Not Turning in the Wind

Russ Steele

We have returned from a trip to Arizona where we attend a conservative retreat, visited the Kitt Peak Solar Observatory, saw some old friends wintering in Arizona, and made some new ones from those choosing to live in the great south west desert near Tucson.

On our way to Arizona we passed through Tehachapi pass along SR-58 and noted  the forest of windmills on the ridge tops. Only about 1 in a 100 were turning, the wind was not blowing hardly at all.  On out return, the RV was being buffeted by the wind and we expected to see all the wind turbines on the ridge tops turning in a glorious wind dance.  Only about 1 in a 100 were turning.  Many were not even facing into the wind, several were missing turbine blades. From the road it appeared that the smaller turbines were not being maintained. Some of the new turbines with the huge blades, were turning and generating green power.

Ellen and I discussed the disparity, with the wind blowing why were this forest of wind turbines not spinning power into the California grid. We could feel the wind on the RV, and some of the turbines were spinning away, but most were mute in the wind. We thought maybe these mute turbines were not being properly maintained. Could it be that the subsides had expired and it was now too costly to maintain this forest of turbines?  This seems to be a serious problem, the wind was blowing, but turbines were not generating the highly valued green power. Why?

Wind and solar are favored to replace fossil fuels, but the problem is the intermittent nature of the sources, some back up is required. As we passed by the solar arrays in the pass, the high clouds seem to be blocking most of the sun, reducing the power output.  The clouds were reducing the solar out put and the majority of the wind turbines were not turning,  even though the wind was blowing briskly through the pass. Not a great poster for sustainable energy.

Some where there were fossil fuel generators providing the power needed by industry and domestic homes in the state.

How can California continue down the mandated road,  where 1/3 of the states power must come from renewable wind and solar? It is clear that hundreds of installed turbines are not turning, not generating power even thought the wind was blowing. This is not the kind of reliability that rate payers are expecting. We are being forced to fund these wind and solar farms that are not producing the desired results. It appears that with out a continuing flow of subsides to maintain the wind turbines, they are left to rot in the sun and blot the sky an ugly reminder of the states sustainable energy folly.

If there is a better explanation on why hundreds of wind turbine were not turning in the wind, please share your insight.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

48 Responses to Not Turning in the Wind

  1. stevefrisch says:

    I saw a idled oil derrick in Kern County once, that must mean all the oil on the planet is gone!

    What you are looking at from the Captain’s Chair of your RV is a pretty antiquated wind field, slated for pretty substantial additional development. This should help you figure it out.

    ftp://ftp.cpuc.ca.gov/gopher-data/environ/tehachapi_renewables/TRTP_Final%20EIR-EIS/EIR-EIS/6-TWRA.pdf

  2. Brad Croul says:

    “… they are left to rot in the sun and blot the sky an ugly reminder…”, watch out, or folks will think you are one of those bleeding environmentalists.

    The smaller turbines are usually the older variety and the larger, slower turning, models are the newer.

    Wind turbine technology is still relatively new. Many of the dead turbines were early (some decades old) models and have been abandoned when found to be too expensive to repair. Also, companies go out of business sometimes.

    Some areas are experimenting with idling the turbines periodically to protect migrating birds.

    http://www.wind-works.org/articles/TehachapiTourGuide.html

    There is drumbeat of grumbling about taxpayer monies going to the alternative energy industry. But I don’t recall much of a drumbeat from conservatives when we were funneling billions into failed MidEast wars. Is this site all about trash-talking the opposing political team in an election? Do conservative percussionists ever bang the drum about massive cost overruns for unnecessary military projects? Is building an army tank that gets left in a desert overseas different than building a wind tower that gets abandoned in our desert? Could not both be considered important for national security?

    • B White says:

      “when we were funneling billions into failed MidEast wars”?

      Pull your pants back up.

    • The left runs out of ideas in these issues and always returns to the “wars”. This is a Paul Emery strategy over on Rebanes blog. George usually has to rein him in to keep him on point.

