Wind turbines and cattle in Wyoming prairie.

Wind Turbines Out West-Part 1

Kevin Kilty

Background

Wind energy development has exploded in southeastern Wyoming. In just two counties we have now in operation, or permitted to begin construction, some ten wind projects involving 613,000 acres (958 square miles) and offering nameplate rating of 6,300MW. Why has this development accelerated so much lately? I will not delve into the issue of public subsidies at all since these are so well known. Instead I will examine five other factors I can identify.

First, the region undoubtedly has impressive wind energy resources and these installations should, like oil and gas production, follow the resource. However, while average wind speeds in parts of southeast Wyoming are high, the wind displays a great deal of variability on a variety of time scales – exactly the characteristic which makes wind energy problematic.

Second, except for one project which is sited in a region of private residences and businesses there is little local opposition to these projects. Everyone seems aware that these projects will pass the permitting stage easily. There is little statutory guidance. There are no regulations regarding impacts to view shed, for instance, like there is in cities (i.e. limitations on structure height, for instance).

Third, the wind farms are being sited where there are few land owners which is a great aid in organizing leases. In this part of Wyoming property is often owned in very large holdings. Much of it is state or Federal land, especially BLM. One project includes a 50/50 mix of private and BLM. The private land involved here has one private owner of around 250 square miles.

Fourth, there is the perception of coming prosperity. Local engineers expect increasing demand for surveying and civil engineering services as do some construction services such as for porta-potties. There is new tax revenue. What is sold to the county is revenue for facilities upgrades, better wages, and equipment for schools.

Fifth, the most difficult factor to put in a proper perspective is the current popular belief that these so-called renewable energy sources are high-tech and will enhance the environment, in fact possibly save the planet. In one case County Commissioners stated explicitly that their decision to approve was predicated partially on reducing greenhouse gasses.

In Part I of this series I will examine the permitting process itself along with environmental and economic issues; then in Part II we’ll tackle technical issues involving hazards to wildlife and preventing nuisances.

The Permitting Process

The permit applications are enormous documents, 1,700 pages isn’t out of the realm of possibility. One should expect that these put forth the applicant’s best case and so they should be read with an appropriate deal of skepticism because they are, by nature, biased.

Public hearings are scheduled to consider the application.  My overall sense is that if one has doubts about renewable energy invading your neighborhood or region, public hearings are not a productive place to voice concerns. By this stage the effort has gained too much momentum for approval. Few people in opposition show up generally and many people who do show up in opposition to these permits present emotional, extreme and poorly substantiated claims.[1] People with more persuasive objections get caught up in the resulting emotion and discounted altogether. Send written comments instead and send them early.

The usual path to approval is to first seek approval from the county commissioners who will rely on the opinion of a planning commission. The planning commission typically has knowledge about construction, but not necessarily industry. The minutes of their meetings makes this clear. However, even with obvious shortcomings, the application is sent to the commissioners with a recommendation to approve.

Local approval now leads to a request for a conditional permit from a state agency such as our Industrial Siting Council (ISC). This council in turn will depend on a recommendation from the Industrial Siting Division of the State Department of Environmental Quality, which in turn gathers opinion from many various state agencies. It is a little like being caught in the infinite regress arm of the Maunchausen trilemma. No one in these agencies is a party to the hearing and so they won’t testify in person.[2] Worse still, their advice lacks independence as the agencies are not immune to politics. One person told me some time ago that there is pressure from above, perhaps only perceived but effective nonetheless, to not push back too hard on wind energy.

After having passed public hearings, the client may have other conditions to meet such as from the FAA concerning lighting or perhaps some level of rigor of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because Federal property is involved and so forth, but hearings are a major hurdle to clear.

The public hearing process makes a good example of C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” – one encompassing the scientific and engineering disciplines and the other the humanities.[3] While he identified this divergence in academia and the elite, the same conflict appears almost everywhere.

The scientific engineering ethos is about evidence and making logical arguments based on what researchers have concluded often after a great deal of independent review. Its knowledge is constantly under revision. Someone who has self-reported experience without data or other evidence is arguing “ex cathedra”– argument from authority. Science and engineering are not about authority, and in our culture we view such claims suspiciously.

The culture of public hearings, on the other hand, often is about authority. An argument made from published studies by a person not directly involved in the research is actually providing hearsay.[4] The legal/procedural ethos places great emphasis on eye witnesses, and cross-examination. If the earlier researchers whose work I drew upon for my testimony can’t be cross-examined, well, as the hearing examiner stated in response to objections, the council would consider my testimony “for what it’s worth.”

