Resource Documents: Economics (201 items)
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Author: Shellenberger, Michael
When I was a boy, my parents would sometimes take my sister and me camping in the desert. A lot of people think deserts are empty, but my parents taught us to see the wildlife all around us, including hawks, eagles, and tortoises.
After college, I moved to California to work on environmental campaigns. I helped save the state’s last ancient redwood forest and blocked a proposed radioactive waste repository set for the desert.
In 2002, shortly after I turned 30, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to addressing climate change. I was worried that global warming would end up destroying many of the natural environments that people had worked so hard to protect.
I thought the solutions were pretty straightforward: solar panels on every roof, electric cars in every driveway, etc. The main obstacles, I believed, were political. And so I helped organize a coalition of America’s largest labor unions and environmental groups. Our proposal was for a $300 billion dollar investment in renewables. We would not only prevent climate change but also create millions of new jobs in a fast-growing high-tech sector.
Our efforts paid off in 2007 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama embraced our vision. Between 2009–15, the U.S. invested $150 billion dollars in renewables and other forms of clean tech. But right away we ran into trouble.
The first was around land use. Electricity from solar roofs costs about twice as much as electricity from solar farms, but solar and wind farms require huge amounts of land. That, along with the fact that solar and wind farms require long new transmissions lines, and are opposed by local communities and conservationists trying to preserve wildlife, particularly birds.
Another challenge was the intermittent nature of solar and wind energies. When the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, you have to quickly be able to ramp up another source of energy.
Happily, there were a lot of people working on solutions. One solution was to convert California’s dams into big batteries. The idea was that, when the sun was shining and the wind was blowing, you could pump water uphill, store it for later, and then run it over the turbines to make electricity when you needed it.
Other problems didn’t seem like such a big deal, on closer examination. For example, after I learned that house cats kill billions of birds every year it put into perspective the nearly one million birds killed by wind turbines.
It seemed to me that most, if not all, of the problems from scaling up solar and wind energies could be solved through more technological innovation.
But, as the years went by, the problems persisted and in some cases grew worse. For example, California is a world leader when it comes to renewables but we haven’t converted our dams into batteries, partly for geographic reasons. You need the right kind of dam and reservoirs, and even then it’s an expensive retrofit.
A bigger problem is that there are many other uses for the water that accumulates behind dams, namely irrigation and cities. And because the water in our rivers and reservoirs is scarce and unreliable, the water from dams for those other purposes is becoming ever-more precious.
Without large-scale ways to back-up solar energy California has had to block electricity coming from solar farms when it’s extremely sunny, or pay neighboring states to take it from us so we can avoid blowing-out our grid.
Despite what you’ve heard, there is no “battery revolution” on the way, for well-understood technical and economic reasons.
As for house cats, they don’t kill big, rare, threatened birds. What house cats kill are small, common birds, like sparrows, robins and jays. What kills big, threatened, and endangered birds—birds that could go extinct—like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors, are wind turbines.
In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.
Solar farms have similarly large ecological impacts. Building a solar farm is a lot like building any other kind of farm. You have to clear the whole area of wildlife.
In order to build one of the biggest solar farms in California the developers hired biologists to pull threatened desert tortoises from their burrows, put them on the back of pickup trucks, transport them, and cage them in pens where many ended up dying.
As we were learning of these impacts, it gradually dawned on me that there was no amount of technological innovation that could solve the fundamental problem with renewables.
You can make solar panels cheaper and wind turbines bigger, but you can’t make the sun shine more regularly or the wind blow more reliably. I came to understand the environmental implications of the physics of energy. In order to produce significant amounts of electricity from weak energy flows, you just have spread them over enormous areas. In other words, the trouble with renewables isn’t fundamentally technical—it’s natural.
Dealing with energy sources that are inherently unreliable, and require large amounts of land, comes at a high economic cost.
