Scrutinize the realities of costly and inefficient wind energy projects (and most alternative energy projects, for that matter) in public spheres where tough questions can be asked — like in court — and it’s amazing what you will learn. Such was the case with California utility PG&E, which had a $900 million deal in place to purchase a wind farm from Iberdrola, until an administrative law judge wanted it nixed. From the court decision:
“We reject the application because we find that the Manzana Wind Project is not cost-competitive and poses unacceptable risks to ratepayers. We find that the proposed cost of the Manzana Wind Project is significantly higher than other resources PG&E can procure to meet its RPS program goal. Moreover, it will subject the ratepayers to unacceptable risks due to potential cost increases resulting from project under-performance, less than forecasted project life, and any delays which might occur concerning transmission upgrades and commercial online date. As a proposed utility-owned generation project, ratepayers would pay a lump sum cost rather than a performance based cost for the Manzana Wind Project. Therefore, ratepayers would be at risk if the project underperforms. In particular, if the Manzana Wind Project fails to achieve production as expected for any reason such as construction delays or curtailments as a result of a collision with a California condor, shareholders face no risks while customers could incur increased costs. In contrast, under a power purchase agreement, project owners rather than ratepayers bear the risk of project performance….
“In short, although the project would contribute to the California renewable generation goals, given the availability of other lower-priced renewable projects in the competitive market that could impose far less risks on ratepayers, PG&E has failed to demonstrate a need for this project.”
So you’ve got every problem with wind energy in one judgment: high costs, unreliability, underperformance, and bird-battering. This runs counter to what environoiacs and alternative energy schemers tell us on a daily basis. What’s that matter — can’t California and the federal government find enough taxpayer dough to subsidize this boondoggle too, to make it “feasible?” A wind farm of this size should be the environmentalists’ dream.
The answer probably is, the government doesn’t want to be seen providing giveaways of this nature to the big bad utilities. They’d rather give subsidies to the renewables dealers — the little gremlins with the Green jobs — and then make the utilities buy the sporadic energy from them. And whatever you do, don’t tick off the ratepayers with higher electric bills, lest they discover the truth about alternative energy.