inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #76 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Mon 26 Feb 01 13:21
    
The most difficult part of writing the book was including all of these
characters. My editor tried to cut many of them out, but each of the
people included I felt were a part of the story. There are already many
individuals who derserve to be in a book about the history of wind
power, but I tended to include people I talked to directly in my 10
years of going to wind power conferences.

Sorry to hear about the confusion. 

And sorry to hear you hold such a dim view of small wind turbines. Not
all of them are loud. Both large and small wind turbines have made
great advances in all areas -- including noise. 

Of course, I would say that solar PV is great stuff to. We need to
rely upon all of the renewables...

My editor wanted to cut the entire appendix out. I insisted it stay in
because of the importance of addressing the bird issue. No other book
about wind power spends as much time as this one on birds and the role
the issue played in killing new projects in Phred's large backyard, in
contributing to the demise of Kenetech. None of the research by the
scientists I interviewed on raptors has appeared in other books either.

Birds are still a hop topic today. Just check out the Oakland Tribune.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #77 of 317: Philippe Habib (phabib) Mon 26 Feb 01 13:28
    
I don't blame the book for the confusion, just my own dwindling
ability to keep things in my head once they leave my sight.

For me, the most interesting thing about the book was following the
evolution of the wind turbine.  Run, fall down, crawl, walk, run.

I'll admit that the only small turbines I've been close to have been a
couple that I saw and heard at Burning Man last year.  I figured that
if I could hear the swish swish swish from 100 yards away in an
envirment that noisy, I wouldn't want one within 1/4 mile of my house.

I was also curious about the Carters.  Is there a web site that
showcases their work, or can you say more about them?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #78 of 317: Call me Fishmeal (pk) Mon 26 Feb 01 13:42
    
The evolution of the turbine technology is fascinating, but I'm frustrated by
the total lack drawings, maps, and photos in the book. Not even a single
photo of some of the landmark designs. 

Any possibility of producing a "webliography" that will give pointers to all
that visual background material? 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #79 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Mon 26 Feb 01 14:06
    
The picture thing. Virtually all wind power books realized previous to
this one has diagrams and photos.

Initially the reason we include photos was because of looming
deadlines. Later, it was a more conscious decision. What distinguishes
this from all other wind books is that it focuses more on the human
drama. It doesn't go into the engineering details because it is really
designed for those who have very little knowledge of power engineering.
Of course, those in the industry were also envisioned as a prime
audience. The story of Kenetech -- the battle between the forces of
capitalism and the desire for engineers to ake the perfect machine --
has never been told before.

If you want diagrams and pictures, check out Paul Gipe's book: Wind
Power Coming of Age. 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #80 of 317: Fuzzy Logic (phred) Mon 26 Feb 01 14:41
    
It's too bad that the book doesn't include at least a line drawing or
two of a typical turbine with appropriate labels so people who aren't
sure what a "nacelle" is would not stumble over that.

But what I *really* missed here was a photo of Jim Dehlsen's recycled
ranch house...!
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #81 of 317: Fuzzy Logic (phred) Mon 26 Feb 01 17:47
    
Randy sent me a note pointing me to a good interview in the Sunday LA Times
with Randy Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association
and another one of the "old hands" in all this.  It's quite interesting and
his comments about transmission constraints holding back wind development in
California are particularly of note:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/20010224/t000016881.html

I also want to put in a plug for Jack Kavanagh's news index, Rough & Tumble,
which is a very well maintained list of politically-related news stories
mostly from California newspaper web sites.  Jack updates the list once or
twice daily and it is simply invaluable in following the progress of the
energy/resource crisis:

http://www.rtumble.com

Finally, for those who are reading along here or happened to check in just
now, please don't hesitate to jump in and ask questions or make comments.
Peter, Randy and I are verbose enough to keep this going, I'm sure :)
But the real point is to have you all engage in discussion with Peter
concerning his excellent book, Reaping the Wind (Island Press), now
available in bookstores IRL and online, and with Randy on his vast
experience and real insights into wind energy development.

For those who are not Well members and are reading this via our world-
accessible link at http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/  you can
forward any questions to  inkwell-hosts@well.com  or to me personally
at  phred@well.com

As Bartles & Jaymes, the two mythical characters from those mid-1980s wine
cooler ads would say, "And thank you for your support!"

