Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Wind power not worth the price

Another view?

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Regarding the letter “Wind energy is a win-win for all”: There is nothing further from the truth.

Wind energy is expensive. My latest copy of Wind Power Engineering states the lowest cost at 11 cents per kilowatt. That is much higher than the base cost of any other resource NV Energy uses.

Further, what that doesn’t state is the utility is required to have back-up power, as the wind doesn’t blow every day. So we need that cost added in. And we all know that has been the reason for recent price increases.

Further, wind power has no surge capabilities. This is a hard thing for the layman to understand, but for instance, your air conditioner unit turns on, it will need 20 amps for a few microseconds, which of course the windmill cannot provide. So the surge power is off-loaded onto the base energy source. This is all fine, until the harmonics caused by more than a 15 percent unresponsive load creates an outage. The solution is simple: have a battery backup.

So let’s get this straight. A windmill produces electrical energy at 11 cents per kilowatt, then we need battery backups, which aren’t cheap, and we need to keep the gas turbines running. Wow, I cannot wait for the true cost of wind energy to hit my bill, but it will be disguised as plant expansions, etc.

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  1. Mr. Tarasen's analysis leaves us with several shortcomings. For one there's an unspoken assumption that fuel costs for conventional power generation are both stable and predictable. As an example, much has been made of the increased availablilty of natural gas. Yet, this availability has yet to manifest itself in lower power bills or even significant decreases in gas utility costs. In fact, the price of natural gas has roughly doubled over the past fourteen months. Another omission of importance in our area is the consumption of water. Conventional generation consumes large quantities of water while wind power consumes none. A final omission is the effect of conventional generation on climate. This has immesurable costs but risks that are becoming more apparent year by year. You cannot save enough money on energy bills to cover transportation to your new planet.

  2. Letter writer is correct. Wind power and wind farms are a lot of hot air. Nothing more than government subsidized black holes.

    Carmine D

  3. Yet another misrepresentation of energy production. Where to start? If you were living off-grid you might need battery storage/backup but utilizing wind as a source within the grid requires no such modulation. A gas or coal plant has exactly the same described limitation, so do nukes. Most appliances have capacitors which hold sufficient charge for the initial demand, primarily for motors. The cost of wind is higher as it is a newer technology and initial costs are spread over fewer units. I live upstream from the grandaddy of all hydro...the Grand Coulee Dam. Did you know that the first kilowatt from Grand Coulee cost $2.9 billion. As for cost, perhaps the writer should factor the true costs of coal and natural gas making sure to include environmental and health costs.

    Wind is a useful addition to the mix of energy, as is solar, hydro and geothermal. There is a good reason that most folks don't have coal stoves anymore and there's a good reason for phasing out coal as a large scale energy source. Too dirty, too many environmental and health costs!

  4. Hostility to anything that might be considered "alt" energy sure makes for strange bedfellows. @Future is suddenly concerned with power lines marching over the landscape and the plight of birdies? All energy production from the power grid requires transmission lines. I watched the helicopters string new 500Kv lines from the upgraded powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam last year....power for California, Nevada and Arizona so that when you folks hit that AC switch Nevada Energy has reserves to draw down. Government subsidized black holes? In 1930, when Grand Coulee was first proposed, the same refrain was heard. Now the Bonneville Power Administration manages one of the world's largest power generation and transportation complexes in the world. Too many people afraid of progress and unwilling to do much other than complain!

  5. Wind towers and wind farms are in the early stages of development and should be given enough time to prove their worth.

    It took us more then one time to get a perfect landing of a man on the moon. This also cost a lot of money. Time is on our side.

  6. If all this whining would have existed when the Germans invented the automobile, we would still be riding horses. If you compare the costs of buying and maintaining a horse vs a car, the horse is probably comparable in many cases.
    Wind turbine and natural gas form the basis for the T. Boone Pickens energy independence plan. He's become one of the wealthiest men in the world making energy bets, my money's on him.

    Let's take this out of the phantasmagoric and into the realm of reality. Countries the world over are using wind power to supplement their energy needs.

    I've been going to Palm Springs for close to 50 years. They've been using wind power for what seems like forever. I don't know too many people in Palm Springs that complain about having their lives ruined by the whooshing of the windmills. Give me a break!

  8. "Economic arguments against developing wind power simply do not stand up to close scrutiny."

    If that were true private investors would be putting their own money into wind power without requiring ANY government subsidies.

    Because the free market will not put money into wind programs without subsidies tells you that it is not economically viable, at least not now.

  9. The above commentor says there is no private investment in wind energy? He obviously doesn't follow the issue. Some of the largest industrial companies in the world are investing vast sums of money in wind energy. It's one of the fastest growing energy sources on the planet.

