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Google Wants Wind Farm Off Atlantic Coast

From a gushing New York Times:

Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Praise, and Backing

By MATTHEW L. WALD
October 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — Google and a New York financial firm have each agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic Seaboard that could ultimately transform the region’s electrical map.

The unnamed New York financial firm sure sounds like some evil Wall Street bankers.

The 350-mile underwater spine, which could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development, has stirred excitement among investors, government officials and environmentalists who have been briefed on it

Industry experts called the plan promising, but warned that as a first-of-a-kind effort, it was bound to face bureaucratic delays and could run into unforeseen challenges, from technology problems to cost overruns

The system’s backbone cable, with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors, would run in shallow trenches on the seabed in federal waters 15 to 20 miles offshore, from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Va.

We suspect that these estimates are wildly exaggerated. But, even so, why don’t we build five nuclear reactors? They would probably be far cheaper.

The notion would be to harvest energy from turbines in an area where the wind is strong but the hulking towers would barely be visible.

Besides, whereas offshore oil derricks are eyesores and blights upon the horizon, wind turbines are beautiful.

Trans-Elect estimated that construction would cost $5 billion, plus financing and permit fees. The $1.8 billion first phase, a 150-mile stretch from northern New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Del., could go into service by early 2016, it said. The rest would not be completed until 2021 at the earliest

And the nuclear power plants would be built sooner.

Generating electricity from offshore wind is far more expensive than relying on coal, natural gas or even onshore wind. But energy experts anticipate a growing demand for the offshore turbines to meet state requirements for greater reliance on local renewable energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels

In other words, if the government can force up the cost of energy from coal and gas high enough, this crazy project won’t seem so crazy.

Ultimately the system, known as the Atlantic Wind Connection, could make building a wind farm offshore far simpler and cheaper than it looks today, experts said.

Environmentalists who have been briefed on the plan were enthusiastic. Melinda Pierce, the deputy director for national campaigns at the Sierra Club, said she had campaigned against proposed transmission lines that would carry coal-fired energy around the country, but would favor this one, with its promise of tapping the potential of offshore wind

You see, power lines for coal energy are bad. But when they are power lines for wind energy, they are good.

Projects like Cape Wind, proposed for shallow waters just off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, met with fierce objections from residents who felt it would mar the ocean vista. But sponsors of the Trans-Elect project insist that the mid-Atlantic turbines would have less of a visual impact

So shut up. Besides, no influential Democrats will have to look at them.

In typical fashion, this New York Times piece rattles on for a total of 38 fawning paragraphs. And, as is also usually the case with environmental articles from The Times, cold hearted reality is saved for its final two paragraphs.

But the economics remain uncertain, he warned, For now, [Mr. Kempton of the University of Delaware] said, the biggest impediment may be that the market price of offshore wind energy is about 50 percent higher than that of energy generated on land.

The reporter was so annoyed by this quote, he didn’t even bother to put quotes around it. And, remember, even the article admits that the real costs would probably be far higher than what are being currently projected.

With a change in market conditions — an increase in the price of natural gas, for example, or the adoption of a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide from coal- or gas-generated electricity — that could change, he said.

Again, none of this makes any sense until the Democrats double the costs of energy through regulation and ‘carbon taxes.’

What a great solution, huh? No wonder the ‘environmentalists’ love it.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “Google Wants Wind Farm Off Atlantic Coast”

  1. TerryAnne says:

    I can’t wait for us to get our first hurricane after these suckers are built. Either it will blow all of the power plants because of the energy overload, or they’ll become giant Chinese throwing stars.

    Good times!

  2. proreason says:

    What could possibly go wrong with thousands of ultra-expensive windmills in the middle of the Atlantic ocean?

    The plan seems foolproof to me.

  3. Right of the People says:

    Just think, sliced and diced sea gulls.

    • David says:

      Sounds like it would improve the fishing in the region. Bait shops will jut have to stock more seagull.

  4. And those pesky Nor’easter hurricanes which occasionally arise would simply have no impact on this project, what so ever.

  5. untrainable says:

    Have the environmentalists looked into what the effect of that much power running through cables on the bottom of the ocean might do to the poor fishys. The equivalent of “5 large nuclear reactors” running through the environment. People have problems living under or near power lines on land, but that’s nowhere near the amount of energy they’re talking about running under water.

    I personally am looking forward to a time when the entire power grid for the east coast can be knocked out by one ship with a big gun and twenty minutes to spare. Then again, it’s not like we’re at war or anything.

  6. NoNeoCommies says:

    It should be a snap to get this done now that “fat face” Ted is dead.
    They can name it the “Mary Joe Kopechne” memorial wind farm.

  7. eaglewingz08 says:

    Don’t forget the protections due to Marine Mammals under the Marine Mammal Act. We also note that wind power is highly unreliable source at best and those turbines kill more birds (also will result in killing endangered or somewhat endangered species) by decapitation and slice/dice than did the French Revolutionaries during their Reign of Terror in the 18th Century.
    Should we cry out, Give WIndPower the Birds!? And the cost of wind power is not profitable without huuuuge government subsidies.

    • confucius says:

      From the Wall Street Journal:

      Windmills Are Killing Our Birds
      One standard for oil companies, another for green energy sources.

      By Robert Bryce
      September 7, 2009

      On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

      ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. …

      Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year.

      A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

      Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

      The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies.

      “Somebody has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Mr. Fry told me. “If there were even one prosecution,” he added, the wind industry would be forced to take the issue seriously.

      According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s trade association, each megawatt of installed wind-power results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines. …

      This is a double standard that more people—and not just bird lovers—should be paying attention to. In protecting America’s wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to the harm done by “green” energy.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203706604574376543308399048.html

    • proreason says:

      If only it was senior citizens getting whacked.

      Then even the oil companies would get free passes.

  8. bill says:

    Isn’t the real question what for?

    Are they going to use those super effective run 24 hours a day black forest gnome built windmills?

  9. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Hazard to sea navigation. Obvious. But they don’t care, it will save the Earth and cool it down to pre-Nixon global temps.

    (sarc..except the navigation hazard part)

  10. Knuckle Dragger says:

    Typical economic ignorance from the NYT. How can the “market price” of a fungible good like electricity be 50 percent higher based on how it was generated? If that were true, the wind farms would pay for themselves, and they wouldn’t need the government subsidize them and/or drive up the prices of the competition.


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