(They were actually played by two real-live farmers from Deschutes County,
Oregon.  If we were to update those commercials, they would be putting the
finishing touches on their new grape mashing facility, making them the
first purveyors of windpower-driven wine coolers in the world...

But I digress... )
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #82 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Mon 26 Feb 01 18:44
    
I agree with you that diagrams and pictures would have been helpful.
One of the hardest parts of writing the book, believe or not, was
describing the different technologies.

Here's a funny little story that shows just how weird writing this
book was.

Like some publishers, Island Press put the copy editing of this book
out to bid to freelancers. They ended up hiring an old former Lawrence
Livermore Lab editor. It soon became obvious that he was no big fan of
wind power. Here we were already a month behind schedule and he tells
me he doesn't even type. "My wife does that," he said. I remarked that
he must be awfully kind to her. He became a bit defensive. "I do the
cooking -- I buy the wine," he said. 

He was a stickler for technical details -- which was good, because my
prime interest was using the compelling drama of the wind power story
to spin a yarn that would intrigue folks who never gave much thought to
energy.

This editor -- who shall remain nameless -- ended up inserting some
deep history and did a lot of research that was essentially outside the
realm of his prescribed duties. And he kept missing deadline after
deadline.

Here I was on the verge of physical collapse, eager to finish the book
for release a year ago, and this guy didn't even type. After his wife
interrupted his copy editing scratches, he would then again review her
work.

I was busy as hell, setting aside weekends to respond to his comments,
and none of the chapters he promised would make it.

He did, however, ask me to go into much more detail describing some of
the machines. He forced me to be a better writer. Yet in the end, he
infuriated my editor. Even I started finding typos. My editor became so
enraged when I told him he didn't even type that he then took the
document and started editing. 

This book did take on a life of its own. I developed writing rituals
and tools that broke through my first experience with writer's block.

So, I was so pissed that the book didn't come out last spring. In my
mind, the timing couldn't have been better. Little did I know what
would happen in California in the following months.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #83 of 317: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 26 Feb 01 20:00
    

The timing proved to be excellent!
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #84 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Mon 26 Feb 01 20:06
    
        And many thanks for sticking with it, Peter.  Those were wildcatter
days, and you've captured the flavor well.  It's important for society
to realize that real people dreaming big dreams and taking inordinate
risk is how new technology births.
        We're supposed to learn from these histories, but...
        After i've shot my evening doppio macchiato, i may be in better shape
to talk about the past few days events in Cali, events which kept me
from following the discussion today.

        But i'll point out that the current crisis seems to be a blessing in
disguise, and instant retribution for arrogance of power.
        Specifically, the transmission constraints which make Edison curtail
windpower during a Stage 2 emergency point out extreme blunders caused
only by the abuse of power.  That the utilities are currently snakebit
is their own fault.
        Guess i should mention that Edison dragged its feet for years
upgrading transmission from the Tehachapi wind resource area.  Did i
mention that Edison prevents existing windpower from entering the grid
even when we're near blackout conditions?  Then turns around and
refuses to pay for what power was delivered, since November.  Then
demands a bailout?
        Excuse me, but who wrote the deregulation law that strangled you?
        And the wind keeps blowing, and the turbines keep whirring, and the
industry takes another one on the chin, rolls up its sleeves and goes
back to work.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #85 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Mon 26 Feb 01 20:21
    
        Ahhh, that's strong.  Cheers Karin, i know you miss these strong
Peet's Major Dickenson (product placement) doppios.  She's over in
Germany, where windpower's paid about ten cents a kilowatt, and the
resulting industry is 2.5 times the US capacity.
        Did i mention that Edison spent millions of your money to prevent
1350 MWs of windpower at 4.5 cents/kWh from being built in the
mid-'90's?  Projects approved by the CPUC?  I'll bet i've mentioned it
several times, so it resonates with the electorate.
        But no sense flogging a dead horse, especially one facing bankruptcy.
 i wouldn't gloat over a pending bankruptcy, would i Peter?

        The only action that matters is churning out those renewable kilowatt
hours, until the obvious becomes obvious.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #86 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Mon 26 Feb 01 21:19
    
The good old BRPU -- or the BURP as it was called in some quarters...

