Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Go Ted!

ANAHEIM, C.A. -- Philanthropist and CNN founder Ted Turner has turned his sights to renewable energy -- and he had some fighting words for the wind industry at the kickoff to its annual convention on Monday.

Turbine manufacturers and clean energy utilities can't sit idly by while the coal industry touts its "clean coal" plan and oil companies flood the airwaves, Turner said. He noted that he had "nightmares" caused by clean coal advertisements.

Wind energy companies, which created a quarter of the nation's new electricity capacity last year, need to fight back, Turner said.

"I'd rather have a nuclear than a coal plant built, because one might kill ya and the other one will for sure. But wind doesn't kill anybody," Turner added.
"Let's go out and kick their asses. That's what they need, a good ass-kicking," Turner told the group assembled for the American Wind Energy Association's conference. He was speaking in an unscripted conversation with the group's CEO, Denise Bode.

So far, Turner hasn't found it feasible to build large-scale wind operations on his own vast land holdings in the American West, but he hopes to change that soon.

Turner acknowledged that wind energy faces an uphill battle, with critical tax credits expiring over the next two years and formidable push-back from carbon-based energy producers. The political calculus is particularly tricky in coal country, as Turner illustrated with an anecdote about a conversation he said he had with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.):

"I'm a good friend and admirer of Jay Rockefeller, the senator from West Virginia," Turner said. "I lobbied him, a year or so ago, and he said, 'Ted, I can't go against coal.' He said, 'I can't. It's the biggest employer in my state.' He said, 'I do a lot of good work in other areas, you're just going to have to give me a bye on this one.'"

Rockefeller's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rockefeller voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included cash grants for renewable energy projects, but he has also pledged to put a halt to the EPA's attempts to tighten climate regulations.

The only way advocates of wind power and other renewable resources like solar power will overcome such staunch opposition, Turner believes, is by committing their own money to public relations and lobbying.

Turner seemed particularly pleased that one of his oldest adversaries, General Electric, could be critical in that effort. GE owned NBC -- a competitor of Turner's cable empire -- from 1986 until this year. GE is now the largest producer of wind turbines in the United States.

"I fought against GE my whole life and now I'm pulling for 'em," Turner told the crowd to applause and laughter.

Turner believes renewable energy is critical for avoiding disruptive climate change over the next century -- but he also thinks global warming is already behind events like the tornado that tore through Missouri over the weekend.

Such severe weather is being caused, Turned said, "by the heating up of the atmosphere because of the goddamned carbon dioxide."


  1. Joram:

    I read an article in this morning's local newspaper to the effect that Angela Merkel, who has a Ph.D in physics, has decided to phase out nuclear power plants in Germany in favor of energy generated by wind, sun, and water. The recent experience of the Japanese with nuclear power plants helped her to reach that conclusion.

  2. Nothing moves companies like profit. The company I work for now does work for two wind mill builders and a locomotive engine builder making a new engine that uses much less fuel and emits less diesel soot. I wouldn't say the company is green-ho now, but they like it more every day, accounts receivable says every month this is good, green is good, it's new jobs and equipment and customers, everything industry wants and it's the right thing to do.
    I have been to one AWEA conference put on by Siemens Wind Energy. In about 8 months after installation all the carbon foot print is offset for by the clean energy produced. This is amazing when you see the size of it and all the exotic components inside. Then it will run for up to 20-30 years almost free. The foot print balance sheet is rather astonishing. Koch and those who fight wind through fake environmental groups harp about this all the time with some numbers that would, if true, have chased Siemens from the business years ago.

  3. Whit -

    The Germans are not alone - The Swiss government decided Wednesday to abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors, while European Union regulators agreed on a framework for stress-testing theirs, as repercussions from the disaster in Japan continue to ripple across Europe.

    The Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard had suspended the approvals process for three new reactors, pending a safety review, after the accident that struck the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

    On Wednesday “” days after an anti-nuclear rally in Switzerland drew a large crowd of 20,000 people “” the Cabinet said it had decided to make the ban permanent.

    The country’s five existing reactors “” which supply about 40 percent of the country’s power “” would be allowed to continue operating, but would not be replaced at the end of their life span, it said. The last would go offline in 2034.

  4. fringe -

    Big Oil may be the largest example of “corporate and social elite” in the world, and they continue to rely on their friends in the Grand Oil Party to protect their taxpayer subsidies and push for policies that pad their shareholder’s pockets. The votes don’t lie. The GOP controlled house has taken 13 votes that directly benefit Big Oil. Last week they postponed a wind and solar hearing in favor of hearing the GOP’s plan to protect oil above all, rather than get serious about reducing gas prices with a comprehensive energy plan.

    Like I've said before, if WE can not count on those we elected to have the balls to take the necessary steps to steer us clear of danger, then WE must find new ones who will!!

  5. I like Ted...He speaks his mind, and enough money to back up what he says.........I like Ted

  6. TAB -

    I wasn't always a big fan of his, but he is moving in the right direction.