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Tags: wind energy | fishermen | subsidy | free market

Wind Energy Gets Another Bad Mark

Wind Energy Gets Another Bad Mark
(Wang Song/Dreamstime)

Michael Dorstewitz By Wednesday, 27 December 2017 02:38 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Energy produced by offshore wind farms — deemed ugly by the former “Lion of the Senate” and surprisingly among the most expensive of power sources — just got another stain to its reputation.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, opposed the construction of a proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm. Although he was a steadfast environmentalist and approved it in principle, he was opposed the esthetics.

Kennedy reportedly didn’t want the appearance of 130 wind turbines to obstruct his view from the family’s Hyannis Port compound overlooking the sound.

A new concern is their effect on food production. Just as the federal ethanol mandate reportedly increases the price of corn and corn-fed beef, offshore wind farms could send the cost of seafood skyrocketing.

East Coast Fishermen Squeezed

New Bedford, Massachusetts, which has been the U.S.’s most profitable fishing grounds for the last 17 years, is a new battleground between commercial fishermen and environmentalists. At issue is the state’s plan to erect hundreds of offshore wind turbines — enough to power more than a million coastal homes.

Those same structures can prevent area fishermen from reaching and working their fishing grounds.

“You ever see a radar picture of a wind farm? It’s just one big blob, basically,” said Eric Hansen, 56, a New Bedford scallop boat owner. “Transit through it will be next to impossible, especially in heavy wind and fog.”

Hansen’s family has been engaged in commercial fishing off the New Bedford coast for generations — and it’s not just Massachusetts.

Maryland and North Carolina commercial fishermen have also reported losing access to fishing grounds because of wind farms. After the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced plans to install nearly 200 wind turbines off Long Island, New York, it found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by East Coast scallopers.

Environmentalists and state officials try to paint a rosy picture, claiming they can work hand-in-hand with commercial fishermen, but those sentiments don’t conform to reality.

“Fishermen are losing ground one a nibble at a time,” said Joseph Gilbert, a Stonington, Connecticut-based fisherman whose fleet of boats extends from Maine to Virginia. “Eventually, it adds up to a very large piece of the pie.”

And as their piece of the pie diminishes, so do their profits, which will inevitably escalate the price of seafood.

Prohibitive Energy Costs

Consumers may be willing to trade higher seafood prices in exchange for lower energy costs. But electricity generated by offshore wind farms are among the most expensive available, according to government data.

While the “fuel” cost is essentially nil, plant costs, amortized over their predicted lifespan, are prohibitive. Offshore wind-generated electricity costs approximately 25 cents per kilowatt hour — four times that of an advanced natural gas plant and two-point-five times that of an ordinary coal plant.

For that reason alone, wind and solar-generated plants depend on government subsidies to exist — just like the ethanol industry.

Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus think tank and a self-described “skeptical environmentalist,” has a better idea.

“Instead of spending billions of dollars to prop up today’s inefficient wind and solar energy, we should be investing more in green research and development to innovate the price of green energy down below fossil fuels,” he suggested.

Not bad, but I have a better idea yet — don’t spend a dime to either prop up a faltering industry or to finance government research. Let today’s energy giants do it on their own.

For their own self-preservation, companies such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Koch Industries will eventually seek ways to make renewable energy sources affordable to the consumer.

That’s not to say Lomborg’s suggestion doesn’t have merit. Companies kept afloat through subsidies lack any incentive to improve efficiency and lower costs. Subsidies, after all, reward failure; free markets reward success.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Energy produced by offshore wind farms — deemed ugly by the former “Lion of the Senate” and surprisingly among the most expensive of power sources — just got another stain to its reputation.
wind energy, fishermen, subsidy, free market
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 02:38 PM
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