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Assessing the Financial Viability of a Wind Farm Proposal off Lake Michigan

It is an unconscionable waste of money to subsidize phony energy sources and to look for the Holy Climate Knob in the sky with chicken manure, sunbeams and breezes.

 

Yet another article has appeared in the March 31 - April 1 Weekend edition of the Lake County News-Sun about a proposed offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, "Push is on for Great Lakes wind farms.

In contrast to the first News-Sun article of Jan. 31, "Blowing in the Wind," which related how Waukegan Mayor Robert Sabonjian must be on to something when he speaks of the future and a wind farm off Waukegan's Lake Michigan shoreline, this past weekend edition related how the Obama administration and five states, including Illinois, have reached an agreement to speed up approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes.

If truth be told --  and I am well aware that some will dispute my facts as folly -- 10,000 windmills in Illinois, whether on land or off shore in Lake Michigan, would not eliminate the need for one single fossil fuel coal-fired or nuclear power plant, one of which is now being prematurely and unnecessarily decommissioned in Zion (the Dual Zion Nuclear Facility) along with its  2,100 megawatts of power. Wind must be backed up with rolling reserve for when the wind is not blowing, which even happens in Lake Michigan.

Regarding coal that Illinois is abundantly blessed with as a natural resource, recently the EPA issued a mandate that would seem to doom new coal-fired power plants in the state. The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. 

As a coal plant emits an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, the EPA mandate seems to doom any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls. There is a coal-fired plant in Waukegan whose days could be numbered because of the mandate.

Would the proposed future off-shore Great Lakes wind farm add to the possibility of more jobs locally in and around Lake Forest and Lake Bluff?

Reported in the News-Sun's Blowing in the Wind article of Jan. 31 was the following: “Most of the gusty growth in Illinois has come largely because of the Obama administration’s stimulus package which has provided $2.3 billion in tax credits.” 

Wind energy developers in Illinois, because of Obama's stimulus package, now receive a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour. This has resulted in unrealistically boosting competitiveness for wind energy in the marketplace, but might these subsidies coverup what is reality?

Research led me to this article in the Buffalo News, Wind gets knocked our of energy farm plan, in which the New York Power Authority decided that building a wind farm offshore in deep water off Lakes Erie and Ontario would cost up to four times a similar wind project on land.         

Illinois’ proposed off-shore Lake Michigan wind farm project, not unlike the project abandoned by the New York Power Authority, would eventually have to come face-to-face with the reality of the high costs of the subsidies needed to make an offshore wind farm economically feasible.

Good-bye to Major Sabonjian’s claims that the Lake Michigan offshore wind project would foster major economic development and create hundreds of jobs in the local area.

A study commissioned by the University of Juan Carlos and the Juan de Mariana Institute in 2009 indicated that despite Spain committing approximately $37 dollars in U.S. dollars for solar and wind power projects, “for every green job that is attempted to be created, there is a 2.2 destruction of the resources that on average the private sector employs per worker.”

The desire to build the Lake Michigan windfarm is related to the mandate imposed by the Illinois Democrat General Assembly that by 2025, 18 percent of Illinois’ energy should come from wind and solar power.  

In keeping with what is happening at the federal level, in 2012 legislators in a Democratic-controlled General assembly in Springfield have jumped head-long and feet-first into the unrealistic and unscientific Al Gore premise that man-made Global Warming is real and that the culprit is CO2. In reality, CO2 is not a pollutant. We exhale CO2. Plants need it to survive. 

Howard Hayden, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Connecticut, an expert on wind, solar and nuclear power, shared this salient comment with me which says it all in an e-mail communication of a few months ago. 

“We are not going to run this state or country on chicken manure, sunbeams and breezes.  It is an unconscionable waste of money to subsidize phony energy sources and to look for the Holy Climate Knob in the sky.”

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

SAVvyMom April 03, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Nancy, Grow up to the great ideas of renewable energy and what that will mean alongside your own long-windedness, which I guess could come in handy with those wind turbines. Patching together articles to support your negativity is passe and lame.
gigi April 03, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Whether you believe in global warming or not, why would having a solar panel on every house in America with the goal to offset electricity usage during peak usage times be a bad thing? Why would having a wind turbine on every public building to offset electricity usage during peak usage times be a bad thing?
Rob J April 03, 2012 at 07:05 PM
This news source needs to stop printing columns by Nancy Thorner if it expects to be taken seriously. Some basic fact-checking would have found a variety of inaccuracies in this column, starting with the fact that there is NO proposal to build a wind farm off the Coast of Illinois. Mayor Sabonjian and others are merely studying the issue to determine what a permitting structure MAY look like for such an idea. A basic Google search would have revealed this.
Pat Lyon April 04, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Thank you, Rob J, for saying what many of us have thought every time we see Ms. Thorner on the site's front page. Her constant presence makes the site just like Fox News.
Roger Billings April 05, 2012 at 12:48 AM
No, it's not just like Fox News. Fox News actually has fact checkers and editors. This crap is just that. But, hey, it's free to Patch! You get what you pay for.
Margaret McCarthy April 05, 2012 at 01:54 PM
These comments are off point. Where are your facts disputing Nancy's? All you have are insults and vitriol. Are you assigned this site by your political party to make snide comments with no arguments or facts to back up your assertions?
Pat Lyon April 05, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Margaret, why would you assume we're paid by a political party to voice our opinions? Are you?
Paul F November 06, 2012 at 05:07 PM
If wind energy is such a good thing... why does it have to be subsidized?
Me November 06, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@Paul - If oil is such a good thing, why does it have to be subsidized?
Paul F November 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Hey Me.. let's look at that. Dont mix apples w/ bannanas. ExxonMobil paid $1 billion/month in 2011 on taxes. From 2007 to 2011 for every $1 in net earnings they paid $1.50 in taxes to fed, state and local governments.
Me November 06, 2012 at 06:37 PM
And with all of those earnings, they still needed subsidies? Our government chooses to subsidize various industries. Most of the oil subsidies have been around for a very long time and date back to when the industry needed support in order to improve its viability. Unfortunately, our politicians lack the backbone to eliminate the unneeded support. Just as the oil industry needed support way back when, the wind industry needs support now. When there are economies of scale in production and wind can generate power at grid parity, the subsidies should be withdrawn, just as they should now for oil. The oil industry does not need to be subsidized as those subsidies are only be channeled back to the share holders, most of whom are paying taxes at the long-term capital gains rate of 15%.
Me November 06, 2012 at 06:37 PM
By the way, it is spelled BANANA.

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