Washington State blows away wind fantasies
By Ronald Stein
The Northwest has spoken loudly as the Benton Public Utility District (BPUD) has documented their actual battleground experiences with intermittent electricity from wind farms that should be a wake-up call to our policy makers. Their message is “no more wind”.
The Washington state utility 16-page report titled “Wind Power and Clean Energy Policy Perspectives” of July 14, 2020 provides a devastating counter attack to the wind lobbyists that they question the efficacy of wind farms for power generation and resulted in the utility’s commissioners saying they “do not support further wind power development in the Northwest.”
Kudos to this Washington state public utility for speaking up after seeing the costs and dangers of California’s experience with an overreliance on intermittent electricity from wind and solar. In a statement and report, the utility said overly aggressive clean energy policies bring about an unacceptably high risk of power grid blackouts. They go on to say the development of wind farms may be “politically fashionable” and appeal to many in the general public, but science and economics show that attempting to power modern civilization with intermittent electricity from wind and solar will come at a high financial and environmental cost.
The report is consistent with what has happened in Germany and Australia, as power prices in Germany are among the highest in Europe. Today, German households pay almost 50% more for electricity than they did in 2006. Shockingly, America, from California to New York, continues to take giant steps toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up call for governments everywhere.
The Benton PUD believes:
- Further wind power development will unnecessarily contribute to increases in northwest utility retail electricity rates which could erode the economic development advantage low rates has given the region for many years. Establishing preferences for wind and solar energy with no accompanying targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions in the electricity sector has been shown through comprehensive study to result in unnecessary increases in the cost of electricity while not reducing GHG emissions in the most cost-effective manner possible
- The best long-term, sustainable, more cost-effective, potentially less risky, and environmentally responsible strategy toward meeting the CETA goal of 100% clean electricity in Washington State by 2045 could be to transition coal power to natural gas and then natural gas to nuclear. Benton’s position is 100 percent opposite of California’s mission to eliminate most natural gas power plants that generate continuous uninterruptible electricity, and all nuclear that generate the only known source of continuous zero emission electricity.
- Customers and citizens throughout the region are desirous of the natural beauty and open spaces that are part of their way of life. This is the reason for the report and for their formal declaration that Benton PUD does not support further development of wind power in the PNW. The PUD’s position is consistent with a recent decision in California as the San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors slammed the brakes on big industrial solar projects and highlighted a challenge for the huge landscaping demands of renewable intermittent electricity
- Lifecycle economic and environmental impacts expected to result from further development of wind power needs to be scrutinized to a much higher degree with greater recognition of issues like the global impacts of raw materials mining and the disposal of wind turbine blades which are currently destined for landfills. i.e. environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring from the mining in the countries that dominate the supply of the exotic minerals and metals to support wind, solar, and EV batteries.
The Benton PUD beliefs are consistent with the U.N. trade body, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD,) that issued a report breaking down some of the unintended negative consequences of the shift, which include ecological degradation as well as human rights abuses. The U.N. Warns of Devastating Environmental Side Effects of Electric Car Boom.
Further support of the Benton PUD beliefs are numerous documentaries about the atrocities the workers are put through in the cobalt mines, i.e. actually digging the mines by hand along with the horrendous living conditions. Amnesty International has also documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels along with the exposure to the dangerous gases emitted during the procurement of these rare minerals.
The wind and solar lobbyists and government policymakers continue their fast-stepping dance to the detriment of those that can least afford expensive electricity. They remain ignorant to the more than 6,000 products derived from the derivatives from oil that did not even exist before 1900 that are the basis of today’s societies and economies around.
The world needs to follow a prudent multi-decadal adaptation and energy strategy that is technically feasible, economically affordable, and socially enhancing (particularly in the developing world). Societies around the world need to be cognizant of understanding a world without fossil fuels, which the recent book “Just GREEN Electricity” does an excellent job of discussing.
- Electricity can make hospitals run efficiently, but electricity alone cannot make products derived from the derivatives from oil that produce all the critical medical equipment like ultrasound systems, mechanical ventilators, exhalation valves, inhalation valves, CT systems, X-ray, medicines, masks, gloves, soap and hand sanitizers for hospitals, and protective gowns, gloves and face shields gear for doctors and nurses.
- Electricity can charge your iPhone and EV battery, but electricity alone cannot make all the electronics and communications equipment.
- Electricity can help the militaries around the world function, but electricity alone cannot make any of the military equipment: aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, planes, tanks and armor, trucks, troop carriers, and weaponry.
The Benton PUD believes it is reasonable to question whether continuing to favor investments in intermittent wind electricity and putting up roadblocks to the development of dispatchable natural-gas power plants is more about environmental virtue signaling than it is about serving the best interests of the citizens of Washington State. In addition, this political posturing for renewables is silently supporting the environmental degradations and humanity atrocities occurring around the world to supply exotic minerals and metals required by wind, solar, and EV batteries.
Ronald Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.