priced out of our homes and communities right now based on already astronomically rising energy costs (anybody want to venture the cost last winter of a tank of propane out here?), I'm just trying to watch out for my legitimate interests and not go bankrupt funding Cape Wind.

      •  Thanks for the in depth local view (none)
        to both of you.  It's good to get a close-up picture of the complications of installing wind turbine farms.  When I lived there (Truro, myself) the arguments against Cape Wind all sounded like typical trumped-up NIMBY bullshit.  The questions about business liability, socializing costs, etc. are very pertinent ones.  In the current Republican-dominated regime we can't assume that state government will do the right thing.

        Romney--who the f**k knows?  Sounds like he's just pandering to a group of elderly well-off retirees who are reliable Republican voters to me, but probably there's more to it than that.

        This is a fascinating discussion of the dirty little details that accompany wind energy in the real world.  Wind farms on the eastern seaboard are new, and I'm sure there will be lots to work out: competing uses, liability, preventing businesses from raping customers through the usual government graft, and many others.  Thanks for your wonderful contributions.

        Lies are the new truth.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 11:42:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some replies (none)
        • I don't know how it is in that case, but most of the wind farms I have seen go through a heavy permitting process - pretty much every conceivable agency has its say, so be sure that you can't just buy your way into a location.

        • Profitability. Depending on the wind regime and the complexity of the site, projects are going to be more or less profitable. You can be sure that we finance only economically viable projects, and as debt can make up to 80% of the total investment, this is heavily scrutinised. Some projects do make a great return for the investors, if they found a good site and did not take too much time developing it.

        • Turbine models are meant to survive extreme gusts of wind. In fact, they stop if wind goes above a certain speed limit. In the big tempest in the winter of 1999/2000, 40% of the trees in Denmark went down, and only 6 turbines out of several thousand, so it should be okay.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jul 11, 2005 at 12:47:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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