Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

The War Against Wind

Wind power is booming in surrounding states but declining in Wisconsin. Why?

By - Jan 23rd, 2014 01:15 pm

Across the nation we are seeing a boom in the growth of wind power. According to Wind on the Wires, an advocacy group for the industry, in 2012 seven percent of the entire world market of wind energy was developed in America’s upper Midwest, but 99.4 percent of this development occurred outside Wisconsin.

“The climate in this state is perceived as very unfriendly by wind developers and they’re just not trying to develop here as a result,” says Katie Nikola, general counsel for the non-profit Clean Wisconsin.

The potential benefits for Wisconsin from wind power are enormous. The state spends an estimated $12 billion annually to other states to purchase coal and other fossil fuels, all produced in other states. By contrast, wind power can be produced in this state by local companies. Data from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) shows that Wisconsin ranks 19th among the states in number of wind-related jobs and has 28 wind-related manufacturing facilities.

Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines. Photo by Martin Abbeglen

But the industry came to a standstill after Republicans took over the legislature and Gov. Scott Walker took office.

The problem isn’t a lack of wind in Wisconsin. While it ranks far behind wind powerhouses like Texas or Kansas, Wisconsin ranks 17th highest in wind power potential, according to the AWEA, with enough wind power to produce four times more total energy than the state’s current electrical needs.

Nor is the problem one of cost. Lazard, the world’s leading financial advisory and asset management firm, estimates that wind power now is slightly cheaper to produce than coal and even natural gas.

Wisconsin, the nation’s second leading state for manufacturing, should be a leader in this field. According to Wind on the Wires, 22 facilities in Wisconsin manufacture components for wind energy industry. As Forward Wisconsin has noted, “Wisconsin’s decades of experience in precision manufacturing gives the state’s manufacturers a competitive advantage in supplying the various 8,000 components that comprise a wind turbine.”

But instead of leading the way in wind, Wisconsin is falling behind. Data from Wind on the Wires shows that in 2012, Illinois added 823 megawatts of wind power, Iowa added 814, Michigan 611, Minnesota 267 and Indiana 203. Wisconsin’s total? Zero.

Iowa and South Dakota receive more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind, compared to two percent in Wisconsin. Yes they have considerably more wind potential than Wisconsin, but what about Minnesota (ranked 11th in wind power potential) which receives 17 percent of its electricity from wind energy?

Minnesota and Illinois have both set a 25 percent renewable standard for utilities by 2025, while Wisconsin remains at 10 percent, under a rule change adopted under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

Beyond the economic benefits of building the state’s wind industry are the obvious health benefits. Currently 63 percent of electrical power in Wisconsin comes from coal. The state burns about 25 million tons of coal every year in Wisconsin, all imported at a cost of about $1 billion dollars annually.

According to Clean Wisconsin, coal accounts for the vast majority of air pollution in our state. In 2010, it estimates, coal power plants were responsible for 86 percent of sulfur dioxide and 77 percent of nitrogen dioxide emissions from the electric power industry. Pollution from Wisconsin coal plants is estimated to contribute to 268 deaths, 201 hospital admissions and 456 heart attacks each year.

The National Resources Defense Council rates Wisconsin as the 18th most toxic state for air pollution from power plants. Mercury emissions from coal plants are suspected of contaminating more than 200 lakes and rivers in Wisconsin.

The AWEA estimates that the wind power already installed in Wisconsin “will avoid over 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.”

In 2010, industry representatives and other groups worked together in Wisconsin to create uniform rules for wind power based on best practices nationally. But “one of the first things Walker did was to suspend those rules for 12 months,” notes Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a non-profit that works with companies to advocate for renewable energy. “What happened then was these companies basically said, ‘okay we don’t have problems in other states, so let’s develop there.’”

Under Walker, the state also reduced incentives for alternative energies under the Focus on Energy program.

Walker had suggested he had concerns over local control of where wind turbines were located but agreed in 2012 to end the suspension of the state-wide rules. But then came efforts by Republican legislators like state Sen. Frank Lasee (R-DePere) to pass a bill that would allow any residents living within 1.5 miles of a wind turbine to sue for alleged negative impact on their health and property values and to have their legal bill automatically paid for by the wind farm owner or operator.

Chris Kunkle, a lobbyist for the wind industry, noted to the Cap Times that the Republican-controlled legislature has been pushing for tort reform to reduce the impact of suits on numerous other industries while making suits more likely against the wind industry by awarding attorney’s fees and removing an existing $500 cap. “This bill is wildly hypocritical,” Kunkle charged. “Lawmakers say they are trying to improve the business climate in the state, yet they are picking one industry and creating a new set of legal standards.”

Wind industry proponents point to studies showing no negative impact on health of residents near wind farms and no lowering of property values. Legislators like Lasee, however, say they are acting of behalf of constituents who complain about the noise and believe it affects their health. Nikoly, however, contends these local complaints only occur after wind opponents from other states “rile people up in opposition…Somebody must be paying the travel expense for these opponents.”

Meanwhile the deadly impact of coal on states like Wisconsin has been profusely documented, “yet you can’t sue a coal plant because of the health impact,” notes Huebner.

At the recent Renew Wisconsin Energy Summit, one presenter summarized the view of wind industry companies regarding Wisconsin as a place to do business. The comments included:

-“PSC and DNR regulators are incredibly hard to work with.”

-“Development climate is awful, experience of past projects is scary.”

-“Politics: every time the legislature is in session we hear about how awful wind is. Fine we hear you — we will take our business to Illinois.”

