Wind Turbines Out West, Epilogue

Figure 1. The site of the recently approved Rail Tie wind project which will cover 41 square miles of this mountain terrain. The foreground mountains are part of the Laramie range in southern Wyoming. The distant snow covered peaks are Rocky Mountain Park and the Never Summer range in Colorado. This is one of the most scenic views along I-80 in southeastern Wyoming. Soon it will be populated by 500MW of 600 foot-tall wind turbines. The ranch steads in the foreground provide a reason for proponents to say this is an already altered viewshed suitable for industrial development.

Wind Turbines Out West, Epilogue

Kevin Kilty

Parts I and II of my Wind Turbines Out West essays didn’t exhaust this topic completely. In the meantime, some interesting developments relating to the topic have appeared. So, a closing essay seems appropriate. The structure of this final part in the series is to summarize claims made by wind turbine developers and which their proponents then repeat.

Claim:  These projects bring prosperity, or at least good paying jobs and tax revenue.

I explained in Part I of this series that most rural locations in the West do not possess the economic infrastructure to gain much from these projects. The construction crews are transient and reside elsewhere. The manufacturing is elsewhere. There isn’t a pressing need for local warehousing of parts or supplies. There will be a few technicians and their families who add to the local population, but they will be few. On the positive side there will be new tax revenues but these benefits will be apportioned with politics in mind. Who knows how this will play out. In brief, I know of no prosperous communities built on wind turbine plants, but there are plenty built by fossil fuels and mines (Ref: Gillette, Newcastle, Casper, Cody, Wyoming)

Claim: These renewable energy plants are part of a new clean energy system that is badly needed to forestall climate change.

There is no point belaboring this fairy tale at WUWT. The idea that wind and solar are “clean energy” is based on a shell game where CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts are shifted from the U.S. to developing countries. Perhaps people will come to realize that the radiation impact of CO2 is not as large as the IPCC claim, or that adaptation to what harms might occur will be far less expensive than the proposed cures. Let’s hope that reason eventually prevails. And soon.

Claim: These projects present no risk to birds.

In Part Il of my series I alluded to evidence that not only are birds at risk from large wind turbine plants, but showed evidence as well that they alter the behavior of ungulates. As if on cue, right after Part ll appeared there was news of a large fine being assessed against ESI Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy LLC, for the illegal taking of eagles at wind plants they operate across the country. Several of these plants are located in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. There was coverage of this at WUWT here and here. ESI has admitted to the charges made in the complaint and have agreed to the penalties imposed in the settlement; so there is not much argument that these charges are unproven. Let’s summarize from Appendix A of the complaint.[1] In the bold text which follows I will summarize what the complaint has to say with regard to the Roundhouse wind plant (RRE) which abuts the recently approved Rail Tie plant but this summary applies widely to ESI operations, and others.

At several facilities, or facilities of subsidiaries of ESI, in Wyoming (including Roundhouse Renewable Energy, RRE, in southeastern Wyoming) and New Mexico, ESI or its affiliates knew that there was a high probability of eagle deaths through work done by a consultant to the company and through meetings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Although RRE followed recommendations relating to the siting of some wind turbines, USFWS again stated that the project was predicted to take eagles even if all USFWS recommendations were implemented, and recommended that ESI seek an Eagle Takings Permit (ETP). At least two officers of ESI were aware of the communications in 2019 with USFWS about risks to eagles from the Roundhouse project.

In representations it made to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council (WISC) RRE had proved that its project would not pose a threat of serious injury to the environment and was granted a permit by WISC partially on that basis.

This occurred in more than just a couple of isolated instances. ESI adopted a nationwide posture of not applying for eagle take permits and at no time did ESI or any of its subsidiaries or affiliated companies or their personnel or agents apply for or obtain any eagle take permit authorizing the killing or wounding of any eagles relating to any of its wind power facilities.

This posture that NextEra’s subsidiaries and affiliates followed may have resulted from a general belief that their own experts knew better despite contrary evidence. Alternatively this strategy might have resulted from a cost/benefit calculation in which the eagles themselves would be employed to prove the truth of the matter. I estimate that obtaining ETPs for all projects would have cost about $1,000,000 per project and taken two man-years each to obtain. It’s a cynical tactic, but despite the $8,000,000 fine and other restitution the settlement requires, ESI probably saved on development costs.

Something that should be apparent from this incident is the failure which results from relying on the biased representations made by applicants. It also underlines the failure which would result from pressuring regulatory agencies to consider politics in their assessments.[2] I have attended five public hearings on wind plant siting to this point, and at no time have I observed the claims of the applicant or government planning agencies weighed with anything like scientific rigor.

Claim: These projects are going to have a minimal impact on viewshed, environment and safety.

Perceptions are badly skewed here. I have already pointed out that there appears to be no recognition in the regulatory process, or in the public reporting of this process, that the applicant themselves, or those being paid by the applicant to provide testimony, or state regulatory agencies sensitive to politics will not provide unbiased input. The whole point of the Daubert Rule in Federal courts was meant to address this problem. The procedures of regulatory proceedings have nothing equivalent. At one time people might have depended on the local press to interview opponents and provide some balance. Yet, nowadays the local press generally can’t get off its duff. External actors, like Google, are now embedding their own journalists in local newspapers to provide bias they approve of.

One ISC commissioner asked me questions implying that he believes wind plants cannot impair views when Wyoming already has industrial plants along every road entering the state. I have no idea how someone living in Wyoming could hold such a belief. There are highways in the state which have mines or fuels processing plants along their course; this is true. But many, I would say most, have little or no industry along them that a traveler would notice. Moreover, the visual impact of a coal mine, or trona mine is compact and limited. These operations do not earn money by moving dirt needlessly or over long distances. As I replied to the commissioner, Wyoming may be widely populated with industrial sites, but a sprawling wind plant covering hundreds of square miles with 600 foot tall turbines placed two to the square mile is a different thing entirely.

