Equal Time, American Wind Energy Association

As previously stated, I am open to new facts and I am open to airing both sides of the debate.  This was posted as a comment by the American Wind Energy Assn. below. I am posting it in full, and as a separate posting, without edits. I have some questions at the end that I hope Mr. Goggin will see and answer. If so, I will post the answers.

Mike,

Thanks for making an effort to clarify some of the confusion that came from your earlier post. However, I feel obliged to ask for a full correction or retraction to your original post for the following reasons:

1. Wind energy output was extremely high throughout the period when ERCOT implemented rolling blackouts and leading up to that period, making your claims that wind was in any way a cause of this event entirely false. ERCOT data shows wind output blasting along at over 4,000 MW Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. During the 5-7 AM window Wednesday morning, when ERCOT was forced to implement rolling blackouts, wind output was cruising along at between 3,600 MW and 3,900 MW. Throughout that time period, wind speeds on the ground were also very high across the parts of the state with the bulk of the installed wind capacity, with many areas under high wind warnings. A major problem with your article is that you are confusingly talking about the wind speeds and other conditions on Wednesday night, which has nothing to do with what was happening 12+ hours earlier when the blackouts actually happened.

2. As of mid-day yesterday, 8 hours before your post, it had already been widely reported that the blackouts were caused by roughly 50 fossil-fueled power plants totaling 7,000 MW of capacity tripping offline due to mechanical failures caused by the cold, including two coal power plants with 2,700 MW of capacity that were specifically identified in midday public statements by the Lt. Gov. Dewhurst. Why you proceeded to blame wind for the event many hours after directly contradictory evidence was broadly reported is an open question.

3. Great Britain and Minnesota have never experienced blackouts due to wind energy, contrary to your statement in the second to the last paragraph. I urge you to read the articles that you linked to, as they do not say anything remotely close to what you claim they do.

4. At the beginning of your article, you at least make clear that your attacks on wind energy are entirely based on conjecture: “The article didn’t give a clue as to what generating capability failed, but I can make a pretty good guess: Wind energy.” However, by the end, you somehow felt comfortable making sweeping statements like “Now, because of relying so much on wind power, the state is suffering blackouts.” Now that your conjectures have proven entirely false, you owe it your readers, and your credibility, to do the honorable thing and retract the article.

Since your original post has now been copied elsewhere, such as this http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/02/we-spent-billions-on-wind-power-and-all-i-got-was-a-rolling-blackout/#more-33093, I hope you understand the need to issue a full retraction to stop this confusion before it spreads further. I will be corresponding with other sites that have posted your article and asking them to do the same, and would urge you to contact them as well.

Thanks,
Michael Goggin
American Wind Energy Association

Mr. Goggin, thank you again. However, as I have pointed out many times through this discussion my post pertained to LAST night. If you would read my postings in their entirety that is clear.

I also think it is unfortunate that misleading media reporting confused that issue in some reader’s minds.

However, your comments above do not address the amount of wind power being generated by turbines in the State of Texas from 9pm last night (2nd) to 7am this morning (3rd), the time about which I was raising concern. I am very curious to know the answer and will gladly post it. If I am incorrect, and there were large amounts of energy (the 3,600 MW to 3,900MW you report were “cruising along” the previous night) I will retract the article.

However, as of this moment, neither you nor any of my other commenters have provided me information that my original concern about the amount of energy being generated in Texas last night was misfounded.

I look forward to your response.

Respectfully,

Mike

P.S. To facilitate readers determining the facts for themselves, here are the links to the articles mentioned by Mr. Goggin in #3.

READERS: Mr. Goggin replied, please see the comments. When we get the figures for the time in question, I’ll do a new posting.

UPDATE 8:28pm Thursday: Mr. Goggin, since you are asserting that wind energy worked well, when you write your response that includes the amount of energy generated last night, please explain the following that pertains to the blackout period: 

Wind generators also appeared to be having problems, said Fraser; he had received reports of some turbines shutting down because of issues with ice on the blades. “The wind was blowing yesterday, but I’m not sure wind generation was available because they had problems with ice,” he said. (At an Iberdrola wind farm near Corpus Christi that the Trib visited yesterday, most turbines were spinning steadily, in response to the grid operator’s call for maximum production. But the plant’s operator, Daniel Pitts, said that a few machines were having issues because the cold air had affected the nitrogen in the hydraulic system that helps run the turbines.) Dottie Roark, a spokeswoman for ERCOT, said that yesterday morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., about 3,500 to 4,000 megawatts of wind was available (the state has about 10,000 megawatts of wind installed).


