The Renewable Energy Boondoggle

The truth about wind and solar power

Last month Glen Besa, the director of the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter, rebuked Dominion Virginia Power for failing to "jump-start the clean, renewable energy industry in Virginia. ... Offshore wind, which is plentiful off Virginia's coast, could create 10,000 jobs in the commonwealth. It is time for Dominion to make major investments in wind and solar in Virginia and bring these jobs to Virginia."

Others concur. Beth Kemler, state director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, notes that Dominion has proposed two new 1,300-megawatt gas-fired power stations. Bad idea, she says: "While natural gas may be cheap now, its price has fluctuated greatly in the past and is expected to rise in the future. Wind, on the other hand, is a free natural resource. So building a wind farm includes no fuel price risk."

Say what you will about the evil fiends who run power companies, they are not stupid people. So it boggles the mind that a corporation as ostensibly rapacious as Dominion would pass up the opportunity to reap the obvious riches from doing as environmentalists wish. Could there be more to the issue than they are letting on?

There could. Let's start with some basic facts.

Dominion's entire generation portfolio produces about 28,000 megawatts of electricity. Its two reactors at the North Anna nuclear power station produce a combined 1,960 megawatts, or 7 percent of the total. The new hybrid-energy center in Wise, which will get up to 20 percent of its juice from burning biomass, will crank out 585 megawatts. Dominion also is working on a solar-energy unit in Halifax. Generation capacity? Four megawatts.

Not 400. Four. (Dominion is pursuing a distributed-generation solar project that might generate more—a grand total of perhaps 30 megawatts.)

Could Dominion produce more power from renewable sources? Sure it could—if you don't mind paying out the wazoo.

Energy from coal costs around $100 per megawatt-hour to produce. The price for solar power and offshore wind generation starts at twice that much and climbs fast. Some committed environmentalists might not mind seeing their electric bills nearly double. Most other folks would—even if they say otherwise.

Ditto for conservation: Everyone is for it—in the abstract. In practice, not so much. The most efficient way to conserve energy is not to use an electronic device at all. Yet Americans are using more and more.

The typical U.S. household had one TV set in 1978. Today it has 2.5. Further, says the Energy Information Administration, "in 1978, personal computers were ... not typically used by U.S. households. In 2009, 76 percent of U.S. homes had at least one computer ... 79 percent of homes had a DVD player, and 43 percent had a DVR. Nearly a third of all households also had at least four electronic devices, such as cellphones, plugged in and charging at home." Eighty-seven percent of homes now have central AC. Anyone want to give up theirs?

Combine such trends with population growth, and Dominion expects demand to soar 30 percent in the next decade and a half. Where will the juice come from?

Using the best of today's technology, offshore wind could provide Virginia somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts. But: Offshore wind requires 60 acres of sea area per megawatt, compared with a quarter-acre of land per megawatt for coal and one-tenth of an acre per megawatt for nuclear generation. (Wind turbines need to be set well apart to minimize wake loss.) Sixty acres times 2,000 MW equals a turbine field covering more than 187 square miles off the state's coast. Odds are good the Navy would have something to say about that.

Onshore wind generation is cheaper and requires a slightly more compact 40 acres per megawatt, but it brings problems of its own, such as NIMBYism: Tazewell County supervisors blocked construction of turbines there, and a 38-megawatt wind farm in Highland County was held up by regulatory and legal challenges for a decade. No one wants wind farms in national parks, either.

Then there is the Cuisinart conundrum: Wind farms already kill half a million birds a year while generating just 2 percent of U.S. electricity. How many birds would they kill generating the 20 percent that renewable advocates want to shoot for?

Wind's biggest problem, however, is that it is intermittent. Since utility-scale electricity can't be efficiently and effectively stored, utilities must back up wind farms with other generation. And while utilities can fire up another gas turbine or two when demand is high, they cannot make the wind blow. Ironically, demand often peaks during hot summer days when the winds flatline.

None of this is meant to suggest traditional power sources such as coal and nuclear sources are problem-free—clearly they aren't—or that Virginia should never give wind a second thought. Clearly it should. The point is simply this: Environmentalists touting renewable energy sometimes sound like Lewis Strauss predicting in 1954 that atomic power would make electricity "too cheap to meter." His lofty prediction was too good to be true—and so is theirs.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • ||

    Gosh, a hit piece on wind and solar...published by the Reason Foundation, a major recipient of donations of petroleum money by Kochs and others.

