Wind Proponents Fight To Conceal the Truth About Wind Turbines!

ABC’s “Ministry of Truth” – Media Watch – Cops Both Barrels from Graham Lloyd

shotgun

In response to the Media Watch report about The Australian’s coverage of wind farms
The Australian
Graham Lloyd
23 February 2015

THE Media Watch report of February 16 (“Turbine torture: do wind farms make you sick?”) is littered with mistakes, omissions and misrepresentations from the opening scenes.

The program represents blatant advocacy for commercial interests over the widespread concerns of a genuine minority group who deserve thorough investigation of their complaints.

The Australian provided balanced, factual reporting of a national issue of public interest where Media Watch indulged in what amounts to littlemore than ad hominem, ideological propaganda.

The Media Watch program misrepresented the National Health and Medical Research Council position that the quality of existing research into the possible health impacts of wind turbines is poor and that it will fund more high quality research.

NHMRC chief executive Warwick Anderson said “it is important to say no consistent evidence does not necessarily mean no effect on human health.”

Media Watch selectively quoted Cape Bridgewater report author Steven Cooper to give the impression that he rejected certain things when in fact he was simply not professionally qualified to make comment on them.

Media Watch failed to acknowledge that Mr Cooper had said publicly that at all times The Australian’s reporting had been accurate and faithful to the contents of his Cape Bridgewater report. This fact has been confirmed to Media Watch by other suitably qualified acousticians.

Media Watch failed to report information it had received from US acoustics expert Dr Rob Rand that ran counter to its predetermined view.

The Australian published concerns raised by Pacific Hydro and wind industry groups about the Cooper report.

It also published praise for the robust nature of Cooper’s work and the significance of his findings from some of the most qualified and eminent acoustics experts in the world.

At no time did The Australian offer an opinion on the issue.

In contrast, Media Watch relied on wind industry advocates in academia including social scientists, political studies academics and a medical expert witness employed by wind developers to ascribe the symptoms to the now discredited “nocebo effect”.

Media Watch sought to mischievously discredit The Australian’s reporting with a series of factual inaccuracies and through sins of omission.

The Media Watch report failed to detail or report the existence of formal studies and inquiries which run counter to its pre-determined view and glossed over the peer review support the Cooper report received from some of the world’s most qualified acoustic experts..

It ignored the findings of the 2011 Federal Senate Inquiry chaired by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, which found proper research into the impact of wind turbines on nearby residents should be undertaken as a matter of urgency.

Media Watch quoted studies that supported its case but failed to acknowledge the fact that the impact of low frequency noise generated by early model turbines had been linked to the exact same symptoms as those being reported today more than 30 years ago in research conducted for the renewable energy industry by NASA.

Media Watch failed to acknowledge any of the balancing quotes and arguments contained within The Australian’s reporting of the issue.

Media Watch did not bother to contact Channel 7.

Here is a line by line dissection of the Media Watch report.

*****************

MW transcript:

Presenter: Tonight, for the first time, hard evidence wind farms aren’t safe.

Today Tonight voiceover: They were told they were blowing in the wind, that it was all in their heads.

Interviewee: I’m not telling furphies, it’s real, we can feel it.

— Channel Seven, Today Tonight, 21st January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

His name is David Mortimer, and he is a wind turbine host at InfigenEnergy’s Lake Bonney Wind Farm in South Australia who says he become unwell with characteristic symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” soon after getting the turbines but didn’t know until very recently what was causing the symptoms.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Yes, as TT told us recently, those wind turbines are so bad that even the chickens get flustered.

■ The Australian’s response

No, animals become physiologically stressed when exposed to wind turbine noise (eg the Taiwanese goats who died, reported by the BBC, confirmed by the goat farmer and the Taiwanese Agricultural authorities. STRESSED chickens lay yolkless eggs — an observation also made in Britain by residents living near an airfield where bombers took off from — the excessive noise had the same impact on those chickens many years ago.

———————–

MW transcript:

Today Tonight voiceover: Even the chooks appeared spooked by something.

Interviewee: “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That’s not normal.”

— Channel Seven, Today Tonight, 21st January, 2015

Paul Barry: That TT footage on a wind farm in South Australia first got a run some two and a half years ago.

So why has it just popped up again?

Well, for much the same reason that radio hosts also went into a spin late last month:

ALAN JONES: “Now, it’s a headline today and it’s been called a world first study.”

— 2GB, The Alan Jones Breakfast Show, 21st January, 2015

TIM BENNETT: “Probably the biggest story today … is this front page on The Australian.”

— ABC 639 North and West SA, Mornings with Tim Bennett (fill in presenter), 21st January, 2015

ROSS STEVENSON: “Front page of The Australian has an exclusive story that people living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints …”

— 3AW, Breakfast with Ross and John, 21st January, 2015

Paul Barry: Back in January The Australian headed its front page with an exclusive from Environment Editor Graham Lloyd, who told us excitedly in his opening paragraph:

“PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.”

— The Australian, 21st January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

A statement issued by residents living near the Cape Bridgewater wind farm said; “Steven Cooper’s acoustic survey connects infrasound from wind turbines inside our homes with unacceptable health impacts.”

The Acoustic Group’s Principal, Mr Steven Cooper, was commissioned by wind developer Pacific Hydro to undertake an investigation into “noise” emitted from the wind farm as a result of our long unresolved complaints about the impact of Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind turbines on our health, on the habitability of our homes and on the quality of our lives. Symptoms we have experienced include severe nausea, headaches, ear pressure, inability to concentrate, and severe and debilitating sleep problems, which we have endured over the six years of operation of the Cape Bridgewater wind power facility.

The inclusion of complete shut-downs in the study clearly showed the wind farm generates specific infrasound frequencies that are directly related to the operation of the turbines.

Our diaries and the concurrent full spectrum acoustic measurements inside and outside our homes clearly demonstrate that it is the operation of the wind facility correlating with our symptoms.

The assertions made by others that our symptoms result from scaremongering (the nocebo effect) are untrue, and always have been. The inclusion of complete shut-down periods of the wind facility during the investigation reminded us of the general peace, serenity and wellbeing of our lives before the wind facility started operating.

The Cooper study was reviewed by well qualified acoustics experts.

Dr Bob Thorne, a psycho-acoustician who is also qualified to assess health impacts from noise and is considered an expert witness in court. Dr Thorne said in a written statement that the Cooper report was “ground breaking” and had made a “unique contribution to science”.

“At 235 pages for the report and six technical annexures (491 pages) the study cannot be matched by any previous wind farm study in Australia,” Dr Thorne said.

US acoustics expert Robert Rand said in a peer review of the Cooper Study;

“The correlation of sensation level to WTS tone level in the infrasonic and audible bands brings wind turbine acoustics right to the door of medical science. Medical tests in the homes, long overdue, can now be correlated directly to WTS.”

The study found that sensations including sleep disturbance were occurring with specific acoustic conditions. Those sensations included other symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and sensations of pressure. Sleep deprivation alone is an adverse health effect. Mr Cooper is not a medical practitioner and so cannot say it was a health study, but no medical practitioner would say that sleep deprivation or disturbance does not have adverse health effects if it is happening repeatedly …. so with the sleep deprivation alone there is going to be a greater risk of suffering health problems.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Mr Lloyd has been worried about wind farms for some time — and those yolkless eggs — so was he right to claim he’d at last found evidence that they damage your health?

■ The Australian’s response

This is a significant issue of widespread public interest involving the duty of care towards a minority group of citizens. Some residents claim they have been forced to abandon their homes. In this case, The Australian was faithfully reporting the findings of a report released publicly by Pacific Hydro and Steven Cooper and accompanying statements by residents both verbally and in writing. Steven Cooper has confirmed The Australian’s report to be accurate in all respects with regard to his report. International acoustic experts have confirmed the study demonstrates a cause and effect exists between sensations experienced by residents and the operation of the wind turbines. The Australian report included comments from Pacific Hydro that it did not accept a cause and effect relationship had been established.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Well, not according to several eminent scientists we talked to. And, remarkably, not according to Steven Cooper, the study’s author, who told Media Watch:

Steven Cooper: “No, it’s not correct … You can’t say that noise affects health from this study.”

— Steven Cooper, Acoustic Engineer, 28th January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

Cooper can’t say that, but the residents had already said it as had their treating doctors — all of the residents have been told by treating health practitioners to leave their homes in order to regain their health. Mr Cooper has said he had been quoted faithfully and his report treated fairly by The Australian in all regards.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: So what did Mr Cooper think about Today Tonight’s claims that he had provided the first hard evidence that wind farms are unsafe?

Well, no again.

Steven Cooper: “Absolutely not, that’s incorrect.”

— Steven Cooper, Acoustic Engineer, 28th January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

In fact, the first hard evidence was provided by Dr Neil Kelley and his team at NASA thirty years ago, who found that sleep disturbance and other symptoms and sensations were directly caused by wind turbine generated impulsive infrasound and low frequency noise. His finding led to a change in wind turbine design. More recently, British Acoustician and National Health and Medical Research Council Expert Reviewer for the 2011 NHMRC Rapid Review Professor Geoffrey Leventhall told the NHMRC workshop in 2011 that “annoyance symptoms’’ or “noise annoyance” symptoms were identical to “wind turbine syndrome” symptoms described by US Paediatric Specialist and researcher Dr Nina Pierpont. Media Watch’s academic commentator Simon Chapman was in the room when he said it.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: The company that commissioned the study, Pacific Hydro says it was not a scientific study, and not a health study, and does not show that wind farms are causing health complaints.

And asked on ABC Radio about this, Mr Cooper agreed.

Steven Cooper: “Pacific Hydro are correct that we don’t have a correlation in terms of medical and I agree with that 100 per cent.”

— ABC Ballarat, Mornings with Anne-Marie Middlemast, 21st January, 2015

Paul Barry: So how come The Australian and Today Tonight got it so wrong.

The head of medicine at Adelaide University, Professor Gary Wittert, told Media Watch:

Professor Gary Wittert: “The way The Australian reported this study was really the antithesis of good science reporting. I think a newspaper like The Australian should know better.”

