Various government entities, eager to show their greenness regarding global warming, passed laws to subsidize renewable power, so-called “green power”, as if there is such a thing. Some governments even passed laws that declare hydropower as non-renewable, but, on reflection of its implications, reverse themselves and passed laws that declare hydropower IS renewable, as recently did Vermont’s legislature.


President Andrew Jackson, Democrat, Populist: “When government subsidizes, the well-connected benefit the most”. The renewables subsidies to the politically-well-connected often result in uneconomic wind power projects, some of which are described in this article.




The University of Maine, UM, decided to have a 600 kW wind turbine made by RRB Energy Ltd, an Indian company, at its Presque Isle Campus. The purpose was to generate power and to use the wind turbine as a teaching tool for the students. Because it is almost impossible to obtain operating data from the vendors and owners of wind farms (they claim “trade secrets”, whereas in reality they want to obfuscate wind power’s shortcomings, or a too good subsidy deal), UM decided to make available all of its wind turbine data.


The data from the UM website were used to perform some analysis.


Capital Cost and Power Production


Estimated capital cost $1.5 million

Actual capital cost $2 million; an overrun of 33%.

The project was financed by UM cash reserves and a $50,000 cash grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.


Predicted power production 1,000,000 kWh/yr,

Predicted capacity factor = 1,000,000 kWh/yr)/(600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.190


Actual power production after 1 year 609,250 kWh

Actual capacity factor for 1 year = 609,250 kWh/yr/ (600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.116; a shortfall of 39%

Value of power produced = 609,250 kWh/yr x $0.125/ kWh = $76,156/yr, minus O&M and financing costs amortized over 20 years, this value will likely be negative; a dismal outcome.


Actual power production after 1.5 years 920,105 kWh

Actual capacity factor for 1.5 years = (920,105 kWh/1.5 yrs)/(600 kW x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.117