Both of my Island Press books spend a lot of time on the BRPU, an
eight year biennial process to site power plants in California. It
wasn't enviros or NIMBY that stopped the only authorized new
electricity generation facilities to be built in California during the
1990s -- it was Southern California Edison, a utility I've spent a lot
of time beating up on. And for good reason.

After eight years and millions of dollars in investment by wind
companies desparate to build new wind farms in their native state,
Edison, led by John Bryson (who started NRDC and who approved the very
first utility power supply contracts in California), petitioned the
very FERC which is fercing Davis today to KILL THESE NEW RENEWABLE AND
GAS-FIRED POWER PLANTS AT COSTS OF ABOUT 5 CENTS PER Kwh. Independent
power producers proved they could building everything cheaper than the
utilities.

Worse than that, the utilities projected 2,000 MW of energy
conservation that they allegedly were in the process of securing while
they at the same time were gutting their energy efficiency budgets.
Davis today is spending our tax dollars to get that same amount of
savings that the utilites promsied state regulators was real stuff that
displaced the need for new power plants. 
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #87 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Mon 26 Feb 01 21:49
    
        California utilities used to trumpet, even in TV ads, all the
windpower they were buying under those PURPA mandated contracts.  See
how renewable we are.   Conveniently forgetting that it took a $12
million fine of Edison and a $7 million fine of PG&E to get them to
accept those contracts...  and then four or five years of wrangling to
write the contracts they were mandated to make.
        And those fines were levied by CPUC President John Bryson.
        And suddenly He became an Edison executive.  Now chairman.
        Remarkable.  Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 
Absolute power in the power markets makes absolute power for sale?

        And windpower kept chugging along, growing, evolving, firming the
technology, no matter what they threw against us.  In the words of one
of the great wind pioneers, "Ahh, fuck it, I want those strain gauges
calibrated NOW!"
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #88 of 317: Fuzzy Logic (phred) Mon 26 Feb 01 23:15
    
So you guys, after all these kind words toward Southern California Edison
(I shall refrain from adding my share only because I've never really BEEN
to southern California except for two brief trips to San Diego, which is
another utility entirely)...

What do you think of their agreement (in principle, fingers crossed or
double-crossed) to sell off that very same transmission system to the
state, while PG&E edges ever closer to the Cliff of Bankruptcy and the
Slough of Litigation?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #89 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Mon 26 Feb 01 23:36
    
        Doesn't matter who owns Cali's grid, as long as the entity has a
brain.
        The free market isn't capable of making the kind of long term
decisions necessary to build, operate and adjust the very nature of a
power grid.  But neither are political fiefdoms which change with the
electorate's winds.  Ouch, sorry.
        Actually, as i understand the deal, Cali isn't really buying the
transmission, it's a sale leaseback.  Meaning we pay, and the utilities
operate.
        And the utilities will use their operational function to continue to
ride roughshod over us all.
        So actually, i believe the State, meaning us, should buy the grid at
something less than 2.3X book value, and lease it to the wind industry,
for we've shown we know what to do with it.
        It bothers me that the Governor might think such logic strange.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #90 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Mon 26 Feb 01 23:39
    
        While i might think the logic of shipping $12 billion off to
Armadillo Gas Co. a bit strange.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #91 of 317: Tom Gray (jonl) Tue 27 Feb 01 07:23
    
Email from Tom Gray:

> So you guys, after all these kind words toward Southern California
> Edison  (I shall refrain from adding my share only because I've never
> really BEEN to southern California except for two brief trips to San
> Diego, which is another utility entirely)...

Besides the BRPU, one of the other interesting sidelights of Edison and
the industry's early days, IMHO, was Edison's attempt to not-too-subtly
cold-shoulder the domestic wind turbine manufacturers by setting up a
research center in San Gorgonio Pass, then buying only foreign and
weirdball machines to test.  There were probably a dozen U.S. companies
out there manufacturing comparatively legitimate designs, but SCE's center
featured a gigantic 3-MW turkey and a "Magnus effect" machine with three
cylindrical "blades."

