Is Massachusetts wind power tapped out?

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    Is Massachusetts wind power tapped out?

    Continuing a topic started February 25, 2012, another of many topics that were lost or disabled in the Globe's recent burps, first message from the topic reposted here:

    The Globe's reporter for the Route 24 towns eastward to the ocean recently filed a story about denial of wind turbine permits in Wareham, calling that an example of "resistance [to wind power] in...communities south of Boston." [ Christine Legere, Another setback for wind power, Boston Globe, February 23, 2012, at ]

    Is Massachusetts wind power tapped out?

    Hardly. Judging by the numbers, it has tapped in. Over two-thirds of the wind turbines now operating in the state were commissioned in 2010 and 2011. They are rated to produce over 85 percent of Massachusetts wind power. Despite a recession, and notwithstanding slow progress with Cape Wind and other offshore sites, it has been a boom time for the industry.

    Massachusetts has actively promoted wind power in three recent state laws and has been pouring in heaps of money, mostly extracted from electricity customers but also pumped up with both direct and indirect state and federal subsidies.

    * The Green Communities Act (St. 2008, C. 169) created a permanent, escalating subsidy for wind and solar power, extracted from electricity customers in higher rates, by requiring the electricity distribution companies to obtain increasing amounts of the electricity they supply from those sources.

    * The Green Jobs Act (St. 2008, C. 307) created a permanent, state-funded "clean energy technology center," absorbing responsibilities from the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation (St. 1982, C. 312). The center has become the main channel for direct state and federal subsidies to wind developers.

    * The Green Communities Act also increased the limit on customers with their own generators feeding surplus power into the grid from 0.06 to 2.00 MW and required electricity distribution companies to pay for that power at retail rather than wholesale prices. "Net metering" was enlarged through a subsequent law (St. 2010, C. 359, Ss. 26-30), as implemented via new state regulations (220 CMR 18.00 ff, amended February 17, 2012).

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    Local yokels buy big turbines and get blown away

    Some towns in Massachusetts have tried to be strategic when considering wind turbines, rejecting offers from fly-by-night companies and bargaining for strongly backed warranty insurance, but other communities that were less careful are getting stiffed. A few readers have noticed idle turbines in Kingston, Charlestown and Middletown, RI, but they probably did not find out the amounts of associated financial losses. Those are big embarassments to towns and agencies that bought the units and are being kept as quiet as possible.

    The Princeton Municipal Light Department failed to work through warranties and maintenance carefully for its turbines and got stuck with a $600,000 repair bill when the complex gearbox on one of them failed, wiping out years of operating surplus. In 2010 the town bought into a 1.5 MW model from Fuhrlander of Germany that then had almost no operating track record. [ To the Rate Payers of the Princeton Municipal Light Department, archived by Common Sense Nantucket, February 1, 2012, at ]

    Yokels in Portsmouth, RI, put up three turbines and are now looking at about $700,000 to fix a broken gearbox on one. They paid for a maintenance contract, but it did them no good because the inexperienced manufacturer, AAER of Canada, went bust. They are in even worse shape than Princeton, MA, having to look forward to likely failures on their other turbines with no one available to supply the expensive mechanical parts. [ Bill Carson, Wind turbine economics and failures, Portsmouth Patch (RI), July 6, 2012, at ]

    Unlike some "green energy" industries, wind turbines are a old and well established business, with some farm windmills built in the 1800s still operating. The more modern units, usually with three slender blades, feeding into power grids, began to be built in the late 1970s. This is not some fledgling business in early learning stages. Instead, it's become a scam, poking out underengineered products with marginal warranties and low-balled prices at unsophisticated customers, hoping to make money from the inevitable calamities.

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    Re: Is Massachusetts wind power tapped out?

    All I know is that I drive up and down Rt 3 every weekday, and 1/2 the time the new turbines in Kingston are NOT moving.

    Someone totally goofed on the wind research, they aren't moving on a lot of mornings and afternoons.  The days they do move, it is pretty slow if you ask me, nice job Deval, nailed it again..... 
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    Re: Is Massachusetts wind power tapped out?

    The wind turbines use wind. when it does not blow they do not work. When it does they generate like crazy. It takes 7500 current solar panels over 80000 sq feet(2 acres) of land to do what 1 wind tower can do. Wind takes less than a acre and provides power at night as well as day. They do work well in coastal zones during summer due to surface wind induced by sun heating the land and pulling in the coast breeze. This has a periodic nature as until the sun warms the land the breeze is weak, like morning commute times. In winter we have stronger coastal wind flows.
    As to people buying the wrong thing and regretting their contract that is just buyers remorse. They forgot to get performance bonds or insurance. Most equipment has performed above specification and not every buyer was a moron as appdev would like to lead you to believe. It is not a scam and anyone buying a multi million dollar peice of equipment get exactly what they paid and contracted for. Its just they were stupid to sign those particular contracts.