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Posts Tagged ‘wind-energy’

Environmental Security and Renewable Energy

Thu ,18/05/2017

Below are two letters published in the Wichita Eagle recently. They remind us that there are many reasons for taking action on climate change. They are reprinted  with the authors’ permissions.


Grow economy with wind energy

 As a 30-year-old living in the middle of Wichita, I am constantly thinking about job growth and how to keep my friends from moving away to states with job opportunities more in line with their needs. I am in love with this state because of its natural beauty – prairie grasses, limestone and sunsets that I can enjoy nearly every day.
The more I learn about renewable energy, the more excited I become for what it could do for our state. At a legislative roundtable in 2013 discussing the benefits of Kansas wind energy, they said that more than 13,000 jobs could be created from construction and operation of wind turbines. The American Wind Energy Association reports as of late 2016 that Kansas has 4.4 gigawatts of wind capacity.
What if we utilized our energy capabilities right here instead of purchasing coal from other states? Let’s grow our economy and start thinking of alternatives that would withstand our extreme realities of droughts and floods, employ citizens, and allow Kansas to become more energy independent.
Alisha Gridley, Wichita

Environmental security matters

Let’s talk about security – the state of being absent of danger or fear. The types of security are many: home, health, food, financial, cyber, national, etc.What may not come so readily to mind is environmental security — which is to live in an environment that provides clean air and water and a predictable and livable climate.
Inaction on climate change poses a threat to our environmental security. Climate scientists are convinced, based upon a vast body of evidence, that human-caused climate change is happening. Unabated, climate change will result in an increase of extreme weather-related disasters and coastal flooding that will consume an escalating percentage of our gross domestic product, putting our economic and national security at risk.
The U.S. House’s Bipartisan Climate Caucus recognizes this risk. This group, split evenly with Democrats and Republicans, promotes legislation that would collect a fee on fossil fuel production and distribute all the collections equally among the American citizenry as a dividend. This offers a market-based approach to deal with climate change and achieve environmental security.
Note: Both authors are members of the Citizens’ Climate Education and the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby  groups in Wichita. They are both strong advocates for a carbon fee and dividend system to ensure clean air, pure water, and a healthy future for our children.

OK SB 1440, Blowing Away Wind Development in Eastern Oklahoma

Sat ,12/04/2014

Wind is in good supply in Oklahoma, leading to a “wind boom”  in Western Oklahoma. Congressman Frank Lucas supports what he calls the  “all of the above” policy on energy sources, and recognizes and supports the importance

of wind energy development in the third Congressional District, which covers the northwestern two thirds of Oklahoma.  The wind industry has taken off in Oklahoma because the state has enacted policies, such as a five-year property tax exemption and a production tax credit, that are more conducive and supportive of the wind industry than neighboring states. Until now.

Though there is plenty of wind in Eastern Oklahoma, the political climate is not good for wind development there. Senate Bill 1440, by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman , passed last week by a vote of 32-8 and is headed to the House for consideration. The bill puts a three-year moratorium on development of wind energy East of Interstate 35, which essentially prohibits any further wind development in the eastern half of the state for three years. The rationale was that the issue “needed more study”.  But, for three years?

It should take about 30 minutes to discover the advantages of developing wind energy in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has spent more than a decade developing wind energy and there are now 27 windfarms in Oklahoma. Mr. Bingham and his supporters should be well aware of them, or they could just study the report compiled by independent consulting firm Economic Impact Group. The report shows that wind industry construction and operating activities from 2003 to 2012 in Oklahoma have created:

  • More than $1 billion in Oklahoma production of goods and services
  • More than $340 million in labor income
  • More than 1,600 direct full-time jobs
  • More than 4,000 total jobs including manufacturing and support industries
  • More than $1.8 billion of economic activity during the first 20 year contracts
  • More than $43 billion in property taxes annually after the tax abatement.
  • More than $22 million annually to landowners and $15 million in wages to local workers


Other than ignoring the contribution of wind energy to economic development in Oklahoma, there are a number of other things wrong with SB 1440. It infringes on property rights as it tells landowners how they cannot use their  land, if they live on the wrong side of I-35. It is probably unconstitutional, as there is really no rationale for such an arbitrary division of who can and cannot develop wind energy. It singles out and treats wind energy differently from other energy industries. That was pointed out by Senate Floor Leader Mike Schulz, R-Altus, who voted against the bill, “We have been writing oil and gas legislation and regulations for over 100 years and continue to do so,” he said, “I don’t anticipate anything different in the wind industry.”

