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The true costs and unrealistic promises of offshore wind power  

Credit:  The Muskegon Chronicle, www.mlive.com 29 November 2011 ~~

In the Chronicle’s Nov. 15 editorial “The real objection: Oceana planners need to own up to reasons behind offshore wind ban,” there is a failure to recognize that offshore wind costs are very high (2 ½ times more than onshore wind) and that promises made by wind developers have not been proven feasible.

To set the record straight, Oceana planners formally requested from Scandia on June 2, 2011, “Where would it be possible to build and deploy the turbines and Vici Ventus foundations for which you promised 2 million man hours of local labor?” The answer received on June 13, 2011, was “the location discussed is north of North Manitou Island.”

According to senior officials of Vici Ventus, “The proposed technology is not feasible for the shallow harbors of West Michigan.” Promises made were not feasible.

The local government and citizens of Oceana County did their due diligence and uncovered flaws that the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, GVSU, and MAREC did not make public. And now, The Muskegon Chronicle too discredits these findings. Local citizens have every right to be distrustful of “feasibility studies” with questionable “models” used in research.

There are already enough facts for Michigan legislators to take offshore wind legislation off the table:

• The cost ($249 per mwh) is 2.5 times more for offshore than for on land wind turbines. It is unnecessary to choose the most expensive option when other choices exist.

• The cost exceeds the Michigan renewable energy standard cost cap ($133).

• The cost of offshore wind is three to five times above current market rates, as proven in Cape Wind and European countries, and is rising. The government subsidies are large and unsustainable.

• The economic impact of higher electricity costs reduces manufacturing growth and competitiveness. The net result is a job lost.

• Ontario placed a moratorium (February2011) on offshore wind due to “lack of scientific knowledge on the impact on fresh drinking water.”

• Oil spill threat: example Cape Wind: 24,700 gals oil in turbines plus a 10-story electrical service platform with helicopter pad would hold 40,000 gallons of transformer oil and 1,000 gallons of diesel.

• Lake Michigan’s deep water prohibits offshore wind development beyond three to four miles offshore. Near shore siting would interfere with current lake industry and usage and compromise “Pure Michigan” goals. No other industry is allowed multiple permanent sites within the lake.

• Wind energy, according to Consumer’s Energy’s 2009 “Balanced Energy Initiative”, “will neither displace nor replace the need for proven baseload generating capacity.” No fossil fuel plants will be closed here, nor would fuel usage significantly be displaced with added wind.

• Offshore wind development on Lake Erie was abandoned due to high costs in September 2011 and requirements of $60 million to $100 million in subsidies per year.

• In October 2011, a federal appeals court rejected the Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling that the Cape Wind project’s turbines present “no hazard” to aviation. Michigan would face similar aviation risks.

Decisions on energy investment are worth getting right, not just to fulfill the duty of ensuring that taxpayer money is efficiently invested, but also for the future competitiveness of Michigan’s economy as a whole. The high cost of offshore wind is the main reason every citizen in Michigan, not just locals, should reject it.

“The view” will not make or break the decisions made, but the “cost” surely will. Offshore wind has a price tag that is unaffordable and unnecessary.

We should make no mistakes in “our” lake!

Jane Eggebeen

Grand Haven

Source:  The Muskegon Chronicle, www.mlive.com 29 November 2011

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

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