You will notice on these editorial pages lately a number of individuals espousing the “Truth” about the Gamesa Wind Project on Shaffer Mountain. With very little research I was able to find a few “Untruths” presented by Tim Vought of Gamesa on this last go around published on Friday.
Mr. Vought states: “The only government subsidy available to Gamesa is the federal Production Tax Credit,…”
But: Gamesa conveniently ignores the federal income tax shelter known as Accelerated Depreciation, which allows them to recover capital costs much quicker than conventional sources of generating electricity are allowed (i.e ., wind projects can use a 5-year depreciation schedule whereas coal or natural gas facility can only use 20-year schedule). Furthermore, up to 2/3 of the capital cost to install industrial wind energy projects can be recovered by the developer/investors through federal tax shelter provisions and credits. These provisions and credits result in substantial losses to the federal treasury by forestalling payments of federal income taxes that otherwise would have been owed – thus adding to the increasingly enormous federal deficit.
Mr. Vought States: Fact: Gamesa has surveyed the project area for birds, bats and eagle nests, and found minimal or no impact from the proposed wind farm development.
But: Most of them are flawed or have been performed just to get a “study” into the hands of USFW or PGC. The rattlesnake study was conducted in mid-November in 30-40 degree weather by a guy who did not leave his vehicle. He was an elderly gentleman who interviewed several locals and took their comments out of context for his report. The bird study was conducted for only 2-3 months last summer and early fall and missed the peak months of the fall migration.
Mr. Vought states: For instance, there is no documented case of a raptor being killed by a windmill in the eastern United States.
But: There was a carcass of a Red-tailed Hawk found at the Mountaineer windplant in West Virginia during the once-a-week searches of wind turbines conducted during first year of operation (2003). Furthermore, an American Kestrel (falcon) was found beneath a wind turbine at the Maple Ridge windplant in New York during 2006 – see table 20 in: http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/maple_ridge_report_2006.pdf
Mr. Vought states: Windmills today spin at slower rates and have tubular towers instead of lattice towers like those installed in the western United States in the 1980s and 1990s. These design changes have made all the difference.
But: Two recently published peer-reviewed studies have found this wishful thinking to be without merit. In the U.S., at Altamont, the latest scientific research documented that turbines with the tubular monopole tower were significantly more likely to kill Golden Eagles, Burrowing Owls and other raptors than turbines with the older lattice tower base. See here: http://www.vawind.org/Assets/Docs/myth.pdf . In addition, the huge blades of wind turbines built today move at the same speeds as the blades of older, smaller wind turbines. In fact, the 3 blades on Gamesa’s G90 wind turbines will be traveling at 200 mph at their tips when operating at their designed rotation rate of 19 RPM.
Mr. Vought states: The commonwealth mandates that by 2020, 18 percent of the state’s electricity must come from alternative energy sources, including wind, which can be harnessed in an ecologically sustainable way.
But: The commonwealth only “mandates” that 8 percent of future electricty sales alternative fuel sources including wind – not 18 percent (i.e., only 8 percent is mandated to come from Tier 1 sources of alternative energy – which includes wind turbines). It’s this kind of distortion which documents how fast-and-loose Gamesa is willing to be with factual information.
While all these “truths” about Gamesa are being tossed around, White Construction Company, (based in the state of Indiana) is destroying the Allegheny Front south of Berlin as agents of Edison Mission Energy, (based in Ohio). And the majority “just pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”
If you want to see this destruction, take a ride 6 miles south of Berlin on 160 and turn left onto Glencoe Road.
Dr. Rick Bonomo
14 July 2007
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