The United States has the goals of achieving energy independence, reducing carbon emissions,  and and cutting air pollution. However, a number of politicians have been working against those goals by trying to hinder the development of alternate energy sources. There is nothing that hinders investments more than uncertainties in the investment climate. At one time, Tulsa was the home of DMI industries, a wind turbine tower manufacturer employing 167 people. The plant was closed in 2012 because of changes in the subsidy program that created uncertainty in the funding for the business. Even if SB1440 doesn’t pass, it will have a chilling effect on investments, as even the possibility of a ban creates uncertainties that discourage investors. SB1440 was designed to slow the development of wind energy in Oklahoma. Mr. Brian Bingman and his supporters are clearly not acting in Oklahoma’s best interest.

Note added on 07/10/2014: SB 1440 fail to pass this past legislative session, so Mr. Bingman has now requested that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission begin a study of wind farms, hoping the Corporation Commission will recommend legislation to limit the development of wind farms. Mr. Bingman, who has been exposed as a member of ALEC,  is following the goals of ALEC, one of  which is to stop the development of renewable energy sources.

(c) 2014 J.C. Moore





Robert Bryce's "Myths about Green Energy"

Thu ,13/05/2010

“Our energy needs will best be served by a mixture of traditional and alternate energy sources and we should not let Mr. Bryce’s opinions keep us from developing the alternate sources.”

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has written a number of entertaining books and articles about the energy industry. However, his latest book, “Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future” (1) is an attack on “Green Energy”. It is not surprising that he is not a fan of green energy as the Manhattan Institute receives large donations from the Koch Foundation and Exxon/Mobile. That may not mean he is biased, but Mr. Bryce’s latest article “5 Myths about Green Energy” (2) would make one wonder. He uses false comparisons, misquotes, scientific inaccuracies, and the omission of pertinent facts to try to make his case. Most myths are based on a small element of truth, but what Mr. Bryce claims as “myths” are mostly true and he has had to stretch to find reasons they are myths. You can judge. His five myths are:

Myth 1. Solar and wind power are the greenest of them all. Actually, they are. If you trace the energy back to its source, you will find that all fossil fuel energy originally came from the sun’s energy. Photosynthetic green plants formed fossil fuels by converting CO2 to carbon compounds  and oxygen over many millions of years and it is stored beneath the Earth. Wind energy and hydroelectric energy come from the Sun as well and using solar energy directly cuts out carbon as the middleman. That avoids many of the problems we have today with diminishing supplies and environmental damage from fossil fuel use.

Mr. Bryce criticizes solar and wind power for the “huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy”. It seems a stretch when he compares the watts/area of wind farms with that of a gas well. What is the area of a gas well? And, what would he make of the Gulf oil spill that has produced no energy but covers an area the size of New Jersey? Mr. Bryce also says “Because the wind doesn’t always blow, utilities must use gas- or coal-fired generators to offset wind’s unreliability. The result is minimal — or no — carbon dioxide reduction.” Actually, no one is denying the need for back-up sources but surely the alternate energy placed on the grid reduces the need for an equivalent amount of energy from fossil fuels.

Trying to make his point, Mr. Bryce goes on “Denmark, the poster child for wind energy boosters, more than doubled its production of wind energy between 1999 and 2007. Yet data from Energinet.dk, the operator of Denmark’s natural gas and electricity grids, show that carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2007 were at about the same level as they were back in 1990 before the country began its frenzied construction of turbines.” Wrong. The truth is that Energinet.dk’s 2007 Environmental Report says that from 1990 to 2007, CO2 emissions in Denmark were not flat but had an overall reduction of 23% . For comparison, the US’s CO2 emissions rose by 19% during that time.

