PJM grid: “wind farms will produce 13 percent of their generating capacity.”

Yep, you read it right!  The recent Laurence Hammack article at Roanoke.com notes that “PJM Interconnection LLC, the suburban Philadelphia-based company that manages the grid for a 12-state area that includes Virginia … which likens itself to the grid’s air traffic controller, adjusts for the variations (in industrial wind supply) by forecasting that wind farms will produce 13 percent of their generating capacity.”

Imagine if you bought a $1,000,000 Enzo Ferrari and, after getting passed by nearly everything on the road home, you find it’s been equipped with a VW Beetle engine.  Would you simply find a way to “manage” it?  I doubt it!  My suspicion is that you would demand the full value of your purchase.  But our public servants, who are so generous with your money in the form of subsidies to the wind folks, don’t seem to mind that these clunkers consistently under-perform.  And, rather than discounting the full value of the project to 13% before calculating the hand-out as they might do if it were their money, they happily award the full sum to the wind developer.  Why, even the wind lobby (AWEA) admits one should assume around 30% production against nameplate capacity.

A couple of days ago we posted how the Canadian developers of the Windstar I project in California expect US Taxpayer to kick in 30% of the full project cost upon completion of the installation … before the blades even turn.  That alone amounts to a $99,000,000.00 hand out to the developer for one project!  I wonder how much has been paid out for the total 850 wind farms the AWEA claims exist in the US.  Be nice to know, wouldn’t it.  Ask your Congressional Representative … I’ll bet they know!

Similarly, I’m sure the developers of projects planning to supply the PJM grid, such as perhaps Edison’s Pinnacle project in Mineral County WV, will likely expect to receive 30% of the full cost of the project when completed.  To paraphrase Sonny and Cher, “and the debt goes on.”

In truth, this is where the debate over wind energy’s viability as an energy source needs to be centered.  Sure, the problems with noise, bat and bird kills, flicker and all the other issues industrial wind brings to the table do matter.  But I think wind opponents would make a much stronger argument if they focused on what industrial wind doesn’t bring to the table – reliable and reasonably priced electricity delivered to the consumer whenever it is demanded.

Simply put … industrial wind is a failure.  The output from these monstrous consumers of land and air space is beyond dismal and often the relatively small amount of electricity produced arrives at off-peak hours.  If Taxpayers and consumers really understood how little they receive in return for their hard earned money, they would surely revolt against this ridiculous business.

The wind business seems to prefer a debate centered on issues other than performance, and of course, “true” cost.  The “softer” issues of birds and noise are easily turned into emotional harangues lead by experts on either side flipping their competing charts and flapping their gums about nebulous theories and assumptions.

Performance is the wind industry’s Achilles heel.  Unfortunately, wind opponents fall into the trap of arguing “emotional” issues instead of simply noting that the damned things don’t work.  Power generation and supply, relative to investment is measurable.  If only the wind business were required to pull back the “proprietary” curtain and allow the Taxpayers and consumers to see the performance results relative to the true and complete costs of industrial wind, the wind business would fall under its own weight.  But try to get your hands on that information.  The facts typically only slip out now and then as the 13% PJM forecast did in this article.

Another section in the Roanoke.com article quotes the American Wind Energy Association lobby saying “there are about 850 utility-scale wind farms in 38 states. The facilities can produce more than 41,000 megawatts, enough to power 10 million homes and provide 2 percent of the nation’s electricity.”  The key word here is “can!

What if we factor the PJM forecasted 13% of nameplate capacity into the AWEA statement?  How many homes would the 850 utility scale wind farms power then power?

Is the 13% PJM forecast against nameplate capacity unfair?  I don’t really know.  But in February of 2010, Dennis Avery provided this analysis:

“Out in Oregon, General Electric has just announced a big wind project: 338 turbines, rated at 845 MW. GE claims it will power for 235,000 homes, and is applying for the appropriate federal subsidies.

Will the wind turbines power 235,000 homes? Don’t bet on it. My friend Donald Hertzmark—an energy economist—warns the power deliveries from this wind project are likely to average only 25 percent of its rated capacity. That would serve only 58,000 homes, not 235,000.

But Hertzmark says even this is too high because the wind is highly variable. The Texas power grid’s experience is to rely on no more than 9 percent of the wind farm’s rated capacity. That would reduce GE’s real subsidy claim to about 21,000 households.”

Again … “The Texas power grid’s experience is to rely on no more than 9 percent of the wind farm’s rated capacity.

But, in reality, whether it’s 9%, 11% or 30% actual production v nameplate capacity, the information we should be seeking is how much these poster children of corporate welfare actually produce and when … and at what cost?