— Professor Gary Wittert, Head of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, 6th February, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

Mr Cooper has said that Lloyd’s reporting was accurate. The residents were reporting sensations including sleep deprivation, nausea and headaches. Does Professor Wittert consider that these sensations are not adverse health effects? And that chronic sleep deprivation does not itself cause long term health problems? Has he actually read the acoustic investigation and does he understand what was found?

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And he’s by no means the only one to express that view.

■ The Australian’s response

Professor Wittert has repeatedly given expert evidence to court cases stating that the nocebo effect rather than infrasound and low frequency noise are directly causing the reported symptoms. Mr Cooper’s data from his acoustic investigation suggests Professor Wittert’s expert opinion is wrong.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Writing in The Conversation, the Australian National University’s Jacqui Hoepner and Will Grant also condemned The Australian’s front page story and the study it was based on, branding it:

“… an exemplary case of what we consider to be bad science and bad science reporting.”

— The Conversation, 22nd January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

And these two have no relevant qualifications. Grant has a PhD in politics, and Hoepner is a journalist. Neither has either medical or acoustical training or experience.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And Sydney University’s professor of public health Simon Chapman was even more damning*, telling Media Watch:

Simon Chapman: “Scientifically, it’s an absolutely atrocious piece of research and is entirely unpublishable other than on the front page of The Australian.”**

— Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 23rd January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

*Simon Chapman is not a medical practitioner. He has previously told people his PhD is in sociology. It was on the topic of “Cigarette Advertising As Myth: A Re-Evaluation Of The Relationship Of Advertising To Smoking”. He has worked closely with the wind industry, and has declined to ever directly investigate or visit adversely impacted people. He has vilified them, he has called them “wind farm wingnuts” however he did admit in the senate inquiry in 2012 that sleep deprivation could be a problem if it was occurring.

In a statement to the federal Senate on June 17, 2014, John Madigan said of Professor Chapman:

“It is fair and reasonable to encourage people to look behind the blatant campaigning done by people like Professor Chapman of the University of Sydney. Professor Chapman has been an outspoken critic of those who have dared to question the wind farm orthodoxy. But is Professor Chapman a medical doctor? Is he legally entitled to examine and treat patients? Is he qualified in acoustics or any other aspect of audiology? Is he a sleep specialist? Does he hold any qualifications in bioacoustics or physiology or neuroscience? How many wind farm victims has he interviewed directly? How many wind farm impacted homes has he visited? Professor Chapman claims to receive no payment from the wind industry. How many wind industry conferences, seminars and events has he spoken at? How many wind industry events has he attended? Writing on the Crikey website in November 2011, Professor Chapman lamented how many conferences do not pay speaker’s fees, and, when one conference organiser refused to pay his hotel bill, he withdrew. This is the same Professor Chapman who was photographed at a campaign launch in Melbourne by the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.

As a public health academic, Professor Chapman displays a lack of compassion for people who claim to be suffering debilitating effects from pervasive wind turbine noise. Professor Chapman’s undergraduate qualifications were in sociology. His PhD looked into the relationship between cigarette smoke and advertising. I question his expertise, I question his qualifications and I question his unbridled motivation to promote and support the wind industry at the cost of people’s lives, homes and communities. I question Professor Chapman’s lack of interest in speaking with wind industry victims. Professor Chapman has a record of public denigration of victims.’’

**This is in marked contrast to Mr Cooper’s REAL peers who have entirely the opposite opinions. Properly qualified acoustics experts in Australia and the United States have called it “groundbreaking” and a “unique contribution”.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: So what exactly is wrong with the study and why should it not have been headline news? Well, first, it was not published in an academic journal* or peer reviewed by independent experts**.

■ The Australian’s response

*Oh, if something is not published in a journal it is not good science? Well what about PhD’s??? They are not published in journals? Are they not “science”?

**The Cooper report has been extensively reviewed by independent experts. The reviewers have included the top environmental acoustics researcher in the world, Dr Paul Schomer, who has written acoustics standards in the US and internationally. It also included Mr George Hessler, who has worked as a consultant acoustician for the wind industry for years in the USA. It is highly significant that a wind industry preferred acoustician is coming out and endorsing Mr Cooper’s acoustic investigation so strongly. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Second, it had a tiny sample.

■ The Australian’s response

Tiny samples are fine. Patients are a sample of one. Just one patient (or one black swan) is enough to prove a scientific point. In his peer review of the Cooper Research, Dr Paul Schomer said “One person affected is a lot more than none; the existence of just one cause-and-effect pathway is a lot more than none,” he said. “It only takes one example to prove that a broad assertion (that there are no impacts) is not true, and that is the case here.” 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Just three households and six respondents.

■ The Australian’s response

SIX BLACK SWANS. All of them experienced the symptoms when the turbines were turning …. But not when they were not exposed to operating turbines and there were no wind gusts.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry:Third … there was what scientists call selection bias, because all those people already had health problems which they blamed on Pacific Hydro’s wind farm at Victoria’s Cape Bridgewater, 1.6 kilometres or less from their homes.

■ The Australian’s response

Selection bias is irrelevant when the study design is identical to a prospective case series with a cross over component, where people are their own controls, and what varies is their exposure to operating wind turbines. The Australian received written advice from a professor of epidemiology that this is precisely the design of the acoustic survey investigation proposed by Pacific Hydro and used by Steven Cooper. This study design is also used in pharmaceutical trials, to determine safety thresholds for medications, and to help establish whether or not a direct causal relationship exists. It is therefore a perfect study design for this sort of investigation.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And fourth, all knew if the wind farm was operating because they could see the blades.

■ The Australian’s response

WRONG. They could NOT see the blades — especially when they were inside their homes, in their beds, and woken up from a sleep. That is just ridiculous. Besides the Cooper study says one resident had 100 per cent correlation with being able to tell then the turbines were operating without seeing them when he was there doing attended measurements. She could NOT SEE them — this is just FALSE reporting. Or perhaps Media Watch didn’t read the report very carefully… 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Now you can’t blame these on Steven Cooper because the parameters were set by Pacific Hydro who commissioned the research.

But scientifically, say the experts, it means the results can’t be trusted. 

■ The Australian’s response

ABC experts are conflicted, Wittert and Chapman have a history of working closely with the wind industry to protect its commercial interests, either as expert witness in court cases or to push the now disproved nocebo effect as the cause for the resident’s “sensations” which in Cooper’s study correlated with specific acoustic emissions — powering up and powering down.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Indeed, in Professor Chapman’s view: 

Simon Chapman: “The media should have treated this with absolute contempt.”

— Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 23rd January, 2015

Paul Barry: Now there’s no doubt that some people living close to wind farms have health problems.

And they believe that the wind farms are the cause.

But as The Conversation reminded us … a recent study in the British Medical Journal found they are not alone in having these health complaints.

“… almost 90% of the general population experienced many of the common symptoms associated with wind turbine syndrome within a given week.”

— The Conversation, 22nd January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

The BMJ article and Grant and Hoepner and Chapman and others ignore the cross over effect — when residents are exposed, they have symptoms and when they are not exposed, they do not have those symptoms and sensations. The Australian has written advice from a professor of epidemiology that the study could be classified as a small cross over trial.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Much of the debate turns on whether there’s something special about the noise from wind farms that makes them harmful to health … even if the noise is below health limits. 

■ The Australian’s response

Just what do Media Watch mean by “below health limits”? The Australian has been advised that Kelley established those health limits thirty years ago in the NASA trials and Cooper’s results were almost identical. Above 50 dB at 4 Hz people who are sensitised to the sound energy experience and report unpleasant sensations.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: The study’s author Steven Cooper has long believed there is … and that it’s called infrasound.

■ The Australian’s response

Cooper is not the only one. Broner, the only acoustic expert on the NHMRC committee also believed it on the basis of empirical evidence in a paper delivered to the 2007 International Acoustics Congress in Madrid, “The missing 16 Hz, Can We Live With It?”

Abstract:

“As the need for power increases, power utilities are resorting to the use of peaking plants incorporating Open Cycle Gas Turbines. OCGT manufacturers generally supply noise data for these down to the 31.5 Hz octave band. However, most of these units also generate significant energy in the 16 Hz octave band. Both of these bands need to be considered when assessing potential noise impact on neighbouring residential communities.”

———————–

MW transcript:

Steven Cooper: “Infrasound is energy that appears in the spectrum below what the human ear can normally hear.”

— Channel Seven, Today Tonight, 4th June, 2012

Paul Barry: Infrasound, says Cooper, interferes with our sleep and our brain patterns.

And he says his latest study suggests … sensations people feel near wind farms … may be caused by the infrasound the turbines produce.

But so far mainstream experts have not been convinced.

■ The Australian’s response

NO, it is the ABC’s “experts” who are not acousticians who are connected with the wind industry who are not convinced.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Cooper’s theories were dismissed by a senate inquiry into wind farm noise back in 2011. 

■ The Australian’s response

Cooper didn’t give evidence in the 2011 inquiry. He gave evidence to the 2012 inquiry chaired by Senator Doug Cameron. That senate inquiry had two dissenting reports. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And dismissed again in 2013 by South Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency.

■ The Australian’s response

Cooper’s work at Cape Bridgewater has shown that the SA EPA survey was wrong — indeed chapter 9 of his report is devoted to explaining why. 

———————– 

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And dismissed again by South Australia’s Land & Environment Court last year. 

■ The Australian’s response

That court also found that a nocebo effect explained symptoms when the medical expert for the wind developer had admitted that there was no evidence of a nocebo effect in the witnesses who gave statements …. and at the time, Cooper’s research findings were only preliminary. His research and report is AFTER all of these events and is NEW knowledge, but consistent with the Kelley findings thirty years ago which the wind industry knew ALL about. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Yet The Australian and Today Tonight omitted to tell us these important facts.

They also omitted to tell us that, as Professor Chapman puts it:

Simon Chapman: “There are 24 high-quality reviews about wind farms and health, and overwhelmingly they have been found to be safe.”

— Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 23rd January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

THIS IS NOT TRUE. Many of the reviews Chapman cites state that there is not a lot of scientific evidence. NONE of them say they are SAFE. The National Health and Medical Research Council recently reviewed 4000 pieces of literature and found only 13 were suitable for evaluation and none could be considered high quality. As a result it said the impact of wind turbines on health remained an open scientific question and that it would call for targeted, high quality research. A priority area is low frequency and infrasound. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Indeed, last week, the government’s National Health and Medical Research Council published the results of its review of seven studies of wind farms and health.

And the NHMRC came to the conclusion that:

“There is no consistent* evidence that noise from wind turbines … is associated with self-reported human health effects.”**

— National Health and Medical Research Council, Systematic review of the human health effects of wind farms, 11 February, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

*The NHMRC cannot and did not say there is NO evidence of adverse health effects, because they know that is untrue. In other words, Professor Chapman’s assertions that wind turbines are safe is not supported by the NHMRC’s statement, or by the existing scientific evidence.

“Given the poor quality of current direct evidence and the concern expressed by some members of the community, high quality research into possible health effects of wind farm, particularly within 1500 metres is warranted,” the NHMRC statement said.

NHMRC chief executive Warwick Anderson said “It is important to say no consistent evidence does not necessarily mean no effect on human health.’’

“From a scientific perspective I see the question as still open,” he said.

Professor Bruce Armstrong, chair of the NHMRC’s wind farm committee said “to not investigate would be negligent from a public health point of view.” Dr Armstrong said research into low frequency and infrasound was an important priority “because it is what people who are concerned about health impacts focus on and it is not something that has been done particularly well to date.” 

**Self-reported adverse health effects are accepted as evidence by doctors for the purposes of accurate diagnosis on the basis of clinical history, and are accepted in courts as evidence. They are a crucial part of assessing human response to sound frequencies, just as Mr Cooper’s report demonstrated. The next step is to include physiological testing as well as the self-reported symptoms.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: But unlike the Cooper study that news did not make The Australian’s front page. 

■ The Australian’s response

But, unlike Media Watch, it was reported accurately in the paper. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And just three days after the NHMRC said there is no evidence that wind farms are harmful to health, Graham Lloyd came back to suggest there is. 

■ The Australian’s response

Yes, because a peer review by one of the world’s leading acoustic experts said just that and was reported. The Cooper research was not included in the NHMRC review. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Unseen, unheard wind farms a blow to health

“GROUNDBREAKING Australian research has established a “cause and effect” existed between wind farms and health impacts on some nearby residents, a peer review by one of the world’s leading acoustic experts says.”

— The Weekend Australian, 14-15 February, 2015

Paul Barry: That so-called groundbreaking research was the Cooper study … again.

The one that Professor Chapman* describes as an atrocious piece of research and other experts** assure us is bad science.

■ The Australian’s response

*Chapman, the Tobacco Advertising Propaganda Expert, sociologist, and wind industry advocate. 

**No, not EXPERTS. Hand selected advocates for the wind industry carefully chosen by the ABC, for the wind industry who do not have any research qualifications or experience in directly investigating the circumstances of the sick people. ANU PhD candidate and journalist, Jacqui Hoepner, and her supervisor, Will Grant, who describes himself as “a talker, writer, thinker and reader, based primarily at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU. His talking / writing / thinking / reading has focused mostly on the intersection of science, politics and society, and how this is changing in response to new technologies.”

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: And the expert quoted in this ‘peer’ review was an American scientist who has long agreed with Mr Cooper’s theories. 

■ The Australian’s response

No, “the scientist” was two very eminent acousticians, one of whom has spent most of his life consulting to and for the WIND INDUSTRY (Hessler) and the other is the leading environmental acoustics researcher in the world — and DIRECTOR of ACOUSTICS Standards and chair of the American delegation to the International Standards Committee. Dr Schomer has not “long agreed with Mr Cooper’s theories” — he and four other acousticians including three who work almost exclusively for the wind industry (Bruce Walker, George and David Hessler) conducted the research at the Shirley Wind Farm reported in December 2012 which measured the full spectrum of sound inside and outside homes and came to the conclusion that infrasound and low frequency noise were an issue and that they could affect the future of the wind industry.

Peer reviewers Schomer and Hessler both completely understood the value of what Cooper had done and came out strongly because it is indeed Cause and Effect. People did NOT get the symptoms when the turbines were not turning but did get symptoms when they were turning. There was an exception for one resident who is extremely sensitised AND there were wind gusts which shook the towers, induced vibrations which she could feel, even though she could not see the towers. 

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: But let’s go back to what Cooper himself told the ABC about how groundbreaking this research is.

Asked about whether he has found a correlation between infrasound and headaches or other sensations of which people were complaining he said:

Steven Cooper: “I don’t have enough data to say a correlation. The study is limited, it’s a pilot study and there’s a trend line that’s very clear. Correlation needs a lot more scientific rigour with a larger population to come up with the answer.”

— ABC Ballarat, Mornings with Anne-Marie Middlemast, 21st January, 2015

■ The Australian’s response

Cooper was being deliberately very conservative. In a written response to The Australian, prior to the Media Watch episode Mr Cooper said “The study does show a link between the operation of the wind farm and the disturbances reported by the residents. There is a trend not a correlation (because there is not enough data and that wasn’t the brief) However, one can take the reports of the residents who form the view there is a link to their health impacts.”

Lloyd has met and interviewed residents who have explained the “disturbances” they have experienced and are in no doubt that they consider them to be health impacts, some have even been advised by their medical practitioners to leave their homes as a result. Their concerns about health impacts and understanding of what Cooper had found were expressed in a media statement of which Media Watch was or should have been fully aware.

———————–

MW transcript:

Paul Barry: Now … The Australian has sent us a long statement defending its original coverage which we’d encourage you to read on our website. But its key point is:

“… The Australian believes this is clearly an issue of significant public interest, worthy of presentation on page one and of extensive investigation and further reporting.”

— Clive Mathieson, Editor, The Australian, 8th February, 2015

Paul Barry: Well, we’d certainly agree that more work needs to be done.

But we believe The Australian needs to get its facts right, and to approach it in a more scientific and objective fashion.

■ The Australian’s response

No, the ABC needs to follow its own advice and “get its facts right, and approach it in a more scientific and objective fashion”. It Is also about time the ABC started accurately identifying conflicts of interest in its “experts” and stopped putting pre-recorded programs to air which refer to vulnerable and sick rural residents as “DICK BRAINS” — Annabel Crabb on the science show, aired by Robin Williams in January 2015.
The Australian

graham-lloyd

 

 

Nuclear Proponents Look Foolish, When They Support Useless Wind Turbines!

Renewable Energy Appeasement

I was mildly shocked yesterday because one of my nuclear friends started “supporting” renewables.*
His intention was to “appease” renewable backers so they may eventually agree not to oppose nuclear.
Well, in my opinion that is the wrong approach. Scientists pinpoint the problems but it is us engineers that need to solve those problems.
Renewables, in general, make no sense.
Why?
Because they are intermittent, unreliable, diffuse (in other words, they require loads of material and area to produce significant amounts of power), expensive (particularly when the “system” is considered), short lived (compared to other options) and do not particularly reduce carbon emissions (again, once the system is considered).
Yes, they have and will continue to have a niche in the global energy market, but it makes no sense to subsidize them to push them above and beyond their “natural” market penetration.
Solar, for example, makes a lot of sense in off-grid remote localities but eventually inhabitants in those locations will demand “real” electricity.**
Governments are creating a monster that will damage the economy (see what has happened in Germany with the Energiewende) if they don’t curtail, and fast, all overt / covert subsidies for renewables.
Yes, if somebody wants to spend money from their own pocket in renewables, that is OK. What is not OK is for society to pay for their hobby.
Yes, yes, yes, fossil fuels also have subsidies, but when you measure them per unit of energy actually produced they are lower than the renewable ones. Sure, we have nobusiness subsidizing fossil fuels either, but two wrongs don’t make a right.
Renewables, for the most part, are already mature technologies. That is one of the reasons why China is the #1 producer of solar panels and wind turbines.
As mentioned, renewables (since they capture diffuse power) require loads of “material” to produce meaningful amounts of energy. Some of the elements being consumed in the renewable trade are quite scarce and are badly needed in other sectors. Should we even be sinking them into renewables? This is a question we should definitely ask. ***
Finally, we have to understand that our financial / material resources are not infinite and thus we must use them wisely. Are we going to waste them in renewables, or invest them in better options such as nuclear, natural gas (replacing coal with it), and efficiency?
Appeasement won’t work. We have to stand firm and defend our convictions on what works better for a) reducing our carbon emissions and b) begin to gradually reduce the market share of fossil fuels in the global energy diet.
Thank you.
Feel free to add to the conversation on Twitter.
* By renewables I mean mainly solar PV and wind turbines. There is nothing wrong with supporting hydro which is, was, and will continue to be the premier renewable source.
**http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bihar-village-dharnai-nitish-kumar-clamours-for-real-electricity/1/375733.html
*** http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2011/January/CriticalThinking.asp

Lies the Windweasels tell…..And there are many years of deception!

Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge

lies

A little while back, a Scottish pen-smith posed a little rhetorical on the subtle art of skulduggery:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practise to deceive!

There have been few industries that have had more practice, and as much success, in that subtle art, as the wind industry.

STT has popped up 880 posts in the, just over, two years since we cranked into gear – on our mission to destroy the wind industry.

A fair slice of them have concerned the topic of the adverse health effects caused by turbine generated incessant low-frequency noise and infrasound; the woefully inadequate, indeed, utterly irrelevant noise standards written by the wind industry; and the institutional corruption that:

a) allowed those standards to become the “benchmarks” in the first place; and

b) witnesses public authorities, with a responsibility to protect public health, not only sitting on their hands, but barracking in favour of the wind industry, at the expense of the very people these planning and public health agencies and authorities are paid handsomely to protect.

In this post, STT sets out a chronology of what the wind industry and its pet acoustic consultants knew (and when they knew it); what the wind industry did in response to that knowledge; and how the wind industry and its parasites are fighting tooth and nail at present to ensure that that knowledge has no impact on its freedom to ride roughshod over the human rights, health and well-being of people living next door to wind farms.

