Washington Utility: “No more wind” or solar!

Guest “Ha Ha!” by David Middleton

‘No more wind.’ WA state utility questions efficacy of wind farms for power generation
SEPTEMBER 19, 2020


Renewables, a category that also can include solar and more exotic forms like geothermal or tidal, will, so the theory goes, help “de-carbonize” the region’s generating portfolio of coal and natural gas, leading eventually to an “all-green” electric grid.

Achieving that goal will require a whole lot more solar and a whole lot more wind, which makes it all the more interesting that one utility is breaking with energy orthodoxy by saying, “No more wind.”


[I]n a recently released report, “Wind Power and Clean Energy Policy Perspectives,” the utility’s commissioners say they “do not support further wind power development in the Northwest.”

More large-scale wind farms they say, will “contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems” (when it needs to purchase additional power for winter and summer peaks), will drive up customer rates, won’t make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, will hurt revenues that utilities like Benton receive from the sale of surplus hydropower and will needlessly clutter up the “scenic hillsides, canyons and desert vistas in our region for little if any net environmental benefit.”

“We are continuing to sound the alarm regarding the unacceptably high risk of power grid blackouts in the Pacific Northwest being precipitated by overly aggressive clean energy policies and deepening dependence on wind power to replace retiring coal plants,” the commissioners say in a news release. “Benton PUD is calling on Governor Inslee and our state legislators to learn from California’s experience and to believe what utilities in Washington State are telling them. Rolling blackouts jeopardize the health, safety and well-being of all citizens and cannot be accepted in a region that, thanks to hydropower, is the envy of the nation when it comes to clean and low-cost electricity …

“While development of wind farms may be politically fashionable and appeal to many in the general public as a harmonization of nature with electricity production, the science and economics indicate powering modern civilization with intermittent generation resources like wind and solar power comes at a high financial and environmental cost.”


But as the Benton PUD report illustrates, just because those wind-turbine farms are self-proclaimed “green” resources doesn’t mean they are exempt from pointed questioning as to just how much the regional grid, consumers and businesses that are being asked to rely on wind really ought to.

The News Tribune

“No more wind.”

Residential electricity rates in Washington average 9.85¢/kWh, second lowest in the nation.

The state of Washington’s wind resource is rather lacking…

Washington wind resource map. NREL

For comparison, here’s Texas’ wind resource map…

Texas wind resource map. NREL

Even with its world class wind resource, Texas only generates an average of 20% of its electricity from wind power.

Texas 2019 electricity generation by source. ERCOT

With minimal onshore wind resource, abundant hydroelectric resource and one of the lowest electricity rates in the nation, the Benton Public Utility District is demonstrating wisdom by saying “No more wind.”

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September 29, 2020 2:23 am

Nice post David !

David A
September 29, 2020 3:00 am

“Even with its world class wind resource, Texas only generates an average of 20% of its electricity from wind power.”

Has a study been done to show what power sources come on line when the wind does not blow? Does wind get priority over those sources? If so then those sources subdizise wind as A, they do considerably less business ( lower revenue ) and B have to be staffed to ramp up or down ( increased staffing labour costs) with the whims of the wind.

Therefore these conventional steady state producers are assigned an artificially created higher cost of production then if they had priority. Has this cost – hidden subsidy been quantified. ( Of course, if they had priority wind generation would be entirely unnecessary).

Joe Born
Reply to  David A
September 29, 2020 3:13 am

You may find this Texas perspective interesting. Note how frequent negative spot prices occur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGjilBZWIYM

Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 4:46 am

Thanks, Joe. This video answers a lot of questions.

Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 6:55 am

That was a good video.

Reply to  John
September 29, 2020 2:04 pm

And some!

Rodney Everson
Reply to  Joe Born
September 30, 2020 7:12 am

My main takeaway: Combining deregulated markets with subsidies to individual companies doesn’t work. The companies maximize their own profits but don’t have to account for all the external costs that are simultaneously imposed on the system. The result: higher consumer price despite lowering of the price of traditional fuel sources.

It really is an excellent video. His reply to the first question at about the 15 minute mark is where he summarized the above takeaway.

Reply to  Rodney Everson
September 30, 2020 9:30 am

“Combining deregulated markets with subsidies to individual companies doesn’t work.”
I just wish, oh so wish, that in the UK we had experts who could explain it to our politicians with the level of detailed knowledge shown by this man.

Joe Born
Reply to  Rodney Everson
September 30, 2020 9:40 am

If you’re interested in this type of thing, you may want to see other things his outfit has written: https://lifepowered.org/research/

Reply to  Joe Born
September 30, 2020 4:46 pm

Thanks Joe. That video should be shown at high schools around the world

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 5:39 am

David – yes this is exactly why it is correct to say that wind is subsidized. Preferential access to sell to the grid is a subsidy from those who are prejudiced. There a number of analogies which make this evident. If immigrants from Argentina were given such a preference over immigrants from Paraguay in that manner, it means the Paraguayans would have to stand by 24/7 in case their labour was needed, while the Argentineans always got employment if any was available – as a matter of policy.

Because wind power doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions meaningfully, it is just pork barrel politics (again). As T Boone Pickens said, there is no point in building wind power farms without the subsidy. (Was it TBP?)

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
September 29, 2020 5:51 am

Warren Buffet, I think.

Warren Buffett said: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Buffett might have continued, that subsidies are the only reason anyone invests in these things.


Lorne Newell
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
September 29, 2020 6:02 am

It does not matter who it was. The fact remains.

