Monday, November 02, 2009

Breaking Wind In Taxpayers' Faces

With eco-pagans regnant in Washington....there seems to be no stopping *green* boondoggles like taxpayer-subsidized monuments to Mother Nature, aka wind turbines.

Some guy today told me there a a huge windfarm in Palm Springs, California that routinely was only running at one third of its capacity. Why?....supposedly on account of prohibitively high maintenance costs.

I googled this a bit but came up with nothing in the way of operating performance and/or criticism. I would welcome any help on this subject as I'm sure the info I am looking for is out there.

See also - Marginalizing Upwind Peeing Pagans.


TAYLOR said...


I have nothing statistical but much anecdotal. I've driven by this windmill farm off the I-10 near the Morongo Indian reservation. While there are many windmills out there and many operating at any given time, it's always perplexing to see a large fraction of the hundreds (thousands? hard to count as they're at differing elevations and in differing densities and sizes) not facing into the wind and not operating at all, or else missing turbine blades and even "headpieces" where the blades connect to the top of the "mast."

They've been out there for decades and I am not sure that the Desert Cities even get all their power from them. I highly doubt any of the power goes to nearby Riverside and if anything there is likely power transmission going in the opposite direction, from generators further toward the coast, through Riverside and into the Desert Cities.

It is really windy out there though, that's for sure... semis regularly get blown into cars on the highway. And... it's a freakin' desert. Not much else to see out there so it's not like it's destroying the natural beauty of the land... that's a particularly yucky part of the high desert right there.

paul mitchell said...

The best part about these "wind farms" is the depletion of the bird population. The farm to which you refer, heading into the valley at Palm Desert, has "suicided" almost all of the birds in the area. And yes, the windmills are rarely ever moving, too.

I think that the windmills are secretly powered by solar panels.

CaptiousNut said...


Somebody sent me some data on the electrial output of these windmills. I'll post shortly.

aupanner said...

Taylor, no offense, but your hunches and an empty can of Bud are worth five cents. So save the energy at Google's data center and don't post your high doubts and likely suppositions.

Paul, bird strikes happened over two decades ago and involved the old model of wind turbines that had lattice blades. the migratory bird thing is simply untrue.

As for government subsidies - name an industry that doesn't have them. Do you think the XXX billion war impacts oil prices?

Cnut, I can send you the financial model of a turbine going up in your town, my town, and two on the south shore that are in "less desirable" towns that you and your buddy won't fight.

The reason you will hear about being in operation 30% of the time is because they are designed that way. The wind does not blow 100% of the time, at least in a way that is sufficient to generate power. So, these things are pro forma'd to run at 20% capacity. The ones in the town next to you run at 20% of rated capacity. That is factored into the financial model up front.

These things work. Get used to them.

Fine, they're ugly. Fine, they work because the Gov subsidizes them. But the generate power and can make money if you invest in them. They arent the solution to the world's energy problems. It IS like pissing on a forest fire at this point. However, given cost of other fuels today, they make money for investors and can stabilize energy costs.

paul mitchell said...

aupanner, as far as the "wind farm" heading into Palm Desert, I just know what I saw. They were rarely ever moving, and they had blood on them. I certainly hope that there are no flying coyotes, but with evolution occurring at an alarming rate, who can be sure?

CaptiousNut said...


It IS like pissing on a forest fire at this point. However, given cost of other fuels today, they make money for investors and can stabilize energy costs.

Those lines are contradictory.

If the *peeing on a fire* analogy holds, mathematically they can't very well *stabilize* energy costs, now can they?

Yes, most of today's industries are subsidized in one form or another. Though your *oil* example is lacking and probably ill-founded. I would have went with banks, Wall Street, GE, aerospace, colleges, etc.

But what about the industries that don't even exist because they have been *crowded out* by Big Government co-option, regulation, or monopolization? This is the slippery slope we are skidding down already - gov't sponsored windmills are an unwelcome accelerant.

And, lest I be mischaracterized, I don't *fight* in the arena of local politics. Too much brains and too little time for that!

Send me those plans, I need blog material. Thanks.

aupanner said...