In summary there is little opportunity to criticize work the applicant does  despite its obvious biases or mistakes. Work done by agency advisors is well insulated from criticism. There is nothing like regulatory Daubert in the Administrative Procedures Act.[5]

The Environment

Nothing seems more misplaced than the belief, amplified by the wind energy developers themselves, that wind energy is clean and non-polluting. Says one application,

“Wind power is a renewable and non-polluting source of electricity. It is clean energy that produces no emissions, which means it does not contribute to acid rain and snow, global climate change, smog, mercury contamination, water withdrawal, or particulate-related health effects.”

The emphasis is mine. This is only true with a very narrow view of the phrase “produces no emissions”. We all know that the steel towers, concrete foundations, plastic and glass blades, copper wound generators/alternators, uses of rare earth elements, and on and on, contain an enormous amount of embodied energy, almost all of which comes from coal, petroleum or natural gas, and carries a very large burden on the environment as well during operations and decommissioning. I can say no more than I wish this were more widely appreciated.[6] Moreover these projects present local environmental costs to wildlife and they utterly alter natural views. The reality of a large wind farm out west is shown in Figure 2. Wind turbines dominate the scene and produce a major visual focus from as far away as 18 miles depending on lighting. If a person hates red blinking light then they’ll find the night-time view worse.

Figure 2. Looking through the TB Flats Wind Energy plant in the Shirley Basin of Wyoming as it nears completion. More exist beyond the limit of resolution. Does this enhance the view?

Testimony about environmental harms and nuisances carry little weight with hearing officers because they defer to in-house advisors and even the applicant. They limit testimony severely and often for good reason.

Economics

Wind energy developers emphasize that they are coming with many economic benefits for a community. These benefits loom larger the more needy the local area. Indeed, as a Vermont wind energy opponent has noted they tend to target the poorest of counties.[7] The recently rejected Fountain wind energy project in Shasta County, California targeted one of California’s poorest counties,[8] and the two counties I focus on here are among the poorest in Wyoming.

In Wyoming, which has the reputation of a non-diverse economy, these developers offer their projects as an opportunity to escape from the boom-and-bust cycles of the commodities businesses. In fact, wind energy development doesn’t look much different in this regard.

They may claim they intend to maximize benefits to the local communities. Such statements clearly represent applicant bias as they conflict with the entire reason and purpose of a free enterprise firm which is to minimize costs, not to maximize benefits to vendors. Someone’s expectations are likely not to be met.

What supports the applicant’s economic analysis is an input/output model of the local and regional economy which might be augmented with a social accounting matrix, an I/O-SAM analysis. An input/output model predicts how spending in one industry affects others, and the SAM portion of the modeling accounts for personal spending. I will instead depend on some experience gained from wind energy projects in Colorado.

Benefits come in two forms; new tax revenue and more vigor to the private economy. The developers stress new tax revenue heavily. It is easier to estimate as there are only three sources to examine; sales/use taxes, ad valorem tax, and wind energy excise tax. Developers will often stress that impact assistance funds are available too. However, these are not a separate revenue source, but rather sales/use taxes that would have gone into the State general fund, but are redirected to the county. It’s just moving money from one pocket to another. I think people misunderstand this. They fail to see that it affects the general fund which bears on future funds available to these counties or other counties. That this is simply redirected money lies at the heart of current controversies over these funds being too generous and not well supervised.[9]

The long versus the short term

One hope about wind energy development is that it will add diversity to the economy and help arrest the boom-bust nature of being dependent on mineral commodities. Let’s look at the short term construction phase of a project–a hypothetical project of about 600MW nameplate capacity–and then the long term O&M phase.

A project of this size will first require materials. At least one-half are manufactured outside the area and represent no local earnings. A substantial fraction of the materials will be cement, aggregates, and water which might be locally sourced. This project will add about $30 million of sales/use taxes to the county over a two year span during which the counties would have collected $204 million anyway. So, there is a temporary 15% jump in local government revenues. In addition, during a two-year construction phase there is a need for perhaps 400 construction (direct) jobs, of which 90% are from out of state. These will go away leaving perhaps 30 permanent jobs. The construction period induces local jobs which occur in retail, insurance, recreation, restaurants and lodging. Modeling estimates of induced jobs are too optimistic for our local area. Experience suggests perhaps one-third as many, but the point is 90% of them go away as the project transitions to an O&M phase. I am not denigrating temporary economic benefits, but they couldn’t look more like a boom-and-bust cycle.

