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Friday, January 22, 2010

Wind Juices Local Economies in Nebraska & Dakotas

More folks across the Great Plains are figuring out that wind power is a key part of economic future. Today's notes:
  • Thanks to a $5-million tax credit from Uncle Sam, TPI Composites will open a wind turbine blade factory in Grand Island, Nebraska. What does Grand Island get out of the deal? More than 200 jobs.
  • As reported here earlier, Iberdrola is building enough wind power in Brookings and Deuel counties to replace more than half of the capacity of the canceled Big Stone II coal plant... and doing it for less cost per megawatt. The Brookings County Commission is taking its time to make sure the Buffalo Ridge wind developments don't cause interference with ITC's phone lines. Tuesday, the commission got a reminder that Buffalo Ridge is good for local business: local concrete contractor Winter, Inc. is pouring concrete bases for towers that may be 484 feet tall.
  • Every little bit helps: Art Mariner started GR-8 Country Wind Power about a year ago. He's sold a handful of small turbines for home and farm use. His wind company employs himself and two others. Thre jobs here, three jobs there... that's exactly the kind of rural job creation SB 58 and the other components of the PUC's Small Renewable Energy Initiative will support.


  1. Are we invisible to economic expansion? Communities all around Madison are seeing new industry, new service centers, green companies and wind-related firms who are on the ground floor of future growth. When do we decide "not enough" is enough?

  2. Steve Sibson1/22/2010 7:41 AM

    "Thanks to a $5-million tax credit from Uncle Sam"

    Corporate welfare! You are no different than the Republicans that you complain about.

  3. it takes a lot of energy to build these things, and to maintain them. and the waste from the collectors is as hard to dispose of as nuclear waste.
    the electricity which cannot be stored is intermittent, not continuous. the IMF from the transmission is toxic. people who lie near these things often hae a tough time with noise and flicker. iberdrola is a foreign company, so much for energy independence. the europeans are discovering wind is silly, but once again the rural heartland is being exploited and it's residents ar
    e fair game for big corporations subsidized by uncle sam-just like cafos. In both places you see the same arguments about economic development and have some rather sketchy characters speculating at the expense of local people.

  4. Joelie:

    While it takes a lot of energy to build wind turbines, that is reflected in the final cost per megawatt. So, if it's cheaper than coal, it's a win.

    What waste from the "collectors" are you referring to? These structures are made from fiberglass, steel, and concrete. What byproduct is worse than spent nuclear fuel?

    In regards to the intermittent nature of wind, definitely. I completely agree with you. It's a problem that has yet to find an engineering solution.

    I assume you're referring to EMF; I have no clue what IMF is (international monetary fund?). I have yet to see any study that supports the idea that EMF can cause any form of illness at 60 Hz. It's not ionizing and we're constantly bombarded with much stronger field from natural sources. So, I'm calling bunk on this unless you can point me to a peer-reviewed study.

    The Europeans are finding wind power foolish? They are massively expanding their investments in wind power. I see no evidence that they are moving away from it.

    How is the heartland being exploited? They are being offered money for a product. The state isn't taking land without compensation.

  5. EMF electro magnetic field, sorry, i am on an unfamiliar comuter-a laptop to boot.
    Think about it, it takes a semi to carry one blade, the structures that must be built to produce these things, the materials to make them, the energy to produce them.
    The materials that are difficult to dispose of come from rare earth, over 90% is produced in China and it is destroying the area, the water, the air, the land and the people.
    I hae talked to some people who recently returned from spending some time in Spain, Germany and Denmark, when the wind issue came up, I braced for them to sing it's praises. What a surprise to find they said the opposite, It has made energy terribly expensive, it has diminished the job market and while some places are continuing to produce them, the popularity and the production is going down, down, down. part of the reason businesses such as Iberdrola are coming here.
    Our family could make some serious money, but it is not worth it in my opinion.
    If it is so great, you won't need to rob from the taxpayers to pay me and others.

  6. Steve, I agree with you. SD is a massive Ponzi scheme; let it fail.

    Let the lakes fill with nitrates and bovine sulfa drugs. Arm children with AK-47s so they can get to sweatshops safely.

    Give college professors the Bibles necessary for the schooling of decent breeding stock.

    Issue compressed-air sprayers to elderly so they can ward off maggots and street urchins.

    Better yet, give right-wing bloggers exclusive access to the bean dip in Ted Klaudt's pants.

  7. also, wind needs coal, gas, hydro or nuclear or it cannot exist. people would not stand for intermittent energy.

  8. Joelie, you'll notice that Tony and I and, most importantly, the entrepreneur in North Dakota all agree that wind doesn't solve everything. Mr. Mariner simply sees an opportunity to build a business selling a useful product that helps customers cut their energy bills significantly by taking advantage of local resources.

  9. Steve Sibson1/22/2010 6:15 PM

    "Joelie, you'll notice that Tony and I and, most importantly, the entrepreneur in North Dakota all agree that wind doesn't solve everything."



  10. Joelie-

    The rare earth materials that are used in the magnetic components in the generator are tiny in comparison to the vast volumes of coal we have to keep mining to support coal power.

    Additionally, Coal/oil/gas all dump huge quantities of by products into the atmosphere during burning that are "free". At least when a wind powered generator is manufactured all of the waste from the manufacturing gets added to the cost. To compare them on a direct cost for cost basis we would need to add in the cost for remediation of the burned coal/oil/gas byproducts. So really, we are hugely subsidizing coal/oil/gas right now.

    I completely agree with your point that wind for example could never entirely fill the void. However, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be a substantial power contributor. We can maintain the variable base load that can't be made up with wind with other sources such as nuclear/hydro/coal, etc. I think we will need many different sources and we should use the advantages of each.

    With regards to your friends who spent some time in Europe, I cannot directly dispute their anecdotal information. However, all European countries that I'm aware of are either pursuing nuclear power or a combination of wind/solar and are dumping huge amounts of money into it.

  11. "corporate welfare" -- Sigh. When Steve pulls his head out of his ideology, he'll notice that the "special interests" getting tax breaks from this legislation aren't big corporations but regular folks, individual homeowners and landowners who decide to invest in some small-scale renewable energy production to increase their own energy self-sufficiency.

  12. Last I heard, Iberdrola is not 'just folks', nor the speculators that come before them with the folksy sounding names for their projects.
    As far as rare earth is concerned, that tiny bit multiplied by many turbines. Some could make the same argument for nuclear waste.

  13. My husband and I put in a geo thermal heat system in our home a few years ago, the cost was about the same as a personal wind turbine, if someone wanted to do that and pay for it themselves, fine with me.
    There were 4 wind industries in our area, they would not even consider merging for a single transmission line, is that green? Some community projects can go into existing lines instead of building new ones.
    After reading a lot of stuff, pro and con, the few thousand dollars to be made would not begin to cover the cost of childhood leukemia, ALS, and miscarriages, all things that rise dramatically when close to high voltage lines.

  14. Hang on, Joelie. Senate Bill 58 is not a handout to Iberdrola. The PUC's Small Renewable Energy Initiative is about helping small energy producers get into the It includes wind, solar, hydroelectric, hydrogen, biomass, and geothermal. If someone shows me evidence that the PUC's proposals really are corporate wolves in sheep's clothing, I'll eat my hat and raise hell in the opposite direction. But for now, it looks like we're just encouraging more local, independent energy (local—that means less reliance on big transmission elsewhere).

  15. Steve Sibson1/23/2010 10:54 AM

    "If someone shows me evidence that the PUC's proposals really are corporate wolves in sheep's clothing, I'll eat my hat and raise hell in the opposite direction."


    That is why we need transparency. Example is this excerpt form a 2006 Kinght & Carver press release:

    "With economic incentives provided by the State of South Dakota, the Miner County Community Revitalization (MCCR) and Heartland Consumer Power District, Knight & Carver Wind Blade will lease and operate a 26,000 square foot wind blade repair and manufacturing facility."

    Anybody have the details on those taxpayer funded incentives? Knight & Carver is a San Diego based yacht manufacturer.

    Wake up Cory, corporate welfare happens all the time in South Dakota. The details are worked out behind closed doors. They only brag about the jobs being created. They don't talk about the jobs lost because the taxpyers have less money to spend on items they really want.

    The job of politicians (and Progressive bloggers) is to make it look like economic development through government is helping the littly guy. That is a myth. Read Tim Carney's "Big Rip Off" and "Obamanomics" for details. And no doubt, Carney has only touched the surface on the corruption.

  16. Last night's ice storm defines the very limitations of grid-based power; a free-standing auxiliary heat source could mean life or death for people living in remote areas.

    Alternative is not always sustainable; self-reliance often means wood heat, a net polluter.

    Subsidies to coal-extactors in Wyoming and Montana keep electric consumers artificially satisfied by controlling the means of production all the while spreading heavy metal oxides on habitat.

    Icing turbines go offline; dams kill rivers.

    Can South Dakotans really afford to leave the reins of power in the hands of the entrenched party?

  17. Steve Sibson1/23/2010 12:49 PM

    "When Steve pulls his head out of his ideology, he'll notice that the "special interests" getting tax breaks from this legislation aren't big corporations but regular folks, individual homeowners and landowners who decide to invest in some small-scale renewable energy production to increase their own energy self-sufficiency."


    And where are these poeple going to have to do to get their tax credits? Buy from the corporations who produce them. This is a targeted tax cut and this forces the rest of us to pay the cost of government.

    And besides, I thought you were a record opposing tax cuts.

  18. Steve Sibson1/23/2010 12:51 PM


    Nobody is stopping you from buying those stand alone sources of energy. Why do you think the rest of us have to help you pay for it? Are you really that greedy?

  19. Transmission corridors produce sight pollution, not to mention background EMP radiation, whose ecological effects are yet to be wholly understood or quantified.
    The poorest sectors of South Dakota's population suffer the most; they're the ones who die when the grid goes down.

    Doug Wiken and I had some of this conversation at Blogmore; the worst environmental offenders receive the biggest tax breaks, exactly the kind of accountability cap and trade is (was?) meant to address.

    I am desperately angry at SDGFP and SDDENR for their flaccid responses to the pending environmental cascade.
    Reading their posted FAQs makes my blood boil!

    Where is South Dakota's attorney general? Commenting on the petition drive seeking to provide safe access to proven pain therapies!

    This is the States's top law enforcementofficial turning a blind eye to the crimes of industrial ag; more safe SDGOP


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