    Golly, it's almost as if the heavily subsidized oil industry doesn't want the same subsidy extended to competing energy sources.

    Ha ha.

  • ||

    Gosh, stupid troll is stupid and engages in ad homonym attacks in place of reason. Let me find my surprised face.

  • Warty||

    I like the fact that homonym and hominiem are homophones. There's a nice symmetry to it.

  • ||

    It is. And I inevitably forget which is which. Damn language.

  • ||

    hommina hommina hommina

  • ||

    I like the fact that homonym and hominiem are homophones.

    Err, no homo?

  • ||

    There's also "Houyhnhnm." For instance, many people make mean ad Houyhnhnm attacks on Sarah Jessica Parker.

  • Warty||

    Golf claps.

  • ||

    So, can you actually name and/or quantify these immense subsidies the oil industry receives?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Every day the federal government doesn't confiscate 100% of the liquid assets of any company, it's a "subsidy."

  • ||

    Some accounting rule somewhere that lets them do something... I forget exactly. Green!

  • Kroneborge||

    "So, can you actually name and/or quantify these immense subsidies the oil industry receives?"

    One of the easist is below market prices for drilling on public land.

    There are also a lot of tax issues as well.

    And of course let's not forget the externalities !

  • George||

    The market price for drilling on public land is what ever the government says the market price is for drilling on public land, seeing that the government have a monopoly on public land. ;-)

  • ||

    IIANM, prices for drilling on public land are determined by auction, whether the land in question is state or public. Auctions are one of the best ways to get accurate pricing.

    Tax issues are mostly accelerated writeoffs and depletion allowances. These are common in many industries that are considered risky or highly speculative. This is where critics have their best case. It's quite possible that adjustments could be made to oil's special treatment but it's highly unlikely that these would come close to making "alternative energy" competitive at this point.

    And it would really help if those talking about externalities would actually itemize wht they are. Action has been taken over the ears to address the affects of recognized pollutants and steps have been taken to mitigate their harms.

    Furthermore, externalities can be positive as well as negative. The boost in living standards derived from having reliable electric power and transportation is hard to put a value on.

  • Realist||

    There should not be public land!

  • Kroneborge||

    Yeah, why should there be large segments of the earth set aside for nature.

    Strip malls everywhere !!!

  • Realist||

    People who enjoy nature, me included, should pay for "large segments of the earth set aside for nature". And NOT force others to pay for their pet projects!

  • Redefiler||

    Kronebone, people and strip malls are 'nature'.

    Why exclude a particular species' behavior from the planet's natural ecosystem and it's conservation?

    I don't know if you get outside much, but it's kinda obviously that as living things our job is too gobble and/or hump whatever we can, the strongest and most successful dominate and live on, until they get gobbled and/or humped. You deny your own nature.

  • Chatroom Crank||

    You will provide evidence to show his numbers are wrong? You can give us the names of the agencies that write and send checks to the oil companies? That is what is implied by "subsidy".
    If not, STFU. Thank you.

  • Kroneborge||

    So only if you directly get a check that's a subsidy?

    So the billions in tax credit given to ethanol that's not a subsidy because they hide it in the tax code?

    What if the government just charges you below market access to something like land, is that not a subsidy?

    What if we put in the tax code that everyone that installed solar panels on their roof got a tax credit in equal amount to what they spent would that REALLY not be a subsidy?

    When looking at any transaction it's important to look at the economic reality, not just the legalize used to hide stuff.

    When you do that, you see that there have been, and continue to be large subsudies for fossil fuels.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    All of those things are subsidies, except the "public land" thing is a little more hard to define. There should not be public land.

    If subsidies refer only to plain transfers of money from the government, or reductions in taxation targeted at specific entities or activity:

    Which ones exactly do fossil fuel companies get?

  • Kroneborge||

    They get reductions in taxes, along with sweetheart government deals.

    Remember the MMS scandal with the cocaine etc?

  • Chatroom Crank||

    Vin Suprynowicz covered this in a blog post this week. Enjoy.