Patrick B
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
September 29, 2020 6:38 am

I worked on a windfarm deal in 1985 and the only reason it was built then was because of the subsidies provided by both US and Danish tax credits. Here we are 45 years later, and the wind farms still need to be subsidized. If 35 years of subsidies was not sufficient to get the industry to a profitable position, maybe it’s time to stop.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
September 29, 2020 8:21 am

“Because wind power doesn’t reduce CO2 emissions meaningfully,”

Considering the amount co2 emissions involved in the construction, installation, and maintenance, it is likely that there is not even meaningless reduction of co2 emissions, but a net increase.

David A
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
September 30, 2020 6:18 am

Crispin, so when the cost of electricity from coal or natural gas is quoted, it does not take into account their true lower cost if they were not forced into inefficiency.

I wonder what there current operations cost would be if they could operate at full efficiency? It is like telling a store they can only be open 5 hours a day, and that limited time may be split into two or more time slots over 24 hours, but they have to keep their staff there for when or if they do open. Wow, drive revenue down and operating costs up!

This is a huge hidden subsidy.cz/⁷

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
October 2, 2020 12:17 am

We’d also call that analogy corruption in a free market 😉

Bro. Steve
Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 7:19 am

Dave, on a related note, the ERCOT board is comprised of 14 people, 4 of whom are engineers with the rest being essentially lawyers and accountants. That’s up by three engineers from several years ago when there was only one. The real purpose of ERCOT has little to do with reliability, notwithstanding its name.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 7:40 am

How can this be, griff has been assuring us that wind is perfectly predictable 24 hours in advance.

Reply to  MarkW
September 29, 2020 10:52 am

Did he ever answer what industry does if it’s mid week and there is no wind forecast for the next 24 hours? I did offer to breed special eco-friendly mice to run on little generator treadmills to cover the shortfall but I asked whether Griff and all the other greentards wanted to run on bigger ones to save the planet.

James Snook
Reply to  David A
September 29, 2020 6:20 am

It’s become crazy in the U.K. A nuclear plant is actually being paid to cut output because the variable nature of our wind and solar plants requires a more rapid response than a nuke can provide.

Nukes, the only true source of carbon free power, were always intended to run steadily to meet base load requirements. Wind and solar should be pruned to allow this to happen, but not in the crazy virtue signalling Green world that our politicians and lobby groups inhabit.

Reply to  James Snook
September 29, 2020 7:04 am

“Nukes… were always intended to run steadily to meet base load requirements.” Not so much intended as designed. Central power station nukes are designed to be base-load constant-power machines. Nuclear power plants can be highly variable if designed to do so as the hundreds of nuclear powered ships operating over the years attest. These seagoing machines can vary their power as quickly as the throttle man can spin the throttle.

James Snook
Reply to  DHR
September 29, 2020 8:08 am

You are right of course, but the fact remains that the nuke stations were designed to provide base load power and that is what they are good at.

The Dinorwig pumped power storage plant in North Wales was built to help smooth the load on the Nukes and I ran an (ill starred) Anglo/US advanced battery development in the late 1970’s early ‘80’s. The main interest of the US partner was for Nuke load levelling.

Reply to  DHR
September 29, 2020 10:02 am

“Nuclear power plants can be highly variable if designed to do”

A small nuke in a ship can be shut down easily enough but the thermal inertia in a ~1GW generating power plant nuke core is not going to cool down in hours it will take days/weeks.

You would have to replace the large nukes with micro nukes to be able to bring them on or off line quickly enough to respond to demand swings. But even then you are forcing the nukes to operate in an inefficient and more costly manner, as the residual heat after you shut them down is wasted and also you are not making money if you are not producing power. A nuke making constant power is always going to be far more profitable/efficient than one that is shutting on and off. Same can be said for coal and gas fired generators.

Unreliable renewable causes the other sectors to incur inefficiencies and losses while they are forced to not produce as much while during the rare times the wind sector is producing >50% capacity. These shifted costs are not put onto the renewables, similar to that the added grid build-out costs are typically being ignored.

Reply to  DHR
September 29, 2020 5:03 pm

The B&W nuclear power Plant with its Once Through Steam Generator, was designed and proven to provide a 10%per minute “Load Following” capability. te percent may not sound like much but it is 10 percent of 1GW which is 100MW per minute. I was the Startup Test engineer and responsible for the Nuclear Reactor Control system, and Verified that two different B&W plants performed this function, which they both did flawlessly. Thus, in my opinion it is a “Myth” that nuclear power plants can not “Load Follow.” Don’t know much about costs etc but believe that there are other factors that are applied to keep the NPP running at 100%. Which is also the most efficient point of operation. One consideration is that outages for nuclear power plants are scheduled two years, or more, in advance. Nuclear fuel is ordered and paid for. Schedules for part to be replaced and the required industry technical representatives are scheduled. This creates a problem that if the plant has been continually cut back to 90 % then t9 percent + of the fuel is “Wasted” as it is replaced on schedule. Sort of like throwing out your propane tank every time you use it with 10% of the propane in it. For your BBQ, no big deal. But for a NPP that is multimillion Dollars. There are other reasons that I know of, but describing all could create a whole article here.

Reply to  Uzurbrain
September 30, 2020 12:35 am

“I was the Startup Test engineer and responsible for the Nuclear Reactor Control system”
This is why I keep coming back to WUWT
The technical skills base is awesome.

Reply to  James Snook
September 29, 2020 7:30 am

In Ontario Canada one nuclear plant is forced to boil water with no generation when it’s windy. On weekends we shut down Niagara Falls which is basically free – when it’s windy. We spent billions to build a pumped station next to Niagara Falls – use the falls to fill the reservoir at night when they have excess power, then provide more almost free energy at peak. I believe the pumped station was mothballed due to the requirement to use heavily subsidized wind and solar.

Reply to  Greg61
September 29, 2020 1:17 pm

Given the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns on Ontario’s financial situation, shouldn’t industrial scale wind be mothballed? The largest project in Ontario has another 15 years until the end of its contract. Wouldn’t it be less expensive to simply cancel all long term contracts now?

