The Gonzales Offshore Wind Push Poll
Maryland pollster Patrick Gonzales published a push poll paid for by corporate and environmental special interests lobbying for Maryland utility ratepayers to subsidize wind turbines off Maryland’s coastline.
The National Wildlife Federation, and the wind industry advocacy group Offshore Wind Development Coalition, comprised of energy companies bidding for permits to construct wind turbines off Maryland’s coast, paid Gonzalez to ask 805 Marylanders one single question:
Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I would be willing to pay $2 more per month on my electric bill if a greater percentage of my electricity came from clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil, and gas?”
Naturally, Gonzales found 62 percent of respondents would like to pay $2 more per month for wind power. That’s the result they were paid to find as evidenced by the question asked.
Anything less would mean that the NWF frittered away the $193,000 the Town Creek Foundation gave it to push for the offshore wind mandate. Town Creek is the funder of Maryland’s environmental groups who used its money to purchase state climate policy.
Of course you can find 62% of any sample of people willing to pay $2 more for anything—if you didn’t tell them about the other hidden costs.
The reality however, is that if Maryland mandates that utilities enter into long term purchasing contracts for offshore wind energy, as Governor O’Malley desires, they would be paying 16 cents per kilowatt-hour—60 percent more than what they are currently paying for power. The costs passed on to ratepayers would far exceed $2 per month. Indeed, the Maryland Public Service Commission estimated the cost would be closer to 9$ per month. The Department of Legislative Services noted that O’Malley’s plan didn’t factor in all costs and that utilities would end up paying 21 cents per kilowatt-hour for wind power.
Maryland ratepayers need to subsidize the offshore wind project because energy companies i.e., subsidy sucklers can’t afford the $1.5 billion cost of the project.
Furthermore, the true costs of wind energy are understated—because lobbyists and politicians ignore federal and state subsidies—and it’s value often overstated.
In fact, wind energy executives freely admit they need the subsidies and mandates to survive.
With the Solyndra debacle highlighting the billion dollar folly of subsidizing the renewable energy industry why are we being asked to subsidize it even further?
Another factor left out of the Gonzalez question is that wind power isn’t entirely carbon free. Bentek Energy studied real emissions data from four regions including Texas and California and found that due to the intermittent nature of wind power (the wind isn’t always blowing) coal and gas fired back up systems must cycle on to make up for the demand. Meaning wind power doesn’t come with the carbon free benefits its proponents would lead you to believe. This would hold true from Maryland, which generates 60 percent of its electricity from coal.
Then—as always with the O’Malley administration—there are the crony capitalist connections. O’Malley’s former chief of staff, Michael Enright, is an executive with Beowulf Energy a partner with Apex Wind in Maryland Offshore Wind LLC, which is bidding for an offshore lease. Then there is the Steve Kearney of KO Public Affairs, which is assisting PEPCO—a frequent O’Malley political target—in its campaign to build the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway, which will carry any offshore wind from the coast across the Chesapeake Bay to the western shore.
So here are some additional questions Gonzales should have asked respondents:
How much more per month would you be willing to pay on your electric bill if a greater percentage of your electricity came from clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil, and gas:
Would you still be willing to pay more per month on your electric bill if a greater percentage of your electricity came from local offshore, wind farms even if that meant some periods when offshore wind is unavailable your power would be backed up with coal, oil, and gas?
Would you still be willing to pay more per month on your electric bill if a greater percentage of your electricity came from local offshore wind farms even if that meant subsidizing energy companies run by Governor O’Malley’s cronies?