December 2010 wrap-up: When one visits the UMPI wind turbine website, there are presently no data reported. This was the case yesterday as well. As a result, the monthly update that follows will be based on the last available data I happen to have "screen grabbed" on 12/29/10.
OK, this $2 million (and counting) University of Maine experiment has now entered its THIRD calendar year of operation and it just met its long stated Year 1 goal of 1,000,000 KWH of electricity.
The following screen shot from the 5/14/09 Bangor Daily News clearly documents this widely touted goal. http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/106065.html
This goal has since been wiped clean from the home page of the UMPI wind turbine website. Moreover, on their web page entitled "The Project", the 1,000,000 KWH annual goal has been changed after the fact to say: "The turbine is expected to produce about 700,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year".
We're not sure why this was done. There is no accompanying explanation for why a goal was altered by 30% after the fact. Although the 1,000,000 KWH goal received plenty of media attention, there has been ZERO media attention to the fact that the University of Maine has quietly altered the $2 million experiment's goals after the fact. We also cannot find any press releases from the University of Maine announcing this altered goal.
The website talks all about sharing information, so it is surprising why there is nary a mention marking the after the fact alteration of the goal by minus 30%. For example: "This website will serve as a major resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the University's alternative energy project. Information about the project, especially beyond installation and commissioning, will be added as it becomes available to the University".
Regardless of the after-the-fact altered goal, the big picture is that we are now into the turbine's third calendar year of operation and it has achieved only 12% of capacity.
The state of Maine is at a crossroads.
There is no question that the outgoing Baldacci administration did everything in its power to grease the skids for industrial wind power proliferation and its requisite costly transmission additions. Beyond joining RGGI (still headed up by our PUC commissioner David Littell in what is an arguably huge conflict of interest), putting in the "emergency" expedited wind law LD 2283, widely and constantly broadcasting the untruth that wind power will get Maine off foreign oil, the Baldacci administration even misled the public that the $1.5 billion CMP upgrade was required due to "aging lines", when in fact, nothing could have been further from the truth and the primary reason for said upgrade was to provide the wind companies with a way to transport their product to Mass and Ct -- at the expense of Maine ratepayers. (If blasting Maine's mountains and assaulting neighbors with noise was the crime, the transmission lines are the getaway car).
As we stand at this crossoads, there is also no question that Mainers and Maine businesses have been hurting from the economy and one of the top cited obstacles for true economic expansion in this state is the cost of electricity. This is of course significant to us in that without question, wind power will add grossly to our electricity rates. The aforementioned transmission upgrades alone could cost $4,000 to $5,000 per household. This calculation is based on Mainers having to pay for 8% of the estimated $30 billion in similar windpower-required transmission upgrades across ISO New England, "the grid".
But the reason that wind power is so expensive is that it is not compatible with the grid and such compatibility could be 30 years off, if that. The grid must line up in advance sufficient electricity to meet demand, which can be forecasted quite accurately the day before based on weather forecasts, historical usage, etc. Additionally, it must line up added standby electricity in case demand exceeds expectations. In lining up this electricity, the sources must be reliable and predictable – and wind thus cannot be included and is not included.
To ensure adequate supply in Maine, natural gas-made electricity is often lined up in the day ahead electricity market. Thus, when wind simply “happens” the next day, it is always an added and unnecessary layer over and above what has been already lined up. Until we can store it, this will be the case.
Ratepayers are forced to pay for this wind electricity, and because in doing so they are buying more than what is needed, they are wasting their money – this simple reality is what causes wind power to be so incredibly expensive.
Attempts can be made to cut back certain types of natural gas combustion produces excessive CO2, like an inefficient car in stop and go traffic. But in essence, the grid keeper, for whom wind is a worst nightmare, simply ignores wind's too little too late contribution., but the practical reality is that the grid keeper just ignores wind’s contribution. And when they do try to mirror wind's ebb and flow with natural gas, the
It is the only such official state experiment on Maine wind power electricity production.