    "Everything Ms. Marshall and other Democrats describe as “subsidies” to big oil are in fact tax deductions or tax credits for costs incurred, Mr. Comstock explains — deductions they can take on their tax returns. No one in the government is mailing any subsidy checks to the oil companies, he insists.

    “Scored” over 10 years, those deductions and credits are usually cited as adding up to $44 billion, including depletion allowances, he says — not $100 billion.

    “They’re all deductions. There are two credits that are in the code, but because they phase out when the price of oil reaches a certain point, they’re not longer relevant.

    “If you drill a non-productive well, you get to recover the cost of labor associated with drilling that well. If I have tangible equipment like the steel I put in the ground that can’t be recovered, I get to depreciate that. And then there’s percentage depletion, the ability to recover the cost of your investment in the mineral interest; you recover that costs as you operate the land. Now, not everyone gets the percentage depletion. In fact, the big firms including ExxonMobil or ConocoShell are precluded from getting a percentage depletion, so when she talks about ‘Big Oil,’ Big Oil does not get all of them.

    “These are deductions that are associated with all extractive industries, or the manufacturing deduction, all manufacturers are eligible for it, they all get it at a 9 percent rate, where the oil and gas industry gets it at 6 percent,” Mr. Comstock says. “If you were to make the claim that all of that is subsidy, which adds up to $44 billion, that’s about $4 billion a year, because it’s done as a 10-year scoring. The only way it would ever make sense (to claim such a large number) is over a 10-year period.”
    http://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=854

  • Chatroom Crank||

    "So only if you directly get a check that's a subsidy?"
    Correct
    "So the billions in tax credit given to ethanol that's not a subsidy ..."
    The ethanol subsidy is just like the other various green subsidies. It is there because the Feds mandate the use of the ethanol. It is supposed to be going away at the end of this year.

    Are you in favor of ending all business tax deductions? All special deductions in the tax code?

  • ||

    So you're telling me if I got a line in the tax code put in that said you get to write off porche's on your income tax, that wouldn't be a subsidy for porche owners?

    Also yes, I'm in general for getting pretty much all special deductions. Even better go to the Fair Tax. Take all those special interests out of it.

    Finally there's nothing green about a ethanol subsidy. It's just another corportist subsidy.

  • Bill||

    Not sure if you are a regular or not Kroneborge, but no one here is in favor of subsidies to business and we would like to see the tax code vastly simplified.

    But to call things that congress has done for most businesses only a subsidy for oil is not quite honest although there are plenty of things that have benefited oil and nuclear. The thing is that they would be profitable without the subsidies and nuclear could be if we did not have 50 different sets of regulations that drove costs up. Both of these mature industries also have thousands of rules and regulations that induce costs that make them less profitable as well and at least some of these are not necessary for safety but are purely political.

    The worst argument made by someone above is the ethanol subsidies. Those go mostly to the farmers and make it harder to make the gasoline, are rough on the car engines, drive up the price of many foods, etc. These were pushed by the greens who were for it before they were against it more recently. I hope we're not stuck with it because they did not do their homework. I don't see how something imposed on an industry (and the whole country) like ethanol is now a subsidy that they can't exist without.

  • O2||

    orel - libtoids are corporatists so they'll luv & apologise for renewables after some sector growth.

  • StOOpid||

    Who knew, Obama is a libtoid!

  • ||

    You're more than welcome to try to substantively dispute Mr. Hinkle's point. We'll all be waiting with baited breath.

  • ||

    KOCHTOPUS

  • quid pro quo||

    Oh, you can have the subsidy, as long as the end user pays all the same taxes.

  • Realist||

    Oil, coal and nuclear are the only energy sources that are cost effective.

  • Realist||

    But, then all three of those are stellar generated energy sources.

  • TWylite||

    "Cuisinart Conundrum" sounds like good death metal band name, album title, or song title.

  • Warty||

    Certainly not death metal. It would be some intolerable hipster synth-something band.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I love both genres.

  • Warty||

    I like hipster music, but only ironically.

  • Mallet Diction||

    Ironically, I like hipster music.
    More ironically, my own music has been called "aggressively hip."

    If you met me, you'd know why these things are ironic.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Ironically enjoying irony...I'm not sure there's even a word for that, but I think I do it, too.

