Australia – the wind industry’s “Vietnam”

d-day

A welcome display of Yankee “muscle” – Normandy, June 1944.

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The United States is the hegemonic superpower and has been – without question – since 1945.  However, even that mighty behemoth met its match in the rice fields and jungles of Vietnam.

Early on in the conflict US military strategists turned their attention to local psychology and devised a campaign for “winning hearts and minds”.

The strategy was based on an erroneous belief in American supremacy in all things – and that all that was needed to win the war was to “convert” locals to the American cause.  The strategy had one or two flaws – as this video shows:

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Their Viet Cong and North Vietnamese opponents weren’t swayed by pizza and Pepsi and – instead of buddying up to Uncle Sam – launched the “Tet Offensive” in January 1968.

Tet_Offensive

US Marines take cover during the Tet Offensive.

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The scale of that little counter-attack rocked US military strategists’ belief in the supremacy of US military force.  It also provided a pretty clear signal that the Americans had failed in their bid to the “win hearts and minds” of the people they were looking to save from Communism.

Hubris is not a virtue.  The wind industry lives and breathes it.

In Australia – the wind weasels have tried every dirty trick in the book in an effort to “win hearts and minds” so they can keep the scam running for just a little longer.

Infigen windy & gusto

Not if STT can help it …

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Efforts include Infigen’s “#my future” propaganda program.  Infigen (aka Babcock and Brown) sent free turbine propaganda packs to school kids – a perverse effort to garner support for this grubby little industry by encouraging Australian school kids to colour-in their own little versions of “Windy” and “Gusto” and to post them on Infigen’s facebook page – like giant industrial wind turbines were lovable little characters from Bob the Builder.

These people are sick.

And they’ve clearly lost the argument about wind power providing meaningful electricity at a sensible price.

They’ve also lost the argument with retailers and financiers – and that’s the one that REALLY matters.

STT thinks there is a huge parallel with the Managed Investment Schemes from the 1990s – that all went horribly belly up and took a lot of mum and dad investors with them.  You remember – Tasmanian Blue Gum Plantations, Olive Groves and Corporate scale vineyards.

Retailers have been refusing to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for over 8 months now – long-term guaranteed fixed price contracts (with prices set between $90-110 per MWh).

With a PPA the wind power generator can dispatch a MW of sparks to the grid at a dispatch price at or even below $zero (ie “free” to the grid), collect a REC – worth around $35 – and claim a supply on the PPA with the retailer.  The wind power generator hands the REC to the retailer and recovers a net figure of between $60-80 per MWh.  That compares with $25 per MW/h for coal-thermal power from Victoria’s La Trobe Valley – except that – unlike wind generators – the coal boys can supply all day, every day – rain, hail or shine.

Financiers aren’t lending wind weasels any money for new projects – the money men see RISK all over this great wind scam.  Without a PPA the wind weasel has no valuable asset to leverage against – the only thing they own are turbines that require the blades and generators to be changed every couple of years which – once the warranty runs out – makes them a liability – not an asset.

Despite approved plans to build nearly 2,000 giant fans in Australia (1,200 in Victoria, 500 in NSW and 185 in SA) less than 90 turbines are being erected in Australia as we speak: 27 at Mt Mercer in Victoria, 30 at Gullen Range in NSW and 30 at Snowtown in SA.  There a NO construction plans after that work is done – the money has run out.

The BIG retailers like Origin Energy and Energy Australia have already signalled that they will simply pay the shortfall charge (fine) and pass that on to power consumers rather than muck around with intermittent, unreliable and expensive wind power.

That means there will be no demand for wind power despite the RET.  It also means that instead of supporting meaningful base-load renewable energy – like hydro – the result of the RET policy will simply be to tack the cost of the shortfall charge on to power consumers’ bills.

Did someone say something about “a costly and pointless ‘Green’ Policy fiasco”?

The bankers also see the policy RISK arising from the Coalition’s promise to review the RET as soon as they take office.  STT hears that the current target of 41,000 GW will go the way of the dodo – and that the majority of Coalition members, including the head boy, are keen to do away with the RET altogether.

But the other key area of RISK that the money men recognise is the very successful efforts of country people to get organised and fight back hard against wind weasels and their plans to destroy close-knit rural communities.

Better informed than even a year ago (STT takes a little credit for that), tenacious, hostile to the lies and deceit tossed up in an effort to “win hearts and minds” and ready to “die in a ditch” to save farms and families – Australian rural communities – are presenting the kind of headaches for wind weasels that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese gave Americans in Vietnam.

These hardy warriors (small business people, farmers, mechanics, mothers, doctors, nurses, teachers, country solicitors, Aboriginal traditional owners etc, etc) will only grow in number, they will not back down and they will prevail.

The hostility of local communities is usually sparked by the high-handed arrogance exhibited by wind weasels in their efforts to jam giant fans into closely settled, prime agricultural land (for a taste – check out this video).