There’s been a lot of publicity about how solar panels and wind turbines have come down in cost. But those one-time cost savings from making them in big Chinese factories have been outweighed by the high cost of dealing with their unreliability.
Consider California. Between 2011–17 the cost of solar panels declined about 75 percent, and yet our electricity prices rose five times more than they did in the rest of the U.S. It’s the same story in Germany, the world leader in solar and wind energy. Its electricity prices increased 50 percent between 2006–17, as it scaled up renewables.
I used to think that dealing with climate change was going to be expensive. But I could no longer believe this after looking at Germany and France.
Germany’s carbon emissions have been flat since 2009, despite an investment of $580 billion by 2025 in a renewables-heavy electrical grid, a 50 percent rise in electricity cost.
Meanwhile, France produces one-tenth the carbon emissions per unit of electricity as Germany and pays little more than half for its electricity. How? Through nuclear power.
Then, under pressure from Germany, France spent $33 billion on renewables, over the last decade. What was the result? A rise in the carbon intensity of its electricity supply, and higher electricity prices, too.
What about all the headlines about expensive nuclear and cheap solar and wind? They are largely an illusion resulting from the fact that 70 to 80 percent of the costs of building nuclear plants are up-front, whereas the costs given for solar and wind don’t include the high cost of transmission lines, new dams, or other forms of battery.
It’s reasonable to ask whether nuclear power is safe, and what happens with its waste.
It turns out that scientists have studied the health and safety of different energy sources since the 1960s. Every major study, including a recent one by the British medical journal Lancet, finds the same thing: nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity.
Strange as it sounds, nuclear power plants are so safe for the same reason nuclear weapons are so dangerous. The uranium used as fuel in power plants and as material for bombs can create one million times more heat per its mass than its fossil fuel and gunpowder equivalents.
It’s not so much about the fuel as the process. We release more energy breaking atoms than breaking chemical bonds. What’s special about uranium atoms is that they are easy to split.
Because nuclear plants produce heat without fire, they emit no air pollution in the form of smoke. By contrast, the smoke from burning fossil fuels and biomass results in the premature deaths of seven million people per year, according to the World Health Organization.
Even during the worst accidents, nuclear plants release small amounts of radioactive particulate matter from the tiny quantities of uranium atoms split apart to make heat.
Over an 80-year lifespan, fewer than 200 people will die from the radiation from the worst nuclear accident, Chernobyl, and zero will die from the small amounts of radiant particulate matter that escaped from Fukushima.
As a result, the climate scientist James Hanson and a colleague found that nuclear plants have actually saved nearly two million lives to date that would have been lost to air pollution.
Thanks to its energy density, nuclear plants require far less land than renewables. Even in sunny California, a solar farm requires 450 times more land to produce the same amount of energy as a nuclear plant.
Energy-dense nuclear requires far less in the way of materials, and produces far less in the way of waste compared to energy-dilute solar and wind.
A single Coke can’s worth of uranium provides all of the energy that the most gluttonous American or Australian lifestyle requires. At the end of the process, the high-level radioactive waste that nuclear plants produce is the very same Coke can of (used) uranium fuel. The reason nuclear is the best energy from an environmental perspective is because it produces so little waste and none enters the environment as pollution.
All of the waste fuel from 45 years of the Swiss nuclear program can fit, in canisters, on a basketball court-like warehouse, where like all spent nuclear fuel, it has never hurt a fly.
We tend to think of solar panels as clean, but the truth is that there is no plan anywhere to deal with solar panels at the end of their 20 to 25 year lifespan.
Experts fearsolar panels will be shipped, along with other forms of electronic waste, to be disassembled—or, more often, smashed with hammers—by poor communities in Africa and Asia, whose residents will be exposed to the dust from toxic heavy metals including lead, cadmium, and chromium.
Wherever I travel in the world I ask ordinary people what they think about nuclear and renewable energies. After saying they know next to nothing, they admit that nuclear is strong and renewables are weak. Their intuitions are correct. What most of us get wrong—understandably – is that weak energies are safer.