The chronology is set out as a timeline, which can be accessed by clicking on this link here or the image below.

timeline

Each page of the timeline gives a short run down of significant events (a headline and brief summary); contains images of key data or pages extracted from research papers referred to; some of those images are copies of the entire paper being referred to – these documents can be accessed for reading and printing by dragging your mouse over the image and clicking on the “pop out” window at the top right of the image (you will see a scroll-bar on those where a paper is reproduced). Below the images you will find links to papers, webpages, including the sources referenced and STT posts, for example (if the link does not work, simply copy and paste the URL into a fresh tab in your browser).

At the bottom of the timeline, there is a banner collecting all of the relevant events (you will probably need to scroll down to see it) which you can use to see all of the events in order: simply hold down your mouse and drag the banner left or right; to access any of the events summarised in the banner, simply click on it.

Alternatively, you can use the arrows on the far left or right of the screen (they appear about half-way up each page of the timeline) to move forward or backwards in time.

The NASA Research

Starting in the early 1980s, a decade’s worth of research was undertaken by NASA into a series of large wind turbines (then being developed by NASA), which included a stellar cast of physicists, meteorologists, geophysicists, seismologists, engineers (both mechanical and acoustic), and psycho-acousticians. Part of that research involved a multidisciplinary effort to identify the causes of complaints made by neighbours in relation to the operation of those turbines: we refer to it as “the NASA research”, which also included work carried out by Neil Kelley.

Some of the key findings of the NASA research into the neighbours’ complaints were that:

“very low frequency” noise generated by NASA’s turbines (which was defined to include “infrasound”) was the cause of the “annoyance” reported by neighbours (“annoyance” being an acoustics term which does not involve emotional responses – ie “antipathy” to the “look” of wind turbines);

the “annoyance” being reported by neighbours included numerous physiological responses, which were described as “sensations”. These “sensations”, which they felt rather than heard, were sensations of “pressure”, “a sense of uneasiness”, “booming or thumping pulsations”. These sensations were at their worst in the bedrooms where they were trying to sleep;

the “very low frequency” noise generated by turbines interacted with, and was amplified by, the complainant’s homes, creating “structural resonances”, whereby low-frequency sound-waves “excited” materials within the home, causing vibration of the home;

the “very low frequency noise” generated by turbines was not “attenuated” by the structure of the homes (ie, sound pressure levels were not significantly reduced inside homes), but, rather, interacted with homes in the manner described above – resulting in higher sound pressure levels at very low frequencies (ie the noise levels recorded were higher inside than outside), causing greater “annoyance” to neighbours, as a result;

the vibration of these homes, caused by turbine generated infrasound, resulted in neighbours perceiving that vibration with their whole bodies (ie “whole body perception”);

the very low-frequency noise generated by NASA’s turbines was replicated in a “house” (a three room structure) during a further study; and was shown to cause “annoyance/displeasure” as a “presence” which participants could “feel” to varying degrees, up to “extremely annoying and uncomfortable”; sensations of “vibration/pressure” and “pulsations”, which participants could also “feel” to varying degrees, up to and including “severe vibration” and “very heavy pulses, booms and thumps”;

the common noise descriptor or weighting, dB(A) (used to measure noise sources such as air-conditioners) was found to be totally inadequate, with almost no significant relationship to the sensations and symptoms being reported; and, was, accordingly found to be the worst possible measure for predicting the level of “annoyance” being reported by neighbours;

a variety of noise descriptors, designed to capture low-frequency noise, showed strong correlations between the noise levels generated and the sensations recorded;

the first of the NASA turbine designs being studied as part of research had its blades down wind from the tower. The second turbine design placed the blades up wind (ie, in front of the tower). The infrasound and low-frequency noise levels generated were not significantly altered as a result. (Modern wind turbines use the “up wind” design);

the homes where people were adversely affected were situated out to as far as 3km from a single turbine;

the propagation distance (ie the distance over which noise travels before it “decays”) is far greater for low-frequency noise and infrasound generated by turbines, than the propagation distance of noise which does not contain sound energy at low frequencies.

In 1987, at a wind power conference in San Francisco, the wind industry was presented with the findings of NASA’s research; and told that these findings meant that dB(A) was an inappropriate method of measuring wind turbine noise, and the impact of that noise on neighbours. It was further told that low-frequency noise and infrasound were the dominant features of wind turbine generated noise, which would cause significant “annoyance” to neighbours.

Independent of, but concurrent with, the NASA research substantial efforts were made in investigating the impacts of infrasound on human health, particularly in relation to effects such as nausea, headaches and vertigo.

In 1985, a study was published (Nussbaum) that established infrasound as the cause of symptoms including: accelerated heart rate; increased respiration; fatigue; dizziness (vertigo); nausea (motion sickness); and headaches, among other things. The study found that certain people were more greatly affected by infrasound than others (ie more serious symptoms and/or sensations were experienced; or were experienced to a greater degree). These differences in response were, among other things, attributed to physiological differences, including differences in the size of the internal passages of the subjects’ ears.

The Wind Industry Cover Up

As the wind industry began to take off in the early 1990s it needed to set noise limits and planning criteria that would not present any obstacle to it in rolling out turbines in quiet rural environments.

The wind industry gathered what became known as the “noise working group” in 1995; a group which then, and thereafter, worked on wind industry noise guidelines.

The result was a document called ETSU-R-97.

That document reads as if the NASA research had never happened as it:

  • excludes any reference to low-frequency noise (the source of the problem shown by the NASA research as the cause of the sensations and symptoms suffered);
  • excludes the noise descriptors and weightings that were found by the NASA research to be the best predictors of the annoyance caused to neighbours, and the sensations and symptoms suffered;
  • relies exclusively on the dB(A) weighting (found to be irrelevant as a consequence of the NASA research);
  • assumes that, in all cases, the sound pressure levels inside neighbouring homes are substantially less than what is recorded outside those homes (entirely to the contrary of the findings made in the NASA research);
  • excludes testing inside homes for noise of any frequency (let alone low-frequency noise);
  • instead, limits noise testing to measurements taken external to homes, using the dB(A) weighting only;
  • established methods by which monitoring equipment can be placed in a way that will simply measure environmental noise (eg “wind in the trees”). In the first instance, these “methods” allow for the placement of monitoring equipment in locations where high levels can be recorded prior to the construction of a wind farm (eg, underneath trees or in bushes). Subsequently, noise level criteria can be met by simply shifting the location of the monitoring equipment (eg, placing them in the open away from trees or bushes).

All of the wind industry noise standards or guidelines which have emerged around the world since then can trace their origins to ETSU-R-97 – think of it as the wind industry’s template for deception.

Over the last decade or so, the wind industry has fought tooth and nail to defend these standards or guidelines. It has resisted all attempts or even suggestions that would:

  • result in standards which include the measurement of low-frequency noise and infrasound;
  • set controls for low-frequency noise and infrasound inside homes;
  • require wind farm operators to cooperate with meaningful noise testing by, for example:
    • shutting turbines on and off in order to distinguish between the noise generated by turbines and environmental noise, such as wind in the trees; or
    • providing operational data, such as wind speed and power output data;

Indeed, whenever these topics are raised by authorities or community groups the wind industry becomes defensive; and even aggressive in response.

Along the way, the wind industry continued to press planning authorities for even higher noise limits than were originally set (in the irrelevant dB(A) measure, of course) – that would permit ever larger turbines to be located ever closer to residential homes; planning authorities and Environmental Protection Agencies willingly obliged.

In South Australia – the first state in Australia to introduce wind farm noise guidelines – its EPA was so obliging to the wind industry, that its 2003 guidelines include the entirely fictional assertion that wind turbines do not produce infrasound at all, the guidelines stating:

Infrasound was a characteristic of some wind turbine models that has been attributed to early designs in which turbine blades were downwind of the main tower. The effect was generated as the blades cut through the turbulence generated around the downwind side of the tower.

Modern designs generally have the blades upwind of the tower. Wind conditions around the blades and improved blade design minimise the generation of the effect. The EPA has consulted the working group and completed an extensive literature search but is not aware of infrasound being present at any modern wind farm site.

The same fiction appears in the current version of the SA EPA wind farm noise guidelines published in 2009.

The wind industry’s efforts to use noise standards to cover up the issue of infrasound, and to obtain ever higher dB(A) noise limits, occurred despite knowing, full well, that low-frequency noise and infrasound was causing harm and distress to wind farm neighbours.

For example, from 2004 onwards, employees and management of Danish turbine manufacturer, Vestas warned that the wind turbine noise guidelines were inadequate in relation to the protection of wind farm neighbours; and, by 2011, knew that greater setback distances were required to avoid problems of precisely the kind being caused; especially in relation to the larger 3MW turbines, which were being rolled out by Vestas from 2010 onwards.

All of the above, and more, is laid out in the timeline.

The World Turns Full Circle

Recent work performed by leading acoustic engineers around the world has simply confirmed all of the facts and findings made in the NASA research, which concluded over 27 years ago.

The recent research that confirms the extensive work done by NASA, includes work carried out by:

  • Dr Paul Schomer, George Hessler, Rob Rand and Dr Bruce Walker at Shirley, Wisconsin in 2012 (available here);
  • Professor Colin Hansen and his team from the Adelaide University at Waterloo in South Australia during 2014 (see our post here); and
  • the groundbreaking research conducted by Steven Cooper at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria, also during 2014 (which has been recently published – see our posts here and here).

That work, like the NASA research before it, shows that the noise guidelines written by, and relied upon, by the wind industry are utterly irrelevant when it comes to the question of protecting public health; and the adverse consequences of living with incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound.

The aim of the timeline is not just to catalogue the trail of wind industry lies and deception. It is squarely aimed at showing how regulatory authorities have been duped by (or have been complicit with) an industry completely devoid of any desirable moral characteristics; and which is, rather, driven by a callous disregard for human health and well-being.

Wherever you are fighting to bring the wind industry to a halt; to obtain the ability to live in and use your own homes; or to achieve just compensation for the damage and harm caused through government supported wind industry malfeasance, STT simply invites you to use our little timeline to your best advantage.

winston-churchill-quotes

An Engineer from Energy Industry, in Scotland Tells Truth About Renewable Energy!

