Big Wind

 

A wind farm is to be built near a nature preserve despite Osage Indian protests

Guest post by Dale R. McIntyre

A big-city corporation rams through industrial development on a pristine landscape against the wishes of the local Native Americans, who fear their burial grounds and traditional use of the land will be impaired. Sound familiar?

There are twists, however, and irony enough to make it a “three-pipe problem”.

The corporation is Wind Capital Group LLC, of St. Louis, building a wind farm west of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

The Native Americans are the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, and the traditional land use they see threatened is oil and gas drilling.

On Thursday, Dec. 15th, 2011, Wind Capital Group won a ruling from US district judge Gregory Frizzel that the wind farm could proceed despite the protests of the Osages.

Wind Capital wants to rush construction of the wind farm to qualify for a 2.2 cent/kW-hr federal tax subsidy, loss of which would “jeopardize the very existence of the wind facility.” (Tulsa World, Dec. 16th, 2011, p. 1)

Osage Nation Principal Chief John Red Eagle has stated that”…the target area for wind development would intrude upon sacred Osage burial sites, posing a major threat to the tribe’s culture.”(Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Dec. 16th, 2011,, p.1)

The eastern edge of the proposed wind farm site is about 3 miles from the boundary of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, home to 2500 bison on one of the last remnants of pristine tallgrass prairie left on the continent. To the east, Bluestem Lake hosts Canadian geese, pelicans, red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons. Bald eagles winter over at Kaw Lake to the west.

I own land, fish, hunt and[ ramble] in the area so I know it as a majestic rolling grassland. In spring the Indian Paint Brushes, the red clover, bluebonnets and a dozen varieties of sunflower paint the landscape in a riot of color bold enough to delight Chagall. Deer and puma, wild turkey and coyotes play deadly games of hide and seek in the thick groves of cottonwood, cedar and blackjack oak along the creek beds.

The sight and sound of large wind turbines grates the nerves in such a place, as does their grisly record of killing birds. But the Osage Nation has another very pragmatic objection; they fear the wind farm will interfere with their oil and gas drilling.

In 1906, the Osage Nation took control of all mineral rights in the 1.5 million acre Osage Indian Reservation, now Oklahoma’s Osage County. Since then, surface rights pass by sale from owner to owner, but the mineral rights stay with the Osage tribe.

Thus for over 100 years, oil and gas have been critical to the economy of Osage County.  The royalties are shared out among tribal members every year, and make a welcome addition to hardscrabble incomes from ranching and farming. “Big Oil” has no presence in Osage County. Small local companies produce the wells and many very welcome local jobs. Osage County wells are small “stripper wells”, pumped by nodding “pump jacks”. They typically make 2 to 10 barrels of crude per day.

(Larger firms may join in future as more complicated horizontal wells are drilled to exploit the “shale gas revolution.”)

Chief Red Eagle insisted in court that the wind farm would impair this vital tribal revenue stream by intefering with access to key drilling sites.

Wind Capital Croup brought experts to court who testified that the inconvenience to oil and gas drillers would be small. The judge agreed.

Wind Capital Group spokesmen say they are eager to work with the Osage Nation. They point out that the wind farm will create jobs (Construction will require 150-200 workers,  but the construction contractor, RMT Inc., is from out of state. Permanent jobs are estimated as “12-15″. The believe property taxes on the wind farm will be a windfall to the tiny nearby rural school district of Shidler.

Tales with devilish villains and saintly heroes are for movies. Wind Capital Group is playing by the rules, and building on private land, whose owners have the right to exploit their property for lawful gain. The Osage Nation is not a collection of beggarly blanket Indians. They are well-represented, well-connected politically, with a shrewd sense of their rights and a determination to assert them. On January 24th, 2012, Chief Red Eagle announced a formal appeal of Judge Frizzell’s ruling (Lucinda Bray, Pawhuska Journal-Capital, Jan 25th, 2012)

As for those burial grounds, well, they are not so sensitive that oil and gas drilling disturbs them.

But all who dream of low-carbon energy should recognize that wind farms will intrude on huge areas considering the small amount of intermittent power they produce. The areas thus intruded upon are not sterile desert or blighted brownfield urban sites. The Osage County Wind Project is cheek-by-jowl with one of the most idyllic nature preserves in mid-continental America. Another wind farm, near Woodward, Oklahoma, is a prime suspect in the disappearance of the bats from neary Alabaster Caverns.

The Tall Grass Prarie Preserve - Image from Panaramio

Since these wind farms do not proceed at all in the absence of whacking great federal subsidies, wind farm projects seem to be creating a new special interest group, with its own lobbyists, its own pet legislators, and its own corporate sponsors determined to preserve a very high rate of return on capital.

Call it “Big Wind”.

Meanwhile, the bison in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve will just have to learn to graze, fight, breed and give birth to the high-pitched whine and stroboscopic “swish” of the turbines.

As for the birds, the geese, the pelicans, the eagles and those graceful, soaring hawks making their “lazy circles in the sky”, well, they’ll just have to watch where they’re going. Inattention will get them chopped into coyote sashimi by the turbine blades.

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125 thoughts on “Big Wind

  1. Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done has found that a wind turbine could kill as much as… er… 0.6 birds per year. And that’s the upper limit – the average is more like 0.2 (see Garcia 2007, Lekuona and Ursua, 2007 – Dirksen et al, 2007 found much lower rates). That’s right, each “bird-shredder” kills four birds in its twenty-year life, and some particularly vicious examples kill as many as twelve birds in twenty years.

    If you really care about birds, there are bigger problems in the world. Radio masts, for instance – many of them situated in countryside / wilderness areas, on high ridges, just like turbines – kill 4.5 million birds per year (Erickson et al 2005). And simple glass windows account for more than half a billion.

    If you have a slavish objection to windmills and are looking for any objection – sorry for interrupting, go right ahead.

  2. The most telling sentence in this article is:-
    Wind Capital wants to rush construction of the wind farm to qualify for a 2.2 cent/kW-hr federal tax subsidy, loss of which would “jeopardize the very existence of the wind facility.”
    In other words, if the tax-payer was not being screwed by the government to give cash to Wind Capital, there would be no economic sense in building this monstrous wind farm.
    This is lunacy run rampant.

  3. I wonder which large mammals like caribou would prefer to be around at mating and calving season.
    A) A field full of noisy, strobing wind turbines,
    B) Or a nice quiet Trans Alaskan Pipeline that serves as a wind break?

  4. Tom says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am
    “Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done ”

    I’m European so I care little whether the Americans have an eagle or a wind turbine as their symbol; but I do notice the absence of any source citation in your claim.

  5. DirkH says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:43 am
    “Tom says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am
    “Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done ”

    I’m European so I care little whether the Americans have an eagle or a wind turbine as their symbol; but I do notice the absence of any source citation in your claim.”

    And I should learn to read before I comment. I wanted to say “link”, then changed it to “source citation”, but you did cite sources. So I’m away, googling them now.

  6. Hmmm I wonder what rabid environmentalists would do if a development they opposed went ahead anyway?
    Do as a rabid environmentalist would do, legal or otherwise.

  7. Note to the Osage: GO FOR IT, GUYS!

    I’ve always been on the Indian’s side (well, mostly. I Have done a lot of history research).

    As to a comment above about .2 birds a year…. I have to wonder if the people who take care of the turbines, don’t squirrel away the corpses they must find, and then say ‘We’ve only seen a few birds hit.’ Not out of anything Evil, mind- they just want to preserve their jobs, and I don’t blame them. Besides, there’s probably an internal memo out there, somewhere- ‘hide the bodies or else!’

  8. I am with Tom on the bird killing. Also, my guess is that those accidents are not completely random. Sick birds must have greater odds than healthy ones. It is natural selection at work, just like an old, sick or unfit zebra has more chances of getting captured by a lion or a man who uses his cell phone while driving has more chances of having an accident than one who doesn´t.

  9. There seem to be wildly-varying figures for bird-kill by turbines.
    The UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has a case study for a farm of 57 turbines where the Environmental Impact Study estimated over 200 deaths per year amongst geese. However hard data for actual kills – birds and bats – is not easy to find (at least by my fumbling efforts). Yet the info must exist as some of these systems have been in use for 10+ years and, in the UK, the operators are obliged to monitor bird strikes.

  10. It is an outrage. Try asking for a performance guarantee not for “MWhrs produced” or “bogus tons of CO2 saved” but for “actual conventional fuel subsituted”.