But aren’t renewables safer? The answer is no. Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants.
In other words, the energy density of the fuel determines its environmental and health impacts. Spreading more mines and more equipment over larger areas of land is going to have larger environmental and human safety impacts.
It’s true that you can stand next to a solar panel without much harm while if you stand next to a nuclear reactor at full power you’ll die.
But when it comes to generating power for billions of people, it turns out that producing solar and wind collectors, and spreading them over large areas, has vastly worse impacts on humans and wildlife alike.
Our intuitive sense that sunlight is dilute sometimes shows up in films. That’s why nobody was shocked when the recent sequel of the dystopian sci-fi flick, “Blade Runner,” opened with a dystopian scene of California’s deserts paved with solar farms identical to the one that decimated desert tortoises.
Over the last several hundred years, human beings have been moving away from matter-dense fuels towards energy-dense ones. First we move from renewable fuels like wood, dung, and windmills, and towards the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas, and eventually to uranium.
Energy progress is overwhelmingly positive for people and nature. As we stop using wood for fuel we allow grasslands and forests to grow back, and the wildlife to return.
As we stop burning wood and dung in our homes, we no longer must breathe toxic indoor smoke. And as we move from fossil fuels to uranium we clear the outdoor air of pollution, and reduce how much we’ll heat up the planet.
Nuclear plants are thus a revolutionary technology—a grand historical break from fossil fuels as significant as the industrial transition from wood to fossil fuels before it.
The problem with nuclear is that it is unpopular, a victim of a 50 year-long concerted effort by fossil fuel, renewable energy, anti-nuclear weapons campaigners, and misanthropic environmentalists to ban the technology.
In response, the nuclear industry suffers battered wife syndrome, and constantly apologizes for its best attributes, from its waste to its safety.
Lately, the nuclear industry has promoted the idea that, in order to deal with climate change, “we need a mix of clean energy sources,” including solar, wind and nuclear. It was something I used to believe, and say, in part because it’s what people want to hear. The problem is that it’s not true.
France shows that moving from mostly nuclear electricity to a mix of nuclear and renewables results in more carbon emissions, due to using more natural gas, and higher prices, to the unreliability of solar and wind.
Oil and gas investors know this, which is why they made a political alliance with renewables companies, and why oil and gas companies have been spending millions of dollars on advertisements promoting solar, and funneling millions of dollars to said environmental groups to provide public relations cover.
What is to be done? The most important thing is for scientists and conservationists to start telling the truth about renewables and nuclear, and the relationship between energy density and environmental impact.
Bat scientists recently warned that wind turbines are on the verge of making one species, the Hoary bat, a migratory bat species, go extinct.
Another scientist who worked to build that gigantic solar farm in the California desert told High Country News, “Everybody knows that translocation of desert tortoises doesn’t work. When you’re walking in front of a bulldozer, crying, and moving animals, and cacti out of the way, it’s hard to think that the project is a good idea.”
I think it’s natural that those of us who became active on climate change gravitated toward renewables. They seemed like a way to harmonize human society with the natural world. Collectively, we have been suffering from an appeal-to-nature fallacy no different from the one that leads us to buy products at the supermarket labeled “all natural.” But it’s high time that those of us who appointed ourselves Earth’s guardians should take a second look at the science, and start questioning the impacts of our actions.
Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we really going to stand by and let them destroy it?
Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” and president of Environmental Progress, an independent research and policy organization.
Originally published on February 27, 2019, at quillette.com
Author: Greer, Stanley
- Local tax abatements for Texas wind energy cost Texan taxpayers money and have not been proven to generate a net overall increase in job-creating investment.
- The wind mainly blows in remote areas of the state and it costs additional money to transport the energy created to more populated areas.
- Wind energy is also unreliable because the wind mainly blows when the energy generated is less needed. For example, Texans rely on fossil fuel generators during heat waves, not wind energy.
- People who live near wind turbines report harmful effects on their health and happiness.