We must say that we liked what we heard about Governor-elect Paul LePage's common sense approach to economics and energy. What we are hoping for is that after Paul LePage becomes Governor this week - and I might add, from what I can determine, he got the vast majority of our votes, that he simply pulls in economists and electricity experts to study wind power's effect on the economy, primarily from an electricity cost standpoint, but also with a longer range eye towards its potential effect on tourism dollars, not an insignificant contributor to the Maine economy.
We would of course like for Governor LePage to listen to many of our other problems with industrial wind ranging from our philosophical problems on relying upon subsidies to its effect on the environment and its effects on that one species ignored by most of the mainstream environmental groups, Homo Sapiens.
I will end by asking that one of the pieces of information that be included in any forthcoming analysis of Maine's electricity prices include the miserable 12% of capacity that has been attained by the state's only experiment to date. The UMPI president characterizes the experiment as "an 11 on a 1-10 scale". We see it as a 12 on a 1-100 scale. We'd sure like to see more empiricsim and less zealousness from state academia used in the interpretation of experimental data that frankly holds such huge implications for the state's energy decisions.
Thank you in advance LePage adminstration for any empiricism and common sense you can bring our way.
Unlike some of the prominent subsidy-seeking wind farmers who tried to derail your candidacy with last minute endorsements of Eliot Cutler, most of us supported you vociferously and with votes.
Good luck to Governor Paul LePage and to us all.
FYI ONLY: How the UMPI site has looked since 1/1/11:
November 2010 wrap-up: It’s been 33 days since the last monthly wrap-up on November 1, 2010.
Despite all the wind during this period, the average daily KWH produced was only 2,502 – as compared to UMPI’s nameplate capacity of 14,400 KWH per day. (600 KW nameplate x 24 hours in day = 14,400 KWH).
As can be seen from the Excel screenshot below, UMPI’s capacity factor on a project to date basis is only 11.6%.
Earlier this month, on MPBN, UMPI president Donald Zillman told reporter Jennifer Rooks that he gives the project an an 11 on a scale of 1-10. If you have not yet viewed this MPBN series, you can see it online at:
The above mentioned “11 on a 1-10 scale” statement can be witnessed in Part 2.
I agree that the performance receives an 11, or perhaps even a 12. However, the numbers below indicate these numbers apply to a scale of 1-100 rather than 1-10. Very simply stated, actual performance to date has been 11.6%, not 111.6%.
There is nothing wrong with the university having embarked on this experiment. What is wrong is that the university and state have not yet applied the learning. Think about it. The state’s ONLY experiment with wind turbine production shows a striking failure, but the university claims it to be a great success. You cannot do this. One plus one = two. One plus one does not = “Whatever feels right to you Johnny”.
This bad math and replacement of facts with feelgood falsehoods has implications for Mainers' health and Maine’s core essence – our natural environment. And it has particular implications for electricity rates and the Maine economy.
Because wind power cannot be stored and is wholly incompatible with the grid, when wind “happens” the power that is generated (which must be purchased due to Renewable Portfolio Standards) is essentially always an unnecessary add-on to already more than sufficient electricity deriving from baseload and peaking power secured the day prior in the day ahead electricity market. In other words, for all practical purposes, wind power is always a layer of unneeded electricity. It is this that is the main reason why the march towards Governor Baldacci’s ill conceived 1,800 turbines will cause Maine electricity prices to skyrocket.
In addition we as taxpayers fund extraordinarily high and unsustainable corporate welfare for these companies and we as ratepayers will fund 8% of the $30 billion ISO-NE transmission upgrade expense required by wind - about $4,500 per Maine household, just so that Governor Baldacci's wind buddies can move their product to Mass and Ct., whose citizens are having this feelgood fake fairy dust power rammed down their throats due to RPS, RGGI, etc.)
Maine is already at a supreme disadvantage versus most of the other states' far lower electricity rates. Now that the national cap & trade legislation has died, this disadvantage versus other states will increase, should our use of wind power increase.
