Star-Tribune Column Ignores Wind Energy Benefits To Slam Industry

Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

The Casper Star-Tribune published a column that attacked wind energy as costly and ineffective, yet failed to note that wind energy is an expanding market that saves money and creates jobs.

A March 19 column by wealth management and investment advisor Bill Gunderson attacked wind energy technology as a poor investment, claiming that wind turbines are an unreliable source of power generation and warning investors to be wary. From the column:

Maybe wind turbines would be a good investment if the things actually worked. But they don't. Not that well.

 [...]

Let's talk about what potential investors in wind energy may not know if they rely on the Green Energy Press: Wind turbines don't last as long as promised; don't produce as much energy as hoped; and require more maintenance than anyone imagined.

But wind turbines have proven they can stand the test of time. According to a story in the Financial Times, UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change said Britain's oldest commercial turbines have only had to be replaced after 20 years of operation. Those turbines were built in 1991 and as wind energy technology develops longevity will increase. As Dave Vince of Ecotricity, one of the UK's oldest wind energy companies, explains, "today's turbines have been designed and built to last 25 years."

Gunderson also falsely claims that natural gas is "threatening to make wind power even more economically obsolete." According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, some wind farms already produce power "as economically as coal, gas, and nuclear power." By 2017, new wind energy generation will be cheaper than new coal generation.

In 2012, wind-turbine installations beat natural gas-fueled power plants as the largest form of new energy for the first time. Jacob Susman, CEO of OwnEnergy Inc., a New York wind developer, said that "it shows that wind has firmly planted its foothold as a valuable energy source."

Although Gunderson didn't tell the readers of the Star-Tribune, Wyoming also has strong wind energy potential. The American Council On Renewable Energy said in a September 2012 release that Wyoming has "much room to further develop" wind energy and is exporting its current wind power to Colorado, Utah, and Oregon.  In October 2012, a new wind project was approved in Wyoming, which is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs and 114 permanent operations and maintenance jobs over the next three years. This new project will have the potential to power about 1 million homes. 

While Gunderson might not be sold on wind power, investors like Warren Buffett, Google and Ohio State University are anticipating substantial returns from wind energy projects.

According to a Bloomberg.com article, MidAmerican, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has become the largest generator of wind energy among regulated U.S. utilities. Thus far, the company has invested or committed $6 billion to wind energy technology. In an annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett said that "many more wind and solar projects will almost certainly follow."

Google has committed over $1 billion in wind and solar projects generating enough energy, the company says, to power all the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon, and Wyoming for one year.

Ohio State University, which signed a 20-year agreement to purchase wind energy from the Blue Creek Wind Farm, said that it expects to save almost $1 million on its energy bill this year alone. 

Posted In
Environment & Science, Energy
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Casper Star Tribune
Stories/Interests
State Media
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