Finally! A US wind farm owner with the courage to put their performance where their mouth is!
I have to give credit to Constellation Energy – the developer, Clipper Wind Power – the turbine manufacturer, and especially the American Wind Energy Association for demanding that real time, hour by hour electricity production results from the turbines at Maryland’s first wind farm turbines are offered to the general public. And all this time, I’ve been critical of the lack of transparency and complicated presentation of information provided by the USDOE, wind plant owners and the AWEA. My sincere apologies!
Kudos also to the grid operators, by the way, for offering to publish the amount of electricity accepted to the grid, the amount discharged into space due to the bad timing of wind’s arrival, the impact on grid stability and the cost impact to consumers.
I’m so happy I could just, well … weep!
Just think how valuable publishing performance – from the first revolution of the first blade to the full operation and perhaps through the first one, two or three years – will be in validating the efforts of the Garrett County officials, Maryland legislators and the US Congress who are pushing industrial wind as the be all, end all to the US energy woes.
I mean … what more could you ask for to prove, once and for all, to the pesky rate-payers, taxpayers and NIMBYs, the wonders of industrial wind. Yes sir! Just show them how much electricity is coming out of these 747 size whirlybirds and they will shut up for sure. Their constant whining about endangered species and view-shed and noise and environmental damage and high cost-low value and, well … you know the drill. What a bunch of nuts!
And furthermore, …
What? It didn’t? OH!
Hold on folks! I may have misread the article. When the headline said First state wind farm to begin operating I just assumed it meant they would also start reporting actual performance. After all, the article said that Mr. Wagner “acknowledged that Constellation had anticipated a high level of statewide interest in and scrutiny of the project, because it was effectively blazing a new trail in Maryland energy production.”
Heck, he even said, “From the very beginning we were aware that we were going to be looked at, as the first facility of its kind in the state.” Well, if that all doesn’t mean they want to prove themselves to supporters, naysayers and the public in general, what the heck does it mean?
I mean, even the AWEA is pushing for a Renewable Electricity Standard so Congress will set industry wide standards for set-back, noise levels, performance and safety standards and all the other issues related to industrial wind installations. What? That’s not what they mean by standards?
Well, even though it wasn’t stated specifically in the article, I have to believe transparency and accountability is what they meant. After all, what better way to dispel the notion that industrial wind is a dismal energy producer generating nothing more than riches to the owners and developers at the expense of taxpayers and rate-payers.
Man, if I were Constellation I’d be rubbing the actual production and cost figures right under the big noses of those NIMBYs. I’d even be publishing every tax dollar, grant and preferred loan I received from taxpayers and show them how I pay them back. Then the public would see what a good investment my business is for the country. Why, the wind industry should, in reality, be considered a charity organization.
Oh, and all that huff about getting a permit to whack some bats and eagles … they’re working on it. Yeah! I know they said early on they were going to do it, then they said they probably would get it taken care of, then when there was a pending lawsuit they were still working on it. The plain fact is, like Constellation’s Kevin Thornton says, there’s “no litigation filed as of Monday morning” stating further, “Because of that, our response is that there is no litigation.” (You just can’t slip anything past these folks, can you?)
In spite of no litigation, good environmental steward as it is, Constellation is “in the process of filing the paperwork” for the permit, according to spokesman Thornton. In case you didn’t know, the paperwork in question is to be submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife service which requires “the developer to create a detailed conservation plan to mitigate any potential harm to endangered wildlife, such as the Indiana bat.” And, then if they kill a bunch they can yank out the permit as their permission slip. (No, you can’t get one! Even if an eagle feather lands on your property and you stick it in your pocket, you will be fined $250,000 and go to jail.)
But, just in case you’re still concerned about wind developers having the best interest of the endangered species of the Appalachian Mountains as their first priority, ask yourself this: why would the University of Maryland commit to a 20 year agreement to purchase energy credits from nearby Pinnacle in West Virginia if the developers didn’t have environmental “cred?”
You know the U of MD is going to insist that US WindForce, developer of Pinnacle, have their incidental take permit and mitigation plan wired with the US Fish and Wildlife before they break ground at the project enabled by the U of MD agreement. The U of MD would never be that sloppy. Could anyone doubt that the good Chancellor didn’t insist on this condition before committing 20 years of student tuition to support the project? It’s probably right there in the agreement! I’ll prove it as soon as I can get my hands on it.
For any remaining skeptics … I know, it seems incredible that the whole Garrett County Maryland project could be conceptualized, studied, built and operating before the application form to protect endangered animals could be filled in and submitted to the USF&WS. But just try to remember when you were a kid trying to assemble your erector set to match the picture on the box and you kept getting interrupted by your mom telling you to clean your room. Pretty much the same thing!
As far as the wind farm owners reporting the actual performance and cost, I’m sure they’re just working out the real time, easy to read, user friendly format. After all, what do they have to hide?
Besides, the next newspaper article will probably clear this all up. I’m counting on it!
“The developer began monitoring bat activity on the site, using audio recording equipment, in mid-April. That monitoring effort will continue through mid-November.”
This should be interesting, to see if there is bat activity at the site. Considering:
In March, the developers began preparing the project site, just when the bats were exiting hibernation. Bat monitoring begins in mid April through November.
Lets be fair, observed bat activity should be minimal since summer tree roosts, for the Indiana and Little Brown bats were removed. For the small-footed bat, talus rock slopes pushed aside and replaced with mud. Gravel roadbeds now cover springs and insect habitat.
Why did Constellation fail to conduct pre-construction studies before the project started?
This is big industrial wind developer that deserves the watchful eyes and attention of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Lets hope citizens groups, SAVE WESTERN MARYLAND will continue watching and reporting project errors and omissions.