Update on environmental damage from wind power

WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.
WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.

Just a few of the recent articles providing updates on slice-and-dicers damage in general and status of North Dakota wind farms plants in particular.

  • Wyoming project may get specific permission to kill eagles
  • All wind farms plants get broad permission to kill eagles for 30 years
  • Massive subsidies for wind power, which is intermittent and unreliable, meaning it is often unavailable when needed
  • Updates on two N.D. turbine farms

12/8/16 – Denver Post – Wyoming wind project may get permit to kill eagles – The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm plant, which will start with 500 slice-and-dicers and may expand to 1,000 bird-choppers, could get two critical permits by next month (January).

The first permit will allow destroying eagle nests that are currently unoccupied. I’m guessing that will chase away eagles from the kill zone.

The second permit will allow the facility to kill 14 golden eagles a year for five years. They can also off 2 bald eagles a year for five years.

The slicer farm plant will have to do mitigation for the golden eagles they expect to kill, but not the bald eagles.

They will do a retrofit on power lines that could possibly kill golden eagles. An official representative for FWS says nobody knows how many golden eagles are killed by power lines, which obviously  means neither they nor anyone else has any idea how significant the threat is from a mile or ten miles of power lines, but the experts know exactly how much power line must be retrofitted to offset exactly the expected toll of 14 golden eagles.

Obviously I don’t understand, so could someone explain the tradeoff of unknownable mitigation against calculated, projected deaths?

Project still has more permits to go (type unspecified in article) and if those are issued, construction could begin in a couple of years.

12/14 – AP at PennEnergy – Final wind-energy rule permits thousands of eagle deaths – For special privilege to the wind industry, the federal government issued a policy that it will grant thirty year permits to slaughter eagles at wind farms plants. The allowed killings are not unlimited – maximum killing of 4,200 bald eagles in that three decade timeframe.

10/20 – Carpe Diem – Wind is the electricity sector’s version of corn ethanol, and possibly an even bigger boondoggle – Based on a megawatt-hour of output, subsidies for wind power are 26 times the subsidies for fossil fuels and 16 times the subsidies provided for nuclear power.

In addition, the demand for wind power is artificially forced by legislatures requiring electricity companies to have a certain amount of so-called renewable energy.

Without humongously massive subsidies and artificial demand the wind power industry would collapse immediately.

Article points out the wind power is a potential source of energy. Articles also points out that we have all the natural gas we could use and nuclear power is readily available. Unlike natural gas and nuclear power, wind power is intermittent and unreliable. While we are on the point, remember solar is also intermittent and unreliable.

Consider this contrast: if you placed offshore wind turbines side-by-side from Maine to Florida, that electrical output could be equaled by four large power plants. In addition turbines need to be replaced every 12 or 15 years while nuclear reactors are licensed for 60 years and can operate for 80.

12/22 – Dickinson Press – Downsized N.D. wind farm approved on split vote – The state Public Service Commission voted to shrink the Glacier Ridge Wind Farm from 88 turbines with theoretical capacity of 300 MW to 53 turbines at potential output of 179 MW.

Amongst issues of concern to PSC is the project owner doesn’t have all the easements for the towers, doesn’t have transmission lines to get the power to market, doesn’t have a customer for the electricity, and doesn’t have construction plans beyond pouring the foundations.

Urgency for the project is to do something tangible by the end of 2016 in order to get the huge production tax credit locked in. Otherwise, the tax subsidies might not go into play, which from what I’ve learned, would make the project financially unviable.

Reporter for the article was not able to gather any cost estimates for the original project or the currently approved phase 1.

The project is in Barnes county, between Fargo and Bismarck. In 2013 there were 11,190 people living in the 1,513 square miles of the county.

1/3/17 – Dickinson Press – MDU enters power purchase agreement for Thunder Spirit Wind project near Hettinger – The Thunder Spirit Wind project will expand from theoretical capacity of 107.5 MW to 150 MW, adding between 13 and 16 turbines to the 43 slice-and-dicers currently in operation.

Montana-Dakota Utilities signed an agreement to buy the output of the new turbines for the next 25 years.

Current agreement allows MDU to buy the project at the end of construction. Article says they previously purchased the existing 43 turbines.

Estimated cost of the expansion is $85M with construction done by December 2018. That puts construction cost at two million per megawatt ($85M / 42.5 MW = $2.0M).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *