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Resource Documents: Economics (201 items)

RSSEconomics

Also see NWW "economics" FAQ

Unless indicated otherwise, documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are shared here to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate. • The copyrights reside with the sources indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations.


Date added:  October 14, 2019
Economics, Michigan, MinnesotaPrint storyE-mail story

Three estimates of decommissioning cost

Author:  Various

Brian R. Zelenak, Manager, Regulatory Administration, Xcel Energy, February 8, 2011 – re: Nobles Wind Energy Project, Minnesota, 1.5-MW turbines. [download]

A conservative estimate for a decommissioning expense is approximately four-hundred forty-five thousand dollars ($445,000) per turbine (2009 dollars).*

*Includes allowance for salvage value and based on total dismantling cost estimate for the project of 8.7% of the total plant balance of $510,965,406, equaling an estimated dismantling cost [of] $44.5 million or $445,000 per turbine. [NWW note: The Nobles project consists of 134 1.5-MW turbines, not 100, which would make the assumed 8.7% decommissioning cost $332,000 per turbine (2009 dollars).]

[$445,000 in 2009 is equivalent to $533,000 in 2019, $332,000 to $397,000.]

Wenck Associates, April 2017 – re: Palmer’s Creek Wind Farm, Minnesota, 2.5-MW turbines. [download]

The estimated cost to decommission Palmer’s Creek Wind Farm was provided by Fagen, Inc., construction contractor, in a letter dated November 16, 2016. The estimate is considered to be the current dollar value (at time of approval) of salvage value and removal costs. The estimated salvage value of each turbine will be based upon the worst-case scenario assuming the only salvage value of the turbine is from scrapping the steel. The estimate was based upon the total weight of one turbine, which is 275 tons consisting primarily of steel. Because it does not separate the scrap value of all the constituent materials, the estimate is very conservative. Also, it is highly likely that there would be opportunities for re-sale for reuse of all or some of the turbines or turbine components. Based on the current estimate, the cost of decommissioning is $7,385,822 with a potential scrap return value of $445,500 [net cost of $385,573 per turbine, $403,881 in 2019 dollars].

Henry Blattner, Senior Estimator, Blattner Energy, to Ryan Pumford, Nextera Energy, 2017 – re: Tuscola Wind III, Michigan, 2-MW turbines. [download]

To mobilize a crew and equipment, take down a GE wind turbine and haul off site the cost would be $675,000.00. Assuming a salvage value of $150 per ton and weight of 188 tons for the steel in the turbine and tower we [would] be able to reduce this cost by $28,200. The total price minus the salvaged steel would be $646,800.00.

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Date added:  October 10, 2019
Economics, Grid, IndianaPrint storyE-mail story

Couple statements about reliability and cost

Author:  Northern Indiana Public Service Company

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission: Cause 45159 [link] —

Verified Direct Testimony of Andrew S. Campbell, Director of Regulatory Support & Planning, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) [link]

Q18. How will reliability be maintained when the wind isn’t blowing?

A18. NIPSCO will continue to dispatch its steam and gas fleet and other available wind generation, as well as purchase power from MISO, to meet customer demand and reliability needs throughout the term of the Roaming Bison Wind Energy PPA. This ensures that when the wind is not blowing customers will continue to receive reliable service every hour of every day.

Verified Direct Testimony of Benjamin Felton, Senior Vice President, NIPSCO Electric [link]

Q23. Do reductions in the dispatch of NIPSCO’s coal units impact the cost to operate those units?

A23. Yes. NIPSCO’s coal units were engineered to be used as base load units that run consistently over long periods of time, and they were not designed to ramp up and down in response to short term market signals. As those units become less economical, the cost to operate them increases because in addition to the increased maintenance required of older units, the added expenses to ramp the units up and down are incurred more frequently. NIPSCO must remain mindful of how that added expense to customers balances against the impact on reliability. In spite of the cost control efforts NIPSCO has undertaken as I have referenced above, the operational characteristics of these plants dictate that some increases in costs cannot be avoided when the plants are operated outside of the parameters for which they were designed.

[This was the same Cause in which the Sierra Club asserted their interest, which was for an arm of the energy industry, not the environment: “Sierra Club seeks full intervention in order to ensure that its interests in lower cost and cleaner energy options are fully represented, and to bring to this proceeding its expertise in electric utility matters.” (link)]

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Date added:  April 24, 2019
Economics, Grid, U.S.Print storyE-mail story

Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver?

Author:  Greenstone, Michael; McDowell, Richard; and Nath, Ishan

[Abstract] Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most comprehensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2 percentage point increase in renewables’ share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%. These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates that the cost per metric ton of CO₂ abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon. These results do not rule out the possibility that RPS policies could dynamically reduce the cost of abatement in the future by causing improvements in renewable technology.

Energy Policy Institute, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics, University of Chicago, April 2019

Michael Greenstone, University of Chicago and National Bureau of Economic Research
Richard McDowell, Amazon
Ishan Nath, University of Chicago

Download original document: “Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver?