This is one industry, it appears, where Wisconsin is not “open for business.”





Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

54 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: The War Against Wind”

  1. Chris Byhre says:

    Nice job of presenting both sides of the argument Bruce. Let’s see here, you talk to a lobbyist for the Wind Industry, someone from Renew Wisconsin, someone from Wind on the Wires, I am sure they are unbiased. You double or triple down with the American Wind Energy Association and the National Resource Defense Council. Couldn’t you have talked to anyone actually hugging a tree while they gave you the ‘information’? Where does this rank with the War Against Women and the War on Poverty?

  2. Tim says:

    What is the other side’s position, good riddance? To the jobs, clean air, local investment…

  3. Chris C. says:

    Just kind of sad that this poor excuse for “journalism” fails to mention any concrete numbers on just exactly why we should increase our state investment in wind power. If wind power was so appealing and had such a grand return on investment (ROI), then why arent entrepreneurs rushing out to put these things up all over the state? It is exactly because they are truly *not* renewable (show me a machine that doesn’t break down over time) and ludicrously expensive that I applaud the state of wisconsin for not jumping into a trendy lobbyist heavy venture that hardly breaks even.

    Seriously considering taking urbanmilwaukee off of my rss feed if this is what counts for journalism here.

  4. Bruce Murphy says:

    To Chris C: It’s not about the state investing in wind power. Wind companies were in fact investing in Wisconsin and building wind farms (without subsidies) at a good pace, but now feel regulatory environment and potential for legal suits has made state a poor place for business.
    To Chris Byre: the principal objection to wind power was noted in my story, the claim that turbines can affect health and property values of nearby residents.

  5. tom w says:

    Bruce, are there lawsuits against the windmills around Fond du Lac? Having worked there and driven through the “wind farms” which border some of the highways, I keep asking myself about the farm families whose land is populated by windmills, livestock and crops. Is there any evidence regarding the “negative” effects of wind power on those who live under windmills? Perhaps I am the wrong one to ask as the farm house in Kansas in which I assume I was conceived had a wind mill just outside its back door!

  6. Art Hackett says:

    Here are a couple of reasons: The clout of the Wisconsin Realtors Association which sees the greatest potential for income in large lot subdivisions located a long way from anything. Granted they can make money selling condos but in addition to selling what you can sell, it’s always better to sell what you want to sell.
    Second…and this is just my pet political theory….Republicans devoted to less government want to migrate people away from cities where they will be masters of their own domain, without dependence on city water and sewer service, in need of only minimal police protection, reliant on volunteer firefighters and generally disconnected from their fellow humans. Cities bring you closer to other people, some of whom you will disagree with and will have conflicts with. To deal with these conflicts you want some sort of outside structure. Structure equals government which is inherently evil.

  7. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    There are weekly references in Forbes, Fortune, WSJ to the shutting down of wind power throughout the world. As these things fall apart, people gauge the costs and there simply is not any value to them…. With natural gas becoming so cheap, they just cannot compete, even with fat subsidies..
    As the world strongly questions the Global Warming hoax people realize that wind power is just dumb, almost as bad as the Barrett Express line to nowhere we are building. If windpower was so great, the farms would not have shut down their windmills from the first half of the 20th century.
    Michael Barone and many people are seeing and writing, virtually daily, articles about sun activity is at it’s lowest in decades. A new Ice Age, is on it’s way so wind power is useless. We will probably have to all go outside an light fires to warm up the world. al Gore’s rhetoric will just not do it. By the way he is shutting down his Global Warming operations throughout the worlds as no one believes him any more. Only a few light weight intellects in Milwaukee still seem to believe this baloney.
    A watming trend is beneficial but a cooling trend like after the Viking era warming was disatrous for the world. All the hot air put out by the Left about this has just not doen the job.

  8. Andy says:

    Doesn’t anyone care about our migratory birds anymore??

    Seriously though, there’s a place for wind in the mix. But it’s difficult to support it too strongly when natural gas is so cheap, Nuclear is so much more reliable, and clean coal is so readily available.

  9. Gee says:

    The reason that other energy sources seem “cheap” is because they are not, really — you just subsidize them, enormously, with your federal taxes. By contrast, this current Congress also has been idiotic (I know, what a surprise) about wind energy; see the debate last December about even anywhere near the same level of subsidy. And it’s bipartisan idiocy; see Obama’s push for the despised expansion of pipelines.

    But even with that idiocy at the federal level, Wisconsin is so special, thanks to Wisconsinites, at least the majority who voted for Walker. His (and his legislators’) stance on wind energy was fully evident during the campaign. That’s why several folks I know in the wind energy industry started looking elsewhere for work then. They all left the state, as wind energy jobs and firms closed down here. But they’re all prospering elsewhere, most of them making paying taxes to Illinois now.

    So, to the Chrises in the comments: That’s the evidence, from those in the industry, including the ones I know as well as Bruce’s sources, that I believe.

  10. Andy says:

    Gee, those subsidies are only larger because fossil fuels are a much larger source of energy. I saw one example where someone said “California eats a lot more food then Vermont” in an article discussing this same topic.

    When taken as a subsidy per megawatt hour, the subsidies break down thus:
    In fiscal year 2010, the subsidies were: For solar power, they were $775.64 per megawatt hour, for wind $56.29, for nuclear $3.14, for hydroelectric power $0.82, for coal $0.64 and for natural gas and petroleum liquids $0.64


  11. George Mitchell says:

    Is today April 1?

  12. Bruce Thompson says:

    Which table are those numbers from? I did a search and they didn’t show up.

