by Steve Haner
With an editorial published yesterday, The Wall Street Journal has now given its readers more insight into the risks inherent in Dominion Energy Virginia’s coming wind project than any Virginia newspaper or broadcast outlet has. It is not the kind of national spotlight Virginia should crave.
It noted that the recent approval of the project by the State Corporation Commission was “under obvious duress” and then went on to cite many of the dangers and potential cost consequences outlined in the SCC’s own order. This is nothing new to readers here at Bacon’s Rebellion who read this about the decision already, or this earlier column on the reasons why the project should be rejected.
The WSJ does focus on one detail not available when those were written, comments by Dominion CEO Bob Blue on the firm’s most recent investor conference call. From the editorial:
Dominion could appeal. “We are extremely disappointed in the commission’s requirement of a performance guarantee,” CEO Robert Blue said on an earnings call. He griped that it would effectively require the company “to financially guarantee the weather, among other factors beyond its control, for the life of the project.” Exactly. Since no one can control mother nature, who should bear the risks? Dominion’s answer is not Dominion.
One key point that the WSJ underplayed is that the General Assembly also totally disregarded the risk on ratepayers and was happy to protect the company’s shareholders. Again, not news to my regular readers. They and I will not be surprised when the utility rushes back to the Assembly to either overturn or gut any performance mandate from the SCC. Look at Europe’s wind record below to see why.
Perhaps this is a good time to note that my “five reasons” column was initially offered to three newspapers that have regularly printed my guest columns before. One never responded, one responded only after I pulled the offer to go elsewhere, and one quickly rejected it.
I get it. Dominion is a huge advertiser. Those editors, too, lie awake worrying about the megadroughts, record river flooding, terrifying sea level rise and waves of disease which building these turbines will magically prevent. Those end-of-the-world myths appear as news in all three publications on an almost daily basis. The editorial page can’t undercut the “news.”
What will the wind produce off Virginia Beach if and when those turbines are built? Some recent information on the performance of offshore wind in Europe may get your attention. While Dominion is promising a 42% capacity factor (in other words, 42% of the stated 2,600 megawatts of output), the past decade of data from Europe shows just under 35% on average for offshore turbines. That is a significant difference over the 25 years or more we will be paying for those turbines.
Offshore wind also yields the best performance of any of Europe’s so-called “renewable” energy sources tracked. Onshore wind, far more common in Europe and the United Kingdom than offshore, averaged less than 23% capacity factor, and solar under 12% average output. Most of Europe is much further north than the parts of the U.S. better suited to solar. But hey, these are the same geniuses who burn wood pellets shipped from America and claim that reduces CO2 emissions.
In Europe and the UK, onshore wind is the most common of the three, with 186 gigawatts installed as of 2021. The region has 26 gigawatts of offshore wind on the grid (Dominion’s project is 2.6 gigawatts) and 171 gigawatts of solar.
These figures come from a post on Watts Up With That, reprinted from a personal blog for engineer Ed Hoskins. It is easy to find the daily reports on Euro/UK wind production here, and the overall grid mix every day here. They are consistent. Without steady natural gas, coal, and nuclear, Europe would go cold and dark.
The horrible winter they are preparing for (German retail electricity prices are now 41 eurocents per kWh, English consumers are organizing a boycott of electric bills) can be blamed on Vladimir Putin’s intention to cut Western Europe’s supply of natural gas. But Putin is only doing what every Democratic member of the Virginia General Assembly is sworn to do, along with an army of well-funded lobbying organizations for the Wind and Solar Industrial Complex. They all want to eliminate gas use in Virginia homes, businesses and power plants.
Winter 2023 in Europe will be Winter in Virginia very soon. The Wall Street Journal sees it coming, but Virginia’s mainstream media will applaud the coming tidal wave until the last reader departs.