  • ||

    The only hipster thing I like is the chick from Pomplamoose Nataly Dawn. I don't care that her band does suck and she has a five note range. She is just so God damned cute. None of it matters.

  • ||

    "Renewable energy" is a unicorn heard that the greens are convinced exist. It is no different or any more rational than some fundamentalist religious group who believe in faith healing. The big difference is, that while Republican candidates may well play politics and throw a nice shout out to faith healing, no Republican President has ever based his national health care policy on increased prayer. But right now we have a President whose energy policy really is based on the imaginary unicorn farts known as "renewable energy". We are in a lot of trouble.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    "no Republican President has ever based his national health care policy on increased prayer"

    Give Bachmann a chance will ya?

  • Realist||

    or Perry!

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Natural gas and oil production are both up during Obama's tenure. If he hates fossil fuels, it must be as deeply buried as his atheist Marxist communist Islamic faith.

    (BTW, this article is about Virginia, not Obama.)

  • Gus||

    "Natural gas and oil production are both up during Obama's tenure"

    Domestic?

  • ||

    Venezulain...

  • Brett L||

    If you don't count the off-shore drilling, most certainly. New fields have come online in Pennsylvania, New York and North Dakota that are pretty big. I know that Texas fields started pumping more as gasoline spiked as well. I am not sure of the current state of GoM oil production.

  • ||

    Prices of those two commodities are also up. Perhaps production should be up a hell of a lot more than it is. Further, Obama has done a tremendous amount damage with the ilconcieved drilling ban. And he has wasted billions in subsidies on green energy that could have been use more productively elsewhere.

    Obama certainly believes in this bullshit.

  • ||

    To be fair, the green energy subsidies were just "stimulus" anyway.
    Which in modern Keynesian land means it doesn't matter what you spend it on. If blowing money is all that matters, blowing it on unicorn farts and political favors is as good a project as anything else.

  • ||

    In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Obama said: “One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels. We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation.”

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/03.....z1XrDwha1J

    That is Obama saying that he plans to base his energy policy on unicorn farts. There are no alternatives to fossil fuels. If there were, we would already be using them.

  • John, circa 1785||

    There are no alternatives to horses. If there were, we would already be using them.

  • ||

    We were using them all over the place dipshit, they were called trains. If there is an alternative to fossile fuels, the market will switch on its own. We won't need to subsidize it.

    It really is just unfathomable how stupid liberals are. It is as if 40% of the country is completely retarded and doesn't' know it.

  • We were using trains||

    in 1785? Holy hell, are all my history books wrong!

    You may want to go edit Wikipedia, because according to their dumbass, "Modern rail transport systems first appeared in England in the 1820s. These systems, which made use of the steam locomotive, were the first practical forms of mechanized land transport..."

  • ||

    Pedantic troll is pedantic. For some reason I read 18 rather than 17. But the point still stands. Sadly, you are still too stupid to understand it.

  • ||

    Exactly, when someone developed an alternative to horses, it was quickly adopted. And, interestingly enough, almost immediately fucked up by government subsidies.

  • Realist||

    "If there is an alternative to fossile fuels, the market will switch on its own."
    YES!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Horses were NEVER at any point in history at the level of universal usage that motor vehicles are today. In the "horse and buggy" days, most people walked for everyday travel.

  • ||

    damn that Henry Ford and the black gold...

  • John, circa 2,000 B.C.||

    There are no alternatives to rocks. If there were, we would already be using them.

  • twenty-something||

    Yeah, but where did those alternatives to horses and rocks come from? It wasn't via a government taking wealth from the most productive and giving it to the less productive. If that's how it worked, the USSR would be running the world right now with all its awesome technology.

  • I'm not arguing||

    for government subsidies for anything. I'm arguing against John's earlier assertion that no alternative to fossil fuels exists because it isn't being used right now. That fact does NOT indicate the non-existence of such things; only that they haven't been developed yet.

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • George||

    If they have not been developed yet then they are not alternatives. It has something to do with counting chickens holding eggs or something.

  • Realist||

    ""Renewable energy" is a unicorn heard..." Should read herd. Don't forget those unicorns must have rainbows commin' out their ass to be the magical kind!