Stanley T. Greer, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Download original document: “Tax Abatements and the Texas Wind Energy Industry”
Author: Swanson, Janna
Usually these turbines are pushed through for two reasons – money and lowering emissions.
The money is a little different in every area and the utility companies play it all close to the chest but this is what we have gathered.
In Iowa MidAmerican has freely admitted that they will receive $10 billion in tax credits. They have built 2200 turbines all told so that averages out to $4,500,000 per turbine in tax credits alone. They get to assess their turbines as well. They have assessed them at about $2,726,500 each.
The utility companies get a big pass on taxes because of the tax structure which allows them to pay 0% the first year increasing by 5% each year until they reach the cap of 30% in year 7, they will pay (very) roughly about $1,000,000 per year in taxes per installation and about $1-2,000,000 in landowner payments per installation. At this point realize that this is only tax credits we are talking about and they will still charge for the electricity the turbines generate. Why are electricity prices not falling if all their capital costs and then some are being paid for? Also, a utility will continue to pay taxes no matter how the energy is generated.
Landowners will receive about $10,000 per turbine. They receive this after signing one of the most ridiculous contracts you have ever read. See the paper “Things Commonly Found in a Wind Contract“.
On the other hand, the following are the economic detriments to a community.
Property values drop
The paper I have attached shows study after study that proves property values drop. The wind industry has their own studies but these studies are generally diluted by using assessments done up to 10 miles from the turbines or including farmland values that have had their value artificially raised by turbine payments. Also just the fact that almost no one wants to live in an industrial wind installation is a clear indication of value loss.
- Summary: Wind Turbine Property Value Impact Studies – Mike McCann
- Municipal Property Assessment Corporation 2012 study of wind turbine impacts on residential property assessments – Wayne Gulden
- Case Study: Diminution in Value – Wind Turbine Analysis – Lansink Appraisals and Consulting
- Case Study: Diminution/Change in Price – Melancthon and Clear Creek; Wind Turbine Analyses, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC); Current Value Changes – Lansink Appraisals and Consulting
- Local impacts of wind farms on property values: A spatial difference-in-differences analysis – Yasin Sunak and Reinhard Madlener
- Re: Wind Turbine setbacks – Mike McCann
- Regarding Ben Hoen study on residential property values – Mike McCann
- Impact of Wind Turbines on Market Value of Texas Rural Land – Derry Gardner
- Wind Turbines & Property Value – Kurt Kielisch
- Wind Turbine Impact Study – Appraisal Group One
- Excerpts from the Final Report of the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee – Elise Bittner-Mackin
Farmland is taken out of commission
About 3 acres per turbine is almost unrecoverable. Farmland is not just dirt, it is soil. It is a living thing full of water, air, microorganisms in organic matter and minerals. Topsoil is the first layer, it is like gold and takes up to 500 years to create one inch of it. Clay or sand is the next layer down but the soil is damaged when they are mixed. Compaction is a huge issue in farming. Compaction ruins farm land by pressing out the air and water. Deep compaction can last for generations and cannot be undone by deep tillage. Wind turbine construction both compacts soil and mixes soil with clay.
The entire county’s base economy will be impacted by this loss of farmland for generations especially since decommissioning never includes the bases. Corn and bean roots are very often deeper than the bases.
Much farmland is drained by extensive tiling infrastructure. The large equipment and especially the large cranes that can easily weigh 500,000 lbs. (or the weight of 125 cars). The compaction they cause moving between turbines can also crush tile 2-6 feet in the ground.
Farmland is dependent on aerial applications for both weed control and cover crops. The presence of wind turbines increases risk and cost for the aerial operator as well as efficiency. Many refuse to fly within 1/2 mile of an installation. Some farmers will say to use ground rigs but if the conditions are muddy or the crops are leaning this is not a great option.