While a few people try to make a case for wind turbines being graceful and enhancing a natural scene,[3] or they insist that 600 foot tall wind turbines won’t be noticed with the planned set back of several thousand feet, no one tries to argue that the natural scenery is not impacted by wind turbines. Yet, the proponents and applicants rationalize this. For example, people insist that a few ranch steads or a highway in a view like that in Figure 1 means the view is already spoiled. As another example, in their representations to Albany County Commissioners one wind energy developer has stated that the wind plant

“…will result in a certain amount of visible alteration to the existing viewshed surrounding the Project area. However, the turbines will be siting near existing wind farms, so the presence of additional turbines will not be unfamiliar to the area.”[4]

OK. If more and more wind turbines are erected, will they become increasingly familiar and thus increasingly acceptable? This argument rationalizes placing new wind turbines anywhere older wind turbines exist nearby. It is a camel’s nose under someone’s tent. It is tantamount to allowing that once begun there is no rational end to alterations of viewshed –  atop mountain ranges and along the foothills we go.

Finally, the technical analysis of viewshed impacts follows guidance in a 2007 NRC publication. However, this guidance did not consider impacts as they would occur in clear air of the West.[5]

Claim: Environmental organizations are on board

Who cares? The Audubon Society was recently prodded into suing wind energy companies but it took the carnage known as Altamont pass to stir them to life. The Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed all our local wind projects. The late Dwayne Keown,[6] an emeritus professor of Science Education from the University of Wyoming, scorched the Sierra Club for their environmental indifference in endorsing the Rail Tie project in a public meeting in June 2021. I enjoyed being a witness to it.

As an environmental advocate our Sierra Club chapter would do better work to simply remain inert. Their efforts apparently aim to sacrifice most of Wyoming to keep these projects away from the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone areas. If some environmental group supports renewable energy, pay no attention. They are hopelessly conflicted.

Claim: The Electrical energy generated will add to local supplies and make energy more secure and cheaper

There is no empirical evidence that adding renewable energy lowers cost to consumers but there is growing concern about the perils of adding renewable energy into existing grids.[7] In Part I of this series I showed data suggesting that O&M costs for wind plants in the West run around $0.02 per kilowatt-hour each year, and first costs to develop a project range between $0.018 and $0.024 per kW-hr over a 20 year life ($1,100 to $1,500 per kW nameplate at 35% capacity factor without discounting).[8] Thus, costs are perilously close to average power purchase agreements (PPA) which are now around $0.04 per kW-hr.[9] This seems to explain the business model of developing a wind plant and then unloading it on a utility, which can turn to a public service commission and ask for a needed rate of return.

Does such an arrangement imperil the utilities who end up owning these plants or the rate payers who are expected to pay for this generation? Yes. Utilities who end up owning such resources often find many expensive problems. They encounter complaints. As part of its public input process I wrote to the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) in May of 2021 to ask for details about an item that appeared in the Federal Register regarding the connection of the Rail Tie wind plant to WAPA transmission lines. I may as well just quote myself.[10]

“My sixth concern is not with the EIS per se, but the impact the use of power generation at Rail Tie may have on the electrical grid. In the Federal register from 2019 there is this claim made by WAPA:

 “Preliminary studies indicate that the power system can accommodate the proposed interconnection without negatively affecting system reliability or power deliveries to existing customers. The transmission system may require network and/or transmission system upgrades as determined in the final studies.”

So far I have seen nothing about these promised studies, and don’t even know what the preliminary studies addressed. WAPA intends to use power generated in this project to replace power from the Hayden generating station. This means that non-dispatchable power is replacing dispatchable power. If the recent problems in Texas, Germany, California, and the State of South Australia tell us anything, it is that a grid having too much non-dispatchable power is undesirable in the extreme. Now, the interesting question is how much is too much? WAPA claims to have done some preliminary analysis in the above statement, which I presume would address just these issues, and concluded that they envisage no problem. Yet there are no details available about this analysis, and no way to independently review this claim. I would expect to see several reasonable scenarios by WAPA that demonstrate what their dispatchable reserve margin is in these cases.”

WAPA answered by stating they had “…completed a System Impact Study that details the requirements for the requested interconnection and associated system upgrades (WAPA 2020a). WAPA’s purpose and need is to consider and respond to the request for an interconnection agreement in accordance with the agency’s Tariff and the Federal Power Act, as amended (see section 1.1, “Western Area Power Administration’s Purpose, Need, and Decision”).”

This side-stepped my question. They appear to analyze only what equipment is required to allow the Rail Tie plant a connection to the transmission lines. This is absolutely necessary, but not sufficient. According to Section 1.1, WAPA offers capacity on its transmission system to deliver electricity when capacity is available. The Tariff contains terms for processing requests for the interconnection of generation facilities to WAPA’s transmission system and also identifying system upgrades or additions necessary to accommodate interconnection of the Project.

However, section 1.1 also states that “…In reviewing interconnection requests and making its decision, WAPA must ensure that existing reliability and service are not degraded….” Moreover the WAPA mission statement reads.

“Safely provide reliable, cost-based hydropower and transmission to our customers and the communities we serve.”

Where is there substantiation of having considered these visions and mandates successfully? This issue is not restricted just to WAPA but extends into any electrical energy network (grid in the common parlance) in North America. In particular, Rocky Mountain Power who supply energy to customers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, are sponsoring about 3,500MW (nameplate) of the new wind plants we have permitted in southeastern Wyoming. According to Rocky Mountain Power itself, their 2021 capacity resource mix amounts to 15,550MW including 64% which is dispatchable.[11]  By 2030 they plan to have 22,815 MW of system capacity, but only 42% is now dispatchable. Western networks are small and thus easily destabilized by modest additions of non-dispatchable generators. Of course these grids can call upon neighboring grids to transfer energy for support, but how much reserve is available, and under what circumstances? Moreover, there are vague references to some pumped hydro storage and batteries, but it all sounds like brave talk. It sounds ominous. Where is the evidence of system reliability after these alterations?

