Analysis: Americans for Prosperity Anti-Wind Letter, June 2014

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The fossil fuel-funded Americans for Prosperity spearheaded a letter published as a full page advertisement in Politico on June 9, 2014 that was signed by 117 organizations. The letter attacked wind energy and called on Congress to oppose the extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit. The Energy and Policy Institute examined the list of signatories and found the following:  

  • Sixty organizations are either funded by fossil fuel interests like the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, and the American Petroleum Institute, and/or have known ties to the Koch Brothers’ political network.
    • Thirty-six have been exposed as fossil fuel-funded front groups.

    • The additional 24 organizations have been known to operate within the Koch Brothers’ vast political network as allies of the State Policy Network, American Legislative Exchange Council, or other Koch-backed organizations, and may very likely be funded by fossil fuel interests.

  • Forty-two of the organizations are local anti-wind groups, many of which have minimal public presence or are small collections of local anti-wind activists. Due to the lack of an online footprint, we were unable to determine the size or funding of many of these groups. However, some of the local anti-wind groups listed attended a meeting organized by a fossil fuel front group in Washington, D.C. in 2012.
    • Twenty-one of the 117 organizations have no public presence or a sparse online footprint.

    • For example, “Sherman.Wind.Resistance” has no public presence except for a single reference [.doc] to the email address sherman.wind.resistance@gmail.com

    • The organization “Lee County Informed” is a group of 10 families fighting a local wind farm, but has minimal public presence and no online footprint. 

    • “Save our Skies Ohio” has been unincorporated in the state of Ohio, according to business records

  • Americans for Prosperity claims that 117 organizations signed the letter. However, there are only 116 organizations listed, and the list includes entities that are hardly organizations. 

    • The Weyrich Lunch is not an organization, but a weekly gathering of elite conservatives that happens every Wednesday in Washington. The gathering is affiliated with Grover Norquist’s Wednesday morning meetings (of fossil fuel-funded Americans for Tax Reform).

    • Less Government is a front group managed by consultant Seton Motley, but it has no website at its URL, lessgovernment.org and no public presence except for Seton Motley’s work as a pundit. 

    • Ohioan for Affordable Electricity has no online footprint, and is actually just one anti-wind activist, Tom Stacy. Stacy apparently runs “Save Western Ohio,” but the organization’s website is a collection of old or dead links. 

See our full analysis of each organization.

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Fossi Fuel-Funded Deception Stealing Our Sympathy and Our Future

Guest post by Sarah Taylor from Cleveland, Ohio. Cross-posted from Windustrious.org

There is a growing sense among the public that life on our planet is being threatened by our careless misuse of its resources.

The most obvious evidence of this misuse is climate change. Unexpected dramatic weather patterns are now being experienced everywhere. Along with rising sea levels, due to the melting of polar ice, these patterns have led to increased flooding of coastal communities. Perhaps more insidious is the growing desertification of large continental areas. This is accompanied by a rapid reduction in fresh water supply, essential for food production, in neighboring agricultural regions.

Specifically, it is the burning of fossil fuels, with the accompanying release of carbon dioxide, that is to blame. Those fuels powered up the industrial revolution, but their time has come and gone.  

We can replant swaths of landscape to absorb some of the carbon dioxide that humans continue to produce, but our overwhelming need is to transition rapidly to carbon-free sources of energy. Our planet is fortunately blessed with just such non-polluting energy resources - the sun and the wind - which can, with relatively small investments, provide us with unlimited supplies of power into the indefinite future.

There is just one thing that might get in the way - namely the financial interest of those with a stake in our outdated sources of energy. These tycoons may be few in number, but they are huge in influence (i.e. money!). They know that wind and solar power installations can be rapidly built, can threaten the profitability of coal, oil and gas, and can subsequently lead to their mines and wells being closed down. They therefore feel a need to create and sow widespread doubt amongst the public, about the effectiveness of the new sources of energy. This goal is being accomplished, extraordinarily successfully, through the exploitation of a completely unexpected resource - human sympathy.

So how did they achieve this?

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Wind Energy: A Mature Business Challenging Fossil Generation Profits

Wind energy is a rapidly growing and profitable business worldwide, usually at the expense of fossil fuel generation revenue and, more importantly, profits. Unwrapping the conditions underlying profitable wind farms is useful when considering getting into the wind energy business or analyzing it, but also in terms of understanding motivations and tactics of those opposed to wind energy.

The factors determining the profitability of wind energy projects are the wind resources available, modern wind turbines, an effective economic regime to sell wind energy into, relatively cheap connections to the grid, highly optimized management and maintenance, and efficiency in getting to operational status.

 Source: Utility-Scale Land-Based 80-Meter Wind Maps

Source: Utility-Scale Land-Based 80-Meter Wind Maps

 

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Property Values Not Hurt by Wind Energy

By Mike Barnard, Senior Fellow, Wind

Windmill generators in GermanyTen major studies in three countries of 1.3 million property transactions over 18 years of data have found no connection between wind farms and property values. Yet the fear of property value loss persists and is exploited by anti-wind campaigning groups in their attempts to turn local populaces against wind developments.

By comparison, only two moderately reliable studies with some statistical significance found property value impacts, and they are both challenged in different ways. Five other often referenced studies are merely case studies with no statistical significance, done by appraisers who show strong evidence of bias, and in one case there is clear evidence that they ignored the reality of the property they appraised. 

Table of wind farm property value studies

The evidence that wind farms don't harm property values is robust, methodologically sound and from reliable organizations. The evidence that wind farms harm property values is much weaker, methodologically challenged at best and usually from much less reliable organizations. 

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Michigan Releases Report on Renewable Energy Benefits Amidst Front Group Attacks

On Monday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder unveiled a new study by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) detailing how renewable energy is saving consumers money and leading to robust business investment. The new report [.PDF] states that it is feasible for Michigan to achieve a 30% renewable energy standard (RPS) by 2035. MPSC Chairman John Quackenbush said, after the release of this new report, that Michigan is "capable of reaching that goal with resources located right in the state of Michigan..." according to Michigan Live. It also goes on to report that wind energy technology improvements have resulted in a decline in wind generation prices from over $100 per MWh in 2009 to $50 to $60 per MWh today.

The MPSC's latest report cements that the state's clean energy laws are generating positive economic opportunities and creating jobs [.PDF] - a pattern found across the country with pro-clean energy policies like RPS. MPSC's report on renewable energy confirms the findings from another recent report on the implementation of Michigan's Renewable Energy Standard from February 2013. The February report stated the "cost of the renewable energy standard is substantially lower than the cost of new-coal-fired plant, but combined, at a cost of $45.98 per MWh, the two PA 295 standards cost less than any newly built generation including new natural gas combined cycle plants." The Februay report also looked at the cost of service data for Consumers Energy and Detroit Energy, companies with a combined 8 million customers, and found that the weighted average of current overall power supply costs, including purchased power, is more than the combined cost of the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Furthermore, the independent grid operator for all or part of 13 Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states, PJM, performed a separate study that found wind energy reduces electricity production costs, wholesale prices, and eliminates carbon dioxide pollution. 

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