Bird and bats kills
Yes, in a farming community bird and bat kills certainly figure into the overall economy. They are natural pest control. When they are killed or driven off this impacts the economy so greatly that the US Geological Survey has issued a report on the economic impacts of bats alone.
The USGS report includes a list of the actual dollar amount of bats’ impact in each county across the US. MidAmerican just applied to the USFWS for a permit to kill eagles and endangered bats.
Eventually these things will have to come down. Two decommissioning reports done by expert engineers:
- Decommissioning Estimate for the Green River Wind Farm Phase I
- Decommissioning estimate: Vestas V3.0-112 turbines on the proposed Monticello Hills Project
It is generally accepted that each turbine will cost $150,000-$200,000 to decommission. Many companies refuse to put decommissioning agreements in place.
Industrial wind energy is one of the most inefficient and ineffective ways to cut CO₂. In 2016 the American Wind Energy Association actually boasted that turbines would avoid 159 million metric tons of CO₂. It seems like a lot until you realize that mankind emits 35-40 billion metric tons of CO₂ every year. So their best boast is that they are avoiding so far less than 1% of emissions that even if they doubled the amount of turbines they had in 2016 that they would not reach past 1% CO₂ avoidance worldwide.
MISO (Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator) puts the cost of avoiding CO₂ with wind energy at $237/per ton – or $37,683,000,000 for 159 million metric tons.
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Coalition for Rural Property Rights president
National Wind Watch board member
Author: Swanson, Janna
MidAmerican Energy and all wind companies operating in the state of Iowa are and have been avoiding the regulation of the Iowa Utilities Board. That point of law is being argued in court so I will not address it here. If wind installations did go through the proper approval process of the IUB I do not believe they would be allowed. We are commenting on this docket to have our objection on record.
The entire idea that we need industrial wind is political. No one in Iowa is without electricity yet we are covering our state with a vast infrastructure that has little to no regulation. Since the general idea is avoiding CO2 the wind companies should be required to provide a comprehensive overview of how they are accomplishing that. According to Stastista.com mankind globally emits between 35-40 billion tons of CO2 each year. In 2016 the American Wind Energy Association boasted that turbines avoid 159 million metric tons which is far less than 1% of the CO2 emitted by man globally. Weighed against the negative impacts and vast cost of industrial wind this only seems to make sense if you ignore these facts. (I use the word fact loosely when considering AWEA’s numbers because they do not explain how they arrived at their numbers.)
The Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator MISO has reported that reducing CO2 with wind energy costs $237/ton.
Wind turbines cannot supply base load and reliability. We still have all the traditional power plants and transmission lines that we need at any given moment that wind energy is not available. Wind turbines only add power plants, add transmission, add negative impacts and add cost.
Environmental Impact Studies
The issue of environmental impacts has been glazed over because people believe that wind turbines are somehow mitigating Climate Change in such a great way that they are allowed to do anything.
MidAmerican is applying for their first endangered bat and bald eagle take permit in 20 years of having wind turbines. They are saying that they can somehow mitigate the impact of covering 519,937 acres of Iowa land with industrial wind turbines. If MidAmerican is allowed to double to number of turbines and we add the other turbines in Iowa, what the wind industry is asking is to cover at least a 1,500,000 acres of Iowa land in turbines. 1,500,000 acres of Iowa land is equal to 4 full Iowa counties. 4 whole counties worth of land that are no longer safe for birds and bats (or people). MidAmerican downplays the impact by saying that their 21 projects are only estimated to kill 10 bald eagles each year. If they doubled their projects, that is 20 found and documented eagles. If each of those eagles are part of a nesting pair that is now 40-60 eaglets that are at risk of not being born out of the 1700 eaglets reported born in 2016.
Add in the impact of the turbines not owned by MidAmerican and that number can easily be increased to 80-120 bald eagles each and every year from industrial wind alone.
Wind companies like to say that they choose their project areas by careful siting but it is interesting that the “proper” areas and where they have easements always seem to be in the same areas. In this map of a proposed installation in Palo Alto you will see that Invenergy has sited their project at the end of a glacial lake in the Prairie Pothole Region. It is the complete antithesis of “proper siting”.
