The Town Crier

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reno, Nevada taxpayers lose their shirts on wind turbine investment.

You don't have to go to the crap tables to lose your shirt in Nevada. The NV Public Utilities Commission is losing money for its customers with poor investments in wind power.

This story was delivered to JLL's doorstep by a reader:

NV Energy windmill program generates rebates, little electricity



A year ago, a Reno clean energy businessman warned the Public Utilities Commission that if it didn’t set a few standards for NV Energy’s wind rebate program, its customers could end up footing the bill for turbines that rarely produce electricity.

One reason behind his concern: To be eligible for rebates, customers didn’t need to prove that the wind actually blows enough to justify installing a turbine on their property.

“This could allow unscrupulous developers to sell turbines to unsuspecting customers who will not generate electricity from an installed turbine because there is no wind to power the turbine,” Clean Energy Center managing member Rich Hamilton told the PUC last May. “This problem is especially vexing because ratepayer money could be contributing to the cost of such turbines, which could give the Wind Generations program and the wind industry a black eye.”

The PUC agreed that such a standard would be a good idea but sided with NV Energy’s position that it was too early to move forward with it just yet.

A year later, however, Hamilton’s warning appears to have been spot on.

The electricity produced by NV Energy’s $46 million wind rebate program has fallen far short of expectations.

In a startling example, the city of Reno’s wind turbines — for which the city received more than $150,000 in rate-payer funded rebates — produced dramatically less electricity than the manufacturers of its turbines promised.

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