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Monday, September 26, 2011

I don’t even know where to start!

If you haven’t seen the recent legislative offering from Congressman Paul Tonko, D-NY, I’d strongly suggest you read it closely. The requirements placed on the Department of Energy in his H. R. 2782 – “To provide for a program of wind energy research, development, and demonstration, and for other purposes” – are stunning!

Pulled seemingly from this year’s American Wind Energy Association letter to Santa, Representative Tonko is requesting that the DOE take on product research and development activities for the heavily taxpayer subsidized, profit making, private sector wind business.

Take a look at the activities Congressman Tonko is requiring the DOE to perform:


In General.–The Secretary of Energy shall carry out a program of research and development to–

(1) improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines;

(2) optimize the design and adaptability of wind energy systems to the broadest practical range of atmospheric conditions; and

(3) reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.

Further, the program under this section shall focus on research and development of–

(1) new materials and designs to make larger, lighter, less expensive, and more reliable and longer lifecycle rotor blades;

(2) technologies to improve gearbox performance, reliability, and lifecycle;

(3) automation, materials, and assembly of large-scale components to reduce manufacturing costs;

(4) low-cost transportable towers greater than 100 meters in height to capitalize on improved wind conditions at higher elevations;

(5) wind technology for offshore applications, including improvement of analysis, testing, verification, and certification to reduce up front time and cost;

(6) advanced computational modeling tools to improve—

(A) the reliability of aeroelastic simulations of wind energy systems;

(B) understanding of the interaction between each wind turbine component;

(C) understanding the loads and lifecycle of each wind turbine component;

(D) siting of wind energy systems to maximize efficiency and minimize variable generation;

(E) integration of wind energy systems into the existing electric grid to ensure reliability; and

(F) understanding of the wake effect between upwind and downwind turbine operations;

(7) advanced control systems and blade sensors to improve performance and reliability under a wide variety of wind conditions;

(8) advanced generators, including–

(A) automated system and drive train sensors to predict and manage maintenance process;

(B) medium-speed and low-speed generators;

(C) direct-drive technology; and

(D) the use of advanced magnets in generator rotors;

(9) methods to assess and mitigate the effects of wind energy systems on radar and electromagnetic fields;

(10) technical processes to enable–

(A) scalability of transmission from remotely located renewable resource rich areas; and

(B) optimization of advanced infrastructure design, including high voltage transmission; and

(11) other research areas as determined by the Secretary.


In General.–The Secretary of Energy shall conduct a wind energy demonstration program. In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall ensure that–

(1) the program is of sufficient size and geographic diversity to measure wind energy system performance under the full productive range of wind conditions in the United States;

(2) demonstration projects carried out under this program are–

(A) conducted in collaboration with industry and, as appropriate, with academic institutions; and

(B) located in various geographic areas representing various wind class regimes; and

(3) data collected from demonstration projects carried out under this program is useful for carrying out section 2(b).

Cost-Sharing.–The Secretary shall carry out the program under this section in compliance with section 988(a) through (d) and section 989 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16352(a) through (d) and 16353).

If you’re not familiar with Representative Tonko, he is a self-proclaimed advocate for a “green economy” and “green-collar jobs”, Congressman Tonko has promoted wind development in Upstate New York and successfully lobbied GE to locate their growing GE Wind operations in Schenectady, NY.

If you’re not familiar with GE Wind … it looks a lot like Enron’s wind business.

I’m not sure if this bill will move forward in the house. I really hope you’ll contact your Representative and let them know that, while it is nice to have a cooperative relationship between government and the private sector, the government should not be doing the private sector’s work. The activities I see listed in H. R. 2782, at least in my experience, are the responsibility of private enterprise.

Your congressional representative’s contact info is here – US House of Representatives

Please make the call! And even if, by the time you reach your congressional representative this bill has been tossed, take the opportunity to stress that the organizational structure outlined in this bill is unacceptable.


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