Reply to  Sommer
September 29, 2020 1:25 pm

In July, former Finance Minister Bill Morneau indicated this year’s deficit would reach $343 billion.
Since then, new estimates put it as high as $450 billion.

September 29, 2020 3:07 am

Washington State is pretty wet.
Drier places should have more wind.
Plus if anything can rust, it will rust.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 5:17 am

And construct them from oxidizing materials.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 7:18 am

It’s not just the water. In addition, as any maritime engineer can attest, salt eats the … out of everything. For example, to minimize maintenance, commercial cruise ships are designed and operated to keep salt air and salt water outside the ship as much as possible. Their toilet systems are fresh water flushed, not salt water. Their air intake systems are filtered and demisted to mimize salt air within the ship. Even their fire sprinkler systems which are normally connected to sea water pumps are back-flushed with fresh water to help assure that any leakage through the sprinkler heads does not let seawater in.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  gbaikie
September 29, 2020 6:36 am

Washington State is pretty dry.
Unless you think annually 10-12 inches total precip is wet.


Reply to  John F Hultquist
September 29, 2020 6:58 am

It’s regional as it is everywhere. Your Olympic rain forests receive close to 130 inches of rain per year. Seattle gets close to 40 inches per year. Your deserts in the east get vastly less. It makes as much sense to talk of the “levelized” amount of rainfall in Washington State as it does to talk of the “levelized” cost of wind and solar energy. None of these measures are level at all.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  DHR
September 29, 2020 9:18 pm

Same reason the “average” temp of the planet means nothing

Reply to  gbaikie
September 29, 2020 8:35 am

Eastern Washington, where Benton County is, is semi-arid. Eastern Washington is east of the Cascade Mtns. that block moisture coming from the Pacific. Interestingly, Benton County contains some of the windiest areas in all of Washington State yet the utility finds wind power to be uneconomic.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Meab
September 29, 2020 5:49 pm

Even west of the Cascades, you have a lot of Dry areas. I live on Whidbey Island, and we get about 10 inches less annual rainfall than Dallas. We don’t get torrential downpours, we get all-day drizzles.

Romeo Rachi
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 1, 2020 6:59 am

There is a rain shadow for parts of the Olympic peninsula that extends over the sound and into the area of Whidbey Island up to the San Juan Islands. Basically from Brinnon to Port Angeles is the eastern rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. As storms move from west to east and take a northeasterly trajectory, you tend to get less rain in this zone during those types of rain events. That is why Lavender grows so well in this zone. Now, if the flow is more west to east and more of a zonal flow or southeasterly trajectory, you get more rain here since you have an opening in the Straight of Juan de Fuca along with a convergence zone that tends to develop over the Everett area.
There are really some interesting microclimates that occur in this area of the world. A dream come true for any local weatherperson but a nightmare if you have to report the weather on TV.

Joe Born
September 29, 2020 3:10 am

The Texas market is comparatively favorable to wind. But if you compare ERCOT’s wind-power data with its data for electrical load you still find that under the most-reasonable cost assumptions the cost of avoiding atmospheric CO2 enrichment is exorbitant.

I recently based such a calculation on ERCOT’s 2018 data and Energy Information Administration estimates for building and maintaining wind turbines and combined-cycle-gas-turbine (“CCGT”) generators. I scaled the wind power up to the average load and calculated how much gas-powered back-up would be required. I assumed that the generators were financed with all debt at 6% interest and 3% inflation and that gas costs $2.89 per million BTUs, the average of the last five pre-Covid years.

Under those assumptions, the CCGT cost without any wind worked out to $33/MWh, but wind backed up with CCGT generation cost $52. At typical CCGT heat rates, that price would make avoiding a single Celsius degree of warming cost $124 trillion. That’s six times the entire U.S. GDP, or 1100 times the average global loss to weather disasters.

If climate sensitivity is instead the more-likely 1 degree per doubling, the cost would be $494 trillion. That’s twenty-four times the U.S. GDP, or 4400 times the average global loss to weather disasters.

Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 5:19 am

Very interesting.

Are you using 4C/doubling as the climate sensitivity value to estimate the $124 trillion cost of avoiding 1C warming, as suggested by your cost estimate for 1C/doubling?

Joe Born
Reply to  bsl
September 29, 2020 6:21 am

No; as I said above, the two sensitivities I used were 3.1 and 1.

Based on an EIA-estimated CCGT heat rate of 6370 BTU/kWh, the natural-gas savings I inferred from comparing (scaled-up) ERCOT wind-production with load was 4.7 million BTUs’ worth of gas per megawatt-hour, avoiding about 552 lbs/MWh of CO2 enrichment if the biosphere sequesters half the emitted CO2. That made the price of avoiding a pound of CO2 enrichment approximately $0.072.

That cost p per unit weight of avoided CO2 enrichment implied a corresponding cost C of avoiding a given amount \Delta T of warming, in accordance with the formula

C=\left(2^{\Delta T/S}-1\right)pM_{CO_2},

where S is the climate sensitivity and M_{CO_2} is the current weight of atmospheric CO2.

Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 7:29 am

Thanks for showing the details of your calculation. Without seeing the details of your computation, I was trying to guess (wrongly in this case) what you used for your base case.

I hope this analysis is widely shared. The calculation of 4400 times average global weather disaster loss is stunning, and the 4400 value certainly includes losses that are due entirely to normal weather events, and nothing to do with damages caused by “climate change”.

Joe Born
Reply to  bsl
September 29, 2020 9:24 am

As you no doubt recognize, my conclusions there are quite assumption-dependent; increasing assumed gas prices and heat rates or reducing real interest rates enough would make adding wind turbines appear to make sense. Also, I based the weather-disaster value just on one Reuters piece, and I’m sure there are higher estimates out there somewhere.