  13. John Casper says:

    Thanks Bruce for a strong conservative piece. It’s the root of “conservative,” and why so many remember Republican Gov. Knowles for his commitment to the environment.

    Conservatives understand that 9/11 revealed the dangers of highly centralized forms of energy generation, coal, nuclear, natural gas. The future in generation is de-centralized and redundant.

    “Climate Study: Extreme Rain Storms in Midwest Have Doubled in Last 50 Years, Often Leading to Worsened Flooding
    Report Details Major Storm/Flooding Trends in 8 States: IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH and WI; Midwest Illustrates Growing Concerns About Climate Link Between Big Storms and Flooding.”

    That’s the future for Wisconsin.

    All the folks who don’t like “wind,” and other renewables can pay for all the flood damage from the 2010 floods. When you figure out how to grow stuff in a flooded field, please, let us know.

    In addition to the loss of thousands of commercial fishing jobs in Lake Michigan, “The Decline of a Once-Great Fishery” it’s experiencing devastating evaporation, because of the lack of winter ice.

    “Does Lake Michigan’s record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes?”
    “Despite above-average precipitation, lake has seen below-average water levels for 14 years running. Less ice cover and more dark open water may explain why.”

    Gov. Walker’s SOTS failed to mention the $840 million that leaves the state every year to import coal that contains mercury, among other pollutants.

    If you want to keep Wisconsin hostage to importing electricity, keep up the opposition to wind, solar, and biomass.

    No one who knows anything about fossil fuels thinks the price of natural gas from fracking will stay low. Natural gas from sustainable sources, biomass, via electrolysis from wind and solar is the future. That can be injected into the existing pipelines. Fuel cells can run on hydrogen/natural gas. That offers redundancy with the electrical grid.

    “A new wind investment in Texas”

    “It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there. In late December we finalized an agreement to invest $75 million in the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, outside of Amarillo. The 182MW facility, developed by leading wind developer Pattern Energy Group LP, has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power 56,000 U.S. homes. We expect the facility to be operational by the end of 2014.”

    Per Google and the rest of Big Data, “green” is the new “chic.” Increasingly green supply chains are the winners. I don’t know of any luxury auto maker that doesn’t have a hydrogen prototype. George W. Bush will probably be vindicated.

    Real conservatives in red states already get this.

    The problem is Mike Grebe (Bradley Foundation) is in bed with the Koch’s and others who “own” mineral rights. They pay guys like Charlie Sykes to rant about “climate alarmists.”

  14. Andy says:

    Wow, someone actually looked at a sited source! That’s pretty exciting actually. Anyway, Bruce Thompson, there’s no single table that gives it to you. You have to use the tables on pages xx and 13 showing total power generation and then pull each total of subsidies from their respective sections and do the division.

  15. Andy says:

    Cited… not sited…

  16. George Mitchell says:

    I remain convinced the original post is a spoof.

  17. David Ciepluch says:

    One of the main reasons for building wind turbines in Wisconsin was to provide electric production in the state in lieu of importing the energy. Plus land owners (usually farmers) receive about $4,000 annually for lease of their land. This is money that stays in state and churns the local economies. If they are not constructed here, they will be placed in Iowa and Minnesota and energy will be imported here and it will be our loss.

    Wind energy production facilities were setting up shop in Wisconsin to build and maintain systems. That has come to a stand still and actually reversed.

    Wind turbines provide energy with no emissions. Bird deaths are less than one per year but there is an issue with bat deaths. In comparison cats and tall lighted buildings kill millions of birds annually. A residential home bay window kills more birds than a wind turbine.

    We have the know how and potential to reduce energy consumption in this country by 50% in a few decades is we maximize a comprehensive effort towards addition on renewable energy like wind and solar production. Solar will be less costly than current electric production. Combine this with major remodeling on all buildings to include energy efficiency, time of use rates, load control, energy storage in low cost devices like heat pump water heaters, thermal mass furnaces, ice making air conditioning, and plug in vehicles. This means utilities would need to downsize their production capacity in many cases. The energy savings in the billions that currently are spent on out of state energy like coal and natural gas, would be plowed back into the local churn of the economy.

    Wisconsin has dropped there standing on a national level from a top ten leader to about #20 in energy use. Our political leadership is devoid of any real vision, is uneducated, and beholden to short term corporate interests and comes up with their ALEC model laws that none of us need or asked for.

  18. Eric says:

    Wind power does not work. Sorry. It only works when it is heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. The left wing geniuses on this blog should do a few Google searches on wind power and Europe and see how things are going for them. They’ve tried it and have failed. Wind power is bad for the environment, rips up the natural land, needs energy/minerals to manufacture turbines in the first place and the wind doesn’t always blow. Some Liberals love wind power but none of them want to look at turbines in their own backyards. This country has recently undergone a natural gas revolution, it is way better to use that. That is one of the only industries adding jobs by the way, in spite of Obama. I get it, wind is all part of the liberal dream, they hate the energy companies, but it does not work. Europe pays $8/gallon for gas and 3x what we pay to heat our homes. A competitive economy needs cheap energy to thrive, not lines for $8/gas and thousand dollar heating bills. Wind is not needed anymore, use natural gas. It’s clean and abundant. By the way, the hate directed at Our Governor on this blog by some is pretty disgusting.

  19. Chris Byhre says:

    David, where is all the money going to come from to build all of these solar plants, thermal mass furnaces etc etc? Also, your data on bird deaths is completely wrong. More birds die annually from wind turbines than were killed in the Exxon Valdez and Gulf oil spill combined. This will only increase if you insist on building more of these nuisance eyesores. Invest some of your own money in wind farms and technology. Go buy some solar panel company stock. We all bought about $500 million dollars worth of Solyndra thanks to Obama, how did that turn out for us?

