The latest rage out of the boiler room sharks that hawk new equity issues touts alternative energy. The hype that is coming out of Wall Street resembles the internet band wagon before the bust. Investors are getting calls from brokers about unit trusts, mutual funds and hot shares. Goldman Sachs rushes to finance the offers with their expertise – using other peoples’ money. And why not when the taxpayer is being used as the patsy to subsidize the greed and insatiable appetite of the vultures that swarm around looking for an easy meal.
Understand from the outset, that producing useful energy is not the prime objective of wind projects. Big business sees an opportunity to cash in big time! Politicians scurry around to deposit all those fresh campaign contributions and place their name on legislation written by industry lobbyists. Companies are hastily organized for this 21st century Oklahoma land rush that is only open to approved corporate partners. The apologists for this shady scheme to impose corporate dominance over agriculture land use public apprehension as the tool to serve their faceless bankers.
In late June 2005 a conference entitled "Renewable Energy Finance Forum - Wall Street" co-sponsored by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Energy Events, a subsidiary of Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC addresses wind projects. Wall Street is clearly kicking into a higher gear in response to the new policies, some coming from Washington, some from the states, some from Europe, and some from multinational corporations. Leadership is emerging from commercial bankers, institutional investors, pension funds, venture capitalists, insurance companies, and corporate leaders who are seeing public sentiment shift towards new actions, and public policy begin to support those aims.
The 3rd AWEA Wind Power Finance & Investment Workshop was held in New York, NY, on October 25 - 26, 2005. Stated in their program agenda: Workshop participants will hear experts speak on topics including basic wind project economics, what makes a project financeable, new forms of development finance and how private equity funds and Wall Street may change wind power finance in the next phase of its growth.”
Is this the way America is supposed to operate? Property rights are pushed aside for the promise of quick profits and rapid tax deprecation. The argument that local municipalities and agribusiness will share in the income stream falls short when the onion is peeled and all the layers of this boondoggle are exposed to the light of day. Public scrutiny is urgently needed to reveal the true nature of a rip off dressed up in the charming platitudes.
Community outrage is building. The Star-Gazette.com, 3/8/2006 reports:
Plans to build hundreds of electricity-generating wind turbines have stirred a storm of controversy across several Southern Tier counties. Clipper Windpower Inc. has proposed building about 30 turbines in the town of Hornby in Steuben County and about 10 turbines in the town of Orange in Schuyler County. Steuben Wind Power wants to build about 40 turbines in the Steuben County towns of Hartsville and Hornellsville. EverPower Renewables has proposed 25 to 30 turbines in the Steuben County town of Howard.
UPC Wind wants to build an as-yet-unspecified number of turbines in the Steuben County town of Cohocton. And a partnership between Global Winds Harvest Inc. and UPC Wind, plus another project proposed by Ecogen, could result in more than 100 turbines in the towns of Prattsburgh in Steuben County and Italy in Yates County.
"It's going to wreak some havoc on the town, and these things don't really belong there," said opponent Robert Kern, 62, of Hornby. His Chambers Road property would be within 1,200 feet of the proposed turbines, he said. The Hornby Town Board reviewed proposed zoning changes Monday that would regulate the wind turbines, said Donald Borden, town supervisor. Source: Star-Gazette.com, 3/8/2006.
An alarm bell should sound for any landholder when the subject of eminent domain raises it ugly head. When farmland is rezoned industrial or special use permits are approved for industrial projects the very real risk of condemnation follows. Wind Developers can assign or sell leases and contracts that extend decades into the future like gaming chips in a Vegas casino. Not exactly a safe proposal. Waging the birthright of future generations is foolhardy.
The economics of wind farms are suspect when state subsidies are removed from the equation. How many times in the past has the public been told that a project is beneficial only to be burdened with the clean up cost of a Love Canal? Use your common sense. Public utilities may trade as stock equities, but there is little public protection from Public Service Commissions. Wind may sound like it is free for the taking, but when you put a pencil to the scurry that grabs all the government financing that can be passed on to the taxpayer, you uncover the real motivation of all the front companies for the utility conglomerates.
Robert L. Bradley Jr. in RENEWABLE ENERGY Not Cheap, Not "Green" provides the reference documentation to support the following: “ratepayers typically pay three times more for wind power than they would pay for electricity in today's spot market, and the premium could be higher. A conservative estimate of the total U.S. government (i.e., taxpayer) subsidy to wind power totals over $1,200 per installed kilowatt, even greater than the direct capital cost of wind under advanced technology of around $860 per kilowatt and certainly more than the installed capacity cost of gas-fired combined-cycle plants of approximately $580 per kilowatt. On a dependable capacity or capacity factor basis, the subsidy cost and capital cost premium to market is severalfold greater.” Bradley’s conclusion: “Only a sizable taxpayer or ratepayer bailout will prevent the large majority of the state's heavily indebted wind-power capacity from going the way of synthetic oil and gas production.”
Wall Street would not think of utilizing their own communities for such ventures. Their playgrounds are immune from the economic havoc that would destroy property values in their neighborhoods. Ponder this assessment: “Cooperstown, Cazenovia, and Skaneateles won't see wind prospectors wandering their ridge tops. Cherry Valley is typical of the demographics used by commercial wind for site guidelines. We have been told repeatedly by supporters of the wind plant that "Cherry Valley is a dying community and there is no other choice." With absolutely no evidence, they believe they can become a tourist destination in the midst of large-scale industrial development. They want us to believe that we can have our cake and eat it too.”
Here we go again! NYC and downstate interests ready to rape the countryside so they can pay for the fuel to jet away to their privileged enclaves. This is not a valid model for free enterprise, but it is a formula for unconscionable enrichment for a corrupt political/corporate partnership. This is not a sensible way to produce efficient energy. These wind projects are simply a way to appropriate rural land for exploration by plutocrat elites at the expense of ordinary citizens. Wake up and put a stop to this special interest government subsidy. Let the prospects of any project rise or fall on their own merits.
James Hall – April 30, 2006