Free Markets, Free People

Cape Wind Project

Clean, green and expensive as hell

Well, well, well – “green energy” costs strike again.  You remember the controversial off-shore wind turbine project that was proposed for an area off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts?  Well it finally got approved.  And surprise – it’s revised costs has the project in “Big Dig” territory:

The controversial Cape Wind project will cost taxpayers and ratepayers more than $2 billion to build – three times its original estimate.

That colossal cost is the driving force behind the sky-high electric rates it plans to charge Massachusetts customers in coming years.

Cape Wind, which wants to build 130 wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod, and National Grid announced yesterday that they’ve reached an agreement to start charging customers 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2013 – more than double the current rate of electricity from conventional power plants and land-based wind farms.

Under the 15-year National Grid contract, the price of Cape Wind’s electricity would increase 3.5 percent each year, pushing the kilowatt price to about 34.7 cents by the time the contract ends.

The current price of National Grid’s non-wind electricity is now about 9 cents per kilowatt. That means the cost of fossil-fuel generated electricity would have to increase nearly four-fold just to keep pace with Cape Wind’s prices over the next 15 years.

This little doozy is now on the planning boards – another, in a long line of costly projects backed by government that will cost consumers more than it’s worth and not deliver that much in terms of increased energy – certainly not that much if  you look at the price.

“I’m glad it’s your electric bills and not mine,” said Robert McCullough, president of McCullough Research, an Oregon energy consulting firm, referring to Cape Wind’s prices.

He said Massachusetts would have been better off going with less costly land-based wind farms.

“Why are you spending billions (on offshore wind) when you can pay half that with traditional wind?” he asked.

You tell me?  And, by the way, how did the costs of building the system suddenly triple?  This was only discovered after approval had been granted?  Oh – wait a minute:

Three sources familiar with the Cape Wind-National Grid negotiations confirmed yesterday that Cape Wind’s final price tag will be above $2 billion.

Because of available federal tax credits, Cape Wind could reap about $600 million in taxpayer subsidies if the final cost is $2 billion, in addition to its higher power rates.

So the incentives are provided by government?  Does this make Cape Wind a “greedy utility?”

Oh, and I love this:

Cape Wind president Jim Gordon yesterday again refused to say how much construction will cost, citing competitive talks he’s now in with construction companies.

Cape Wind and National Grid, which is planning to buy half the energy the wind farm will produce, said their rate deal will add about $1.59 a month, or about 5 cents a day, to the current ratepayer’s bill in 2013.

“The question is whether folks are prepared to pay five cents a day for a better energy future,” said Gordon.

The answer should be “no, they’re not.  Either build the project at the original price, bring it on shore if that isn’t possible or forget it.”

The pricing has to be approved by Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, but I don’t think there’s much of a question as to how that will go:

Ian Bowles, Gov.Deval Patrick’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said the National Grid prices are competitive if renewable energy credits are deducted.

Those who aren’t politicians interested in building a green energy legacy this say otherwise:

But energy experts said the proposed National Grid rates, especially with the annual inflation adjustments, add up to a very high price.

“This would seem to me to be a most unwelcome additional energy tax” on customers, said Peter Beutel, an energy analyst at Cameron Hanover in Connecticut.

And that’s precisely what this ends up being – a energy tax to build something that could be build cheaper on shore and which, in reality, won’t add that much energy to the national grid. A rather dubious recommendation for its continuance. I don’t know about you but if I were a citizen of Massachusetts, I’d be raising hell about this and demanding the project be shelved until it can be shown to deliver the promised “clean, green, renewable and cheaper energy” Greenies are always telling everyone these sorts of projects will deliver.

~McQ

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Liberals, Green Energy, Environmentalists and Petards

The New York Times carries a story today that is chock full of irony and hypocrisy and frankly, pretty darn funny.

Seems the Cape Wind Project – you know the “green energy project” proposed for the waters off the liberal enclaves of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard – has run into even more resistance. This time it’s “spiritual”.

Indian tribes, who said the 130 proposed wind turbines would thwart their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise, which requires unobstructed views across the sound, and disturb ancestral burial grounds.

The tribes — the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod and the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard — sought the listing last fall, shortly before a final federal decision on the project was expected. The project has been in the works since 2001 and is strongly supported by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Of course, for the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod, the area that the wind turbines would be is south of them. So it seems rather doubtful that it would thwart their requirement for an “unobstructed view” across the sound – and frankly that sounds pretty fishy to me to begin with. I can just see an ancient dictum handed down through the generations which ends with “… and the view must be unobstructed”, can’t you?

Of course that caveat would probably apply more readily to the Aquinnah Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard, where the 24 miles of wind turbines might obstruct their view – if the sun has begun rising in the northeast now. Hey with global warming, I guess anything is possible. But if the Wampanoag look due east, where most of us expect the sun to rise, no problem according the map accompanying the article.

But, of course, now that these folks have been enlisted to raise objections, it’s just not the liberal NIMBY types protesting this. We’re into real, honest to goodness desecration, by gosh. And the fact that the Aquinnah Wampanoag’s land is on the west side of Martha’s Vineyard is just not relevant to any of this. We have Native Americans complaining for heaven sake!

And, they’ve revealed, those are their ancient sacred grounds that the evil corporation wants to build their turbines on (wow, how convenient, no?). Yeah, they’re underwater and have been for hundreds and hundreds of years, but they’re pretty sure that’s where they were before the waters rose (ancient global warming brought on by burning excessive buffalo chips) and the grounds should be left undisturbed.

The result?

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar set a deadline of March 1 for the tribes and the project’s developer, Energy Management Inc., to reach a compromise.

If they do not — a distinct possibility given the acrimony surrounding the project — Mr. Salazar can decide the project’s future himself after seeking suggestions from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent group. But even if Mr. Salazar lets the project move forward, the park service finding could help the tribes and opponents build a legal case against it.

So let’s review – if you polled the liberal enclaves of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, you’d most likely find overwhelming support for “green, renewable energy” and a desire to see that sort of energy source developed and deployed post haste. Well, except in their back yard. Because aesthetics are much more important than renewable energy and they’ve paid a lot of money for the views they enjoy. They still want that “green renewable energy”, but they’d prefer it be stuck in places like Texas and off the coast of South Carolina where people have the aesthetics of (sniff) NASCAR fans.

Yup, every time I hear about the liberal commitment to “green renewable energy” I’m drawn back to this controversy. And it recalibrates my thoughts about their real commitment, or, actually, apparent lack thereof. Obviously what is good enough to be plopped in front of your view of the sunrise is not something they’ll tolerate, whether green and renewable or not.

~McQ

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