US Renewable Guru commits heresy – once the facts are known support for fans plummets

robert bryce 2

Robert Bryce – unloading on the greatest fraud of all time.

Many STT readers will be aware that both the Australian government (where are you Greg Hunt) and the Clean Energy Regulator have been conspicuously silent amid allegations of fraudulent payments running to hundreds of millions of dollars relating to RECs – aka Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) – created by non-compliant wind factories such as Waubra, Cape Bridgewater, Toora and Macarthur (see our comments here and here).  This has occurred with the quiet complicity of state governments and their planning and environment departments, that have conveniently “turned a blind eye” to the fraud perpetrated by these weasels.

The situation in the USA it seems is much the same, where President Obama has presided over the waste of billions in US tax-payer dollars on useless giant fan and solar panel boondoggles.  Robert Bryce is one American who gets it – his article below provides an insight into the government loan guarantees and multi-million dollar grants under-pinning one giant fan scam – the GE, Shepherds Flat project in Oregon.  It also provides a little light relief – centering on the realisation by a young renewables academic that the giant fan industry he supports is a nothing more than a crock.

America’s Worst Wind-Energy Project
Wind-energy proponents admit they need lots of spin to overwhelm the truly informed.

National Review Online
By Robert Bryce
12 October 2011

The more people know about the wind-energy business, the less they like it. And when it comes to lousy wind deals, General Electric’s Shepherds Flat project in northern Oregon is a real stinker. I’ll come back to the GE project momentarily. Before getting to that, please ponder that first sentence. It sounds like a claim made by an anti-renewable-energy campaigner. It’s not. Instead, that rather astounding admission was made by a communications strategist during a March 23 webinar sponsored by the American Council on Renewable Energy called “Speaking Out on Renewable Energy: Communications Strategies for the Renewable Energy Industry.”

During the webinar, Justin Rolfe-Redding, a doctoral student from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, discussed ways for wind-energy proponents to get their message out to the public. Rolfe-Redding said that polling data showed that “after reading arguments for and against wind, wind lost support.” He went on to say that concerns about wind energy’s cost and its effect on property values “crowded out climate change” among those surveyed.

The most astounding thing to come out of Rolfe-Redding’s mouth — and yes, I heard him say it myself — was this: “The things people are educated about are a real deficit for us.” After the briefings on the pros and cons of wind, said Rolfe-Redding, “enthusiasm decreased for wind. That’s a troubling finding.” The solution to these problems, said Rolfe-Redding, was to “weaken counterarguments” against wind as much as possible. He suggested using “inoculation theory” by telling people that “wind is a clean source, it provides jobs” and adding that “it’s an investment in the future.” He also said that proponents should weaken objections by “saying prices are coming down every day.”

It’s remarkable to see how similar the arguments being put forward by wind-energy proponents are to those that the Obama administration is using to justify its support of Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar company that got a $529 million loan guarantee from the federal government. But in some ways, the government support for the Shepherds Flat deal is worse than what happened with Solyndra.

The majority of the funding for the $1.9 billion, 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon is coming courtesy of federal taxpayers. And that largesse will provide a windfall for General Electric and its partners on the deal who include Google, Sumitomo, and Caithness Energy. Not only is the Energy Department giving GE and its partners a $1.06 billion loan guarantee, but as soon as GE’s 338 turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the Treasury Department will send the project developers a cash grant of $490 million.

The deal was so lucrative for the project developers that last October, some of Obama’s top advisers, including energy-policy czar Carol Browner and economic adviser Larry Summers, wrote a memo saying that the project’s backers had “little skin in the game” while the government would be providing “a significant subsidy (65+ percent).” The memo goes on to say that, while the project backers would only provide equity equal to about 11 percent of the total cost of the wind project, they would receive an “estimated return on equity of 30 percent.”

The memo continues, explaining that the carbon dioxide reductions associated with the project “would have to be valued at nearly $130 per ton for CO2 for the climate benefits to equal the subsidies.” The memo continues, saying that that per-ton cost is “more than 6 times the primary estimate used by the government in evaluating rules.”

The Obama administration’s loan guarantee for the now-bankrupt Solyndra has garnered lots of attention, but the Shepherds Flat deal is an even better example of corporate welfare. Several questions are immediately obvious:

First: Why, as Browner and Summers asked, is the federal government providing loan guarantees and subsidies for an energy project that could easily be financed by GE, which has a market capitalisation of about $170 billion?

