Trump’s Windmill Hatred

The following article appeared verbatim in The New York Post (not exactly a left wing rag).

Donald Trump’s windmill hatred is a worry for booming industry

By Associated Press, September 30, 2019

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — The winds are blowing fair for America’s wind power industry, making it one of the fastest-growing US energy sources.

Land-based turbines are rising by the thousands across America, from the remote Texas plains to farm towns of Iowa. And the US wind boom now is expanding offshore, with big corporations planning $70 billion in investment for the country’s first utility-scale offshore wind farms.

“We have been blessed to have it,” says Polly McMahon, a 13th-generation resident of Block Island, where a pioneering offshore wind farm replaced the island’s dirty and erratic diesel-fired power plant in 2016. “I hope other people are blessed too.”

But there’s an issue. And it’s a big one. President Donald Trump hates wind turbines.

He’s called them “disgusting” and “ugly” and “stupid,” denouncing them in hundreds of anti-wind tweets and public comments dating back more than a decade, when he tried and failed to block a wind farm near his Scottish golf course.

And those turbine blades. “They say the noise causes cancer,” Trump told a Republican crowd last spring, in a claim immediately rejected by the American Cancer Society.

Now, wind industry leaders and supporters fear that the federal government, under Trump, may be pulling back from what had been years of encouragement for climate-friendly wind.

The Interior Department surprised and alarmed wind industry supporters in August, when the agency unexpectedly announced it was withholding approval for the country’s first utility-scale offshore wind project, a $2.8 billion complex of 84 giant turbines. Slated for building 15 miles (24 kilometers) off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Vineyard Wind has a brisk 2022 target for starting operations. Its Danish-Spanish partners already have contracts to supply Massachusetts electric utilities.

Investors backing more than a dozen other big wind farms are lined up to follow Vineyard Wind with offshore wind projects of their own. Shell’s renewable-energy offshoot is among the businesses ponying up for federal leases, at bids of more than $100 million, for offshore wind farm sites.

The Interior Department cited the surge in corporate interest for offshore wind projects in saying it wanted more study before moving forward. It directed Vineyard Wind to research the overall impact of the East Coast’s planned wind boom.

Interior Department spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said offshore energy remains “an important component” in the Trump administration’s energy strategy. But the strategy includes “ensuring activities are safe and environmentally responsible,” Goodwin said in a statement.

Wind power now provides a third or more of the electricity generated in some Southwest and Midwest states. And New York, New Jersey and other Eastern states already are joining Massachusetts in planning for wind-generated electricity.

Along with the US shale oil boom, the rise in wind and solar is helping cushion oil supply shocks like the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities.

But the Interior Department’s pause on the Vineyard Wind project sent a chill through many of the backers of the offshore wind boom. Critics contrast it with the Republican administration’s moves to open up offshore and Arctic areas to oil and gas development, despite strong environmental concerns.

“That I think is sort of a new bar,” for the federal government to require developers to assess the impact of not just their projects but everyone’s, said Stephanie McClellan, a researcher and director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind at the University of Delaware. “That worries everybody.”

Thomas Brostrom, head of US operations for Denmark’s global offshore wind giant Orsted and operator of the pioneering Block Island wind farm, said that “the last three, four years have seen unbelievable, explosive growth, much more than we could have really hoped for,” in the US, compared to Europe’s already established wind power industry.

Given all the projects in development, “we hope that this is a speed bump, and certainly not a roadblock,” Brostrom said.

Wind power and the public perception of it have changed since America’s first proposed big offshore wind project, Cape Wind off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, died an agonizing 16-year death. Koch and Kennedy families alike, along with other coastal residents, reviled Cape Wind as a potential bird-killing eyesore in their ocean views.

But technological advances since then mean wind turbines can rise much farther offshore, mostly out of sight, and produce energy more efficiently and competitively. Climate change — and the damage it will do these same coastal communities — also has many looking at wind differently now.

Federal fisheries officials have been among the main bloc calling for more study, saying they need to know more about the impacts on ocean life. Some fishing groups still fear their nets will tangle in the massive turbines, although Vineyard Wind’s offer to pay millions of dollars to offset any harm to commercial fishing won the support of others. At least one Cape Cod town council also withheld support.

A rally for Vineyard Wind after the Interior Department announced its pause drew local Chamber of Commerce leaders and many other prominent locals. Massachusetts’ Republican governor, Charlie Baker, has been traveling to Washington and calling Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to try to win his support.

At Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, instructor Chris Powicki’s Offshore Wind 101 classes and workshop have drawn nuclear and marina workers, engineers, young people and others. People are hoping wind will provide the kind of good-paying professions and trades they need to afford to stay here, Powicki says.

“Cape Cod has always been at the end of the energy supply line, or at least ever since we lost our dominance with the whale oil industry” after the 19th century, the community college instructor said. “So this is an opportunity for Cape Cod to generate its own energy.”

On land, the wind boom already is well established. By next year, 9% of the country’s electricity is expected to come from wind power, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The wind industry already claims 114,000 jobs, more than twice the number of jobs remaining in US coal mining, which is losing out in competition against cleaner, cheaper energy sources despite the Trump administration’s backing of coal.

The Trump animosity to wind power has gone beyond words in some states, especially in Ohio. A Trump campaign official was active this summer in winning a state ratepayer subsidy for coal and nuclear that also led to cutting state incentives for wind and solar.

