Video: Taxpayers subsidize wind-farm generation … and non-generation

posted at 8:40 am on March 8, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Taxpayers have put out billions in subsidies over the last three years for Barack Obama’s green-energy stimulus program, which has produced such success stories as Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Ener1.  But what happens when taxpayers subsidize efforts that actually produce electricity?  As people in the Pacific Northwest have discovered, they end up subsidizing green-power generation — and non-generation:


Wind farms in the Pacific Northwest — built with government subsidies and maintained with tax credits for every megawatt produced — are now getting paid to shut down as the federal agency charged with managing the region’s electricity grid says there’s an oversupply of renewable power at certain times of the year.

The problem arose during the late spring and early summer last year. Rapid snow melt filled the Columbia River Basin. The water rushed through the 31 dams run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in Portland, Ore., allowing for peak hydropower generation. At the very same time, the wind howled, leading to maximum wind power production.

Demand could not keep up with supply, so BPA shut down the wind farms for nearly 200 hours over 38 days.

Of course, after BPA shut down the wind farms, they could not collect any revenue for the lost output.  Guess who gets to pay for the losses?  Hint: It’s the same people who pay extra for the privilege of having wind farms on their grid in the first place:

Now, Bonneville is offering to compensate wind companies for half their lost revenue. The bill could reach up to $50 million a year.

The extra payout means energy users will eventually have to pay more.

“We require taxpayers to subsidize the production of renewable energy, and now we want ratepayers to pay renewable energy companies when they lose money?” asked Todd Myers, director of the Center for the Environment of the Washington Policy Center and author of “Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment.”

Enviros don’t like this solution, either, because they understand how angry it will make consumers in the area.  Whose fault is that?  BPA points right back to the enviros, claiming that they can’t shut down the hydroelectric generators because doing so will endanger a species of salmon in the area, thanks to overoxygenation of the water that increased dam releases can cause.

Traditionally-fueled generators don’t have these problems.  They can decrease or increase production as needed, thanks to not being held hostage to the whims of nature and the demands of enviros.  Then again, they don’t get rewarded for non-production with taxpayer subsidies like their renewable counterparts, either.  At times, they must feel like they’re in the wrong business … even though they’re the ones doing it right.


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Just like paying farmers CRP payments NOT to farm.
Big racket.
BTW- it’s hilarious that your advertiser is asking us to sign a petition to save wind energy in ND!

Badger40 on March 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM

I can’t imagine these things all over our country. This has to be horrible for the environment.

tomas on March 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Whose fault is that? BPA points right back to the enviros, claiming that they can’t shut down the hydroelectric generators because doing so will endanger a species of salmon in the area, thanks to overoxygenation of the water that increased dam releases can cause.

Enviro-fanatics don’t care about no stinkin’ salmon … “endangered species” only works when they’re using it to steal money or promote enviro-Marxism. I’m sure they’ll whip up some study saying the salmon will be fine.

Look at the birds killed by wind turbines … including many raptors. Think enviro-nuts care? Hell no. The carcasses of thousands of birds litter wind farms and the enviros just giggle.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

I can’t imagine these things all over our country. This has to be horrible for the environment.

tomas on March 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

^^ racist

///////

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

I LOVE ENVIRONMENTALISTS!

KOOLAID2 on March 8, 2012 at 8:51 AM

I can’t imagine these things all over our country. This has to be horrible for the environment.

tomas on March 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Environment? Wind energy is stupid on so many levels that environment takes a back seat. Probably the least bang for your buck out there since any wind generation has to have a 100% back up from a fossil fuel source.

Oldnuke on March 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

I LOVE ENVIRONMENTALISTS!

KOOLAID2 on March 8, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Yeah, me too. They taste like chicken.

Oldnuke on March 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

CHE HEART ENVIROS!

BallisticBob on March 8, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Our federal government is so mind-numbingly stupid that it defies belief.

Why are we still putting up with this?

AZCoyote on March 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Look at the birds killed by wind turbines … including many raptors. Think enviro-nuts care? Hell no. The carcasses of thousands of birds litter wind farms and the enviros just giggle.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

And Bats, who eat many insects which carry diseases that affect humans.

batterup on March 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Why are we still putting up with this?

AZCoyote on March 8, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Because people like this keep getting elected to congress.

Oldnuke on March 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

As I mentioned in my own blog post about this, it’s clearly a case of dammed if you do, and damned if you don’t!

stoutcat on March 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

“So they get paid either way, amazing how that works!”

Nothing more needs to be said.

Mord on March 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM

So, there was so much wind that all the power it generated couldn’t be used? What happens when there’s not enough wind? Nevermind. That will never happen.

One of the big problems with green energy is you never know if the wind will blow or the sun will shine. If we ever become too reliant on these systems, we’re screwed.

rogaineguy on March 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM

I’m guessing the non-energy production is what the filthy communist Obama calls ‘All of the above’.

tom daschle concerned on March 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

I’m sure there’s at least one Environmental lawsuit out there AGAINST a wind farm bcs of the birds they kill.
And they will prolly win over some kind of EPA rule & then get a load of EAJA money

It’s business as usual for these Enviro ‘non’profit’ groups.