  20. bruce murphy says:

    As to how things are going for wind power this statistic should be part of the discussion: total MW of wind power installed grew globally from 3,760 in 2000 to 14,703 in 2006 to 44,799 in 2012.

  21. David Ciepluch says:

    Fossil fuels are a limited resource and they pollute the planet with emissions. Natural gas is a premium fuel and strategically the best use is for commercial and residential heating with efficiency greater than 90% compared to electric power generation of 30%.

    All various energy sources have various funding support systems. If we priced out oil to include the defense spending attachment it would likely exceed $500/gal. in real cost. Coal is mined in West Virginia by blasting entire mountain tops, filling rivers and streams, and fracking for natural gas all have negative environmental consequences for ground and surface waters. These damages need to be factored into the true cost. When a nuclear accident occurs, like Fukishima in Japan, it is essentially forever and the toxic landscape and water. The human damage is impossible to put a price tag on it.

    A movement and strategy of inclusion of all energy sources renewable, efficiency, time of use and load management, and fossil fuel use makes good economic sense. It provides a diversified portfolio. Solar energy is compatible with peak energy production time periods. Wind energy can be stored in various low cost batteries like water, thermal mass and ice. This should be a conservative strategy since it is a more efficient way of managing the energy supply, production, and consumption. A 50% reduction in energy use while achieving the same amount of work is a good thing and the money saved can be applied to other work in the economy.

  22. Bill Kurtz says:

    As Art Hackett noted, the Realtors Association led the charge against wind farms, and they must be Our Governor’s very favorite lobby. The proof: WMC opposed the anti-wind farm effort, so Walker had to choose between two of his key bankrollers, and he went with the realtors. To the best of my knowledge, this was the ONLY time he and the legislative Republicans went against WMC.
    And why would any Wisconsinites prefer to send money out of state (we don’t have coal) instead of to Wisconsin farmers?

  23. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    WCD climate study: Fact the windmills have changed the rotation of the earth os that now the polar vortex normally reserved for the north pole is changed, and is now over Hudson bay, that is why it is so damn cold. Right George Mitchell?
    We have enough energy to last us a thousand years It would be better if the overall climate would come back up to the temps during the Viking and Roman eras.

  24. John Imes says:

    Unfortunately, it’s Wisconsin’s rising energy costs that hurt our competitiveness: Iowa, which has over 5,000 MW of wind energy installed (24% of its energy production) has 30% lower electricity rates than Wisconsin which gets only 2% of its energy from wind.
    (*U.S. Energy Information Administration:

    It’s no wonder then that Facebook selected a Des Moines, Iowa suburb as the site for a $300 million data-center, citing access to clean and renewable wind power as a factor in its decision to locate in Iowa.

    A divisive, ideologically extreme political environment has unfortunately meant missed opportunities to explore practical ways to diversify and “green” Wisconsin’s energy sources, provide jobs and invest in ways that neighboring states have. As such, Wisconsin…
    o has developed a reputation for a hostile and confusing climate for wind energy development that has sent entrepreneurs and developers running to other states;
    o Now ranks among the worst of 29 states that have a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, (RES), with Wisconsin staying flat at a 10 percent standard, while neighboring states have met and are pursing much higher levels.

    Indeed, Wisconsin is falling behind…

  25. Bruce Thompson says:

    Thanks for getting back on my question. I thought it might have been something like that.
    I would think that a company that adopted that test would never bring out a new product, since the ratio of research and development to volume would be huge.

  26. John Casper says:

    Wisconsin Conservative Digest,

    I’ve never heard that windmills changed the earth’s rotation. Did they speed it up or slow it down? Do you have a link to your claim?

    Since the Koch brothers, other oligarchs claim they can “own” mineral rights deep underground, why can’t they “buy” Lake Michigan and begin selling the water? Why can’t they begin “buying” underground aquifers and selling that water?

    W/R/T your claim that we have a 1,000 years of energy, where is it? Please provide a link.

    “Conserve” is the root of conservative.

  27. John Casper says:

    Eric, natural gas from sustainable sources makes sense. It’s clear from your comment that you ignore the earthquakes and aquifer damage from fracking for it.

    If you were a conservative, you’d understand how much electricity is lost in transmission. The conservative approach is to consume the electricity as close as possible to where it will be used.

    W/R/T to the price of natural gas:

    “…As natural gas prices surged because of demand in Nebraska, the utility turned to 300 megawatts of wind to provide 13% of demand and keep prices down. It shut down natural gas flow because prices were up more than 300%.
    In Texas, utilities struggled with numerous outages at conventional power plants, but wind farms filled in with 2 gigawatts (GW) of energy.
    In the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states the grid operator (which serves 60 million people) was able to turn to 3 GW of wind output when numerous fossil fuel plants and two nuclear plants unexpectedly failed. A whopping 20% of capacity was down because of problems with natural gas supply and weather-related mechanical failures, according to Reuters.
    High natural gas prices across New England were also reduced by high output from the region’s wind farms…”

    If you were a conservative you would understand how important diversification is. In Wisconsin, that means aggressive and sustainable exploration of biomass.

    For years, vertical-axis wind turbines, which are much easier to use in urban areas, have been judged very negatively against horizontal axis turbines. NASA now is saying that assessment might have been premature.
    in which NASA lauded the vertical-axis design for wind turbines.