As you pointed out, though, avoiding that warming would do little if anything to avert such disasters.

Joe Born
Reply to  bsl
September 29, 2020 10:08 am

Oh, yes, about the “widely shared”:

No, it probably won’t be. I’m afraid I just don’t have the patience to shop it around to outlets that have much readership.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  bsl
September 29, 2020 2:25 pm

This is the real reason the Democrat’s, sponsored by the billionaire-class Green slime, are deadly serious about killing natural gas fracking in Pennsylvania (as they already have blocked it in NY state) and across the Western US in Colorado and New Mexico.

The economics of CCGT, or even simply GT generation, with today’s natural gas prices utterly destroys the economic incentives for wind and solar without massive government directed subsidies that eventually the public will balk at. The shale fracking revolution for oil and gas was one of the 2 Black Swans the Climate Scammers never saw coming 20 years ago.

Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 5:46 am

Funny how you ignore your false premise. Which is man made CO2 does not cause climate change (i.e. warming, per your crazy thinking). There is not one single study out there which proves man made CO2 increases cause warming of the planet. That is the inconvenient truth! lol

A C Osborn
September 29, 2020 3:12 am

At last some reality and someone with the guts to put it in to print.

Reply to  A C Osborn
September 29, 2020 5:18 am

Perhaps this is the pebble which starts the landslide.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Graemethecat
September 29, 2020 2:30 pm

This summer’s California rolling Black-outs due to too little instate generation was the pebble. California can’t dig themselves out the hole they’ve dug for 20 years now for at least 10 years. due to lead time it takes to approve and build new gas turbine generation plants.
So the nation will get “treated” to the California rolling black-out spectacle for years to come every summer. How Gavin Newsom will survive that without getting recalled, after what happen to Gray Davis, will take a miracle for him.

Ron Long
September 29, 2020 3:20 am

The USA Pacific Northwest has a lot of hydroelectric potential, the rivers that drain to the west from the Cascade Mountain Range. Hydroelectric needs abundant river water and some gradient. Along the Columbia River, between Washington and Oregon, the gradient is low, but the flow-rates are very high, so hydroelectric dams like Bonneville work great. Once offsets to salmon migration were in place things were more-or-less normal. Now they apparently realize that there are a variety of reasons to not advance wind power, dams are not in favor, nuclear is a non-starter (many cities are declared to be nuclear free! Oops, except for radiation therapy!), good geothermal capacity is mostly located in parks around volcanos, so hydrocarbons will need to step in and add dependable power into the system. We’ll see.

Reply to  Ron Long
September 29, 2020 11:13 am

And just a couple of years ago, the wind generators were complaining bitterly about being curtailed because the hydroelectric dams had to release water and had to to it by generating power. They couldn’t just spill it over the dam because of the impact that has on the oxygen content of the water. The windies were used to being the first on the dispatch list, so having to operate under conditions where the system cold not take all of their power and having to be curtained was a rude awakening.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ron Long
September 29, 2020 2:33 pm

Idaho is nuclear power friendly. They could make a lot of nuke-generated electricity and tranmit over new lines to surrounding states in need.

Romeo Rachi
Reply to  Ron Long
October 1, 2020 7:21 am

Unfortunately, the Northwest US is hellbent on removing all those hydroelectric dams. This has been going on since I can remember from back in the 80’s until now. However, the calls were much less vocal back then but now they are up to a blood curdling screech and it appears that the dams on the Snake River may end up coming down. Even some of the dams on the mighty Columbia River may fall if they get their way.
This has already happened on some of the tributaries and other rivers in WA state. Most notably the Elwha River and White Salmon River. Of course this was all done in the name of salmon restoration and had nothing to do with any other interest groups. I am still curious to see the progress the salmon and steelhead have made on these rivers. I was torn with these decisions only because I want to see the salmon return and I think that economically, the right decisions were made since these were not making any great amounts of power and they did block prime habitat from salmon migration. Time will tell if the salmon return the way they once did.
I am now waiting to see which river system is next. Maybe the Cowlitz River or North Fork Lewis River? There are many but their sights are set on the big rivers and they are a determined bunch. If that happens, you can kiss your cheap electricity rates good bye. Of course this is all done in the name of saving the salmon…Kind of like stopping clear cutting was all in the name of saving the Spotted Owl.

September 29, 2020 3:23 am

So … if the “green resources” necessary for “green power” are costly and/or in short supply, industrial and economic development will necessarily have to be curtailed. An outcome that has been predicted by some and ignored by most.

The chickens have arrived and are looking for a place to roost.

Nick Graves
September 29, 2020 3:31 am

Wow – a utility actually calling out wind as BS.

Seems a bit unusual these days – maybe the tide is turning.

Bit like it did with tidal power, funnily enough…

John Endicott
Reply to  Nick Graves
September 29, 2020 4:44 am

Looks like the utility’s commissioners are next on the left cancel list. How Dare they speak truth to green mania.

Dave Fair
Reply to  John Endicott
September 29, 2020 1:47 pm

John, the Public Utility District commissioners are elected by their customers/ratepayers. While the politicians and MSM try to hide the true costs, customers/taxpayers eventually get the message. The PUD is just ahead of the curve.

September 29, 2020 3:44 am

It gets worse. Environmentalists seek to decommission the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers which are the source of all that cheap, 100% reliable power!

Reply to  brians356
September 29, 2020 10:54 am

ROFL why shoot your foot when you can blow the whole leg off 🙂

Farmer Ch E retired
September 29, 2020 3:51 am

Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), affectionately referred to as Whoops, was constructing 5 nuclear power plants at the time I worked at Hanford (1976-1989). Four were cancelled leaving a tremendous amount of stranded capital. Columbia Generating Station (formerly WPS-2) was the only unit completed.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
September 29, 2020 5:54 am

In the municipal bond business WPPSS is either a punch line or a word of caution. When problems arose and the bonds fell in price, some said, “Buy. They’re cheap and we know that the government will bail them out.” Didn’t happen.