We can ill afford to increase an already large economic obstacle to Mainers and Maine businesses. Nor can we afford to so cavalierly think nothing of marring our incredible ridgelines, the reason many stay here, the reason many visit (and bring DOLLARS).
From a Gordon Weil editorial in the 11/20/10 Kennebec Journal:
"Augusta’s view has seemed to be paternalistic. For example, I have long argued against energy policies that raise electric rates on the promise of something better later. For people having a tough time paying their bills, that hurts. It hurts now and, if history is any guide, it hurts later as well."
UMPI Wind Turbine Scorecard - Update as of November 1, 2010
October 2010 wrap-up: UMPI wins Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership for its wind turbine at 11.3% of capacity after just under 18 months
The highlight for October is the recognition that UMPI received in the form of the inaugural 2010 Second Nature Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership.
From the 10/27 Bangor Daily News at http://www.bangordailynews.com/story/Aroostook/UMPI-recognized-for-...
"Since constructing a midsize turbine on campus at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in May 2009, the college has received a great deal of state, national and international attention for its efforts to lessen its impact on the environment. Now, those efforts have led to the campus receiving the inaugural 2010 Second Nature Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership. In recognizing UMPI, the organization highlighted the university’s installation of its midsize wind turbine on campus in 2009. The university was the first university in the state — and one of only a handful in New England — to install a midsize wind turbine to generate power. The installation has produced more than 800,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity since its installation, campus officials said on Tuesday, creating energy savings and significantly reducing the campus’ carbon footprint. Don Zillman, president of UMPI, said on Tuesday that campus officials are “so happy” about having received the award."
This award is not the first acclaim that UMPI has received for its turbine. Back in April, UMPI's president Don Zillman, the driving force behind the turbine, spoke about it at the New EnglandSustainability Summit 2010: A on Campus, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Worcester, Mass. His presentation included a showing of clips from “Wind 101: The University of Maine at Presque Isle Builds a Wind Turbine,” a film that follows the step-by-step process of UMPI’s renewable energy project.
See: http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/141089.html And on May 18, 2010, the Bangor Daily News reported in a story commemorating the turbine's one year anniversary that Dr. Zillman termed the turbine "a great decision". See: http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/143872.html In that article it was stated:
"While there have been some minor glitches with the windmill in the past year, Don Zillman, the president of UMPI, and David St. Peter, the director of the physical plant at UMPI, said recently that the turbine is living up to its expectations".
But is it?
As of November 1, the turbine has produced 871,877 KWH of electricity according to UMPI's website. (It may have produced slightly more, but we are still waiting for UMPI to publish the production data between the historically low wind period of May 14-June 30 in 2009).
So we are just under 18 months and we still haven't gotten to the turbine's ANNUAL goal of 1,000,000 KWH. Said another way, the turbine is at only 11.3% of rated capacity after nearly a year and a half of operation. Kind of like buying 20 gallons of gas, running out of gas in the middle of the night on a deserted back road and later having it cheerfully explained to you that "when we sell you our brand of gas, when we tell you 20 gallons it really means just two!" The calculations for this abysmal 11.3% can be seen in the Excel image below.
The UMPI wind turbine was financed with University of Maine dollars as well as a $50,000 grant from the PUC, provided by then PUC commissioner Kurt Adams. See: http://www.umpi.edu/news/archives/580-university-garners-mpuc-renew...
Research is a worthwhile activity for a university, and even a worthwhile recipient of public dollars. This experiment should thus be applauded. While the 11.3% performance is truly abysmal (if not unexpected), there is no such thing as a failed experiment. The only failure would be not to learn from it. Additionally, like any bona fide academic finding, this should be subject to peer review. For example, perhaps we could get some electrical engineering experts including University of Maine scientists to evaluate this.
Indeed,because this is the state's only scientific industrial wind turbine experiment, paid for by public money, it is a valuable learning experiment that should be studied carefully. When the legislature approved Governor Baldacci's "emergency" expedited wind law, no state experiment-derived data were available. But now we have 18 months of data and an 11.3% performance that we can look at. Hopefully this can be done at some point once a new administration and legislature begins working in January.
