11 Reasons Wind Energy Will Work for Georgia

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols addresses attendees at "Wind Energy, Will it Work for Georgia?" in Savannah on June 20.

In Savannah June 20, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols hosted an event titled “Wind Energy, Will it Work for Georgia?” Based on the dozens of stakeholders present and expert presentations given, here are 11 reasons why wind energy will, and does, work for Georgia.

1. Wind energy is cost-competitive with other energy sources and prices continue to drop.

Wind energy is extremely cheap. For new wind farms installed last year in the Plains, prices reached $21 per megawatt hour (MWh). That’s effectively two cents per kilowatt hour ($0.021/kWh) (for reference, the average residential price of electricity in Georgia is a little over 11 cents/kWh). While there are technical and other limitations that make it unlikely for Georgia to get wind power at this low of a cost, wind power prices have been steadily dropping since 2008 and will continue to drop over time. How do prices from wind energy out West relate to wind energy for Georgia? You’ll find that answer in #2.

2. New transmission can expand Georgia’s opportunities to receive wind energy from the Plains.

Plains and Eastern Clean Line is a direct current link to the lowest-cost wind energy in the country. Credit: Clean Line Energy Partners

Wind energy from the Plains will make its way to Georgia next year. The news became official late last month, when the Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved the state’s first wind farm proposal. Georgia Power is entering into two long-term contracts for the purchase of 250 megawatts of power from wind farms in Oklahoma, enough to power over 50,000 homes. The main decision to approve these contracts stems from the extremely low cost of energy for ratepayers. This follows a trend of purchasing wind energy from the Plains with Alabama Power and Tennessee Valley Authority both making similar contract agreements to bring cost-effective wind energy into the region. If purchased electricity for wind energy remains low cost and accessible via transmission, we should expect to see additional agreements from Georgia Power in the near future.

During the recent event in Savannah, Diana Rivera, from Clean Line Energy Partners, featured the company’s Plains and Eastern project, which will deliver wind resources from the West to Southern states. With the construction of a new transmission line, this project will have the capacity to deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind energy to the South.

3. New turbine technology is better able to capture low-wind energy resources.

In areas traditionally viewed as having a low wind resource, newer, taller turbines are opening access to faster and more stable winds higher off the ground. Modern turbines reaching, 500 feet tall (150 meters), make wind energy a more viable option for Georgia. Taller turbines provide higher capacity factors for wind turbines which increase electricity output and produce lower electricity prices from wind energy. The NREL figure below confirms what many wind developers have privately known for several years – Georgia’s wind resources are better than previously thought.

Taller Turbines Benefit the South. Credit: National Renewable Energy Lab

 

4. Georgia Power is exploring small-scale wind energy opportunities through a wind demonstration project. 

Last summer, as part of Georgia Power’s recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the Public Service Commission approved a small wind turbine demonstration pilot project that will measure the state’s land-based wind resource and compare different turbine technologies. Ervan Hancock, Manager of Renewable and Green Strategies for Georgia Power, described this project in more detail at the recent event in Savannah. Georgia Power, in partnership with Georgia Southern University, will deploy 5 small-scale turbines across the state. Currently, they have narrowed the locations down to 10 sites. Hancock predicts that the turbines will be installed by mid-2015.

5. Coastal and offshore wind energy can act as a peaking resource.

Offshore wind energy could supply cost effective electricity for high electrical demand across the Southeast during the summertime. A recent report published by SACE shows that Georgia’s offshore wind resources are positively correlated with peak electricity demand hours in summer months because of the sea breeze effect. Replacing peaking generation, which can be very expensive, with a zero-fuel-cost resource like offshore wind may be able to reduce ratepayer costs. Cape Wind, the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm, is expected to save customers in New England $25 million annually by reducing the use of expensive power plants.

Georgia’s sea breeze would provide reliable wind generation when Georgia Power needs it most – during peak load hours on hot August afternoons.

 

6. Georgia has a tremendous offshore wind energy resource–enough power to provide one-third of the state’s current electrical needs.

study from Geo-Marine, Inc. indicates that Georgia has about 14.5 gigawatts of feasibly developable offshore wind energy potential–enough to meet about about a third of Georgia’s annual electricity needs at today’s consumption rates. Shallow seas and strong breezes help reduce the costs associated with building offshore wind farms in Georgia. According to the Energy Information Association (EIA), Southeastern states (including Georgia) are some of the lowest cost construction sites for offshore wind compared to the rest of the country. Developing our offshore wind potential would mean big economic benefits to the state, including job creation in the construction, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and shipping industries.

