NYPA: Breaking Wind

22 Jun

There’s much debate over whether we should install wind turbines in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to harness the windy lake conditions to produce clean, renewable energy. Environmentalists are torn between the notion of clean energy versus disturbing the lake bed.

I’m not a big environmentalist, so I don’t care about all that.

What I care about is that this is being pushed by the New York Power Authority – the same entity that operates the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant and funnels energy from WNY to parts unknown while most of us in WNY pay higher electricity rates than the rest of the country. While NYPA’s recent reauthorization resulted in annual payments to enhance regional waterfront development, imagine if instead we here in WNY could have cheap, renewable hydroelectric power and use that as a selling point for people and businesses to stay or relocate here?

Letting NYPA get into the windmill business is to invite an unelected, unresponsive, unaccountable authority to export more of our natural resources for others’ benefit, and to our detriment.

If NYPA wants overwhelming popular support for wind turbines in Lake Erie, offer everybody in WNY electricity rates that are cheaper than the national average. Or better yet, free.

13 Responses to “NYPA: Breaking Wind”

  1. AL June 22, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    The high cost of electricity in NY might have more to do with NYISO (a Patacki invention/implementation) than it does with NYPA. Also, if you look at your electric bill, most of the charges come from grid maintence and delivery charges, not from the cost of the electricity.

    We could benefit from low cost NYPA power if we had municipal coops, (like Lake Placid, who I believe, pays less than $0.02 per kilowatt hour)

  2. matt June 22, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Really simple but insightful post. 

  3. Carmine Magadino June 22, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Which is worse: NYPA accountability lite or utility companies with even less accountability?

    At least the power authority’s profits go back to the public (less what the board can steer toward their personal ends).
    I like the idea of municipal co-ops too. But our Town officials are too lazy and uninterested to push these kinds of ideas.
    For example, Towns like Grand Island whose Council and Supervisor were asleep and failed to take advantage of the NYPA settlement dollars even though that Town sits right in the middle of the Niagara. That cost them ~$50 million over 50 years. They couldn’t even get themselves off of their Lazy-Boy recliners to grab a piece of the action.

  4. Anthony V June 22, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I could not agree more that the NYPA does not do enough for WNY, the power created in Lewiston is the cheapest to generate and the cleanest to create. However, I do have a bone of contention with my fellow WNYers from Erie County. While I agree that you should receive lower costs of power, you bear no brunt of the burden. (Do not site the Ice Boon- you reap the benefits of less lake effect) The city of Niagara Falls and the Town’s of Lewiston and Niagara, along with the school districts which serve them are the only “true hosts” of the giant money maker. Any company that would relocate or start up within their borders should be given free electricity. Outside of the tourist draw that is the Falls- I’m sorry but Ft. Niagara, or the Locks are not attracting people from around the country and world- this has the greatest potential to revive the morbid Western Niagara County economy.

  5. Chris Sasiadek June 22, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    In my brief candidacy for the senate heard a lot about this proposal, but never from this angle….. Nice post, Alan

  6. skeptical June 22, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Wonder if Sharen Trembath’s concern about the disturbing the lake bed comes from from an environmentalist point of view, or from her point of view that might be “ruined” if wind turbines were to be installed. Yup, let’s have more pollution from oil and coal so Sharon can keep her waterfront view unsullied by those turbines.


  7. Ward June 22, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    “[I]magine if instead we here in WNY could have cheap, renewable hydroelectric power and use that as a selling point for people and businesses to stay or relocate here?”

    You mean, like during the entire first half of the Twentieth Century? Cheap hydro-power built the industry of WNY. When $800M of NYPA bonding was used to replace the collapsed Schoellkopf Power Station with the Robert Moses plant in 1961, our cheap power went downstate, in exchange for State funding.

  8. Mike In WNY June 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    Wind turbines do one thing well, increase costs to consumers. The electricity generated is prohibitively expensive, resulting in higher rates because the power companies are forced to buy the expensive power.