In an almost prescient article in The Houston Chronicle from 2020, [12] the Honorable Jason Isaac, former U.S. Representative from Texas, pointed out that ERCOT was using an annual average capacity factor from wind and solar plants to calculate its summer reserves of power. But summer capacity factors anywhere in North America are below annual averages, and so what appeared to be comfortable reserves of 19.6% for peak summer demand in 2019, were in fact only 8.6% – most of the reserves were phantom.  In February 2021 what we learned was that non-dispatchable energy sources had produced an even more dire deficiency of winter-time reserves; something that ERCOT had not considered. What we learned in that fiasco, the hard way, is that what matters is not reserves calculated from average capacity factors, but what energy reserves a system can call upon and then actually guarantee to deliver to a customer at any time of year. One would not think that such a distinction would need to be articulated, but one would be wrong in such thinking. It needs to be explained widely and often.

What is now occurring is that homeowners, and probably businesses too, are installing on-site electrical generation backup, much of which depends on natural gas to operate. This could proceed so far as to cause a shortage of deliverable natural gas during an unusual, but not unexpected, becalmed cold spell in some future winter. I expect trouble out west before 2030.



[2]-I have written in Part II about state agencies being pressured to not push back hard on wind energy development.

[3]-Dan Litchfield, a senior manager at Invenergy, “one of the world’s largest wind-energy developers,” indicates that “A lot of people tell me they like the look of wind turbines,” he added. “They find them graceful.” Quoted in this WUWT article.

[4]-Quotation is from page 499 of the agenda for Albany County Commissioner’s meeting of November 10, 2021.

[5]-Viewshed analysis employed: Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects developed by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects.(2007) However, a more recent and more pertinent study made explicitly in Wyoming and Colorado suggests much greater impact in the clear air of Western locations. See: Robert G. Sullivan, et  al, Wind Turbine Visibility and Visual Impact Threshold Distances in Western Landscapes, Environmental Science Division Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL (2012) found online.

[6]-Dwayne Keown, obituary.

[7]-Note this and this. Two recent WUWT news items.

[8]-Or what is equivalent, a calculation made at a discount rate of 0%.

[9]-solar and wind combined average PPA of $36.30 per MW-hr in early 2022 according to Level Ten Energy.


[11]-See On what basis they calculate system capacity is not explained. One would hope it is not nameplate rating or even annual capacity factors for wind and solar. The question needs to be addressed by a Public Service Commission. An even more ominous graph is found on the website of the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp, which shows system wide CO2 emissions declining to 0% by 2048.

[12]-”ERCOT’s phantom reserves spell trouble for summertime,” the honorable Jason Isaac, July 8, 2020 Houston Chronicle.

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Ben Vorlich
May 14, 2022 2:46 am

Does fining a windfarm operator for killing raptors and protected birds and flying mammals magically stop them killing things in future?
Just wondering out loud.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
May 14, 2022 4:23 am

Why not fine them, heavily, for every single occasion? That might slow them down a bit.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
May 14, 2022 5:04 am

They must now obtain an eagle take permit. This will stipulate some of operations and perhaps some equipment additions or alterations. It will be an ongoing expense and may cut down the deaths and injuries. What can’t be done at this late stage is take the original advise of USFWS or consultants and not place turbines in certain locations or move the project to a more suitable spot.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 8:34 am

I think it needs to be emphasized that the fines were not for killing the eagles per se, it was for killing them without the required permits!

In other words, they got in trouble for stiffing the government out of some money, not for killing eagles.
Killing eagles is perfectly legal for owners of wind turbines, and the number they are allowed to kill was expanded by Obama just prior to his leaving office. The permitted number of kills is so high it might as well be infinite.
It is of passing curiosity that the same rule changes that gave nearly unlimited license for wind turbines to kill raptors and other rare and endangered birds, also strengthened penalties for anyone else who did so.
From what I have been able to learn, a regular person can be thrown into federal prison for simply picking up an eagle feather off of the ground. But wind turbines are allowed to slaughter them wholesale.

Just as long as the gubbmint gets to wet it’s beak, that is.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 8:46 am

They should be required to install a bird cage around each wind turbine, to keep the birds at a safe distance. Nuclear plants are required to install cooling towers, even when they are located on large bodies of water, to protect wildlife, so why are the “cuisinarts-of-the-air” not required to do the same thing?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Rxc
May 14, 2022 5:12 pm

That would never work.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Rxc
May 14, 2022 5:19 pm

Not sure I follow
Nukes have cooling towers to cool the nuclear plant, condense water and feed it back to be boiled again.

They aren’t there to protect wildlife, unless wild life means everything including us

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
May 15, 2022 8:24 am

I think he speaks to the notion that the cooling for plants near large water sources could use those water sources for cooling (thereby heating them up, with potential impact on aquatic life) instead of using cooling towers.

John I Reistroffer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
May 14, 2022 8:03 pm

Can’t they be arrested?

Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 2:53 am

Please check where I went wrong here:

UK cost for onshore wind = £2Million per MW nameplate
For a 500MWatt farm = £1 Billion
Onshore capacity when new = 25%
Onshore capacity after 15 years = 12.5% (typically when the turbine is scrapped)

Average power output over 15 yrs = 93.75MWatts (lets say 94)
Total power generated over 15yrs = 94x15x8500 = 2.24 Million Mega Watt Hours
2.25 Billion KiloWatt hours

So, for a windfarm cost of £1 Billion, isn’t that 44.5 pence per kWh?
By the time the average punter/consumer sees that and as per the ‘going rate’, it will be doubled

And assuming 15 years of borrowed money, taking interest/inflation of 5% = where prices double every 15 years, the finance charge goes out to £2 Billion

and windmills in that dry and thus very abrasive environment will be stalling after barely 10 years never mind 15 or the laughably claimed 20

I must have got something wrong there – Shirley, help me out

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 3:25 am

Dont think you got anything wrong there.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
May 14, 2022 11:59 am

94MW * 15yrs * 8500(sic) hours/yr doesn’t equal 2.24 million kWh. It’s 12 million MWh.

Besides, it’s not 8500, it’s 365.24 *24 = 8766.

Peta can’t even do simple arithmetic and 12 of you voted for this gross error.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 4:02 am

you might usefully add and contrast the costs for Hinkley Point nuclear and the proposed Sizewell C

Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 4:26 am

Yes. Don’t forget to mention all the costs of meeting the nit-picking nuisance legal business.

Reply to  Disputin
May 14, 2022 8:07 pm

And all of the residences and business that will be supplied high quality consistent electricity for many decades.

Unlike the land blighting, eyesight obscuring waste of valuable scarce minerals and metals in constructing short lived producers of unreliable inconsistent poor quality alleged renewable electricity.

John Hultquist
Reply to  ATheoK
May 14, 2022 8:55 pm

To reinforce your point, see the (purple) line for nuclear on this graph: BPA Balancing Authority Load and Total VER

Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 4:56 am

Which works all the time reliably…

Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 5:49 am

To reliably back up the INTERMITTENT renewable source(s).

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 7:33 am

All the UK’s Nuclear power stations will have been operating reliably for 40+ years when they’re closed. About three times as long as your average wind turbine.
What is the cost of unreliability and unpredictability?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 5:16 am

So you are proposing that wind plants can substitute for nuclear as baseload providers? Ha!

Nuclear realizes capacity factors of 95%. And, just like costs on any power bill, most of the cost is from external factors. In the case of nuclear, as disputin says below, one pays for the delays and legal gymnastics. Wind turbine applications sail through the permitting process out here — at least they do so far, but that may be coming to an end.

Don Perry
Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 6:02 am

Nuclear plants aren’t killing eagles and other birds and bats.

Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 6:12 am

the griffter is at it again… it looks like you’re not disagreeing with what Peta is claiming but appear to be saying that Hinkley Point or Sizewell C costs are worse…

griffter, please post the costs of Hinkley Point nuclear and proposed Sisewell C so you can prove your point since you’re making this claim

Last edited 1 year ago by goracle
Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  goracle
May 14, 2022 8:39 am

Let’s also keep in mind that a substantial percentage of the costs involved in building and operating nuclear plants has nothing to do with the plants themselves, but with the nearly infinite layers of regulations and red tape and NIMBY -type challenges to their construction, none of which have anything to do with what it costs for the materials and labor and operation of the plant.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  griff
May 14, 2022 7:25 am

The cleanest source of energy is nuclear. It’s also the most reliable.

Why do you hate the environment (cleanest), and modern society (reliable)?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 4:55 am

There’s the costs associated with decommissioning

Kevin kilty
Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 5:18 am

Put up as a bond in advance, but there is a lot of risk to whomever owns the decommissioning when it goes kaput, especially now with inflation running so high. Probably the taxpayer will have to pony up some.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 5:28 am

The taxpayers will be hit for all of it

I do want to be wrong

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 5:57 am

I noticed that the decrepit bird-killing eyesores along the highly visible Altamont Pass are being replaced. It might be instructive to study the decommissioning experience there. I wonder if these larger more efficient monstrosities will kill fewer raptors (because there are fewer left).

I-80 in Wyoming has fewer eyes on it.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Scissor
May 14, 2022 9:08 am

What is most shocking to me is how long the killing of golden eagles and other birds has been going on at Altamonte Pass.
I have recently found articles from the 1980s (!) detailing and decrying the slaughter at that location!

Decades and decades of needless death of those beautiful and important animals.
And for what?
For nothing!

IMO, the so-called environmental watchdog groups have completely sold out, and 100% abdicated on their stated reason for existing.

See here:
“Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half. The lethal turbines, numbering roughly 6,000, are arrayed across 50,000 acres of rolling hills in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties.
The APWRA, built in the 1980s, was one of the first wind energy sites in the U.S. At the time, no one knew how deadly the turbines could be for birds. Few would now deny, however, that Altamont Pass is probably the worst site ever chosen for a wind energy project. According to a 2004 California Energy Commission (CEC) report, as many as 380 Burrowing Owls (also a state-designated species of special concern), 300 Red-tailed Hawks, and 333 American Kestrels are killed every year. In all, as many as 4,700 birds die annually as a result of the wind turbines.”