That hostility only grows as locals are faced with the litany of lies and false promises tossed up by developers – you know the old chestnuts like:

  • the noise from a wind turbine is quieter than a Kelvinator at 500m (true – if the fridge has been converted to run on a Rolls Royce jet engine);
  • this wind farm will power 500,000 homes (true – provided they only want power 25% of the time at crazy, random intervals);
  • hundreds of jobs will be created (true – if you are talking about Irish crane drivers during construction, and almost none thereafter); and
  • wind power is “free” (true – if you ignore the fact that retailers are forced by operation of the mandatory RET to either take wind power under a PPA at 4 times the cost of conventional power or to pay the shortfall charge of 65 per MW/h on top of the wholesale price – and if you ignore the peaking power costs that we all pay when wind power goes AWOL 80-100 times a year – instead of $40 MW/h, try $2,000-$12,500 MW/h).

Here’s a little tale from Ballarat’s The Courier on just why the industry has lost the battle for Australian “hearts and minds”.

Poor planning behind division over wind projects
The Courier
2 August 2013

THE title of Andrew Bray’s article “Wind energy leadership missing” (The Courier, July 17) is quite apt, though not in the way the hundreds of residents close to the proposed Lal Lal wind project see it.

More than anything else, the core reason behind the great community divisions caused by wind projects in Victoria is poor planning.

Many people like wind projects, many people don’t.  However, the secrecy which prevails over the location planning for wind projects is counterproductive.

Farmers who want to participate in such projects must sign confidentiality agreements.

This is a win-lose situation, where the community pain can be far greater than any perceived base load net energy gain, and is a recipe for disaster.

I am sure there are many areas in Victoria where, if wind energy leaders openly called for expressions of interest, and objectors were also considered, large numbers of turbines could still be built at a far enough distance from objecting neighbours.

It doesn’t make sense to build a wind project in an area where more than 500 people live within two-kilometres, or more than 2000 live within five-kilometres.

Yet that is case with the Lal Lal project, on Ballarat’s doorstep, and which, if it is built according to its Planning Permit, will be unique in Australia in terms of numbers of close neighbours.

The 64 turbines proposed for this project can be up to 130m tall as high as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Even the proposed turbines within one-kilometre of many neighbours could turn blades at this height.

It is incredible that the current noise regulations were designed for much smaller wind turbines.  These regulations consider only audible noise.  Sub-audible noise vibrations, which are a major issue for today’s larger turbines, are not considered.

Perhaps even more frighteningly, the only body required to monitor noise emissions is the project operator itself.

This is something the EPA would not do.

There is discussion that local councils should monitor this, but they themselves argue that they don’t have the expertise another ingredient in this energy recipe for disaster.

Many people living near wind turbines have felt ill enough to leave their houses permanently, while some of them return to their farms daily, but elect to live elsewhere.

It is essential that comprehensive research is done on these health effects. Some believe that large sub-audible vibrations disturb the inner ear, much as with motion sickness.  No one can yet be sure how this occurs.

VCAT recently refused to approve the Cherry Tree Range proposal in the absence of conclusive evidence that large industrial wind turbines do not cause adverse health effects.

Lal Lal’s 95-metre diameter turbine blade tips regularly rotate at more than 200km/h.  The atmospheric disturbance and consequent audible and sub-audible noise created by blades this large would be immense.

While there remains such ignorance as to the effects of large turbines, wind project investors are playing Russian Roulette; not only with their neighbours, but also with their own money.

It is inevitable that noise regulations will tighten and adequate noise policing will occur in time, such that large turbines in close proximity to houses and communities will be temporarily or permanently shut down.  I would not want to invest millions of dollars in a turbine which later had its operations restricted.

In situations where such intervention is tardy, and the negative community effects are large, lawyers will no doubt find their place.

Poorly located wind turbines are a can of worms for all concerned, not the least of whom will be landowners inevitably left with the turbines that have ceased to operate.

Andrew Bray talks about farmers hosting turbines to drought-proof their farms.  I can understand why they would consider this.  However, there needs to be more balance.

One farmer at Lal Lal stands to gain $6 million, while literally hundreds of neighbours stand to lose much more than this in reduced property values, not to mention compromised lifestyles and potential health effects.

I’m sure there are some people who like living next to large wind turbines, but many don’t, and simple economics dictate that if demand decreases while supply doesn’t, then prices will fall.

This would lead to reduced council rate income, in addition to a great deal of road damage during construction.

Mr Bray also talks about local employment due to wind projects.  However, the only significant employment is in the construction phase.  For decades after this, there will be minimal employment opportunities to compensate for the great community pain.

There can be balance with better planning and better regulation.  In the meantime, investors considering building large turbines near homes should think very carefully about proximity.