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Date added:  March 5, 2019
Economics, Filings, Florida, Health, Nebraska, Noise, Property values, U.S.Print storyE-mail story

Kohmetscher v. Nextera

Author:  Kohmetscher, Kevin; Healy, David; and McGuire, Myles

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

Plaintiff, Kevin Kohmetscher, brings this Class Action Complaint & Demand for Jury Trial against Defendant, NextEra Energy, Inc. (“NextEra” or “Defendant”), to stop Defendant from operating wind turbines near residential communities in a way that causes a nuisance and interferes with homeowners’ use and enjoyment of their property. Plaintiff alleges as follows based on personal knowledge as to himself and his own acts and experiences …

NATURE OF THE ACTION

1.  Defendant is one of the largest electric utility companies in the country, and the largest generator of wind energy in the world.

2.  To generate wind energy, Defendant has constructed numerous “wind farms” across the United States. A wind farm is an array of wind turbines. Each turbine sits high in the air atop a tower and consists of a large rotor with three blades that spin as wind passes over the blades. Defendant’s wind farms often consist of dozens of turbines and stretch for miles across open terrain.

3.  Although wind farms can supply renewable energy, they can also pose a number of hazards when built too close to homes and residential communities.

4.  For instance, a turbine’s spinning blades create flickering shadows that pass over nearby land. For those in the path of a wind turbine’s shadows, the “shadow flicker” effect is similar to a constant strobe light. Those who experience prolonged shadow flicker often complain of severe headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and in some cases seizures.

5.  Turbines are also very noisy. The spinning blades create a deep thumping noise that sounds similar to a distant helicopter or train. This constant sound can travel for miles depending on weather conditions, and results in a decreased quality of life for those within a certain radius of the wind turbines due to stress, loss of sleep, and anxiety.

6.  Rather than constructing its wind farms away from residential areas to prevent interfering with homeowners’ use and enjoyment of their land, Defendant has instead sited many of its wind farms in the middle of farm fields, near houses, and next to important roads.

7.  Although Defendant’s chosen wind farm locations may be optimal for wind energy generation, the turbines’ proximity to residential areas can be devastating to those living in the surrounding community. The turbines drive people from their homes due to the unreasonable inconvenience, interference, annoyance, and adverse health effects caused by the turbines. Wind farms also destroy the scenic beauty of rural areas, cluttering the horizon with conspicuous towers and spinning blades.

8.  Those who attempt to sell their homes and move away from Defendant’s wind farms are often unable to do so because the value of land near turbines plummets.

9.  Accordingly, Plaintiff brings this action on his own behalf and on behalf of similarly situated individuals to obtain redress and injunctive relief for those who have suffered harm as a result of Defendant’s substantial and unreasonable interference with their use and enjoyment of their property.

10.  On his own behalf and on behalf of a proposed class defined below, Plaintiff seeks an award of damages compensating him and the putative class members for the negative effects that Defendant’s turbines have had on their health and well-being, use and enjoyment of their property, and diminution in value of their property due to Defendant’s turbines. Plaintiff also seeks a permanent injunction barring Defendant from continuing to unreasonably interfere with his and the putative class members’ use and enjoyment of their property.

ALLEGATIONS OF FACT COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

Background

16.  Wind energy is produced through the use of wind turbines. Turbines generally consist of three spinning blades connected to a rotor and a generator that sit atop a tower. As wind passes over the blades, the blades rotate and spin the generator to convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy.

17.  Towers range in size up to 500 feet high, and blades can be more than 260 feet long. Due to their size, wind turbine towers require a large foundation to stay upright. Turbines are generally painted white to make them visible to aircraft.

18.  When used to generate energy for commercial applications, large numbers of wind turbines are grouped together for efficiency in arrays known as wind farms.

19.  Wind farms require use and control of extensive land area in order to optimize the spacing between turbines and minimize turbulence at downwind turbines.

20.  Wind farms are typically sited in wide-open, rural areas. As such, the turbines often disrupt the natural scenic beauty of the land where they are placed. Wind farms also pose a risk of mortality to migratory birds whose flight paths pass through wind farms.

21.  Many industrial wind turbine manufacturers recommend that turbines be at least 1,500 feet from any residence—a minimum setback—to provide a safety zone in the event of catastrophic failure (e.g. a blade breaks and flies off, or the turbine flings shards of ice that have accumulated along the blades during winter).

22.  As a result, there is typically a “no-build” zone in a 1,500 feet radius surrounding any turbine. In many instances, however, this “no-build” zone overlaps with the property of landowners.

23.  More importantly, wind turbines often interfere with residents’ use and enjoyment of their property even where they live beyond the recommended minimum setback.

24.  For instance, the rotation of turbine blades causes a rhythmic flickering of sunlight, commonly called “shadow flicker.”

25.  Shadow flicker can be especially noticeable in the mornings and evenings, when the sun appears close to the horizon. During such times, turbine blades can cast intermittent shadows that completely obscure sunlight each time a blade passes in front of the sun, causing a strobe-like effect. Shadow flicker can be an issue both indoors and outdoors when the sun is low in the sky.