    Wind fraudsters advertise “energy savings”. In the Falklands (a good example of a closed, easy to measure system) the wind types were advertizing “40% energy savings”:

    http://en.mercopress.com/2010/02/17/wind-turbines-to-supply-40-of-falklands-power

    Actual fuel saved 4.3% – 8.3% depending on the season. http://kirbymtn.blogspot.com/2008/02/less-than-one-fourth-of-projected-fuel.html

    Also k.i.m. Germany’s actual experience. They have about 22,000 installed wind MW, said to produce 6-7% ot total AVERAGE annual demand (I have no figures on actual fuel substituiton but it is a different % number) and, thanks to this achievement, they prevent blackouts only by importing emergency electricity from Austria and France to prevent blackouts, PLUS they have to shed excess random power to Poland and the Czech Republic, to avoid frying their own grid (but frying the neighbors’ grids, instead). A casual search will verify these statements.

    The wind generation fraud is of the same magnitude as “climatemania” and equally arcane to comprehend as one has to be an old-fashioned power grid engineer to understand trivia about grid stability, AND a micro economics utility pricing expert to see the financial scam. Wind generators produce quasi random power, fluctuating with wind speed to the third power, which assumes that it is either an insignificant % of total demand, or that there are suckers around the local grid to absorb excess (random power).

    Never mind the verses “… purple mountain majesties above the enameled plain” may have to be rewritten to reflect obsolete rusting metalic poles as a new decor.

  11. Every time I see a wind farm in future I will be thinking there goes more of my tax dollars. The same goes for solar panels on domestic roof tops. In Australia you get a subsidy for the capital costs and then sell all the power you generate at about twice what it then costs you to buy back what you need. You don’t just sell the surplus that you generate above your own needs: you sell the lot at a crazy subsidised price. I’d really like to see figures for the total government subsidies on all renewable energy.

  12. I grew up in Ponca and acquired a respect and sympathy for the Osage. 50 years ago they were pretty much lost in an alcoholic haze, unable to adapt their warrior culture to the US game.

    Contrast with the Cherokee, starting from a village culture, who were able to keep up with the whites and often get ahead of us. They quickly figured out how to leverage their oil money into real power.

    With that background, I’m very pleased to see that the Osage have sharpened up their act! They’ve clearly learned how to play the US game, and they clearly understand the difference between real resources and fake resources. They didn’t win this round, but I’m betting they’ll win in the end.

  13. Re : Tom says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am
    “Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done has found that a wind turbine could kill as much as… er… 0.6 birds per year. And that’s the upper limit – the average is more like 0.2 (see Garcia 2007, Lekuona and Ursua, 2007 – Dirksen et al, 2007 found much lower rates). That’s right, each “bird-shredder” kills four birds in its twenty-year life, and some particularly vicious examples kill as many as twelve birds in twenty years.”

    Tom, I’m not sure where you get your statistics from but the ‘…er…0.6 birds per year’ certainly was not the experience of a primary school in the UK who although desperate to prove their ‘eco-friendly’ credentials were forced to turn off their turbine after it killed at least 14 birds in the space of just 6 months badly upsetting the school children who witnessed it.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/7870929/Primary-school-forced-to-turn-off-wind-turbine-after-bird-deaths.html

    No doubt the difference between the ‘actual research’ and the reality!!

  14. There is a rumour (which i’m starting) that Penn State, after the catastrophe of their Nittany Lion tag going the way of ‘the cougar’ (what do you call an older women who likes young men…Cougar. Whatdya call an older Man who likes young men…) . They might be changing their name to:
    MichaelBunkport

  15. Those are my old stomping grounds. Osage and Pawhuska Counties are beautiful, especially in the spring when everything is green. I’ve always hoped of moving back there and buying a nice piece of land on which to retire. Now it looks like I’ll be paying taxes to ruin the beautiful landscape I’d hoped to help preserve. There’s irony in there somewhere.

    The same thing has already happened in Kansas, with the Elk River wind farm. Southeast Kansas has some truly beautiful scenery but the big wind farm pollutes it for miles and miles. I think it’s ironic that you can’t build a shed in your back yard in some communities without someone complaining it’s an eyesore, but if you are “green” you can build a wind farm that is an eyesore for dozens of square miles and get away with it.

  16. Birds and windfarms…
    Tom has a point:

    There might be ten billion birds in spring and up to 20 billion in fall. That is billion, and of course from that number some 10 billion die each year from all causes.

    The following site tries to summarize the total bird population in the U.S. and North America.

    http://birdstuff.blogspot.com/2002/07/how-many-birds-are-there.html

    Look like Wind turbines are not a big source of bird deaths, yet.

    I am no fan of wind farms, they blight the landscape and are a miss-allocation of resources. But, now I am educated on their impact on birds.
    One final note: Where wind farms are sites, will have an impact on the local population, that could have adverse effects on birds that are threatened.

  17. Tom says:February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done has found that a wind turbine could kill as much as… er… 0.6 birds per year. And that’s the upper limit – the average is more like 0.2 (see Garcia 2007, Lekuona and Ursua, 2007 – Dirksen et al, 2007 found much lower rates). That’s right, each “bird-shredder” kills four birds in its twenty-year life, and some particularly vicious examples kill as many as twelve birds in twenty years.

    If you really care about birds, there are bigger problems in the world. Radio masts, for instance – many of them situated in countryside / wilderness areas, on high ridges, just like turbines – kill 4.5 million birds per year (Erickson et al 2005).

    Maybe if we call the radio towers ‘turbines’ they won’t kill so many birds either…/sarc

  18. So to sum up: If a wind farm destroys the natural landscape, that is okay. But if an oil derrick does so, it is a mortal sin to the earth.

    The hypocrisy by Big Environment is sickening.

  19. The solution is to get the Congress, via the Oklahoma congressional delegation, to repeal the wind-power subsidy. Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Senate would probably stymie that effort, but after the November elections, there’s a good chance we’ll have a Republican Senate. Make sure your candidates pledge to get the federal government out of subsidizing, and thereby distorting, the energy marketplace.

    /Mr Lynn

  20. Tom,
    Given the fact that wind turbines are completely unnecessary, then so are the bird deaths, as well as all of the other wasteful and annoying aspects. You can’t say the same for radio towers, buildings, etc. Here are the stats for the 86 turbine facility at Wolfe Island in Ontario (data from engineering report):

    Details on Fatalities:
    703 birds were killed in this 2H2010 period, compared to 602 in 2H2009. For the year 2010 an estimated total of 1,207 birds were killed, a rate of 6.28 birds/MW. For the entire 2010 a total of 21 raptors were killed, a rate of 0.096, which is above the threshold.
    1,878 bats were killed in this 2H2010 period. This compares to 1,270 killed during 2H2009. For the year 2010 an estimated total of 2,327 bats were killed, an annual rate of 11.75 bats/MW.

    Furthermore, the bird mortality studies were conducted on low-wind days (i.e. the chopper blades were moving quite slowly). One critique indicated there was a 1% chance that the sample periods could have been randomly selected to coincide with such wind conidtions. I would also add that once the local populations are wiped out, mortality will certainly decline, becuase there wll be nothing left to kill.

  21. John Marshall says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Desperate for the subsidies they ride rough shod over all.
    _________________
    That about sums it up, that and cries of: “Oh, but jobs and money for the school district.”
    It’s a money thing.
    Mr.McIntyre has fairly summed up the pros and cons of the coming wind farms and I thank him for it.
    I was born and raised in the Osage tall grass and it was home to my ancestors since my Great- Greats arrived by covered wagon in the 1800s. I return every chance I get.
    While the prairie is no longer pristine- there remains scarcely a view without phone towers or remnant oil- field leases- there is very little opportunity for jobs, etc. and the residents of the dying towns are eager for any injection of cash that may come along.
    I’ve stayed out of the fight, since I’m no longer a resident, having left the night I graduated from high school, but to my remaining friends and family who could not leave the beauty of the place, I only say: be careful what you wish for.
    Oh, and be sure to try for some guarantee of removal when it comes time to de- commission those machines… you’ll need it.

  22. “Osage Nation has another very pragmatic objection; they fear the wind farm will interfere with their oil and gas drilling.

    HEH! I LOVE it! Of course, most people in the climate/green industries don’t care about other people’s jobs, particularly those in the oil and gas industries, just as long as they get their large slice of the climate ca$h pie.

  23. 2.Tom said: (February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am)

    “Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done has found that a wind turbine could kill as much as… er… 0.6 birds per year. And that’s the upper limit – the average is more like 0.2…”

    Better re-read your sources. That “0.6” figure you throw out is the birds per MW per year.

    So if Spain, for example, was scheduled to bring bird-shredders on line capable of producing 20,155 MW per year (according to their five-year Spanish Plan for Renewable Energies), that paltry 0.6 becomes 12,093 birds per year.

    And it’s not just the blades, either – it’s the whole package.

    From here: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/birds-bats-edkins2008.pdf

    “…Direct mortality at wind farms results from birds striking rotors, towers, nacelles, guy cables, power lines, and meteorological masts. There is also evidence of birds being forced to the ground by turbulence created by the moving rotor…”

  24. “pologies for being an ignorant Englishman but what’s a “Rample”? “I own land, fish, hunt and rample in the area so

  25. In post above, I should have said, “It’s an ‘other people’s money’ thing.”

    FYI: The largest producing oil field in Osage county (Burbank Field) was at one time the world’s third largest producing field, now having been heavily depleted. The people of the Osage Nation were at one time the world’s wealthiest per capita, since they were shrewd enough to maintain mineral rights in perpetuity. The Osages obviously have an interest in whether oil/gas production is curtailed by the wind farms.

  26. Then it is the right time for the noble knight Anthony the Quixote to take his spear and make tumble down all those towers of infamy, to kill all those big monsters borned from greed and deceit. Make them be “Gone with the wind”!
    Sancho! Dogs bark, that´s a signal we are advancing!

  27. DirkH says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:51 am
    “I found Lekuona and Ursa 2007.

    http://www.ucm.es/info/zoo/bcv/pdf/2009_BirdStudy_56_268.pdf


    It’s really not my day. That paper is not Lekuona and Ursa 2007; it only quotes them:
    “No data are
    available on the total number of vultures killed each
    year by wind power plants in Spain, but the numbers
    may be high since these raptors patrol across mountain
    ridges and highlands usually selected by wind
    power industry. Lekuona (2001) estimated at least
    eight Griffon Vultures killed per turbine per year in
    the area occupied by the Salajones wind plant
    (Navarre, northern Spain) and Lekuona & Ursúa
    (2007) reported that Griffon Vultures were the main
    species found dead at the wind plants of Navarre,
    representing 63.1% of all bird fatalities. These losses
    may be particularly damaging to vultures and other
    animals with low reproductive rates and long life
    spans which are unable to replace an accumulative
    loss of individuals.”

    I don’t know, Tom, this does sound pretty, uhm, alarming; at least for Griffon Vultures; I can see them congregating in the sky, forming a kind of Vulture Panel on Climate Change, pondering the mysterious correlation between Global Warming and the plague of the giant Helter Skelters… for them, depending on thermal updraft, warming would be the good part… if only it didn’t lead to the Scourge Of The Birdwackers…

  28. Interesting citations on those articles. 2009_BIRDSTUDY_56, etc. universidad complutense de madrid and British Ornithology Trust. I wonder where the funding comes from? 2009-2010 saw a big push in Spain for wind turbines, and this study is on only one species of birds, the Griffon Vulture, which has only 20,000 breeding pairs in Spain. This is a normal range for large raptors which subsist on carrion and very small prey, if it were birds of prey, such as Eagles, the numbers would be even lower. I would find a study more helpful if it were about the impact on all species, rather than one species.
    However, my main objection to windpower is design vs. use, i.e. wind turbines when first visualized, were conceived as backup power charging banks of batteries and capacitors.
    If your main power was off line for maintenance, for example, you would draw on the batteries until the main generator(s) came back on line. In that regard they work perfectly. They were designed for individual operation: one, operating alone, providing power to a single source, which would provide it’s own maintenance on site: i.e., a radio station transmitter, a factory, a hospital. You will note that most of these places do not have a wind turbine, as reliability was always an issue, but rather has diesel, propane, gasoline or natural gas power generators.

  29. My parents and the guy on the next ranch over both put up windmills in about 1980 in Osage county. The other guy’s lasted until it was introduced to a tornado in about ’89. My parents’ conked out on its’ own just a few years later in spite of the fact that the literature touted the brand’s durability and had a photo of a mill, still whirling away, somewhere in the former Dust Bowl after 50 or so years. They never bothered to fix it because of the expense.

    I’ve got nothing against them but they sure aren’t the panacea that the greenies are claiming and those huge windfarms are blight. Federal dollars for them, don’t get me started.

  30. A few years back while hiking in wilderness old growth, I watched an owl fly through thick canopy in its persuit of a smaller bird. The ability of both birds to miss and thread through the trunk, branch and leaf tangle was amazing. And bat sonar is unbelievably accurate down to a gnat. We have large picture windows at our ranch house. Day birds hit those windows on at least a monthly basis. Bats never do. The bird thing is a non-issue for me.

    The things I don’t like about wind turbines are this: The foot print is HUGE relative to the juice they produce, and they are…fugly. Dams are fugly too and their foot print is equally large, but they produce lots and lots of continuous juice and do a pretty damned good job of controlling flood waters and providing irrigation water.

  31. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-01-03/wind-farm-a-black-hole-for-endangered-eagles/1001600

    There are less than 1,500 Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles left.
    An Australian bird expert has labelled the country’s biggest wind farm a “black hole” for endangered wedge-tailed eagles.

    The Woolnorth farm in north-west Tasmania has 62 wind turbines and is one of the largest wind
    farms in the Southern Hemisphere, but the group Birds Tasmania says the farm could already have killed 18 endangered eagles.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-08-20/concerns-over-wedge-tailed-eagle-numbers/483022

    There are growing concerns the nesting sites of Tasmania’s endangered wedged-tailed eagle are no longer being monitored.

    Wildlfe carers say there has been a marked increase in the number of injured eagles over the last two years.

    A three-year old male wedge-tailed eagle was released back into the wild yesterday after being restored to health.

    Wildlife carers say the logging of the eagle’s old-growth forest habitat has resulted in a decline in populations.

    Wildlife carer, Vicki Silcock, says Forestry Tasmania’s 10-hectare buffer zone around eagle nesting sites is not enough.

    “The whole forest should be a buffer zone for the eagle, the eagle doesn’t know that it has a buffer zone,” she said.

    Forestry Tasmania is defending its measures to protect the endangered wedge-tailed eagle.

  32. Pamela-I hear Cricket Flat is next to be covered in NE Oregon, Re; Dams Governor
    Hayduke of Oregon is woking to get the Snake undammed-then it’s lights out and no
    flood control if that happens not to mention the tons of silt relased…

    “Split Atoms not birds.”

  33. Neil Jones says:
    February 2, 2012 at 5:39 am

    “pologies for being an ignorant Englishman but what’s a “Rample”? “I own land, fish, hunt and rample in the area so“
    ==============================================
    lol, Neil, I live only an hour away from there. I fish and hunt. I’m part Osage. I have no idea what “rample” is………..ramble + trample?

  34. Wind turbines receive big subsidies because wind turbines are symbols of the enviornmental left. Because they are symbolic, they want as many of these things built as they can, and built in rural locations which tend to lean to the right. Its the left saying “In your face” to those evil righty’s. And once they are up, you can’t get them down for decades.

    Wind turbines don’t deliver much power, but they give the lefty’s a warm and fuzzy feeling when they see them on a far hillside spinning away. Thats about all they deliver.

  35. Wind Capital (C)roup brought experts to court who testified that the inconvenience to oil and gas drillers would be small. The judge agreed.

    We have a minor whooping cough, similar to Croup, in our area.

  36. Bob wrote:

    “The same thing has already happened in Kansas, with the Elk River wind farm. Southeast Kansas has some truly beautiful scenery but the big wind farm pollutes it for miles and miles. ”

    I know the family that owns the ranch that wind farm is on. That project took over 20 years to get into place and was the idea of the landowner long before subsidies. He carefully kept logs of the wind for decades to make sure the project would stand on its own. That ranch is in phenomenal shape as well compared to the bigger ones around it owned by absentee owners who get there money from non-ranching activities. There are 500 year old walnut trees in the canyons. And thousands of prairie chickens. Deer and turkey. But first and foremost, the family are realists and are very sharp businesspeople.

    I am always amused by people who enjoy the “beautiful landscape” but do not know the horrors that lie in the balance sheets of most ranches or the backbreaking despair of a long drought or the misery of constant rains. You get to enjoy the beauty but contribute NOTHING to making ranching work. Then one day show up to tell us how to run our place or try to stop us from doing what we have to do to pass the land on to the next generation.

    I am a critic of wind power. But there are a lot of projects that make sense and each must be examined on its own merits. Elk River, and based on what I know about the wind in the pawhuska area, make sense.

    I think if you dig deeper, you will find a Big Green group behind this article. You do not have to dig far.

  37. Tom says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am
    If you have a slavish objection to windmills and are looking for any objection – sorry for interrupting, go right ahead.

    I do have a “slavish” objection to windmills. I donot want to pay twice for the same electricity. Every wind farm must be backed up by a power plant to supply electricity for when wind = zero.

    The foot prints are large the output is small and you need a backup. So whats not to love.

  38. As wind turbines are built in the windiest places, they are often in valleys and passes which funnel the air. These also tend to be migratory routes, so the bird kill rate is seasonal. Some wind farms are now being shut down during certain times of year.

