Monday, August 27, 2012

Wind Production Tax Credit Facts

Who Are We?

AWED (Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions) is an informal coalition of citizens and organizations who believe that: 1) we do have energy and environmental issues, and 2) such technical matters should be resolved by applying genuine science. For more info about who we are, see the Contact US page.

What is the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)?
In brief, the PTC is a tax that is collected from all U.S. taxpayers, and provided as a federal subsidy to all qualifying wind developers (typically owned by foreign conglomerates). These substantial cash payments amount to 2.2¢ per kWh of electricity produced, and last for ten (10) years after a qualifying project goes online. This handout has been in effect for most of the last twenty years, but the eligibility for new projects is currently set to expire on 12/31/12. See this for more details.

The fundamental question is: should taxpayers continue to fund the wind business? [Note: Congress estimates that a one year extension of the PTC will cost taxpayers over $12 Billion (see item III-11).]

This is a complicated question concerning a very technical business. The PTC extension advocates are focusing on job claims. Information in our presentations below, and on the Job Claims page of this site, indicate that there is a net jobs LOSS from wind energy.

Our assumption is that readers are interested in getting a more balanced and in-depth picture of this important taxpayer, energy and environmental matter. Towards that end we have created the following two slide presentations…

Does the PTC Make Sense? (Professional Version)

See the PTC story in its proper perspective!

Click on the image above to see the full-length slideshow version, which is intended for Congressional energy aides (and citizens with energy experience). Most of what has been written about the PTC to date has been churnalism — where lobbyist material and lobbyist viewpoints are passed on as “news” by the media. This is about putting some balance into the situation. Our overall objective is to promote sensible energy solutions — i.e. those that have had a proper scientific assessment as to their technical, economic and environmental merits.

Does the PTC Make Sense? (Executive Version)

This is a very abbreviated edition (about half the slides) of the professional version above. This is intended for those who have less experience with energy matters, or who don’t have the time to study the details. (Note: references for this version are on the last three pages of the professional version.)

What Next?

This matter will be resolved by the US Congress. Before citizens talk to legislators, it is extremely important to be up-to-speed on this matter. Lobbyists have flooded the media with a LOT of misinformation which needs to be understood for what it really is: self-serving propaganda.

Start by carefully reviewing one of the slide shows above. For even more information on the PTC and its proponents’ claims, go to the Job Claims and More Info pages of this site.

Then proceed to the Contact Congress page, where it’s explained what to do. To find out more about us, or to ask any questions, please go to the Contact Us page.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Clipper future uncertain as brand is sold again

Less than two years after US conglomerate United Technologies Corp (UTC) bought Clipper Windpower, it has sold the wind-turbine manufacturer on to private-equity company Platinum Equity. Now the question is whether Platinum will sell off Clipper's assets or try to turn around the ailing wind company.

Mark Barnhill, a partner at Platinum, said: "The Platinum transition team's focus is on completing the carve-out of the company and establishing it as a stand-alone business."

Platinum's first move came on 20 August, when Clipper said it was cutting its workforce from 550 to 376 but would continue to operate its production and assembly plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At its peak, Clipper employed 750 people globally. In its brief statement last month, UTC only said it had "completed the divestiture of its Clipper Windpower unit to Platinum Equity" following its announcement in March that it was moving Clipper into discontinued operations before trying to sell it. UTC was refocusing on its core expertise, including aerospace, and raising money for its $16.5 billion purchase of aerospace supplier Goodrich.

In private-equity (PE) transactions, an owner may simply pay a PE firm — a longer-term investment manager — to take over an unwanted asset. Alternatively, the owner could retain an equity stake and pay the PE company to improve the margins of the asset with a view to selling it off in an initial public offering, typically in three to five years. A PE firm can also turn around an ailing asset by selling off any parts that retain value. Or the PE manager could "fix up" the asset by reducing overheads —including cutting jobs — and restructuring it, for example by setting new corporate goals.

Renwables mandate

It is clear that the goals are likely to be different to what UTC started with in 2010. In March, its chief financial officer Greg Hayes told Wall Street analysts that UTC's decision to shed Clipper was easy: "We've gone into this business with the thought that there was going be a renewable-energy mandate in this country and there has not been one." UTC officials had also cited the sagging global wind market and competition from China.