7. Georgia stakeholders are already working together to prepare for the offshore wind industry.

This database, the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner, is a GIS data collection and compilation that will provide key information to determine the best locations for offshore wind energy development.

The event in Savannah featured the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planning (GCAMP) team, a partnership between Georgia Tech, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). GCAMP is working to uncover key policies and planning needed to move offshore wind energy forward in the state. The team is performing research that will prepare Georgia for offshore wind energy development through coordinating with federal regulatory agencies and facilitating the state’s management of coastal and ocean resources. Additionally, GCAMP is providing online access to data regarding coastal and ocean resources through Georgia Tech’s center for Geographic Information Systems (GIS). You can check out the Georgia and Coastal Marine Planner here.

8. Georgia Power is moving forward to study offshore wind energy resources.

Georgia Power is pursuing the installation of equipment to study the offshore wind energy resource off the coast of Tybee Island. Before installing the equipment, Georgia must finalize the lease on the offshore area, the details of which are in the process of being worked out. Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) declared that the project would have no significant environmental impact, a key regulatory hurdle that must be overcome before the lease can be awarded. If the environmental assessment by BOEM is finalized, Southern Company may be permitted to install “a meteorological tower and/or up to two buoys for data collection.” Casey Reeves, Project Coordinator for BOEM, spoke via phone to attendees during the recent event in Savannah, stated that the lease will hopefully be available this year. The lease and data collection could continue for up to five years. Georgia Power’s Ervan Hancock predicts that in a best case scenario the study will be completed by 2020.

9. Wind energy would greatly conserve water for the state. 

Credit: Southern Environmental Law Center

Georgia, a state that is prone to droughts and water wars between neighboring states, would greatly benefit from reducing its water consumption for electricity generation. Most thermal power plants, like coal and nuclear power plants, withdraw and consume large quantities of fresh water. Wind farms, like solar photovoltaic panels, do not use water to generate power. Developing 1,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity could reduce water consumption by 1.6 billion gallons per year by replacing water-intensive power plants.

10. Wind energy would help Georgia Power to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently proposed Clean Power Plan the U.S. will seek to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Wind energy, with no polluting air emissions, is a hugely important resource as the state continues to look for opportunities to lower CO2 emissions.

11. Wind energy is already working for Georgia. 

While Georgia has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefiting from wind farms across the country. The Peach State is currently home to over 20 wind energy component manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Georgia. In addition, the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal is an important transportation hub for wind energy equipment. With the Southern region now ripe for large-scale wind energy development and Georgia’s manufacturing sector continuing to grow, we hope to see an increase in wind energy jobs in the state.

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11 Comments

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This article is a study in “which one doesn’t belong” #2 conflicts with all the other points here. Buying into Clean Line’s self-serving sales pitch will do nothing but send Georgia’s electric consumer $$ out of state. Adopting #8 instead of #2 keeps Georgia’s energy $$ at home where it promotes economic development and tax revenue IN GEORGIA.

Georgia should also investigate the wild claims of Clean Line. How much would Oklahoma wind cost, really? Georgia needs to add in the cost of building a transmission line that costs more than $2B. How much is that going to add to the cost of imported wind? 2.5 cents? 4.5 cents? 10 cents? Also note that none of this wind generation has been built, and may never be built, just like the transmission line to nowhere.

Are you also aware, Georgia, that Oklahoma wind “working for you” doesn’t work for the citizens of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, who are being threatened by eminent domain to sell their land to Clean Line? How many citizens lives and properties will you ruin, making Oklahoma wind “work for Georgia?”

But, there is one this you’ve got spot on here… Clean Line is a whole bunch of #2.


Comment by Kitty on July 5, 2014 9:11 am


Georgia imported about $1.7 billion worth of coal in 2012, including over $17 million from West Virginia – your home state, “Kitty”. That coal gets south on the back of eminent domain: railroads. Since the status quo would suffer under the same criticism you’ve leveled against all electric transmission, you have to ask if there is a net benefit. So is there a net benefit to importing clean wind energy, especially when it’s cheaper than coal? Absolutely. Wind farms emits no pollution to generate electricity, do not consume water, and provide price stability over a 20-year timeframe.