Bats are also a very important part of our environment. They eat many of our pests that impact our largest economy, farming. A study was done on this subject by the U.S Geological Survey. This chart lists the economic impact on farming from the loss of bats all across the U.S. compiled by the USGS for that same study.
There are places in Iowa where landowners have been told that they cannot have a wind turbine because they have bat habitat so the landowner removes the habitat. Is MidAmerican reporting these landowners or are they just happily building their wind turbines now that the pesky habitat has been removed? This charge can be verified by location if need be.
We must also consider that farm land that is being taken out of production. The state and separate counties have always maintained that we should not take non-renewable farmland out of production for industrial pursuits. Our world class farm ground is irreplaceable. It takes 100’s of years to make even one inch of topsoil. Farm land is ranked by CSR or Corn Suitability Rating. Most wind turbines are situated on land with a high CSR. Turbine construction, crane routes between turbines and access roads all cause compaction that cannot be mitigated by deep ripping. This compaction can easily impact up to 5 acres per turbine. While crops can be grown on compacted soil the yields are reduced dramatically. If Iowa allows 8,000 (doubling the amount we have and bringing us to MidAmerican’s goals) turbines that is 40,000 acres of world class soil irreparably damaged which equals almost the entire footprint of Des Moines. This only does not seem worrisome to people who have never been hungry.
A lawsuit has been filed in Black Hawk County regarding this matter. Case No. CVCV134946 This suit is based on Iowa Code 335.
Turbine blades weighing up to 50,000 pounds per blade are also made out of non-recyclable toxic fiberglass. What landfill will these thousands and thousands of blades end up in?
Informing the people
The Iowa Utilities Board has allowed companies seeking to build wind projects like MidAmerican to take over this role of informing the public of their projects. Industrial wind turbines expect a community to put up with certain negative impacts. Some are spelled out in their own contracts, called Neighbor Agreements they offer to every residence within ½ mile of a wind turbine. One contract reads “to permit Generating Units or other wind energy conversion systems on adjacent property or elsewhere to cast shadows or flicker onto the Owner’s Property; impact view or visual effects from the Owner’s Property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference”- Invenergy neighbor agreement 2015. I would like them to explain in detail what they mean for the words “vibration, air turbulence and wake”. Some people have fled their homes because of the health impacts industrial wind can have. Big Wind has many studies that say that no one is hurt by industrial wind but Big Tobacco also was supported by many such studies. People need unbiased information or at least both sides much sooner in the process of siting an industrial wind energy installation.
A letter that was written by a colleague to the Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission talks about the health impacts of those living with industrial wind all over the world. I both know people that wind turbines do not impact and those that they do. We must consider the documentation of those affected.
A docket for objections
The people should have a proper place to voice their objections.
A place for the people to defend themselves
The people should also be afforded the right to defend ourselves, our families, our future generations, our homes, our businesses, our wildlife and our economy. We believe that if we were able to take this to a court of law that we would win overwhelmingly.
In 2016 a group of landowners hired lawyers and expert witnesses in Clinton County Missouri to go head to head with NextEra and all of their lawyers and expert witnesses not in a court of law but using court rules. They agreed on and argued 9 of the 13 easement effects attributed to industrial wind. After 55 hours of testimony the Clinton County 9 member Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously banned industrial wind. This scenario has been played out in different counties across the US.
It is my belief that this is why the wind companies want to avoid the Iowa Utilities Board approval process.
Iowa’s Rural Electric Co-ops have stated that they will not be building any more industrial wind turbines because the cost is too high. Iowa’s RECs are tax-exempt therefore the tax credits mean nothing to them. The turbines that they have were paid for, 100%, by the people through our taxes.