Badger40 on March 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM

If we ever become too reliant on these systems, we’re screwed.

rogaineguy on March 8, 2012 at 9:02 AM

We should ask some of those Africans who’ve been asked to depend upon the stufff how they like it.

Badger40 on March 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM

I can’t imagine these things all over our country. This has to be horrible for the environment.

tomas on March 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Remember when the hippies were against billboards and signs? These things are a visual blight on the land.

Fallon on March 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

And Bats, who eat many insects which carry diseases that affect humans.

batterup on March 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Yeah, wind turbines slaughter bats.

The hypocriscy from the enviro-lunatics is staggering. One stupid Delta Smelt can kill the country’s most productive agricultural region and send thousands into poverty but slaughtering hundreds of thousands of bats and birds … including golden eagles … means nothing to the green communists.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

The Wisdom of Man is the FOOLISHNESS of God.

singlemalt 18 on March 8, 2012 at 9:09 AM

This is just an enhanced liberal jobs program. 100 years ago they would have been paying people to dig holes and then fill them back up; JOBS!

Bishop on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Look at the birds killed by wind turbines … including many raptors. Think enviro-nuts care? Hell no. The carcasses of thousands of birds litter wind farms and the enviros just giggle.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

And Bats, who eat many insects which carry diseases that affect humans.

batterup on March 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Tell an average Lib that wind farms are slaughtering bald eagles and bats and they will simply not believe it. Point them to evidence, they will dismiss it as “big oil” propaganda. This is my experience, anyway.

Wind farms are “good” things and simply cannot have adverse side effects in the mind of the Left. Libs never think past stage one. It takes too much effort.

visions on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

There is more energy in newly discovered oil, gas, shale, coal to power America for the next 300 plus years.

Why not dump the eco-wacko nonsense:

windmills,
solar,
rare earth batteries,
algae,
corn alcohol (except as used in Jack Daniels and Old Crow)

American are about totally fed up with the nonses. The LEFT better be prepared for the backlash !! :(

BigSven on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Note to enviro’s: 4,000 mutilated birds could not be reached for comment—where’s PETA when you need them?

Rovin on March 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Never mentioned, the leftie green-freaks never mention the bats; what a waste of such an important animal.

Bishop on March 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

“We require taxpayers to subsidize the production of renewable energy, and now we want ratepayers to pay renewable energy companies when they lose money?”

….yet another example of why it is so hilarious when liberals go on about how much “smarter” they are than everybody else.

Baxter Greene on March 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Tell an average Lib that wind farms are slaughtering bald eagles and bats and they will simply not believe it. Point them to evidence, they will dismiss it as “big oil” propaganda. This is my experience, anyway.

visions on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Mine too. Like some kind of mental block immediately formed. They simply couldn’t see what I was showing them or hear what I was saying. They just said I was crazy.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

where’s PETA when you need them?

Rovin on March 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM

I dunno, I’ve never needed them….for anything.

Oldnuke on March 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Pay up, suckahs!

Deafdog on March 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Note to enviro’s: 4,000 mutilated birds could not be reached for comment—where’s PETA when you need them?

Rovin on March 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM

…..out killing all the animals they yell about saving day in and day out.

Baxter Greene on March 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Ya know, in a free market that oversupply would cause the price of electricity to go down. Heck, there might even be a “use one kW get two free” for a month.

Instead, not only don’t we see some electricity given away at no, or reduced, cost, we see the government paying big bucks for a product called nothing.

This epic economic failure is what is called central planning.

Dusty on March 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Tell an average Lib that wind farms are slaughtering bald eagles and bats and they will simply not believe it. Point them to evidence, they will dismiss it as “big oil” propaganda. This is my experience, anyway.

visions on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

It’s like talking to a member of a cult.
Facts and reality mean nothing to a liberal when all they care about is their failed ideology.

….just look at how they now celebrate taking out foreign regimes,bombing the sh!t out of oil rich countries that did not attack us and posed no imminent threat.
….he!!,they don’t even get Congressional approval when they wage war.
Who would have guessed “Hope and Change” meant watching all the peace sign waving liberals chant “War is the Answer!!!!”…..”go get’m Sgt. Barack!!!!!”

Baxter Greene on March 8, 2012 at 9:25 AM

This is just an enhanced liberal jobs program. 100 years ago they would have been paying people to dig holes and then fill them back up; JOBS!

Bishop on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Yea…shovel ready.

…..they are doing that right now….to the tune of a Trillion tax dollars..it was called the Stimulus.

Baxter Greene on March 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Where are the piles of dead birds that are suppose to be under these wind mills?

mixplix on March 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Same as it ever was… with a government this big, one hand never knows what the other is doing. And usually, both hands are masturbating.