The long term benefits of this project to government agencies will be ad valorem (property) tax, some sales/use tax on supplies and equipment, a minor amount of annual leases on government property, and a wind energy excise tax. To the commercial economy it will be wages paid to personnel, materials and services, sales taxes on consumable or maintenance materials, and leases paid to landowners. There will be some induced job creation as well.

Additional ad valorem taxes amount to about $2.5 million per year. Sales/use taxes are just the county’s ordinary share on the O&M purchases of about $0.4 million per year. State wind energy generation tax revenues are presently set at $1.00 per MWhr but don’t become effective until a wind turbine has been in operation for three full years. This tax is split 40/60 between the State general fund and the county involved.[10]

Figure 3 shows O&M costs of running a facility of this size assuming $45,000 per MW of nameplate rating exclusive of taxes and land leases. Private earnings are much lower than costs because of “leakage” which occurs across the local/regional boundary.[11]  Most of the maintenance materials, for example, are not manufactured in the area and will be transported to the site from possibly far away. They may not even be warehoused locally. It’s ironic the extent to which this energy replacement for fossil fuels is going to depend on over-the-road transportation by diesel fuel for operation and maintenance. Earnings are limited by the current structure of the local economy which presents few opportunities to capture the O&M costs. To capture more would take investment by the private economy. I can’t say whether this investment would be wise, or if any local entities would view it so.

Land lease revenues are almost 100% leakage. These are not made to a great many landowners who are likely to spend money locally, but rather are extremely granular payments to people living beyond the local area. One project has only two landowners – the Federal government and someone who lives in a neighboring state. Another project lists five different landowners of which only one lives in the area. Lease payments are not likely to enter the local circulation of money.

Figure 3. The O&M costs are based on an NREL report for Rush Creek wind energy facility in Colorado using publicly available information augmented with some I/O modeling. Then I modified it using known local differences. The local earnings pertain to a time more than three years beyond start of operations when the wind excise tax begins.

Conclusions and suggestions

I will present a more complete list of recommendations at the end of Part II, but at this juncture a few interesting observations are apropos.

First, Figure 3 shows why local governments are so enthusiastic about these projects. A large proportion of local “earnings” pass to government agencies first and then to the public through government services. It looks like how foreign aid works, but we hope it works better.

Second, despite all the silly rhetoric to the contrary these projects offer a boom-and-bust character just like the industrial projects people currently blame for boom-and-bust cycles. People should brace themselves for a boom in years 2023-2025 as numerous projects are constructed, followed by a bust in years 2025-2028 as the induced economy shifts downward to a new equilibrium and before wind energy excise taxes fully arrive.

Third, despite talk of wind energy being an energy source of the future, what it more nearly resembles is ranching of beef cattle which epitomizes an energy source of the past. Ranching beef cattle gathers a low density recurring resource (sunlight and rain) over enormous tracts of land as food energy, while wind energy gathers a low density recurring wind resource over enormous tracts of land as electrical energy.

References:

  1. McCunney, Robert J. MD, MPH, et al, Wind Turbines and Health, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2014 – Volume 56 – Issue 11 – p e108-e130 (doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000313). This is a very detailed meta study which wind energy proponents cite approvingly, because it dismisses most claims of health injury. Yet actually it hurts their claims in the instance of noise and sleep disturbance being nuisances.
  2. These plans are always stamped by a Wyoming PE, who may or may not attend any of the hearings but whom I have never seen called as a witness.
  3. C.P. Snow, Rede lecture of 1959, and Cambridge press book (1965). While Snow’s thesis was originally about a failing of the British education system versus that of the Germans and Americans, the divide he spotlighted has now diffused more widely through all societies.
  4. Or at least the attorney from the wind energy applicant warned me he was going to object to my testimony as such. As an example about the divide between the two cultures, in rebuttal to my testimony summarizing all available research about wind energy impacts on pronghorn, a rancher stated that he observes pronghorn take shelter behind turbine towers in hail storms.
  5. Daubert refers to Federal Rule 702 pertaining to technical/scientific testimony, saying, in effect, that scientific testament has to meet the accepted standards of scientific method.
  6. One of the applicants in response to local concerns about decommissioning sent out a mailer stating that 90% of wind turbines could be recycled – implying that 90% would be. This is not how things work currently. Repowering old wind plants leads to lots of landfill.
  7. Jim Motavalli, The NIMBY Threat to Renewable Energy In Vermont, everyone loves clean energy—when it comes from someplace else, Sierra Club Magazine, Sep 20 2021
  8. Robert Bryce, Here’s The List Of 317 Wind Energy Rejections The Sierra Club Doesn’t Want You To See Forbes Business, Sep 26, 2021
  9. Recent legislative hearings raised both the issue of lowering the limit to 2.25%, and of auditing how the funds are spent in fact. One legislator suggested the funds could be spent on popcorn machines and no one would know. See “Lawmakers move to limit state aid to communities stressed by large construction”, by Dustin Bleizeffer, Wyofile, January 18, 2022
  10. Cooper McKim, Proposal To Raise Wind Tax Dies Again In Committee, Wyoming Public Radio, December 18, 2020 It is notable I think that when the legislature made an attempt to increase this tax two $2.00 per MWhr, the industry, through the American Wind Energy Association, lobbied hard against it.
  11. Jeremy Stefek, et al, Economic Impacts from Wind Energy in Colorado Case Study: Rush Creek Wind Farm, NREL report, 2019. I used many of the estimates and actual numbers from this report to produce Figure 3, while then making adjustments for local tax, population, and private economy structures. 
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Vuk
March 30, 2022 2:08 pm

Looks like one ‘bird’s chopper’ per inhabitant of the state. Some decades ago I drove trough Wyoming, along the way encountered about two or three vehicles and twice as many people/sarc
I’ve just checked Wiki, the state population is about same as Monte Negro (I’m native of) with a one+ gun/head in both.

Last edited 8 months ago by vuk
Derg
March 30, 2022 2:10 pm

“… or permitted to begin construction, some ten wind projects involving 613,000 acres (958 square miles)…”

😔

Bryan A
Reply to  Derg
March 30, 2022 4:24 pm

And with Nameplate of 6900 MW and a capacity factor of just over 30% will produce about the same amount of electricity as Diablo Canyon does on 12 acres

Bryan A
Reply to  Derg
March 30, 2022 8:00 pm

613,000 acres = 383,000 square city blocks
or 19-1/2 times the size of San Francisco
or 8.6 times the size of Fresno
or almost TWICE the size of Lost Angeles
or over THREE times the size of NYC
It’s a good thing Wyoming has so much open space for ultra low density energy production

Insufficiently Sensitive
March 30, 2022 2:15 pm

 Local engineers expect increasing demand for surveying and civil engineering services as do some construction services such as for porta-potties. 

Such services are a very small fraction of the bounteous plenty which flows from taxpayers to the rent-seeking owners and builders of the whirligigs.

Rob_Dawg
March 30, 2022 2:17 pm

Imagine the opposition to oil wells if they were 300 feet tall, emitted infrasound, and killed untold raptors, bats, et al.

MarkW
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
March 30, 2022 2:36 pm

And had no provision for removal once the wells were dry.

roaddog
Reply to  MarkW
March 30, 2022 5:41 pm

State law mandates that these farms be removed when the wind farms reach ‘end-of-life.’

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  roaddog
March 30, 2022 6:13 pm

And the bankrupt company will afford this? Not likely.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
March 31, 2022 2:12 am

Right, Cali has1000’s rotting away for decades.as ugly as they are worthless.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  roaddog
March 31, 2022 7:35 am

Right, in Wyoming they begin the removal process once these farms cease energy production for 12 months.

ColdH2O
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
March 30, 2022 3:29 pm

This scenario already exists. Hydroelectric dams and associated facilities are being ripped out because of adverse effects on fish populations. That form of electricity generation is considered unacceptable by the same folks that want these wind turbines. The proponents of wind turbines are totally blind to the impacts on wildlife.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  ColdH2O
March 31, 2022 10:09 am

Yes but it will be done at taxpayer expense, once again. The government largesse will benefit the wealthy, the price increases and cost of removal and disposal will be born by the taxpayers since the entities who put these worse-than-useless things up will be long dissolved before they have to perform demo and removal.

Tom Halla
March 30, 2022 2:26 pm

Given that legal/administrative process, it would appear that using the Environmental Impact Report process would be more useful to block bird killers.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 30, 2022 2:31 pm

What will occur in fact is that wind energy plants likely to kill eagles for example will simply obtain a takings permit. The Fish and Wildlife service does not oppose these projects with anything like the vigor of days gone by. The developers are loathe to install systems like bird radar.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kevin Kilty
griff
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 31, 2022 1:00 am

The eagle population of the USa is still increasing: the major threat to eagles is lead shot in carcasses.