    Windpower Engineering and Development out of Cleveland just published this piece
    which agrees with the claims made about vertical-axis wind turbines in the link (below).

    Per page-one of this nine-page pdf

    VAWT’s (vertical axis wind turbines) bring: “A 50% cost reduction per megawatt; a shorter delivery time; and a simple mechanical system that is inexpensive to maintain.”

    At this time, I haven’t seen a working prototype, so the claims are just claims. Walgreens, however, has invested and you can see a photo of their VAWT here

    Solar and wind have zero fuel costs. That’s a big advantage. The challenge is storage. This (August 2013) Stanford study on leading storage strategies for wind and solar is important.
    Pumped hydro storage (PHS) and compressed air ranked very high for storing wind energy.

    Wisconsin can grow rhubarb, so this could be a huge boost to Wisconsin agriculture.

    “A metal-free organic–inorganic aqueous flow battery”

    “…In contrast, flow batteries can independently scale the power (electrode area) and energy (arbitrarily large storage volume) components of the system by maintaining all of the electro-active species in fluid form3, 4, 5. Wide-scale utilization of flow batteries is, however, limited by the abundance and cost of these materials, particularly those using redox-active metals and precious-metal electrocatalysts6, 7. Here we describe a class of energy storage materials that exploits the favourable chemical and electrochemical properties of a family of molecules known as quinones. The example we demonstrate is a metal-free flow battery based on the redox chemistry of 9,10-anthraquinone-2,7-disulphonic acid (AQDS). …”

    From a Journal for Electrical Engineers: “‘Rhubarb’ Flow Battery Could Bolster Renewables Storage”

    “…A group at Harvard University has created an aqueous flow battery that uses a quinone, a type of organic molecule that happens to have favorable electrochemical properties. The particular quinone they used is nearly identical to one found in rhubarb….”

  28. John Casper says:

    Chris Byhre January 24th, 2014 11:12 am thanks for supporting Obama and both parties in removing the “holiday” on the FEDERAL payroll tax. That took 7.5% out of every paycheck less than $109,000/year. Yep, every dollar earned above $109,000 is exempt from the payroll tax. #protectthe1%

    Nixon took us off the gold standard. He stopped allowing foreign banks to demand gold in exchange for U.S. currency. FDR stopped US banks from demanding it. That means (FEDERAL) “Taxes for revenue are obsolete.” From NY Fed Chair Beardsley Ruml in 1946: “”…The necessity for a government to tax in order to maintain both its independence and its solvency is true for state and local governments, but it is not true for a national government. Two changes of the greatest consequence have occurred in the last twenty-five years which have substantially altered the position of the national state with respect to the financing of its current requirements.

    The first of these changes is the gaining of vast new experience in the management of central banks.

    The second change is the elimination, for domestic purposes, of the convertibility of the currency into gold.”


    We’re a world at war with the climate, but we’ve got guys like you screaming for a “balanced” federal budget. It’s the sectors (public, private (domestic), and foreign) that have to “balance.” Capitalism runs on SALES. When the private sector and the foreign sector are both broke, as they are now, the only one who can spend is the public sector. That’s the FEDERAL government. UMKC economics professor @stephaniekelton explains sector balances here. Her explanation and the slides are very accessible.

    Hedge fund manager Warren Mosler @wbmosler is excellent in this short 2010 speech to conservative Democrats in Texas.

    We can run out of potable water. We can run out of clean air. We can run out of minerals and metals. We cannot run out of the federal currency.

    Right now we’ve got cost-push inflation, because our economy is tied to fossil fuels. The last time we had demand-pull inflation was when we had full employment, World War II. That’s what federal taxes are for, managing aggregate demand. With so much slack in the economy, we need a HOLIDAY on the payroll tax and ALL other federal income taxes on the 99%. We need much greater federal investment in healthcare, education, and green infrastructure. It should be given in block grants to let states decide how to spend it.

  29. Dean Weichmann says:

    WCD, What a hoot! I have not seen such pure BS in a long time.
    Did logging also change the rotation of the earth?
    I will have to check on WCD…. does it exist?

  30. David Ciepluch says:

    The easiest extraction of oil, natural gas, and uranium have been performed. The remaining energy in the ground our under the oceans is much more difficult to extract with increasing costs. Shale oil takes 1-unit of natural gas energy to obtain 2-units of oil. Seafloor oil can be greater than $100/per barrel to extract and we have witnessed the environmental damage when it springs a leak 5 miles under water and it is almost impossible to cork.

    All energy has a hungry world market. About 1/2 the available oil has been used up on the planet and China and India have a larger and growing middle class willing to pay higher prices for it. No large oil fields have been discovered since the 1960s. All oil and natural gas pockets discovered are smaller and only last a few years in production. By the late 2020, it is estimated that a country like Saudi Arabia may no longer have oil available for export. They will need it all for their own growing population and domestic needs. The proposed pipeline from Canada for oil, is for export purposes to the highest bidder on the world market. It would not be to provide the USA consumer preferred pricing and consumption.

    A true conservative and progressive should value a strategic diversified portfolio of energy options that includes renewables, fossil, nuclear, hydro, etc. It should also include a maximum effort on the customer side of the equation with the most efficient, conserved, energy controlled, buildings, transportation modes, and production uses. The very word conservation comes from conservative but over time I think these two terms have become totally disconnected. All of this takes educated people with the ability to plan and implement. We used to have this kind of mentality and charge in our state but a breed of “idiote”, from the Greek definition, leads our state right now.