      No, the wars are different and the tanks in the desert are different and to equate them with a windmill waste of tax money is total crapola thinking. The windmills were built with huge subsidies to rich people on their tax returns (they would never have been built otherwise). Those subsidies were passed by democrat Congress’s. Isn’t that ironic BradC? The left asked the 1% to build their windmills. Hmmm.

      The windmills are never going to be more than say, 1% of the grid. They are not efficient. The amount of money to manufacture, construct and maintain them is way to expensive. When you add up the cost of the materials alone, there can never be a positive return on the dollar, the politicians and the eco nuts just feel better I guess. The subsidies over the years to the green machine boondoggles has far outstripped the tax credits to the oil companies for exploration. I would say as much as the econuts have tingles up their legs from the “feel-good” fantasy of windmills and solar, the people on the planet want the cheapest and most efficient per BTU fuels, and they are gooey old dinosaurs and monster ferns.

      too high. efficient and the materials needed t

  3. B White says:

    Again Steve displays his inability to identify the issue as well as his typical lefty traits. It seems that what Russ has addressed here is the viability and efficiency of wind power. What Steve has immediately turned to is an EIR. The purpose of an EIR has nothing to do with the economic viability or efficiency of the proposed project.

    The purpose of an EIR is to identify and evaluate all impacts and all possible mitigation measures. Oh of course the left would have you believe that EIR are intended as some business plan or model but that is surely not the case. Although that may partially explain Steve’s lack of business success.

    This is a little game these intellectual wannabes play. Right away they run out and get some kind of documentation related to an issue just to convince you they are intelligent. They don’t understand it well enough to know it ether doesn’t have anything to do with what is being posited or perhaps even contradicts their indoctrination.

    I would suggest, keep trying Steve but I must admit I don’t have much hope.

  4. stevefrisch says:

    I posted the EIR information so you guys could see how much wind power there actually is in the Tehachapi corridor, when it was built, where it is, how old it is and what its future production capacity is. But I would not expect one of you to be able to actually read anything and draw a logical conclusion from the data.

    As far as Todd’s nonsense statement about wind being 1% of the grid: between wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, renewable energy is already 17% of the current California grid, and another 6% is already permitted or in construction.

    http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Renewables/index.htm

    And finally, re: the allegation that renewable energy has enjoyed more subsidy than fossil fuels–the facts are really quite different. Fossil fuel subsidies are actually 2.5 times higher than renewable subsidies.

    http://www.elistore.org/Data/products/d19_07.pdf

    And lest one dispute the authors of the report, I would encourage you to look at the sources and methodology.

    And of course these figures do not even begin to calculate the cost of keeping global shipping lanes open for the transport of oil from the Persian gulf.

    There really is no point to talking to anyone here of logic, or data. You are only interested in petty insult and anecdotal observations from a Captain’s chair.

  5. stevefrisch says:

    I posted the EIR information so you guys could see how much wind power there actually is in the Tehachapi corridor, when it was built, where it is, how old it is and what its future production capacity is. But I would not expect one of you to be able to actually read anything and draw a logical conclusion from the data.

    As far as Todd’s nonsense statement about wind being 1% of the grid: between wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, renewable energy is already 17% of the current California grid, and another 6% is already permitted or in construction.

    http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Renewables/index.htm

    [Note to Russ: no need to moderate my previous comment I have split it in two to avoid the inconvenience]

    • So the national grid is 17% SteveF? You need to read better. Also, Bonw has a huge hisgtory in EIR’s that you don’t so be careful who you debate.

      How come the liberals in Massachusetts don’t want those windmills SteveF? Seem they only put tem where the 99% you love so much live. Also,you dodge the questions or observations about the subsides and their amounts SteveF. Why would you do that? Sorry but you are out of your league here with Russ and even little old me. Try harder.

      Het you Wiki out steve and tell us how much the subsidies are for wind and solar. Come on now, you certainly have shown us how much you rely on Wiki for everything.

      • stevefrisch says:

        One, I am not a Massachusetts liberal.
        Two, I posted data on the subsidies for all to see. If you don;t like them go to the source data and dispute them.
        Three, you are in a league of your own….

