A foolish proposal to build an off-shore wind farm off Lake Michigan in Illinois

April 6, 2012

Yet another article has appeared in the March 31 – April 1 Weekend edition of the Lake County News-Sun about a proposed offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, “Push is on for Great Lakes wind farms.

In contrast to the first News-Sun article of Jan. 31, “Blowing in the Wind,” which related how Waukegan Mayor Robert Sabonjian must be on to something when he speaks of the future and a wind farm off Waukegan’s Lake Michigan shoreline, this past weekend edition related how the Obama administration and five states, including Illinois, have reached an agreement to speed up approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes.

If truth be told —  and I am well aware that some will dispute my facts as folly — 10,000 windmills in Illinois, whether on land or off shore in Lake Michigan, would not eliminate the need for one single fossil fuel coal-fired or nuclear power plant, one of which is now being prematurely and unnecessarily decommissioned in Zion (the Dual Zion Nuclear Facility) along with its  2,100 megawatts of power. Wind must be backed up with rolling reserve for when the wind is not blowing, which even happens in Lake Michigan.

Regarding coal that Illinois is abundantly blessed with as a natural resource, recently the EPA issued a mandate that would seem to doom new coal-fired power plants in the state. The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. 

As a coal plant emits an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, the EPA mandate seems to doom any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls. There is a coal-fired plant in Waukegan whose days could be numbered because of the mandate.

Would the proposed future off-shore Great Lakes wind farm add to the possibility of more jobs locally in and around Lake Forest and Lake Bluff?

Reported in the News-Sun’s Blowing in the Wind article of Jan. 31 was the following: “Most of the gusty growth in Illinois has come largely because of the Obama administration’s stimulus package which has provided $2.3 billion in tax credits.” 

Wind energy developers in Illinois, because of Obama’s stimulus package, now receive a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour. This has resulted in unrealistically boosting competitiveness for wind energy in the marketplace, but might these subsidies coverup what is reality?

Research led me to this article in the Buffalo News, Wind gets knocked our of energy farm plan, in which the New York Power Authority decided that building a wind farm offshore in deep water off Lakes Erie and Ontario would cost up to four times a similar wind project on land.         

Illinois’ proposed off-shore Lake Michigan wind farm project, not unlike the project abandoned by the New York Power Authority, would eventually have to come face-to-face with the reality of the high costs of the subsidies needed to make an offshore wind farm economically feasible.

Good-bye to Major Sabonjian’s claims that the Lake Michigan offshore wind project would foster major economic development and create hundreds of jobs in the local area.

A study commissioned by the University of Juan Carlos and the Juan de Mariana Institute in 2009 indicated that despite Spain committing approximately $37 billion in U.S. dollars (28,691 million eros) for solar and wind power projects, “for every green job that is attempted to be created, there is a 2.2 destruction of the resources that on average the private sector employs per worker.”

The desire to build the Lake Michigan windfarm is related to the mandate imposed by the Illinois Democrat General Assembly that by 2025, 18 percent of Illinois’ energy should come from wind and solar power.  

In keeping with what is happening at the federal level, in 2012 legislators in a Democratic-controlled General assembly in Springfield have jumped head-long and feet-first into the unrealistic and unscientific Al Gore premise that man-made Global Warming is real and that the culprit is CO2. In reality, CO2 is not a pollutant. We exhale CO2. Plants need it to survive. 

Howard Hayden, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Connecticut, an expert on wind, solar and nuclear power, shared this salient comment with me which says it all in an e-mail communication of a few months ago. 

“We are not going to run this state or country on chicken manure, sunbeams and breezes.  It is an unconscionable waste of money to subsidize phony energy sources and to look for the Holy Climate Knob in the sky.”


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