For industrial wind developers, silence is gold(en)!

Its common practice for companies to hire celebrities to promote their products – everything from razor blades to cars to pizza.  There’s a lot of competition out there and celebrities claiming a product is their favorite often persuades consumers to at least try their product.  As long at the celebrity actually uses the product they endorse, which is law in China but apparently not in the US, there’s nothing really wrong with the practice.

Anyway, if I buy a Gold Bond product because I like and trust their spokesman Shaquille O’Neal and the product doesn’t live up to expectations, I can always take it back to the store and get my money back.  I probably won’t write to Shaq and complain because maybe it worked for him.  Benefit of the doubt, you know … I think Shaq is an honest fellow!

But does the same concept hold as ethical if the “celebrity” is a public official.  What happens if the product proves a bust and yet it can’t be returned?  What if the officials see the error of their support for a failed product but must continue to actually promote the product anyway?  What if the money they were paid, in fact, bought their unflinching loyalty to the product and for the next 25 years they couldn’t tell their constituents they were bamboozled?  What if the product failed to deliver on its promises and actually became a health and/or environmental hazard and, by contract, they couldn’t speak out on behalf of the citizens they represent?

Sound far fetched?  Well, it seems little is when it comes to the industrial wind business.

As example, a contract under review for approval by the Board of Education representing the Mount Pulaski district in Illinois.  Seems the BOE just decided to turn down a $12.5 million offer submitted for their approval by wind farm developers Meridien LLC,  a subsidiary of Italy based ReLight US Corp.  All the wind company wanted in return was for the BOE to keep a zipped lip to any problems stemming from the wind plant under consideration for the area.

One citizen saw the potential money as salvation to a dwindling treasury noting that, among other school improvements, “the money could be used to add teacher’s aides to classrooms.”  Another saw it as a way for the wind developer to buy silence stating, “Ask yourself, ‘why are they offering this deal?’  The reason is because they know they have problems.  They know they are going to harm local residents.”

Sure, it would be a tough decision to refuse the cash.  Dangling money in front of a community in need can be pretty persuasive.  But after hearing from the public and, I would hope, realizing the ethical jeopardy they would put themselves in, the Board voted down the contract 4 to 2.

Just what were some of the “protections” the wind developer sought from the BOE in return for their $12.5 million which was to be paid out over the length of the project?  Have a look:

  • Present a resolution to the Logan County board in favor of the project
  • Supply representatives to speak in support of the project at public meetings
  • Issue company-approved news releases expressing their support for the wind farm
  • Ban all current and future board members from speaking against the project in an official capacity
  • Not make any claims or suits against the project or the company
  • Be prevented from passing any law or ordinance that would regulate, limit or detrimentally affect the project

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Exactly how bad must your product be that you have pay officials to ignore their sworn duty to protect their citizens?

Thanks to our friends at National Wind Watch for reporting on the story.  Read more here –School Board votes ‘no’ on wind farm agreement

By the way, don’t think it can happen here … “here” being wherever you are?  Only way to be sure it doesn’t is to insist your officials fully understand they are working for you and that any contracts, as it was in this case, be made available to the public prior to signing.

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Time to focus

For anyone wishing to educate themselves about Industrial Wind, beyond the information made available by the wind industry’s well financed AWEA (American Wind Energy Association), there are excellent sites which continue to provide news, information and studies.  These are operated by serious, well-informed and respected individuals who provide daily updates about national and worldwide issues.

The ever increasing number of grass-root groups formed to protect their communities from wind developers are very well served by the information provided by web resources such as two of my “go to’s'”  The Wind Action Group and National Wind Watch.

On the community action front, many grass-root groups have banded together to form alliances in order to bring numbers to issues to challenge the heavily funded wind profiteers.  I’ve linked several on the AT home page.  I recommend interested readers search out alliances which best serve your particular needs.

The one which most closely meets my regional needs is the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, an “alliance of organizations and individuals committed to protecting the mountain resources of the Allegheny Highlands.”  AHA counts among it’s membership organizations from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

It is important to note that the opinions/commentaries expressed at the Allegheny Treasures blog are not written, directed or approved by the Allegheny Highlands Alliance.  All commentary written by “morgan” for Allegheny Treasures is solely the opinion of the author.

I began Allegheny Treasures as a local blog because I felt ill served by my local news services which, in my estimation, provided a promotional view of the industrial wind project marching toward the ridges above my West Virginia home.  I wanted to learn more and persuade a few of my fellow residents to consider the information available beyond our local press articles.