    How anyone can think that such a low tech, 18th century, energy source that would have so many negative impacts, as well as being just a lousy energy source, would be worth spending billions on is beyond me. It is a boon for the builders as millions are funneled to them and to the owners as they rake in taxpayer subsidies. The taxpayer and the customers get hurt.

    Wind energy is the least green of all energy sources. Topping the list of negatives is the fact that the electricity from these disparate energy sources can only be sent about 50 miles. It is simply not the case that Europe could rely on wind power by assuming that the wind is blowing somewhere in Europe at any given time. The energy cannot be distributed that far to make it work. The same is true for photovoltaic.

    Solar heat electricity is a higher power energy source and can be sent further, but it tends to be built in deserts with lots of sunlight and requires lots of water which deserts do not have. So, they have to take water from local regions who already have water usage problems and cannot spare water for an energy source that is a fair weather source and only during the day. They can store energy for the night, but again there are huge losses as they are not built near the usage sites, as nuclear and coal power can be.

  39. Pamela Gray says:

    The ability of both birds to miss and thread through the trunk, branch and leaf tangle was amazing. And bat sonar is unbelievably accurate down to a gnat.

    The wind turbine blades are moving and the turbulence behind them is awful.

    Even wind turbines operating in the wakes of other wind turbines suffer ‘premature death’

    http://www.ecn.nl/docs/library/report/2009/e09016.pdf

  40. Has anybody modeled the bird strike problem, a properly tuned model may tell us that wind turbines actually create more birds than they kill.

  41. Tom said

    “Can we *please* drop the “grisly record of killing birds” line? Any actual research that’s been done has found that a wind turbine could kill as much as… er… 0.6 birds per year. And that’s the upper limit – the average is more like 0.2 (see Garcia 2007, Lekuona and Ursua, 2007 – Dirksen et al, 2007 found much lower rates). That’s right, each “bird-shredder” kills four birds in its twenty-year life, and some particularly vicious examples kill as many as twelve birds in twenty years.”

    The latest studies show deaths to birds are many orders of magnitude greater than the figures you cite

    http://www.warmwell.com/raptors.html

    Britain is way ahead of the States in siting wind farms in beautiful and sensitive areas as our land mass is physically much smaller and our best landscapes also tend to be the windiest. On shore Wind turbines are a dead end using inefficient and costly technology, and we are only going down this road as the greens continually opposed other forms of power generation.
    tonyb

  42. Pamela Gray says:
    February 2, 2012 at 6:41 am

    The difference between trees and wind turbines is this – tree branches are stationary, neglecting swaying with the wind. The linear velocity of the blade tip on a wind turbine can be quite impressive. Do the math –
    Length of blade = 100’ so R = 100
    pi*200’ = 628’
    Reasonable rotational velocity = 20 rpm
    628(20) = 12560 ft/min = speed of the tip of the blade = 143 mph

  43. Tom

    An acquaintance of mine works for an environmental research company and his job includes documenting turbine moralities..something has done for years. He has spent hundreds of days surveying turbine properties. Here is what he wrote me …
    There is potential for really bad intrusions (aka ____ that has had [one-time] incidents of 500+ bats). The standard figure that is floating around out there is that turbines kill 1 bird or bat per year. This is a complete hoax let me tell you. My best guess….would be somewhere between 8-10 birds and bats (combined) per turbine per year at a low impact farm. Most wind farms have a 25 year life expectancy so you could extrapolate that each turbine will kill roughly 200-250 animals in its functional life. These numbers are subject to a high amount of variability, but if anything I would be willing to bet that they underestimate the true numbers.

    The big birds killers are: buildings, vehicles, domestic and feral CATS and transmission lines. Wind farms may never catch up, but they don’t deserve to get a free ride around enviro reviews. If a pipeline or other fossil fuel facility ( that could potentially kill wildlife) is proposed there is no end to the complaining & hollering.

    Wind farms get a an undeserved “bye” when it comes to environmental impact studies. They are useless, subsidized scourges!

    Clive

  44. As a professional engineer. I confess that I don’t think that wind power farms are as esthetically ugly as some other people do. Engineers tend to like large pieces of equipment – you know, “big toys for big boys”.

    BUT:
    1. Wind farms produce essentially no useful, economic energy;
    AND
    2. Wind farms are probably net-energy-value-negative over their project life;
    AND
    3. Wind farms require essentially 100% active standby backup from conventional power generation plants;
    AND
    4. Wind farms require huge life-of-project subsidies;
    AND
    5. Wind farms needlessly increase the cost of electricity for all, including those who can least afford it, contributing to “energy poverty”;
    AND
    6. Wind farms can de-stabilize the electric power grid, due to the huge peaks and lulls in their power generation profile;
    AND
    7. Wind farms kill millions of birds and bats worldwide, including some seriously endangered species.
    AND
    8. Wind farms may be one of the most useless, counterproductive devices ever invented by humankind.

    So wind farms are economically ugly and environmentally ugly, and in summary are just plain old ugly.

    “Wind Power – It Doesn’t Just Blow – it Sucks!”

  45. JimBob says:
    February 2, 2012 at 4:38 am

    The same thing has already happened in Kansas, with the Elk River wind farm. Southeast Kansas has some truly beautiful scenery but the big wind farm pollutes it for miles and miles. I think it’s ironic that you can’t build a shed in your back yard in some communities without someone complaining it’s an eyesore, but if you are “green” you can build a wind farm that is an eyesore for dozens of square miles and get away with it.
    ======================================================
    JimBob, I had no idea you were a homeboy! I drive 400 often. And yes, it is a horrible blight to the some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. For those who haven’t seen it, just look at what they’ve done ….. http://www.geospectra.net/kite/beaumont/beaumont03.jpg

    On an aside, a couple of years ago, during the height of summer, the hottest day of the year for the small utility I work for, there wasn’t a kWh to be purchased by that wind farm. The wind wasn’t blowing. When we needed it the most, the electricity wasn’t there.

  46. @Tom

    You chose a bad day to trivialise bird-shredding. Take a look at the American Bird Conservancy’s press release today. They quote the Fish & Wildlife Services estimate of 440,000 birds per year in 2009, noting that this is on installed capacity far below that envisaged by 2030. Their conclusion is that at least a million birds each year will be taken out by these machines, and probably many more than that.

    We all understand that a few million is still a small percentage of the total bird population (although it will be species such as the Golden Eagle and the Whooping Crane that will be disproportionally affected, even to the point of regional disappearance or worse); what we cannot understand is the utterly sick philosphy that couldn’t care less about the indiscriminate carnage caused by windfarms, yet goes absolutely apesh*t on the rare occasions a handful of birds are accidentally maimed by an oil or gas installation.

    I really am starting to worry about you folks, truly.

  47. @DirkH says:
    February 2, 2012 at 6:12 am
    What if these windmills exterminate the AMERICAN EAGLE?, that would be more than symbolic!

  48. I understand the wind power subsidy expires at the end of 2012. Hence the rush to get these things going now before the public teat dries up.

    WASHINGTON—Wind power is facing a make-or-break moment in Congress, with renewable-energy firms’ projects on hold as lawmakers debate whether to extend subsidies for new wind farms this month.

    Currently U.S. tax credits are available only for facilities that come online before the end of 2012. Iberdrola Renewables, the second-largest U.S. wind operator, has suspended work on new U.S. projects for “anything we can’t build in 2012,” said Rich Glick, vice president of government affairs for the unit of Spain’s Iberdrola SA.

    [MORE] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203363504577186993654897460.html

  49. I recently read a cited statistic from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. The source claimed 400,000 bird deaths per year.

    Hmmm, but off with the heads of execs at Georgia-Pacific if just one Spotted Owl is found dead.

  50. Traveled through Scranton PA recently, big wind has ruined the scene there. Pathetic attempt at political gain.

  51. Sonicfrog: “I live in California… I’ll trade them our high-speed rail for their wind farm.”

    Oh, may the fates please kindly let the high-speed rail project die. And soon. Before any more money is wasted. I’ve been on a years-long “told you so” about this boondoggle. Still not happy about how the ballot initiative was, in my view, deceptively worded. Some of us could see this was a disaster in the making, but it is hard for the average person who isn’t familiar with legalese and is just trying to get through the day who shows up and votes because, hey, it’s their civic duty. High-speed rail from north to south? Sure, sounds good. Punches “yes” on the ballot . . .

  52. You could save a lot of subsidies, rent money and political strife if you’d just make all the forest and nature preserves available to the wind farms at no cost. Even take the minerals necessary to build them from there. After all, they’re good for nature? How can I not feel totally at one with nature with a 100 turbines hovering over my fishing boat from two miles away? (/”jadism”)

    We’re putting urban blight all over the countryside as a temporary non-solution to the CO2 non-problem that will be eclipsed by a hundred other technologies long before those hulks rust back into oblivion.