Avian Mortality – Golden Gate Audubon Society

“The failure of wind power companies to address the high levels of bird kills at Altamont Pass has “delayed and even significantly contributed to blocking the development of some wind plants in the U.S.,” according to a 2001 report commissioned by the National Wind Coordinating Committee, an advocacy group funded by the wind power industry. According to a 2002 report by the California Energy Commission:1 “Public perception, state and federal protection laws, and potential fines and lawsuits have resulted in delays, modifications, and stoppages of new wind energy projects in California and other states. For example, Alameda County will not approve additional permit applications to increase current electrical production (~580 MW) at Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area until significant progress toward solving the bird fatality issue is demonstrated.” According to a 2002 report prepared for the Bonneville Power Administration:2 “Primarily due to concerns generated from observed raptor mortality at the Altamont Pass (CA) wind plant, one of the first commercial electricity generating wind plants in the U.S., new proposed wind projects both within and outside of California have received a great deal of scrutiny and environmental review…In the mid 1990’s, development of wind projects were delayed, sometimes to a point that the project was not developed, due in part to avian collision concerns.” According to a 2004 report by the California Energy Commission:3 “Two factors heighten the urgency and importance of resolving this issue. First, one goal of California’s renewable portfolio standard is meeting 20% of the State’s electricity needs through renewable energy sources by 2010. Second, Alameda County placed a moratorium on issuing permits to increase electrical production capacity in the APWRA beyond the existing 580 MW permitted capacity until there is demonstrable progress toward significantly reducing bird mortality…By identifying and implementing new methods and technologies to reduce or resolve bird mortality in the APWRA, power producers may be able to increase wind turbine electricity production at the site and apply the mortality-reduction methods at other sites around the state and country.” (emphasis mine)

“Geospatial analyses of δ2H values obtained from feathers showed that 25% of these APWRAkilled eagles were recent immigrants to the population, most from long distances away (>100 km). Data from nuclear genes indicated this subset of immigrant eagles was genetically similar to birds identified as locals from the δ2H data. Demographic models implied that in the face of this mortality, the apparent stability of the local Golden Eagle population was maintained by continental-scale immigration.”

“In 1984 the California Energy Commission said “many institutional, engineering, environmental and economic issues must be resolved before the industry is secure and its growth can be assured.” Though it was not clearly stated, the primary environmental issue alluded to was the extreme hazard that wind turbines posed to raptors.
Since the early 1980s, the industry has known there is no way its propeller-style turbines could ever be safe for raptors. With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at speeds up to 200 mph, it was impossible.”
Wind turbines kill up to 39 million birds a year! – CFACT

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 14, 2022 11:53 am

”… one goal of California’s renewable portfolio standard is meeting 20% of the State’s electricity needs through renewable energy sources by 2010″
So, by 2010, California was getting 20% of its electricity, continuously, 24/365, from renewable energy??? Or was the standard not met?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
May 14, 2022 4:52 pm

I am not sure.
It is possible that back then, hydro power was included in the renewable power category.
It should be.
Seems to me it is the most renewable of any power source.
It will never stop raining, and even concrete can be recycled.
There are some that point to silting as a reason to list it as not renewable, but people know how to dredge. Hydro dams can even be designed to basically self dredge the bottom of the reservoir. Another solution to silting is to build another dam further upstream.
Lake Meade collects very little silt due to the most of what is coming down the river is caught behind dams upstream.

Chris Foskett
Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 7:56 am

And what are the costs of decommissioning a wind farm?

Reply to  Chris Foskett
May 14, 2022 8:12 pm

And those decommissioning costs should include the entire removal of their concrete bases!

Along with the costs for recycling all metals and glass.

Last edited 1 year ago by ATheoK
Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 8:50 am

How do wind turbines dispose of the fiberglass blades, which do not last for the life of the site? And are they expected to remove, completely, the very karge concrete base? Or will it be reused?

Reply to  Rxc
May 14, 2022 8:14 pm

The local dump is where the fiberglass and other composites are dumped.

Climate believer
Reply to  Rxc
May 15, 2022 1:48 am

Oh you mean these oh so “green” concrete bases that I happened upon the other day au Havre in France, destined to be dropped off the coast into the sea sometime soon.

… yes concrete being the worlds 3rd largest emitter of CO²… so “green”!

Wind turbine bases.jpg
Kevin kilty
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 5:11 am

In my view, you got on the wrong track when you used pence. I am going to use the phrase common to investments — “Individual results may vary.” The costs I quote are actual figures for O&M and first costs of construction recently, and in the U.S. West. As you undoubtedly know, costs are rising rapidly and basic inputs like steel, concrete, plastics and eventually labor will rise too.

It’s anyones guess how the assumed lives of wind plants will pan out. We don’t have enough experience out here with actual operations going out to not much more than 15 years so far. But we generally do have a higher annual average capacity factor than 15% — perhaps 25% but too many people assume 35% or more.

As you also know, the commodity cost is only a fraction of what the customer pays. So the real costs on a power bill will include the system costs that intermittent generators impose.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kevin Kilty
Shanghai Dan
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 5:42 am

You forgot to include the cost of the gas peaker plants needed to backup the wind turbines, when they are not able to provide the needed amount of power.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Shanghai Dan
May 14, 2022 8:03 am

Those cannot be just “peaker plants” . . . they must be sized to backup the full nominal design output of any given number of wind turbine farms for cases where there is no wind passing them for days at a time.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 5:59 am

24 * 365.25 * 94 * 15
12,360,060 MWh

Are there still 240 pence in a pound?

Of course, that’s if you don’t care when you get your electricity. If it matters when you get your electricity, you have to add a lot of capital cost for whatever technology supplies the shortfall. Since there’s no viable storage technology, you also have to add the cost of fuel for the backup generators.

Reply to  commieBob
May 14, 2022 6:06 am

“ Are there still 240 pence in a pound?”

Not since grocer Heath decimalised it

Reply to  fretslider
May 14, 2022 6:37 am


For a 500MWatt farm = £1 Billion

That’s our wind farm that produces 94 MW averaged out over time.

£1,000,000,000 / 12,360,060 MWh = £83 / MWh = £0.083 / kWh = 8.34 pence per kWh

I think we have to give the devil his due. If you don’t care when you get your electricity, wind, at first glance, appears to be viable.