Why do the politicians listen to

Greenpeace, WWF and FoE,

but not to Engineers?

by Dougal Quixote

We recalled the name D B Watson. He has written several excellent letters and, as this letter reproduced below states, he is a chartered engineer with experience in the energy industry. As we’ve said many times before, all the engineers state the same thing in the same way; there is little if any variation. So why are the politicians not listening? As Helen McDade asked at a meeting a couple of years ago – why is there no engineering-based study? – GL
Renewables cannot supply the energy that is provided by gas
Tuesday 26 February 2013
I NOTE with interest Iain Macwhirter’s article on energy (“The rise and rise of the energy production racket”, The Herald, February 21).
As a chartered electrical engineer with around 35 years’ experience in the energy industry I feel compelled to take issue with the emergence of a new energy unit called, apparently, the “home”.
I refer to the often-heard statistic that a new wind farm or renewable energy device will power or provide enough energy for many hundreds or thousands of homes.
The data, promulgated by power companies and repeated by bodies such as the Scottish Parliament, local councils, equipment manufacturers, and countless quangos without challenge are, at best, misleading and, conveniently, support the impression that the energy being generated from renewables is considerably more than the reality.
Most power-generating companies adopt the RenewableUK assessment of average household usage of 4266 kilowatt hours per year when calculating the average number of homes that can be supplied from the output of a new renewables project.
This annual total is equivalent to less than 12 kilowatt hours per day per average home – that is, a one-bar 1kW electric fire operating for less than 12 hours each day, so includes next to nothing for electrical heating.
However, half of the energy consumed in Scotland is in the form of heat, with approximately half of that being consumed in our homes. Ofgem’s detailed statistical 2011 assessment for the (median) dual fuel needs of an average UK home is 4000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity plus 16,900 kilowatt hours of gas for heating/cooking . It also calculated typical high usage figures of 5100 kilowatt hours of electricity and 23,000 kilowatt hours of gas depending on the size and location of your home and the calorific value of your supplied gas (the equivalent amount of energy you get from burning the gas).
Scotland is of course at the high end of these figures given our cooler climate.
Domestic gas energy consumption for the typical home is therefore in addition to and between four and six times higher than the household electrical energy usage and much cheaper, at a cost of around one third per kilowatt hour of electricity at standard tariffs.
So the actual total average energy requirements for a UK home is approximately 20000 kilowatt hours per year whether you are all-electric or have both gas and electricity and not 4266 kilowatt hours. So wind farms provide around one-fifth of the actual energy requirements of the number of homes they claim to provide for.
The fallacy of the home claim is further apparent when you consider that in Scotland around one-third of domestic properties are not connected to the national gas network, compared to only one in 10 in the rest of the UK and this means there are more than 800,000 homes in Scotland that have to use electricity (the vast majority) and/or solid fuel or bottled gas for heating and cooking. Ironically, this includes all the island communities and much of the Highlands, where several of the wind farms are located.
It is of little surprise therefore that more than 120,000 Scottish families are officially in fuel poverty.
Almost every major wind farm generates into the nationwide electrical network and is distributed throughout the country, so the power companies’ claims that 4266kW hours per year provides enough electricity for a certain number of homes does not apply to at least 800,000 homes in Scotland.
Similarly, all claims that 4266kW hours powers a home are wrong as they do not include the heat energy we require and this applies equally to the rest of the UK.
This is important because the renewable industry also claims it is the future with gas supplies due to run out, by which argument it will then have to supply all the energy presently provided by gas. Then its current misleading claims will be shown to be wrong.
The renewables industry’s marketing people can’t have it both ways.
All in the industry and the politicians and the quangos need to start playing it straight with the public.
D B Watson,
********,
***********,
Cumbernauld

Wind Turbines Killing a Very High number of bats!

BAT DEATHS PROMPT CHANGE AT WIND FARM

A White Pine County wind farm that sells power to NV Energy has been forced to change operations after its massive turbines killed triple the number of bats allowed under an agreement with federal regulators.

The 152-megawatt Spring Valley Wind Energy project about 260 miles northeast of Las Vegas killed an estimated 566 bats in 2013, so its operator agreed to change when the windmills kick on in hopes of reducing the number of deaths.

In June, the wind farm’s 66 turbines — each standing up to 425 feet tall — were adjusted on nights with high bat activity so they would only start turning when sustained winds reach about 11 mph instead of the usual “cut-in” speed of about 7 mph.

The move was designed to reduce the number bats killed in collisions with the spinning blades because “when it gets too windy, the bats aren’t flying as much,” said Paul Podborny, a field manager with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s office in Ely.

Podborny is scheduled to meet next week with Spring Valley Wind representatives to review whether the new operating protocols are working. If bats continue to die in unacceptably high numbers, additional measures might include increasing the number of nights the higher cut-in speeds are used, increasing the cut-in speed even more or shutting down the turbines altogether on nights when a lot of bats are active, he said.

Matt Dallas, spokesman for San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, which owns the wind farm, said the turbine speed adjustment results in a small reduction in power output, “but we are willing to accept this in order to reduce our environmental impact.”

In an email, Pattern’s director of environmental compliance, Rene Braud, said the vast majority of the bats were Mexican free-tail bats, “a very common and abundant species” that migrates by the millions through the Spring Valley each year and is not protected under federal law.

“The project has had no impact at all on any threatened or endangered bat species,” Braud said.

To environmentalists, though, the higher-than-expected bat deaths prove what they have said all along.

Rob Mrowka, senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Nevada, put it this way: “The Spring Valley Wind project is an important component of a renewable energy portfolio placed in absolutely the wrong location.”

CAVE OF CONCERN

The $225 million project went online in August 2012 as the first utility-scale wind farm in Nevada. It features 66 turbines scattered across more than 7,600 acres of federal land at the heart of the vast Spring Valley, which runs north-south for about 110 miles between the Schell Creek and Snake mountain ranges in eastern Nevada.

The facility was designed to generate enough electricity to supply about 40,000 homes, with NV Energy as its only customer for the first 20 years of operation. It drew stiff opposition from environmentalists.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Watersheds Project sued to block construction in January 2011, accusing the BLM of skirting environmental regulations to fast-track the project. Settlement talks began after a federal judge refused to stop work to allow more study of the impact on bats and sage grouse, and the resulting agreement spelled out what Pattern must do to track and curb bird and bat mortality. It also set limits on the number of deaths allowed each year: 178 birds and 169 bats.

“To me, it was a compromise to both protect the bats and allow renewable energy to still be produced,” Mrowka said. “It is highly unlikely that without the agreement and without the vigilance by the conservation groups that any action would have been taken to protect the bats.”

Biologists think as many as 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost in Rose Cave, about five miles from the wind farm, on their southern migration to Central America from late July through early October.

Laser beams at the cavern’s mouth track the bats as they come and go. At peak times in August as many as 2,000 bats per minute leave Rose Cave.

Research suggests bats easily can navigate around stationary wind turbines, but not even echo-location will save some of them when the blades are turning.

Each of the 262-foot towers in Spring Valley holds a rotor the diameter of a football field. When one of its three blades is pointed straight up the structure stands taller than Planet Hollywood Resort on the Strip. Though the blades appear to spin slowly, their tips can reach 170 mph, churning the air into tornado-like swirls. Even a close call can be deadly for a bird or bat because sudden changes in barometric pressure cause their insides to explode.

FEWER BIRDS THAN BATS

While bat deaths at Spring Valley Wind were well above the mitigation threshold in 2013, bird deaths were well below it. The operation reported just 40 bird fatalities last year, though one in particular garnered widespread attention. A golden eagle was killed there in February, prompting an investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and stoking national debate over the environmental trade-offs associated with the sort of large-scale green energy projects championed by the Obama administration in the face of climate change.

The Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the federal government’s reluctance to prosecute such cases and flaws in the regulatory framework.

In December, the Interior Department exempted wind farms from penalties associated with bald and golden eagle deaths for up to 30 years, provided companies obtain permits and make efforts to avoid killing protected birds.

The 30-year rule replaced an earlier version of the so-called “incidental take permit” implemented in 2009 to cover eagle deaths for up to five years. Wind energy developers argued the shorter-term permits created uncertainty that chilled investment in their projects. And since administration officials showed little appetite to penalize wind farms for killing eagles, no company ever bothered to get one of the five-year permits.

No other eagle deaths have been reported by Spring Valley Wind, but Podborny said even one more would be cause for concern and possible mitigation measures. Though bird deaths in general do not appear to be a problem at the facility, he said, “We still have to look at what species are being killed.”

Pattern Energy officials said they have been working with federal regulators since the eagle death. The company formally applied for a 30-year eagle take permit earlier this year. They expect the permitting process to last into 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrea

Industrial Wind Projects are Falling Out of Favour, and for Good Reasons!

As the tide turns on wind farms in Northumberland, we look at what is causing the wind of change

A growing number of wind farm proposals in Northumberland are being refused amid an apparent turning of the tide…

 
Wingates in Northumberland where a wind farm community fund has not been set up as agreed with wind farm developers.

You don’t have to go back too far to a time when you couldn’t open The Journal without reading about residents Northumberland begging for mercy from an onslaught of wind turbines.

People in the county adopted a siege mentality as figures time and again proved that they were being made to live with more wind farms than elsewhere in the country. Planning application after planning application seemed to be nodded through despite their desperate pleas.

Indeed new figures from Northumberland County Council show that the authority has approved 80 out of 98 wind related proposals in the last three years.

In 2012, Dr James Lunn, who was involved in a fight to halt plans for generators near his Fenrother home, not far from Morpeth, said: “We need both a national and Northumberland policy to protect settlements, because we can’t rely on the county council planning department to protect us.

“They seem to believe there is no upper limit for the number of wind farms that can be considered.”

Back to the present and the wind of change seems to have blown through the whole vexed issue on onshore wind.

Only recently proposals for wind turbines at Dr Lunn’s village, at a site close to the Duddo Stone Circle and Flodden battlefield have been rejected or approvals quashed.

And the brakes are being applied by the Government, namely the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Another scheme at Rayburn Lake has also been recommended for refusal by council officers although a decision has been deferred.