The linking states, and citizens, do benefit from wind transmission. When wind farms are built in Oklahoma, Oklahoma gets the benefit of the construction jobs, maintenance jobs and property taxes associated with those projects, regardless of where the energy is used. Clean Line has agreements to source power towers and transmission cable from Oklahoma and Arkansas manufacturers, and will be delivering power to both Arkansas and Tennessee, before the power could make its way to Georgia. Landowners that voluntarily lease their land for power lines are also fairly compensated. Since much of the land around a power pole can still be used (farmed, most likely), those power poles represent additional income with little disturbance. Eminent domain is used as a last resort, only in limited circumstances, and land owners are compensated.


Comment by Simon Mahan on July 7, 2014 9:41 am


Simon, so what are you willing to give up to make this happen? As a landowner that would be impacted by another Clean Line project in Kansas — the Grain Belt Express — the compensation offered does not cover the loss of land value or the loss of our ability to use the land as we had planned — as a place of residence for our young family. The compensation Clean Line offers is FAR from adequate or fair. Willing to write a check to compensate us for the loss of a building plot? They go for about $40,000 here. Put your money where your mouth is. Willing to share some of your retirement fund? That’s what the land is for families who have put every penny into their properties. Willing to put your kids at an increased risk for cancer? If not, then you lack the standing to tell others they should. To this date, not a single supporter of the projects or employee of Clean Line has offered anything of theirs to make the project happen, they are all hypocrites.

Clean Line, after five years of development, only has 36% of the signatures it needs to build Plains and Eastern. It’s sister project, Rock Island, only has 10%. A private, land grab, speculative investment company should never receive eminent domain for their private gain. Expecting to receive it when condemnation proceedings would be required for the majority of properties is foolish on their part. Condemnation would be expensive for the private investors, they should pack up now before it’s a total loss. Additionally, once the tax incentives and subsidies dry up or renewable energy standards are repealed, only wind farms that are economically relevant will be built; according to Warren Buffet, wind farms don’t make sense if it weren’t for tax payer dollars funding them. Also, trying to greenwash the project doesn’t hide that coal energy would be needed at all times, and often be the majority source on the line. Can you say there won’t be coal energy on the line? I didn’t think so.


Comment by Kansas Landowner on July 7, 2014 5:35 pm


I correct myself, the 36% number was referred to by another article I’d read. I’ve now learned that number is the number of signatures they wanted to get on their website to reach their “goal” of support, has nothing to do with easement contracts. Nowhere does it say what their goal is, how long they’ve been trying to reach it. Knowing how Clean Line operates, it’s probably 100 signatures in an undetermined amount of time, subject to change whenever they decide it’s in their best interest.


Comment by Kansas Landowner on July 7, 2014 5:50 pm


Kansas Landowner,
Several statements you make are false. You claim you want $40k for property you “plan” to use. Clean Line Energy provides an example easement payment for Kansas landowners and comes up to an figure of $72,400 – for nine acres. Of that nine acres, some 99% is still usable for farming.

You make a completely invalid accusation when you opine that there’ll be “coal energy on the line”. Grain Belt Express Clean Line will begin in rural Kansas and terminate in rural Missouri and rural Indiana. HVDC transmission requires a substation to switch power from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) so it can be used through local transmission and distribution lines. No additional power (coal or otherwise) will be able to “get on” or “get off” between the substations. In order for coal to get on the line, you’d need a coal plant to be built in rural Kansas, with Missouri/Indiana demanding coal electricity that can beat the cost of wind energy and can be constructed in two to three years. That’s not even considering the fact that the Clean Line developers have decades of experience and a passion for building wind farms – that’s why the company is called “Clean Line.” It’s pretty definitive physically, economically and socially that there won’t be any coal on the Clean Line projects.

Also, to my knowledge no medical evidence proves that high voltage direct current transmission lines have any direct correlation with cancer rates – all studies that suggest a cancer correlation with transmission look at alternating current transmission.

With all this being said, the transmission lines are works in progress – no final pathway has been plotted. Clean Line is still working with landowners to find the best route for the power line.

Clean Line Energy Grain Belt Express Easement Payment example
http://www.grainbeltexpresscleanline.com/sites/grain_belt/media/KS_Landowner_Compensation_Factsheet_7.12.2013.pdf


Comment by Simon Mahan on July 8, 2014 12:33 pm


Think DC lines don’t create EMFs? Think harder instead of trusting the propaganda that Clean Line has fed you.

http://www.safespaceprotection.com/electrostress-from-power-lines.aspx


Comment by Matthew on July 10, 2014 11:57 am


From a Clean Line Director of Development, under oath, in regard to what types of energy would be transmitted on a Clean Line project’s line, it would apply to the Plains & Eastern Line as well, therefore applying to Georgia:

“Some have brought up the potential of the Holcomb (coal) power Plant in Holcomb, KS potentially utilizing this line. As stated above, Grain Belt Express is not allowed to limit or discriminate against potential customers based on the type of generation seeking transmission service.”