“The Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), which was nicknamed Whoops, was the largest municipal bond default in history.

In the 1970s and 1980s, WPPSS sold bonds to finance the construction of five nuclear plants needed to accommodate increased demand. In 1983, poor management and unsatisfactory safety conditions caused the construction of the plants to cost four times as much as originally estimated. At the same time, demand for nuclear energy began to decline, and construction on some plants was forced to terminate.

There was still an obligation of $2.25 billion to pay back to bondholders in 1983. To offset the cost, the price of electricity was increased for customers, which caused a major uproar. The uproar led to legal troubles, causing the utility’s plan to raise money from customers to backfire.

The $2.25 billion debt was defaulted, and WPPSS was unable to pay their the full amount to their bondholders, recovering by only 40% from their municipal bond disaster.”


And back then, $2.25 billion was real money.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Speed
September 29, 2020 2:03 pm

The same 1970’s era load growth projections that led WPPSS generation production plans led to a consortium of regional rural power suppliers to build 2 (actually 1 & 1/2) coal-fired plants and a coal mine financed by Uncle Sugar. Thank you taxpayer for the $1.5 billion write off in which I was involved.

[N.B. Plans for the MX mobile missile system and oil shale development drove the growth estimates. Guess what happened when the Feds backtracked?]

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
September 29, 2020 7:18 am

Hey Farmer, how many of those cancellations do you think were due to regulatory malingering?

Reply to  pochas94
September 29, 2020 8:33 am

I’d say his reference to unsatisfactory safety concerns is intended to cover that. You know, all the backfitting that had to be done to existing plants and designs after Three Mike Island and The China Syndrome. Or the work that had to be done after 9/11 to prove to non-engineers at the NRC that, yes, a jet airliner crashing into the containment dome really would crumple like an empty beer can on a forehead.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  pochas94
September 29, 2020 9:13 am

pochas94 – I was a Techie with my nose to the grindstone so missed much of the politics of the day. I can testify that moving from the public (large DOE contractor) to private sector (environmental consulting) after Hanford, my budgets decreased but could see the fruits of my efforts sooner. Ten of the Hanford years were doing R&D at Battelle – fun, challenging, and great learning ground.

Joseph Zorzin
September 29, 2020 3:57 am

Off topic- sorry, but–

“Environmental action, laws may face new hurdles on high court”


“When the court ruled 5-4 in 2007 on Massachusetts v. EPA, widely considered the most important climate lawsuit in American history, it found carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, is an air pollutant the agency has authority to regulate. The ruling laid the groundwork for a series of climate regulations during the Obama administration.
The only “yes” vote remaining from that case is Justice Steven Breyer. Experts say a conservative court could gut it or overturn it entirely.
“There’s a threat to Massachusetts versus EPA, and that existed when Ginsburg was on the court,” Karen Sokol, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said by phone. “If she is replaced by another conservative member, there’s a good chance it could get overturned.””

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
September 29, 2020 8:37 am

Terrible decision. Never before had the US Court system allowed a plaintiff to hale a defendant into court over speculative future injuries that the defendant has no ability to prevent, or even mitigate. The suit by Massachusetts should have been thrown out for lack of standing to sue.

Bruce Cobb
September 29, 2020 4:12 am

“More large-scale wind farms they say, will “contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable…”
Yes. Just like throwing an anchor to a drowning man will contribute very little to keeping him from drowning.

September 29, 2020 4:30 am

About hydroelectric , see A Tour of NAWAPA, the North American Water and Power Alliance
Updated since the Parsons Report in the 1960’s.
The maps and sheer volumes of water, not to mention the dams, are stunning!

Carl Friis-Hansen
September 29, 2020 4:32 am

Nice to see a freelance journalist being permitted to report common sense scientifically sound voices.

Will Washington withstand the powers of the new wind-piggybacked geothermal bill S.2657 (is being pulled through)?
With 25GW additional wind and solar demanded in the bill, Washington may be forced by the Politburo to cover their hillsides with their share of wind and solar.
Get your own diesel generator and UPS system before stock runs out – call 555 – GREENHELL

September 29, 2020 5:01 am

can’t see a recent relevant thread, so here goes:

28 Sept: Science Mag: Trump White House recruited climate science critics to work at NOAA
By Scott Waldman, E&E News
At least three prominent researchers who question the severity of climate change rebuffed the opportunity to take a senior position at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)…
John Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, told E&E News that a White House official promised him he would be given a free hand to change the way NOAA approaches climate research…
Christy, who downplays the severity of rising temperatures, said he was unable to take the job due to his academic commitments. His colleague Roy Spencer, a meteorologist affiliated with the Heartland Institute, also was mentioned as a possibility, but he did not pursue the opportunity…

Christy reached out to Judith Curry, the former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, to see if she would be interested in the NOAA position, Curry told E&E News. She, too, rebuffed the offer.
“I’m totally uninterested in anything having to do with D.C. and government,” Curry said…READ ON

28 Sept: Climate Depot: ‘You are a murderer!’ – ‘You are an evil fat man!’ Listen: Nasty voicemails greet NOAA’s new skeptical climate scientist Dr. David Legates
Listen to hate voice mails left on Dr. Legates phone…

September 29, 2020 5:36 am

Hi David,

Great article. Your wind resource maps are a little misleading — the bulk of the wind farms here in the PNW are in the Columbia River Gorge (not that that’s a good thing) where the wind resource is pretty decent. In fact, I think (know) there has been so much wind development here precisely because it is adjacent to maybe the biggest battery system in the world: the dams on the Columbia and Snake, mostly managed by BPA.