Too bad they are no longer there--they would be highly symbolic memorials
of one of the great lost opportunities, for a major utility to spend just
a little time and effort working with a brand new generation equipment
industry and help get some of the problems sorted out.

To be fair, that's overly optimistic--I'm sure that some, if not most, of
the companies would have found fault if Edison's test reports hadn't
suited their commercial needs.  But the relationship was an unnecessarily
adversarial one from the beginning, and still is today.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #92 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Tue 27 Feb 01 08:57
    
        Since phred's on the road, and this thread's about Peter's book and
he's done enough work, i'll jump in as host for a day.
        The previous post is from Tom Gray, former executive director of the
American Wind Energy Association, and currently it's ambassador to the
People's Repunblic of Vermont.  Thanks for chiming in, Tom, and feel
free to let fly.
        He was posting about Edison's research center near Palm Springs,
where windpower was researched with the same flavor as the rest of
shysters escaping to the desert from LA arrest warrants.  Peter
describes some of the weird history in his book.
        A footnote:  Most modern wind turbines use induction generators, but
utilities' huge power plant turbines are synchronous.  My parent
company James Howden sold Edison a synchronous 300 kW wind turbine for
the center around 1985, perhaps their first real windmill test. 
Getting data from them was like breaking into your own house for a
change of socks.  They had all the best wind data as well, which was
released selectively.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #93 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Tue 27 Feb 01 09:33
    
This came in via Utilicast NewsBriefs:
------------
** California Transmission System Carries $1 Billion in Hidden Costs
The 26, 000 miles of transmission lines that California Gov. Gray
Davis is proposing to buy from the utilities are plagued with problems
and no one knows how much it would cost to fix them. A new study by the
California Public Utilities Commission has found 160 existing and
potential problem areas, 53 of which are expected to significantly
crimp the flow of electricity this summer. Some people have estimated
the overall tab for all upgrades at about $1 billion. San Jose Mercury
News, Feb. 24
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #94 of 317: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Feb 01 10:17
    

More from Tom Gray:


Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 12:48:26 -0500
From: Tom Gray <tomgray@igc.org>
X-Accept-Language: en
To: inkwell-hosts@well.com
Subject: Reaping the Wind: Schachle

The 3-MW machine (designed by Schachle and built, I believe, by Bendix
several years before it became part of Allied Signal and dropped out of
wind) has a special place in my heart because it was so bizarre.  It was
a huge and beefy machine that looked kind of like a '50s hood ornament
for an auto the size of Manhattan.  It seems to me that it took wind
energy back about 500 years, because the yawing system (to point the
turbine into the wind) was installed at the base--the entire machine
revolved on a large circular concrete pad.  The Dutch gave up on that
idea centuries earlier in favor of having just the top of the machine
rotate, which is the approach that all modern turbines use.

But the important thing is, while Edison was focusing on making wind
look silly, it was squandering a terrific long-term opportunity.  There
is more than enough wind in several Western states to provide a
substantial percentage of the electricity California needs today.  It
might well be doing so by now if the utilities had been just a little
more open to new ideas.

The Bonneville Power Administration, a federal power marketing agency
which sells electricity from hydro drams in the Northwest, released a
request for proposals (RFP) last week for up to 1,000 MW of wind, or
enough to generate as much electricity as 400,000 California homes use.
I like to say that under my government, that RFP would have been
released in 1988 or thereabouts.  That would have probably been too
early, but the industry was certainly ready to move up to that level
five years ago.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #95 of 317: David Gans (tnf) Tue 27 Feb 01 10:17
    

And more form Tom Gray:


Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 13:03:21 -0500
From: Tom Gray <tomgray@igc.org>
X-Accept-Language: en
To: inkwell-hosts@well.com
Subject: Reaping the Wind: Changing Times

Randy,

I do believe the times are changing.  Two items in today's e-mail haul:

(1) Southwestern Power Systems, a north Texas utility that is now owned
by Xcel Energy (based in Denver), said it will buy the power from an
80-MW wind plant to be built by the end of this year.  The plant will
consist of 80 1-MW machines, each generating enough electricity for
about 400 California homes.