A second coal plant in Holcomb has recently been approved, in the exact region where Clean Line’s sister project would start. Again, you have fallen for Clean Line’s propaganda: the misperception that only wind energy would be on the Plains & Eastern lines.


Comment by Matthew on July 10, 2014 12:21 pm


You make the assumption that only farm land would be impacted. This is false. Some existing homes would be within 300 feet of the easements that have been drawn in certain states for the Plains & Eastern’s sister projects. Transmission lines like Plains and Eastern devalue land anywhere from 10-30%. No compensation is offered for those losses.

A person’s “plan” to build a home carries as much importance than Clean Line’s “plan” that wind farms would be built or that customers would be found for the project. The difference is: one of the two actually OWNS the land. Clean Line is a speculative land grab company existing solely as an investment opportunity.


Comment by Matthew on July 10, 2014 12:27 pm


A Plains & Eastern sister project, which uses the exact same business plan, exact same numbers for jobs, investment estimates, contract language isn’t satisfying those landowners with the payments you represent as being totally fair or better than. Here’s how he views the compensation package, impacted Plains & Eastern property owners will undoubtedly have the same impression as the property owners who are impacted by the other cookie cutter projects:

http://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/story/2097946.html


Comment by Matthew on July 10, 2014 12:30 pm


Read this article specifically written about the Plains & Eastern project, for the corrections and real insight in to the project and Clean Line’s business, read the comments:

http://swtimes.com/business/clean-line-ceo-says-arkansas-businesses-benefit-wind-line


Comment by Matthew on July 10, 2014 12:48 pm


Health effects
Direct current does not generate electromagnetic fields (EMF), since they do not have any frequency (hertz). DC transmission does create a magnetic field (“static” field – and no, not like static electricity). According to the European Union, “Few studies on human populations are available on the effects of static fields and the available evidence is not sufficient to draw any conclusion about potential health effects of exposure to static magnetic fields.”

Dr. Eric van Rongen, a radiobiologist recognized globally as an expert on the health effects of electromagnetic fields, has submitted testimony specifically on High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) and the false statement that HVDC causes cancer. Dr. van Rongen states: “As indicated earlier, the effects of exposure to alternating and static fields on the human body differ. It thus should be realized that effects that have been observed or suspected to occur with exposure to alternating fields are not predictive for effects of exposure to static fields, and vice versa. It is important to stress that the discussion on a possible association between an increased risk for childhood leukaemia and living near overhead power lines and the associated exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields DOES NOT pertain to HVDC cables; since HVDC operates with direct currents, only static fields will be generated.” (Emphasis is HIS).

It’s fairly clear that http://www.safespaceprotection.com is intentionally frightening people in order to sell their products. You can buy a variety of their holograms or pendants to neutralize all threats. The “EMF HEALTH RISKS” they describe include cell phones, wireless routers, cellphone towers, computers, plumbing, “geopathic stress”, appliances, water lines, cars, planes and boats. They are not a credible source.

Property values
One metastudy regarding transmission projects and their effects on property values found that of 27 studies regarding the topic, “Of these, ten found that transmission lines had no significant effect on land values, ten were inconclusive, and five concluded that the overall effect of transmission lines on land values was negative.”

By falsely claiming high voltage direct current transmission causes cancer, it’s likely property values can drop because of the false perception. That same study cites another study, stating, “It really does not matter that they may be uninformed or inaccurate judgments at variance with the “facts” of the market. Buyers and sellers base their actions on their expectations and anticipations. If fear is a widespread influence, whether justified or not, it will affect value adversely.” Simply put, spreading fear kills property values.

European Union – What possible health effects of static magnetic fields have been studied?
http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/en/electromagnetic-fields/l-2/8-static-fields.htm

Dr. van Rongen – Claims of cancer from transmission do not pertain to HVDC
http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/C28F441C-D8BD-43D6-A15B-2744AC5F8F01/0/HVDCExpertOpinionreport.pdf

Journal of Environmental Management – Electric Power Transmission Lines, Property Values, and Compensation
http://sds.hss.cmu.edu/risk/articles/electricpowertranslines.pdf


Comment by Simon Mahan on July 18, 2014 4:38 pm


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