But what is behind the turning tide? Is it a recognition that Northumberland has had enough as residents would argue?

Or is it as a growing number of commentators in the industry believe, politics at play?

Many believe that the DCLG and its boss Eric Pickles is acting out of a desire to appease rank and file Conservative voters, who rightly or wrongly are associated with an anti-wind stance.

The minister created the new planning guidance, so sought by Dr Lunn, which decreed that the importance of renewable energy should not automatically override the views of communities.

Mr Pickles himself issued the final say on appeal decisions – including Fenrother and the Flodden scheme – in order to ensure that guidance was being followed.

Those behind the wind farms are becoming used to disappointment.

Jennifer Webber, spokesman for RenewableUK, the self proclaimed voice of wind energy, said: “The vast majority of people in the North East support more onshore wind with polling last year finding that three quarters of people in the North East would support more wind farms in the area they live.

“Polling consistently shows that people are in favour of onshore wind, so it’s unfortunate that the secretary of state for communities and local government is trying to block schemes, based on a misguided belief that such an approach will be popular with voters.

“Each megawatt of installed onshore wind brings in £100,000 of income to the local community over its lifetime, and it’s a shame communities are missing out on this.”

The organisation’s claims about the popularity of wind will no doubt surprise its opponents in the wide open spaces of the North East.

The claim that Mr Pickles is seeking to appease his voters is disputed by one Conservative in Northumberland.

Longhorsley Councillor Glen Sanderson at Wingates in Northumberland where a wind farm community fund has not been set up as agreed
Longhorsley Councillor Glen Sanderson at Wingates in Northumberland

 

County councillor for Longhorsley Glen Sanderson, who was a vocal opponent of the Fenrother scheme, said: “I think that would be far from the truth, it is not just Conservative voters who feel strongly about the impact that wind farms have on our very sensitive parts of the country.

“It is not just Conservatives, it is visitors to our county and people who enjoy the beauty around them.

“It is not a political point at all.”

The councillor believes, not unsurprisingly, that his minister, has accepted the argument often made in Northumberland that the perceived desecration of the countryside must stop.

“It is a question of getting to grips with reality and understanding we only have one beautiful countryside and that government has a duty of ensuring that natural beauty is preserved.

“The government have listened to the people, not just Conservative voters.”

Dr Lunn feels the government is partially motivated by the desire to “win votes.” Yet he also believes the wind of change is inspired by acknowledgement that turbines are not benefiting the environment or the economy.

“I think there is a current nail in the coffin for large scale onshore wind farms both at local level and at national level.

“Both for political reasons in winning votes but also for the sheer fact is it not helping the country’s economy.

“Wind power was sold on the fact it was sustainable for the environment but it does not provide sustainable communities if not everyone likes it.

“It does not provide a sustainable economy if not everyone can afford it.

“It is no longer a sustainable green form of energy. Regardless of which political party is in power they can not argue it is a sustainable way to take the country forward.”

Dr Lunn does not fear a revival in the wind industry under a different government.

“I am not particularly concerned, it is seen as a vote winning policy. These things take five years from start to finish, regardless of who wins the next election you have got to look five years into the future.”

The Labour party has indicated it would allow decisions on planning applications to be made at local level if elected, hitting out at the Conservatives for allowing so many decisions to be made by the government.

The party believes this “reverse localism” could come back to bite Northumberland in the fracking debate.

Councillor Scott Dickinson, the new County Council Business Chair for Northumberland, at County Hall, Morpeth

 

Scott Dickinson, a party county councillor in Northumberland and parliamentary candidate for Berwick, said: “I’m uncomfortable that a Conservative secretary of state is making decisions about what’s best for North Northumberland rather than local people.

“Northumberland Conservatives seem to be happy to allow ‘reverse localism’ but I’m worried that this is a precursor to the ‘fracking debate.’

“If a secretary of state is intervening to halt planning applications for wind farms then what happens when communities want to stop ‘fracking’ in their backyard when its government policy to support ‘fracking’?

“Will he intervene to overrule local concerns.”

Coun Sanderson however argued the government has shown it will listen to local people on wind and would similarly do so with fracking.

Villagers from Fenrother, near Morpeth, celebrate plans for a Wind Farm at the village being refused
Villagers from Fenrother, near Morpeth, celebrate plans for a Wind Farm at the village being refused

 

“You just need to go back to a recent one in Fenrother where thousands of people were prepared to put their names against that proposal.

“If the same thing happened in Northumberland about fracking, I think the government would be forced to consider their position on that as well.

“I am absolutely convinced that localism has a part to play in all planning matters and I think the government has shown they have listened in their change of line on onshore wind farms.

“Otherwise they can not be a directly responsible government.”

In addition to the potential for fracking, Dr Lunn believes the loss of momentum could see an increase in applications for solar power, with a preliminary application for 160 acres at Bellingham already lodged.

Yet he believes wind will remain in the mix through small projects of one or two generators and domestic farm turbines, which he feels will became even more prevalent as doubts grow among landowners over large schemes.

Even the “Slower” Aussies, are catching on, to the fact that Wind Turbines are Useless!

How the Public Are Deceived About the True Cost of the Mandatory RET

sprinter_2248190b

The Australian Financial Review – as one of the lefty Fairfax stable – “drank the Kool Aid” early and happily ran with the wind industry’s narrative that having Australia bristle with giant fans is a sure-fire way of cooling mother Earth; that wind power is free; and that the mandatory RET is public policy at its best.

In short, the AFR has been a faithful outlet for wind industry spin and propaganda. Regurgitating an endless stream of Clean Energy Council (CEC) press releases; and giving the likes of Infigen (aka Babcock & Brown) free rein to spruik about the “wonders” of wind – never questioning, let alone challenging, the wild and fantastic claims made about lowering retail power prices (all while “saving” the planet, of course) – it’s been a serious media outlet of choice for the wind industry and its parasites.

Until now.

In the last few weeks there’s been a seismic shift in the AFR’s approach to the imminent demise of the mandatory RET. Faced with an increasing barrage of hysterical claims about the world ending if the RET gets the axe (by the likes of the CEC and Infigen’s Miles George) the AFR’s journos and editor have finally opened their eyes to the greatest rort of all time. And, to the horror of the CEC and its taskmasters, they’ve stopped buying the myths and mis-information pitched up by Infigen & Co.

Phil Coorey’s piece on how Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann have joined forces to bring an end to most ludicrous policy ever devised sent the wind industry into a state of panic (see our post here).

Since then, the AFR has followed up with a terrific piece from Alan Moran and an editorial calling the mandatory RET flawed and unsustainable (seeour post here) – and a detailed analysis of the inherent flaws and failings of the RET by crack energy market economist Danny Price (see our post here).

With the AFR turning on it, the wind industry must know its days are numbered.

The AFR continues its recent trend with this fine piece of work by Ben Potter and another terrific editorial that strip away the myth that the mandatory RET is a benign piece of “climate change” policy which won’t cost power consumers a thing.

Renewable energy lobby’s shell game
Australian Financial Review
Ben Potter
25 August 2014

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The renewable energy lobby employs a neat trick to show that billions in subsidies for the costliest forms of electricity can lower power prices.

Wind and solar power costs between 1½ and 10 times as much to produce as power from coal and gas. But the vagaries of the National Electricity Market allow the renewables sector to claim that it lowers prices – even if it imposes costs on consumers elsewhere.

In a shell game, a conman quickly moves around three shells on a table or mat and his buddies pressure passers-by to bet which one contains a pea.

The pea under the shell is $37 billion of renewable energy certificates (RECs) that electricity retailers will buy from renewable energy generators or generate themselves between now and 2030 if the renewable energy target scheme isn’t changed.

“It’s misleading, because the subsidy is the REC, and the REC certificate is acquitted at the retail level and is included in the retail price of electricity,” Origin Energy chief executive Grant King says.

The renewable energy target has helped drive installations of 52 wind farms and 1.3 million solar roof-top systems – about one-eighth of total capacity – since 2001, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.

The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal estimated the cost of the renewable energy target to the average household in 2013-14 at $107 – about 5.3 per cent of a typical $2012 bill.

It is now under review by a panel headed by businessman Richard Warburton, who is sceptical that human activity is causing global warming.

Because the price of RECs is about the same as the electricity price per megawatt/hour, renewables generators are deriving as much revenue from selling RECs as they are from selling power to the National Electricity Market.

“All it is is a tax on existing producers which is passed onto existing consumers,” says Tony Wood, head of the energy program at the Grattan Institute.

“No one denies, when they are asked the right question, that renewable energy costs more than fossil energy.

“The only question is who pays for it? And right now it’s a combination of consumers and fossil generators who are paying for it, and you’ve got to question is that the right policy?”

The RET’s costs are buried in ACIL Allens’ modelling for the RET review and a report issued by the Climate Institute last week.

Most of the costs are REC costs. Deloitte Access Economics in a report for business groups estimates the net present value of REC transfers to the renewables industry over 2015-30 at $17 billion, compared with $8 billion to $9 billion if the RET is closed or the target is wound back to a true 20 per cent of energy supplied.

When REC costs are included, retail bills are higher until at least 2020, after which opinions diverge.

ACIL Allen and the Climate Institute find that continuing the RET on its current path lowers household power bills by as much as $80 a year from now to 2030, despite swelling bills between now and 2020. Deloitte, using different assumptions about capital costs, falling demand and market responses, finds retail bills higher after 2020 as well.

The Climate Institute report shows the high long-run marginal production costs of solar and wind power – which include capital costs – relative to coal and gas. Coal and gas power come in at about $60 to $80 a megawatt hour in the eastern states, wind at $88 to $544 a megawatt hour and solar at $128 to $1533 megawatt hour.

But when it comes to bidding in the National Electricity Market, wind and solar clean up because they have zero short-term marginal costs (in the short term, capital costs are less important). Wood argues they even have negative short-term marginal costs because they need to produce energy to sell RECs.

The rising RET target forces renewables into the NEM, even though electricity demand is shrinking and no more capacity is required. Those factors combine to suppress wholesale prices, which have dipped below $40 a megawatt hour.

