Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Energy Kills Jobs

Durango, Colorado is having economic difficulties. And what are they giving up to be able to pay for city workers? Green energy.

For two years, the city of Durango, Colo., bought electricity for all its government buildings from wind farms. The City Council ended that program this year, reverting to electricity derived from coal-burning plants and saving the cash-strapped city about $45,000.

“It’s very hard for us to lay off an employee to justify green power,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc said. “Those are the tradeoffs you have to face.”
As long as wind and solar electricity cost more than conventional (coal, nuclear) electricity they are going to be a job killers. Now imagine what a plan to reduce fossil fuel use by 80% by 2050 is going to do if they are not replaced by low cost alternatives.

Plus, it seems wind is having reliability problems. Not just the intermittency of wind. The gear boxes connecting the turbine blades to the generators are falling apart.
Engineers at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory want to know why some gearboxes and other key wind turbine components wear out too soon. Wind turbines are expected to operate for 20 years. Early equipment fatigue threatens to reduce performance and drive up wind power costs. "The end users and the owner-operators say we're only getting five years, or in some cases, three years out of these gearboxes," said NREL principal engineer Sandy Butterfield, who is leading the Gearbox Reliability Collaborative. Initially, the gearboxes are being tested at NREL's National Wind Technology Center before testing at a Colorado wind farm under real conditions.
Well that is going to raise the cost of wind power. A lot.

In good economic times the extra cost of wind electrical generation made some sense in order to develop wind to see how it worked in practice. Given the hard times we are having it makes sense to phase out the subsidy for wind so that wind turbines are installed only where they make economic sense. The same goes for solar and all the alternative energy subsidies. They are a job killers.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


ZenDraken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZenDraken said...

Here's a good take on wind power:

Put not thy faith in the Prices of WindThere are times and places for wind power. Now is not the time and apparently Durango is not the place.

ZenDraken said...

And please imagine that there is a blank line between "Wind" and "There" in the previous post. Preview was not my friend for some reason.

Anonymous said...


Thank God you're here Michael! I guess we should just give the hell up on wind turbines because they're clearly not reliable. I'm sure they'll never be able to make them meet design specs since we as a nation know so little about mechanical engineering. Thankfully, experts like you have cast full light onto this infantile technology and exposed it for what it really is. In fact, it must be the glow of your greatness that has saved the day.

stressdoc said...


I am a mechanical engineer and quite knowledgeable about wind power and the reliability problems. They are many!

Wind power has a longer history in the EU, but the experience has been similar. Wind power has been subsidized in the EU for longer than it has here in the states. The results have been similar. Power from wind turbines is more expensive that the more traditional sources (coal, gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and oil). The only way that it viable is with government subsidies.

In the EU, turbines cannot be installed without monitoring system to watch their health. This is due to the many failures that have occurred. They cannot operate without insurance and the insurance is unavailable without monitoring. Here in the states, very few turbines are installed with monitoring.

Why? Simple. Turbines here are normally owned by investor groups that exist primarily to market the tax credits. The total cost of the turbine can be recouped in 3-5 years with these credits. The investor groups contract with the turbine manufacturers to install and operate the turbines for the 5 year warrantee period. By the time that the warrantee has expired, the turbines are paid for and any further running time is pure gravy. When they fail, shut them down and there is no loss.

Except, of course, to the tax payers that support this scam.