September 9, 2013
Letters, Virginia

Wind farms deadly to birds, hardly cheap

The News & Advance | September 8, 2013 |

Given the exuberant tone of the Sept. 5 article in The News & Advance outlining Dominion Virginia Power’s winning bid to develop offshore wind farms, one might think our problems are solved. Unfortunately, given the genocidal extermination the wind turbines wreak on wildlife – not to mention the practicality of wind energy – lead to a far less sanguine conclusion.

Consider the effect wind turbines have on birds. In the politically correct bastion of San Francisco, wind turbines have been killing almost 70 golden eagles each year at California’s Altamont Pass. A 2009 study estimated 2,400 raptors – including burrowing owls, American Kestrels and red-tailed hawks, as well as about 7,559 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – are being killed every year by these same turbines. Rush Limbaugh was right when he referred to a wind farm as a Condor Cuisinart!

Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty and Eagle Protection Act. A violation of either law can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for two years. Pacific Corp., a Wyoming utility, had to pay $10.5 million in fines after 23 golden eagles and other protected birds were electrocuted.

But though they kill a great many more birds, there have been no prosecutions against wind farm owners. Instead, the Obama administration is fast tracking approvals for wind farms in the oceans, where even more migratory birds will be flying – and where we won’t be able to see the birds being killed! Today, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that wind turbines are killing over 330,000 birds. By 2030, with more than 100,000 turbines expected to be in operation, it estimates that annual bird mortality rates will exceed one million. Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute notes that, “… the Obama administration-like the Bush administration before it – has unofficially exempted the wind industry from prosecution under the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts. By exempting the wind industry from prosecution … the federal government is providing another indirect subsidy to the sector.”

On the practical front, to put it simply windmills do not work. Electricity does not go off somewhere into a storage facility and wait for us to turn on a switch. Electricity has to be produced as and when there is demand for it. The essence of a windmill is that it will not follow demand. Rather, it will work only when the wind blows. So, by definition, wind is an unreliable source of electricity, working only about 20 percent of the time. If you want a stable supply of electricity, then you will have to provide all windmill projects with back-up electrical generators. These conventional generators would be required to produce electricity for the 80 percent of the time the wind does not blow! Compare the unreliability of wind farms to the 85% efficiency for coal, gas, and nuclear power plants. As we become increasingly reliant on wind farms, energy prices to consumers will, in the president’s words, “… necessarily skyrocket.”

It goes without saying that these hideous 252 feet tall windmills, with three blades each 140-300 feet long are a blight on the landscape, but what is less apparent is the politics that under gird them. President Obama has set up Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which force the grid operator to pay the wind farm operator for putting power onto the grid, whether or not the grid could use the electricity.

Obama is hoisting another redistribution scheme upon the electorate by getting traditional energy companies, which don’t support his agenda, to subsidize “green energy” windmills owners, who are among his most ardent followers. The Department of Energy reported in 2010 that while the average subsidy per megawatt hour for all energy sources was $1.65, the subsidy for wind power was about $24 per megawatt hour. What’s more, Obama provided $2.3 billion in tax credits to companies that exploit “green energy.” Is it any wonder a traditional coal energy company like Dominion sees the benefits of suckling on the federal teat?



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