Wind energy -vs- wildlife, public comments sought

Windmills south of Dumas, TX

Image via Wikipedia

John Droz writes in with this today:

Anthony:

A US federal agency, the Fish & Wildlife Service, is currently debating whether or not there will be national wildlife rules for industrial wind energy, and if yes, what they will be at stake is this: if they adopt strict mandatory rules, it could severely restrict wind energy in every state in the country.

For the first time, this agency is asking for public input. If you want to wade through the technical details look at <<http://www.fws.gov/windenergy/>>.

Send your comments in a simple email to “windenergy@fws.gov“. They will only be accepted until August 4, 2011.

The gist of the debate is that AWEA and the wind industry want loose, voluntary, guidelines. Citizens concerned about the environment are asking for tight, mandatory, rules.

We are also advocating that a wind developer make a substantial upfront payment ($5000± per turbine) for the state/federal government to hire independent experts to assess wildlife impacts. (Right now the developer hires his own experts, so you can guess what they conclude.)

Please submit something to the USF&W on this most important issue — and pass this request on to your [readers].

So this is something free, simple, and could be influential in your community. Please do it today!

regards,

john droz, jr.

physicist & environmental advocate

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45 thoughts on “Wind energy -vs- wildlife, public comments sought

  1. “We are also advocating that a wind developer make a substantial upfront payment”
    Doe the author actually think the money will be coming from the wind developer.
    Truth in advertising would dictate it read like this :
    “We are also advocating that consumers make a substantial upfront payment, even if they never get any electric power from any turbine.”
    BTW – why a per turbine cost ? Makes no sense unless you want to raise money for the government. Perhaps a per square mile cost would make more sense, unless you really want the revenue.

  2. While walking around with my beagle near these bird slicers I’ve only seen one golden eagle that had been killed. Several crows. Coyotes and fox often carry carcasses into nearby and not so nearby brush, depending on if they’re feeding pups. Often all that is left is a modest pile of feathers. I only get a chance to do this about once every couple of months or so. I would do it more often but for the trespass on private land.

  3. Michelhouse, the school I attended from 1951-1955, was right on the main road and rail links between Johannesburg and Durban – and although we were promised a holiday if it ever snowed, it never did then. If only there had been more atmospheric CO2 in those days!

  4. I’m in favour of vertical wind turbines, if wind turbines must be built. My main reason is that the generator is on the ground, and easily replaced or repaired, and the cage-blade design is inherently stronger than the “airplane prop” type.

  5. The local wind farm of 50 units just South of Concordia, Kansas would cost $250,000 in fees to do the study that would be 3X more than the local county property tax that was waived, to get the field installed. After it has been on line for a year now my local cost of electricity has gone up $.02/kwh or about 22%. Although the string of red flashing lights just 8 miles South of my farm is cool looking, but not worth the cost.

  6. I have a friend who is a field biologist for the NFWS he is convinced that the truth should be told about the bird shredders. He has been documenting every strike and kill. It is not good…
    Split atoms, not birds…

  7. I am employed in a start-up that is building a kite-based Airborne Wind Energy (Acronym: AWE) system. We have a prototype flying. The intent is to deploy these units in remote areas where electrical energy is required but is unavailable via the grid. As such, our units are portable and re-deployable. I wonder what the ‘fee’ to deploy would be? Would the unit have to be ‘re-certified’ each time it moved to new location?
    I have worked on IPP Hydro installations here in BC, and there is a substantial upfront cost in environmental research prior to licensing for construction. Of course, the cost of an IPP is several orders of magnitude higher than a kite-based system.
    I suspect that the industry will, once again, move ahead faster than the legislation or the understanding of the science and technology.

  8. What on earth are we talking about. Surely (don’t call me Shirley) killing birds and bats by the thousands is not a problem with those pushing green technology…

  9. Did I say thousands, um perhaps millions with the global push for such bird/batomatics. Sad that ten years from now when the AGW is a distant memory we will have to explain to the young how we let it get sooooooo out of control and soooooo obviously wrong.

  10. Do they have the same for open cast mining? Or are birds more important than worms?
    Conversely, perhaps there are now more worms around these turbines hence the biomass has gone up? Perhaps we should be paying them money rather than charging them?
    Andy
    PS Slightly tongue in cheek here of course :p

  11. If I understand this correctly, pay us a bunch of money, so that we can hire some “experts” to create research to justify shutting you down.

