Resource Documents: New Jersey (4 items)
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Author: Stevenson, David
This comparison of actual regional grid carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions between 2019 and 2021 shows increased use of wind and solar did not reduce emissions. Wind and solar electric generation are actually poor technologies no one would use without permanent government mandates and massive subsidies and taxes that are adding $1 billion a year in power cost. They are also unreliable, non-recyclable, have negative environmental impacts , have shorter productive life spans than alternative power sources, and take up a lot of ground. If it doesn’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions why are we using wind and solar?
The PJM regional electric grid serves over 65 million people in thirteen states. It is the largest such regional grid providing 22% of the countries electric power. Table 1 below shows how generation from various technologies changed from 2019 to 2021, Key changes are:
- Natural gas replaced coal almost one to one as it has been doing so for about the last decade.
- Special oil based backup generators ran significantly more often.
- Total carbon based generation stayed about the same at over 60% of total generation.
- Zero emission nuclear generation fell over 2%, and hydro fell about 5%.
- Combined wind and solar generation grew about 30% replacing lower nuclear and hydro generation plus covering a 0.2% increase in total regional generation, but still only equaled about 4% of total production despite over a decade of mandates and subsidies.
- Overall the emissions fell 0.8%, a small improvement.
|Table 1: PJM electric generation by technology 2019 to 2021|
|Fuel||2019||2021||Change MWh||Change %|
|CO₂ systems mix||851.1926||843.3056||7.8870||−0.9%|
|Source: PJM Systems Mix |
Table 2 details the actual change in CO₂ emissions, but also considers how emissions may have fallen had the rate of emissions by megawatt-hour (MWh) remained the same as 2019. The key points are:
- Coal emissions should have fallen the same 7% generation did, but only fell about half as much as power plant efficiency fell.
- Emissions from oil based backup generation grew 60%, but efficiency improved about 25%.
- Natural gas generation grew 4.6%, but emissions only grew 3.6% as efficiency improved.
- Overall emissions would have fallen 2.3% instead of the actual 0.8% mainly caused by falling coal generation efficiency.
|Table 2: PJM Carbon dioxide emissions by carbon-based fuels|
|Fuel||2019 tons||2021 tons||Difference||% Change||2021 with 2019
|Source: PJM Systems Mix |
Fuel switching from coal to natural gas would most likely have occurred even if no wind and solar power were available. Natural gas has about 60% lower emissions than coal for each MWh produced. Some of that fuel switching was caused by lower natural gas fuel prices, and part was simply replacing closed coal- fired power plants. As generation at coal plants falls the plants become less efficient actually increasing emissions per MWh as shown in Chart 1 below. Coal plants were not designed for frequent stops and starts and doing so can more than double emissions per MWh of production. Calculating from PJM Systems Mix data shows coal emissions grew 3.4%/MWh. Without that increase the actual total emission reduction may have fallen 2.3% instead of 0.8%.
Solar and wind generation increased about 30%, or by 8.1 million MWhs. Nuclear power fell 6.3 million MWhs with 85% of that decrease related to the closing of the last unit at Three Mile Island. If you have been following the news many nuclear power plants are in financial trouble  and some plants are closing. Nuclear power generation has to be continuous as there is limited ability to ramp a plant up and down so those plants largely follow prices set by other generation sources. Federal tax credits for wind power of over $20/MWh  are awarded based on the amount of power generated and were close to the PJM average wholesale energy price for 2021 of $30.84/MWh . So wind projects will bid low or even negative prices sometimes to reap those tax credits and nuclear plants follow even when losing money. Hydropower is very flexible and can be ramped down if the prices go too low.
There is more to the story. Electric demand and supply must be in absolute balance every second or there are brownouts and blackouts. To keep everything in balance PJM can call on fast reacting oil and natural gas-fired generators known as peaking generators. They meet the demand but are less efficient than regular equipment and increase emissions. The tables shows a large increase in oil-fired generation, and emissions. That increase is likely a direct result of wind and solar power ramping up and down as the wind and sunlight stopped or slowed. Without that extra peaking plant operation total PJM emissions may have fallen another 0.2%.
This lack of CO₂ reduction by wind and solar comes at a high cost. Tax payers and electric customers provide expensive subsidies totaling almost $2 billion in the 2020-21 period, or $1 billion a year;
- Besides selling power into the competitive PJM market wind generation receives $18 to 23/MWh  in federal Production Tax Credits paid by taxpayers depending on the year built for an average of $20.50/MWh. With 54 million MWh produced in 2020 and 2021  the total cost was $1,107 million.