(2) Danish turbine manufacturer NEG Micon said it will supply 89 900-kW
turbines for an 80-MW wind farm being built in northern Iowa by Zilkha
Renewable Energy (based in Houston, Tex.) and Midwest Renewable Energy
Corp.  Again, the turbines are to be in place by the end of this year.

The industry is in a boom year because of the scheduled expiration of
the U.S. wind energy production tax credit (PTC) at the end of this
year.  AWEA expects that as much as 2,000 MW of new plants may be built
this year.  That would be more than were built between 1981, when the
first wind farms went into California, and the end of 1998.

Tom
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #96 of 317: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 27 Feb 01 10:36
    

>the scheduled expiration of the U.S. wind energy production tax credit

Is this something which should be extended?  How likely is that?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #97 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Tue 27 Feb 01 10:53
    
        AWEA executive director Randall Swisher said in the LA Times Sunday
that shrub supported PTC extension during the campaign, and with buddy
Ken Lay's Enron owning a windpower subsidiary, perhaps that's a real
possibility.
        Our industry has been through several cycles of boom and bust based
primarily on the appearance or dissappearance of tax incentives, which
plays havoc with orderly corporate growth, the establishment of growing
manufacturing facilities, and a coherent long-term energy transition.
        One effect of these constant, draining cycles is that the current
wind industry is little able to make significant accelerated
contributions to Cali's crisis beyond what was already in the
development pipeline.  Manufacturing and substation lead times are just
long enough that we won't be adding many projects not already planned.
        However, one of the key benefits touted by windpower all along is
that once policy decisions are made, or price signals sent, the
industry can respond quite rapidly and incrementally.  If the proper
signals were given today, next year's installations could easily double
this years.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #98 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Tue 27 Feb 01 11:18
    
        Open letter to Governor Gray Davis:

        Tomorrow the big dogs of Wall Street will politely but firmly tell
you their solutions to the California energy crisis.
        Then you can tell them we have an alternative.  We can conserve our
way out of next summer's shortages, and we can let aggressive renewable
development take us the rest of the way home.
        Far greater efficiency than the 10% conservation reduction can be
accomplished by a Rosie the Riveter type campaign.  We spent two
decades being ready to handle the rest of the transition, and we're
ready to roll up our sleeves.
        Tell the big dogs to finance windpower, and new PV manufacturing
facilities, and the rest of the sustainable energy package, now. 
They'll still get their fees, and they'll avoid their own children
pointing fingers at them for dereliction of duty.
        Then tell them they can make just as much money off developing
hydrogen as they can by squeezing dry the last drops of valuable fossil
fuels.
        Tell them you know the California electorate will back you up.
        And we'll be just one giant step closer to a sane world.

Respectfully,
Randy

P.S.  Did you notice i didn't mention that we had to protect the
California utilities?
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #99 of 317: Alpha 10 (rmt) Tue 27 Feb 01 11:29
    
        Now if Peter would only get down off that met tower and tell us which
way the wind's blowing.
  
inkwell.vue.105 : Peter Asmus - Reaping the Wind, and special guest Randy Tinkerman
permalink #100 of 317: Peter H. Asmus (spacedebris) Tue 27 Feb 01 11:54
    
Howdy Gang!

I've been busy this morning preparing a document for legislators
wanting to know how much solar PV would $1 billion buy. Turns put it
would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 MW. The same amount of
money would probably get you four times as much wind power.

Does that mean we should do wind instead of solar? Not really, we
should do both.

One of the sales pitches for solar under the rotunda in Sacto is that
PV should be viewed as a demand-reduction technology and therefore be
eligible for funding set aside for energy efficiency. Even free market
Republican contractors (who also hate utilities by the way) are now
seeing $$$ in PV. 

Did anyone see the story about small wind turbines in today's SF
CHron? I interviewed some of the same people for a story coming out in
the next issue of Home Power magazine.

I also just finished an op-ed that makes the poin that the state
approach to solving this crisis -- with massive taxpayer investments in
long-term fossil fuel buys and the purchase of a transmission system
that obviously requires some pricey TLC -- could mute revitalized
efforts to municipalize San Francsico and other cities. 

It could also ultimately discourage folks from installing their own
solar or wind turbines. If the state is going to lock us all into these
deals, they don't folks running off to create their own
community-based power supply systems.

Any thoughts?
  

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