26.  Prolonged exposure to the strobe-like effect of shadow flicker is not only distracting and annoying, it also causes headaches, nausea, and has been reported to cause seizures in certain individuals.

27.  Wind turbines can also be very noisy, exceeding prescribed decibel limits in many residential areas.

28.  In addition to the noise made by the mechanical equipment inside turbine towers, turbines also cause aerodynamic noise. Aerodynamic noise is created by wind passing over the blades of a wind turbine. The tip of a 40-50 meter blade can travel at speeds of over 140 miles per hour under normal operating conditions. As the wind passes over the moving blade, the blade interrupts the laminar flow of air, causing turbulence and noise. Although current blade designs attempt to minimize the amount of turbulence and noise caused by wind, it is not possible to completely eliminate turbulence or noise from turbines.

29.  Those who live near wind turbines have described the noise that turbines make as a rhythmical beating that sounds like “like a train that never gets there,” a “distant helicopter,” “thumping,” “thudding,” “pulsating,” and “beating.”

30.  In addition to this audible thumping, turbines also emit inaudible low frequency sound waves known as infrasound. Although these sound waves are below the range of sound audible to humans, prolonged exposure can disturb sleep and impair mental health. Infrasound has been linked to increased instances of insomnia, stress, stroke, heart failure, immune system problems, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, ringing in the ears, breathing problems, abdominal and chest pain, urinary problems, effects on speech, and headaches. Further, high noise environments negatively impact learning in young children, making it hard to concentrate and communicate with others.

31.  Health effects related to noise emissions from wind turbines have been observed in individuals living up to three miles from turbines, with the effects being greatest for those within one mile.

32.  Individuals who live near Defendant’s wind farms usually decide to move away from the farms shortly after their installation due to the various ways that turbines interfere with their use and enjoyment of their property, including issues stemming from shadow flicker, noise emissions, and related health issues. However, many who reside near Defendant’s wind farms are unable to move due to the financial strain caused by the decreased value of their property and the inability to find a buyer willing to live near a wind farm.

Facts Specific to Plaintiff

33.  Plaintiff owns a plot of land located at 2034 Rd. 1900, Blue Hill, Webster County, Nebraska. Plaintiff’s plot is approximately 11 acres in size, and Plaintiff currently resides in a single-family dwelling located on his land.

34.  Plaintiff’s plot has been in his family for decades. Plaintiff grew up on his land, and he purchased it from his father.

35.  Plaintiff’s property is adjacent to the Cottonwood Wind Farm, a wind turbine farm owned and operated by Defendant. Defendant began constructing the Cottonwood Wind Farm in or about mid 2017, and the turbines began commercial operation in or about November 2017.

36.  The Cottonwood Wind Farm is miles-long and consists of more than 40 wind turbines built and maintained by Defendant.

37.  The rear of Plaintiff’s residence faces the Cottonwood Wind Farm. In relation to Plaintiff’s property, the turbines are located to the east, south, and west of Plaintiff’s residence. The nearest turbine is located approximately 1,300 feet from Plaintiff’s property line.

38.  Since the turbines near Plaintiff’s property began operating, the turbines have negatively affected, invaded upon, and interfered with the Plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of his property by:

a.  creating sustained, incessant, cyclical, and highly disturbing and annoying audible noise created by and emitted from the turbines, often described as sounding like an airplane flying overhead that never flies away;

b.  creating vibrations or amplitude modulation of sound pressures or a pulse sensation when the rotating blades of the turbines pass by the turbine pedestal;

c.  creating a shadow flicker/strobe light effect that often covers all of Plaintiff’s property and intrudes into Plaintiff’s home when the rotating blades of the turbines pass in front of the sun;

d.  disrupting and/or preventing Plaintiffs’ ability to entertain guests or relatives, who are unable to visit for extended periods of time due to headaches and sleep disruption caused by the turbines;

e.  creating highly visible glare or glint which emanates from the turbines when they reflect sunlight;

f.  disrupting and obscuring Plaintiff’s views and vistas with turning blades, where such vistas were previously unobstructed;

g.  preventing Plaintiff from enjoying normal outdoor family activities on his property such as barbeques, and other recreational activities;

h.  Preventing Plaintiff from keeping his windows open due to persistent noise.

39.  As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s ongoing interference with Plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of his property, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer:

a.  an inability to sleep, repeated awakening during sleep, and sleep deprivation;

b.  headaches;

c.  vertigo and/or dizziness;

d.  nausea;

e.  stress and tension;

f.  fatigue;

g.  and anxiety and emotional distress.

40.  The Cottonwood Wind Farm and the impact it has had on Plaintiff’s property has thus substantially and unreasonably interfered with Plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of his property. On information and belief, Plaintiff’s property has decreased and will continue to decrease in value due to its proximity to Defendant’s wind turbines, and Plaintiff will be unable to lease or sell his property for its fair market value prior to installation of the turbines.

COUNT I: Private Nuisance …

COUNT II: Negligence …

Dated: March 1, 2019

Download original document: “Kohmetscher v. Nextera

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