Wind Blows Campaign To Town
by Melissa Bailey | Aug 7, 2012 4:30 pm
With New Haven’s iconic wind turbine as a backdrop, Chris Murphy propelled green energy into Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race.
Murphy, the leading Democrat running for Connecticut’s open U.S. Senate seat, stopped by Fair Haven’s Phoenix Press Tuesday to tout his environmental credentials and pick up an endorsement from the national Sierra Club.
He used the occasion to try to contrast his campaign with that of Republican Linda McMahon, his likely opponent in a November general election.
Murphy took an hour-long tour of Phoenix Press, a 31-year-old printing company at 15 James St. The company hit politicians’ radar when it erected a 124-foot wind turbine in 2010.
After the tour, Murphy hailed the press as the “nexus of the future of clean energy” and called for an extension of the tax credits it used.
To offset the cost of the turbine, Phoenix took advantage of a federal wind energy production tax credit, which gives companies a break on federal income tax based on capital investment in wind energy.
Murphy called for continuing that tax—as well as a companion tax credit that subsidizes companies based on their renewable energy output. Those tax credits are set to expire soon; Murphy said he supports an effort in Congress to extend them.
He called the production tax credit “absolutely integral to the continuity and future of the wind industry.”
Linda McMahon’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment on energy policy as of press time. The campaign website does not contain a section on her policies on energy; the Independent was awaiting a response from spokesman Tim Murtaugh in response to the specific points Murphy raised.
In general, the two campaigns have consistently offered opposing views on how to spark new investment in job creation: The McMahon campaign has argued that cutting taxes and reducing regulation, rather than boosting government spending, will induce companies to make investments and grow. Murphy has argued that, especially in tough times, it takes government spending on infrastructure and targeted investments to spur the private sector to create jobs.
At Phoenix, the turbine generates one-third of the energy for the main electric meter that fuels the bindery, where pamphlets are cut, folded, and stitched together, said company co-owner Brian Driscoll. When workers go home at night, the turbine keeps going, sending electricity back to the grid and effectively reversing the electric meter. The arrangement saves the company $29,000 per year, Driscoll said. The savings have helped the company employ 35 workers in New Haven.
The wind turbine is designed to generate 100 kilowatt hours of power per hour, Driscoll said. It caps out at 58.8 revolutions per minute, so it’s not noisy. And “we haven’t had any bird strikes” since its installation, he said. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund contributed half of the $500,000 cost of the turbine.
Murphy said there is “enormous potential” for job growth in the wind industry, which employs some 75,000 people today. He set a goal to grow that number to 500,000. Savings to companies like Phoenix would increase, he argued, if the federal government invests in the renewable energy industry.
If the government doesn’t invest in green energy, Murphy warned, “we’re going to lose the renewable energy market overseas.” The U.S. has “an opportunity to lead the world”—if it elects a Senator who supports green energy, Murphy argued.
McMahon’s environmental plan, Murphy charged, “seems to begin and end with the Keystone Pipeline.” Murphy opposes the controversial proposal by TransCanada to build a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Murphy also called for a national renewable energy standard that would mandate that 20 percent of the national energy grid be fueled by green energy. Connecticut and other states have their own standards; there is no national version.
Sierra Club members gathered in Criscuolo Park, between Phoenix’s wind turbine and the shell of the toxic English Station power plant, to endorse the Congressman.
Sierra Club members ticked off a number of issues where they’ve found Murphy’s support:
• In 2011, he reversed cuts to land conservation funds.
• He supports the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act to protect Alaskan wilderness.
• He “opposes measures to weaken the Clean Air Act.”
• He has fought for fuel efficiency and carbon emissions standards for new cars and trucks.
In brief remarks, Murphy said he became interested in politics as a teenager, when he began volunteering to clean up the Connecticut River. He said when he sat on Southington’s planning and zoning board, he opposed the arrival of a new power plant.
Robin Mann, the immediate past president of the national chapter of Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, traveled from Pennsylvania for the event. She called Murphy, who has sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a “leader on the environment and clean energy.”
She called Connecticut’s “a key race for us among the Senate races.”