  53. Lady in Red says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:34 am
    Nah, it’s Solyndra all over again. Wind Capital Group got $107 million in taxpayer bucks –
    and is hosting a $25K plate fundraiser for Obama:
    ——————————————
    I am flabberghasted that nothing can be done about the green graft even after such high profile scandals as Solyndra. The pork-u-lous was the biggest ripp-off in the history of America. The Donk connected grifters get hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars at pennies on a dollar in Obama campaign donations. The green “investing in America” is in practice green laundering of monies taken from US tax payers and put into Donk crony pockets. This Carnahan family seem like the Missouri equivalent of the Daleys of Chicago.

    As per your link Ironically The mega-rich Carnahans can enlist the services of poor ghetto folk, who won’t see a red cent out of it, to attack people that dare to protest the blatant graft… unbelievable.

  54. Austin says:
    February 2, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I am always amused by people who enjoy the “beautiful landscape” but do not know the horrors that lie in the balance sheets of most ranches or the backbreaking despair of a long drought or the misery of constant rains. You get to enjoy the beauty but contribute NOTHING to making ranching work. Then one day show up to tell us how to run our place or try to stop us from doing what we have to do to pass the land on to the next generation.
    _______________________
    Like hell we don’t contribute to that ranch.
    Tell you how to run your place? Stop sucking up tax money and make it or break it on your own like the rest of us.

    Ranchers enjoy some of the greatest tax advantages that exist and this whole wind power thing is just a great drain on the pockets of all the rest of us taxpayers and just one more subsidy for the landowners.
    Not only that, but modern ranchers already benefit from one of the greatest boondoggles of all time. They are paid for running wild horses to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year and it is only going to get worse as there is absolutely nothing to keep the wild herd populations in check, which means that the horses will eventually be caught and relocated to yet another ranch, where we will pay a daily fee to the rancher for the rest of the horses life. You take land out of actual cattle production, raising the price of beef and get rich with fat subsidies, all at our expense.
    This nation will reach over $17 trillion dollars in debt this year. The time has long passed since we can afford such foolishness, not that we ever could.
    You complain that we get to enjoy the view? It’s already almost impossible to get permission to even step off the road onto some of the Osage ranches, without having to pay a fee for doing so, and you can just about forget finding a place to hunt/fish without paying huge ‘lease’ fees. If it was up to some of you, you’d try to charge us for the view.

  55. @Marion – No, that would be the difference between a large-scale wind turbine that actually makes at least some sort of economic and environmental sense and the sort of propaganda-generating toy the school decided to put up. To explain a bit – turbines operate at maximum efficiency when the tip speed (linear speed) is a certain multiple of the wind speed (depending on the blade design). The tip speed = rate of rotation x blade length, so a shorter blade needs to turn faster to give the same efficiency, while a longer blade can turn more slowly. A very small turbine, like what you see on some boats, has to turn very fast, but is small enough that it’s unlikely a bird will go near it. A very large turbine is big enough that birds go near it, but turning slowly enough that birds can mostly avoid it. In the middle are turbines that might nearly deserve the name ‘bird shredders’.

    @Clive – Yes, I think I’ll take your friend’s ‘best guess’ instead of an established scientific literature on the subject…

    @Everyone who asked me to cite references – Erm… care to read again?

  56. Often, there is more to the subsidy than just the 2.2 cents/kWh. The buyer of the energy is often a Utility that is forced to buy Renewable Energy to meet a state mandated Renewable Energy portfolio. Many utilities would not choose to buy the wind power if not forced by law. The Electric Utility passes the cost to the ratepayers. (They aren’t called customers, I guess because they don’t have much choice in the matter.)

    Not only is the Electric Utility forced to buy the renewable energy at a higher rate than typical wholesale price, they are also forced to build or buy standby and peaking power or plants to cover the wind turbine down time (low wind or maintenance). These standby and peaking plants are typically the least efficient and most expensive form of generation in the fleet. So the power generated to cover the wind turbine downtime is not cheap power. (Don’t worry the ratepayer will cover the cost.) On the other hand, when the wind turbine generates more than they can use they are forced to sell the excess at a loss. (Again, please don’t worry the ratepayer will cover it) There is also the issue of grid stability. Wind turbines make it harder and more costly for the Electric Utility to maintain stability. So as long as you are not a ‘ratepayer” you are only covering the 2.2 cents/kWh coming out of your taxes. Just don’t pay your electric bill and you’ll be fine.

    In my opinion, wind turbines do make sense when they are used to power loads that can tolerate the intermittant nature of the wind power. For instance charging batteries or puming water to a resevoir. Small scale wind turbines make much more sense than large scale. If we are going to subsidize renewable energy we should do it on a smaller scale. Perhaps 5 MW of less.

    Just my 2 cents on the topic. Sorry no sources.

  57. Neil Jones and James Sexton,

    Gentlemen,

    “Rample” is a typographical error. Should read “ramble”.

    The piece has several such in it, to my regret and embarrassment. Blame aging eyes and a late night.

  58. DirkH found the PDF link for the Erickson paper. It’s from the USDA Forest Service. I found their acknowledgements at the end to be quite telling. Bought and paid for, I’d say:

    “Acknowledgments
    The effort to gather and summarize much of the literature
    in this document was funded by DOE, with
    direction and support from the Wildlife Working
    Group of the National Wind Coordinating Committee.
    Most of the collision mortality information was first
    reported in the NWCC Resource Document entitled
    “Avian collisions with wind turbines: A summary of
    existing studies and comparisons to other sources of
    avian collision mortality in the United States”
    (Erickson et al. 2001). We appreciate the comments
    from the reviewers of that report, including K. Sinclair
    (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), A. Manville
    (USFWS), P. Kerlinger (Curry and Kerlinger), S.
    Ugoretz (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources),
    T. Gray (American Wind Energy Association), and J.
    Stewart (FPL Energy). We also appreciate the comments
    on this manuscript from C. J. Ralph.”

    This Erickson guy is absolutely in the pocket of “Big Wind”.

  59. Hey, let’s put up wind farms in all the National Parks, start with Yellowstone. Wow, that should be really nice. Turn Old Faithful into a GeoThermo power station. Go Green!!

  60. The density of wind turbine installations is on the order of 25 acres per unit. Oil wells take up a lot less space. As for hitting a sweet spot in a field, slant drilling af very slight angles will hit whatever they want. The problem as stated by the Indians is bogus.

    A related problem: picking up dead carcasses may prevent birds from following instinctual behaviors to avoid places with dead birds visible.

  61. Jakehig said @ February 2, 2012 at 3:11 am

    There seem to be wildly-varying figures for bird-kill by turbines.
    The UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has a case study for a farm of 57 turbines where the Environmental Impact Study estimated over 200 deaths per year amongst geese. However hard data for actual kills – birds and bats – is not easy to find (at least by my fumbling efforts). Yet the info must exist as some of these systems have been in use for 10+ years and, in the UK, the operators are obliged to monitor bird strikes.

    Here in Tasmania we have a windfarm that’s killing bats & Tasmanian wedgetail eagles. The wedgetail eagle population is at most 200 breeding pairs and based on death-rate versus breeding rate, when all the planned windfarms are built, our wedgies are doomed to extinction.

    The ecologist at the windfarm collects all dead birds so that the turbines do not attract raptors. The population of sea eagles is much larger than wedgies, but relatively few of them are killed; it’s mainly wedgies and bats.

    I saw a video of a European migratory raptor flying around a turbine for several minutes before being struck. It was clearly intrigued by the rotor. I suspect that wedgies are more curious than sea eagles. Those referring to radio masts versus turbines need to observe bird behaviour before opining on their effects.

    It’s worth noting that the wedgies’ diet includes up to 40% feral cats and the latter are responsible for killing large numbers of our smaller birds, some of which are definitely threatened species.

    It’s intriguing to hear the greenies excuses: “studies in Britain show blah, blah, blah…” Of course the number of Tasmanian wedgetail eagles killed in Britain is zero! “There are more than 10,000 wedgetail eagles in South Eastern Australia”. The Tasmanian wedgetail is a distinct sub-species and considerably larger than the mainland group. “The windfarm operators are exaggerating the number of birds and bats killed”. WTF? That’s the exact opposite of what greenies claim other energy generators do.

    No online reference available from The Mercury nor Tasmanian Country where numbers and dates for wedgetails & sea eagles, as well as reproduction rates were reported. Andrew Darby wrote a piece with some of the numbers for the SMH.

  62. Dale R. McIntyre said @ February 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Neil Jones and James Sexton,

    Gentlemen,

    “Rample” is a typographical error. Should read “ramble”.

    The piece has several such in it, to my regret and embarrassment. Blame aging eyes and a late night.