Only because of the generous subsidies and tax abatements is industrial wind energy viable. Warren Buffett has said it and MidAmerican has even said it in their own applications for ratemaking. Even within this application they talk about using “safe harbor” which will guarantee them 100% of the tax credits if they can show that they have expended 5% of any proposed project’s cost. These loopholes allow MidAmerican to build projects for a continued 4 years with 100% of the 10 year tax credit.
In Oklahoma Invenergy’s Windcatcher Project was rejected by the Texas PUC because they could not prove need and because their bid made assumptions about the future pricing of fuels that could not be supported. MidAmerican’s projects are similar because much of the energy will have to be shipped out of state to make the project work for them.
The only reason that our rates now have not skyrocketed is the $10 Billion in tax credits MidAmerican has freely admitted that they will receive over the average life of their industrial wind energy endeavor. This averages out to roughly $5 million per turbine. They will use our taxpayer money to “generously” not raise our bills. Iowa will be backed into a corner once these tax credits are gone and wind energy becomes once again burdensomely expensive.
MidAmerican has said that these wind turbines will last 30-40 years even though they can show no such proof. That number is pure conjecture. Even now we see that they are repowering machines barely a decade old.
The other expense that we wonder about is the expense of decommissioning. Even if the American people footed the bill on another round of industrial wind we know that existing wind turbines will have to be taken down. Expert engineers such as Tom Wind of Wind Utility Consulting, PC and Tom Hewson, Principal at Energy Ventures Analysis have set that cost at roughly $200,000-$232,207.80 per turbine.
The turbines in Fairbanks, Iowa that have been court ordered to be removed were supposed to have bonds of $150,000 per turbine for decommissioning. MidAmerican has only set aside either nothing (Worth County), about $30,000 per turbine for Palo Alto or $13,000 for Boone County. They say they will sell scrap or parts to offset decommissioning costs but there is no way to know what these prices will be and the report attached takes this into consideration.
I could write a whole other report on the community’s cost for increased transmission. The Rock Island Clean Line (that was also flatly refused by landowners all across the state) would’ve had more transmission poles than the amount of turbines it would’ve serviced. Again, increased transmission equals more damaged tiles, more compacted soil, declines in property values, more eyesores, more threats to wildlife and further decreased efficiency on farms.
MidAmerican also does not take into consideration the cost on the businesses and homes within rural communities. Reports by the wind industry show that property values do not decline but independent reports show that property values (homes and acreages) certainly decline in value. Across the US it is known that people do not wish to live within industrial wind installations. According to Invenergy in the proposed Palo Alto wind installation only 24 homes even participated by accepting a contract and money out of the 268 homes that would be directly impacted. This clearly shows that most people do not want the wind installation. This feeling is what impacts property values. In Apex’s installation in Clay County only 54 of 244 homes directly impacted accepted a contract. In fact the landowners tried to stage a land blockade much like landowners have done in O’Brien County. Most of the people who sign wind turbine contracts will not live next to a wind turbine. Only 5-15% of the people in an area will sign a wind turbine contract. Ida County has a petition of 600 names against adding more turbines. In Richland Township of Sac County the residents report that 87% of the people who have signed wind contracts do not live there. I have spoken to other industrial wind opposition activists, across the globe this formula follows. Ask the wind companies to provide these numbers to you since they are the ones who have it all documented.
Our businesses are suffering as their construction tears up our roads, crushes our tiles and makes aerial spraying inefficient or impossible. So far 519,937 acres of Iowa land have been impacted in this manner by MidAmerican alone.
Most of our Supervisors are NOT listening to the people, they are voting for the money. Their constituents fill their meetings begging them not to allow this like they do in communities across the US and around the world yet NOT ONE Iowa County has adequately protected their citizens.
In Michigan’s Thumb region they are allowed a referendum vote. 18 votes out of 18 votes the people have refused industrial wind. Iowa would be the same if we were allowed a voice.
Vermont has required that wind turbines be no louder than 39 dBA at night, 100 feet from any residence.