Hopefully, Kurt Adams will agree now that he is a trustee of the University of Maine System, (a university plunging headlong into ocean based windpower, perhaps working one day with First Wind's DEEPWATER WIND) in addition to his responsibilities as EVP, Chief Development Officer of First Wind. Actually, hopefully any such revisitation of the state's expedited wind law will include a truly scientific appraisal of First Wind (and other wind companies)' electricity production data, actual effect on fossil fuel, actual effect on electricity prices and actual effect on CO2.
One final note on CO2. When the experiment was announced, the 1,000,000 KWH annual production goal was accompanied by a CO2 annual avoidance goal of 572 tons for a ratio of KWH to CO2 of 1,748. Today, UMPI reports actual to date 871,877 KWH accompanied by actual to date CO2 avoidance of 626 tons translating to a ratio of KWH to CO2 of 1,393.
Why would that ratio ever change?
UMPI Wind Turbine Scorecard - Update as of October 1, 2010
One month ago on September 1st, the UMPI turbine's production to date was 740,982 KWH. Today it stands at 791,196.
In other words, during the month of September 2010, total monthly production was 50,214 KWH, translating to daily production of only 1,674 KWH. (50,214 KWH / 30 days in the month = 1674 KWH per day).
The "nameplate" KWH, which is the currency which the wind industry uses is 600 KW meaning 14,400 KWH per day. (600 KW x 24 hours) Thus, the witnessed actual 1,674 KWH represented only 11.6% of nameplate capacity. (1,674 actual KWH / 14,400 nameplate KWH = 11.6%) This is very significant, because virtually all of the wind industry's promises use the nameplate figures. Looking back at September, there were a good number of very windy days and the 11.6% was an improvement over August's 5.8% achievement, but still absolutely terrible.
Two other items of note:
On September 26, the UMPI turbine reached its 500th day of operation at which point only 778,443 KWH had been produced since the 5/14/09 start of operations, representing a cumulative capacity factor of only 10.81%. (That number stands at 10.88% today, day number 505.
On September 28, the UMPI website added an alternative look, one which includes a turbine start date for the first time - May 16, 2009. This is two days different from the May 14, 2009 start date reported in the Bangor Daily News back in May 2009.
For at least the moment, calculations here on the CTFWP website will continue to use the 5/14/09 start.
And here's the premiere of the incorporation of a turbine START DATE for the first time on 9/28/10:
UMPI Wind Turbine Scorecard - Update as of September 1, 2010
One month ago, on August 1st, the UMPI turbine's production to date was 714,884 KWH. Today it stands at 740,982.
In other words, during the month of August 2010, total monthly production was a mere 26,098 KWH, translating to daily production of only 842 KWH. (26,098 KWH / 31 days in the month = 842 KWH per day).
The "nameplate" KWH, which is the currency which the wind industry uses is 600 KW meaning 14,400 KWH per day. (600 KW x 24 hours) Thus, the witnessed actual 842 KWH represented only 5.8% of nameplate capacity. (842 actual KWH / 14,400 nameplate KWH = 5.8%) This is very significant, because virtually all of the wind industry's promises use the nameplate figures.
So in a month when the temperatures rose and the air conditioners called for electricity, the UMPI wind turbine achieved 5.8% of its potential. So for August, the UMPI turbine gets not an A or B or C or D. In fact at 5.8% it doesn't even get an F.
Grade for month: Z
Update as of August 1, 2010
Baseball manager Earl Weaver said "Don't worry, the fans don't start booing until July". After the brutally hot, humid and mostly windless July we just had in Maine, any fans of wind power in Maine who are following the progress of the state's sole wind turbine experiment may be thinking about booing.
Fact: During the 31 days of July 2010, the $2 million UMPI wind turbine produced only 34,278 KWH. (It started with 680,606 KWH on 7/1/10 and is presently at 714,884). That works out to only 1,106 KWH per day, which annualizes to only 403,596 KWH (365 days x 1,106 KWH per day).