  31. George Mitchell says:

    “About 1/2 the available oil has been used up on the planet….”

    That, precisely, was the expert claim made in the early 70s during the oil embargo. See M. King Hubbert,

    In the end, people will conserve, explore for, and use alternatives based on economics.

  32. Tom D says:

    Eric (post 18) said “Wind power is bad for the environment, rips up the natural land, needs energy/minerals to manufacture turbines in the first place and the wind doesn’t always blow.”

    Strip mining coal (including totally destroying West Virginia mountains) doesn’t “rip up natural land”?

    Turbines in coal- and gas-powered generating plants are somehow manufactured without using “energy/minerals”?

    Natural gas is only “clean” if you ignore the methane leaking into the air at thousands of well sites (methane is also a greenhouse gas) and if you ignore the permanent damage to the water table when fracking wells leak.

  33. Neil S. says:

    I suggest Mr. Murphy leave the “womb” of Urban Milwaukee and view the Fond du lac wind farms on a regular basis as I do. He would see wind turbines that are frequently idle because there’s no wind! At least in this area, wind will always be a niche power provider. Nuclear is the only real viable alternative to coal but the left will never utter the dreaded “N” word. Wind may be more viable in other locations, such as in the Atlantic off of the Kennedy compound, but we all know what that particular bunch of green wacko hypocrites feel about clean energy spoiling their view.

  34. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Windmills have changed the rotation , that is why the polar vortex has moved down here. Actually the Koch bros. and George Soros are in a giant conspiracy together. i over heard them one night in the back of a bar in Morocco. Rick’s bar it is called. Sam plays the piano. they have conspired to make money by changing the political landscape of the US and we are all their pawns. Koch bros., silly crap.

  35. Eric says:

    Wind power doesn’t work. Nobody cares about wind. The country has undergone a shale gas revolution. It has generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and is the only industry growing in the Obama economy. Look at the economies in North Dakota and Texas versus the rest of the country. The US could be energy independent in 10 years, we awash in oil and gas.. We are looking to export our natural gas and oil, thus wind power is not needed. exporters! not importers! Liberals have been dreaming of these wind things for decades. But the problem is the numbers don’t add up unless they are heavilysubsidized by taxpayers. I suggest the pro-wind people do some research on the subject. Start by looking at Germany and their wind experience. Then look at the amount of natural gas discoveries the past 10 years, we find a new shale play every day. Finally, liberals want wind but don’t want any turbines anywhere near them. Why is that? And to the wind people, stop calling your governor an idiot. The hate on the left against him is depressing.

  36. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Urban Milwaukee??? Is it safe to say that the only impact windmills have on Urban Milwaukee is to raise your electric bills. Milwaukee has gone down hill as a cit, mostly from really bad managment and less than mediocre leadership. everyone that knows anything about cities, and I do love Milwaukee area to live, but we must solve the problems. I had extensive real estate in Milwaukee at one time but took off cause of taxes, regs, building inspectors, and creeps in govt. But Milwaukee need to prosper, so Wis. can prosper. First you must address the crime problem. 10th most violent and the Left sits quiet. Worries about a Bucks arena and a train to nowhere. Schools are worst in country. MMSD floods our basements with poop and also Lake Michigan. Wis. Center is joke, poorly run, poorly built, run by a political hack. Poverty is rampant. You need jobs but turn down WalMart and 4 seasons. You demonize businesses. The 1%ers that we need. They have headed out to Waukesha or south with KC. the Mayor hates his job so much he spend all time trying to get another one. Inner city revolves around drugs. 57% of kids do not have jobs and they want to make it more expensive to hire them. There should be a training job rate of $5 per hour to get kids into work and train them on discipline, get to work on time, get the job done. start them out cleaning and sweeping, cleaning toilets like I did and many others. John Boehner cleaned up his Dad’s bar.
    Windmills?? silly!

  37. Bruce Thompson says:

    WMD: I have trouble telling when you are serious and when you are attempting a parody. I’m guessing the most recent one is meant to be serious and the one about windmills changing the rotation of the earth a parody, but perhaps it is the other way around.

    By the way, I see that 2013 just turned out to be the 4th hottest year on record.

  38. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Obama Energy Polices destroying middle class: Obama and the nutty Greens are doing their best to destroy the middle class. First gas prices have doubled during his tenure. Next, by restricting supplies, not allowing to drill on public land out west or fracking for natural gas he has restricted supplies forcing people to use propane and it is skyrocketing. Going to wind and solar cause electric prices to skyrocket. Even the EU sees this now as stupid. Suggest all you Lefties read something besides Sluggo comic books. “Waiting for Superman” might tell you something about what you have done to our schools.
    Straight from Inst. Energy Research comes the actual subsidies for various forms of energy.
    1. Gas,oil, coal= .64
    2. Nuke: 3.14
    Wind: 56.29
    Solar: 775.64.
    This is per kilowatt hour. EU wanted to placate greens esp. in Germany and now they see how nutty it is. Then you have to factor in the unreliability of wind and sun. We do have night time, guys. Wonder why the working class poor and the middle classes sare hurting and there is such disparity? Obama’s treasury secy. has gotten the Fed to buy bonds so that leave the wealthy with lots of money to put into stock market so market has gone up. Is there any limit to the stupidity of the Left? No!!!! Wait for the “train to nowhere”.

  39. Tom D says:

    WCD, the reason people use propane has nothing to do with alleged restrictions in petroleum or natural gas extraction, since propane comes primarily from those two sources. People use propane because they can’t (or don’t want to) connect to a natural gas utility in their neighborhood.