Headquartered in Connecticut, UTC bought Clipper in 2010 in two transactions for a total of $385 million. The company had cited strong growth in the wind market. Not long before the purchase, Clipper had warned of "significant doubt of the company's ability to continue as a going concern" if it could not raise more financing. Its fleet of flagship Liberty turbines has faced well-known problems such as faulty gearboxes and cracked blades.

Good riddance

Conventional stock analysts have long been sceptical of UTC's foray into renewables purchase and have welcomed the decision to sell both Clipper and its fuel-cell business. Asked about Clipper, Rick Whittington, an aerospace analyst at investment firm Drexel Hamilton, said "good riddance" to a "misbegotten acquisition". He added: "UTC got caught up in the [wind power] gold rush , or should I say blood rush. UTC is an engineering company and they figured they could engineer anything — and they got burned."

Operations and maintenance

Philip Totaro, Clipper's former head of intellectual property (IP) and competitive assessment, said Clipper's development assets, service business, and patents and IP have some value. Amy Grace , a wind analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), added that a PE purchase of Clipper makes sense and that the company's real value lies in operations and maintenance (O&M) because of the Clipper turbines already installed. An estimated 5GW of Clipper turbines have been deployed globally.

But Grace said that Clipper's technology is considered "outdated" and would be a hard sell. The company's 10MW Britannia offshore turbine — which was shelved before any were installed — would face strong competition from heavyweights such as Siemens and Vestas. Daniel Holland, a financial analyst at investment research firm Morngingstar, agreed that Clipper's future O&M is a key asset. He warned that the current wind market would make any turbine sales very difficult for a new owner.

Dan Shreve, a partner at Make Consulting, cautioned that Clipper's O&M business will depend on how much it keeps control of its installed base of turbines. And he questioned what will happen when Clipper's fleet emerges from warranty — and have to go through end-of-warranty inspections —which could undercut the value of its O&M business. He described Clipper's specialised test stand for gearboxes in the US as having a "small value" for a purchaser.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

GOP leaves wind credit out of party platform - Layoffs at Clipper Windpower

GOP KEEPS WIND PTC OUT OF PLATFORM: Republican Party representatives in Tampa yesterday kept support for the wind production tax credit and other renewable energy subsidies out of the party’s official platform ahead of next week’s convention. North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, co-chairman of the policy committee, said members instead decided to speak in generalities about an all-of-the-above energy policy. “The language we have is more general,” he said. “How you get there perhaps can differ, but I think it’s consistent with Gov. Romney.” POLITICO’s James Hohmann has more on the committee’s work on national security, gay marriage and more:

MORE WIND LAYOFFS: The RNC’s decision to leave out extending the wind PTC came the same day as more industry layoffs. Clipper Windpower, a manufacturer with facilities around the country, including one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told employees yesterday it is cutting 174 of the company’s 550 positions. The California-based company didn’t specifically blame the PTC’s looming expiration for the layoffs, citing only “continued challenges facing our industry and our company.” Clipper was sold earlier this month by United Technologies to Platinum Equity of California. The Gazette has more:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Clipper Windpower announces layoffs

Clipper Windpower in Cedar Rapids confirmed today that layoffs within wind blade company's operations will reduce its workforce by 174 positions, KCRG television reported this afternoon.

The television station reported that employees at the eastern Iowa plant began calling the television station this morning reporting that layoffs were in progress.

A human resources for the company, which was recently sold by United Technologies to Platinum Equity in California, said no physical plants would be closed, including its wind blade production and assembly facility in Newton, though "challenges facing our industry and company" require the company to work on "developing a sustainable business model."

Earlier this year, Steve Lockard, the chief executive officer of TPI Composites, which operates a wind blade manufacturing operation in Newton, said that while the Arizona-based company has created more than 700 new jobs in the community since the closure of Maytag five years ago, some of those jobs could be in jeopardy should the production tax credits for wind power not be extended before they expire at the end of the year.

"Our company has created more than 700 new jobs in Newton, and a second wind energy company there now employs over 100," Lockard said. "Our industry can do the same in hard-hit towns all across the U.S., if Congress will let us and doesn't increase taxes on wind power next year."

Officials with the American Wind Energy Association estimate that as many as half of the 75,000 jobs nationwide in the wind energy industry could be lost if the tax credit is not extended.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Big subsidies for wind projects are 'FIT' for retirement

Larry Beahan of the Sierra Club Niagara Group declared in the Aug. 7 Another Voice article that FIT - feed-in-tariff, aka: another tax - should be mandated to guarantee rates for "green" energy for the next 20 years.