    That’s a pity. I had this image in what passes for my mind of you “storming or raging with violent gestures; acting in a furious or threatening manner.” Actually, back in the 16th & 17thC you could have used the word rample as a synonym for ramble.

  63. Everyone here that is for Windfarms, ask for them in your backyard. Step up and be green! The baldes are longer than a semi trailer, they manufacture special trailers to haul them around.

  64. Hell its classed as green development, therefore funded by the taxpayer, err? question why do we let them do it? If this was a gas well the loco greenies would have a protest camp on the site and TV crews would be there giving the pitch. Every gov’t tax dollar spent is 50% borrowed so add the interest to any such financial dealings. 2 ways to enslave a people, one is via the gun, the other via debt.

  65. Ever notice the double standard for Green Projects, it’s okay that some birds are killed. It’s better for all the other birds that survive, a better life and CO2 free. It’s okay that the small cave cricket will be flooded out by a new hydro electric project here, we want it. But if the free market wants it, on NO! The snail darter will be wipped off the face of the planet. Let’s all stand up and fight for plants rights for more CO2!!!

  66. jorgekafkazar said @ February 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

    A related problem: picking up dead carcasses may prevent birds from following instinctual behaviors to avoid places with dead birds visible.

    Instinctual behaviour of raptors, ravens and crows seems to be to eat dead birds rather than avoid them; but that’s in Tasmania.

  67. Having seen the headline a few weeks back “Spanish wind farms kill 6 to 18 million birds & bats a year – The average bird and bat deaths per turbine comes down to 333 – 1,000 deaths annually” I did a bit of digging – it was a completely bogus, puffed up claim by an environmentalist. Read the rest here: http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/bs-detector-wind-farm-bird-kills-in-spain/

    Most of the studies had very low actual recorded deaths but used well accepted correction methods for things like as low detection rate and high ‘disappearance’ of carcases due to predation. e.g. http://www.inbo.be/files/bibliotheek/56/170556.pdf – actual deaths recorded were about a quarter of the ‘corrected’ figure.

    @jorgekafkazar – good point about the effect of picking up the carcases. I do wonder if anyone is looking at the beneficial effects on predators (not that this is a reason to see wind farms as in a beneficial light). Apparently bats are killed by the vortex not just contact with the blade: http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/bs-detector-wind-farm-bird-kills-in-spain/#comment-1765

  68. Steven Hill said @ February 2, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Everyone here that is for Windfarms, ask for them in your backyard. Step up and be green! The baldes are longer than a semi trailer, they manufacture special trailers to haul them around.

    The Git used to be in favour of them thirty years ago. Here in Tasmania we have hydro-electricity and wind made sense based on when the wind blows it ain’t raining and vice versa. Unfortunately, the efficiency of them was greatly exaggerated & the effect on wildlife minimised.

  69. After ethanol, wind power is the most annoying of the “green industries” to me. Strip away the subsidies and mandated use and see how well these crony capitalists fare in the free market. This whole meme that “they don’t kill many birds or bats” is utter nonsense. A very good friend of mine lives in Amarillo. When I lived in Amarillo 17 years ago I never saw any commercial wind farms. Now they’re all over the place. My friend is friends with one of the ranchers who has wind turbines on his property. He still runs cattle on this property but now gets paid very lucrative lease payments. He took my friend on a little tour of the wind turbines on 4-wheelers. My friend told me the avian carnage around the turbines was unbelievable. The rancher explained that the coyotes and other scavengers will have it all cleared out by morning. You can search the internet and find similar stories (with images) about the wind farms in California. The wind industry and the US government (politicians) doesn’t want this information to be known to the general public.

    Now, I think the bird and bat slaughter is probably the least of the reasons to hate wind power. But we’re lied to about almost every other aspect of ethanol, wind and solar power. I think it was someone commenting on this site a couple years ago who really made the light bulb go on in my brain. It was a simple and succinct comment. I’m sure I’m paraphrasing but it was essentially a “follow the money” statement. “Anything that causes the price of electricity to increase causes more money to be spent for the same incremental unit of electricity. That money ends up in somebody’s pocket.” That’s what wind power is all about. The “sustainability”, “renewable” and AGW excuses are pure hooey – it’s ALL about making certain groups very wealthy at the expense of the consumer and taxpayer.

    But people LIKE birds. So I encourage all those who have not already done so to take a look at the “Erickson paper”. You don’t have to plod through the pages and pages of opinion. Just zip down to the end and look over Table 2. Look at the footnotes to the table and see how they estimated total avian mortality. Be sure to note how they “estimated” avian deaths due to wind turbines, cats, buildings and power lines. Then convince me the authors didn’t an agenda and were on a “mission”.

  70. Hey, I have an idea….wind farms all up and down the grand canyon edge. Also, add 100 hydro electric damns back to back on the river!

  71. Once again: Other peoples mistakes should not be repeated: Spain got broke because of windmills, each job created by them produced two job loses. Now unemployment among young people is about 50% there. Do you want to repeat the experience?

  72. Tom says:
    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 am

    The Lekuona and Ursua study that Tom cites is paywalled, but I did find two scholarly references to it. Here’s one:
    “Lekuona (2001) estimated at least eight Griffon Vultures killed per turbine per year in the area occupied by the Salajones wind plant (Navarre, northern Spain) and Lekuona and Ursua (2007) reported that Griffon Vultures were the main species found dead at the wind plants of Navarre, representing 63.1% of all bird fatalities. These losses may be particularly damaging to vultures and other animals with lower reproductive rates and long life spans which are unable to replace an accumulative loss of individuals.” That’s from Jose Luis Telleria, Bird Study (2009), 56, 268-271.
    Here’s the other:
    “High raptor mortality rates—both in terms of absolute numbers and as a proportion of total bird mortality—have also been found at Smola, Norway (Box 3.3), Tarifa in southern Spain (SEO/BirdLife 1995, Marti and Barrios 1995, Janss 2000), and Navarra in northern Spain. In Navarra, 227 dead Eurasian Griffons were found among 13 wind farms in 20002002 (Lekuona and Ursua 2007). This represents an unsustainably high mortality rate for a long-lived, slowly reproducing species with a total breeding population of about 2,000 pairs in Navarra and 20,000 pairs in all of Europe (EEA 2009).” That’s from Page 15 of Greening the Wind, a 2011 report by the World Bank. Both works are on-line and easily Googled.
    I’ve seen Griffon vultures in the wild. They’re amazing birds – the European equivalent of the condor.

  73. 69.Tom said (February 2, 2012 at 10:14 am)

    “…@Everyone who asked me to cite references – Erm… care to read again?…”

    I didn’t ask you CITE the references, I asked you to READ them again.

    See how they list that 0.6 as deaths per KW?

    Comment on THAT.

  74. As I write, it is 8:30pm on 2nd February, I’m on the south coast of England, reckoned to be possessed of a very mild climate compared with the rest of England.
    It is minus 2C outside right now, and according to the figures given at

    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

    the electrical power being generated at present is as follows:-
    Coal 22801MW, 43.7% of supply
    CCGT 18600 MW, 35.7% of supply
    Nuclear 7945 MW, 15.2% of supply
    Wind 681 MW, 1.3% of supply.
    We across the pond have lots of turbines blighting our land and sea-scapes; we consumers are all having to pay large excesses on our power bills to pay for these rotating follies which contribute so little but which cost so much in every way.

  75. Tom: Sadly, you are pushing the worst sort of disinformation.

    The American Bird Conservancy in a recent post, published “Wind Power could Kill Millions of Birds Per Year by 2030″, http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/110202.html

    Paul Driessen wrote an essay, Charles Manson Energy”, http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=87b74a936c723115dfa298cf3&id=faf3e2d35c&e=27eec9f7a2

    And then there is “Kill a 1000 Eagles–Get a Handout from the Government”: http://www.Real-Science.com/kill-1000-eagles-handout-government

    The undeniable fact is that several Federal agencies are derelict for refusing to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty, Endangered Species and Golden and Bald Eagle Protection Acts against wind farm developers and operators. I am outraged. Why aren’t you?

  76. I am curious, do any of the readers of this blog think there are any renewable energy technologies worth subsidizing?

  77. Dr. Dave said @ February 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    But people LIKE birds.

    Farmers like birds, too. They eat insect pests: army worms, grasshoppers, grass-grubs (cockchafers), and rodents: rabbits, mice, rats… Fifty years ago farmers in Tasmania were persuaded to kill cockchafers with DDT. The magpie population plummeted and the loss of pasture to cockchafers increased since their major predator was so heavily reduced. The magpie population is still recovering; very slowly.

  78. PVE said @ February 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I am curious, do any of the readers of this blog think there are any renewable energy technologies worth subsidizing?

    What’s wrong with a free market?