    Propane was widely used for rural homes and businesses (and for home barbecues) long before Obama took office.

  40. David Ciepluch says:

    Natural gas pipe line service is not available throughout many areas of Wisconsin. Homes and businesses will then rely on other alternatives like propane, fuel oil, and electric for heating and cooking. Propane is shipped by rail and trucks and is derived from petroleum during the distillation process. The price tracks the world price of oil.

    The USA does not have a strategic “Energy Policy”. Never has had one.

  41. Dean Weichmann says:

    Well, I guess we could use statistical info…
    In February 2013 Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that the cost of generating electricity from new wind farms is cheaper than new coal or new baseload gas plants.

    Cost per unit of energy produced was estimated in 2006 to be comparable to the cost of new generating capacity in the US for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at $55.80 per MW·h, coal at $53.10/MW·h and natural gas at $52.50.[

  42. Gray Ghost says:

    What exactly is the problem with having a bunch of wind turbines in Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota? That seems like the best deal for Wisconsin. We can buy that power at the same price we would pay if generated in WI, and those states bear all the external costs, like noise pollution, scenic degradation, declining real estate values, and huge numbers of dead birds.

    Plus, to the extent government subsidies of wind power are borne by states (as opposed to electricity purchasers), those states will bear those subsidy costs too.

  43. David Ciepluch says:

    The entire idea of having electric energy generation from coal, natural gas and renewable sources is to provide in state production capability. Electric energy can be purchased from Iowa and Minnesota utilities through an aging grid system. There are line losses of 10-20% the farther the generating source is away from the user. It is also importing energy and dollars leave the state for that purchase. Renewable energy produced in state keeps money churning the local economies and land owners receive about $4,000 annually for lease payments for each turbine.

    Exporting Wisconsin dollars is not a sustainable economic model. Wisconsin needs to hold onto as many dollars as possible and have more coming in than leaving for a viable productive economy.

    Wisconsin currently sends $12 Billion annually out of state to purchase energy.

    Bird deaths are one or two per year per turbine. Tall buildings and cats kill thousands of birds annually. I do not recall anyone making claims for tearing down buildings and shield housing windows to protect bird species from dying.

    The declining real estate values are a bogus and a created myth. There is no proof of declining values.

    Scenery is in one’s individual perspective. People that build homes in rural areas also could be considered blurring the great landscape scenery of Wisconsin. It is also the typical “not in my backyard” statement that is often used, and does have some merit.

    All energy sources have various forms of subsidy. The largest subsidy is the hidden defense funding if added to the price of gasoline, it should be priced at $500/gallon.

    Energy production works best with a diversified portfolio of options. The wind is always blowing somewhere so more turbines allow production increases by geographic location.

  44. Bill Kurtz says:

    It’s puzzling or amusing to see a couple of posters opposed to wind energy citing dead birds as a reason. Haven’t the same people supported shooting mourning doves and practically else that moves? I guess birds are to be mourned only when they die at wind farms.

  45. Bruce Thompson says:

    Bill, I agree. They seem to be stretching really, really hard to find reasons to dislike wind energy. Having so many reasons to oppose something usually means that none is the true one. My guess is that oppose wind energy because most environmentalists support it.

    Incidentally, I drove up to Neenah today to teach a class. There must be 40 to 50 windmills in sight of the highway just before you drop down the Niagara escarpment. All the ones I could see were turning.

  46. Chris Byhre says:

    Bruce, you might want to get your car exhaust checked for a leak into the passenger area before your next long drive past the pretty windmills you adore. The fact that people have come up with many reasons against wind power says that it is a bad idea not a good one. Your statement that if we only had one reason to hate it would make our argument better is ridiculous. You can tell the other side has a weak argument when they resort to ‘logic’ such as yours and trump up ‘facts’ as cited by Bill. Incidently, it was windy today Bruce, hence the turning windmills. What kind of class do you teach? I know it can not be logic, debate or anything where salient points are a prerequisite for success.

  47. David Ciepluch says:

    Wind Turbines are sited in Fond du Lac County since the geography of the land is higher along the Niagara Escarpment. This location has an average wind speed of 13 MPH needed to maximize production of the turbines.

    Siting on Lake Michigan near shore also has a higher average wind speed and production capability would increase. So would the install cost almost double. The smaller wind turbines sited in the Milwaukee Harbor estuary, are greatly exceeding production estimates.

    Large wind turbine systems will make up a large component of renewable production capability along with solar electric. Solar makes more sense in urban areas that cannot site larger utility type turbines. Solar is approaching a parity cost with utility provided electricity production cost. This will provide very interesting times ahead. Over time this has a direct impact on peak time utility produced electric and it cuts into their bottom line. It will be interesting to see how they deal with this growing force. My preference is that they should cooperate, possibly own some of the systems on private properties, and share the production rewards with the property owner.

    Solar is another topic, but all energy sources, efficiency, and customer uses are inter-related and cannot be separated from discussion. And as I stated earlier, we have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 50%, plowing savings back into local economies, and providing thousands of related jobs in the process.

  48. Robert Sauer says:

    The United States needs to convert to environmentally friendly power production. 97% of scientists agree that climate-warming trends are likely due to human activity ( Investing in clean energy is both environmentally responsible and supporting to an innovative, growing market. With that being said, clean energy sources have to be used intelligently.