Apparently he is unaware that industrial wind energy already has been feeding at the trough of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare for over 20 years now in the form of the production tax credit, and 1603 direct cash grant program.

The reality is, subsidies for industrial wind cost far more than any other source, as spelled out in the recent Master Resource article, "New York State's Money - Road to Nowhere:"

"On a per kWh basis, wind receives 80 times the public subsidies received by fossil fuels, but produces no reliable electricity capacity and very few American jobs. In fact, for every green job that wind supposedly creates, it destroys two to four regular jobs - in large part due to skyrocketing electricity rates."

So what do we get for those exorbitant costs? Industrial wind provides virtually no capacity value/firm capacity (specified amounts of power on demand), and therefore cannot provide modern power - period. Despite having over 140,000 industrial wind turbines installed worldwide, CO2 emissions have not been significantly reduced - anywhere.

We may as well mandate that we get 25 percent of our Navy from sailboats, 25 percent of our air transport from gliders, or 25 percent of our vehicle transport from horse and buggy.

Another reality - Germany is now building 17 new coal-fired and 29 new gas-fired power plants to replace their emissions-free nuclear plants.

Environmentalist Jon Boone has done an excellent job of defining the problems with the Sierra Club's blind support of industrial wind in his report: "The Sierra Club: How support for industrial wind technology subverts its history, betrays its mission, and erodes commitment to the scientific method."

Obviously, the admittedly "necessarily skyrocketing" electricity prices associated with this administration's "green" agenda, will further drive business out of New York (and the U.S.), and hurt our poor the most.

You would think that folks would understand that our $16 trillion dollar indebted nation can no longer afford to throw good money after bad pursuing the wishful thinking of "green" enthusiasts.

Our resources would be much better spent on energy efficiency, and research on technologies of the future - not antiquated corporate money-grubbing schemes like wind power.

I think we can all agree - The time for science-based energy policies is now.

Mary Kay Barton, a retired health educator and small business owner in New York State, has worked on water quality organizations over the past decade.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Litchfield is the First Target: Ridgeline Files Intent to Start Article X Application Process

August 8, 2012
Mr. James Denn, Public Information Officer
New York State Department of Public Service
Empire State Plaza Agency
Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350

Re: Dry Lots Wind Project Public Involvement Program Pursuant to Public Service Law Article 10

Dear Mr. Denn:
Enclosed for your review please find the Public Information Program (“Program”) for the Dry Lots Wind Project (“Dry Lots”), submitted pursuant to the regulations of the Department of Public Service (16 NYCRR § 1000.4[e]). It is our understanding that the Department will make written comments on this Program within thirty days.

Dry Lots is a proposed wind project located in the Town of Litchfield in Herkimer County. As you will see, we have already taken steps to involve and engage the community in this project. We look forward to your comments on the Program. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Owen B. Grant Project Manager

2021 Western Avenue, Suite 105 | Albany, NY | 12203
T: (518) 250-4247 | Direct: (518) 213-4714 | F: (518) 677-1622

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lyme passes wind law in 4-1 vote

THREE MILE BAY — After a heated public debate over setbacks and noise limits, Lyme’s Town Council adopted today a new set of rules that would “zone out” wind farms.

The vote was 4-1 with Deputy Supervisor Don Bourquin casting the sole “nay” because he felt the turbine noise caps should be consistent with the neighboring town of Cape Vincent’s less restrictive standards to make it more “defendable” when considered by a state siting board under New York’s Article X process.

Opinions were split at the Three Mile Bay Fire Hall where nearly 50 town residents attended a public hearing held prior to the special meeting.

While many residents said the town board is looking out for the safety, health and welfare of all Lyme residents by putting strict restrictions on wind, others called the new rules “ridiculous” and questioned the validity of a recent wind survey that found that the majority opposed wind turbines.

Lyme’s turbine setbacks are:

■ Half-mile from roads, non-participating property lines, neighboring town boundaries, state parks, wildlife management areas, nature preserves and wetlands.
■ One mile from the Chaumont boundary, hamlet of Three Mile Bay Lighting District boundary, Route 12E, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, schools, churches, public access sites, ball fields and cemeteries.
■ Two miles of Lake Ontario, Chaumont Bay and the Chaumont River.
■ 1,600 feet from above-ground utilities other than commercial turbines.
A-weighted, audible spectrum noise limits are:
■ Daytime (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), 30 decibels.
■ Nighttime (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.), 35 decibels.
The C-weighted, or low-frequency, noise limit will be 18 decibels over the A-weighted limit.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Clipper Windpower in Carpinteria is Sold to Beverly Hills Buyer

The Clipper Windpower company in Carpinteria has new owners.