These figures appear to approximately match yours (3,600 to 3,900 MW) which means that wind power — at best — reached 40% of its potential power during a period in which you characterize the winds as “very high” and the need was great (“grid operator’s call for maximum production”). The news story is here


Having 60% offline and “some turbines shutting down” certainly fall within my definition of “failed.” It is possible the story above is incorrect. If it is incorrect, please state the pertinent facts when you get back to us with the amount of wind energy generated in the State of Texas during the time in question. Thank you. 

19 thoughts on “Equal Time, American Wind Energy Association

  1. Mike, thanks for posting this. Unfortunately, I don't have data for wind output last night or this morning – I will give it to you as soon as it is given to me.

    Regardless, I stand by my point that what happened Wednesday night and this morning (when there were no blackouts) is entirely irrelevant for figuring out what caused the blackouts that did happen Wednesday morning. Since your original post explicitly blamed wind for the blackouts that happened Wednesday morning, and we now apparently agree that wind was not to blame for those blackouts, I still feel a retraction of your original article, on this site as well as on Wattsupwiththat.com, is the only way to set the record straight.

    Thanks,
    Michael Goggin

  2. Michael,

    Agree that there were apparently no actual blackouts last night or this morning, but the "Dallas Morning News" was reporting as late as mid-morning today that blackouts could occur at any time.

    According to people who experienced them, there were Texas blackouts through yesterday afternoon. Are you contending that was wind power that made the difference and prevented the blackouts into yesterday evening? If so, that would be a wonderful story and I would be happy to report it (along with retracting my original article).

    However, while I take your statement immediately above was made in good faith, I'm again hearing you "don't have the data" pertaining to the time period I wrote about.

    I believe it is premature to again request a retraction until you provide the data that shows my contention is incorrect.

    Mike

  3. Texas badly needs the baseload power the new Units at STP would bring. But, they won't be built as long as unreliable and highly subsidized alternatives continue to be force fed. Also, the left is waking up to how the new methods of extracting natural gas are making America more energy secure and are rapidly erecting roadblocks to reign in this windfall for the American people. Look for gas prices to rise back to and beyond historic levels.

  4. Mr Smith

    Look at the numbers being used, X coal plants, Y MW and to X wind mills Y MW.

    How many wind turbines are in operation in Texas at the time and How many Mega Watt(s) does each produce?

    There are lots of missing pieces to the equation.

    You are right, lots of tax money spent on Wind energy that is not reliable. They can not operate in high wind either. They have a very narrow production window. Reliability is the point…. !!

  5. Wind power is BOGUS and has no scientific backing. My tax dollars and yours have been sent by AWEA and OBAMA to Spain and China. I want my tax dollars back. It is sad that Obama and AWEA are junk science believers. I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE.
    WIND POWER HAS 0 CAPACITY VALUE. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  6. Mike,

    I think the time has come and passed for you to issue a retraction. Even the blog MasterResource, usually a hub of misinformation about wind energy, has directly labeled as "false" rumors that wind had anything to do with causing the blackouts:

    "A few rumors bounced around the radio waves and internet forums on Wednesday linking the rolling blackouts to ERCOT’s wind capacity, one rumor even claiming that wind power had dropped to zero. The rumors were false. News reports indicate that some wind turbines were out of service due to the cold, but the problems appeared not to be widespread. ERCOT spokesperson Dottie Roark said that wind power plants from between 3,500 to 4,000 MW of power during the worst parts of the emergency, about normal for this time of year."
    http://www.masterresource.org/2011/02/texas-winter-power-outages-ercot/

  7. Goggin fails to mention that wind output decreased by 2585 MW from 3 pm Tuesday to 6 am Wednesday. That is about the same capacity lost as the two coal plants that tripped offline Wednesday morning. Roark is correct that they were generating 3630 MW at 6 am Wednesday, but that was down 41% from Tuesday. There is a history of this happening in ERCOT: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/43373.pdf

  8. What Mr. Goggins is not looking at is the fact the we have spent a large amount of money (it would be interesting to know the total amount of dollars, including tax incentives) spent on wind power. Is that amount of money spent close to the amount of money spent for conventional thermal power generation when looked at in 'dollars per MW'? After all, we are only talking about 3,000 to 4,000 MW from wind power!

  9. Mr. Groggin and others seem to not have understood your article. Your claim as I read it was not that the wind farm unreliability directly caused the blackouts, but rather if the money spent on wind had been spent on more reliable generation, the blackouts could have been avoided. If government subsidies had been spent on plant upgrades to deal with cold weather contingencies, would we be talking about blackouts?