Originally a supporter of the technology I became a convert to the opposition moved by the information I found, particularly as it related to the product’s poor performance, environmental destruction and broken promises made to communities.  I was particularly offended by what I felt was the profit-based developers attempt to masquerade as the community’s best friend only to later move on to the next target.

Defining myself as a pessimist and, in spite of our opposition, we lost the battle.  The placement of the 23 turbines of Pinnacle, stretching across the Allegheny ridge line above Keyser, WV is history.

After the project was completed, I felt it important to learn from that history and share what we could learn from this project to other communities within our region.  I wrote an open letter to the politicians and appointed officials who supported and/or permitted the installation with hopes that Pinnacle would serve as a “teachable moment” to other communities who face the difficult decision whether to allow or fight turbines in their communities.  Of course, the perpetually vocal supporters were suddenly very silent.  There was no response to my respectful request to measure promise against actual delivery on said promises, an opportunity the Pinnacle project easily afforded.

Over the past months this blog has been in Rip Van Winkle mode as I decided to focus on local/regional issues.  I admit to hitting the slumber button a few times over the past months but a few issues are causing the alarm to ring louder and can no longer be ignored.

While I will, to a lesser degree, point readers to items of national and international interest, I will leave full explanation to the much more effective sources, The Wind Action Group and National Wind Watch, and the other organizations which I link on the AT home page.  I will instead focus my efforts on the Appalachian region with particular attention to the efforts of wind developers who wish to bring industrial wind to our communities.

I welcome constructive and civil comments to my posts and will not screen based on differing opinions.  I will continue to refuse to post obscenity laced comments which, believe it or not, some individuals actually believe will bolster their argument.

I make every effort to be accurate and will quickly remedy any oversight or error, as long at the respondent provides evidence supporting the challenge.

With all that said, time to get to work.

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“crash course in sustainable wind energy”

“in fact, this could be the first “net-zero” building in Coos County. That means all of the energy needed to operate the museum and aquarium is expected to be generated on site.

No offense, but with all such claims … I’ll believe it when they cut the wires to the grid.

If they actually do cut the cord, I suspect the estimated 10,000 visitors who walk through the doors of the new Charleston Marine Life Center really will get a “crash course in sustainable wind energy.

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Too much CO2? Well, stuff it!

A couple of weeks ago over at Anthony Watts’ fine site there appeared a cautionary post by Eric Worrall regarding carbon sequestration.  Be sure to read his full and very interesting piece – 1 million tons of pressurised CO2 stored beneath Decatur, Illinois.

Briefly, Mr. Worrall shared his concern for the residents of Decatur should the stored CO2 leak out.  He related his concern to the 1986 CO2 leak in Africa which killed some 2,500 people living within in the 15 mile, thankfully sparsely populated, radius with just 100,000 – 300,000 tons of CO2 reaching the surface.

So today, a friend sends me this link – MIT study challenges feasibility of carbon capture and storage.

The MIT study confirms that “carbon sequestration promises to address greenhouse-gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface, where it would permanently solidify into rock.”  The MIT researchers conducting the recent study are concerned that “as carbon dioxide works its way underground, only a small fraction of the gas turns to rock. The remainder of the gas stays in a more tenuous form.”  Further, “if it stays in its gaseous or liquid phase, it remains mobile and it can possibly return back to the atmosphere.”

The “back to the atmosphere” circumstance the MIT folks mention sounded harmless enough to my untrained ear, until I refered back to Mr. Worrall’s WUWT article which notes that the African “CO2 release was so deadly, because CO2 is heavier than air – when the huge CO2 cloud boiled out of lake Nyos, it hugged the ground, displacing all breathable air to an elevation 10s of ft above ground level, suffocating almost everyone in its path.  Its not just people and animals which would be affected – car engines would also stall, as the blanket of CO2 choked off the supply of oxygen.”

Mr. Worrall ends with this:  “If carbon sequestration becomes commonplace, sooner or later someone will get greedy and careless, and will be careless in their choice of geological reservoir, and / or will overload their geological reservoir to boost their bottom line. And that carelessness will, in my opinion, almost inevitably lead to a catastrophic loss of life.”

And I don’t know about you folks, but that scenario worries me a lot more than a couple of degree rise in temperature over the next 100 years or so.  I sure hope someone’s thought this whole thing through.

 

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Green Policy: “probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual and ruinously expensive”

A very interesting discussion presented without comment.

Please visit panel moderator Piers Corbyn, Astrophysicist, long range weather forecaster, and campaigner, at Climate Realists and also subscribe to his YouTube channel.

