Natural Gas NOW
The Black Oak Wind Farm was supposed to be a monument to the potential for the Solutions Project to take New York 100% renewable. Predictably, it’s dead.
Tony “the Tiger” Ingraffea is still out there preaching the Gospel of the Solutions Project. It’s pure fantasyland, conjured up by true believers and promoted by the likes of fantasy actor Mark Ruffalo. The concept, as applied to New York State, is that converting to 100% renewables is as simple as teaching your dog to beg. All that’s required is a little determination. But, the news from Tony’s own backyard says otherwise.
Tony Ingraffea, back in 2014, was saying this:
Yes, Tony maintained then, as he continues to maintain, that converting New York State to 100% renewables was not only possible, but also necessary. He even produced a plan showing how. As I explained in 2016, his plan was to:
…convert New York State’s (NYS’s) all-purpose (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) energy infrastructure to one derived entirely from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) generating electricity and electrolytic hydrogen. Under the plan, NYS’s 2030 all-purpose end-use power would be provided by 10% onshore wind (4020 5-MW turbines)…
I pointed out at the time how difficult it was to do wind projects. I’ve represented communities that have accommodated wind projects, I’ve worked on a wind project, advocated for wind projects and I’ve stood before a crowd of angry Manhattanites who didn’t want any wind projects near their second homes in the Catskills. I know what it’s like and I suggested Tony might not know but I could see the signs of the future from the controversy surrounding the Black Oak Wind Farm proposed in his Ithaca backyard.
Much to Tony’s credit he put his mouth where his money is, in promoting wind energy. He went to the mat on behalf of the Black Oak Wind Farm, which I reported here as the opposition intensified:
“There’s far too much resistance across New York State, from the very same people who said ‘no shale gas in my backyard’ are now saying no solar panels and no wind in my backyard. You can’t have it both ways,” said Tony Ingraffea, a Cornell University researcher who is concerned about the slow pace of renewable energy development in New York, at a press conference in December. “Suck it up and be courageous.”
This was in January, 2017 and I applauded Tony for “finally getting it right.” But, I also made it clear he was highly unlikely to win:
He pretended (and told everyone else) renewables could simply replace natural gas, ignoring the political realities of getting projects approved in New York where NIMBYs and other people like him are uniquely empowered in opposing stuff.
Yes, Tony played with fire and it got away from him. He’s 100% correct when he says “You can’t have it both ways” but that wasn’t how he acted when he was pushing Mark Jacobson’s theory of a 100% renewable New York was it? No, Tony wanted all renewables and supposed it could happen without gas and without opposition. He was only too happy to trash the natural gas that’s needed not only as a complement to renewables but also to avoid having to cover Upstate New York with windmills that would inevitably face enormous NIMBY opposition. New York, like every other state, needs an all-of-the-above energy policy and picking winners and losers is fraught with risk.
It was entirely predictable wind and large solar projects would face exactly the same type of NIMBY opposition as natural gas projects just as everything else does. New York State policy virtually ensured it.
This brings us to yesterday when I decided it might be worthwhile checking back on the status of the Black Oak Wind Farm, which was a lousy seven turbines. What I found was a December, 2017 article from the Ithaca Voice entitled “Black Oak Wind Farm cancelled.” The NIMBYs won, as they usually do in uppity communities of academics with money and time to waste:
To wax poetic for a moment, one could say a black oak has withered and fallen. The organization planning the Black Oak Wind Farm in Enfield has declared bankruptcy, and the renewable energy project has been cancelled.
According to project representative Marguerite Wells, the culprit is the town of Enfield’s moratorium on wind turbines, a proverbial final nail in the coffin for the beleaguered project. “The project could not survive the moratorium, since the town board had already had a de facto moratorium for the previous nine months as well. With nearly two years of no action on the permit documents before them, our contracts expired and potential investors lost interest.
There is no possibility of us reviving it after the moratorium; our leases and contracts are terminated. There is very low likelihood of anyone else wanting to propose a wind project there in the foreseeable future, due to small project site and oppositional town board and neighbors…”
The project has been the subject of a highly contentious debate that extended for years. The plan, first conceived in 2006 and modified multiple times over the years, called for seven wind turbines that would produce 16.1 MW of energy, enough to power almost 3,000 homes…
Unfortunately for the backers, the project ran into significant opposition from Enfield and Newfield residents with concerns about wind turbines in their towns. Reasons cited included potential health impacts through noise, wildlife impacts (birds), aesthetic issues and ice accretion.
There it is; pure unadulterated MIMBYism of the sort Tony Ingraffea encourage against natural gas, and by the same people, no doubt. They decided they could and should have it both ways, as all NIMBYs are wont to believe.
There are some positives here, though. The Black Oak debacle demonstrates, beyond all doubt, the foolishness of the Solutions Project, which is built on the naive expectation that wind and solar farms will be welcomed wherever they go because they’re just so darned clean and green. It also exposes the complete hypocrisy of the sort of trendy upper class folks who typically mouth “green new deal” or whatever the latest political correct slogan might be. Finally, it forces at least a few folks of intellectual honesty, to confront the reality that gas is essential. Everyone but Tony Ingraffea, that is.