That in turn squeezes profits and market share for coal and gas generators, which have to cover their fuel costs, at peak times when they used to make their profits. Retailers then have to buy or generate renewable energy certificates to cover the renewable energy target – currently about 10 per cent, rising to about 28 per cent by 2020. The REC cost goes into the retail price.

If that cost is less than the wholesale price suppression, the consumer wins. But it’s a fine call, says Wood.

The RECs subsidy costs about $29 billion in net present value economic activity, 5000 jobs and $1260 in average annual earnings. This comes from more costly investments in renewables, which Deloitte says raise power prices and suppress resources, jobs and demand in other sectors.

Erwin Jackson, deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute, says such losses are more than offset by the benefits of emissions reductions under the RET.

A Climate Institute report released last week puts a much lower $2.7 billion economic cost on the RET. It finds it lowers household power bills after 2020. It values the social benefits of emissions cuts at $19 billion, based on a $24 to $50 a tonne social cost of carbon. Mr Jackson said this was almost certainly an under-estimate but “you have to factor it in, otherwise it’s a one-sided model and you are assuming climate change doesn’t exist.”

He admitted it was only an estimate of the RET’s contribution to global climate change efforts – offset by emissions increases in large emerging economies such as China and India – rather than any quantifiable benefit to Australia.

But it was the “best tool we have” to “open up the conversation” to considering the benefits of reducing emissions.

“What they’ll talk about very carefully is the cost to consumers, and they’ll show the cost to consumers is either slightly favourable or not much different – therefore ‘isn’t this a reasonable price to pay for renewable energy?’” Wood says.

“What they are very careful not to say [is] ‘what’s the cost to the Australian economy?’ because the cost to the economy includes the negative cost to the existing generators.

“To say that the renewable energy target is a small impost to consumers is the right answer but it’s the wrong question. The right question is ‘what’s the economic impact of the RET?’ and the economic impact of the RET is negative.”

The RET is a costly way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Its price of abatement is $54 to $186 a tonne, up to eight times the recently abolished carbon price, ACIL Allen modelling for the RET review finds.

A cheaper – but politically tricky – way to reduce emissions to would be to return to a technology neutral carbon price signal.

The difference between Deloitte’s estimate of the REC cost savings from winding back the RET to a true 20 per cent and closing it – $9 billion – is similar to the $10 billion “additional profit” for coal and gas generators – such as Origin and EnergyAustralia – claimed by the Climate Institute report.

“It’s not that they’re better off because the RET was removed. It’s that they’re worse off because the RET was introduced,” Wood says.

Tim Sonnreich, strategic policy manager at the Clean Energy Council, an industry body, accepts that there’s a substantial wealth transfer from incumbent generators to renewables generators.

“We are not denying that,” Sonnreich says. “But it’s a wealth transfer that’s in favour of consumers so we would have thought in a political sense that’s a pretty popular one.”
Australian Financial Review

A valiant effort there from the CEC, as its spin master plays the shell game and otherwise attempts to turn night into day.

The mandatory RET sets up the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the Commonwealth. However, it’s not – as the CEC asserts – one that power consumers are going to thank their political betters for. That transfer – which comes at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable; struggling businesses; and cash-strapped families – is effected by the issue, sale and surrender of RECs. As Origin Energy chief executive Grant King correctly puts it:

“[T]he subsidy is the REC, and the REC certificate is acquitted at the retail level and is included in the retail price of electricity”.

It’s power consumers that get lumped with the “retail price of electricity” and, therefore, the cost of the REC subsidy to wind power outfits. Between 2014 and 2031, the mandatory RET requires power consumers to pay the cost of issuing 603.1 million RECs to wind power generators. With the REC price likely be at least $65 (by 2017) – and tipped to exceed $90 – the wealth transfer from power consumers to the wind industry will be somewhere between $40 billion and $60 billion, over the next 17 years (see our posts here and here).

Here’s the AFR’s editor in response to the wind industry’s latest efforts to spin its way out of trouble.

Models can’t hide true RET cost
Australian Financial Review
Editorial
25 August 2014

Studies relied on by the renewable energy lobby to justify the continuation of the Renewable Energy Target make a lot about noise about the RET’s effect on the wholesale price of energy. But as shown in this newspaper today, force feeding up to 30 per cent renewables such as wind and sun-generated electricity into the power grid may put downward pressure on wholesale prices amid weak demand by artificially boosting supply. But the effect of forcing more power into the system will then show up in other ways: by increasing retail prices through the cost of renewable energy certificates. Those increased prices will reduce gross domestic product, by depressing productivity and by pushing up prices and costs elsewhere in the economy. That is, it is a highly expensive way to reduce emissions.

As previously discussed in this newspaper, an ongoing review of the RET led by Dick Warburton to make recommendations about winding back or even ending the scheme has resulted in considerable argument over the scheme’s effect on the electricity markets. These arguments include contradictory findings by computer modelling groups, with the RET lobby relying on studies pointing to the effect of dumping a lot of additional capacity into the wholesale market at a time of stagnating demand. However, as the coverage in today’s Financial Review notes, retailers still have to buy the Renewable Energy Certificates required to meet their obligations under the RET from the renewable generators, and that is expected to cost $37 billion between now and 2030, or as much as the electricity itself. That is $37 billion that must be reflected in higher prices elsewhere.

The arguments over the Renewable Energy Target show just how deftly skilled lobbyists can distort the debate, but we should not lose sight of the fact that the RET in any form will cost many billions of dollars in return for an hypothetical social benefit of the carbon emissions being offset.
Australian Financial Review

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Anti-Wind Protesters Take Their Issues, Right to the Pollies!

Pollies hit spot of turbulence

THE Premier and Planning Minister walked into an Indian restaurant.

One was told he “wouldn’t know if his arse was on fire”; the other urged to wear a caricature mask mockingly depicting her own face.

Anti wind farm protesters made sure Mike Baird and Pru Goward received their message loud and clear at lunchtime on Friday.

The crowd – made up predominately of members from the Residents Against Jupiter Wind Farm group – used placards, T-shirts, masks, verbal jibes and even a replica turbine to reinforce their point outside the Southern Star Inn.

Premier Mr Baird and Planning Minister Ms Goward were among those who converged on the Reynolds Street restaurant for a Liberal Party fundraiser.

Some of the very people protesting out front laid down their signs and strolled into the luncheon – at a cost of $50-a-head.

They urged Mr Baird and Ms Goward to better consider landowners’ views and ensure consumers were exempt from paying a wind farm excess that benefits operators.

One protestor pleaded with the government to consider compensation for landholders whose property values have plummeted courtesy of wind farm developments.

Both the Premier and Planning Minister handled flak diplomatically.

“Good on you,” Mr Baird said in response to banter that claimed he wouldn’t know if his own backside was alight.

Ms Goward politely refused to wear one of the many masks indicating the Member for Goulburn was being figuratively gagged by Cabinet.

“I’m not going to wear myself,” she said.

Others present at the protest and Liberal Party fundraiser included mayor Geoff Kettle, his neighbouring compatriots John Shaw from Upper Lachlan and Wingecarribee’s Juliet Arkwright, Goulburn Mulwaree councillor Sam Rowland, outspoken anti wind farm campaigner Humphrey Price-Jones, and Christian Democrat candidate from the 2013 federal election, Adrian Van Der Byl.

The protesters’ motives transcended party politics, Residents Against Jupiter Wind Farm member Michael Crawford said.

“We’re aiming to get a message across to the government in terms of the resistance here,” he said on Friday.

“Clearly the Premier is ill-advised in terms of the policy he’s following. It’s harmful to local residents, it’s awful to ordinary citizens who are the consumers of the state and it benefits no-one except the developers.”

Boro Road property owner Greg Faulkner played recordings of wind turbine noises through loudspeakers on the back of his ute.

A lack of respect for property owners most affected by the proposed Jupiter Wind Farm, east of Lake George, drove him to act.

“It takes no account of local residents who live near the developments,” he said.

“A lot of the people here are committed to renewable power, but we make the distinction between all types of renewable energy and giant wind farms.

“There’s a world of difference between having some solar panels on your roof and living with 550 wind turbines placed as close as 350 metres from your front door.”

Tamsin Hanbrook estimates she and her family will lose a potential $440,000 due to the Jupiter Wind Farm project.

“We owe more than what our place will ever be worth, we can’t sell it,” she said of their Braidwood Road property.

“The people we were going to exchange contracts with pulled out because of the wind farms.

“The other block [on the Kings Highway], we’ve been trying to sell it for six months. We can’t sell it for love or money. As soon as people find out about the wind farms, they don’t want a bar of it.”

Renewable Energy Targets…the Smart Thing to do, is Get Rid of Them! It’s a scam!

Mandatory RET: An Expensive (and Unsustainable) Economic Burden

Donkey HeavyLoad

The RET is an expensive burden on the economy
Australian Financial Review
Alan Moran
19 August 2014

People and firms should be free to choose how they trade off their sources of energy and price preferences.

With the carbon tax repealed, the focus has shifted to the renewable requirements. A key component of these, the renewable energy target (RET), is under review by a panel headed by former Caltex chief Dick Warburton. The RET forces electricity retailers to buy certificates to ensure they incorporate at least 20 per cent of renewable energy within their total supply. Few other countries have renewable schemes as ambitious as Australia’s.

Compared with $40 per megawatt hour, the price of unsubsidised electricity, the cheapest source of additional renewable energy is from wind and is about $110 per megawatt hour. The renewable energy certificates are intended to fill the gap but they have been trading at low prices of around $35 due to the subsidy from the carbon tax, very attractive subsidies to roof-top installations and the fact that the build-up of renewable requirements is gradual. The subsidy price, in after-tax terms, is capped at $93 per certificate (or per megawatt hour).

Two external analyses have been undertaken as part of the RET review process. While both of them adopted conservative assumptions about the required renewable subsidy, they each arrived at very high aggregate costs to the economy as a result of the existing scheme.

The review itself commissioned ACIL Allen to estimate the future costs of the present scheme in 2014 prices. ACIL Allen put this cost at $37 billion or $6 billion if the scheme were to be closed to new entrants but existing installations continued to receive the subsidy.