John McMahon is a Yendon resident.
The Courier

STT thinks the equivalent of the Tet Offensive against the wind power fraud is quietly brewing around this great Country.  Keep fighting people.

The Americans left in the end – somewhat diminished.  They simply lost the battle to “win hearts and minds”.

STT says that – with measured and reasonable people like John McMahon coming out hard against wind industry arrogance, lies and deceit – the wind industry has already lost that battle.

huey

They just didn’t love us in the end.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Same in Scotland. Wind weasels are supposed to have a bond for decommissioning. Truth is no-one knows what the costs will be in 20 -25 years time. Regulations will change. If any money is owed to the Inland Revenue, then they have first shout on any available funds – even decommissioning bonds. The companies will just go bankrupt and remove themselves from any liability. Just like the coal mining in Ayrshire. The tax payer is left with the £ms it is going to cost to clean up the old workings. The mining company went bankrupt. Yet our governments can’t see beyond their very piggy noses because many of them feed at the subsidy trough. Oink oink.

  2. I know who the suckers will be to remove these useless industrial wind turbines when it is all over, no prize for guessing who. IT will be the tax payer. We will have a hell of a fight on our hands to make the hosts, wind weasels and greentards to pull them down. Hardie all over again.

  3. If windweasels told the truth….none of this mess would have ever happened!

  4. John marciniak says:

    We shouldn’t forget that this is an international issue.

  5. Jackie Rovensky says:

    So true David, the companies say ‘hosts’ can get the recycle value but of course as you point out, it is a paltry amount, and as you said, the concrete slabs are just left in place that land is never able to be utilised for cropping or grazing again – what was valuable pockets of land are left useless. Oh how happy those so-called ‘Greenies’ will be to see what a wonderful job they’ve done in saving the environment for posterity.

  6. David Mortimer says:

    Have turbine hosts considered the removal costs when the wind industry is dead. The turbines may earn say $12,000 per year but what cost to remove?? Figures are likely to be in the order of $3,000,000 per turbine to dismantle (those massive cranes don’t come cheap). Far more than the property is worth – isn’t that property devaluation?

    The blades are fibre reinforced plastic which is not recyclable and there are three per turbine which no salvage company will not want nor cart away.
    The nacelle is similar material and once again is not recyclable.
    The gearbox is useless and is scrap value only.
    The generator may be usable on a gas turbine or diesel (high pollution).
    The transformer – copper scrap value only and hard to dismantle.
    The base mount and concrete slab – never removed, only the steel neck cut off to below ground level.
    The steel tower – scrap value only.

    As I see it, scrap value per turbine only a few paltry thousand dollars.
    If all OH&S rules are disregarded and the tower simply unbolted and pushed over and dismantled (space permitting) – ok, you’d get it down cheaper but a tangled and bent mass would be a big job to disassemble.

    I understand that turbine host contracts are being written which absolve the developer from any removal costs and in any case, when the wind companies are broke, it will be left to the host to remove the turbines. OUCH!!

    Seems to me that very little thought has gone into the $now (read greed) and the ultimate cost.

    Where is the non recyclable graveyard going to be??

    • David would you mind if I pass on what you say here? Most people don’t know that it will be up to the property owners to remove the turbines after there time is up. I have been telling a lot of people that they will have to be removed by the land owner – but most don’t believe that it is so.

      It certainly is as I’ve been saying all along…

      Wind turbines are NOT GREEN, NOT CHEAP, NOT RELIABLE and come with a very BAD side EFFECT to People and the ENVIRONMENT. There is nothing GREEN about wind TURBINES.

      SAY NO TO WIND TURBINES.

      • David Mortimer says:

        I have no problems with my comments being used to further our cause. The comments are only guestimates but I would think are pretty close to the mark.

        Wouldn’t it be ironic if turbine hosts were paid a pittance to assume ultimate ownership of the monstrosities, only to find that the cost of removal exceeded the payment by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And….if the host owned the turbines, why would it be up to the taxpayer to foot the removal bill?

  7. Jackie Rovensky says:

    I’ve wondered why they even hold ‘information’ sessions when all they are providing is the propaganda literature already circulated or available on their websites. They treat those they are trying to ‘convert, deceive’ as if they are illiterate, unable to read, asses and/or compose intelligent questions, which would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the industry.
    Yes, they have failed to win hearts and minds for one simple reason they have nothing to offer but rhetoric which they cannot explain or prove to be true.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Australia – the wind industry’s “Vietnam” […]

  2. […] It seems like aeons since Vestas launched its risible “Act on Facts” campaign – aimed at foiling the work done by STT (and others) – and in an effort to quell the growing community backlash against giant fans that blew up all over rural Australia (see our post here). […]

  3. […] A while back we likened the response of affected and threatened communities in Australia to the wind industry’s “Vietnam” – where, like the United State’s military – its people “on the ground” failed to “win the hearts and minds” of locals (see our post here). […]

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