December 3, 2012

.Deval-ued Wind Power
Green-energy delusions inflict a heavy cost on a Massachusetts town.
By Kevin D. Williamson

"Mr. Allen did not return messages seeking comment, but he has offered his ratepayers a possible solution: Get the hell out of the wind-energy business. Or, to be more precise, stay in the wind-energy business, but get somebody else to pay for it:“One possibility is to maintain the wind turbines in Princeton but to offload all or a portion of the electricity output, the associated costs and of course future risk and benefits. I personally like this option. Princeton will continue to be a leader in green energy production without having to burden its residents.” And that’s the green-energy ethic in miniature: It’s a wonderful thing, so long as somebody else is paying for it.

Not far away, the town of Portsmouth, R.I., went through a similar drama: After issuing some $3 million in bonds to build a wind turbine, Portsmouth saw the new unit quickly go dark because of mechanical problems. Reports the Westerly Sun:“The wind turbine, erected at Portsmouth High School in 2009, has been idle since June because of a faulty gear box. The town is evaluating whether to replace the gear box, with costs ranging from $611,000 to $703,000.” Local critics have taken to calling the turbine the “$2 million mistake,” although it is in fact a mistake worth at least $3 million plus interest on the bonds.

For small towns, wind power is a big idea with big costs — too big for their budgets. To understand the scale of Princeton’s multimillion-dollar wind-power losses, consider that its public-library budget amounts to just over $129,000, and that the municipality’s entire budget runs only about $8 million.

Needless to say, when the wind-power project was pitched, Princeton was told that it would be a profit-making enterprise, not a loss-making one — one more example that the word “investment” means the opposite of “investment” when it comes out of the mouth of a politician or a rent-seeking supplicant."