  79. PVE
    No, the last time I looked we are 15 trillion in the hole. We have the most natural gas on the planet, let’s use it. If energy technologies look promising, the free market will make it work.

    The next Greece is going to be us if we don’t stop spending money on rat holes……

  80. How is it explained the preference by politicians world wide for windmills? Any brilliant ideas?
    Well, in Greek, that preference was called chrematophilia, translated in simple colloquial expression: the love to being “oiled”.

  81. I may be whacked but if there really was something to this windmill stuff, wouldn’t they be using the Government subsidized construction on marginal sites with the weak business case and save the better sites with the strong business case for investor paid construction when the subsidies were discontinued? That’s not what I’m seeing happening, the construction is going into the best sites and they still need subsidies to make it economical.

  82. Regardless of birds killed, this (most) wind farms would never be constructed without government subsidies. Wind power is expensive and unreliable, therefore, not viable on it’s own. Considering the relatively short life of many of these farms, it would be wise to make the owners post a bond for the removal of their rusted carcasses. If there is no bond, then the taxpayer will just get screwed again when the subsidies run out.

  83. The pompousgit

    Horses for courses, in the uk situation not solar-not enough sun–and not wind-too inefficient and unsightly in our small scale landscape. So I go for wave and tidal as we are an island with no where further than seventy miles from the coast and known energy cycles as regards tides.
    Tonyb

  84. Uh; Tom:
    From the Erickson study…

    “…An early 2-year study documented 182 bird deaths on study plots, 68 percent of which were raptors and 26 percent of which were passerines. The most common raptor fatalities were Red-tailed Hawk (36 percent), American Kestrel (Falco sparvarius) (13 percent), and Golden Eagle (11 percent). Causes of raptor mortality included collisions with turbines (55 percent), electrocutions (8 percent), and wire collisions (11 percent) (Orloff and Flannery 1992). Based on the number of dead birds found, the authors estimated that as many as 567 raptors may have died over the 2-year period due to collision with wind turbines…”

    Thirty six percent (Red-tailed Hawk) of 182 dead birds is 65 and a half red-tailed hawks; eleven percent (Golden Eagles) of 182 is twenty Golden Eagles.

    There is nowhere in America where we (everyone) can afford to lose such substantial portions of our large raptors nor even a smaller portion (bird population wise) of our smaller raptors (kestrel). These kind of losses will make DDT seem like a mild problem in comparison.

    Oh, sure; when they do brief counts or surveys and then estimate total kills, tally the results into large tables where the estimates are divided by turbine or megawatt (no offense intended Anthony), the numbers sound trivial. When it comes down to stone dead birds that are very slow breeders, it is no joke.

    That phrase “documented” sounds like a decisive data point. Only that term documented leaves me wondering and that followup phrase “scavenging and searcher efficiency biases” makes me cringe even more. Just how do they determine that bias? As a country boy, I can assure you that every hurt wild bird is a master at hiding, even in mown areas. So the bald fact is, we don’t know how many birds are injured nor how many of those birds perish later by the wind farms nor do we truly know true bird mortality.

    All in all, the studies leave a lot to be desired. The Erickson one in particular seems focused on couching things both as bad as possible, (e.g. Pesticide poisonings in Argentina… estimate 67 million birds die from pesticide poisonings… or the 100 million bird deaths estimate, which just happens to be based on estimates which are also based on estimates.) and as good as possible, like making the wind farms look like they’re only responsible for an incidental percentage of bird deaths.

    I don’t buy that half a billion dead birds from windows line either, more trumped up estimates based on flimsy data.

    Thanks for the post Dale. I wish the Osage Nation great hunting, good fortune, and eventually peace of mind, body and soul.

  85. I wish we could stop calling these installations “wind farms”. There are industrial installations for the production of electricity. There is nothing even approaching what could be called farming going on there.

  86. This will make ceremonial eagle feathers easier to acquire for rain dances. Just pick ‘em up off the ground near the windmills.

  87. – in the middle of . . .
    Dr. Dave says:
    February 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm
    “I’m sure I’m paraphrasing but it was essentially a “follow the money” statement.

    Connect that to this: “You can’t do just one thing.” Example:
    Gasoline engines knock or ping.
    Add tetraethyl lead (TEL).
    Lead is bad.
    Remove lead.
    Add methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
    MTBE is bad.
    Remove MTBE.
    Add ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
    Not a good idea after all.
    Next. . .

    Along with this has been two conceptual changes. The use of ethanol has gained the attribution of making a contribution to National Security (less reliance on unsavory foreign types). And, even though it is not “advanced” in any meaningful sense, it was supposed to be made (real soon) by “advanced” green and clean methods. That hasn’t happened. The label just morphed to include ethanol – as in “advanced ethanol.” [On Bing, that 2-word search phrase gets 7,360 results.]

    Just as an aside on the “kill” topic. Birds, mammals, and reptiles of many sorts are killed when a field of corn is harvested. Likewise for other crops such as hay and grapes. Bales of hay (switch grass, anyone?) frequently include birds, small snakes, mice, rabbits . . . Hand harvesting of wine grapes can be deadly for rattlesnakes as pickers move through the rows. Our government selectively prosecutes oil providers when a bird is killed. That returns us to your “follow the money” concept because the litigation and/or fine “causes the price of electricity to increase.

  88. PVE said @ February 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I am curious, do any of the readers of this blog think there are any renewable energy technologies worth subsidizing?

    No.

    No for all energy subsidies, including all renewable and non-renewable sources. If a new energy source is to make long-term economic sense, then it must be cost competitive with all of the existing sources. If not, then it will fail the moment subsidies are removed. Whether one likes the free market or not, it seems to work everywhere.

  89. Here’s an entertaining comparison of bird kills between oil sands tailings ponds and wind turbines in terms of the energy produced:

    Oil sands kill 2.5 birds per year per petajoule.

    Wind turbines provide coyote sashimi at the rate of 1114 birds per petajoule!

  90. There seem to be a lot of different tricks being used by the green hippie parties fundamentalists and preferred lobbyists.

    One trick is to study wind mills in the far north, where there ain’t too many birds to begin with and a prevalence of predators/carnivores in the wild keeping the ground clear of anything edible, then extrapolate that to the whole country.

    One is to study wind mills at sea to see not much laying about the foot of the great bird choppers and then extrapolate that.

    Another trick, done recently in Sweden, is to take an old number of dead birds and divide it amongst all of todays wind mills and of course not disclosing that there is a difference of where the windmills are located neither. It went something like this: So what if there has been 10 000 birds killed by those windmills over there, that’s just ten birds per mill if you divide by all the mills…

    I prefer the honesty trick though, but of course that has never, as far as I’m aware, been applied by any sort of environmental-socialist: Well, it’s the tax money or the birds and bats? :p

  91. Courtesy of http://www.ieso.ca — Ontario’s electricity supply capacity vs. current (Feb 2 16h00-17h00) generation:
    Nuclear: 11,446 MW / 8692 MW
    Gas: 9,549 MW / 4560 MW
    Coal: 3,504 MW / 988 MW
    Hydro: 7,947 MW / 4756 MW
    Wind: 1,512 MW / 121 MW

    This is with our nice heavy cold winter air (-5C at my house). In all fairness, wind has gotten up into the 1200MW actual generation range but only in the winter. It only reached 700MW during last year’s hurricane and I have seen it below 30MW (total for the province) in the summer.

    Ironically Ontario is almost self-sufficient in no-C02 non-Wind generation since our peak demand is around 20 GW (Nuclear + Hydro). One or two more Canadian made nuclear reactors would do the trick. But “Big Wind” (aka “Fools Power”) rules in this province so that isn’t happening in my lifetime.

    P.S. the output of all the solar panels in this province don’t even count in the wholesale supply/demand picture.

  92. The $64 question is: What is the Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) for this project?

    Answer: No one will submit the EROEI spreadsheet, because they do not want you to find out it is way less than unity!

    Wind power is unsustainable.

  93. thepompousgit says: “Instinctual behaviour of raptors, ravens and crows seems to be to eat dead birds rather than avoid them; but that’s in Tasmania.”

    Yup, thank you. Raptors and scavengers will descend and feed on what’s on the ground. Not all of the carrion will be directly under the turbine, but possibly raptors will have increased risk, prey lower risk. Send me a grant for a few million and I’ll write a computer program that will tell us the answer.

  94. PVE says:
    February 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm
    I am curious, do any of the readers of this blog think there are any renewable energy technologies worth subsidizing?

    Uh, whatever for? Why would my thinking about this be any better than those overzealous silly eco-urgent-must-do-it-now people?

    Subsidizing an unproved technology before it is commercially viable means taking a stance that is really a personal decision because it certainly isn’t a wise business decision. I’ve heard for years that reciprocating engines are horribly inefficient. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for government to sink a billion dollars into making them more efficient? Think of the CO2 reductions? Of course it isn’t a good idea, deciding ahead of time that anyone knows the right answer is silly.

