Letters 11-10-2012


Wind power

Investment schemes

It is common for large industrial wind power plants to be sold within two years of obtaining all required approvals. This is because public money is the source of most wind plant revenue, exceeding the combined cost of the purchase and installation of the plant’s wind turbine and the electricity it sells.

Public subsidies are transferable, and selling the rights to the subsidy stream to corporations with high U.S. tax liability is how wind farms are financed. Some of the public money even goes to companies producing oil and coal.

The largest beneficiaries of federal energy subsidies are wind farms. They rely on federal and state income tax credits for the cost of purchasing and installing a wind power plant; local property tax exemptions; a five-year depreciation for all equipment and state sales tax exemptions in some cases.

The federal five-year depreciation tax credit will generally pay the full cost of constructing a wind farm. Tax credits also include the controversial federal production tax credit which pays wind companies 2.1 cents per kilowatt for a 10-year period, for electricity generated (not used — again your tax dollars are paying for something you don’t get). The stimulus bill allows wind operators to choose between the tax credit and a check from the U.S. Treasury for 30 percent of the cost of the project.

Wind power plants cannot survive on electricity sales alone, even after getting a tax credit for the full cost of construction (except in Hawaii where all costs can be passed on to the ratepayer).

Finally, wind farms don’t compete with other generators of electricity in the open market. Instead, they are guaranteed the wholesale price for the electricity they generate, whether it’s needed or not. The added costs on the electrical grid management system resulting from wind’s on-again, off-again nature are paid by utility ratepayers, not wind development companies.

And what do the people of Hawaii get in return? Wind energy cannot replace conventional power plants or lower the cost of electricity. To generate 32 megawatts, we would need to build a power plant that would have a capacity of 200 megawatt (that’s 100 turbines with 2 megawatt capacity). That would require about 10,00 acres.

Now you multiply that by the number of wind turbines planned by big wind behind closed doors (Hana Ranch?) and you are talking about maybe 100, 000 acres of limited, pristine, Hawaii land that will be out of use forever, as well as a devastated ecosystem.

Can you begin to imagine the visual impact? It would be bad enough if we were really getting clean/green energy from this loss of our greatest and most fragile asset, but the fact is we are not.

It is an investment scheme under the guise of green energy. Do not mistake it for anything else.

S. Osako

Lanai City