    • AL June 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

      Wrongo Mickey. Turbines electricity is cheaper than that produced from oil or nukes. Turbine electricity could compete successfully coal fired plants if the true costs for coal were included in the cost of the electricity instead of dumped on the consumer later. Coal fly ash cleanup, restoration of streams and other habitat after that quaint little mountain top removal thing, and lets not forget the medical costs we pay for the heart attacks, stokes and cancer caused by the fine particualte matter belched by the megatoon into the air on a daily basis.

      • pirate's code June 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

        Your presumption is that the “true cost” of wind turbines is reflected in the price. The vast majority of wind projects in the US have been or are being built with some fairly substantial subsidies, from real property tax breaks to guaranteed markets and rates for the output. Not suggesting whether that is good or bad, because clearly there are factors in favor of something other than carbon-based power generation. But, there is a cost to wind power, and those costs are not always apparent.

        The other issue with wind is its availability. With no commercially available technology to store huge quantities of electrical power, consumer demand has to be matched by available supply on a minute by minute basis. The difficulty in replacing existing, large baseload power stations with alternative fuel sources is that those sources may not be available when the demand requires, on a moment’s notice. Thus, more cost.

  9. The Answer Lady June 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    The subsidies to nuclear, oil and coal dwarf any handouts wind gets. Add on a trillion or two in war costs to keep that foreign oil flowing, and who believes that Bad Petroleum will cover the costs of the Gulf cleanup just for starts.

    Add in the government policy that allows nukes to operate with out any insurance to cover the property loss, health problems, birth defects and cancer claims that will come with next melt down, uncountable billions the government will be required to shell out.

    In 2009, the U.S. wind industry added nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new capacity, enough to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants. The wind turbine fleet in place at year’s end—over 35,000 MW—is enough to power the equivalent of some 9.7 million homes, and that number is increasing at the rate of a million homes every five months.

    However, that is just a fraction America’s full wind capacity. The researchers found that:

    * Onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually– more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption.

    * Put another way, the potential capacity of America’s onshore wind resource is over 10,000 gigawatts (GW). The U.S. is barely tapping this vast resource: current installed wind capacity is 35 GW in the U.S. and 158 GW world-wide.

    * These larger estimates are due to improved wind turbine technology, as today’s taller turbines tap better winds at higher elevations (this study measured winds at 80 meters), and to more refined wind measurements. The previous national government survey of U.S. wind resources, carried out by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, estimated U.S. wind potential at 10,777,000 GWh.

    In a single year, the U.S. wind resource potential could produce 364.9 quadrillion btus, the energy equivalent of all proven oil and natural gas reserves in the U.S., as estimated by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). As a renewable resource wind will not be depleted and will continue to provide energy year after year.

    • pirate's code June 24, 2010 at 8:53 am #

      Yes, current subsidies to wind are dwarfed by other sources because the wind industry is dwarfed by others, but that wasn’t my point.  Every source of electricity generation has its costs, its environmental issues and its NIMBY factors.  Wind power needs to be part of our domestic energy profile and, I suspect, it will play a much larger role than it does today as time goes along.  However, throwing out the “foreign oil” boogeyman as a justification for massive subsidies of wind power ignores that petroleum accounts for about 1 percent of domestic electricity production in the U.S.

      It will be a long time before wind power replaces large base-load stations — especially coal, which accounts for almost 45 percent of domestic production — for a lot of reasons, NIMBY not least among them.  “Wind resource potential” is just that…potential…until someone is able to put turbines in the air on the scale to replace large central generating stations at a cost that is evenly remotely reasonable.

      Again, I’m not promoting or opposing wind power as a viable resource.  It has its costs both apparent and hidden, just like every other source.  Society will have to decide if it is willing to pay for it.

      Of course, the least expensive kilowatt is the one that never gets used.


  1. Sharen Trembath NIMBY, or the Dangers of those Darn Turbines | WNYmedia.net - June 24, 2010

    […] NYPA: Breaking Wind (wnymedia.net) […]

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