  12. Require the operators to do a daily inventory of all bats and birds killed by species and report weekly in order to gain an idea of the scale of the kills. These inventories should be accompanied by some official unannounced at random intervals at least once per month. This should ensure that the daily inventories are accurate. This should add enough paperwork and administrative overhead to make wind less competitive with nuclear power. Oh, and while we are at it, before the turbines are placed, a 12-month survey must be made of wildlife migration routes in the area and specifically, migration through the proposed site.

  13. Al Gore lied so eagles die. The windmill scam promotes fuel poverty, and human deaths too.
    While AGW fanatics spin fairy-tales about future climate refugees,
    ethanol-insanity drives up food prices so much that Third-World people are starving now.
    Here at home thousands of Americans die every year because of the fraud behind CAFE standards.
    AGW is yet another branch of Leftism’s vast worship of death, a branch trying hard to catch up with abortion’s mega-deathcount. Their facile sincerity merits nothing but scorn. They do not mean us well.
    We who try to get the climate-truth out are doing more than fighting a scientific mistake. We’re defending civilization against its barbarous enemies, the ones not wearing desert robes but harboring an equally strong hatred of our way of life. They hate our cars, our houses, our very prosperity, and yearn longingly to take them away.

  14. Simple solution: No regulations AND no subsidies. Then there will be very few wind turbines, and let people sue over the rest, but if the ruling is against you, you should be held responsible for both side’s court costs.

  15. I know a lot of people complain about wind power killing birds, but, supporting onerous business restrictions like wildlife assessments because it harms your enemy is just perpetuating the problem. In most places, wind power costs too much and is just not a good fit. Thus, this entire post is off-topic.

  16. EW-3 beat me to it. The suggestion that the mill owner pay anything is crazy thinking. They pay nothing. Not only do they pay nothing, they operate at a profit because they are subsidized and given priority access to the grid.
    And anything they do pay will go to whom? Well hell, the government, of course, and that is nothing but a circuitous stealth tax on the consumers heaped on the tax they pay for subsidies that grants this wasteful energy source first nod at the grid.
    Then there’s this whole flawed notion that these “bird slicers” deserve death by a thousand tax penalties. The idea of this crazy freaking $5K is to discourage them. Screw that – ban them if they’re so bad. But don’t give the government another stealth tax opportunity.

  17. Does not sound that substantial. The likely capacity of a commercial wind turbine is typically between 1500-2500 kW. So this one time fee amounts to $2.00-$3.33 per installed kW. As the installed capital cost of a wind turbine is over $2,000/kW, the fee looks to be less than 0.2% of the generation capital cost.
    Another consideration; The Federal Tax Credit (subtracted against income tax due) for Wind generation is something like $18/MWh, indexed to inflation for the first 10 or so years. A 1500 kW (1.5 MW) turbine at a 30% capacity factor would produce over $70,000 in income tax credits the first year of operation. The fee is less than 10% of the expected first year tax credit for these rich developers.
    The wind may require three times the transmission capability to move the power to the electric load centers (30% capacity factor compared to a 90% for a coal plant). Windy sites are often where few people live (Wyoming, North Dakota, etc) while the load centers are Chicago or Los Angeles. Also, the need for backup generation sources needing transmission connections for when the wind does not blow or blows erratically during the hour and more transmission between load centers to move power when all the wind happens to blow (either move the power or start dumping power). I would hope that the rules would be stronger than the rules for transmission rights-of-ways and lines.
    Wind power hardly steps lightly on the earth.

  18. You would not believe the scale of new windmill installations in the Mojave, California windfarm area. It’s almost surreal. Sitting on the rail cars next to the jetliner parking area down there is the parts for at least a couple of dozen of the HUGE windmills, and there’s already a lot of new ones installed and operational the other side of the tracks going towards the hills.
    Maybe they’re trying to get ’em in place before the new regs take effect?

  19. A ton of info on this website. http://www.palmerston-north.info
    Those opposing the Turitea wind farm have had a 5 year battle and have now got to the point where the final decision is mired in a morass of information supplied by submitters to prove the concept is based on corruption. The draft decision shows total disregard for noise impacts, ecological impacts and traffic during construction. If you face something similar don’t give up, in our case we discovered that our city council had a secret contract with the developer to the extent that there is a $3 million dollar penalty if it helps anyone affected by the wind farm and should the council then change its mind about this development in the city’s water supply then its liability is unlimited.
    WUWT has been a wonderful source of anti AGW info to counter the fallacious argument that this wind farm is somehow going to “save” the planet. A big thank you Anthony. We have the developers on the ropes now.