      • stevefrisch says:

        Oh, yeah…you can’t read either….I did not say the national grid…I said the California grid. You really are a lackey aren’t you?

      • The grisd comment was meant to obfuscate you as ou were trying to do. You fell for it. What a hoot!

        Regarding stats, what is the old saying? You libs make yours up most of the time and you have wrecked science by turning it into politics. You defeat yourself.

        Oh, I am a league of my own alright, the league filled with non liberal econuts. You are in a league of your own oneness. LOL!

      • stevefrisch says:

        I really think you must be the stupidest man alive.

      • SteveF, Maybe so, but I am smarter than you.

  6. stevefrisch says:

    And finally, re: the allegation that renewable energy has enjoyed more subsidy than fossil fuels–the facts are really quite different. Fossil fuel subsidies are actually 2.5 times higher than renewable subsidies.

    http://www.elistore.org/Data/products/d19_07.pdf

    And lest one dispute the authors of the report, I would encourage you to look at the sources and methodology.

    And of course these figures do not even begin to calculate the cost of keeping global shipping lanes open for the transport of oil from the Persian gulf.

    There really is no point to talking to anyone here of logic, or data. You are only interested in petty insult and anecdotal observations from a Captain’s chair.

    • AEI did a study and all renewables (whatever that is since energy can only be transformed)) accounted for 3.6% of the national grid in 2010.

      In his 2011 budget, you can read this in TriplePundit

      “In Obama’s 2011 FY budget proposal sent to Congress this week, the administration calls for eliminating more than $2.7 billion in tax subsidies for oil, coal and gas industries.”

      Now, let me see, Hmmm. Solyndra, 550 million up in smoke, no energy generated. Hmmm. Exxon, generates hundreds of billions in energy for the planet, real stuff, not phony green dreams. Then we have Tesla, and all the others who got the billions in the last three years. No energy created for the people. Hmmm., Well, SteveF, you tell us if a subsidy to Solyndra generating ZERO energy is better than Exxon generating a real product used by the planet. Please, we are waiting.

      • stevefrisch says:

        And you are too dim to realize that you did not actually prove anything either….the budget proposal called for a reduction in oil and gas subsidies, but it was not approved. And a reduction in subsidy of $2.7 billion would still put oil and gas at more than 2 times renewables.

        Your low IQ is really showing.

      • So, on a upper comment you complain that if we don’t like your stats go to the source and when we do you then complain we did. Is bi-polar a common problem in Truckee? I think I have a brighter bulb SteveF, you are just personally overrated yourself. That affliction is called narcissism.

      • stevefrisch says:

        Facts are facts dimwit….the data is the data. I am right and you are resoundingly wrong.

      • Sorry SteveF, you are simply ignorant, but I forgive you for that simpleton brain freeze.

  7. B White says:

    “how much wind power there actually is in the Tehachapi corridor, when it was built, where it is, how old it is and what its future production capacity is”

    You still don’t get it Steve and I am afraid you never will. That is why you rely on extracting funds that don’t require anything in return.

    Competitiveness, efficiency, return.

    Where’s the Beef?

    You’re right, you don’t belong here.

  8. Brad Croul says:

    It is not that I am bailing for war because I ran out of ideas Todd. I am trying to see if you get that our taxes are used for all kinds of things and if you are really worried about reducing taxes you might want to look at the defense department. Defense spending is apparently a sacred cow.

    I don’t see what you guys have against GE building turbines. It is an American company.

    The tank vs. windmill is a fair comparison. The tank is 100% subsidized by taxpayers, costs plenty, and soon becomes junk (not to mention that it is an obsolete way to fight a war).

    A wind turbine might get a subsidized to the tune of some tax savings (unless the government starts building them for the military). The government does not just say, “here, dude, I want to give you some wind turbines that the taxpayer paid for”. What a hoot!

    The tank is used to protect energy reserves so we can have access to the oil.

    The wind turbine is used to generate energy locally and lessen the need to build the tank that gets sent overseas to protect oil fields.