Marxism is for dummies on March 8, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Too much wind power and too much snowmelt? Hey, I got an idea!!! (Light bulb over head). Build a water pipeline from the Columbia River to the San Joaquin Valley in California, and use the extra wind power to run the pumps, and let the BPA charge the farmers for the water. The farmers need the water, and BPA could use the money.

Steve Z on March 8, 2012 at 9:36 AM

***I wish I could take credit for this, but heard it from a caller to Howie Carr’s radio show in Boston.***

“Can’t we just import wind from China to make it cheaper?”

TugboatPhil on March 8, 2012 at 9:38 AM

[TugboatPhil on March 8, 2012 at 9:38 AM]

Yeah, but the government now is not about making things like electricity cheaper.

Dusty on March 8, 2012 at 9:53 AM

You know, I haven’t generated a single watt of power my whole life. Where’s my check?

John Deaux on March 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Marxism @ 9:30

Bwaahaaahaaaa
your right!

angrymike on March 8, 2012 at 9:59 AM

I can see the windmills from my back window as they are only about 5 miles away and I always wondered why half of them were always shutdown. I can say it is not for a lack of wind around these parts. It is a cause for celebration if the wind doesn’t blow at least 20mph all day long.

jistincase on March 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Hey, I’m not creating any energy, where’s my subsidy?

rbj on March 8, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Its as if there is no risk whatsoever in the green energy business. and no benefit to the consumer, either.

magicbeans on March 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Look at the birds killed by wind turbines … including many raptors. Think enviro-nuts care? Hell no. The carcasses of thousands of birds litter wind farms and the enviros just giggle.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

And Bats, who eat many insects which carry diseases that affect humans.

batterup on March 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Tell an average Lib that wind farms are slaughtering bald eagles and bats and they will simply not believe it. Point them to evidence, they will dismiss it as “big oil” propaganda. This is my experience, anyway.

Wind farms are “good” things and simply cannot have adverse side effects in the mind of the Left. Libs never think past stage one. It takes too much effort.

visions on March 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM

On the other hand: Oil Companies Charged for Killing Birds

“Seven oil companies – including ConocoPhillips and Enid-based Continental Resources Inc. – have been charged in federal court with killing migratory birds that died after allegedly landing in oil waste pits in western North Dakota. The charges involve 28 dead birds…”

slickwillie2001 on March 8, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Where are the piles of dead birds that are suppose to be under these wind mills?

mixplix on March 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Although there are pictures all over the net and counts of actual dead birds by fish & wildlife, you could also get outside & walk around a windfarm & see it for yourself.

batterup on March 8, 2012 at 10:52 AM

There are multiple accounts of this happening in the UK:

Wind farms paid £900,000 to switch off for one night

I would have hoped the US would be able to avoid this sort of nonsense.

theperfecteconomist on March 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Its even better, many of the greenies are pushing for more green power in Oregon in the next 20 years while shutting down hydro power (Klamath River and Snake River). All while letting the power company monopolies (2 companies basically in Oregon) raise rates to make up costs like these bloody wind companies. One wind farm’s power is already apparently contracted to a S. California power company, so we subsidize it and then don’t get the power from the wind farm while rates go up as they shut down dams.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/07/hydropower_dam_removal_ramps_u.html

oryguncon on March 8, 2012 at 11:49 AM

“All of the above” my ass. The Tre Arrows are running America’s energy policy. Oryguncon is right, and it’s worse. They kill and LNG terminal proposals, already got rid of Trojan and hope to kill the Boardman coal-fired plant, have the entire SW part of Oregon living hand to mouth, now that federal payments to timber communities are over, run off businesses like Freightliner.

They think America can run on Stumptown coffee, Voodoo donuts, indo chronic, meth, and smug.

Christien on March 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

PETA kills dogs.

Lefties are all deranged.

Schadenfreude on March 8, 2012 at 12:40 PM

I would have hoped the US would be able to avoid this sort of nonsense.

theperfecteconomist on March 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

What?! You racist, I’ll have you know our envirowhacks and political hacks are every bit as stupid and uninformed as anything the Euros can front. We’re the USA and we take a back seat to no one! not even in dumbass.

Oldnuke on March 8, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Environmentalists are mentally ill.

John the Libertarian on March 8, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Government does everything so well.

I can’t wait until they are running my health care.

rockmom on March 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Look at the birds killed by wind turbines … including many raptors. Think enviro-nuts care? Hell no. The carcasses of thousands of birds litter wind farms and the enviros just giggle.

darwin on March 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

The envirowackos didn’t care about the 60 million+ humans they condemned to early deaths because of ill-considered efforts to ban DDT: what makes anyone think they care about a few thousand birds??

My idea of an ideal environment is freedom: leftists are MAJOR POLLUTERS!!!

landlines on March 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM

They think America can run on Stumptown coffee, Voodoo donuts, indo chronic, meth, and smug.

Christien on March 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Heh, smug indeed. Its ripped off city and not rip city.

The Senate apparently just voted in the timber county welfare for another year. Somehow I don’t think you will have many voting for Obambi though.

oryguncon on March 8, 2012 at 5:17 PM