Second: Why is the Obama administration providing subsidies to GE, which paid little or no federal income taxes last year even though it generated some $5.1 billion in profits from its U.S. Operations?

Third: How is it that GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, can be the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness while his company is paying little or no federal income taxes? That question is particularly germane as the president never seems to tire of bashing the oil and gas industry for what he claims are the industry’s excessive tax breaks.

Over the past year, according to Yahoo! Finance, the average electric utility’s return on equity has been 7.1 percent. Thus, taxpayer money is helping GE and its partners earn more than four times the average return on equity in the electricity business.

A few months ago, I ran into Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy. I asked him why Duke — which has about 14,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity — was investing in wind9energy projects. The answer, said Rogers forthrightly, was simple: The subsidies available for wind projects allow Duke to earn returns on equity of 17 to 22 percent.

In other words, for all of the bragging by the wind-industry proponents about the rapid growth in wind-generation capacity, the main reason that capacity is growing is that companies such as GE and Duke are able to goose their profits by putting up turbines so they can collect subsidies from taxpayers.

There are other reasons to dislike the Shepherds Flat project: It’s being built in Oregon to supply electricity to customers in Southern California. That’s nothing new. According to the Energy Information Administration, “California imports more electricity from other states than any other state.” Heaven forbid that consumers in the Golden State would have to actually live near a power plant, refinery, or any other industrial facility. And by building the wind project in Oregon, electricity consumers in California are only adding to the electricity congestion problems that have been plaguing the region served by the Bonneville Power Authority. Earlier this year, the BPA was forced to curtail electricity generated by wind projects in the area because a near-record spring runoff had dramatically increased the amount of power generated by the BPA’s dams. In other words, Shepherds Flat is adding yet more wind turbines to a region that has been overwhelmed this year by excess electrical generation capacity from renewables. And that region will now have to spending huge sums of money building new transmission capacity to export its excess electricity.

Finally, there’s the question of the jobs being created by the new wind project. In 2009, when GE and Caithness announced the Shepherds Flat deal, CNN Money reported that the project would create 35 permanent jobs. And in an April 2011 press release issued by GE on the Shepherds Flat project, one of GE’s partners in the deal said they were pleased to be bringing “green energy jobs to our economy.”

How much will those “green energy” jobs cost? Well, if we ignore the value of the federal loan guarantee and only focus on the $490 million cash grant that will be given to GE and its partners when Shepherds Flat gets finished, the cost of those “green energy” jobs will be about $16.3 million each.

As Rolfe-Redding said, the more people know about the wind business, the less they like it.

Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
National Review Online

Whoa – hold the horses – did a committed fan of fans just commit the ultimate heresy and say that once you lay out a few facts about the great wind power fraud reasonable people are ready to join the queue lining up to kill it off?

Seems that Justin Rolfe-Redding has caught on to the FACT that giant fans are nothing more than an equally giant fraud – that can only be pitched to well-meaning punters with lashings of well-tailored spin.

As we’ve said before – once people are introduced to the facts about the insane costs of intermittent and unreliable wind power they cease to support it – and when they learn of the tragic suffering caused to hard working rural people by giant fans their attitude stiffens to the point of hostility to those behind the fraud.

In our travels we’ve met plenty of people that started out in favour of wind power and turned against it.  But we’ve yet to meet anyone who started out opposed to wind power, who later became a supporter.  Present the facts to reasonable people – and they’ll want to know how the scam got started in the first place and why it hasn’t been stopped in its tracks already?

Australians are fast catching on to wind industry chicanery at work here in Oz – where wind weasels spin is the only thing that gives rise to support for an industry utterly bereft of any merit.

The Clean Energy Council has been reduced to spouting a stream of hysterical lies – aimed at justifying the RET and the REC Tax tacked on top of our spiralling power bills.

In the States, President Obama has wasted billions of US tax-payers dollars on useless renewable energy projects like the Shepherds Flat wind project and the failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.

Here it’s been about pouring $millions into the coffers of Union backed outfits – like Gary Weaven’s Pac Hydro – using taxpayer backed, unsecured “loans” via the wind power slush fund created the Green-Labor alliance – aka the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

oliver yates jillian broadbent

Oliver Yates & Jillian Broadbent explain the merits
of giving away other peoples’ money.