- PJM reports  show from 6/1/2019 to June 1/2021, 1,077 MW of new solar capacity was added. Reports from the Solar Energy Industry Association  indicate the average installed cost of utility scale solar with tracking over that period was $0.96/Watt for a total investment of $1,034 million. Solar projects received a 26% federal Investment Tax Credit from taxpayers, or $269 million.
- Four states (NJ, DE, MD, VA) participated in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that requires carbon based generators to buy allowances to emit CO₂. The cost gets passed on in electric bills. For example Virginia, the only one of the four states with integrated generation and distribution, received $228 million8 in RGGI taxes in 2021. Dominion Energy passed on $6.67/MWh to ratepayers, or about $80/year. In deregulated states the RGGI cost ($434 million in 2020-21) are passed on indirectly in higher average PJM energy prices.
In summary, the minor reduction in emissions occurred because lower emission natural gas replaced coal. The emissions reduction might have been as much as 2.5% instead of 0.9%. Increased reliance on intermittent wind and solar power increased the use of inefficient peaking power plants, and as generation volume at coal plants fell they became less efficient. Increases in wind and solar generation offset zero emission nuclear and hydro generation (84% of increase), with the balance going to higher overall PJM generation. The conclusion is wind and solar power are not yielding lower carbon dioxide emissions, but are adding $1 billion a year in costs. Without lower emissions why are we mandating and subsidizing wind and solar power?
1) Union of Concerned Scientists, “Environmental impacts of wind power”, https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/environmental-impacts-wind-power
2) PJM Systems Mix, https://gats.pjm-eis.com/gats2/PublicReports/PJMSystemMix
3) Institute for Energy Research, “Wind PTC threatens grid reliability”, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/wind/wind-ptc-threatens-grid-reliability/
4) US EIA, Higher renewable capacity additions in AEO2016 reflect policy changes and cost reductions, https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26492 and Wind production tax credit extended to 2021, https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=46576
5) PJM 2021 Markets Report, page 5, https://pjm.com/-/media/committees-groups/committees/mc/2021/20210503/20210503-item-07b-1-2021-annual-meeting-markets-report.ashx
6) PJM Capacity by Fuel Type, https://www.pjm.com/-/media/markets-ops/ops-analysis/capacity-by-fuel-type-2021.ashx and https://www.pjm.com/-/media/markets-ops/ops-analysis/capacity-by-fuel-type-2019.ashx
7) Solar Energy Industry Association, Solar Market Insight Report 2021 Q4, https://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2021-q4
8) RGGI, Inc., Auction Results, https://www.rggi.org/auctions/auction-results
9) Caesar Rodney Institute, “Virginia your green new price tag is showing”
David T. Stevenson, Director
Caesar Rodney Institute Center for Energy and Environment
Download original document: “New evidence renewables don’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions”
Author: Stevenson, David
The nearly decade-old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was always meant to be a model for a national program to reduce power plant carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explicitly cited it in this fashion in its now-stayed Clean Power Plan. Although the RGGI is often called a “cap and trade” program, its effect is the same as a direct tax or fee on emissions because RGGI allowance costs are passed on from electric generators to distribution companies to consumers. More recently, an influential group of former cabinet officials, known as the “Climate Leadership Council,” has recommended a direct tax on CO₂; emissions (Shultz and Summers 2017).
Positive RGGI program reviews have been from RGGI, Inc. (the program administrator) and the Acadia Center, which advocates for reduced emissions (see Stutt, Shattuck, and Kumar 2015). In this article, I investigate whether reported reductions in CO₂ emissions from electric power plants, along with associated gains in health benefits and other claims, were actually achieved by the RGGI program. Based on my findings, any form of carbon tax is not the policy to accomplish emission reductions. The key results are:
- There were no added emissions reductions or associated health benefits from the RGGI program.
- Spending of RGGI revenue on energy efficiency, wind, solar power, and low-income fuel assistance had minimal impact.
- RGGI allowance costs added to already high regional electric bills. The combined pricing impact resulted in a 13 percent drop in goods production and a 35 percent drop in the production of energy intensive goods. Comparison states increased goods production by 15 percent and only lost 4 percent of energy intensive manufacturing. Power imports from other states increased from 8 percent to 17 percent.
