I’ve taken a bit of a break here at Allegheny Treasures. The original focus of the blog was industrial wind in the Alleghenies but, with a lot of help, the effort expanded a bit. In recent weeks I’ve decided to leave the national issues to far more competent folks (links to your right) and follow happenings closer to home.
A few issues have popped up that deserve attention and, while they do relate to each other, I’d like to deal with them one at a time, rather than lump them together in a large, even more tedious post.
Let’s start with this item.
In April of 2012, Correspondent Tisha Thompson of NBC 4 Washington published an article titled Green Energy Has Residents Seeing Red – Turbine noise worse than neighbors expected. The article dealt with noisy turbines at the Pinnacle wind project on Green Mountain above Keyser, WV. As the article explained, residents are finding their quality of life destroyed by the noise from “wind farm” they supported.
I found this comment following the article, particularly interesting.
Countering local resident Frank O’Hara, on again off again wind spokesperson Frank Maisano couldn’t hold back stating – “I actually am not working for the wind industry currently. I am responding to these outrageous mistruths because somebody has to inject actual facts into this discussion.”
Mr. Maisano continued, in response to the pending “award” of taxpayer cash to be handed over the the Pinnacle owners, with this: “Again, the facts are that nobody will be applying for 1603 grants, as Mr. O’Hara claims they will. That is because the 1603 Treasury grant program actually expired in December. In any case, only one wind developer out of thousands actually received a 1603 Treasurty [sic] Grant. It just isn’t something that wind developers were including in their plans.”
Mr. Maisano wrapped with this, “Just the facts, ma’am. Something that Mr. O’Hara, “tossed out of office” Spiggle and the rest of the merry band of wind opponents won’t offer.”
As Ms. Thompson will attest, the comment section crashed shortly after the article was posted and my reply to Mr. Maisano could not be published. I’ve provided it here for your reference:
Morgan: “Mr. Maisano can’t seem to resist applying personal monikers. From his perch in Gambrills Maryland, some 170 miles from the nearest turbine, he happily designates folks suffering from turbine noise as “a couple of noisy complainers.” Perhaps he sees this feeble attempt to demean those who disagree as a winning strategy. Attacking opponents personally is much easier than debating the merits of industrial wind in the Alleghenies.
As example, in April of 2011, Mr. Maisano wrote a letter to the editor of the Cumberland Maryland Times attacking Dr. Wayne Spiggle and giving opponents the “merry handful” moniker. My response to Mr. Maisano was later published in the same paper and included a suggestion that the paper conduct a public discussion of industrial wind, inviting Mr. Maisano and his folks to join the “merry handful.” That offer still stands.
While Mr. Maisano remains oddly knowledgeable about the details of the Pinnacle project, I must take exception to his broad claim that “nobody will be applying for 1603 grants.” It is true that 1603 program expired at the end of the year, but the facts are that a project can still accept funds, provided it was placed in service in 2009, 2010, or 2011 or placed in service after 2011 but only if construction of the property began during 2009, 2010, or 2011. The Pinnacle project seems to meet these eligibility standards. Grant seekers must submit a Placed in Service application before October 1, 2012, so there’s still time for Edison to do so.
But if, as Mr. Maisano suggests, Edison Mission has refused to accept this approximately $40 million taxpayer funded grant, I will be happily surprised. It seems odd to me Edison would refuse these millions, especially since the Production Tax Credit for industrial wind is on thin ice and the President’s new budget, according to North American Windpower, has “de-emphasized” land based industrial wind, choosing instead to make offshore wind the cornerstone of his renewable energy policy. Contrary to Mr. Maisano’s claim, recent news articles note that many foreign wind companies are rushing completion of US based wind projects in order to take advantage of these very US taxpayer funded subsidies. And, of course, I haven’t yet heard profit based Edison Mission state this generous position and until I do, I’ll remain skeptical of Mr. Maisano’s statement.
From my vantage point, I cannot hear Pinnacle’s wind turbines, but I fully support a remedy for my neighbors who are experiencing these serious problems. These folks did not move to be near the turbines. They were promised there would be no issue and they actually supported the project. Only after operation began were they told by an Edison Mission representative that the Japanese turbines sitting atop Mexican made towers had never been used “around homes” and that “they didn’t know they made this much noise.” And for Mr. Maisano to simply dismiss these sincere residents of our community as “a couple of noisy complainers” is beyond reprehensible. It seems to me that Edison Mission’s community relations department should be thankful Mr. Maisano is “not working for the wind industry currently.”
I gladly accept being one of Mr. Maisano’s “merry band of wind opponents.” Two years ago I supported industrial wind. My opposition grew as I moved past the heavily funded wind lobby hype and assessed industrial wind solely on performance and cost. This is what brings me to the conclusion that neighbors suffering from wind and health issues related to industrial wind cannot be comforted by the insistence that what they are experiencing is a necessary sacrifice. Industrial wind is, quite simply, a failed technology.”
Why bother to dredge up this old stuff? It seems on August 23, 2012, the very same Pinnacle wind plant discussed in the NBC 4 article received $44,184,807.00 from U.S. Taxpayers under the very Section 1603 Award program Mr. Maisano tried to dismiss in his comments.
And what about the noise issues … the primary focus of the Ms. Thompson’s article? The harmed residents appealed to the WV PSC for help. Well, the WV Public Service Commissioners ruled that the folks complaining could not be protected by the WV Public Service Commissioners because … ready for it? … the WV Public Service Commissioners have no authority in the matter and, worse, they set no standards in the siting certificate for noise because, well, they didn’t seem to know how. Bottom line, residents were told they could pursue the matter in court, with their own money, of course … and Edison was off the hook. This decision, by the way, was made in spite of WV PSC Staff statements supporting the harmed residents.
Supported by State level incompetence, financially challenged Pinnacle owners, the Edison Mission Group, received the huge $44 million payout which was effectively removed from your pocket to be handed over to the massive Edison corporation. By the way, the Section 1603 cash “award” is issued upon project completion, so there are no required production levels. Simply build the project, tell the U.S. Treasury the project is complete and shazaam – the US taxpayer has less money to spend on things that really matter.
Since September, 2009, the Treasury’s 1603 Award program has paid out some $14,000,000,000.00 (b-b-b-b-billion) to renewable energy developers, with much more anticipated as the program’s payouts wind down.
One would think this generous amount, coupled with the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which, between 1992 and 2010, cost approximately $7.9 billion and, in the 2011–2015 budget window is estimated to cost American taxpayers another $9.1 billion of which about 75% will be claimed by the wind industry, would be enough to get you on your feet.
But industrial wind, perhaps the oldest ever infant industry, expects even more from taxpayers. Industrial wind reminds me of the perpetual underachiever who, at 5o, still isn’t quite ready to cut the apron strings and move out. At some point, you just have to kick them out and let them stand on their own. For industrial wind, that time is long overdue.
At 7:31 this morning, according to the US National Debt Clock, the US Taxpayers are on the hook for an incredible $16,056,327,274,614.00. See for yourself:
Stated another way: Sixteen Trillion, Fifty Six Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty Seven Million, Two Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fourteen Dollars we do not have … and that number is rising rapidly!
Well folks, it’s time to cut the subsidy cord!