An op-ed in today’s Wichita Eagle (Energy standard a boon for Kansas) points to a coming boon for Kansas as the result of a wind turbine manufacturing plant locating in Hutchinson. This article, however, should be read carefully and critically before we congratulate that city and the state of Kansas.
Written by Nancy Jackson of the Climate and Energy Project, the piece seems to hold a lot of good news until you start to look at the underlying facts. Then you realize that the implications of the course she advocates are higher energy costs for Kansans, with little or no benefit to the environment.
Before we start basing too much of our energy policy on wind, we might want to consider what’s happened to a country that depends highly on wind. Denmark generates nearly 20% of its power from wind. As a result, electricity is expensive there. In The myth of the Danish green energy ‘miracle’ we find that “Data from the International Energy Agency shows that the cost of residential electricity in Denmark in 2007 was [United States] 34 cents per kWh — the highest in Europe.” The Chair of Energy Policy in the Danish Parliament calls wind power “a terribly expensive disaster.”
A review of my residential electricity bills for the last year show that I paid — including all customer charges and taxes — about nine cents per Kwh. Let’s hope we don’t have the same “success” with wind power that Denmark has. We can’t afford it.
Jackson’s claims of the benefits of wind power deserve some scrutiny. She claims a benefit to the environment, presumably due to reduced carbon emissions and pollutants from coal-fired power plants. The goal of reducing carbon emissions, however, is a goal not worth pursuing, as explained recently to a Wichita audience in Wichita Geophysicist explains climate science data. Additionally, the newer coal-fired power plants have greatly reduced their emissions of pollutants.
The claimed benefit to our economy is illusory, too. Proponents of “green” energy point to massive job creation, which will happen if we start building thousands of wind turbines. These jobs, however, come at the cost of other jobs. The increase in electricity prices that accompany wind power cause other job losses, too. The article Academic Study Challenges Projections of Green Jobs provides more information.
As to the claim that wind power increases our energy security, wind power replaces power generated by coal, natural gas, or nuclear power. We import none of the fuel for these energy sources, with the exception of a small amount of gas.
We should also remember too that this company would not have selected the Hutchinson site without large subsidies being paid by that city and the state of Kansas. For that matter, wind power would not be used if not for large and continuing federal subsidy. Reporting from the Wall Street Journal states: “Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf ran the numbers and found that the effective tax rate for wind is minus 163.8%. In other words, every dollar a wind firm spends is subsidized to the tune of 64 cents from the government. The Energy Information Administration estimates that wind receives $23.37 in government benefits per megawatt hour — compared to, say, 44 cents for coal.”
As to the support of Kansans for renewable energy, the polls that are used to drum up this support are full of questions with misleading and false premises. The post GPACE poll on Kansas energy has more information on this.
There’s little doubt that some people in Hutchinson will get jobs in this new plant. That, however, is the only good news in this op-ed.