The ACIL Allen estimate is based on the renewable subsidy at $70 per megawatt hour. This is equivalent to providing renewables a carbon tax subsidy of about $60 per tonne of carbon dioxide compared with the now defunct broader carbon tax at about $25 per tonne.

The other study undertaken by Deloitte was funded in part by the government’s Consumer Advocacy Panel and estimated the overall cost to the economy from maintaining the scheme is $29 billion. If it were to be immediately closed to new entrants that cost would remain in excess of $16 billion. These two cost estimates of the RET ($29 billion to $37 billion) approach the combined value of the Australian electricity transmission network.

Gains to coal-fired generators

An analysis for the Climate Institute estimates the abolition of the RET would bring gains to coal-fired generators of $25 billion by 2030. Although coal would regain market share from not facing subsidised renewables, electricity supply is highly competitive and increased revenues to coal-fired generators would not involve any form of super-profit.

In terms of the direct impact on electricity consumers, the burden of renewable requirements this year is estimated by the energy regulator to add 12 per cent to the average household’s electricity costs. That’s about $260 per year.

On current policies, these costs will rise considerably over the next six years. The annual renewable energy certificates requirements will increase from 17,000 this year to 41,000 by 2020. In addition, the price of these certificates will need to rise sharply to allow incentives for the construction of new windfarms.

As a result, the cost of renewable programs for typical households could rise as much as fourfold.

In research IPA commissioned last week from Galaxy, people were asked whether they favoured retaining the present level of support, increasing support in line with current policy or scrapping all assistance to renewable energy. Only 14 per cent favoured increasing support along the lines of current policy. Twenty-three per cent favoured scrapping the scheme entirely.

While 62 per cent said they would be content to see the subsidy costs kept at present levels, people are rarely as profligate as they say they would be when it comes to their actual spending decisions. This is readily seen in the small take-up of consumers’ voluntary top-up sales of green energy at premium prices, which amount to only 0.7 per cent of the annual sales of electricity.

Moreover, the direct costs of renewable energy through electricity prices is only half of the costs that consumers bear – the rest come about through consequent higher costs of goods and services. And for businesses, the renewable requirements are much greater, as a share of total energy costs, than they are for consumers.

The renewable energy subsidies fail all tests. Consumers resent paying for them and they represent a dead weight on industry competitiveness and economic growth.

Restoring consumer sovereignty and allowing people and firms to make their own choices about trading off their sources of energy and price preferences is the appropriate course.

Alan Moran is director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ deregulation unit.
Australian Financial Review

Alan Moran is alive to the scale and scope of the wind power fraud (see our posts here and here and here). But we think his calculator must have flat batteries in order to explain his observation in the piece above that:

“The annual renewable energy certificates requirements will increase from 17,000 this year to 41,000 by 2020.”

In fact, the “renewable energy certificate requirement” referred to by Alan will increase from 16.1 million RECs this year to 41 million RECs each and every year from 2020 to 2031.

The target figures in the legislation are set in GWh (1 GW = 1,000 MW): 16,100 GWh for 2014 (which converts to 16,100,000 MWh); rising to 41,000 GWh in 2020 through to 2031 (which converts to 41,000,000 MWh) (here’s the relevant section).

The “renewable energy certificate requirement” is that retailers purchase renewable energy (with which they receive RECs) and surrender RECs sufficient to satisfy the mandated target: 1 REC has to be surrendered for each MWh set by the target. If they fail to surrender enough RECs, they will be hit with the mandated shortfall charge of $65 per MWh for every MWh below the mandated target (see our post here).

Wind power generators are issued 1 REC for every MWh of power dispatched to the grid – and this deal continues until 2031: the operator of a turbine erected in 2005 will receive RECs (1 per MWh dispatched) each and every year for 26 years.  Retailers aiming to satisfy the target purchase RECs through a Power Purchase Agreement with a wind power generator. The rates set by PPAs see wind power generators receive guaranteed prices of $90-120 per MWh (versus $30-40 for conventional power). PPAs run from 15 and up to 25 years.

As part of the PPA deal, whenever a MWh of wind power is dispatched to the grid, the generator claims a supply under the PPA; and recovers the guaranteed price from the retailer. For the same supply, the wind power generator is issued RECs (1 REC per MWh) by the Clean Energy Regulator. In accordance with the PPA, the wind power generator transfers the REC to the retailer which can cash it in, thereby reducing the net cost of the power supplied under the PPA (RECs are currently trading around $30).

For example, if the price set under the PPA is $110 per MWh, the retailer sells the REC that comes with it – pocketing $30 – and reducing the net cost to $80 per MWh (which is still double the rate for conventional power). In this example, the retailer pays, and the wind power generator gets, $110 per MWh (or, in reality, whatever the PPA price is) irrespective of the REC price. In that respect, the value of the REC operates as a direct subsidy, designed to support the inflated (fixed) price received by wind power generators under their PPAs.

In practice, the full cost of wind power supplied to retailers (as set by PPAs) is recovered from retail customers (with a retail margin of 7-10% on top of that). As such, the REC is a Federal Tax on all Australian power consumers (see our post here). On the other side of the equation, the RECs issued to wind power generators operate as a direct subsidy for wind power; the value of which allows wind power generators to charge retailers prices under PPAs 3-4 times the cost of conventional power.

While the RECs transferred to retailers act as a “sweeteners”, the failure to purchase RECs leaves retailers liable for the $65 per MWh shortfall charge – and it was the threat of being whacked with a whopping fine (bear in mind the conventional power retailers purchase costs less than $40 per MWh) that provided “encouragement” to retailers to sign up to PPAs. Although, a number of the big retailers – like Origin and EnergyAustralia – have said they would rather pay the shortfall charge than purchase unreliable wind power and pass the full cost of the fine on to their customers.

Between now and 2031, the cost of the REC Tax/Subsidy will range between $40 billion to $60 billion; depending on the price for RECs.

The total renewable energy target between 2014 and 2031 is 603,100 GWh, which converts to 603.1 million MWh. In order for the target to be met, 603.1 million RECs have be purchased and surrendered over the next 17 years.

Even at the current REC price of $30, the amount to be added to power consumers’ bills will hit $18 billion. However, beyond 2017 (when the target ratchets up from 27.2 million MWh to 41 million MWh and the $65 per MWh shortfall charge starts to bite) the REC price will almost certainly reach $65 and, due to the tax benefit attached to RECs, is likely to exceed $90.

Between 2014 and 2031, with a REC price of $65, the cost of the REC Tax to power consumers (and the value of the subsidy to wind power outfits) will approach $40 billion – with RECs at $90, the cost of the REC Tax/Subsidy balloons to over $54 billion (see our post here).

As Liberal member for Hume, Angus Taylor – in his attacks on the cost of the subsidies directed to wind power outfits under the mandatory RET – puts it: “this is corporate welfare on steroids” (see our posts here andhere). STT thinks Angus is the master of understatement. In Australia’s history, there has never been an industry subsidy scheme that gets anywhere near the cost of the mandatory RET.

In the same edition, the AFR’s Editor chimed in with this eminently sensible piece of analysis.

Renewable target is not sustainable
Australian Financial Review
19 August 2014

The Abbott government’s moves to wind back or even scrap the Renewable Energy Target, as reported exclusively in this newspaper, would reduce a major distortion of the electricity market that has produced only a limited and expensive reduction in carbon emissions. How the RET affects the electricity market and prices is subject to much argument, including contradictory findings by computer modelling groups. But it clearly has forced considerable additional electricity supply – intermittently generated by windmills – into the market at a time of static electricity demand.

That extra capacity is pushing down wholesale prices at the expense of the margins of conventional electricity producers, as some modelling efforts have suggested. But force-feeding high-cost supply into a market of stagnating demand is likely to have some unintended consequences. One has been to short-circuit the hoped-for shift to less emissions-intensive gas plants. They have been squeezed out by the mandated high-cost windpower at one end and the sunk cost of the dirtier coal-fired power stations at the other. So the RET has restricted the expansion of an important transition fuel.

The RET scheme was conceived by the Howard government with a small initial target of 5 per cent of electricity consumption. But it took on a new life in 2010 when the Rudd government lifted the target to 20 per cent of estimated electricity consumption by 2020. That renewables target of 45 terawatt hours by 2020 assumed that the demand for electricity would continue to grow. Instead, demand has stalled due to soaring power prices and the decline of power-hungry manufacturing plants. So the absolute mandated target may amount to as much as 30 per cent of electricity consumption by 2020. That leaves the nation’s power grid heavily reliant on whether the wind blows.

Informed by a review by business leader Dick Warburton, the Abbott government is set to decide whether to wind the renewables mandate back to a “real 20 per cent” or even to end the scheme. In a world of a general carbon price, of course, a renewables target would become redundant. But, without a carbon price, Australia has been left in the worst of worlds. We have abandoned the lowest-cost mechanism for reducing emissions, adopted a budget-sapping “Direct Action” scheme that is surely no long-term answer and, so far, retained a high-cost renewables target. The government does need to be careful about the sovereign risk of changing its investment incentives. But mandating 30 per cent of our energy to come from high-cost renewables is not a sustainable energy policy.
Australian Financial Review

The mandatory RET is the most expensive and utterly ineffective policy ever devised.

As the AFR points out, the RET is simply not sustainable. Any policy that is unsustainable will either fail under its own steam; or its creators will eventually be forced to scrap it. European governments are responding to their unsustainable renewables policies by winding back subsidies and tearing up wind power contracts (see our posts here and here). And Australia won’t be far behind them.

STT hears that Tony Abbott is acutely aware that the mandatory RET is an entirely flawed piece of public policy; and is nothing more than an out of control industry subsidy scheme.

As such, it represents a ticking political time-bomb for a government that doesn’t need anymore grief from an angry proletariat. And boy, the proletariat are going to be angry when they find out that under the mandatory RET they’re being lined up to pay $50 billion in REC Tax – to be transferred as a direct subsidy to wind power outfits and added to their power bills – over the next 17 years.

For Tony Abbott to have any hope of a second term in government, the mandatory RET must go now.

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