 

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Climate Etc. – understanding the cost of renewables

Climate Etc. readers requested a post on “the generation planning process to help them better understand cost issues surrounding the large scale addition and integration of renewable resources.

According to the author of the excellent analysis, “the major takeaway is that differing types of generating resources bring diverse sets of costs and benefits to the power system so that they cannot be compared solely based on a cost per Megawatt (MW) produced basis … it matters very much when energy is generated, where the energy comes from and how well it works to support the system

Please read the full analysis at this link – All megawatts are not equal

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Another case of the green chicken coming home to roost?

You just knew it had to come:

“With just a 48-hour notice delivered by a personal phone call to Ms. Merkel on a Saturday, the CEO of E.ON, the largest German and European power producer, let it be known that the company had decided to split itself in two, one part grouping fossil and nuclear power generation and a second part encompassing the “politically correct” activities in the field of “renewable” energies. Sort of a “Bad E.ON” / “Good E.ON” move. The intention is to get rid of the “bad” part as soon as possible by putting it up for sale. At the same time, this also means the “good” part will cease to be duty bound to ensure a stable power supply under all circumstances. Obviously, such a liability is not enforceable from an entity whose only power sources are unstable wind and solar power plants. In a nutshell, the message behind this move is that the silverback of the “big four” German energy producers who group the bulk of the country’s conventional and nuclear power production is about to close shop at short notice. The others will probably follow suit.”

Please be sure to read the full opinion piece by Fred Mueller at this link:  The unsinkable German anti-CO2-Titanic just found its iceberg

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Hey, I’m not that stupid!

I make no apologies for this post, which may appear, by Allegheny Treasures standards, somewhat off topic.

To the contrary, this post has everything to do with the effort made in this little blog to call for an open and transparent analysis of the industrial wind business, its true environmental impact, its questionable contribution to the reduction of emissions and its potential for serving as an economical and reliable energy source for the future.

In the video following, admissions made by MIT’s Jonathan Gruber, a “key figure” in the construction of the Affordable Care Act, should stun each and every citizen of this country, regardless of party affiliation.  The assault on American citizens as stupid pawns, and the use of transparency as a political weapon by which we can, and should in their estimation, be manipulated is beyond disgraceful.  That this elitist so openly contends it is appropriate to deceive us for our own good, suggests to me that this willingness to deceive is not an isolated case but, in fact, likely systemic.

First the 53 second video:

Note these comments from the video:

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it was written to do that.

Isn’t this obviously condoned ploy to deceive the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, by extension, a deception of Congress itself … perhaps with assistance of some members of that very body?  If so, one might ask if it is now legal to lie, deceive or obstruct Congress.  Further, by intentionally mixing terms (fees/taxes) to cloud the issue, was the Supreme Court also deceived?  If so, is that action suddenly legal?

In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you get a law which said healthy people are gonna pay in — you made explicit that healthy people were gonna pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passed.

More deceit, but this time the victim is the American Citizen.  Of course, any thinking person should have realized that, with all its earthly power, the Federal Government has not mastered the “loaves and fishes” miracle.  The money has to come from somewhere, but we’re not trusted to participate in a decision regarding our own money?

… lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.  And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.

So deception is “critical to getting the thing to pass?”  One could easily substitute “any governmental supported adventure” for the “thing” in this terribly offensive comment and if, as implied, this ploy is generally accepted practice among those who are supposed to look out for our interest, it cannot stand.  There must be no tolerance for anyone acting in such a manner or the individuals enabling the action.

Full transparency can be toxic for government supported adventures, especially those which yield marginal returns for Citizens, yet exceptional returns for the government agencies, politicians and industries which rely on taxpayer dollars for their livelihood.

This is particularly true of the exceptionally profitable subsidy industry.  The subsidy industry – a government/industrial complex in which taxpayers are required to fund companies in order that they can profit by marketing their product to consumers – often rewards the power brokers with campaign contributions, lucrative second careers in the private sector and other “benefits” befitting their position as keeper of the bottomless purse.  (By the way, you’re not supposed to notice that the taxpayers and consumers are, for the most part, one and the same.)

And finally:  “Look, I wish Mark was right, we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

In perhaps this most damning comment, you could easily substitute “American Citizen” for this fellow “Mark.”  What Mr. Gruber is, perhaps unwittingly, suggesting is that while we idealistic folks who believe in our government may be entitled to know what is really going on, Mr. Gruber and his elitist friends deem us to stupid to know what we need.  Therefore, it is not only their right to deceive, but an obligation to do so in order to save us from our own stupid selves.  I suspect this misguided concept is the driving force which not only justifies lying to us, but the US Congress and the US Supreme Court, as well.

