Economics

Breezy Money

Following up on my amazement yesterday about the glut of wind farms…the whole thing about wind farming is that it looks so easy. Like dew worm farming. Or mushrooming. You just put up a fan, and the wind blows it, and a little machine turns it into electricity. And it’s free! Almost growing wild on the beach.
beach-money

Like many, I was so enchanted with the concept of getting easy money that I did some figuring –not my strong suit– but I calculated that if I had just one of these giant wind turbines, say the 250-footer, I would have a 2- megawatt wind farm. A megawatt turns out to be a thousand kilowatts, and just to explain it in terms you understand, a 100 watt bulb costs about 55 cents up at ACE Hardware, and it’s good for a 1,000 hours they say.

incandescent-light-bulb

Rounding that all up, I stood to pull in about $43,000,000 per year, before taxes. Mind you, there are no taxes because the government is subsidizing the whole thing for me.

Actually, I may have that slightly wrong. On good authority, I learned my new turbine would really cost $3,500,000.

If I borrowed the money from friends, my operating costs, maintenance and loan interest would work out to $290,000 per year. Which is, admittedly, more than I am making now, so I am really interested in selling one of these contraptions to somebody else.

But nevertheless, once it’s all in place, it is guaranteed to deliver 5,260 Megawatt Hours of power per year. I am just thinking about the batteries I am going to purchase to hold all that electricity. When all is said and done, my cost to produce a Megawatt hour is around $55. That’s like, only 100 lightbulbs, which I can handle.

When I whittled this down to Kilowatt hours, which I know is more comfortable for you, it’s a measly 5-1/2 cents each.

Awesome, right? Now you’re up for it, I can feel it.

This is where it gets interesting though. I looked at the latest ransom note we received from Commonwealth Edison, and they are only demanding 4-3/8 cents per Kwh. Hah! No wonder they can’t make any money! If they sold my wind farm product, they could shut down Niagara Falls, and still be in the black by Tuesday.

american-falls

Niagar Dry

As a practical business person however, I am doing nothing at this time, pending sage advice from my accountant who is allowed one phone call a week.

If you are eager to get in on this, but looking for something a little more in your income bracket, there is a company out there now, Southwest Windpower, which is installing back yard wind turbines faster than you can say “Oklahoma” .

Their Skystream 3.7 goes for $12-$14,000, and they are flying –haha– off the shelves.

Myself, I am forever teetering on the innovative edge. I am preparing a personal, hand-powered turbine. This one is all natural, 100% environmental, multi-directional, and can be used on the calmest, or windiest of days without pause.

Slick Whimmy

See, I told you this would be easy.

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Environment

Spinning Out of Control

Propeller hatSomething’s popping up across the countryside, and soon, may be in your backyard too.

The other day we were driving down the eastern shoreline of Lake Huron in Ontario. There you will find the expanse of this beautiful blue lake on your right, and on your left, neat farms, lazily dotted with beef and dairy cattle.

Every few miles, a small village slows you down to see its church and store. Cheese factories are frequent. This is beautiful countryside, and it is continuously freshened with the breezes off the lake.

Breezes? Well, maybe more like gales– wild currents that rake across the backs of those cows, tear shingles off the church roof and blow underwear off the line. And it’s those constant winds that have sparked a well-meaning thought: “Let’s fly kites!”

Well, actually, no. Rather “Let’s put up a 250-ft high tower with a giant fan on it and make electricity. For free!!”

Between the villages of Brucedale and Underwood we sighted over 100 of these gargantuan wind turbines from the road, spinning briskly in Lake Huron’s weather system. wind-farm The turbines are quite magnificent. Sleek, gently contoured to catch the wind, painted a non-committal gray, they spin over the heads of the cows, and any humans who care to look up. By the way, parachutists, look down, too.

Trouble is, we realized that this oddity was taking hold, not just of the passerby’s curiosity and amusement, but of the local community’s real estate.

Imagine the legions of turbine sales reps trudging up dusty farm lanes, rolling out a snappy presentations on kitchen tables and mapping the landscape with these money makers. “Gee honey, you know we have a spot right behind the rose trellis out back.”

Now look at this wind farm map of southwestern Ontario and you are painfully reminded of a poison ivy rash you had as a kid. Ontario Windfarms

Wind farms contribute less than 4% of all US energy. Yet this prickly, twirling forest on Lake Huron dominates over 90% of the skyline.

I guess that’s okay as long as it’s not in my soybean field, right? It just seems to me that we took a couple of generations to rid ourselves of TV antennas perched on every roof in town. TV Antennas

And now, we marvel as the horizon is sliced into gusty shreds by giant butter knives.

Odd turn of events, isn’t it?

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