The UK has strict planning rules regarding possible impact on birds, so turbines are NOT a problem for raptors – does Wyoming not have the same?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 7:45 am

I have an acquaintance who is retired from the Fish and Wildlife Service, but still tags and tracks eagles locally. He has studied birds for 40+ years anyway. He is an expert. He feels these huge windfarms in this region will cause “irreparable”, in his words, harm to wildlife.

Since he does census of birds he figures that the populations are exaggerated.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 9:37 am

Provide your sources for your data. Which breeds are still increasing? Where? (The UK is approximately the size of California.) Read the post to which you were responding – yes, the US has a system for protecting raptors, which has been corrupted.

archer
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
March 31, 2022 12:14 pm

WUWT has a strict policy against showing images of bare arses, so unfortunately griff can’t show his source at this time.

stinkerp
Reply to  griff
April 1, 2022 4:31 pm

Huh. I didn’t know there were still raptors in the UK besides owls and griffins.

Joel
March 30, 2022 2:39 pm

Regarding lease money paid to out of state residents. Doesn’t the state tax that?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Joel
March 30, 2022 2:43 pm

It sure will be taxed if they are residents of Colorado, say. However, Wyoming does not have an income tax, and as far as I know, there is no other pertinent tax.

Joel
March 30, 2022 2:41 pm

The biggest thing not mentioned was subsidies to the producers. Every place I know about with a lot of wind energy has higher electricity prices for well known reasons. Look at Oklahoma. Will this raise energy prices in Wyoming?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Joel
March 30, 2022 3:26 pm

Since most of the new projects tie into transmission systems that supply Wyoming utilities, I am affraid it will. I am thinking about a Part III to this series to explain several concerns I have about energy prices and reliability.

Ron Long
March 30, 2022 2:51 pm

Good luck with permitting new bird choppers. I managed an in-situ leach uranium exploration project just NE of Casper, Wyoming (I’ve commented on dead birds under the windmills here several times). It turns out SE Wyoming has an energy concentration, in that as I stood on our project I could see windmills above the ground, an old coal mine at the surface, in-situ uranium leach pumps nearby, and deeper oil wells pumping away.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ron Long
March 30, 2022 3:27 pm

And solar panels eventually looking like a lake in the desert not too far away as well.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kevin Kilty
griff
Reply to  Ron Long
March 31, 2022 1:01 am

And only the turbines spoil the view?

Coach Springer
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 5:21 am

Driving throughout the West, I would say yes, pretty much.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 7:41 am

I usually don’t respond to you, Mr. G, but the turbines are tall and are a major visual focus from about 15-18 miles way depending on lighting. Coal mines in Wyoming have a couple of loading structures, probably one-fourth as tall. The mine itself is hardly visible until you are next to it, and consists of a narrow scar moving across the ground being reclaimed as it is mined. Profitable mining involves moving the least amount of earth the shortest distance — not making a mess in other words.

Ron Long
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 12:57 pm

Yes, griff, because they put them along the crest of ridges, where the wind speeds up, and the raptors like to ride the wave watching for food. Guess what happens?

Mac
March 30, 2022 2:59 pm

I would like to see some of our federal congresscritters sit down in front of congress critters either senate or house members and dissect each component of a windmill and how each component is manufactured sourced etc. That would include the concrete base and how it is made and poured, the steel supports and the necessary materials and processes to make the steel, the windmill housing and the materials needed to make the housing, the acquisition of the copper, rare earth minerals and how many tons of earth must be mined, processed and where these materials are sourced (country) even the things like the ball bearings. The blades are also a huge cost consideration and are carbon fiber; question how are they made?Then, the costs of transporting all the materials to the site including man hours of labor, fuel costs, types of equipment to transport the materials including any road building. Also the costs of transmission lines, labor for excavating and laying of the transmission lines in addition to the costs of the lines themselves. Also costs for connection to the grid etc. I’ve probably forgotten some things. Then compare costs to conventional fossil fuel sources such as gas, and coal.

Sommer
Reply to  Mac
March 30, 2022 3:17 pm

Great idea Mac. There are still people who repeat the line that this is ‘free energy’,so obviously they need to be educated with a real cost/benefit analysis.

