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Financial information on industrial wind turbines  

Author:  | Economics, Emissions, Property values

Dear ——

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.

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.

Tiling issues

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.

Aerial applications

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.

Decommissioning

Eventually these things will have to come down. Two decommissioning reports done by expert engineers:

It is generally accepted that each turbine will cost $150,000-$200,000 to decommission. Many companies refuse to put decommissioning agreements in place.

Emissions

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.

Janna Swanson
Coalition for Rural Property Rights president
National Wind Watch board member

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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