    There are publicly traded companies both domestic and foreign that are developing better and better wind energy products.

    In the early 2000s it was the fastest-growing energy source on the planet. It has slowed down a little bit because the recession caused the price of fossil fuel to collapse. Over the next 10 years as global growth accelerates and fossil fuel prices explode wind energy will be in the lead again!

  11. No possible alternative energy source can possibly replace 100% of the energy we currently derive from coal/oil/gas.

    Unsubsidized gas/oil/coal could not possibly have generated the energy we have used in the last 150 years. Unsubsidized alternative sources can not possibly generate the energy we will need in the future

    That, however, is not the goal. The goal is to replace 50% with each of two sources; to replace 20% with each of five sources; to replace 10% with each of ten sources. Before saying this goal is not possible, we need to spend a goodly percent of the money and effort we have already used to subsidize coal/gas/oil production.

    And we need to start NOW, before we actually exhaust our non-renewable sources. Once that happens, we truly will be SOL.

  12. When oil hits $400/barrel - it will be.

  13. robert levitt wrote this:
    "No possible alternative energy source can possibly replace 100% of the energy we currently derive from coal/oil/gas."

  14. "Wind power is here to stay."


    For keeping cool on a hot humid sunny day a warm breeze is just what's needed. Not for energy.

    Carmine D

  15. "Hostility to anything that might be considered "alt" energy sure makes for strange bedfellows."

    Wrong. Most Americans could care less if private funds are used for green energy R & D. BUT...object when it's their taxpayer money used to subsidize the efforts. Many of which under this President and Administration have gone belly up and have been losers.

    Carmine D

  16. "Wind is a useful addition to the mix of energy, as is solar, hydro and geothermal."

    Wrong, again. "USEFUL" is a subjective word. It [useful] depends on green energy price, performance, and power compared to conventional sources. When wind is equal, or close to it, with conventional energy sources in price, power and performance, then AND ONLY THEN is it useful. Until then, it's not.

    Carmine D

  17. "When oil hits $400/barrel - it will be"

    U.S. will be totally oil independent by 2020. And we will be a huge exporter of oil rivaling countries in the mid east. So take a look at the oil prices now. I opine like natural gas in the U.S. [thank you fracking], they will be lower by 2020.

    Carmine D

  18. "I've been going to Palm Springs for close to 50 years.They've been using wind power for what seems like forever."

    The climate and weather conditions in Palm Springs are amenable to wind power. More wind power to them. How many cities and states in the U.S. are?

    Carmine D

  19. Perhaps James Dyson, the British inventor of the home bag-less vacuum, will use his bladeless fan patent [for home fans] on wind farm turbines. However, noting the prices for these home fans, range from $200-$400 plus depending on size, I opine the cost will be prohibitive, even with huge U.S. government subsidies. After all, he copied the bag-less cyclone separation design for vacuums from the huge cyclone separation of wood manufacturing plants. If he can downsize the idea [for vacuums], surely he can upsize [for wind turbines].

    Carmine D

  20. Carmine isn't "... Most Americans...". He is just one who claims to speak for many but he doesn't.

  21. Mmschaffer (Mark Schaffer): The link you posted at 10:47 p.m. supports my position that "No possible...source...could replace..." our current system. The headline on your article is "Wind and Solar Power Paired With Storage Could Power Grid 99.9 Percent of the Time" That's TWO sources plus electrical storage infrastructure potentially replacing our current oil/coal/natural gas system MOST of the time.

  22. @MarkSchaffer....Carmine is engaged in a tactic called perception management. Perception Management companies are hired to push certain issues or positions and they pay correspondents like Carmine to respond to certain threads with packaged lines. I subscribe to a dozen or so periodicals online and started to notice that similar stories got very similar responses, in some cases verbatim. A Seattle blog did some digging after several respondents started posting identical responses.

  23. Teamster:

    That's your problem as well as others here. Instead of seeing through my comments, take them in and start understanding them.

    Pat: You suffer from a syndrome called judging others by yourself. Just because you would and do, doesn't mean that others follow suit.

    Mark: I sign my name to my posts. That's who I speak for.

    Jeff: If you were the hotshot that you think you are, you'd work for James Dyson. If you could afford one, you'd buy a Dyson. Obviously you can't do either. He is a multi-billionaire thanks to his inventions. His household products are sold around the globe. You might even have seen and used his hand driers, the Air Blade and didn't even know it.

    Carmine D

  24. "Mark: I sign my name to my posts. That's who I speak for."
    Except for when you claim to know what "...most Americans..." believe.

  25. That's the sign that you lost the debate. You sing the shill swan song. Where's your proof? I'm a trusted poster here. I use my name. Post your proof.

    Carmine D