I’ve been working in the energy industry since 1997 when I ended up at a little company called Enron and rode that one out through the whole debacle. Truthfully — best job I ever had. For the last 14 years or so, I have been with the same company (through its various corporate iterations) here in the PNW, primarily building, owning and operating wind farms across all of the US (including TX 🙂 )

I have been following WUWT since I first started this job back in 2006 or so, when I started digging around a little to see what really was the deal on “global warming,” as I had started a new job with a company working to solve the “problem.”

In all this time, I don’t think I’ve ever commented here, but something about your post and the article you linked made me finally get out there. (BTW, I read all your posts religiously, not just this one.). I have a pretty deep knowledge of the how the electricity markets operate here in PNW/WECC, the transition underway to EIM, the economics of renewables, etc.

But I’m not going to get into all that here in public. I would, however, love to have a conversation with you privately if possible (i.e., email me if you can access my email via this site, as I guess I’m about to enter it as a condition of posting this comment). Hope to hear from you but, regardless, keep up the good work.

Joe Born
Reply to  SS
September 29, 2020 10:24 am

While I respect your reticence, it’s too bad you’re not sharing more of your insight about that particular installation. Although I generally oppose wind turbines, it does seem plausible that they’d make sense where there’s such a (low-cost?) “battery.” But getting good numbers relevant to the question is a problem.

September 29, 2020 6:03 am

Wind power is just a lot of “Hot Air”.
There is no justification for wind.
It is an environmentally unsound choice for energy when one looks at it’s total impact. Decommission a turbine and you have a disaster of un-recyclable debris.

Reply to  Frank
September 29, 2020 11:00 am

No Griff showed a really funny article, what you do for a news headline is send out a special plant to cut the thing into manageable sizes then you ship it all back to put back in a furnace … No joking. I am waiting for the next phase of the PR exercise where they send out a team to jackhammer the concrete apart into manageable sizes and ship it back to be crushed down to dust to use back in concrete. Nothing to see here move along.

Jeff Meyer
September 29, 2020 6:16 am

If we could just get rid of Inslee this election cycle! The man’s brain is full of green gunk!

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Jeff Meyer
September 29, 2020 5:37 pm

And he has the gall and arrogance to be going for a third term.

Go away Jay.

Can the worm
No third term
That ain’t done
In Washington.

HD Hoese
September 29, 2020 6:21 am

This was well known two generations ago, principles of thermodynamics are rather old. Fossil windmills? We had a few then. Didn’t have the internet, etc.

John F Hultquist
September 29, 2020 6:32 am

Columbia Generating Station is a nuclear commercial energy facility located 10 miles (16 km) north of Richland, Benton County, Washington State.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  John F Hultquist
September 29, 2020 9:41 am

From ’76 to ’79 our bus drove past WNP-1, WNP-2 and WNP-4 plants under construction on the daily commute to Z Plant in the 200 Area. WNP-2 is the Columbia Generating Station. Check out 1 & 4 here:

September 29, 2020 6:59 am

The last good thought by EPA in a decade looking back or forward:

In a letter to Mr. Newsom on Monday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said a statewide shift to electric vehicles would strain California’s electric grid.

“California’s record of rolling blackouts—unprecedented in size and scope—coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” Mr. Wheeler wrote in the letter.

September 29, 2020 7:01 am

How different from the UK where the offshore wind pipeline of projects is now 50GW and our PM wants us to become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’


Curious George
Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 7:33 am

There must be a huge demand for wind – somewhere.

Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 7:47 am

As everyone knows, politics trumps physics.

Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 8:19 am

It’s a race to lock in wind power prices and new nuclear costs in the UK. Utility scale solar will continue to fall below both while these locked prices and transmission costs are revealed later. The great game of hide and seek on costs continues.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 8:34 am


And what is the capacity factor for wind turbines in the U.K.? Let’s say .30 maybe?
50GW times .30 = 15GW.

Please post your evidence that all these wind turbines will actually save more CO2 during their lifetimes than was produced to mine the raw materials, manufacture and install them (include the cement for the foundations).

And the bigger the role wind energy plays in the U.K.’s grid, the more stability will be an issue as the dispatchable energy sources are shut down. And then there is the negative price that has to be paid to get rid of wind energy when it is produced but not needed.

Griffy-poo, you know you are in a cult when you persistently refuse to acknowledge the issues and problems with your cult’s doctrine despite repeated efforts to enlighten you. The holy messiahs of your cult are the wind energy pushers who have you snookered hook, line and sinker. You are not to be believed.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
September 29, 2020 11:29 am

Total installed for all electrical generation for UK is only 78GW (down from a peak of 85GW in 2014) so that would make wind about 64% if we used Griff’s number 🙂

So perhaps we can ask Griff why wind only produces 20-30% of UK power when it’s 64% of the installed capacity?

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 8:37 am

Griff, what are the subsidies that are paid for offshore wind in the UK? I read about negative pricing for wind in the UK generation mix, suggesting that developers are offsetting losses with subsidy payments. How does that work?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 9:38 am

Sure, and at the same time they are finalizing the Denmark-UK HVDC connection to compensate for when UK wind is only giving a few percent of installed capacity.

The British certainly knows how to throw money into the wind.

I used to be so naive that I believed the politicians served the people, but we know now it is the other way around.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
September 29, 2020 2:45 pm

Venezuela teaches that us that one can have cheap electricity or you can have reliable electricity when one chooses the wrong political system. The USA is in very real grave danger of choosing a 1-way path to the wrong political system on November 3rd.

Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 11:05 am

I know which of the two I would rather be 🙂

Word of advice to Griff and others in the UK make sure you know who is charge of the decision making now because you don’t want to waste more money for an inquiry for who to fire and lynch later.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  griff
September 29, 2020 5:10 pm

“…How different from the UK…”

Well why bring up the irrelevant UK then?