  • broken record||

    James Hanson agrees:

    Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

  • Racist U of W Maddison||

    The odds ratio favoring African Americans and Hispanics over whites was 576-to-1 and 504-to-1, respectively, using the SAT and class rank while controlling for other factors. Thus, the median composite SAT score for black admittees was 150 points lower than for whites and Asians, and the Latino median SAT score was 100 points lower. Using the ACT, the odds ratios climbed to 1330-to-1 and 1494-to-1, respectively, for African Americans and Hispanics over whites.


    http://www.ceousa.org/content/view/929/119/
  • Realist||

    Just out of curiouity where is the U of W Maddison???

  • Realist||

    ...should read Curiosity.

  • ||

    Ahh...but Mr. Hinkle is ignoring the tremendous potential of unicorn farts. Why, just a few unicorn farts will be more than enough to power the whole east coast for decades.

  • Pudgeboy||

    Your comment is based on a common misconception about unicorns. When I'm not doing super important fake climate modeling, I like to study the small heard of unicorns we keep penned in the back yard. Unlike horses, that eat organic material, and are very farty, unicorns actually eat rainbows, and as a result aren't very farty, at all... so they won't do much for our energy issues.

  • Quiet Desperation||

    Nonsense. Princess Celestia makes the sun rise every day. Now that there is power!

    But, wait, that makes her solar, right? And she's an alicorn (unicorn pegasus hybrid), not a unicorn.

    Dang, getting a mythology/cartoon based energy policy straight is a bit trickier than I thought...

  • Pudgeboy||

    That's why it's super important to leave the nonsense science to those of us who claim to be experts. I am also a Life Coach, with an advanced certificate, so in addition to being a scientist, I am also a healer.

  • PETA||

    I assume that these are free-range unicorns that you are keeping "penned" in your back yard. We will be in touch.

  • juris imprudent||

    Typical greenie liberal-arts/poly-sci grad: "I want cheap non-polluting energy and you evil/mean/non-creative engineers refuse to deliver it to me".

  • O2||

    typical wingnutz - hey bubba lemme catch some fart in this here mason jar so we can drive the fartmobile.

  • algore||

    Yeah, and all that methane gas from bubba's farting is killing polar bears!

  • Answer the Question||

    I can't tell you how desperately I want wind power to fuck up the earth's thermodynamics. What kind of fucking idiot actually thinks that you can transfer the kind of energy necessary to make it worhwhile without altering the climate?

    And save the "statistical models" stupidity, one research methods class will tell you how useless they are.

  • rangefinder||

    If we build enough turbine props, we could harness the trade winds and reverse the rotation of the earth!

    That's how we'll stop the advance of global warming...we'll stop time!!!

  • Almanian||

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out, people always shout,
    "There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt!"
    LALALALALALALA....

    Also, get back to me on the "cheap, renewable energy" once you've perfected the Perpetual-Motion machine...

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Energy from coal costs around $100 per megawatt-hour to produce"

    But, but the EXTERNALITEEEZ!

    It has been SKINIFICKALLY proven that's they are at least a gazillion dollars a killowat!

  • Almanian||

    I heard it was more like a bajillion dollars, but whatever...

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    All things considered, coal is a nasty fuel. The upcharge for nuclear is preferable in my mind.

  • alarmist||

    As an added bonus, my kids won't need a night light anymore, because they'll glow in the dark! It's a win-win!

  • George||

    Externalities is a property issue and seeing that Marxist now we need not worry about it.

  • George||

    *Property Rights

  • ||

    I am buying lightbulbs (the real kind) like there's no tomorrow. I hope there's a tomorrow so I can use them.

  • Gus||

    Me too. I'm trying to calculate just how many I'll need for a few more decades of service.

  • ||

    Since utility-scale electricity can't be efficiently and effectively stored

    pump storage? big-ass leydon jars? rubbing a million cats really hard?

  • ||

    While natural gas may be cheap now, its price has fluctuated greatly in the past and is expected to rise in the future.

    Because greenies like Beth Kemler are apoplectic over domestic fracking and the pipeline from Canada bringing fracked natural gas to the US. No dishonesty there.

  • Kroneborge||

    Or how about because the dollar is being debased, and people are flocking too commodities?

