As a long time member of WVHC I read with interest the article in the May newsletter re: industrial wind. As an environmental writer I have studied several alternative energy sources, including distributed solar PV and ridgetop industrial wind. The only logic for ridgetop industrial wind is greed by utilities for federal subsidies. In our mountainous area, the experiment conducted by Frostburg Univ. at www.frostburg.edu/renewable/wisedemosystem/performance.html shows that solar outproduces wind in nine months out of twelve, in several months by a factor of 5 or more. Ridgetop turbines produce very small amounts of electricity especially in summer when air conditioning creates the biggest demand, as referenced in the PJM Manual21 that was quoted in the newsletter: “Currently effective class average capacity factors are 13% for wind and 38% for solar units.”
Plus, industrial turbines cause enormous destruction during installation, requiring deforestation of approx. five acres for every turbine, causing fragmentation of habitat and invasion of exotic plants; roads widened up to 100 feet to allow passage of the blades; and huge foundations of concrete that will be in the ground forever.
Ridgetop turbines also cause destruction during operation, as witness the recurring bird kills that have made Mt. Storm and other West Virginia and Pennsylvania wind factories notorious as the killers of more birds and bats than any other wind turbines IN THE WORLD (Arnett et al, “Impacts of Wind Energy Facilities on Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat. Bethesda, MD: The Wildlife Society, Technical Review 07-2, 2007). In addition, turbine noise can inflict harm on people.
On the other hand, installing and operating a solar PV system causes no environmental impact (putting aside the question of manufacturing impacts, which apply as well to turbines). Distributed solar, on residences, businesses, hospitals, schools, etc., would strengthen our communities against catastrophes of all kinds and allow our citizens to be in control of their own energy use. Installing solar systems would support more local jobs than any other alternative energy at this point. I have had solar panels with batteries for 4 years now, allowing me to watch old movies while a blizzard raged outside. There is no maintenance, and the costs of panels have declined by half just in these four years.
As a long-time member of West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and a resident of the mountains of western Virginia, I urge the WVHC board to reject ridgetop wind completely and endorse distributed solar as the best way to insure the ecological integrity of our mountains AND democratize access to electricity.
Thank you for the opportunity to give my opinion.
Mildly Amusing Nature Writer: www.chrisbolgiano.com
Fulks Run, VA 22830