Dennis
Reply to  Sommer
March 30, 2022 10:13 pm

I want to know if fertiliser is used for wind and solar farms?

/sarc.

4E Douglas
Reply to  Dennis
March 31, 2022 10:39 am

It’s green and called taxes.j

Megs
Reply to  Mac
March 30, 2022 6:20 pm

And while they’re at it they can keep a track of the C02 created during all of these processes. What you have described requires a massive amount of transport. It would put an end to the C02 farce once and for all. It’s nothing but a marketing tool to sell renewables. The truth is more CO2 is created as a direct result of the additional mining, the processing, shipping, manufacturing, transport, installation, decommissioning and all the other things you mentioned.

No one country has in reality reduced their C02 emissions as a result of rolling out wind and solar. They have simply exported it to China. But of course C02 doesn’t have atmospheric boundaries, does it?

It’s all about the money, and with money comes power. Intermittently.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Mac
March 31, 2022 9:40 am

Are the blades carbon fiber, or fiberglass?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
March 31, 2022 11:55 am

Fiber glass. No one could afford carbon fiber.

Don
Reply to  Mac
March 31, 2022 7:06 pm

The blades are not carbon fibre , much too expensive , they are made of something much worse glass fibre .

Mr.
March 30, 2022 3:00 pm

The problem with trying to use windmills for electricity generation and consumption is that the product can’t be stored for consumption as / when required.

Unlike water-pumping windmills whose product can be stored for consumption as & when required.

comment image

Didn’t this very basic flaw in the concept of using windmills for utility-scale electricity provision ever occur to the Klimate Kool-Aiders who promoted them?

Last edited 8 months ago by Mr.
AndyHce
Reply to  Mr.
March 30, 2022 4:37 pm

Storage isn’t “the problem” it is one of many problems and anyway, don’t you know, magic storage is just a few steps over the horizon. Everyone says so.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  AndyHce
March 30, 2022 9:45 pm

Love me some magic batteries

Praise the lord

Dennis
Reply to  Mr.
March 30, 2022 10:11 pm

Many Australian farm windmills like the one in the photograph operated for many decades or continue to operate today. I was told that the replacement electric solar powered pump system survives less than a decade in the typically hot in summer, often in drought, dry and dusty conditions prevailing.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Mr.
March 31, 2022 9:45 am

I attended a dinner party some years ago, and a group of us were standing on the patio enjoying the sun setting behind Santa Catalina island. We got to discussing wind energy, and someone (not me) brought up the issue of intermittency and storage. I was intrigued that everyone understood the problems, and noen of my friends were engineers. Just smart folks. When will the storage issue finally kill unreliable, weather-dependent energy?

Tom.1
March 30, 2022 3:20 pm

I lived in Wyoming for many years. I always remember driving by Medicine Bow and seeing the “research windmill” up there on the ridge. That it is a very windy place is something to which I can personally testify. I loved the wide-open spaces there and really the entire Wyoming experience. The picture of the beautiful landscape sprinkled with wind turbines is a bit depressing.

Derg
Reply to  Tom.1
March 30, 2022 4:39 pm

Very depressing. I have kin in ND and as a kid I could look for miles and see a farm or two. Now, windmill blight 😔

Gordon A. Dressler
March 30, 2022 4:19 pm

Just wondering when the above article’s Figure 2 (showing the massive Wyoming wind farm “as it nears completion”) will be revised to include the power substation(s) and large tower HV transmission lines to route that wind-generated electricity (when there is wind-generated electricity) to the US grid system.

Perhaps it’s time we updated the lyrics to the song America the Beautiful by replacing the last line in the stanza “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies . . . Above the fruited plain” with “Above the f****d-up plain”?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 30, 2022 4:31 pm

As you undoubtedly know, the transmission lines are tough on birds too.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Kevin kilty
March 31, 2022 6:55 am

Not to mention all the ozone greenhouse gas that is emitted from the high voltage wire supporting insulators when they “salt”-over (in Wyoming, it would be more proper to say dust-over) with attendant corona discharges.

Ever hear the buzzing and hissing from a HV transmission tower, even one in the lower voltage range that may be adjacent to a business or parking area? That noise is from the active the corona discharges.