  20. Whilst it is probably a good idea for the US Wildlife Servive to have input into siting of wind turbines would it be a better idea for the US government to sort out their budget problems before spending any more money on useless wind turbines.
    Eliminate the EPA and stop the green energy spend would go a long way to help. ( I don’t mean ‘eliminate’ in the criminal sense just get rid of.)

  21. Robw says: July 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm
    ///////////////////////
    Doesn’t appear to be. I have always been surprised that the leading bird charity in the UK (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds) is not up in arm about these bird mincers, but instead even promotes them presumably because of their green credentials.
    Are there any papers that suggest that AGW would be bad for birds? Surely, with their migratory patterns it is not a problem for them. that being the case, the RSPCB should actively be campaigning against the introduction of windpower but as you point out, the green activists are, for the main part, not really animal lovers just control freaks.

  22. I firmly consider the roll out of large scale windfarms to be one of the biggest political mistakes of recent times.
    They are not being installled on the basis that they are a cheap and cost effective means of electricity production. Nor are they being introduced because we have run out of fossil fuels and therefore there is a real need to replace aging coal and gasfired generators. Nor are they being installed because there are no other alternative sources of energy production since nuclear has a proven track record (see the experience with france) although I accpet that it would be sensible to site nuclear plants away from areas which are prone to earth quakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, ie., away from natural fault lines. Nor are they being installed because they provide steady and reliable power; quite the reverse. Nor are they being installed because they truly reduce carbon emiisions (there is a need to build conventional back up generators which run at low load but inefficiently with increased CO2 emissions and, of course, substantial quanties of CO2 are used in thei manufacture, transport, installation and regridding).
    There is actually no economic nor energy production case for the installation of windfarms and they would not be deployed apart from the current political obsession with CO2 and the resultant subsidies which are being given to land owners and windfarm managers and electricity companies to instal these units, which subsidies are being paid for by the tax payer and consumer.
    The true costs of the large scale introduction of windfarms has yet to be felt. I suspect that the costs incidental to wiring them to the grid, managing back up power and last but by no means least, maintenance costs have been very much under-estimated. Further, it appears that they are being promoted upon the basis of false expectations as to their output capacity which in real terms (based upon actual experience) is much lower than projected. In fact, if the best sites have already been used (as one presumes is largely the case), the next generation of sites or the generation following will no doubt be less efficient and true net output will be even worse.
    If in say 10 to 15 years time, the scientific consensus (and how I dislike that) changes with respect to CO2’s role in global warming (as I consider could well be the case – there is only so long that real world temperatures can diverge from model projections and the model still be considered valid) such that it is accepted that CO2 plays very little role or that feedbacks are negative not positive such that warming will be no more than say 0.7 degC per century, it will be seen that there is no reason for these farms. Governent subsidies (funded by the tax payer) will dry up. This will coincide with the time when huge sums need to be spent on maintenance (because gearboxes etc have a far shorter operating life than projected) and it will coincide with ever increasing vocal noises made by citizen tax payers regarding the high price they are being forced to pay for energy to heat their homes etc. Added to this, the economic impact of high energy costs on industry will become more and more apparent with there being no way that the government can hide the fact that high energy costs have resulted in jobs being exported abroad.
    All of this will lead to a change in political stance and windfarms will fall into disuse After all the necessary back up generating stations will already have been built and rather than having these idling, they will be switched to full scale energy production and the windfarms will be redundant. The effect of this is that these windfarms will be left to rot and decay blighting the landscape (Anthony some months ago posted some pictures of some windfarms – probably in California which looked like a scrap yard). The decaying machinery will not be removed and the landscape restored to its former glory because the country will not have sufficient spare cash (having already wasted it on the green revolution and of course the present economic bail outs of the financial sectors/markets/bankers). These decaying monsters will be a constant reminder of this political folly and in the long run will act to set back the Green Movement (which will be associiated with waste and folly) for a generation or more.

  23. My view is that they should be subject to the same rules and enforcement as ANY energy industry… Level playing field and all that…?

  24. Don’t cut and paste the link! It will take you to a environmentalist web site. My browser gave me a warning that the link was logging me in as a certain user. I’m betting it has been hijacked. If you just click on the link in the article, it works correctly.

  25. This is a positive sign. The scientific merits have nothing to do with that.
    What we have here is one Government agency contradicting other Government agencies. We need more of that, and it’s possible because the machine has gotten too big for the people who built it to control it. That’s the ultimate endgame for all massive bureaucracies: the individual units start competing with one another.
    The ideal case would be to have the whole mess controlled by individual agencies trying to establish themselves as Top Dog on the issue. That would confine the “debate” inside the Beltway, and the rest of us could go about our business.