  • ||

    Another Reason column wherein the author -- whose position I agree with -- lazily switches back and forth between energy units (Watt-hours and SI derivatives) and power units (Watts). The biggest failing of the greenies is to mention how much actual energy will be generated by these proposed systems, not maximum nameplate power under ideal conditions. It's an obvious point but one that is utterly crucial.

  • ||

    Hey, at least he's using real energy units; most journos rely on bullshit equivalences, like:

    "Enough energy to power a thousand households."

    "Enough energy to pull 100 tank cars from Paducah to Piscataway."

  • ||

    Enough electricity to electrocute 10,000 Paul Krugmans in the bathtub.

  • NeonCat||

    While he's wearing his Nobel Prize, or without it? And how much of a difference does it make?

  • Brandon||

    Eliminationist Rhetoric!!

  • ||

    "Then there is the Cuisinart conundrum: Wind farms already kill half a million birds a year while generating just 2 percent of U.S. electricity. How many birds would they kill generating the 20 percent that renewable advocates want to shoot for?"

    Not buying this one. The smart birds will avoid the blades and survive to reproduce, the stupid ones won't. Throught the power of evolution, there won't be any bird deaths from windmills in a few generations. Problem solved.

  • ||

    And the birds that don't adapt and become extinct are just fucked? That is a pretty fucking stupid idea. And further, you could say that about anything. Fuck it, lets poor arsenic into the rivers, any wildlife that can't take it will die and the rest will adapt and thrive. What is the problem?

  • ||

    Take your meds, John.

  • ||

    Fuck off. Unless the post was meant to be sarcastic, it is beyond stupid.

  • N8||

    OK, I'm admittedly ignorant as to the environmental science as to how this happens, but do half a million birds really die flying into windmills? The things don't spin terribly fast, and they're definitely not clear like windows...Do more birds perhaps die flying into trees, and we just don't bother to count those?

  • ||

    Birds don't see directly above and below them. And they are not mentally wired to dodge moving objects. I don't know why everyone finds it surprising that these barbaric devices would kill birds.

  • Sons of Taffita||

    The tips spin at About 600mph. It's a math thing.

    Re clear windows: They too are a killer of ~500,000,000 - 1B birds / year.

  • ||

    Mid-range design parameters for wind turbines: 220 feet in diameter, 12 rpm.
    Tip distance traveled ~= 3.14 * 220 or 690 feet. Distance per minute = 690 * 12 = 8280 feet. Tip speed in mph = 8280 * 60 / 5280 = 94.1, not quite 600. ;-) Sparrow hawks can fly faster, sparrows can't. Source: Wikipedia.

  • bridgekeeper||

    What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen sparrow?

  • ||

    African or European

  • ||

    ?

  • ||

    Or I guess that would only work with "swallow."

  • ||

    Although you sometimes manage to stumble into an almost-coherent point (even a blind pig...), your semi-literate, spittle-flecked rants reflect poorly on the rest of us and do nothing to advance serious debate.

  • ||

    Your failure to understand the arguments is not my problem.

  • ||

    Actually it is if the thought is to convince people. If the concept is masturbation there's better websites.

  • Pip||

    That's kind of assholish.

  • ||

    And the birds that don't adapt and become extinct are just fucked? That is a pretty fucking stupid idea.

    Uh, yeah, it is called natural selection or alternatively survival of the fittest you should Wiki them some day.

    Here is a secret for you. If birds can not adapt to windmills then they will be extinct soon with or without the windmills. We aren't talking Mao and the sparrows here.

  • Sean Healy||

    You don't understand natural selection. Hint: it's not about behavioral adaptation.

  • ||

    free cattle feed!

  • ||

    Huh. You'd think the squirrels and deer would have that down pat by now.

  • George||

    You do know you are assuming birds are capable of evolving smarter.

  • Brett L||

    The real problem is that it takes 66000 windmills, already sited in the most ideal places, to generate this 2% -- which I'm pretty sure is measured peak windpower output versus average usage. So we need to build another 2.33 MILLION windmills and find equally efficient sites for them to switch to wind power. Even going from 2% to 10% requires another 240k windmills. My question to the windies is just where the hell do plan to put these 'mills?