Paul, think about the value of your anecdotal observation. you caught a glimpse of the things during the day, on a given day. maybe more than once. but did you observe them consistently daily for a year or twenty years? the wind blows at night, especially out there. and some days not at all. that's all part of the financial model. so is routine maintenance and down time. those known issues are factored in before the turbines get approved and financed.

the bird strikes are pure b.s. i don't want to call you a liar but i'm surprised to hear that you got close enough to see anything on the blades. i've been out there a dozen or so times, used to live nearby. Those things are miles away up on ridges. At best you might get within \1,000 yards of them. not close enough to make out much of anything. but if you say so, i guess i have to give it the same merit i give all opinions and anecdotes that appear on the internet.

Cnut, if you are a power user and agree to buy the energy from a turbine for a set amount for 30 yrs, that takes the volatility out of YOUR energy expense. Not the world's.

Forget about saving the world, and forget about these things saving the world. Think more on the lines of the fact that the deals themselves are profitable. For example (this is a real deal):

A site is windy. one can put up a big, 1.5 MW tower that generates energy (even operating 20% of the time) that is worth $500k/yr when sold at a discount to current retail in MA - call it $0.14 cents per kw/hr - which is $.03 below retail. the NOI after expenses may be $400k/yr the total cost for that project is approx. $4.0mm (excludes land which will be leased). assume $1mm cash grant from the Gov. assume $1.5mm tax equity investor who strips out the benefit of the accelerated depreciation expense, and your net basis is $1.5mm. You can get that financed at 7% or less. The deal makes sense. Forget about paganism. Forget about an inconvenient truth. Right now, energy is expensive in MA and the northeast. The technology for wind turbines is sufficient to make money after factoring in the grants.

FWIW I think oil is a fine example, especially since it is the non-alternative fuel. But I agree there are others more painful/obvious situations where the Gov is over-involved. But do you want to continue subsidizing oil or do you want to subsidize the effort to get off it? Look, for all i or anyone really knows, there's a million years supply of oil in the earth and it could be $10 per barrel in two years if they want. But right now, it's not. What do the subsidies need to be to get oil down significantly in price and what are the odds of keeping it there?

I'll send you some info tomorrow. But that's the math - $4mm gross cost, $1mm tax grant, $1.5mm (at least) tax equity, $400 to $600k per year income depending on site wind and energy rates. Do some digging at Mass They will provide you the data if you ask. It is public.

Anonymous said...


I have a free state buddy who bought a small one 1200 watts and it was really moving when i saw it. I asked if he was going to take advantage of the tax subsidies and he looked at me like i had two heads. He stated, first one would have to pay taxes to apply for a tax subsidy...Live Free or Die BABY!!

paul mitchell said...

aupanner, I am unsure why actual first hand experience becomes anecdotal to you. But, usually anything that points out facts and actual observation is ignored by people who have a certain agenda.

If anyone actually wanted to get away from fossil fuels, nuclear would be the primary means of power that they would promote. But, as you point out, the internet is chock full of folks promoting an agenda with very few facts to back up their argument.

My word verification is "dimmista," which is exactly what would happen if we relied on wind power.

Anonymous said...

PM, your observation is such a small sample size of data that it is essentially irrelevant. And for people who are ignorant about how wind turbines work, can be misleading. The only thing relevant to the discussion is the actual data for the production.

It's fine to say you saw them not spinning. It just doesn't mean anything. Just like when someone catches me stumbling out of the bar at night. It's embarrassing, but it's not like it happens all the time and defines my existence. Wait, bad example.

Who said we are "relying on wind power"? Not me.

Look, my agenda with these things is truth. So when irrelevant statements are made with the apparent intent to support some agenda (either way), and I personally know they are b.s., I'm tempted to call it out.

Same reason I would call out the developer in the town next to mine who says his turbine development is "not about the money". Or when environmentalists talk about saving the endangered species, or climate change etc. That to me is the same kind of biased crap.

Fact is, like I said, with energy costs high in certain parts of the country that are windy (or sunny) wind and PV deals are economical.