  9. MikeL says:

    Cali currently is getting around 8% of its power from renewables. See the CAISO website..http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html

    Most of the power that I am using currently where I live is from Shasta Dam.. which according to the lefty lunatics is not consider renewable.

    • stevefrisch says:

      Mike….I’m sorry, the figures you posted are for the power sold through the California Independent System Operator. That is not the total amount of power used, it is the amount brokered through the ISO.

    • Brad Croul says:

      What makes you think lefty lunatics do not think hydro is renewable?

      • stevefrisch says:

        Brad, MIke is correct, in California hydro that is greater than 30 MW in generation capacity is not counted as part of the renewable portfolio standard. It’s kind of an artificial measurement….. if large hydro had been counted the standard would have simply been set higher, it was based on achieving a certain amount of savings.

      • Dam teardown proponents perhaps.

      • D. King says:

        “What makes you think lefty lunatics do not think hydro is renewable?”

        If they did, why would they blow it up for less salmon? :(

      • Brad Croul says:

        Last I heard, rainfall runoff is still 100% renewable (as long as it keeps raining).

  10. BradC, sorry no comparison here. The tank and its crew are protecting you via the “common defense”. Remove the tank and cut the military back and viola! You speaka Chinese? The windmill as I have explained is not doing anyone or anything any good. It makes the econuts feel like they accomplished something like getting that 1% you despise, to build the windmill with the 99% money. I say that may be a backfire on your people’s thinking.

    I am for every kind of energy but I am not for such taxpayer losers as the wind and solar until it can stand on its own. I am against subsidies except maybe for farmers. Build the nuke plants, build those clean energy things called dams and you may be on to something.

    • Brad Croul says:

      Who pays for dams? Are nukes subsidy/loan guarantee free?

      • Well Hoover Dam was paid for through the sale of electricity. Our local Yuba=Bear too. I would guess there may have been subsidies in the construction of the dams and maybe even nukes. I think even the grid may have had a subsidy of=r a tax break. Perhaps you could research and do a paper to get that info.

        Frisch seems to be a know-it-all, maybe he could tell us all.

  11. D. King says:

    “The tank is used to protect energy reserves so we can have access to the oil.”

    The tank was used to stop Soviet style communist aggression post WW2. We brought down the Berlin wall and freed millions from totalitarianism. The windmill is being used (symbolically) to re-impose it, via fools who don’t know their own history, and are doomed to repeat it.

    • Brad Croul says:

      Commie aggression is a decades old notion.

      Cruise missiles, predator drones, and air warfare nowadays are far more effective than tanks.

      But thanks for the history lesson.

      I am not talking about military science, I am talking about second to last paragraph in Steele’s post.

      I don’t think Steele is describing the situation accurately. He thinks the rate payers are paying for everything. If you bring solar panels or a wind turbine online, you only get to sell the power, not the entire cost of the system. Yes, you could recoup some of your investment in subsidies, if they are still being offered.

      Russ appears to be trying to equate some old abandoned “Yugos, Pintos, and Darts, with, “it’s a damn liberal conspiracy to loot the treasury via mandates and subsidies”.

      • D. King says:

        “Commie aggression is a decades old notion.”

        It’s embryonic thinking like that, that will lose you your liberty.
        If you want to walk that path, you do it alone.

        As to the money; all those solar and wind plants will have to have backup power. Since Warren Buffett owns them (the dams (PacifiCorp)), you might spend a modicum of time to research who will provide the backup power…or shall I help you? Hint: Warren Buffett / G.E.

  12. Well said DKing!

  13. What is the differnce between a “ratepayer” and a “taxpayer” in the subsidy business?

    • Brad Croul says:

      A rate payer pays for the product he uses (like you pay your PG&E bill); a taxpayer (hopes) he gets some value in return for what he pays.

      • You described the difference as to a transaction with no subsidy. I would like you to define as to a transaction containing a subsidy.

  14. Brad Croul says:

    DKing, Warren Buffet is a shrewd investor. Do you think he is gaming the system with his capitalist ways? I don’t see the importance of “who owns what” has to do with the backup power issue. Oil, coal, and natural gas are also backup sources.

