People who use the phrase “homes served” to describe the output from wind turbines do not understand facts about wind turbines.
The concept of “homes served” has been used by the proposed wind farm to explain electricity output. This has always been misleading since residential users of electricity account for only 37 percent of all U.S. electricity produced.
“Homes served” can be useful when talking about reliable generating power plants that produce electricity for customers every day, at all hours of the day, year-round.
Wind turbines produce electricity at starting wind speeds of 6 mph and stop at 56 mph. Unless the homeowner has an expensive battery storage system, this unreliable output wouldn’t work for lights, heating, appliances, computers and many other purposes.
At peak demand, wind turbines output may only be in the range of 0-5 percent of rated capacity.
Not all electricity produced by wind turbines actually reaches customers. Electricity is lost as it moves over transmission and distribution lines from generating units to homes, offices, stores, factories and other users.
Line losses are likely to be in the range of 10 percent or more. The Production Tax Credits are paid to the wind farm owners based on electricity produced, not on the amount that actually reaches customers.
The claim that the cost of electricity from wind turbines is competitive with the cost of electricity from traditional sources is false. These claims do not include the cost of providing the generating capacity that must always be available to backup, intermittent, unreliable wind turbines output and keep electric grids reliable and in balance.
Other false claims about wind energy include the following:
• It is low cost. In fact, its cost is high when all true costs are included.
• It is environmentally friendly. In fact, it has many environmental, ecological, scenic and property value impacts.
• Facts about false and misleading claims by wind energy are starting to show up in media, but have yet to be understood by elected officials and political leaders. (Forbes, 2016)
• Wind farms from an honest perspective only generate about 1 percent, a low proportion of total demand. When a wind farm is built, the fossil fuel generating power to that area cannot be closed or torn down. The power plant still needs to run almost 80 percent of the time, no matter how large the wind farm is, when the wind isn’t blowing, it isn’t generating electricity. The need for electricity doesn’t wait for the wind to return.
Where will the funding come for more proposed wind farms?
Our federal government is running up deficits of trillions of dollars. Yet states such as California are $40 billion in the debt. Deep cutbacks in education and health services, welfare and entitlement programs have begun in many other states.
From investors, wind farm investments make sense only if heavily subsidized by the federal government, but Warren Buffett and Bill Gates say, “They still don’t make sense.”
Next time you see a wind farm, chances are that you will be observing wind turbines motionless. You may think of all the politicians and engineers that have ruined their reputations to create expensive and wasteful eyesores, and all paid for by working taxpayers.
Linda K. Schoen