Wed Sep 28th, 2011 at 11:48:13 AM EST
GLOW is an acronym for Great Lakes Offshore Wind, and this relic of the People's Power Company of NY State (NYPA, alias New York Power Authority, entirely owned by NY State, though in practice, NY State may be partly owned by NYPA...) recently canned its SECOND attempt at offshore wind in NY State. The first was a 140 MW project near NY City, also canned, and now it's third attempt at offshore will be further offshore of Long Island in federal waters. Here is a brief description of the gory details.
As with all things NYPA, this is at core a political decision, in this case in favor of methane derived from fracking and against renewable energy that is job creating and reasonably priced. Is there a relation between the $44,000 contribution that one of the purported Sith Twins of our time (David Koch) made to one of our Governor's campaign funds, qualifying him (and lots of others) for the term "Koch Whore?" Well, as the saying for the NY Lotto (otherwise know as another tax on working class people) goes, "Ya Never Know"
So, next time NYPA issues an RFP, will anyone of note even bother? Two strike-outs, and third time is a charm? Actually, why bother, when all of the work involved in putting such a project together can actually have a higher probability of coming to reality in Europe.
Anyway, the apparent victor in this NYPA fit of cowardice in the natural gas fracking biz, who is busy in neighboring Pennsylvania, where fracking, like "clean coal" and nukes are considered a "green" and "renewable" energy source. Or so I was told at a recent wind energy conference (Great Lakes Wind Collaborative). Oh, would George Orwell roll his eyes at that one, or what? In the 2011 battle of wind vs. Ngas, Ngas won big time. Of course, the local GOP (Republican, ex-Grand Oil Party, and now Gas and Oil Party) politicians are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of large cash deposits into their campaign coffers, as well as PR and "consulting" jobs for a lot of their friends, who will no doubt contribute generously at election time...
In Western NY last year, Ngas only provided 2.6% of the electricity in our neck of the woods (NYISO Zone A), since, at the average generation price of 3.92 c/kw-hr, Ngas is TOO DARN EXPENSIVE to use to make electricity, even at presently depressed prices that are about half of the price deemed necessary by banks like Credit Suisse to justify such underground efforts. Most electricity is made from coal in 3 facilities, and we get some from the Niagara Falls Power project (most is exported elsewhere), which is made at less than 0.2 cents/kw-hr. But, with fracking, there is essentially no difference in the Greenhouse Gas potential of coal vs/. natural gas, due to the large "fugitive" emissions of methane during the fracking process (20 frackings per well.... see here). So, if you wanted to boost local Ngas consumption, and heating for the residential, commercial and industrial markets is shrinking (as is the money to pay for that heat), how would you boost local consumption?
Well, you could spring for a new 140,000 bbls/day Gas to Liquids (GTL) plant, which could suck down something like 1.4 billion standard cubic feet/day (about 2.2% of US Ngas consumption). After all, lots of places around here would welcome that with open arms and tax subsidies up the wazoo, and there is plenty of cooling water and customers, too. But that would be a $25 billion investment, and in the USA these days, such things are not allowed... So, next on the list of ways to boost consumption of methane is to convert that presently none-too-valuable hydrocarbon into electricity. Then factor in the prospect of no renewal of the operating license for the Indian Point reactor complex (about as desired as a fully primed skunk at a fancy rich person's wedding reception), with a potential of 2000 MW of needed electricity (128 billion cubic feet/yr of Ngas), or a 12% increase in Ngas consumption.... and some salivation in the gas industry is to be expected.
So, we could have given the boot to Ngas in the regions electricity supply, as well as the prospect of being the regional garbage dump for fracking "waste" (sorry, "treatment facility at Niagara Falls - goes great with tourism, I have been told). Instead, like Johnny in the movie "The Shining", it's BACK! The thing that is gone is the prospect of 24,000 jobs-years of local construction/manufacture (the non-wind turbine parts of the project) jobs in a region with really disgusting real rates of unemployment. But hey, we still get to be the regional welfare recipients of the Wall St money machine (it is NYC money from the Big Casino that now supports upstate NY, due to the massive loss of manufacturing and farming jobs). That counts for something, doesn't it? After all, if we don't get a few crumbs of the gambling proceeds from (supposedly) our banksters, who will?
Of course, NYPA could be issuing RFP's for 1 to 2 GW per year of ONSHORE wind for the next 20 years, or they could hire someone to build them and just own them outright. They could have done that with the offshore project, too. I just got offered a chance to buy NYPA bonds at 3.25% for 10 years (declined), and I bet 20 year ones would go for around 4%. At those rates, a NYPA owned farm should be able to make offshore electricity for around 14 c/kw-hr, and they would get a 2 c/kw-hr rebate from the Federal govt for the initial 10 years (REPI). Offshore wind at 12 c/kw-hr.. well, it's not 4 c/kw-hr, but it's affordable, and a cure for a lot of unemployment, too. A Keynesian-like stimulus, only doe with little to no tax payer funding. But maybe that is heresy, these days, too.