But despite the steady gales of condemnation from the country’s wind-hater in chief, wind is booming most strongly in states that voted for Trump.

Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary, pushed his state to one of the current top-four wind power states, along with Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

In Iowa, home to nearly 4,700 turbines that provided a third of the state’s electricity last year, wind’s popularity is such that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley had a drone film him as he sat, grinning, atop one of the country’s biggest wind turbines.

Grassley had no patience for Trump’s claim in April that wind turbines like Iowa’s beloved ones could cause cancer.

“Idiotic,” Grassley said then.

On the East Coast, many developers and supporters of offshore wind politely demur when asked about Trump’s wind-hating tweets and comments.

But not on Block Island.

“We’re very fortunate that we got it. Very fortunate. It’s helped us,” McMahon, the retiree on Block Island, said of wind energy. “And don’t worry about the president. He’s not a nice man.”

Are Offshore Wind Developers Responsible For Fishing Gear Damaged In A Wind Farm?

The short answer is YES. It is the law. South Coast Reporter Nadine Sebai has been extensively covering the issue.

You can ask her direct questions here: Fill out this form.

In spite of the fears voiced by some fishermen, its interesting that major offshore cables have been in existence in the Long Island sound and the New York Harbor for over 20 years. Initial concerns about dangers to the fishing and shell fishing industries in the relevant areas have not materialized. Its strange that no one talks about this… Check my earlier post on this story.

Why all the fuss?

This is a cross section (a real piece) of the existing Block Island cable for their wind farm, consisting of 5 wind turbines that produce all the energy for the island with surplus energy for the state of Rhode Island. It is on my kitchen table. It measures 7 inches in diameter. It is similar to the cable that will bring energy from the South Fork Wind farm ashore.

“Carbon-free New York by 2040” is the overriding goal. Period.

If the urgency of achieving this goal is not apparent to any readers, just look at the most recent local news: “Higher tides force Shelter Island Ferry to rebuild ramps” This is a very real cost of sea level rise here on the South Fork! Check it out via Newsday.com.

And this is just the beginning.

On the other side of the issue we have loud opponents of the South Fork wind farm:

1) wealthy homeowners, with mansions on the Wainscott beach, who oppose any cable coming ashore in their vicinity, clearly a case of NIMBY

2) fishermen that have been whipped up with scare tactics.  I note that there are only 2 commercial fishing boats out of Montauk that fish in the Southfork wind farm area (OCS-A 0486, near Cox Ledge) which is closer to Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard than to Montauk.  From Montauk it takes 5 hours to get there by boat and 5 hours back.

For all those worried about a disruptive cable running under the sea bed and coming ashore somewhere, I would point out that a larger electric cable already feeds power in to Long Island coming all the way from New Jersey.  This dates back to 2007!  Like a giant extension cord, this transmission cable, named Neptune, stretches 50 miles underwater from Sayreville, N.J., comes ashore at Jones beach and has been plugged into Long Island for all these years without any nefarious effects on, or off shore. It is a 10″ cable and provides 660 megawatts.  

Likewise LIPA imports power from New England on the 330-megawatt Cross Sound Cable, which runs underwater from Connecticut. Two older cables, the 600-megawatt Y49 cable and the 599-megawatt Y50 cable, also run under the Sound to the Island.

Initial concerns about the effects on the shell fish industry were apparently not a problem over all these years.

Read more here:

The Case for Wind Energy

Featured

Wind off the coast of Eastern Long Island is among the most consistent in America.
Energy powered by the SOUTH FORK WIND FARM’S 15 wind turbines 35 miles off Montauk will not be seen and will provide electricity to 70,000 households.

DO WE NEED MORE POWER?
Yes. We risk frequent brown outs during the peak summer season. Our energy grid cannot keep up with increasing demand. If power is not provided by wind turbines, use of dirty fossil fuels will continue to rise.

WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?
The average household monthly bill will go up by only about $1.50. The good news: because wind is renewable and free, the cost will be stabilized unlike the volatile cost of fossil fuels. This is a small short term cost for a long term solution.

WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine life to them, imitating an artificial reef.

THE NATIONAL & GLOBAL CASE FOR WIND ENERGY:


Scientific evidence continues to mount as to the urgency of reducing carbon emissions before it is too late:

SPECIES EXTINCTION
Due to Climate Change, one million species will face extinction and humans will suffer as a result unless action is taken. (United Nations report). The Audubon Society supports the use of wind power and reports the greatest threat to birdlife is Global Climate Change.

THE WORLD’S FISHERIES
are undergoing tremendous stress as the marine environment is altered by Climate Change. 93% of global warming heat is absorbed into our oceans, dramatically reducing marine life. Acidification of our surface waters is spelling extinction for some fish and shellfish. Eel grass forms the base of a highly productive marine food web. (NOAA). Locally, our commercial fisheries that depend on eel grass for spawning and protection, are threatened.

RISING SEA LEVELS
Caused by melting polar ice sheets, threaten coastal communities around the world — including our own.

VIOLENT WEATHER EVENTS
Climate Change is producing stronger storms and more intense hurricanes that are wreaking havoc on communities with high public and personal costs, including loss of life. Our towns are on the front line.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Warmer winters are dramatically increasing infectious disease-carrying insects as they
migrate north due to higher temperatures, causing untold costs and hardship. Locally, the
rise in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is alarming.

By Cate Rogers