Many, many counties in Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska have restricted or outright banned industrial wind. When communities protect their people, wind companies move on.
A widespread ad was narrated by Oklahoma’s Ex-Governor Frank Keating. Gov. Keating allowed the turbines in his state now laments how much of the money that could be used for schools, used for roads is instead going to the wind industry, an industry many of our lawmakers know as a sham industry.
MidAmerican and Alliant have a great deal of political power in Iowa. I have heard this from our legislators, other power companies, from the DOT and even from the Iowa Utilities Board in Sheila Tipton’s open letter to Gov. Branstad. These companies are running roughshod over our communities, over our governments and over our laws. They have not been voted in and they cannot be voted out. They do not have to adhere to the checks and balances that our governments must adhere to.
Even when communities seek to protect themselves MidAmerican has denied them that protection by holding the tax money out like a carrot to local government. This letter from MidAmerican/Invenergy to the Palo Alto Supervisors shows how our Planning and Zoning Board was ignored in favor of protecting MidAmerican’s bottom line. In Kossuth County the newspaper did a poll asking the people if they thought that the Supervisors made the wind ordinance for the people or the wind companies. 90% said the ordinance was made for the wind companies.
Industrial wind is being forced on thousands and thousands of Iowans. We have no power of recall, no power of referendum and even the IUB process has been taken from us. We are having this forced on us because those who don’t have to live with it have been lulled by the propaganda, lulled by the idea that industrial wind is green and free, that landowners “love the payments”.
Iowans have collected together across the state to form the Coalition for Rural Property Rights. We have called legislators, spoken with Gov. Reynolds, met at Senator Ernst’s office from all across the state, filed lawsuits, written letters, put up signs, placed radio ads and placed newspaper ads. We have a comprehensive Facebook page and have held statewide meetings. We are not only connected across the state but across the US and around the world. Even with our vast numbers it is almost impossible to fight against the money behind Warren Buffett, but we are doing it.
We are conservationists and business owners. We are Republican and Democrats. We are Iowa’s rural residents, we are landowners and many of us are farmers. It is difficult by demographic alone for us to fight so we are joining as one voice across Iowa. Most farmers have to rent some if not all of their ground in order to make a living. Some of the absentee landowners who have signed wind easement contracts and have threatened to take their ground from us if we speak up.
We are not against renewable energy or even wind energy. Like everyone else we thought that the concept was stellar until we finally learned what the full price is. We care about OUR environment and these industrial wind turbines are ruining our environment in more way than one.
Across the state people that have spoken up with problems from the turbines are often silenced with settlements or cannot win a lawsuit because they have signed a contract. Our utility companies seek to silence people so that they do not warn other communities.
That is why we demand our day in court. Industrial wind avoids court for a reason.
The wind industry calls us a “vocal minority” but we know our communities. We are the large majority of our rural communities. Industrial wind seeks to ruin the peace of our homes, the beauty of our countryside, our world-class farm ground, the efficiency of our businesses and our wildlife. These projects tear apart our communities and will stunt our economy because it is true that industrial wind does not make money. As Warren Buffett has famously said, "I will do anything that is basically covered >by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."
All of these impacts must be considered at the same time. We must not make the decisions based on flimsy polls and MidAmerican’s bottom line. We believe that most people would not support industrial wind if they knew what the thousands and thousands of people within the industrial installations know but many people have been “educated” solely by the wind industry’s political machine.
The future funds that MidAmerican and other utilities have been promised could go to fund a million different good causes but big business is preying on the guilt and the fears of the people to funnel money into their own accounts and we all know it, all to reduce manmade CO2 by less than 1%.
Please deny MidAmerican and the wind industry’s bid to continue the onslaught of rural Iowa.
Thank you for your time.
On behalf of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, Janna Swanson
October 5, 2018
Coalition for Rural Property Rights board president National Wind Watch board member
Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance member
Download original document: “MidAmerican’s bid to IUB for ratemaking on Wind XII comment”