United Technologies Corporation, based in Connecticut reportedly purchased the company for just over $300-million dollars in 2010, and has now sold it to Platinum Equity out of Beverly Hills. The current deal began in March and was completed in two stages.

The terms have not been disclosed.

Clipper officials had hoped for more business, especially with support from the White House for renewable energy projects, but the orders did not come in.

Clipper has been struggling financially for years.

It's unclear what the future will be for Clipper or its employees at this point.

uku residents question safety of wind farm after another fire

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

United Technologies Sells Clipper Windpower to Platinum Equity

United Technologies Corp. (UTX), the industrial conglomerate, sold its Clipper Windpower unit to Platinum Equity LLC, completing a divestiture announced in March.

United Technologies, based in Hartford, Connecticut, didn’t disclose terms of the deal in a statement today.

The company in March said it was seeking the sale of Clipper and other units to raise $3 billion for its purchase of aerospace parts-maker Goodrich Corp. United Technologies’ sold its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne unit to GenCorp Inc. (GY) for $550 million in July.

United Technologies bought a 49.5 percent stake in Clipper for $206 million in December 2009 and paid $222 million to buy the rest of the company a year later. Reduced orders left the Carpinteria, California-based wind-turbine maker struggling to finance operations.

“We bought into this business with the thought that there was going to be a renewable energy mandate in this country, and there has not been one,” United Technologies Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes said in March at a New York investor meeting.

“We went into this business thinking that the growth we’d seen in the last five years would continue as the push for renewables in this country accelerated,” he said, “That has not happened.”

Monday, August 06, 2012

Vt. police arrest 6 blocking wind turbine site

LOWELL, Vt. — Vermont police say six protesters have been arrested at the site of a Lowell mountain wind-power project.

The activists say volunteers today prevented construction workers and equipment from reaching the construction area along the top of the mountain.

The protesters believe the project is destroying a pristine ridgeline and has little environmental benefit.

The owner of the Kingdom Community Wind project, Green Mountain Power, issued a statement that called the activists' actions "regrettable."

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure says the presence of the protester on the construction site creates a safety hazard, adds costs to the project and strains finite law enforcement resources in the area.

The utility says the 21-turbine project enjoys wide public support.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Blaze in battery warehouse shuts down Oahu wind farm

Second fire in two years at First Wind facility

HONOLULU - Firefighters were forced to fight a burning building without water on the North Shore Wednesday, when a battery warehouse at an Oahu wind farm went up in flames.

The battery warehouse caught on fire at the First Wind wind farm for the second time in two years. But unlike last year's small fire, the latest blaze shut down the wind farm's huge turbines.

Smoke poured from the First Wind facility before five in the morning.

"The fire was out of control when we got to it," said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Terry Seelig.

On fire was the 10,000 square foot battery warehouse, where electricity is stored from the farm's dozen wind turbines. The flames caused the burning batteries to release toxic smoke, creating a challenge for emergency crews called in to fight the fire.

"This was a very dangerous environment to fight a fire in because of the confined warehouse. There were small isles with racks of batteries, small enough that it makes it difficult to maneuver -- much less shoot water on them," said Seelig.

In fact, fire crews did not spray water on the burning batteries, which would have created a lot of toxic runoff but would had very little effect on the electrical fire. Instead, they brought in a thousand pounds of a chemical suppressant. By the time that arrived on the North Shore and emergency crews went into the warehouse, it was too late to stop the flames.

"The battery warehouse was an innovative new technology. We pre-planned for an emergency like this, but we've never seen anything like this on this scale," said Seelig.

The wind farm was shut down. The huge turbines stood still as the fire raged out of control inside the warehouse. Because of the smoke and flames, the entire building then started to collapse, which forced emergency crews to stay outside.
The flames and heat were kept from spreading to other buildings but firefighters had no other choice but to let the fire burn itself out inside the battery warehouse.

Wednesday night, fire crews turned over the site to First Wind personnel who watched the smoldering building. After the burned warehouse cools off, investigators, including experts from the mainland, will go in to piece together what happened.

There is no estimate on when the wind farm may be up and running again or if the fire will affect the other Oahu wind farm now under construction.