    Throwing money at a problem has never been a good decision no matter how tempting anyone’s favorite solution may sound. And one should never trust anybody’s word that an unproved technology works until it is fully proved and reproducible. Once proved, any claims by the makers that the technology then fails to accomplish can be considered fraud.

  95. James Sexton….
    “JimBob, I had no idea you were a homeboy! I drive 400 often. And yes, it is a horrible blight to the some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable. For those who haven’t seen it, just look at what they’ve done ….. http://www.geospectra.net/kite/beaumont/beaumont03.jpg

    Nothing like a drive down K99 through Sedan on a warm spring day, although apparently I should be paying for the privilege of using someone else’s scenery. The Elk River facility is interesting at night with the strobe lights randomly flashing on all those towers. I used to fly over that area all the time but I haven’t done it at night…maybe I’ll see what it looks like from overhead sometime.

    Just for the record, I’m not ignorant about farm and ranch economics. I went through school surrounded by cowboys and farmers. The real kind, who busted their humps on the farm/ranch during weekends, breaks, and summer vacations. Like any other business there are some who do really well, and some who couldn’t manage a paper bag. I don’t know any of my former buddies who would even consider leasing their multi-generation family land to a wind farm facility.

    We need to stop posting about the scenery, though. The more people believe it’s flat and ugly around here, the better off we all are :-).

  96. Forget the birds, what about all the documented human deaths from wind power? I seem to recall seeing a site on the Internet not too long ago that documented wind turbine deaths & serious (limb loss, etc.) injuries going all the way back to the 70’s

    I may have seen the link to that site here at WUWT (Best damn blog in the ‘Net)

    The documented carnage was stunning.

  97. A big-city corporation rams through industrial development on a pristine landscape against the wishes of the local Native Americans, who fear their burial grounds and traditional use of the land will be impaired.

    Well, I don’t know about the Osage, but if Indian reservations in Western Washington are any indications of “traditional use” of lands, a wind farm would be a HUGE improvement. The places are usually pig styes.

  98. Dr. Dave says . . .

    “My friend told me the avian carnage around the turbines was unbelievable. The rancher explained that the coyotes and other scavengers will have it all cleared out by morning.”

    This may be ok with avian carnage, but if you’re talking about bats, it poses a huge potential health problem for animals and humans. Bats are the #1 carriers of rabies in the world, including the United States (an estimated 1 in 10 bats is infected), and consuming, or even contacting, the remains of a rabid bat can potentially transmit the disease to any mammal. One does not have to be bitten to contract it. Humans cleaning up the remains of dead bats are at extreme risk (the virus can live for days in an exposed carcass, and years in a frozen one), and rabies vaccinations do not prevent its development in humans; they simply reduce the number of post-exposure treatments required to prevent its development. If a human gets the saliva and brain-borne virus into his system (through invisible scratches, cuts, mucus membranes, eyes, etc.), he must still be treated to avoid the disease, regardless of any previous rabies vaccinations . Incubation in humans can take years. As long as treatments are correctly administered and received before any symptoms appear, they’re 100% effective. They’re also very expensive.

    Raccoons are the second highest carriers of rabies in the Eastern United States, possibly because they’re scavengers. Animals eating rabid dead raccoons (such as roadkill) have subsequently developed rabies.

    In Thailand, bats are captured and cooked and eaten. Thailand has tens of thousands of reported cases of human rabies every year. Most are blamed on dog bites, but capturing and handling live bats, then killing and eating them, may account for a great many.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture used to put out vaccine baits for raccoons on the East Coast, but has since stopped doing so, claiming a lack of funds. Incidentally, some vaccine baits are made with a live virus, and at least one human is known to have recently contracted rabies simply from handling baits.

  99. “I do not want to pay twice for the same electricity.”

    In Canada, our wind projects are paid by a feed in tarrif system. Where the regular power companies are forced by law to pay 50 cents a kwh for wind generated power and then sell it for 12 cents (That is, if people are actually buying power at the time the wind is blowing). How’s that for a great business plan.

    Only governments can come up with a plan like that and think its good.

  100. Jeff Alberts says:
    February 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    A big-city corporation rams through industrial development on a pristine landscape against the wishes of the local Native Americans, who fear their burial grounds and traditional use of the land will be impaired.

    Well, I don’t know about the Osage, but if Indian reservations in Western Washington are any indications of “traditional use” of lands, a wind farm would be a HUGE improvement. The places are usually pig styes.
    ________________________
    You might want to read some of the information posted in this thread about the Osage people (and about wind generation,) before making prejudicial and scurrilous statements like that.
    Your statement makes you look stupid.

  101. Alan Robertson says:
    February 3, 2012 at 6:24 am

    You might want to read some of the information posted in this thread about the Osage people (and about wind generation,) before making prejudicial and scurrilous statements like that.
    Your statement makes you look stupid.

    My statement is based on observational experience almost every day.

  102. Anton mentioned the health hazards associated with bat corpses and rabies.

    Let me add another – flying foxes, aka fruit bats, of which we have large populations in Australia, are carriers of the deadly Hendra virus. Hendra jumps species, and usually affects horses (fatally). However, there have been about 20 cases of transmission to humans from horses and now one from a dog. The first known case was in 2004, and the most recent outbreak occurred in the last few weeks.

    The fatality rate in humans is over 50% and those that survive are very sick for years afterwards. Injured and dead fruit bats on farmland are a real hazard to livestock, especially horses. The last big Hendra outbreak virtually closed down the racing industry for a couple of months, at a cost of millions of dollars. For humans, it is a nightmarish disease which almost nothing is known about and for which there is little in the way of treatment.

    In terms of bird deaths from wind ‘farms’, the comparisons with other causes like buildings, cats etc ignore the fact that windmill blades kill birds that are at no risk from these causes, especially raptors. Raptors typically have small localised populations and low breeding rates. It doesn’t matter in the least if 10 million pigeons fly into office blocks each year, but the loss of 100 raptors a year from a local population can have significant effects on reproduction rates over time.

  103. Why wind turbines are a bad investment.
    I have always had an off the cuff feeling that wind turbines were a bad business investment but never really took the time to put real numbers to the equation until now. Since I do numbers and not words let’s do the math.
    First – The cost. http://www.windustry.org/how-much-do-wind-turbines-cost – Since the actual cost of a specific unit can vary due to local situation, we will pick a value slightly less than the mean value given in the link above. With the range of $1.2 mil and $2.6 mil per MW capacity, we will pick $1.7 mil per MW as our cost per unit. The word capacity is very important.
    Second – The price of electricity. This is a kind of a moving target. It goes up, it goes down. So we will just pick a point and then add 25% for good measure. The price that we will assign will be $25/MWh. That may sound low but I only pay $100/MWh for the electricity at my house. http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/markettoday.asp
    Third – Actual production. Again I will assign an estimated value. 30% of installed capacity. This may be high but if you look at the Texas wind turbines I don’t think it is out of line. http://www.ercot.com/gridinfo/generation/windintegration/2012/01/index
    We will purposefully neglect operation and maintenance and distribution. Why? The three numbers above tell us all that we need to know.

    Cost per MW Installed
    $1,700,000.00

    Electricity Produced per day
    24 MWh * 30% = 7.2 MWh

    Value of Electricity
    $25/MWh

    Value of Production $180.00 per day – $65,700.00 per year

    Annual return 4%
    It’s a break even situation before you add in O&M. The only way for wind turbines to pay for themselves is with tax breaks and subsidies. If you take those away, the numbers just won’t work.

  104. Jeff Alberts

    Dear Mr. Alberts,

    Osage County, Oklahoma, has not been an Indian reservation for over 100 years.

    Back when Oklahoma was Indian Territory, the Osage Indian Reservation was dissolved and all members of the Osage Indian tribe were given allotments of 160 acres per each head of household. Mineral rights were retained by the tribe as a whole. Some surface rights were retained by the tribe as pasturage. Some tracts of land were leased to large ranches; other plots of land were sold outright to the highest bidder.
    Upon statehood in 1907, the former Osage Reservation became Osage County, Oklahoma. Both Indians and those of European descent own land there. I myself have no Indian blood at all, as far as I know, yet I own some 94 acres east of Pawhuska. Without false modesty I can tell you that my property is a beautiful mixture of park-like forest and meadow. No pig sty in sight.

    The condition of property in Osage County varies no more and no less than anywhere else in north eastern Oklahoma. Some hillbillies fill their yards with old cars and broken down farm machinery. Some landowners have created little Edens of park-like tranquillity with yards like putting greens.

    Thus whatever squalid sights you may see in Western Washington have nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion in hand.

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