Governor Bob McDonnell is on a trade mission to Europe and among the items on his agenda, is a meeting with "UK energy ministers to discuss wind energy."
It sounds innocuous enough. Britain has made a huge investment in alternative energy in the last few years and, as the McDonnell administration is an avowed advocate of an "all of the above" energy policy (even if it would lead to rent-seeking), such a visit might make some sense.
But that all depends on whether McDonnell & Co. remember ask the right questions.
In recent weeks, independent analysts have repeatedly warned both McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling about the iffy, and costly, nature of wind power. To date, there’s no indication those warning have been heeded.
But hope springs eternal and, if the message is getting through, perhaps the Governor will turn the tables a bit and ask why the UK is paying wind farmers to turn off their windmills:
...shutting down wind farms is likely to cost the National grid – and ultimately consumers – far more. When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative 'green' subsidies for that electricity.
The first successful test shut down of wind farms took place three weeks ago. Scottish Power received £13,000 for closing down two farms for a little over an hour on 30 May at about five in the morning.
The Governor may also ask about the huge subsidies wind firms receive from the government and about the added costs to consumers:
Next month's annual report from Ofgem, the energy regulator, will show that it has risen above £1 billion for the first time, according to analysts at the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a green energy think-tank.
It means that renewable energy added an an estimated £13.50 to the average household electricity bill last year. An additional burden fell on industrial users of electricity, who in turn passed on costs to their customers.
He might also bring up some of the points CEI senior fellow Chris Horner raised in an interview with Freedom & Prosperity Radio about how the alternative energy push is helping to bankrupt Spain, or how some British officials are worried that their push for alternative fuels, like wind, may result in blackouts during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Yet it’s highly unlikely such issues will be raised by McDonnell or anyone else…particularly given his administration's embrace of federal stimulus money for a wind power project at James Madison University and it’s push to give tax credits for “green jobs”.