“…our PM wants us to become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’…”

Politicians love suckers. Do you not realize how idiotic the analogy is?

Bro. Steve
September 29, 2020 7:08 am

For the knowledgeable commenters here, everybody needs to remember that the vast majority of windmills are induction machines, not synchronous. It’s too mild to state simply that they threaten grid stability. At some point, if you plug enough of these things into the grid, maintaining 60 Hz will be impossible.

Reply to  Bro. Steve
September 29, 2020 10:09 am

Yes wind has been mainly induction, because the wind is variable so how to maintain synchronous speed with a variable transmission that can’t adjust in milliseconds to wind gusts and change in velocity. Wind also uses AC-DC-AC converters/inverters, so not only the losses on top of a 30% capacity factor, but further inefficiencies in all those solid state losses and inadvertent harmonics. And also wind up getting junk asynchronous electricity that gets preferred access to the grid as compared to base load such as base load spinning reserve hydro power, which is a far superior product. Which really makes utilities mad when they have to spill water over the dams if reservoirs full because Big Wind gets priority real time access to the grid. That isn’t even calculated into all the subsidies. It is just a silent loss of opportunity.

The penetration rate of wind/solar can’t exceed a certain threshold without encountering grid issues as we see in California, South Oz and other jurisdictions that blew their brains out on prioritizing these highly subsidized ruinable unreliable generators. Texas maybe escapes this so far because they haven’t exceeded that threshold yet and have a fleet of CCGT generators that can ramp up and down to maintain grid voltage/frequency. But there comes a time when there is a straw that breaks the camels back.

Joe Born
Reply to  Earthling2
September 29, 2020 10:41 am

“AC-DC-AC converters/inverters”? Really? Wow.

Thank you both very much; I had no idea.

I drive through the panhandle twice a year, and the seemingly common rate of wind-turbine rotation I thought I observed (while trying also to keep my eyes on the road) made me speculate that they were synchronous machines.

Bro. Steve
Reply to  Joe Born
September 29, 2020 12:58 pm

The induction machines can turn only a wee bit faster than the grid “spin” frequency, just as an induction motor turns just a wee bit slower than the grid “spin” frequency. Unless you were strobing it, you wouldn’t know.

Joe Born
Reply to  Bro. Steve
September 29, 2020 1:43 pm

Ah, I guess that makes sense; it’s delta omega. Somehow I’d never really–or at least recently–thought that through.

Thanks once again.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Bro. Steve
September 29, 2020 2:51 pm

The reactive power problem is well known inside the engineer-centric power grid industry, but little known in political circles. It’s the complex math in reactive power understanding that career politicians purposefully avoided in college to go soft studies.
Retard-idiots like Senator Markey or Congressperson AOC just thinks wind turbines and solar PV can just be plugged into a grid whole-sale willy-nilly and all will be fine as big spinning mass thermal-driven generators are shutdown.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 29, 2020 3:20 pm

Everything is simple to those not having to do the work, Joel.

Ill tempered Klavier
Reply to  Dave Fair
September 29, 2020 5:58 pm


“It is a simple thing, but in war even simple things become difficult.” Clausewitz

“… a matter of playing the right note at the right time.” Bach

another simple thing that can be extremely difficult. You would think that after all the years I spent banging the keys on the ancient upright in our basement when I was growing up, then all the time I put in playing in garages, beer joints, concert stages and recording studios I’d have it down. Yet even now communing with Barney, my faithful B-3 in my home studio, mastery eludes me.

September 29, 2020 8:55 am



UK wind productivity 24%

UK Solar productivity 11%

UK Overall Renewables productivity 20%

What do these productivity numbers mean?

Think about electricity generation as an ordinary business that you have to manage. It provides a product which has to be of consistent high quality and which is vital to all the other businesses of your Nation.

But on average more than half of your labour force only turn up on 1 day in 5. And you don’t really know which day that might be. Quite often even if they do turn up, they walk out when they feel like it in the middle of the shift.
But the unions insist that if they do turn up you have to employ them and lay off the guys that can work full time.
And worse than that, almost to half of those guys only turn up 1 day in 10. And those ones usually arrive on days when you are not likely to need them but you still have to pay them in full. Anyway, they always go home before the evening, the time of your maximum demand.
These workers get tired quickly and retire and need replacement a third of the way through a normal working lifetime.
The unions also insist that you pay them about 5 – 15 times as much as your ordinary productive workers. Quite often you have to pay them not to work at all.
When you have a real breakdown, these guys can’t help you out to reinstate the service.
And when these guys do arrive, they cause difficulties with quality assurance, severe industrial disruption and they, at a whim, can suddenly close down your production altogether. If they do manage that there is huge economic damage across your Nation.

But apart from your personal professional responsibility as a manager to provide a good quality of service, in the end the extra costs don’t really matter to you, either the Government or rather the Taxpayer picks up the tab or you can just pass the costs on to your customers: they don’t have any real choice because you have a monopoly for the supply of the product.

This is the scale of business problems faced by Electricity supply managers that the ill-informed decision to opt for collecting dilute and irregularly intermittent energy from the environment and calling it “Renewable”. And the problems can only get worse as more Weather Dependent Renewables are forced onto the system by policy makers.

These actions of your political masters can only ever affect perhaps the UK Renewables output (~23%) of the CO2 from electricity generation (~25%) of a diminishing UK CO2 emissions (1.1%) of the perceived global problem or ~22 million tonnes of CO2, which in 2020 amounts to 0.07% of 34,200 million tonnes of Global CO2 emissions. And this should be set in the context of growing CO2 emissions elsewhere in the world.