The $2 million turbine is 600 KW. The 600 KW is known in industry parlance as the "nameplate" and is the metric that the wind industry misleadingly uses when it makes its grossly overstated claims that wind power can power so many thousands of homes. But the nampelate is only the theoretical maximum based on what would be generated if the wind blew 24 hours a day, every day at maximum tolerable speed. (Above a certain wind speed the turbine blades must be locked, lest the turbine is destroyed by the very wind it uses). In any event, a 600 KW turbine is expected to produce 5,256,000 KWH annually. (600 KW x 24 hours in a day x 365 days). Thus the actual UMPI July production, which is at an annual rate of only 403,596 KWH, represents an efficiency of only 7.68%. (403,596 actual / 5,256,000).
So what was July like for the UMPI experiment? July was like paying for 10 overpriced gallons of gas at the pump, only to learn that you really only got about 3/4ths of one gallon -- after you ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
July was also a month when many Mainers ran their air conditioners. In other words, at one of the times when demand for electricity is peaking, wind is nowhere to be found. It's like this every year.
July was also a time when UMPI quietly revised its website, wiping out all references to their primary goal of 1,000,000 KWH per year. In fact, the website was changed to say that the expectation is now 700,000 KWH of annual production, but no reference was made to indicate this represented a colossal reduction in expectations. If the University of Maine truly wishes to share all their wind learning with the citizenry as promised repeatedly, why would they not acknowledege such a colossal change in their expectations? Also, if the goal is dropping by 30%, why was the directly related goal of avoiding 572 tons of CO2 left unchanged?
July was also a month where we witnessed Denise Bode, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association tell us that the wind industry was in a state of distress with 2010 extremely depressed versus year ago. Ms. Bode also was exasperated that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid removed her "Renewable Electricity Standard" from his energy bill. Essentially, such a standard is the government MAKING us buy wind power. She is upset, for without this and the extraordinary subsidies (90 times those of Natural Gas) , nobody in their right mind would buy wind. (Why pay for 10 gallons and get less than one?)
July was also a month where we saw T. Boone Pickens retool his Pickens Plan for America's energy future. In his retooled plan, there was not a single mention of wind. This is because Texas ratepayers wisely would not build him the billions of new transmission lines he expected them to build for him. (Unlike Maine where the Baldacci administration told us that we needed the $1.6 billion CMP upgrade because the power lines had gotten old when the sole reason was to give their friends in the wind industry a means for selling their product to Mass and Ct.) Even more importantly, Pickens' opting out of wind was because of vast new discoveries of domestic and relatively clean natural gas and a resulting huge drop in natural gas prices which make wind power even more economically ridiculous. So the man who spent $58 million on ads in 2008 painting wind as the solution quietly has withdrawn from wind. He did a lot of damage with those misleading ads and now he realizes wind is only for fools. He got stuck with some GE turbines he couldn't cancel, so he will end up building a couple of wind farms, but the big picture is there's no more T. Boone stake in wind.
See T. Boone Pickens talk about it: http://www.windtaskforce.org/video/cancel-that-t-boone-stake
Now what will August bring? We'll be watching.
And listening for boos.
Update as of 7/13/10
It's July 13, 425 days into operation and thus far 691,542 KWH have been produced. This is obviously very far short of the 1,000,000 KWH that were projected for the first 365 days. In the two other public displays of wind in Maine, Saco and Kittery's municipal turbines, we have seen similar failure. This is why the wind "farms" that are raiding the treasury will not release production data. They are lining their pockets by treading on our children and grandchildren.
It's 5/19/10 and we are five days into the UMPI wind turbine's second year.
The following revised scorecard shows Year 1 actuals as well as progress to date since the project's start date of 5/14/09. Project to date performance shows that the turbine is at only a miserable 11.6% of capacity. Its annual goal of 1,000,000 KWH overshoots annualized project to date achievement by a whopping 63%.