Since when we get our electricity matters a lot, the required infrastructure to produce a reliable supply pushes wind over into completely non-viable. EROEI.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  commieBob
May 14, 2022 5:09 pm

If they ever built enough turbines to produce a large percentage of the power the US needs, IOW enough for solar plus wind to replace FF, there would be so many of them, that every large bird and bat in the entire country, plus those that pass through, would become extinct.
I suspect as well that most people will find living near one to be unbearable.
It is also likely that they would then be too close together to avoid cannibalizing each other’s power.

As for cost, when one looks at what people pay for power, it is a fact that the more wind gets installed, the higher is the rate paid by the people who get the power from them.
And it is more than a little.
Germany has more than tripled what their consumers pay for power, and they have barely moved needle on CO2 production.
If one looks just at the US, the relationship holds: The more wind in the mix, the more a given ratepayer is charged per kWh.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 4:41 pm

I get 12.35E6MWh, which equates to GBP81.MWh or GBP0.081/kWh for GBP1E9 capital amortised over output. There would be other costs as well for the generation.

However the real cost of wind to the system is its intermittency not its cost to generate. It has a guaranteed output of precisely ZERO. The transmission system requires huge overbuild to cope with the low capacity factors. The grid has to be stabilised by high inertia generators, synchronous condensers or batteries.

Grid operators are trying to convince consumers that reliable power supply is inconsistent with modern generating systems – get used to it and accept that the power will sometimes be rationed. It has happened in South Africa for years but not due to unreliable wind and solar.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  Peta of Newark
May 14, 2022 5:25 pm

Grid-connected wind power generation fails due to intermittency and diffusivity – wind does not blow all the time, adequate electrical storage is impractical, and wind farms take up far too much land.

Competent scientists have known these facts for decades. In a written debate in 2002 sponsored by APEGA and co-authored on our side by Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Dr. Tim Patterson and me, we  correctly concluded:

“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
It is frustrating to have seen decades of wasteful, inefficient wind farms built, millions of birds killed and electricity costs skyrocket – all for NEGATIVE, HARMFUL environmental impacts!

“Cheap, abundant, reliable energy is the lifeblood of society”. It IS that simple.
Our society has fallen into the trap of letting idiot, corrupt politicians set energy policy. We have published against this climate-and-energy alarmist fraud since 2002 and we were correct – then and now. As we predicted, this is ending badly.

{I have been criticized for repeating this message. Frankly, I’m waiting for some of you guys to catch up.}   🙂

Jim Gorman
May 14, 2022 4:44 am

On the positive side there will be new tax revenues but these benefits will be apportioned with politics in mind.”

New tax revenues are business expenses that are ultimately paid by guess who? The common people who don’t profit from the windmills.

Taxes are always paid by the user. Why do you think “sales tax” is shown as a separate item on receipts?

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Jim Gorman
May 14, 2022 5:22 am

There are ad valorem taxes and in Wyoming a wind production tax of $1.00 per MWhr of energy reaching transmission lines. This really is new money to the communities involved, paid for by users of the energy most of whom will be in other places. However, it will be political decisions that determine how this is spent. Will it produce better services and maintain good quality infrstructure? Or will it lead to administrative bloat which just raises baseline costs?

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 16, 2022 2:17 pm

The ridiculous Biden administration is giving the state of Wyoming $25 million to build electric vehicle charging stations. That translates to subsidizing every electric car owner in Wyoming $55,000. Government has an infinite number of ways to waste tax money.

David Dibbell
May 14, 2022 4:48 am

Excellent article, Kevin Kilty. Please keep up the good work. As long as intermittent, non-dispatchable wind and solar developers are allowed to interconnect to the grid and inject power when it is available with no responsibility to provide any power at all when it is calm or dark, it will be parasitic to the system. Reliable producers are being starved of revenue, as they must be curtailed when it is windy and bright. The full system cost will skyrocket unless better thinking prevails – and soon, I hope.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  David Dibbell
May 14, 2022 5:27 am

Yes, it is very much parasitic. Why do the ISO and/or the regulators give the operators of these facilities such favorable dispatch terms, I.e., pay for energy when it’s available and no penalties for non-performance when it’s not available?

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 5:39 am


It is long past time for a rigorous demonstration of a renewable plus storage grid.

The metro DC area might be an excellent choice for the location.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 14, 2022 6:25 am

That would be within the PJM ISO, where as of 9 am this morning wind and solar are contributing a total of 1,050 MW vs. total load of 77,800 MW.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 6:42 am

That makes it difficult to see the “warts”.

Dominion would be my choice, because of their “love affair” with offshore wind and solar. 😉

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 14, 2022 7:32 am

Utilities would put a ham sandwich in rate base if they could get away with it or are forced to do so. I hope Gov. Youngkin’s administration throws a wet blanket on the renewable crap.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 8:17 am

Dominion’s plans for offshore wind don’t include any associated long-term storage, which would be one very large “ham sandwich”.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 10:13 am

Because the legislature has passed laws requiring them to do so.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  David Dibbell
May 14, 2022 6:33 am

Thanks for the kind words. When a person starts down the path of too many “renewables” there is a long list of other factors that now change. First, in addition to just building the wind turbines is the need for lord knows how much storage, and there is some amount of overbuilding of the system involved too, plus new transmission facilities. Out west our electrical systems are reliable to four nines (99.99%). That is a daunting goal to duplicate. Even more, all inputs to the system, procuring raw materials, its manufacture, transportation, labor, and so forth have to be supplied by this new system itself. How long does it take for an equilibrium among all these factors to take hold? And what is the ultimate cost of this new system?

More importantly, what are the opportunity costs of all this? If it turns out we gave up on many improvements to the human condition in order to spend money and effort on an expensive and unreliable power system, well that’s a bad trade isn’t it?

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 6:44 am

“Leave it in the ground” would strand approximately $60 trillion of fossil assets.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 14, 2022 7:19 am

I have a great story about the costs of “leave it in the ground” thinking which actually involves Wyoming.