So yes, this post may seem off topic … but I feel industries receiving support from our government agencies, be it taxpayer funding or regulatory directive, and the agencies which are supposed to oversee these profit based industries, must be fully transparent and accountable to the citizens of this country.

Allegheny Treasures has long held the position that no profit-based business should receive taxpayer subsidies, and that includes the Production Tax Credit for Wind , which will surely be considered by Congress again soon.

We believe that preventing government from doling out taxpayer dollars places the burden of financial support for these private companies right back where it belongs – private investors.  And guess what, before you get their money, private investors require full transparency!

UPDATE:  Adding insult to injury, it appears Mr. Gruber was paid nearly $400,000.00 as an “architect” of Affordable Care Act.  What I find particularly disgusting is that Mr. Gruber gloats about deceiving the very taxpayers who were paying his salary at the time.  If this isn’t illegal, it is certainly must be, at the very least, unethical!  And he remains a professor at a major university???  Really???

Posted in Energy Subsidies, Wind Energy Legislation, Wind Power subsidies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two options for baseload electricity: fossil fuels and nuclear power

If you have only time to read one article today, you might consider this one:  Iowa roots: James Hansen speaks truth to power

Readers might recall Mr. Hansen joining three other distinguished scientists (Dr. Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Atmospheric Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Tom Wigley, Climate Scientist, University of Adelaide and the National Center for Atmospheric Research) in open letter nearly a year ago to promote the use of nuclear energy. – To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power

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Bankruptcy and the corporate skunks

You know, skunks get a bad rap!  I admit they do get a little funky at times, but mostly when you mess with them or, worse, run over them with your car.  But that smell is nothing compared to what’s coming out of the Edison Mission Energy (EME) bankruptcy proceedings.

Seems the US Bankruptcy Court of Chicago saw fit to grant Edison Mission permission to stiff some 300 current and 160 future retirees out of the large sum of money due to them.

According to Industries News Press, Edison Mission originally wanted to cut these folk’s health and retirement benefits more severely, but the impacted employees decided to fight back in an attempt to get the $70,000,000 owed to them.

The Court decided that, instead of paying the full $70 million due, Edison Mission could get away with only paying some $23 million.  According to the article, “the settlement says nonunion retirees’ benefits will remain in effect for a short while longer, while union retirees’ benefits will be paid through March 31, 2015.”  By my estimate, that’s a $46 million shortfall or, retirees got a third of what was due to them.  Keep that number in mind – $46 million.

Maybe, in this time of financial pain, getting a third of what is due to you is considered a victory for the little guy.  On the other hand, my cynical nature leads me to suspect the Lawyers representing both sides of the argument are likely pretty happy with their piece of the pie.  (And, he says naively … I hope none of the lawyer fees came out of the pensioner’s $23 million.)

You might wonder why I care, since I’m not a past or current employee of Edison Mission.  These things happen all the time!  Edison Mission is bankrupt so these people are lucky they got anything … stop whining!  Besides, the court agrees with the settlement!  Time to move on!

Well, here’s what rubs me the wrong way.  I live under the Pinnacle wind plant in Keyser, WV.  Edison Mission – Pinnacle’s owner of record in August of 2012 received over $44,000,000 (that’s $44 million) from the United States Treasury Taxpayers as a grant simply for building the 23 turbine wind plant on the Allegheny Front.

In December of 2012, just four damned months after receiving the $44 million Taxpayer subsidy for simply building Pinnacle, the company declared themselves bankrupt.  Does anyone acutally believe EME and it’s corporate mother Edison International (EI) were not already working on the bankruptcy at the same time they were running to the Bank to cash the $44 million Taxpayer handout!  A bankruptcy of this magnitude isn’t decided over lunch, folks.

Something smells!

Want to know what else smells?  The US Treasury Taxpayers handing over $44 million to a for-profit company which, in a mere four months, declares bankruptcy and, now, thanks to a court ruling, the bankrupt company, or one of the other corporate players in this saga, not only gets to keep the $44 million corporate welfare check, the court allows EME to rip off its past and current employees for nearly the same amount – $46 million.

I know nearly every lawyer will claim that it’s apples and oranges and the the Court must rule according to the law and blah and blah and blah – it’s the law, its the law!  Well, that might be technically correct … but it’s just not right!  The US Bankruptcy Court should be savvy enough to smoke this little cash deal out, and, if current law doesn’t protect employees from this financial slight of hand, the Court should demand Congress give them the tools to act fairly.