    I respect your patience when dealing with people who don't seem to read carefully. In fact the article was simple and well written.
    -Dave A

  10. Dave,

    "Your claim as I read it was not that the wind farm unreliability directly caused the blackouts, but rather if the money spent on wind had been spent on more reliable generation, the blackouts could have been avoided."

    PRECISELY!

    Thank you, Dave!

  11. Michael Goggin,

    I don't think you really need to press for a retraction on wattsupwiththat.com as that site is for the most part frequented by AGW denialists and fossil-fuel industry activists. Even if you were able to prove that the wind industry was not to blame for the outages they would not accept it.

  12. large amounts of tax dollars are spent on coal and oil projects. that's a fact. finding energy sources that don't devastate our planet is wise, and the development of wind energy is not based on junk science. please stop basing all your opinions on what alex jones and rush limbaugh say. they are paid to misinform.

  13. @Anonymous FEBRUARY 4, 2011 10:36 AM who wrote:

    "Goggin fails to mention that wind output decreased by 2585 MW from 3 pm Tuesday to 6 am Wednesday. That is about the same capacity lost as the two coal plants that tripped offline Wednesday morning. Roark is correct that they were generating 3630 MW at 6 am Wednesday, but that was down 41% from Tuesday. There is a history of this happening in ERCOT: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/43373.pdf"

    That indicates to me that you have a source of data for the actual wind generation versus time. If you are still checking this thread, please post the link. Mike Smith – I know you are probably going to see this, so perhaps you can respond.

    I have been searching for a source of minute by minute wind generation for nearly two weeks. Until December 2, 2010, ERCOT posted minute by minute generation versus load information, with wind generation specifically available, but on that date, they implemented a new system.

    I wrote to Kent Saathoff, VP ERCOT, to find out why the information was no longer available. Here was his answer: "The information was removed because we started operating under new Protocols December 1 that classified it as secured information."

    One of the myths about wind is that widely distributed turbines eliminate the risk of sudden changes in power output and the risk that all generators will be affected by what nukes call a "common cause failure". That stubborn myth should be dispelled as more and more people watch The Weather Channel and see how storms and pressure systems move across continent sized swaths of land.

    Frontal passages have some variations, but it is generally not far off to say that there is a calm period before the front arrives, a period when the wind blows strongly after the front passes due to the difference in pressure at the boundary of the front and then a lengthy period of calm after the low pressure area has moved far enough away for the high pressure area to sink in.

    I watched and took advantage of that pattern for many years while I was a competitive sailor. I loved the first day after a front passage – it was rocking. The next day, we generally skipped practice – there was usually not enough wind to fill even a lightweight sail.

    Last night in VA we experienced that familiar pattern – the wind was blowing hard enough to cause a significant amount of tree damage and to wake me up from a deep sleep. A couple of hours later, the front had moved far enough away that the air became still and remained still across the entire state for the whole day.

    Here is a link to NASA's view of the storm that passed through TX in early Feb. What this site does not show is Feb 3 – the day of calm or the transition from high to low that affected a large portion of the wind farms purchased with substantial assistance (up to 30% of cost) from federal taxpayers.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49085

    I loved playing with the wind on sailboats. It made for an interesting sport with plenty of unpredictable challenges. That is exactly why I think that the wind is wildly inappropriate as a source of electricity on a power grid – it is unpredictable and uncontrollable. It almost never blows exactly the way you would like – both too much and too little are not much fun for operators or for equipment.

    We all assume, desire, want and actually need our electrical power to be ubiquitous and steady as a rock. Maintaining it that way is a serious business that requires investments that might seem a little uneconomic if all goes well – sort of like paying your insurance bill – but really come in handy when the stuff hits the proverbial fan. It is no place for oversized toys or hobby devices like wind turbines.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  14. Rod,

    Thank you. I think it is very interesting the efforts that people are making to cover up the true output of wind energy. Notice that the info seems not to be "secret" when the wind industry perceives it is in its best interest to release it.

    This whole incident has convinced me that wind energy is even less of a "solution" than I thought.

    Mike

  15. Mike – the thing about wind energy is that it can show impressive results when measured over a suitably short time. I am reminded of the way a friend used to get all excited about what she called "Chamber of Commerce Days" when the weather is perfect, the sky is a deep blue and everything looks pretty and clean.

    The reason she gave those days that name is that she claimed that those were the days that the photographers were sent out to take pictures for the tourist brochures.

    They were not fake, just not very representative of the actual state of the weather most days.

    As I described – no honest sailor would ever have thought of the wind as an electrical power source unless they lived in one of the few lucky islands where the "trades" blow with reasonable regularity.