Just after the first world war the price of radium rose hugely. I mean tens of millions of dollars per gram or some such. There was an old silver mine at Lusk, Wyoming in about the most unlikely place for a metals mine one could imagine. Someone noticed that the limestone on the waste dump had a yellow encrustment in its fractures, and recognized this was carnotite — a uranium ore containing a large fraction of radium. He purchased title to the dump and began shipping ore to Denver for refining. He made a lot of money on a few railcar loads. When the original owners of the dump found out what was up they sued to retrieve title to the dump. They got an injunction to stop all efforts at the dump. By the time the issue was all settled in 1926 or so, the rich radium ores of the Belgian Congo had been discovered and the price of radium declined to make the ores at Lusk worthless.

The state engineer referred to this episode as the most economically destructive litigation he’d ever seen — a huge opportunity cost. The whole dump could have been processed in a matter of months without the injunction.

By the way the waste from refining this and other ore in Denver ended up being dumped on South Broadway and eventually became another environmental problem in its own right some 60 years later.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 8:10 am

This is more than 3 years old, so the numbers are out of date and probably quite low relative to today’s value.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ed Reid
May 16, 2022 4:30 pm

And return humanity to the Stone Age.

Phillip Bratby
May 14, 2022 5:20 am

Well I for one have a gas-powered generator on standby..

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
May 14, 2022 5:46 am

I have considered it, but I am more concerned about natural gas supplies in the first place. We have periods out west where the weather is so extreme that natural gas has to be prioritized for residences. The insistence of the Maladministration in Washington that we abandon natural gas is based on infantile beliefs but if it came to pass a standby generator would be just about worthless.

I have also considered an external wood-fired boiler which would supply heat and domestic hot water. In a general bout of stupidity, such as no fossil fuels, it would be more useful than a standby generator.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 6:28 am

Still need to run the pumps and probably a refrigerator / freezer, as well, so a standby makes sense too.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 7:25 am

With a little bit of storage and some smart scheduling I think a few solar panels can probably provide what is needed here. I know that refrigerators need 600W+, but a modern refrigerator has a small duty cycle so slow charge of a capable marine battery can possibly handle this problem. One remaining problem is cooking.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 12:01 pm

Contingency planning is a useful and interesting exercise. Assuming my oil and propane tanks are topped up, we wouldn’t have much of a problem going off-grid for a few weeks, which is my outside estimate of how long it would take to restore utility power after a very major storm. However, if the wheels really fall off, it’ll obviously become a much bigger challenge.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
May 14, 2022 4:09 pm

I’ve been thru a few weeks of going off grid due to an early heavy snowfall. Had plenty of wood for heat, but no power for the water pump. Luckily the better half worked at the local hospital so we had access to the showers in the morgue. Got several 5 gal water cubes filled for daily needs, such as dish washing and toilet flushing. We’re finally getting a 1000 gal propane tank and generator, but will keep the 5 gal cubes filled, just in case…

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Kevin kilty
May 14, 2022 8:14 am

I have several bottles of LPG.

save energy
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
May 14, 2022 6:56 am

And me !!

May 14, 2022 6:17 am

Wind blows in the cities also. No effects on view sheds and little risk to eagles. Cities are the users, so no need for inter-connectors and long transmission lines (with losses).

Teacher, leave the West alone. (To borrow a line from Pink Floyd).

Reply to  Pflashgordon
May 14, 2022 6:43 am

What could go wrong?

Oh well, just a cost of doing business. Insurance will cover it.

Richard Page
Reply to  Pflashgordon
May 14, 2022 8:53 am

And that one only lasted 18 months.

May 14, 2022 6:30 am

🎶Money for nothin and the chicks for free… 🎼 (think Wind TIFs)

Gordon A. Dressler
May 14, 2022 7:57 am

Following the historical example of the US Endangered Species Act greatly delaying the building of the Tellico Dam to protect the endangered snail darter fish, might I suggest that this approach be used to call for rigorous EPA/US Fish and Wildlife Service examinations of the adverse impacts that large scale wind turbine farms—such as those discussed in the above article—might have on known endangered or threatened animal species in Wyoming.

— the endangered black-footed ferret
— the endangered Wyoming toad
— the threatened northern long-eared bat
— the threatened yellow-billed Western cuckoo
— the threatened grizzly bear
— the threatened Canada lynx
— (possibly) the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse
(Ref: )

Spinning wind turbine blades are known to be capable of killing bats and birds that fly into their envelope of operation.

Spinning wind turbine blades are known to emit a range of acoustic waves that might disturb animals, leading them to leave their current areas of habitation.

Spinning wind turbine blades are known to transmit low frequency vibrations, via their supporting tower, into the ground that, in turn (pardon the pun), might cause ground dwelling animals to leave their current areas of habitation.

In other words, the rule-of-law can sometimes be your friend.

May 14, 2022 10:06 am

“The idea that wind and solar are “clean energy” is based on a shell game where CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts are shifted from the U.S. to developing countries.”

This is the point, and makes sense in certain locations like the LA area and San Joaquin Valley in California. Note that it makes sense in terms of ground-level ozone (smog), a real local air quality issue, not CO2 (which, even if you drink the cool-aid, doesnt matter where it is emitted), and if you replace “developing countries” with “other states”. LADWP has long had an ownership stake in coal plants located at the four corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, an area that is in attainment with the ozone NAAQS and where PSD permitting is the only major air quality hurdle. Building the same plants in LA or the SJV would be flatly impossible because they are in extreme non-attainment of the ozone NAAQS and it would be essentially impossible to find the necessary offsets at a price that would make the electricity worth producing for sale.

May 14, 2022 11:09 am

Imported junkyards. Somebody is going to have a huge mess to clean up the result of greed and stupidity.