    I don’t like this article at all. All of the information he shared sound great on paper, until you look into them. Murphy tries countering the fact that Wisconsin is unfavorable for wind energy by saying that we are ranked 17th highest in potential wind energy. That rank means nothing in terms of wind turbine success. That is a comparison not a fact. If you research a wind map, you will see that Wisconsin has primarily class 2 winds (marginal), with a small portion in the west that has class 3 winds ( Class 4 or Class 5 winds are needed for wind turbines to be slightly cheaper than coal, thus the information shared about Lazard was also misused. He also stated that Wisconsin has enough wind energy potential to power the state four times over, that may be, but it is idiotic to not consider the impossibly large amounts of land and money needed to gather that. Then Murphy compared the amount of wind energy gathered in Minnesota(17%) compared to Wisconsin(2%), but if you look at the wind map again you will understand why (

    The Scott Walker comments are the icing on the cake. I understand if people don’t like the guy, but you better have a legitimate reason to bring him up in an article like this.

    I am a very strong supporter of environmentalism. It makes a lot more sense to have wind turbines gather energy in areas that with significantly more wind than Wisconsin. Properly located turbines will greatly increase our clean energy production.

  49. Neil S. says:

    @Robert Sauer – Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, it is true that organizations like NASA, NOAA and others still promote man-made global warming. This despite the fact that peer-reviewed studies show the Medieval Warm Period (900-1300 A.D.) was warmer than it is today. Then we had the Little Ice Age (1300-1650 A.D.) when the temps went the other way. My point? The temperatures and CO2 in the atmosphere of our planet have fluctuated wildly over thousands and millions of years. On one extreme, you have the Cambrian Period of 550 Million years ago when CO2 levels were 18 times higher than today and the dinosaur Jurassic period of 200 million years ago when CO2 was 9 times higher than today and the average temperature was about 18F warmer than today. Was man responsible for those warm periods? Of course not. Then we have the ice ages over the last millions years that have lasted around 100,000 years followed by warming periods of about 10,000 years. If you ever hunted or hiked up and down the kettle hills in Northern Wisconsin that were left when the glaciers that once covered Wisconsin receded, you have to think: What made them melt? Finally, the charlatans of the lucrative man-made global warming community are best illustrated by the leaked East Angela emails and Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph where the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age simply disappeared! I prefer to view the above geological history of our plant as a much more unbiased indicator than all of the so-called climate scientists who have become very wealthy scrounging around for government research grants.

  50. David Ciepluch says:

    Climate change and CO2 increases are response to man made emissions that are being measured and released. The CO2 levels have been compared to ice cores going back 700,000 years.

    Renewable energy production, maximizing energy efficiency, time of use management strategies are all positive tools that would save the consumer trillions of dollars, create jobs and invigorate the economies. As a byproduct less oil is imported and less fossil fuel burning thereby conserving a bit more for future generations and a by product is a reduction in CO2 emissions.

    If the climate deniers are wrong, most to them and us will not be around to see the dire negative consequences and our descendants will curse us for not doing something. The least costly and beneficial pathway is a strategic comprehensive energy production and use approach that includes diverse options. CO2 emissions and climate change are a byproduct of the current dim-witted sit on the hands approach. And we can continue to be at the mercy of energy companies instead of reducing use by 50% through intelligent strategies and getting the same or more work.

  51. Jay Lott says:

    “The declining real estate values are a bogus and a created myth. There is no proof of declining values.”

    Well, that’s one problem solved, then. We’ll just build the next set of wind turbines on lots adjacent to your house.

  52. Jay Lott says:

    I hunt doves and other legal game birds. And I think that wind power is too expensive and doesn’t deserve a subsidy. Bird deaths are just one example of the large external costs of wind power.

    Those of you who can’t see the difference between a bird killed by a wind turbine (a bird wasted) and a bird killed by me (a bird eaten) are providing yet another example of the illogic of the wind power subsidy supporters.

    But the major thing that supporters of wind (and solar) don’t understand is that every wind a solar project is an additional capital expense. Because capital expenses are such a large proportion of the cost of power generation, keeping capital costs down is important. Wind and solar are unreliable. We can build all the wind and solar we want, and it won’t reduce by one dollar the amount we must spend on reliable generating capacity like natural gas or coal or perhaps even hydro. The reason? We have to have RELIABLE generating capacity equal to peak demand. And that hot summer weekday when everyone’s AC is going full blast — what if it’s not windy? What if it’s overcast? That’s right, power failure and the power utilities get blamed. So that windmill you want to build in my backyard or in my lake? It’s basically just a luxury to make liberals feel good about themselves at ratepayer’s expense.

  53. David Ciepluch says:

    Many people do not understand the power curve of electrical production and use. The new $2.3 Billion power plant was based and planned on the 1990s close calls on meeting energy demands. The plant came on line during 2010. The 2007-08 economic upheaval reduced peak demand by about 10-20% in portions of the state and UP with permanent loss of auto plants and paper mills. The largest customer, a mine in the UP is slated to close. The new coal plant does not run as much since natural gas has been cheaper since peaking in 2005-07, and the new natural gas plant in Port Washington has run more. Natural gas is peaking again and that may mean a switch back to to coal generation. Renewable sources are run as much as possible since there are no fuel costs involved.

    The problem for utilities is not peak demand but the off peak valley that occurs 1/3 of the time during night time. They have an excess and lack of storage capability. I have covered low cost options for storage in earlier comments and they benefit the customer side of the equation.

    Utilities that hold a monopoly position know that their current business model is in trouble with the advent of renewable production sources especially the customer owning solar and wind options. A true conservative and progressive position should be to look out for the consumer and not the monopoly utility. Here is a very recent article on the topic. Utilities around the country and in Wisconsin are working to protect the old business model.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us