If it weren’t for the CEFC’s sub-prime loans (reputable banks stopped lending ages ago) there would be no prospect of any fans being slung up anywhere in Australia.

Pull the plug on the CEFC – which Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are bending over backwards to do – and the threat faced by hard-working rural people would fall away – sparing hundreds from incessant low-frequency noise and infrasound and avoiding the prospect of having the value of their homes and properties slashed.

But, with the appointment of Dick Warburton to head up the RET review, STT thinks the CEFC has become an endangered species.

The week just gone has seen an outpouring of hostility to the RET as nothing more than a secretive and insidious Tax on power consumers – with commentators correctly identifying the RET and the REC as a regressive tax on all businesses and households. The spotlight is now glaring on the RET as the single biggest cause of energy poverty amongst the elderly, the poorest and the most vulnerable in Australian society.

Manufacturers, mineral processors and miners are baying for blood – from their collective howls, these boys do not want any quarter given – in their eyes the RET simply has to go.

Spiralling power costs are proving to be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” for struggling Australian manufacturers – who are shutting-up-shop and heading off-shore in search of lower energy and input costs.

STT hears that the Head Boy is keen to let his newly picked team get to work on unscrambling the mess made by the Renewable Energy legislation.

Over the next series of posts we’ll cover the way in which – all of a sudden – business leaders, policy commentators, economists, pollies and journos woke up to the greatest environmental and economic fraud ever committed.

It’s almost as if they’ve been following STT.

dick-warburton

Dick Warburton – RET Slayer – joins the STT team.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. The movie about the scamsters will be similar to “Tin men”, with Danny Devito and his mates before the commission.

    Lies have no value!

  2. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    I love to read things like this. It puts into black and white exactly how the industry has been instructed to mislead the public and those who approve the IWT projects.

    One interesting thing I picked up on was that the Shepherds Flat project of 338 turbines would produce 35 permanent jobs – makes you wonder why REpower/Suzlon/Senvoir – CERES project on Yorke Peninsula states they will need 50 permanent employees for 199 turbines. Is there an over estimation of permanent jobs or are they telling fibs? Just more exaggeration of the usefulness of these totally useless things.

  3. Remember, the so called ‘Clean Energy Council’ used to be known as the ‘Australian Wind Energy Association’. Clearly wind ‘entrepreneurs’ knew years ago that sooner or later the jig would be up. But even with that silly title, a growing number of people are no longer fooled by their antics. Keep up the great work STT.

  4. The Shepherds Flat wind factory sure deserves the tag – America’s worst wind energy project. Here are a couple of background snippets related to that project.

    May 2009 from Fox News, news concerning GE and NBC:

    As you may know, NBC News has emerged as the most pro-Obama TV news operation in the country. Its cable news operation openly shills for the president and did so during the election. And when some CNBC financial commentators began criticizing Mr. Obama, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and NBC President Jeff Zucker went over to CNBC in person to deal with the situation. GE owns NBC.
    Since that time, very little criticism of the president has been heard on CNBC. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence.

    December 2009 from Cnet, GE wins $1.4 billion wind farm contract:

    The massive 845-megawatt wind farm, Shepherds Flat, will be located near Arlington, Oregon, but span approximately 30 square miles and cover parts of Oregon’s Gilliam and Morrow Counties.
    GE estimates that it will supply 338 of its 2.5-megawatt wind turbine models to be installed between 2011 and 2012. Although they have been used in Europe and Asia, the company says the Shepherds Flat project will include the first U.S. installations of these specific GE turbines.
    “When completed, [the Shepherds Flat project] will be larger than any wind farm currently in operation around the globe,” GE said in a statement.

    As the Robert Bryce article posted points out, the Shepherds Flat project was blessed with $1.06 billion in government loan guarantees, and $490 million in government cash grants(?)

  5. Adam Shepherd says:

    We’ve fought for years against an uncaring state government, corrupt wind farm company and selfish local farmers. Finally, we’re feeling as though the end is nigh for these greedy parasites and their money-grabbing schemes. That feeling of (near), relief is unbelievable! I’d also like to thank the hard working team at STT for their tireless work. Thank you!

  6. The sooner this fan business is stopped the better. The wind weasel and greentard goons are close to stepping over the edge of the windy cliff, and they are too dumb to realise it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] some of his recent writings on US energy policy and the wind power fraud (see our posts here and here and […]

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