And, yes, yes, I know the claims that ozone does have some beneficial effects, even in the lower troposphere.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
April 2, 2022 7:15 am

At several of the Nuclear power plants I worked at the workers parking lots were under the 530KV transmission lines. On fogy days the buzz was more of a sizzle and you would often feel tingling as you walked under the wires. The cables at the plant were closer to the ground as they were exiting the switchyard. I never used an umbrella under those wires when it was raining. You could definitely smell the Ozone!

bill
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 31, 2022 10:13 am

I have never seen HV transmission lines connect to any wind farm. The wind farms never produce that much electricity.
.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  bill
March 31, 2022 12:12 pm

Well, I guess that depends on what parts of the USA you have seen.

See the wind farm schematic with transmission lines of 110 KV, 220 KV and 750 KV indicated on the left side of the attached image
(source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/System-topology-of-a-wind-farm-The-long-transmission-line-and-lines-inside-wind-turbine_fig1_333438827

And see the power transformer substation with outgoing HV transmission lines on the right side of the attached image (source: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-wind-turbines-and-electric-transmission-lines-located-on-farmland-30185250.html )

Composite_Image_for_WUWT.jpg
roaddog
March 30, 2022 5:43 pm

They have certainly destroyed the views along I80 West of Cheyenne. This is disastrous.

joe x
Reply to  roaddog
March 31, 2022 5:12 am

here too in michigan. take a drive north on us127 just north of st johns all the way past mt pleasant. it is sickening what the the climate jackals have done to my state.

Capture.JPG
Kevin kilty
Reply to  roaddog
March 31, 2022 8:09 am

By the time the currently permitted wind energy plants are built there won’t be a view of distant country without wind turbines impeding the landscape for about 180 miles along I-80. Halfway across the state. It will be truly a wonder.

Surrr
March 30, 2022 6:01 pm

The mess that the GREENS, ALP, DEMOCRATS, and all other left-wing Western governments are going to leave the next generations is going to be the worst environmental disaster bar non. This will be the final nail in the coffin for the West. Welcome to your communistic dictatorships world kids, don’t complain we didn’t warn you school kid strikers. Imagine a world ruled by a future Putin, Xiping. Enjoy your renewables energy future kids, cause you’re going to need it, lol.

Dennis
Reply to  Surrr
March 30, 2022 10:06 pm

It’s not only young children, recently a thirty something years old lawyer who is employed by a large city firm told me that closing down a coal fired power station was not worth worrying about, it will be replaced with a big battery.

And she can’t wait to buy an EV.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dennis
Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Dennis
March 31, 2022 4:36 am

I sure she took many STEM courses on her way to being a lawyer.

Bill Rocks
March 30, 2022 7:51 pm

The TB Flats Wind Energy plant in the Shirley Basin of Wyoming makes me sad. Such a shame for “so little” gain. 

John Pickens
March 30, 2022 9:31 pm

Now that these huge Wyoming wind farms are near completion, the Wyoming legislature needs to pass the following legislation:

For any future wind turbine installation to be approved, it must utilize solely the energy produced by existing wind and solar facilities in the state to produce the entirety of the new wind turbines. For any components unable to be produced locally, each component will need an audited statement of energy content, and an equivalent electricity quantity will be debited from the new facility’s energy balance account. When operation of the new facility commences, all electricity produced will be provided for free until the energy balance account deficit is paid off.

This would maximize the benefit to the Wyoming economy, or demonstrate the futility of wind farms when it is seen that they cannot produce enough energy to reproduce themselves and nobody builds any more of them.

Bryan A
Reply to  John Pickens
March 30, 2022 10:08 pm

Personally I also like the inclusion of a requirement that the wind farm DELIVER nameplate capacity as a guarantee of production for the proper planning of energy mix within the state. Deliver RELIABILITY as part of their contract. A facility that promises 6900MW of generation should be required to deliver within 90% of that 24/7/365 even if that means supplying their own back-up generation on site

daniel houck
Reply to  John Pickens
April 1, 2022 7:08 pm

I was wondering about this “reproduce” claim and went on an internet hunt. My results so far: they do in fact produce enough energy to “reproduce”. A recent and thorough study puts the number at about 6 years. Sadly, the study is pay-walled. I did a crunch of some of the major components (steel, concrete, …) and find the 6-year number plausible. When I have time I’ll fork over the $35 for the study and do a closer look. Note: do not be fooled by the “payback” timeframe cited by the wind industry, it is not the same thing as energy-to-reproduce.

Bryan A
March 30, 2022 10:02 pm

Way out west, they’ve got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and
They call the wind Renewable
Oh now, Renewables blow the stars around
And send the clouds a-flying
Renewables make the Infra-sounds
All Raptors are a dyin’

Renewable, Renewables
They call the wind Renewable

griff
March 31, 2022 12:59 am

Does this enhance the view, one caption asks… is there anyone out there to look at it?

and those cows in the headline photo sure look bothered by the infrasound…

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 6:58 am

griff,

I guess you, of all people, are the one best suited to read emotions off cow faces or cow postures.

Thank you for your input.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 7:53 am

I hate to label folks, but you are so ignorant that it is difficult not to apply one.

As I will state in Part II tourists travel on the ground from home to destination and they will choose routes based on view. Surveys have shown people rank “natural scenes” highest of all categories on surface trips. So, a scene like the one you are “commenting” on is not highly ranked. Hunting and fishing, alone, are a quarter of a billion dollar per year business in Wyoming — hunters desire natural scenery.

Nobody mentioned infrasound but you, you noisy thing.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kevin Kilty
ih_fan
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 12:03 pm

and those cows in the headline photo sure look bothered by the infrasound

It tenderizes the meat. Corn fed and raised in an infrasound environment. Yum!

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 2:17 pm

And the Turbine Blades don’t appear to be turning either do they?
Many things can be told by a Still Picture but many others can’t.

Matthew R Epp
Reply to  griff
March 31, 2022 2:28 pm

Griff, you are the poster child for the meme about “people mouthing off behind screens because if they said it in person they would get their @$$ kicked”!!!
These wind mills are a “F-ING” eyesore!!!! Those D@MN red lights destroy the clear, beautiful starry nights we used to enjoy.
I’m no longer a resident, but still hate seeing these virtue signaling, quisinarts of the sky destroy birds, and spoil a beautiful view of the wide open expanse that makes Wyoming unique and beautiful.
If you’ve never been to Wyoming, you have no idea how incredible it feels to be in the middle of nowhere. Feeling the wind blow across you face while the suns warmth penetrates deep into your bones. See horizontal snow, whiteout the road and landscapeall around you, knowing there isn’ta shelter or even another soul for 10s of miles in any direction. Watching the clouds boil in the sky as a thunderstorm builds, or see nothing but the horizon on a cloudless day. See a herd of antelope casually walk then suddenly bolt into a run at the scent of a predator. See and hear an elk bugle in a frosty mountain Meadow morning.
Yes some say it is desolate and windy, but to the many who call it home is a paradise. It’s one of ther few places left where there’s more land than people. Where you get away from any and everyone, rejuvenating your soul and where you can really feel the spirit of the west.
If you visit, remember this. Spoiler alert:
As a general rule, people from Jackson, WY, aka Jackson Hole, are NOT Wyoming people, so don’t think for a minute they represent the views of a typical Wyomingite.

garboard
March 31, 2022 3:45 am

i’ve never seen anything about the effects of lightning strikes on wind turbines . anybody know .? must pretty much destroy one , i would think . those look like beautiful lightning targets . if one turbine w/ underground wires is destroyed are others disabled ?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  garboard
March 31, 2022 5:13 pm

The blades contain a substantial grounding conductor to take a lightning strike to ground safely. I do not know of any statistics about how often these fail and a blade has to be replaced.

VOWG
March 31, 2022 5:35 am

I find it nothing short of amazing that people still think wind turbines and solar panels are valid ways to generate electricity.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  VOWG
April 2, 2022 2:13 pm

Well, they are indeed valid ways to generate electricity . . . just not smart or economical ways to do such.

c1ue
March 31, 2022 6:50 am

I think it is even worse than what is described above, and elsewhere.
I drove through Altamont pass pretty regularly.
I have noticed that the windmills there have been changing regularly.
There used to be a lot of small windmills, now there are a handful of really huge ones.
It has definitely not been 20 years since the small windmills were there – so it seems likely the supposed 20 year lifetime of the windmills is also nonsense.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  c1ue
March 31, 2022 7:56 am

The carnage at Altamont Pass has finally prompted the Audubon Society to finally sue a wind plant operator.

Joe Campbell
March 31, 2022 12:16 pm

Very informative article. Thanks…

Matthew R Epp
March 31, 2022 2:01 pm

They are a “F-ING” eyesore!!!! Those D@MN red lights destroy the clear, beautiful starry nights we used to enjoy.
I’m no longer a resident, but still hate seeing these virtue signaling, quisinarys of the sky destroy birds, and despair the views.

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