    • D. King says:

      Brad, look into the companies, this has been in the planning for years.
      Do your own research, or stay naive, it’s up to you.
      One thing is for sure, Condit dam (WA) and the four in CA, are owned by PacifiCorp.
      Draw your own conclusions.

      • Brad Croul says:

        DK, here is a snippet from Wiki,

        PacifiCorp has three primary subsidiaries:
        Pacific Power is a regulated electric utility with service territory throughout Oregon, northern California, and southeastern Washington.
        Rocky Mountain Power is a regulated electric utility with service territory throughout Utah, Wyoming, and southeastern Idaho.
        PacifiCorp Energy operates 69 generation facilities in the six states that Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power operate in, plus two facilities in Montana, three in Colorado, and one in Arizona.
        Since 2006, PacifiCorp has been a wholly owned subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, itself an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway. In 2001, PacifiCorp was purchased by Scottish Power, but later sold to MidAmerican.

        PacifiCorp Energy owns 68 generating plants with a capacity of 9,140 megawatts. 70.6% of the generation is from thermal sources (i.e. coal or natural gas), 6.7% from hydroelectric sources, and 0.2% from wind sources. 22.5% of PacifiCorp Energy’s generation is purchased from other suppliers or under contracts.

        I still don’t see what Berkshire Hathaway has to do with it. Trump, Gates, or Koch, could probably buy a utility company, maybe they already have. Pickens has his own scheme involving wind power and natural gas.
        Many big businesses take advantages of subsidies.

        Most dams here in California were built with taxpayer dollars (Bureau of Reclamation, I think). If that is true, then PacifiCorp does not own them, the taxpayers do, they are the utility operator.

        The Los Banos Creek Detention Dam is an interesting project for discussion.
        This dam/reservoir project pumps water uphill during the night when electric rates are lowest, and releases the water out the next day during peak rate hours. All around the reservoir are wind turbines. Wind power can pump the water uphill to reservoirs during the day, lessening the need for fossil fuel generated power during peak hours.
        What is wrong with that?

  15. B White says:

    Brad Croul 03/25/2012 at 18:28 “If you bring solar panels or a wind turbine online, you only get to sell the power, not the entire cost of the system.”

    Another financial illiterate!

    • Brad Croul says:

      B. White- king of the insults, with nothing intelligent to say.
      BTW, is that your real name?

      • B White says:

        Oh yes and your contributions are ever so enlightening!

        There now, do you feel much better?

        This is much more plentiful on the lefty blogs. Perhaps you might feel more comfortable there?

        Intelligent indeed.

  16. D. King says:

    Brad said:
    “I still don’t see what Berkshire Hathaway has to do with it.”

    MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company is a holding company controlled by Berkshire Hathaway.

    Brad, read down through the Investments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MidAmerican_Energy_Holdings_Company

  17. Brad Croul says:

    D. King,

    What I mean is, why does it matter that Berkshire Hathaway owns PacifiCorp? What are you implying?

    Yes, they generate electricity using hydro, and also wind.

    PacifiCorp Energy owns 68 generating plants with a capacity of 9,140 megawatts. 70.6% of the generation is from thermal sources (i.e. coal or natural gas), 6.7% from hydroelectric sources, and 0.2% from wind sources. 22.5% of PacifiCorp Energy’s generation is purchased from other suppliers or under contracts.

    • D. King says:

      Brad,
      First they destroy the Hydro. (free energy from water… Cheap!!! / No pollution!!!)

      Then they install windmills ($$$) / Solar ($$$).
      But they don’t work at night with no wind, so you need backup power.
      So, they provide gas turbine power stations. ($$$)

      So, to sum it up; if you just leave the DAM Hydro alone, you save BIG money and pollute Less!
      You know, less green house gases and such and what…That is all!

      P.S. Why would you pump water uphill if you have a hydroelectric-dam?

  18. D. King says:

    “What I mean is, why does it matter that Berkshire Hathaway owns PacifiCorp? What are you implying?”

    That the Eco-left is being used, and that by removing dams they are polluting more!

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