Post a Comment
Germany (the healthiest economy in Europe) went in the last decade from 6% renewable energy to 25%. 40% of that is wind.
like the windmill—-politicans blow into town and stay as long as the wind blows…..........
posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 7, 2012 6:14pm
“a federal wind energy production tax credit, which gives companies a break on federal income tax based on capital investment in wind energy. Murphy called for continuing that tax—as well as a companion tax credit that subsidizes companies based on their renewable energy output.” When are politicians—and voters—going to wake up to the fact that “tax credits” simply replace free markets with political influence and cronyism. Ultimately other businesses—and their customers—have to pay the cost of covering tax credits given to a chosen business. And “green energy” isn’t green when it’s so expensive that it has to be subsidized.
Government subsidies shift power to government, increase cronyism, make political power more important and increase the competition for that political power. The way to reduce or end cronyism is to reduce or end that government power. And the way to end that power is to GET RID OF self-serving crony politicians—LIKE VIRTUALLY ALL OF OUR PRESENT INCUMBENTS.
“ At Phoenix, the turbine…saves the company $29,000 per year”—which the rest of us ultimately are paying for—due to the tax credit given to Phoenix! Why should industry bother to develop innovations that reduce the cost of green energy such as wind and solar—if your tax dollars subsidize its installation? We demand better smart phones—and industry creates them. And enough companies make them, that they constantly make “special offers”, sales, etc. to get people to buy their latest, innovative product. Government interference stifles the innovation that competition and demand create. Are there any readers old enough to remember appliances made in the Soviet Union in the 1980s? They looked like something out of the 1950s. Because government had total control of market and production.
So let innovators create a better, cheaper solar panel. And customers will come.
At $500,000 original cost and $29,000 savings per year (ignoring operating and maintenance and financing and other costs) it would take over 17 years to pay back just the basic costs
Way back I think I could come close to deciding whether or not this would be a good investment, but that was long ago.
I guess we can assume that the taxpayers share of 50% of the original cost goes down the drain.
Is there a cost accountant here who can compute the real value?
WALT and CS,
Everything is subsidized and most tech has sprung from govt investment ( Internet, highways, power generation, electrical infrastructure) The private market shies away from major infrastructure because it’s long ball and they like short term profitability. Given that weve been dying overseas since 1941 for strategic petroleum rights and we’ve been dying here from asthma , wind sounds like a good investment to me. The wind is cheaper than oil or coal after all.
Easy for both of us to post without any knowledge of the true figures.
If , as you say, “wind is cheaper than oil or coal” it would seem the Printer would have paid for its own power production.
It is like saying water is free and not expecting an invoice from the Water Authority
I rather agree with robn. Of course, Germans are using wind power: they are full of hot air. (Sorry, but my inner celt had to get that in there.0
posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 7, 2012 9:52pm
Germany is the healthiest economy in Europe because its deficit is only o.9% of GDP—and that’s not just a bunch of wind: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-06-22/merkel-to-balance-budget-three-years-early-in-euro-area-signal
Why can’t our own elected-for-life politicians manage the same?
We have knowledge of the general nature of oil subsidies going back 100 years and it all points to a massive public investment. I’ll give some examples:
1) Military bases worldwide focused on strategic mineral rights
2) Health related costs you can research at National Academy of Sciences and the CDC
3) $1.6 trillion dollars spent annually on maintenance, new vehicles and fuel.
4) Climate change costs (how many billions of insurance claims this year from Hurricanes and Derechos)
5) Zero cost leases for drilling on public land ($50B alone in the Gulf of Mexico)
I could go on and on but nevertheless, equipment and infrastructure costs aside, the wind arrives at our doorstep for free; oil and coal doesn’t. (I consider this to be a conservative viewpoint)
—-and what does that worldwide “wind” from you re Germany, foreign military bases and the Gulf of Mexico have to do with a windmill in little New Haven,CT?
You have already “gone on and on”,
Sheds no light on whether the local project was really worthwhile, justifiable, or just another boondoggle
I just asked a question, and obviously do not claim to know the answer
Looks interesting though
You complained about the 50% govt subsidy for the equipment cost of a wind turbine. My point about is that, when you look at the true costs, hydrocarbon fuels have a profoundly greater govt subsidy.