Adding salt to the Taxpayer and retirees wounds … EME accused it’s corporate mother, EI, of “plundering Edison Mission of hundreds of millions of dollars before the bankruptcy filing.”  I can only assume the $44 million and the $46 million were part of the alleged pirate raid.

But, not to worry, these bickering corporations had a “Kumbayah” moment and “reached a settlement that dropped the threat of litigation and set out a plan to share more than a $1 billion in tax benefits.”

Something smells!.

And what of the remaining players – Edison International and NRG Energy?

Edison International Stock was selling for around $45/share in December 2012.  Today it is $56.  EME’s Momma came out OK, I’d say.

NRG Energy, a huge energy producer, concluded a purchase of Edison Mission Energy in April of this year.  If you watch the market reports lately, this newly minted second largest US power company seems to be doing great.  The stock seems to be in a steady climb.

Maybe one of these two corporate giants will kick in a little to the pension fund.  I’m sure they feel bad about the employees getting stiffed of the $46 million they planned to live on and now have little working life left to recover.  Maybe if NRG Energy or Edison International happen to stumble across the $44 million the US Treasury Taxpayers so generously handed the bankrupt for-profit Edison Mission for just one of their projects, they’ll kick in a little to the retirees.

But frankly, I doubt if any of the gang of three will do what’s right.  EME practically said they would have taken even more from the pensioners if they could.  I hope I’m wrong, but EI and NRG Energy will likely claim a comfortable distance from the bankruptcy ruling which effectively subsidized their profits on the backs of the pensioners and Taxpayers.

Nah … apples and oranges, remember!

And anyway, the $44 million Taxpayer dollars which subsidized a third of the cost of construction at the Pinnacle wind plant in West Virginia is likely lost in the shuffle of billions floating from ledger to ledger.  Gone from the US Taxpayer’s pockets and into the pockets of one of the three for-profit corporations.

It’s not surprising that $44 or $46 million gets lost in the shuffle I suppose.  When you consider that more than $20,000,000,000.00 ($20 billion) Taxpayer dollars has been handed out to for-profit corporations just from the 1603 Grant program for renewable energy alone and billions and billions of Taxpayer money is forked over to for-profit companies in the form of Production Tax Credits and other tax incentives.  It’s either hard to keep track of these paltry millions or …

Something smells!

It’s my opinion that the US Government Taxpayer should not be subsidizing any for-profit company for anything … anything … anything!

Secondly, we need a level of intelligence and fair play much higher than displayed in this bankruptcy action.  Any legal process which allows the taking of committed employee benefits due to corporate’s unintended or intentional mismanagement of finances, while walking away with profits, must be changed.

As the dust settles, the Bankruptcy Judge heads home, the attorneys meet at the country club to discuss tactics for the next case and the retirees and lowly Taxpayers scramble to piece together what’s left of their money in order to pay the monthly bills.

Something smells!

Oh, a question for the officials charged with protecting the Taxpayers of tiny Mineral County, WV – has assurance been given that all agreements, including the poorly constructed decommission agreement, are safe from the same peril experienced by the pensioners?

And while you’re at it, with which corporate entity will the County leaders revisit the Decommission Agreement in just a few years?  Just kidding … I realize that’s an unfair question.  With the way these wind LLC’s change names and ownership passed around like hot potatoes, who knows who will own Pinnacle in 2 – 3 years?

But, look at the bright side … maybe when Pinnacle’s massive Japanese made turbines mounted on the huge Mexican made towers come tumbling down, someone might find the $44 million in subsidies the US Treasury Taxpayers handed to the for-profit Edison Mission Energy four months before it declared bankruptcy tucked away inside.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

In fairness, there’s no doubt I’m missing something.  One of these kindly corporations will let me know I’m wrong and that they are, in fact, looking out for the little guy.  I’ll probably get comments from NRG Energy, EI or even EME explaining how they made the retirees whole and how the Taxpayers should be proud of their investment in the now bankrupt EME.  Heck, I’ll probably feel so bad that I ranted on about this topic that I’ll immediately begin working on my apology.  I’m ready to eat crow!

And, who knows … I might finally hear back from the elected officials I penned the open letter to way back in August of 2011.

But, until all that happens, I hope you don’t mind if I hang out with the skunk!

Posted in Decommission, Edison Mission Group, Energy Ethics, Industrial Wind Taxes, Mineral County WV, Pinnacle Wind Farm, Wind Power subsidies, Wind tax rebates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments