Letter: No shortage of problems with the wind industry
By Janna Swanson, President, Coalition for Rural Property Rights president
National Wind Watch board member
I read Kelley Welf’s “An enthusiastic defense of wind energy's virtues” (March 9 Globe). This letter is a great example of what is wrong with the wind industry.
Kelly writes that only 2.8 percent of the energy subsidies have gone to wind energy in the last 70 years. Yet the wind industry has only received tax credits for the last 27 years and has only supplied the U.S. with 2 percent of our energy, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is set to decrease by 10 percent every year starting in 2016. But if a company can prove that it spent 5 percent on project costs by the end of that year, it can extend the deadline for four years. It is called Safe Harbor. When the PTC starts, it extends for 10 years. Consequently, it is not that the PTC is phasing out; the beginning of the PTC is phasing out and the Green New Deal is asking for more.
In Iowa, MidAmerican Energy has openly admitted in interviews that it will receive $10 billion in subsidies for building their 2500 turbines.That is about $4,000,000 per turbine, more than enough to cover all the capital costs of building wind turbines. Even Warren Buffet has said, "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."
Alliant Energy has now asked for their third rate increase in nine years because of the wind turbines, and Iowa’s Rural Electric Co-ops still cannot afford to build new wind turbines.
As far as using only a teeny amount of land, I disagree. Welf is likely not a farmer. but my husband and I are farmers. The compaction that comes with construction of industrial wind causes crop loss and tile breakage. The giant crane they move across fields between turbines has a 30-foot footprint. Sure, you can still plant and grow a crop, but it will not yield. Many farmers have told me that they still have significant crop loss after 12 years and counting.
The easement contract the wind companies require landowners sign covers the entire property. A friend asked a wind company if he would be able to build a hog confinement, and they said they would surely give him permission. He exclaimed “Permission? On my own land? That right there is the reason I would never sign one of your contracts.”
In 2012 expert engineers like Thomas Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis has set decommissioning cost a wind turbine at $200,000. Decommissioning agreements do not include removal of the 50 truckloads of concrete per turbine base.
The wind industry says that property values are not impacted, but even in the study she sites you can see that the actual numbers are diluted. Only 1,000 of the 50,000 homes they used were even within 5,280 feet of a wind turbine when the distance the wind companies say they “need” as setbacks from the foundations of homes are 1,000 to 1,500 feet. We have plenty of appraisals of homes that are actually near the turbines showing home values dropping as much as 40 percent.
Lastly, we are for property rights, but when wind companies come to non-participating neighbors within 2,640 feet of any wind turbine and try to get them to sign a hold-harmless contract spelling out the negative impacts as “to cast shadows or flicker onto the Owner’s Property; impact view or visual effects from the Owner’s Property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference,” that clearly shows turbine impacts will certainly cross over the property line right into neighbor’s homes against their will We support setback distances of one-half of a mile from property lines. Anything less is trespass zoning. Wind companies can surely negotiate waivers with the great amount of “support” that they claim.