I agree with your point about fusion 100%. But that's a ways off and a series of break throughs away. I would say there should be massive investment in that technology. I read "The Right Game" by Andrew Lees, which talks about it. It's free online in a few places. You can download it as a pdf. I found if fascinating.

paul mitchell said...

My point about the actual observation was about the blood on the windmills, by the way. Most people already know that these things are not profitable. Profit drives innovation, and this is good.

CaptiousNut said...

Great psuedo-discussion here!


Bro, you are flailing. You started out by calling admitted anecdotage...*anecdotal*!

You're still way wrong about oil and its *subsidy*. What about per gallon taxes, ethanol mandates, E&P restrictions, etc....are those subsidies? How do you scientifically weigh those against whatever *war* is doing for *oil*, whatever those terms really refer to?

And just because one can *make a deal* and a buck....that doesn't speak to the morality or overall practicality of an endeavor. There was plenty of money to make selling state-friendly textbooks or over-priced milk to government schools. Plenty of money was made selling arms to those Prussian/German murderers, no? See the Krupps. Etc.

However harmless you might think this windmill mania to be, however much money you might make riding the wave....this further economic politicization and power-centralizing will just bite you personally another way.

I am going to call BS on whatever was *factored in* upfront in terms of windmill capacity and performance. Need I bring up the initial projected costs of Medicare, SS, education, Fannie Mae, and every other government sanctioned enterprise? You know me and how much I disdain 30 year investments/projections!

When windmills get *maintained*....just you wait, they'll have to use *gov't union* labor! Then you'll have pensions to pay...

Lastly, not to interject myself into your personal altercation with the hair products salesman...

But he correctly smelled your *agenda* and you didn't fully own up to it!

Now enough about these *bird blenders*!

paul mitchell said...

C-Nut, most of my big balla friends just call me "Shampoo." Really.

WV: Woot! (Not kidding!)

Anonymous said...

how's the saying go: "never argue with a moron, those watching may not be able to tell the difference?"

but damn, i can't resist.

your insistence on opining about things you don't understand puts you right in company with the morons you seek to marginalize in this monument to yourself / blog.

I have never heard a pen name that so accurately represents its owner.

While you thoroughly research the faults within the world around you, have you come across something yet that is right? Is there a company or business out there worthy of praise?

Why don't you put your super powers to good, join other non-morons, and create something of use?

As for my "agenda" - I thought it was obvious. I am a wind project investor and developer. I do it for profit, FYI. working for profit, and putting my own money at risk in these deals means that I turn 99 out of 100 requests down on contact.

And dude: "morality", "practicality"? Come on, you don't really want to throw stones do you?

CaptiousNut said...

You misunderstand.

The immorality exists in the taxation - not in peddling *bird-blenders*. We all have to make a living one way or another. Just because I may have benefitted from student loans....that doesn't mean I shouldn't now speak out against them. Etc.

When a third party forcibly lays claim to the fruit of one's labor, via the income tax, that's economic slavery - a situation most people throughout the ages would deem, fundamentally, immoral.

I admire anyone who puts their own money in the vicinity of their mouth.

But there's other money being *invested* here, and some of it was taken from me against my will.

No yoga today, huh?

Anonymous said...

how is it forcibly taken? you could move to another country and make it there. or not? how does your wife get to work to earn the money to pay the bills? on roads funded by a government. how does the electricity get to your house? through the grid that the gov subsidizes.

too much government is a problem. but not enough is a problem too. where the right balance lies is the question. i'm sure someone much smarter than me that you've read talks about this.

CaptiousNut said...

The government does not create wealth.

All it can do is redistribute it.

Those grids, bridges, and roads were not *funded* by the government. They were paid for by the most productive of the citizenry - mostly likely against their will.

paul mitchell said...

Not only does government NOT create wealth, they also create demand for that wealth that is confiscated, then they distribute it to people that in return distribute that tax payer money back to the very people that confiscated it to begin with.

Government accomplishes nothing.

aupanner said...

Other than being entertaining, this is pointless. But that's reason enough.

I'd like to hear what you think "wealth" is. Because I have news for you, your wealth is an illusion.