By DONALD MORAN
For The Vista
I retired three years ago to Fairfield Glade, Crossville, Tennessee. I heard about the Crab Orchard Wind Farm in April of 2016, although wind speed studies and lease agreements with landowners was started in 2014 by Apex Clean Energy LLC.
My original opinion of wind farms was positive, if the right location was chosen.
Apex Clean Energy LLC held several open house meetings to discuss their project with residents of Crab Orchard and Fairfield Glade. I attended one of these meeting in Crab Orchard and one in Fairfield Glade.
I asked the following questions:
Me: What type of wind turbine will you use? Manufacturer, model, and size.
Apex: We have not decided.
Me:: Will the size of the electrical cables on TVA’s power grid need to be upgraded?
Me: Who are the land owners that you lease from?
Apex: We can not release that information.
Me: What is cost to remove a wind turbine after it’s useful life is over or the wind farm closes?
Apex: We do not have that information.
Me: Will money be put aside to remove the wind turbines after their useful life or the wind farm closes?
Apex: Yes, we will put aside a bond fifteen years after the project is completed.
Me: Where can I get verification that this bond will be set aside?
Apex: It is in the lease agreement with the land owners.
Me: Can I get a copy of this land owner agreement?
Apex: No. It is private and proprietary.
Me: Which Federal subsidy will you chose the Production Tax Credit or the Investment Tax Credit?
Apex: Investment Tax Credit.
Me: Will Apex sell this wind farm after completion?
Apex: We are not actively looking for a buyer. We might have the funds to own and operate, but most likely will only be the operator not the owner.
As you can see from Apex’s responses, there was nothing open about their open house.
Apex displayed before (no turbines) and after pictures (showing simulated pictures of turbines) from different locations in the area. Apex did a great job of making a 550’ to 650’ turbine look almost invisible in most of their after pictures. Apex also said property values of homes near wind farms will not be affected, and no health problems will be experienced. Based on these meetings I went to the internet to do my own research.
Apex’s president Mark Goodwin’s goal is to “sell projects as they come into operation”.
Does it really matter who owns Crab Orchard Wind Farm? Yes it does! Wind turbines have a useful life of 15: 25 years, and then must be removed. The cost to remove one turbine is about $100,000 dollars. This would be $2.3 million dollars for Apex’s
23 proposed turbines. Remember the bond put aside for turbine removal, that is in the lease agreement with the landowner, if Apex sells to someone else what will be in the new lease agreement? Who is responsible for this bond money to remove the turbines, Apex, new owner, landowner, or taxpayer? We are not allowed to read this lease agreement to determine if there really is a provision for bond money. The same problem exists if the wind farm closes.
Can wind farms survive without government subsidies? The U.S. Department of Energy offers two types of subsidies for wind farms to choose from. The first is the “Investment Tax Credit”, this is a one time payment equal to 30% value of the facility. The second choice is the “Production Tax Credit”, the government pays $0.023 per KWH produced for 10 years. Subsidies started in 1992, four times they were stopped and then restarted. The first time subsidies were stopped was 2000, and there was a 92% drop in installations, stopped again in 2002, and 76% drop in installations, stopped again in 2004, and 76% drop in installations, and finally in 2013 they stopped, and 92% drop in installations. President Obama has a 2016 energy proposal to make these subsidies permanent. WIND FARMS CAN NOT SURVIVE WITHOUT SUBSIDIES.
Warren Buffett” We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms, that’s the only reason to build them.”……………