Saturday, March 10, 2012

Subsidizing Green Energy Not to Produce?

Apparently Pacific Northwest ratepayers will pay tax payer subsidized wind turbines not to produce energy.
"Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest -- built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced -- are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region's electricity grid says there's an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.

"The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.

"Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days."
. . .
"Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year.

"The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more."
[emphasis added]
H/T William Jacobson


MAX Redline said...

If I recall correctly, BPA was sued for ordering the wind turbines shut down. Apparently the "wind farmers" have discovered what many other farmers know: it's possible to get paid for not growing a crop. One particularly annoying facet of these "farms" is that despite the massive subsidies involved in erecting them, owners often walk away when the subsidies expire, leaving the things standing.

Kinetics, such as this system (which incidentally isn't subsidized) make considerably more sense:

Wind and solar are never going to be more than heavily-subsidized bit-players. After my neighbor had a solar array installed on his roof, I did some research, and I talked with California-based Solar City. The pitch, after all, is that you get the system "free".

What companies like Solar City do is supply the gear and installation, then they take the "energy credits". You then pay a small monthly charge, which is supposedly offset by the reduction in your utility bill. Depending upon the company, after 15 to 20 years, you own the system.

Sounds great!

However, the lifespan of the solar arrays top out at around 25 years. And you'll probably need to re-roof anyway. Since you own the system (which is now generating little if any power), you're responsible for removal and disposal of the arrays, in addition to the re-roofing costs.

You may wish to purchase a set of replacement arrays, but "incentives" for purchase and installation will likely no longer exist.

Your tax dollars at work.

T. D. said...

Thanks, Max. You're way ahead of the curve on these things. Your posts (and comments) educate.