  • Sons of Taffita||

    Ironically, liberals love building highways and bridges, but loathe making it affordable to drive on them.

  • ||

    You're not supposed to drive on them. They're just supposed to "create jobs" and serve as monuments to the greatness of socialism.

  • ||

    and here i though "shovel ready" was just a euphemism for "we're going bury your way of life"...

  • ||

    Is it impossible to compromise anymore? What is wrong with continuing fossil fuel energy production and also continuing to get a small percentage of energy from wind/solar? With the rise of our energy usage it is likely we will need everything we can get in the near future.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "get a small percentage of energy from wind/solar"

    If people want to pay fully when they use this energy, that's great. This is what you meant, right- not forcing "renewable energy" in to the market?

  • Realist||

    "The truth about wind and solar power."
    Is they are being promoted to stop the dreaded AGW...just ask Ronald Bailey.

  • ||

    Libs or Progressives or Socialists or Communists exhibit symptoms of believing in a different fairy tale. Their fairy tale is that there is - somewhere just out of our reach - a perfect social, political and economic organization. It is perfect because it requires no one do anything except watch and take the benefits thereof. No nasty appeals courts to correct trial court mistakes; won't be any in this perfect society. No 'watch the politicians' to make sure they don't make themselves into tyrants or dictators; won't be possible in this imaginary Utopia. No 'watch the big businesses so they don't bribe politicians'; 'cause that won't happen in their perfect economic system. That there is no such system and moreover no such system is possible - human perfection is a contradiction in terms; ya know? - never occurs to them and they spend endless hours producing noise pollution about it. It is a child's fantasy world and being such it has a child's logic. Nothing resembling the real world of work and imperfection and trial-and-error is allowed to enter into it.

  • Kroneborge||

    I'm totally ok with using government to secure some areas for nature.

    I'm sure that makes me a statist, but lucky I don't care.

  • Ken||

    The other day a bird flew into my glass door. Its dead. That door powered nothing. I'm all for wind power, if it is unsubsidized. Let everything compete.

    Frankly I think coal and other systems are heavily subsidized by the fact that the government maintains fancy electric grids. In the poorest parts of Africa, where the government has not built a grid, the people use generators mostly, but are increasingly adopting wind and solar. The same thing could happen here with less government.

  • ||

    Yes, the infrastrucutre for centralized power is super expensive to setup. That being said, it is a sunk cost.

    For me, I strongly support going renewable especially on oil because I don't because otherwise our economy is going to fucked in a couple of years when oil goes to $200+ a gallon.

    And since I know that markets focus WAY to much on the short term, I'm ok with a policy that helps shift us to a long term focus.

    For example, a net zero carbon tax.

  • ||

    Has it not occurred to you that people will change to other sources if "oil goes to $200+ a gallon"?

    Long before that price point is reached people will have adopted what ever alternatives are available.

    Look, the fact is that people have been researching these "alternatives" for a long time. None of them have been able to compete pricewise with the fossil fuels we use now. When they can they will take over.

    The notion that we need a bunch of lawyers and "community activists" who can understand neither science nor economics to bring these things on line is nonsense.

  • ||

    Ken sez: "Frankly I think coal and other systems are heavily subsidized by the fact that the government maintains fancy electric grids."

    Per NPR: The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/s.....=110997398

    Ken, what government maintenance are u talking about? Help me understand what u mean.

  • ||

    Bird kill by windmills will be a greenie concern as soon as wind powered electric power generating becomes an economic possibility.

  • ||

    God. What total gibberish. Let me rephrase: Bird kill by windmills will be a greenie concern as soon as wind generated electric power becomes an economic possibility.

  • Nick Garf||

    Instead on focusing on institution or corporate solutions why not just give everyone solar panels for their homes to reduce demand? With all the money we have wasted on bogus stimulus programs we could just credit people for purchasing American made panels and let Americans install them. It would solve or demand needs and unemployment over night.

  • ||

    unfortunately, the Gub'mint is way ahead of you...
    your stomach will turn into knots when you find how many regs. there are...
    you have to be specially trained by the Gub'mint to be able to install them and the list goes on...

  • ||

    Obama 4 Life. Obama 4 Evah.

  • ||

    Bruce, your brains are showing...

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