It is only when the comparative costs of Weather Dependent Renewables are combined with their actual measured productivity, that the real cost differentials of each Gigawatt of power produced become clear.

Reply to  edmh
September 29, 2020 10:20 am

So just described the Canadian public service.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  edmh
September 29, 2020 10:46 am

EDMH, further to your comments – what business would invest in production equipment that can produced at x capacity but rarely does so, and consistently produces at 25% of the stated nameplate capacity? Not only that, but you also have to invest in reliable equipment that produces the same product and can supply the same market demand, and keep it idling for when the first type of equipment randomly fails to deliver? Spending twice as much capital to provide the same service is not economic. That is not a model for success.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
September 29, 2020 1:09 pm

Exactly. You still have to build the (let’s assume natural gas) capacity, and your only savings is the natural gas that you aren’t burning when the wind is blowing (except the amount to idle it). In exchange, you have to mine, manufacture, transport, build, maintain, and eventually tear down and dispose of equal capacity of wind infrastructure. Only a leftist zealot who is blind to the realities behind the empty slogans and talking points would think this was a good idea, either economically or environmentally.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  edmh
September 29, 2020 2:01 pm

Ed, very colorful explanation and practical analogy, thanks.

Reply to  edmh
September 30, 2020 6:05 am

The UK National Grid knows how much wind it will have next day and acts accordingly.

Further it has links to multiple European countries which it can get wind energy from (or supply with wind energy).

It has pumped storage, demand response and grid scale batteries to cover the ramp up and down of its gas plant.

your analogy is not at all relevant to the actual circumstances of the UK grid.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
September 30, 2020 10:16 am

“demand response” is cutting off power to people.

Carbon Bigfoot
September 29, 2020 10:30 am

David M. Where I live in SE PA my residential rate is 5.5/KW. Met-Ed/First Energy. The rate that is posted only applies to big city rates Philadelphia, Pittsburg and is probably not an average.

September 29, 2020 10:33 am

The investment value of the Green Blight is predicated upon convincing the world that CO2, carbon generally, is a clear and progressive risk, which can be mitigated through exclusion, rather than development. The realization that the hypothesis is founded on unrealistic (e.g. laboratory) premises would force a catastrophic misalignment in global economies, which would mask the so-called “Great Depression”, and would probably conclude with an equally catastrophic anthropogenic event (e.g. “war”) to clear the books.

September 29, 2020 10:45 am

In a recently released report, “Wind Power and Clean Energy Policy Perspectives,” the utility’s commissioners say they “do not support further wind power development in the Northwest.”
More large-scale wind farms they say, will “contribute very little to keeping the regional power grid reliable and will not help Benton PUD solve our seasonal energy deficit problems” (when it needs to purchase additional power for winter and summer peaks), will drive up customer rates, won’t make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, will hurt revenues that utilities like Benton receive from the sale of surplus hydropower and will needlessly clutter up the “scenic hillsides, canyons and desert vistas in our region for little if any net environmental benefit.”
“We are continuing to sound the alarm regarding the unacceptably high risk of power grid blackouts in the Pacific Northwest being precipitated by overly aggressive clean energy policies and deepening dependence on wind power to replace retiring coal plants,” the commissioners say in a news release. “Benton PUD is calling on Governor Inslee and our state legislators to learn from California’s experience and to believe what utilities in Washington State are telling them. Rolling blackouts jeopardize the health, safety and well-being of all citizens and cannot be accepted in a region that, thanks to hydropower, is the envy of the nation when it comes to clean and low-cost electricity …
“While development of wind farms may be politically fashionable and appeal to many in the general public as a harmonization of nature with electricity production, the science and economics indicate powering modern civilization with intermittent generation resources like wind and solar power comes at a high financial and environmental cost.”

So authorities Washington State are finally showing a modicum of intelligence regarding wind power and its endemic inadequacy, due primarily to intermittency. Well, OK, but WE’VE KNOW THIS FACT SINCE ~FOREVER AND PUBLISHED A STRONG STATEMENT AGAINST GRID-CONNECTED WIND POWER IN 2002!

So we hereby award the authorities in Washington State the “RIP VAN WINKLE WAKE-TF-UP AWARD” for finally arousing from their decades-long slumber, recognizing that green energy is not green and does not produce much useful (dispatchable) energy. Attaboys all around!


Statements 1 and 2 below are by now accepted as true by competent scientists and engineers.

In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton, Ottawa and Allan MacRae published the following which are correct to date:

See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”. quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/

By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., January 10, 2020

See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”. youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

Christopher Chantrill
September 29, 2020 2:51 pm

Don’t forget that Washington State utilities benefit from a gubmint program of yesteryear: The Bonneville Power Administration that built all those lovely hydroelectric dams up and down the Columbia River, from Grand Coulee Dam down to Bonneville Dam just upriver from Portland, Oregon.

It is crazy for Washington State utilities to sign up with wind. Let the fools in California do that.

September 29, 2020 3:44 pm

Vested wind interests are pushing the Big Wind agenda. They have billions in funding. Refer Aloys Wobben, German wind baron, net worth $5 billion; Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Limited, the Chicom-affiliated world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, HQed in Beijing, Siemens, Vestas, etc. Various American carpetbaggers are also riding the wind gravy train. You think these guys are just gonna roll over and stop building their windmills? Wind is political. Utilities have been mandated by politicians to buy wind and solar to meet spurious renewable energy targets, whether because of bribery or feelgood virtue signalling or both. Contractors love building the things, lots of juicy fees to earn, while landowners love the rental payments for hosting the bat killers.

Wind is not going to die without a fight. Stopping the stupid subsidies for renewables is the best way to win this war.

September 30, 2020 7:24 am
Chunder Peacheye
September 30, 2020 9:41 am

Hmm, breaking with wind?

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