May 14, 2022 2:38 pm

This article makes so much sense, it is breathtaking. I think it is the answer to our dilemma. Two important points. Minimum dispatchable power and the difference between energy reserves calculated from average capacity factors and energy reserves a system can call upon and actually guarantee to deliver to a customer anytime of year.

My view is that every energy consuming area should have the right and duty to demand a minimum percent of dispatchable energy from those it purchases energy from. I have no idea what that minimum percent is but I’m sure the good people at WUWT do. Second make it the law that energy reserves must be guaranteed and deliverable at any time.

This is not rocket science it is common sense.

Paul Bahlin
May 14, 2022 3:43 pm

All electricity ends up as heat at some point in its consumption. You can think of solar farms as giant albedo disruptors converting radiant energy, that would be at least partially reflected away, into sensible heat energy. You can think of wind farms as giant kinetic energy converters that transform the kinetic forces that drive our weather into sensible heat.

Since nothing is free, it seems to me that the fanciful renewable urge is at best half baked and at worst counterproductive.

Reminds me of killing your babies in order to have more food to go around.

May 14, 2022 4:13 pm

What is now occurring is that homeowners, and probably businesses too, are installing on-site electrical generation backup, much of which depends on natural gas to operate. 

There is a feature of wind and solar that few people recognise. There is no benefit of scale with solar. There is little benefit of scale with wind but it is negated by the transmission costs – building transmission capacity to operate at low capacity factor is just wasting resources.

Ultimately the lowest cost electricity will be what you make yourself if you have the capital and siting that suits solar.

Anyone looking ahead for investment opportunities over a 20 year time frame should be considering their own off-grid electricity system as one of the options.

As pointed out in the article, there are substantial sunk costs in transmission and distribution that network providers get a guaranteed return. It is in their interest to extend networks because the guaranteed return is higher than their cost of capital – they are winners as long as they keep spending and consumers are stuck with that cost.

So going back to dispatchable central generation is not going to lower grid power costs – the high costs are baked in. Australia is already planning a dispatchable capacity charge that will be levied on consumers to keep fossil fuelled plants operational but not producing as well as an being extra incomet for batteries. Batteries in Australia already make more money out of FCAS payments for the stability service they provide than on the wholesale price arbitrage.

May 14, 2022 5:41 pm

If you want a sample of the problems the Australian Energy Market Operator faces hanging eastern Australia’s power grid together then bookmark these sites and drop in occasionally at different times and different days of the week-
AEMO | NEM data dashboard
Live Supply & Demand Widget, sponsored by RenewEconomy | (

Why are consumer prices rising you may well ask?
Electricity prices are spiking – here are some educated guesses as to why | RenewEconomy
Well SA consumer power bills are higher than the eastern States and that’s because the suppliers are having to factor in uncertainty with the cost of doing business. Something for easterners to look forward to as they build in more unreliables.

Robert of Texas
May 14, 2022 7:04 pm

We are getting daily warnings here in Texas to reduce our electrical load. All it would take now is the wind to go silent on some small percent of our installed wind generation and a grid goes down for entire towns and cities. Regulators just do not understand simple engineering.

Meanwhile, I have already installed my own emergency power generation using propane – not cheap but better than trying to survive 100+ degree temperatures and having to replace all refrigerated food stocks. And my extremely valuable pilsner beer.

No matter who you vote for, these unelected regulators just seem to survive the change like a bunch of cockroaches hidden in the walls.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
May 15, 2022 8:11 pm

Regulators just do not understand simple engineering.

If you’re ADHD the Australian Energy Market Operator would love to talk to you-
Morning volatility in South Australia on Wednesday 11th May 2022 – WattClarity

Meanwhile with Oz in Federal election mode and the polls showing the conservatives being outed there is a worse outcome than Labor. That’s the Greens and some Teal faux Greens holding the balance of power with Labor-
Adam Bandt outlines seven demands for Labor in Greens’ balance-of-power wishlist (
Like everywhere we’re already deep in the red with Covid helicopter money and in the absence of any political cohones to pay it back in real terms naturally inflation has to do the job.

Joel O'Bryan
May 14, 2022 8:08 pm

Not sure how Wyoming wind projects are made profitable for investors, but here in Texas, each multi-million dollar turbine is a property improvement that the tax appraisal district would slap huge property tax bill on each turbine installation were it not for application and approval of tax abatements by the county commissioners in a board vote.
I have ranch property in Brown County Texas. In surrounding counties around Brown County there are huge wind turbine farms that run for dozens of miles to the south and east. About 7-8 years ago a bunch of Brown County ranch owners formed a 501c3 to raise money and local support to lobby the commissioners not to approve the tax abatements the wind scammers would need. They essentially went the county commissioners meetings and vowed to see them all voted out of office at the election if they approved the tax abatements to allow the wind scammers to proceed with their candy offerings to property owners.
Brown County Texas sits as an example of how we can fight back against the renewable energy insanity.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 18, 2022 7:30 am

That is a good example, Joel. There are a few other things that can be done as well. Reasonable zoning (noise and visual nuisance specifically) in the unincorporated rural areas would help also. Here in Wyoming the bigger property owners would howl that it is a takings of a property right if you don’t let them take the leases being offered. But since these projects impact visual resources and quiet evenings, which don’t belong to anyone, the big land owners who lust for wind leases are simply assuming these assets for their own enrichment.

May 16, 2022 2:19 pm

Trona mines are invisible, and the worst visual impairment on the southern border is the wind farm that Excel Energy abandoned there and refuses to remove.

Thriving natural resource communities all over the West number in the dozens; notably Rock Springs, Tucson, Farmington, and Elko.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  roaddog
May 18, 2022 7:23 am

Although ExCel did remove Ponnaquin.

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