David Stevenson is Director of the Center for Energy Competitiveness at the Caesar Rodney Institute. He prepared this working paper for Cato’s Center for the Study of Science.
Download original document: “A Review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative”
Author: New Jersey Superior Court
Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs are landowners who are seeking to permanently enjoin the use of Defendants’ windmill, because they allege that the windmill is a nuisance.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A private nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of one’s land.
Facts. The parties are all residents of a neighborhood, which has single-family homes. In June of 1981, the Defendants, in an effort to save money on energy bills, had a windmill constructed on their property, which is ten feet from the home of one of the Plaintiffs. The windmill began making loud noises, which were offensive to the neighbors. The Plaintiffs suffered various stress-related symptoms, together with an inability to peacefully enjoy their homes. The Plaintiffs initially sought relief through the local city council due to the zoning laws. The council issued an order limiting the time the windmill could operate, but the problem continued until Plaintiffs brought this action. Following an initial hearing, a temporary restraining order was issued, which restricted the windmill’s operation to two hours per day, which was the time claimed by Defendants as necessary for maintenance. The restraints continued through the trial in this court. Measurements of the noise levels of the windmill reveal that the decibel level is 56 to 61, and the noise is constant because the windmill is next to the Atlantic Ocean, which provides a constant supply of wind. The city ordinance on noise limits noise to 50 decibels. The sounds of the windmill are like a large motor with blades cutting through the air. The sounds are difficult to ignore and impossible to escape. The Defendants raised a counterclaim against the Roses for their heat pump, which was found to operate at above 50 decibels.
Issue. Is the Defendants’ windmill a nuisance?
Held. Yes. The windmill must be shut down, but the counterclaim against the Roses cannot stand as an actionable nuisance.
To determine a private nuisance, the court will consider the cases on a case-by-case basis, balancing the competing interests in property as required by law. A nuisance must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
The essence of a private nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of land. The utility of Defendant’s conduct must be weighed against the quantum of harm to Plaintiff. The question is not simply whether someone is annoyed or disturbed, but whether the annoyance or disturbance arises from an unreasonable use of the neighbor’s land. Sans v. Ramsey Golf, 149 A.2nd 599 (N.J. 1959).
Unreasonableness is judged not according to exceptionally refined, uncommon or luxurious habits of living, but according to the simple tastes and unaffected notions generally prevailing among plain people. Stevens v. Rockport Granite Co., 104 N.E. 371 (Mass. 1914).
Noise, standing alone, may justify a finding of nuisance is two elements are present: 1) injury to the health and comfort of ordinary people in the vicinity; and 2) unreasonableness of that injury under all the circumstances. The court found that the Defendants’ windmill was a nuisance due to the noise level. However, the counterclaim against the Roses’ heat pump must fail because the heat pump was not operated as frequently or as long in duration as the windmill.
The zoning laws were found to be an alternate rationale for the court’s finding.
Discussion. This court found that the utility of the Defendants (conserving energy/saving money) was outweighed by the quantum of harm done to the Plaintiffs’ health and enjoyment of their homes. Thus, the windmill was found to be a nuisance. Note, however, that if the Defendants were not using their land in an unreasonable manner, the nuisance would not have been found.
Citation. 22 Ill.187 N.J. Super. 210, 453 A.2d 1378 (Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 1982)
—By courtesy of Casebriefs
Download original document: “Rose v. Chaikin” – by courtesy of Google Scholar
Author: N.J. Dept. of Environmental Protection
Scott Brubaker, the DEP’s assistant commissioner for land use management, informs Delsea Energy in an Aug. 20 letter “that the Delaware Bay is not an appropriate area for development of wind energy”:
[I]n considering this issue, the Department has determined that we have, over many years of study and evaluation, developed sufficient information regarding the diversity, scope, and importance of avian resources in and around the Delaware Bay. Based on these data, we conclude that, at this time, this area is not appropriate for a large-scale wind turbine project due to concerns with impacts to migratory and other bird populations. …
The concentration of raptors that occurs in the Cape May stopover, along with the various patterns of flight (foraging and low level flight) as they funnel into and mill around the region, makes them vulnerable to collision with turbines placed within the same airspace (<100 m); two raptors (osprey and peregrine falcon) have been killed by an array of five turbines located in wetlands near Atlantic City after one year of monitoring (Mizrahi et al. 2008). The density of land birds (raptors and songbirds) concentrating in the region, and the fact that the majority are inexperienced, juvenile birds, increases the likelihood of collisions as birds make their way into and out of this migration stopover. Perhaps of equal importance is the likelihood of turbines causing migrating birds to avoid habitat, and therefore be subject to habitat loss that is additive to that occurring at a high rate on Cape May peninsula. The loss of habitat to development has already had a negative impact on migrating raptor habitat use on the peninsula, causing birds to move farther to find adequate foraging and roosting areas (Frank 2007). Post-construction carcass surveys have shown that passerines are among the most likely avian groups to be impacted by collisions with wind turbines (Howe et al. 2002, Johnson et al, 2002, Schmidt et al. 2002, Kerns and Kerlinger 2004, Mizrahi et al. 2009). Although migrating songbirds often fly at higher altitudes than current turbine rotor blades can reach, they fly lower when crossing over bodies of water and this makes them more likely to be flying in the rotor swept area (Huppop et al. 2006). They also fly at lower altitudes when the conditions for migrating are poor (e.g., fog, low cloud ceiling, headwinds), and in areas where stopover habitat exists as the descend and ascend to take advantage of resting and foraging areas (Langston and Pullen 2003). Radar data of bird migration from the Cape May area recorded the presence of thousands of low-flying migrants (<100 m in altitude), confirming that migrants fly at lower altitudes in the Cape May stopover than might be expected during migration (Mizrahi et al. 2009). References:
- Frank CA. 2007. A comparison study of migratory raptor distribution and habitat use at the Cape May peninsula stopover. M.S. Thesis. Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
- Howe RW, W Evans, AT Wolf. 2002. Effects of wind turbines on birds and bats in northeaster Wisconsin: a report submitted to Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric Company.
- Huppop O, J Dierschke, KM Exo, E Fredrich, R Hill. 2006. Bird migration studies and potential collision risk with offshore wind turbines. Ibis 148:90-109.
- Johnson GD, WP Erickson, MD Strickland, MF Sheperd, DA Shepard, SA Sarappo. 2002. Collision mortality of local and migrant birds at a large-scale wind-power development on Buffalo Ridge, Minnesota. Wildlife Society Bulletin 30 (3):879-887.
- Schmidt E, AJ Piaggio, CE Bock, DM Armstrong. 2002. National wind Technology Center environmental assessment: bird and bat use and fatalities—final report. University of Colorado, Boulder.
- Kerns J, P Kerlinger. 2004. A study of bird and bat collision fatalities at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center, Tucker County, West Virginia: Annual report for 2003. Prepared by Curru & Kerlinger LLC for FPL Energy and Mountaineer Wind Energy Center Technical Review Committee.
- Mizrahi DS, KA Peters, V Elia. 2008. Post-construction wildlife monitoring at the Atlantic City Utilities Authority–Jersey Atlantic Wind Power Facility. Draft report by New Jersey Audubon Society, Cape May Court House, NJ.
- Mizrahi DS, R Fogg, KA Peters, PA Hodgetts. 2009. Assessing nocturnal bird and bat migration patterns on the Cape May peninsula using marine radar: potential effects of a suspension bridge spanning Middle Thorofare, Cape May County, New Jersey. Draft report. Cape May Court House, NJ.
- Langston RHW, JD Pullan. 2003. Windfarms and birds: An analysis of the effects of windfarms on birds, and guidance on environmental assessment criteria and site selection issues. Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats, Standing Committee, 23rd meeting, Strasbourg, France
Also includes a letter from the Atlantic Flyway Council:
The Council is greatly concerned about the potential negative impacts to avian resources by the proposed Delsea Energy project in Delaware Bay, Including collisions with wind turbines, direct habitat loss, and displacement and disturbance during construction and future maintenance activities …
Both waterfowl and migrating shorebirds have been shown to be sensitive to disturbance caused by human activities, including avoidance of areas where large nearshore wind turbine arrays are located (per European studies). Placement, operation, and maintenance activities associated with wind turbines in Delaware Bay are likely to disrupt feeding and roosting waterfowl and staging shorebirds directly or by displacing them from areas where critical resources are located. This disruption could be particularly devastating to staging shorebirds that must increase fat reserves in a limited time to successfully continue their migration. Placement of turbines and associated project infrastructure such as power collection lines in marsh habitat areas will also directly reduce habitat available for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other migratory birds.
Download original document: “N.J. DEP letter to Delsea Energy concerning birds in Delaware Bay”