2. Going green will reduce our dependence on imports from unsavory regimes. You would think this would be about importing 70% of our oil from the Middle East – but it’s not. It is about importing rare earth metals needed for green technology from China. Mr. Bryce does not mention that we now import the metals anyway and that reducing our use of these as catalysts in the fossil fuel industry would more than make up for increased use in green technology. Also, perhaps, we should not consider our biggest creditor “unsavory”.

3. A green American economy will create green American jobs. It’s true, as Mr. Bryce claims, that many of the manufacturing jobs for solar panels and windmills have gone abroad because of high labor costs in the US. However, for many years, the US did not have a sound energy policy and certainly did not promote the development of green energy. If the US had subsidized the production of alternate energy sources at even a fraction of what it subsidized the fossil fuel production, many of the green jobs would have stayed at home. Still, some manufacturing is done here and the installation, maintenance, and the business end of green energy cannot be outsourced.

Mr. Bryce also brings up the fact that the use of ethanol fuel only created 27,000 jobs rather than the 136,000 jobs a lobbying group predicted. A lobbyist’s claim is a strange standard to measure by and he neglects that ethanol was necessary to replace the lead and MTBE as antiknock compounds in gasoline.

4. Electric cars will substantially reduce demand for oil. While admitting that the electric car “has long been recognized as the ideal” because it “is cleaner and quieter” and “much more economical” Mr. Bryce criticize them because” the same unreliability of electric car batteries that flummoxed Thomas Edison persists today”. Mr. Bryce does not seem to realize that there have been a few improvements to batteries since Edison, such as the lithium ion battery he mentions in the article. He claims another problem is that “the GAO reported that about 40 percent of consumers do not have access to an outlet, near their vehicle at home”. Eh? Is there a serious shortage of electricians or extension cords?

He also claims that electric cars are sidelined “by physics and math”. One of Bryce’s best is “Gasoline contains about 80 times as much energy, by weight, as the best lithium-ion battery.” He neglects to say that you can use gasoline just once while the battery can be recharged hundred of times. Besides, a battery is just a storage device – one that can convert energy to work much more efficiently than an internal combustion engine.

He does say, “Sure, the electric motor is more efficient than the internal combustion engine. ” Isn’t efficiency what it is about? The internal combustion engine is about 10% efficient at converting heat to work. A fossil fueled power plant, including transmission losses, is about 25% efficient, and electric motors are about 90% efficient. Considering that, electric cars are over twice as efficient in converting fuel to work. If alternate energy sources are used to produce the electricity, we reduce our demand for oil even more.

5. The United States lags behind other rich countries in going green. Mr. Bryce says “Over the past three decades, the United States has improved its energy efficiency as much as or more than other developed countries” …” except Switzerland and Denmark, and the United States achieved it without participating in the Kyoto Protocol or creating an emissions trading system like the one employed in Europe.” He compares the reduction in CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP as a basis for this claim. He does not mention that we have much further to go. The US has 6% of the world’s population but uses over 30% of the world’s energy.

Mr. Bryce writes as if  our fossil fuel supplies will last forever and as if there are no environmental problems with their use.  His plan for alternate energy is:  “The United States will continue going green by simply allowing engineers and entrepreneurs to do what they do best: make products that are faster, cheaper and more efficient than the ones they made the year before.” I could almost agree with that if we subsidize all energy sources at the same level and charge each source fairly for pollution it produces. Our energy needs will best be served by a mixture of traditional and alternate energy sources and we should not let Mr. Bryce’s opinions keep us from developing the alternate sources.

1) Bryce, Robert, “Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future,” PublicAffairs (2010)
3) http://www.energinet.dk/NR/rdonlyres/EC3E484D-08D5-4179-9D85-7B9A9DBD3E08/0/Environmentalreport2008.pdf

(c) 2010 J.C. Moore