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Government Acting As a Shill

January 10, 2014

Agencies of the government should be representing the people and not acting as a shill for any particular program or group.

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently published a document in support of an administration policy, rather than an informative document providing factual information for the people they supposedly represent.

Specifically: DOE’s latest release, The Clean Energy Economy in Three Charts.

While my articles have focused on facts, and tried to avoid any direct political statement, this DOE document is so egregious it deserves to be singled out as political propaganda.

It’s sad when information from the government is propaganda, not factual information. It’s also a dangerous trend that has absolutely no justification in the United States.

People with any knowledge of the subject matter will quickly recognize this DOE document for what it is … propaganda.

It’s political propaganda when it touts the policies of the administration.

Statements, such as “Supported by Administration investments”, and “Administration support”, and “Thanks to Administration investments” are true indicators of why this document is propaganda unworthy of any agency representing Americans.

The problem is even worse, in that the document contains misleading and inaccurate information.

Graph of Wind Cost and Deployment from DOE

Graph of Wind Cost and Deployment from DOE

 

This graphic representation from DOE, that electricity from wind costs approximately 6 cents per kWh is fictitious … and intended to mislead the gullible.

In contrast, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has determined that the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of land-based wind is over 9 cents per kWh, while offshore wind is 24 cents per kWh.

The EIA is generous in its calculation for land-based wind as it uses a capacity factor of 34% for both land-based and offshore wind, while it’s been established that the capacity factor for land based wind is actually 30%1.

For comparison, the capacity factor for natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants is 87%.

Neither the EIA nor DOE take into account the cost of backup power generation that must be kept as spinning reserves, ready to come on line when the wind stops blowing.

Except for the capital cost used in the LCOE calculation, all the other costs are estimates. For example, no one knows the life of wind turbines manufactured during the past few years. An estimated life of twenty years is frequently used, but reports from Europe indicate the life might be only 15 years.

The DOE propaganda release also stated that 43% of all new power generation installations last year were wind power.

This is meaningless since installed nameplate capacity is not indicative of the amount of electricity actually produced, as is determined by capacity factor. Output is dependent on many factors, including wind speed.

The DOE release also indicates that 72% of wind power equipment was made in the U.S. Not mentioned is that this took jobs away from companies manufacturing equipment for natural gas and coal-fired power generation.

Using the LCOE for wind is inherently misleading since, even at 10 cents per kWh, it overstates the value of electricity from wind power.

The value of electricity from wind is less than the value of electricity from dispatchable sources, such as NGCC power plants. Most electricity generated by wind is generated at night when it isn’t needed. Wind power companies have sold electricity at minus 1 cent per kWh, in order to receive the 2.3 cent per kWh subsidy. The subsidy turns a loss into a profit.

The recent cold-snap saw wind producing practically no electricity when the temperatures were very low and the wind wasn’t blowing. A similar situation occurred during the summer of 2011 during a heat wave with no wind in the Northeast, Southeast and Texas. Old coal-fired power plants kept the lights on during that heat wave.

Wind is unreliable.

Here is how the New York Times reported the issue in 2011:

“Peak supply is also becoming a vexing problem because so much of the generating capacity added around the country lately is wind power, which is almost useless on the hot, still days when air-conditioning drives up demand.”

The LCOE of wind doesn’t tell the whole story: Wind has no value when the wind doesn’t blow.

The DOE release also didn’t mention the number of endangered birds and bats that were killed by wind turbines.

A similar analysis of the DOE release for solar, shows the release was misleading at best.

For example, the installed capacity of solar has no relation to the amount of electricity generated by solar, either PV solar or thermal solar. Therefore, the number of homes that can be supplied by the newly installed solar is fictitious.

Solar is also unreliable and needs backup, the same as does wind.

While the DOE release credits the Administration for all these fictitious achievements, it makes no mention of the billions of taxpayer dollars used to subsidize wind and solar.

Perhaps DOE could have given a little credit to the hardworking Americans whose tax dollars were used to pay for wind and solar.

 

 

  1. Capacity factor is measured by dividing the actual metered production (in kWh or MWh) of electricity by the rated capacity of the unit (in kW or MW) times the number of hours in the period being measured (often done on a yearly basis). Specifically, a 1.5 MW (1,500 kW) wind turbine that produced 4,336,200 kWh of electricity during a year can be said to have a “capacity factor” of 33%. That is 4,336,200 divided by 1,500 kW rated capacity times 8760 hours per year, or 4,336,200/1,500 x 8760).

 

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