  26. and this is coming from the same people that have confiscated people’s land…..
    ….because birds needed the habitat

  27. Interest rate hikes is a big tax. I’d be in favor of moving all the windmills to Alaska. Move all the Teabaggers & Moveon.org up there too. Then sell them all for enough trillions to get us out of debt.

  28. Many have opposed and continue to oppose wind projects on this basis in Northern Vermont for ten years. However, it is too late in Vermont and many other Northeast states. What are they going to do – make them take the turbines down? The Sheffield project is going up as I write with 16- 400 footer’s on a ridge that is part of the avian and bat flyway. Radar surveys conducted in 2009 in peak migratory time identified as many as 2200 birds and bats flying down the Lowell ridge line each night. Our new Secretary for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently asked the public to do everything possible to minimize deaths of brown bats that have been decimated by the white nose fungus in the northeast. In Vermont we have lost an estimated 500,000 brown bats in just three years. At the same time she is backing our governor and his support of the Sheffield and Lowell wind projects along these known flyways. Bears, wolves, cougars are not even acknowledged. None of the New England agencies for natural resources want to acknowledge the presence of endangered species like wolves and cougars in these areas even though sightings of both have persisted for two decades and wolves have been killed in several New England states in the last 10 years.
    Now if we had polar bears on these ridge lines that would stop everything.
    http://vtdigger.org/2011/07/17/bats/
    http://www.revermont.org/blog/gov-shumlin-endorses-controversial-lowell-mountain-wind-project/
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:HXRuBoLHs4EJ:www.batsandwind.org/pdf/Bibliography%2520docs/Stantec%25202010_Pre%2520construction%2520survey.pdf+vermont+avian+and+bat+flyways&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com
    http://www.stopillwind.org/lowerlevel.php?content=topten_2
    http://mainewolfcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/ESA-petition-2009-final.htm
    http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/07/wild_cougar_killed_in_connecti.html

  29. Crosspatch said
    July 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm
    Require the operators to do a daily inventory of all bats and birds killed by species and report weekly in order to gain an idea of the scale of the kills. These inventories should be accompanied by some official unannounced at random intervals at least once per month. This should ensure that the daily inventories are accurate. This should add enough paperwork and administrative overhead to make wind less competitive with nuclear power. Oh, and while we are at it, before the turbines are placed, a 12-month survey must be made of wildlife migration routes in the area and specifically, migration through the proposed site.
    “This should add enough paperwork and administrative overhead to make wind less competitive with nuclear power”
    What is wind power competing against here? it’s competing against this 30km exclusion zone.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14325323
    Now are the animals doing better because of no humans or doing worse due to radiactive hot spots?
    The sentence about making wind less competitive against nuclear shows more about how the poster wants some people centric outcome rather than for a love of wild life. Like I said before, whatever method of extracting energy, wild life suffers. Shame they have become embroiled in this too to score a point.
    Perhaps people on this blog should be more worried about biodersity in general rather than when it serves their purpose. To me that is far more of an issue than AGW.
    Andy

  30. If it is not oil, it’s gas, if not, then it is coal, then again what about magnet for energy? Hey water can run a car, but they ignore this inginuity too. What is next to be swatted?

  31. Vertical wind turbines are even less efficient than the bird mincing ones.
    “Anytime you see a wind generator that has a vertical axis, such as those in the collage below, you should be thinking scam. There are a few legitimate companies that create vertical axis generators just because they want to, and coupled with a high efficiency alternator might have acceptable economics – however most are scams. Vertical axis machines are extremely inefficient. When the wind is blowing, half of a vertical axis machine will always be rotating towards the wind, generating nothing but drag. Water wheels have the same problem and used to be common, but that was before the engineering and physics were understood. Some of these turbines claim to use magnetic levitation to improve efficiency, but this too is a hoax.”

  32. richard verney says: “It all” Wind generated electricity is a huge political mistake…. because it is so completely inefficient.
    Lonnie E. Schubert says: No regulations and No subsidies – he’s right; no one would make the economic mistake of building wind-powered electric generators if we had a free market in energy.
    Let’s stop the madness now. Only build windmills if they can make electricity reliably and inexpensively.

  33. New England ISO plan for 12,000 MW 24% wind energy:
    $63B or 25 cents/kWh minimum
    4700 circuit miles of 500kv transmission encircling NE through Boston & Hartford suburbs and mountains of VT, NH
    8 times the cost of the 3 cent/kWh natural gas it displaces

  34. Just use the word “externalities” with the green warriors when discussing their “solutions”. Makes their eyes cross.

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