Tom Collins, Farmers Forum, October 2014
Scaremongers say it will cost millions
Brinston–While some critics of wind turbines howl that the cost of the eventual teardown of a turbine is astronomical, the actual cost today would be $30,000 to $100,000, per turbine.
The bigger issue is, who is going to pay for it.
Municipalities are on the hook to ensure companies tear down or, in industry jargon, decommission a turbine, unless they’ve got a binding agreement with the wind power company. Some municipalities demand from wind turbine companies ongoing payments into protected (or escrow) accounts or bonds to set money aside annually to pay for decommissioning.
Some municipalities require a letter of intent from wind turbine companies to ensure they will be responsible for decommissioning. Some municipalities have no agreement at all, including Wolfe Island, said its mayor, Denis Doyle. TransAlta communications manager Stacey Hatcher said the decommissioning plans are between the company and the landowner and because of that, the info is confidential. [See editor’s note #1]
The 86 turbines on Wolfe Island, on the St. Lawrence River at Kingston, were built by Canadian Hydro Developers, later purchased by Trans Alta and there is no bond or escrow account in place. The company does, however, reimburse the island about $100,000 per year for hosting the project. Based on current decommissioning projects around the world, it can cost $30,000 to $10,000 [sic] to dispose of a turbine. If it were to cost $50,000 to remove each turbine on Wolfe Island, it would cost $4.3 million to remove them all. Of course, that price goes up over time. [See Editor’s note #2] Hatcher said the company plans to repower or recontract when they [sic] current contracts are up.
There are 10 three-megawatt wind turbines at Brinston, between Kemptville and Winchester, and the power company ProWind [see Editor’s note #3] pays $1,000 per megawatt per year over the next 20 years into an escrow account that will rack up $600,000 to pay for decommissioning. [Editor’s note #4]
Windlectric Inc. wants to build 36 turbines on Amherst Island where Statec Consulting said that decommissioning costs are up to Windlectric. Typically, decommissioning will not remove all of the concrete base, but that’s only the first few feet of concrete that went into the ground. [We’re done adding editor’s notes at this point.]
One of the most infamous decomissionings involved 37 decrepit turbines in Hawaii that stood unused for six years before they were taken down in 2012. Tawhiri Power estimated that the take-down cost $30,000 per turbine. [OK, one more; see Editor’s note #5]
The seven-turbine community-owned Black Oak Wind Farm in New York State will start construction in late 2014. The decommissioning plan would currently cost about $55,883 per turbine, although the project expects to generate at least $50,000 per turbine by selling it as scrap metal. The municipality agreement means the power company must pay $140,000 per turbine in escrow but also means the payment can be reviewed and changed if decommissioning estimates change.
WCO Editor’s notes:
1. Many landowners were told that it was to their benefit to decommission the turbines themselves as there is so much scrap value in the turbines; this is untrue due to the quality of metal being used, and also the other costs of decommissioning such as crane rental, and disposal of the toxic components.
2. So, that would be the millions then…
3. ProWind, properly “Prowind,” does not own the Brinston project, and hasn’t for several years. It is now owned by EDP Renewables.
4. In the original negotiations with Prowind, the developer wanted the landowners and the municipality to be responsible for decommissioning costs. It was the local community group that brought these costs to the attention of the municipality, and played a significant role in the agreement now in place.
5. US dollars? Canadian dollars? Also, the size of the turbines and the machinery involved is a factor. The turbines erected in Hawaii over a decade again, and the turbines at Wolfe Island are now miniscule compared with the 500-foot-plus, 3 -MW behemoths being built and proposed.
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