I see no complaint in my posts, just questions and some skepticism.
posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 8, 2012 12:50pm
“Heather Zichal, the White House deputy assistant for energy and climate change, praised the DOD’s [Dept. of Defense’s] ‘extraordinary work’ to promote renewable energy usage…She also lauded the Navy’s July demonstration of its ‘Great Green Fleet’ aircraft carrier strike group. That Pacific Rim exercise tested a fuel that combined a $26-per-gallon biofuel with conventional petroleum.” Another example “fake green”. $26 per gallon?! So we can invade other countries to get the real stuff? When gas hits $10/gal., industry will come up with an alternative—that is actually cheaper, and not subsidized by the green stuff in taxpayers wallets. http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/242593-army-announces-renewable-energy-contracts-as-white-house-continues-green-push
Ah, the problem with all things environmental, is whom do you believe? The topic is so politicalized, and there is so much bad information out there, that it becomes problematic to know what is true.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean. My Grandfather had a degree in Chemistry from Harvard. Before he became an administrator and later a professor, he taught science. So he had the education to evaluate science and environmental issues. He was a socialist Republican who lived simply so others could simply live. Along with my Grandmother, he was an avid gardener. He was also very involved in local environmental issues. So he gives a toss, and he knows what he is talking about.
One day, while I was visiting, a young man from NYPIRG came to his house to lecture him on the importance of the environment and to seek is support. My Grandfather, politely yet firmly told him how he was misinformed as he showed him the door.
So we have two well-intentioned, eco friendly people, but only one knows what he is talking about – and he is not the one spreading the word that night. There is a lot of “green” stuff out there that is not doing the environment any good. There are a lot of people who will tell you that global warming is a myth as they turn up the AC.
Buy all the squiggly light bulbs you want. 20 years ago, 100-amp service for a new house was cutting edge. Now 200 amps is very minimal. Earth will survive us – she got another five billion years to go, with or with out us. Yet, unless we can make real systemic changes to have we live and how the word works (and I don’t think we can), we are going to be hurting.
Whats, “I guess we can assume that the taxpayers share of 50% of the original cost goes down the drain” if not a complaint about subsidies?
posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 8, 2012 1:58pm
Good point, HhE. I think everyone wants a cleaner environment. The politicized question is how to get there. The cultural and moral issue is that Americans don’t want to give up their cozy lifestyle. So, for example, even though ethanol replaces some of our use of fossil fuel, its production has contributed to food shortages in those countries that rely on corn as a food staple. http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/climate-conversations/how-to-avoid-another-food-crisis
Neither GOP nor Dems are going to tell Americans to consume less—because our economic system requires that people buy more stuff to get the economy moving and therefore create more jobs. So as a “consumer of government services” the best we can hope for (and vote for) are political leaders who don’t waste our money on” green” scams that only fill the pockets of chosen “green industries”—who, in turn, fill the campaign coffers of the politicians who give them contracts.
Just an assumption, not a complaint. The assumption is valid whether you favor this subsidy or do not,
Would still like a sensible explanation of the facts,if available, with all the costs and benefits of the windmill considered, but apparently no one here knows the real pluses or minuses any more than I do,
Unfortunately,more gobbledygook about projects thousands of miles from here would be of no help
Just want to make a couple quick points here (haven’t read all responses, so sorry if this is redundant).
There are lots of cases where subsidies make sense. Technologies often need a kick start of support until they are sufficiently developed to compete on their own with existing technologies. Technological inertia provides no incentive for a change that will eventually benefit us in the long run. Wind has been shown to be cost competitive with traditional technologies, even without subsidies—but only at sufficient production volumes and at certain installation sites.
Unfortunately, not all subsidy programs are well constructed so certainly there are times when they do end up as a burden to taxpayers. Some subsidy programs actually end up being a savings to taxpayers (energy efficiency funds, for example). Others have a less measurable benefit, but benefit nonetheless (i.e. less pollution/asthma, quieter operation, etc).
Actually $26/gallon is not bad for a small batch process and the cost will come way down with large quantities. And they’re mixing it 50/50 with JP-8. Production cost of the blend would be about $15/gal. Still high (again, in small quantities), but consider that the field-delivered cost for military fuel ranges anywhere from $10 to $400 per gallon. So even if the fuel ends up costing a buck or two more per gallon, the overall impact is not as shocking.
There is no power plant anywhere that isn’t heavily subsidized. Every power plant in Connecticut has required gov’t-mandated subsidies to get built. Ratepayers were left on the hook for over three decades for billions of dollars in subsidies for the Millstone Nuclear plant. (In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars in Millstone’s costs subsidized by federal taxpayers!) By comparison, 17 years to pay off the $500,000 cost for a wind turbine seems like a great deal.
posted by: Christopher Schaefer on August 9, 2012 2:24pm
A terrific deal, actually. For Phoenix Press.