Interior Department Approves Construction of Controversial Offshore Wind Farm (in Massachusetts)
Guest blog note by Greg Staff
I just love that Ken Salazar has approved a monstrous financial and environmental boondoggle, as reported here:
This is really the Perfect Storm, pitting Kennedys and other Democrats against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Obama and their fairy tales of cheap, plentiful, pollution-free energy. Every liberal group in Massachusetts seems to either hate it or love it, so republicans get a free ride.
Per Fox news, Salazar said the decision marks a “new direction in our nation’s energy future,” claiming the wind farm will be “one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation,” cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually.
So let’s go through the numbers and see what a great deal this really is for Massachusetts.
Once again, liberal enviro-fascists use the “big number” ploy to try and convince us that this is worthwhile. But, a US Energy Information Administration report cited here http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/excel/tbl_statetotal.xls shows that for the five year period ending in 2007, Massachusetts averaged annual CO2 emissions of 81.9 million metric tons (equivalent to about 90.1 million USA or “short” tons.) Therefore, if fully utilized (an impossibility, by the way), the 468MW, $1 billion project will cut Massachusetts’ CO2 emissions by less than 1%.
And guess what – it won’t prevent the need for a conventional power plant, because when the wind doesn’t blow, the power is still needed by consumers. Yes it will reduce emissions - slightly - but it will not reduce the need for a conventional power plant as back-up. So essentially they must build two plants when they could build just one. There’s brainpower at work - you betcha!!
And how about that $1 billion dollar price tag?? It is almost certainly heavily underestimated. Here’s some discouraging words from Shell as they pulled out of an offshore wind venture near Britain last year: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&refer=&sid=alnc6d8ZA0oE. The salient quote: “It’s been more difficult to build offshore projects than everyone thought,'’ said Goeran Lundgren, head of Nordic power generation at Stockholm-based Vattenfall AB, which has put a 640-megawatt wind farm in the Baltic Sea on hold." Further on in the article it quotes a price tag of $3.45 million per installed megawatt, not the $2.1 million quoted above ($1 billion/468 MW). Certainly the $1 billion dollar price tag is a lowball number. (Does that include power lines to shore?? Right-of-way costs once the lines are onshore?) Finally, has anyone really publicized the amount of subsea trenching that will be required to install saltwater-compatible 5 MW electric cable from each of the 130 turbines to a central corridor, and then bring that electric cabling to shore??
Also, this report http://www.crai.com/uploadedFiles/Publications/analysis-of-the-impact-of-cape-wind-on-new-england-energy-prices.pdf?n=944 was cited by Fox News in the above cited article as “suggesting” that the wind project would save $4.68 billion dollars in utility costs over 25 years. The report was commissioned by supporters of the project. The report assumes that because the wind farm will add to the supply of energy in New England, and since “the variable operating cost of wind turbine generators is almost zero, …electricity from Cape Wind will be offered at the bottom of the regional supply stack [i.e., allegedly very cheaply] in every hour it is available,” the net effect will be to lower the cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity. That’s right, they have assumed that because “variable” operating cost is almost zero, the rate will be lower. However, nowhere is it mentioned how the utility is expected to recoup its investment! Investment recovery will have to be built into the rate. Also, wind is given a “forced” advantage because they assume a “Federal greenhouse gas program [will be] in place with prices of $30/ton of carbon dioxide in 2013, escalating by 2030 to $60/ton." (Don’t fault the report authors – they were undoubtedly given the parameters by those who support the project.)
If this is such a good deal for the people of Massachusetts, then I implore them to have Cape Wind build it without the federal, state, and local government incentives that are listed here: http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?re=1&ee=0&spv=0&st=0&srp=1&state=MA and without the $30/ton (escalating) carbon tax. Also, someone needs to explain why this project does not have to recoup capital costs.
This facility will be an albatross on the shoulders of the people of Massachusetts and is a veritable poster child for how government intervention vis a vis “incentives” can make something horribly impractical appear, on the surface, to be viable.
Finally, I am glad it’s going to be in Massachusetts, Scott Brown’s presence notwithstanding. They deserve it.
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