If the very politicians protecting these business entities were forced to provide a fully transparent assessment of the wind business to the citizens they are sworn to protect, a very different picture would emerge.  My suspicion is that the wind business would cease to exist.  And what impact would that have on this Country’s future energy supply?  Absolutely none!

And, while we’re on the topic of hand-outs … with a vast majority of the Senate recognizing (and even Al Gore admitting) that ethanol is a failure, the same “trustees” you elected to guard your money just voted to continue spending billions for ethanol subsidies by shooting down an amendment that would have repealed a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit to blend ethanol in gasoline. Opponents claim their negative vote was a result of a “procedural problem.” But when you get into the weeds, you find that Senators like Diane Feinstein simply needed more time “to try to work out a deal with ethanol backers on possibly continuing some type of federal assistance for the corn-based additive.”  They want you to think they’re against handouts all the while continuing to hand out your money.

Another dance, anyone?

AT NOTE: Important commentary regarding my post was received from Mr. Jon Boone, of Stop Ill Wind.  It is included within the post for your convenience.

Mr. Boone begins:

Nice try! But you overstate the case for wind. Here’s why.

1. The PJM “forecast” for wind is misstated. What Hammack should have reported is that the PJM will only guarantee transmission of no more than 13% of wind’s rated capacity at any key peak demand period. This is to protect transmission access primarily, since unscheduled wind can clog transmission arteries and stop up firm capacity generation.

2. This 13% is different from the PJM forecast of 13% capacity credit. See my essay, Why Wind Won’t Work, for an explanation. Capacity credit is a statistical average, usually taken over a three year period, of what wind performance has done at peak times. This in no way is a predictor for what it will do at any future time. Here’s a quote from an email I recently sent Robert Bryce that discusses some of this re his post in the NYT a few days ago:

“I wish you would point out, particularly for wind projects, that the 70 Manhattans of land mass required to support wind technology at a scale sufficient to provide one-sixth of California’s electricity is a MATHEMATICAL construction, not a functional one. The 8500MW of installed wind capacity would likely produce an annual average output of 2000MW and at peak times in summer about 400MW. This is the first point I made some years ago to Jesse Ausubel.

You do no favor to your argument when you allow people to believe that 8500MW of wind spread over an area the size of 70 Manhattans would actually provide a large chunk of the state’s electricity. There are too many out there who think having all that wind is a fine idea, all the while repressing the reality of how such a scheme would do violence to Schumacher’s vision (ie, “small is beautiful”)–viz, The Sierra Club.

As you know, the stark reality is that California would need an armada of fossil fueled plants to support 8500MW of wind, plus new transmission and voltage regulation systems. The physical plants of each would have to be factored in to account for all the land–all the material–necessary for wind installations.”

3. As for the homes “served by wind” nonsense, perhaps you and others might consider how “serviceable” a windmobile would be if you never knew when it would start or stop, how fast or slowly it would move, or what direction it would take. How serviceable would a vacuum cleaner be if it worked as desired 13%, or 30%, or 50% of the time–but you never knew when that would be? Or a chain saw? How functional, in terms of modern expectations, would a commercial glider flight be if you had to be in San Francisco tomorrow at 3:00 PM?

In reality, NO homes can be served–that is, powered–by archaic, tail-wagging-the-dog wind energy, given today’s expectations of reliability and performance. Recall that wind is continuously bouncing around between zero production and about 90% of its rated capacity. This output, averaged over a year, will typically generate around 20-30% of any wind project’s rated capacity. But no one can predict a specific increment of wind production for any time ahead period, which is the firm capacity (capacity value) delivered by all conventional generators. Wind cannot provide firm capacity.

The homes “served” bromide is simply PR hash used 50 years ago by nuclear advocates in an attempt to make nuclear appear “homey” to just plain folks. It has been resuscitated by AWEA to make people believe pigs can fly.

This is not a difficult concept to understand. It’s why we have lemon laws…. And why sailboats are used almost exclusively for recreation, where time and distance don’t matter.

Mr. Boone’s comments end!

At Note:  We recommend you visit Mr. Boone’s web site – Stop Ill Wind.  Regarding the “homes served” issue specifically, we refer you to Top Ten #4 in Misleading Wind Industry Claims and Pages 11 and 12 of Mr. Boone’s PSC Testimony.

This entry was posted in industrial wind failure, Industrial wind lobby, industrial wind v fossil fuel, West Virginia Wind, Wind Energy Legislation, Wind Power subsidies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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