February 9, 2011

Wind farm energy hits a dead calm

Mike Vogel, KTRV Fox 12, www.fox12idaho.com 8 February 2011

Boise, Idaho – Wind energy companies took a huge hit this week.

The Idaho PUC dropped the amount of money they can collect.

Wind energy proponents who say this is a huge setback.

They’re worried about how long this moratorium will last.

And – they say some companies may already be going elsewhere.

It’s a complex issue – that bottom line – could put them out of business.

Giant windmills have been popping up all over Idaho’s landscape.

With the federal government giving companies huge incentives…and governor otter supporting them…it’s easy to see why.

“Certainly, in his campaign, he touted the benefits of new wind, at the blade signing where he actually signed the blade on one of my clients turbines,” said Peter Richardson, an Energy Attorney.

“So, hopefully, the governor is paying attention to this and making sure his Public Utilities Commission is making decisions that promote wind and other energy in Idaho rather than scaring them away,” said Richardson.

The PUC commission changed how wind farms can make money by slashing the rates they can charge.

“From 10 average monthly megawatts, which is a fairly large project, they’re reducing it to 100 Kilowatts which is the equivalent of Ten – 100 watt light bulbs,” said Richardson.

Which he says essentially brings them to a dead standstill.

“And by putting up this moratorium it destroys the pipeline of new projects,” said Richardson.

Peter Richardson is an attorney who represents five of about a dozen existing wind energy companies doing business in Idaho.

“Because when one is looking at building a wind project, for instance, it takes years of study before you actually build a project,” said Richardson.

But the PUC Commission says the rate was intended to help the little guy.

“Now we have, wind projects owned by: General Electric, British Petroleum; not the small farmer who is the unsophisticated developer,” said Gene Fadness, spokesperson with the PUC.

Instead, he says, big companies have taken advantage.

“They found a loophole as you will, where they can break these projects up and qualify for a more attractive rate,” said Fadness.

Which is exactly why he says the PUC took this action.

“What would normally be large wind farms are being broken into smaller farms and then spaced about a mile apart, to qualify for a more attractive rate,” said Fadness.

They don’t’ know how long this moratorium will last, but they hope it’s only a few months.

There’s some concern, because the last time there was a moratorium it lasted for two years.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/02/09/wind-farm-energy-hits-a-dead-calm/