As you have probably heard, the US House has unveiled a $800 billion “stimulus” bill that includes extension of the wind production tax credit for 3 years and would provide billions in direct grants to “wind farm” owners. If you are offended by this action, please consider giving your views forcefully to your Congressman, Senators, Newspapers, TV and anyone else whose email or fax address or telephone number that you have. Contact information for Senators is available at www.senate.gov and for House members at www.house.gov.
Investment in energy efficient light bulbs would save more than 5 times as much electricity in 5 years as an equal $ investment in a wind turbine would produce in 20 years.
This fact is clearly demonstrated with simple arithmetic!
First, calculate the potential output from a wind turbine. A wind turbine with capacity of 1 Megawatt (or 1,000 kilowatts) would cost about $2 million. [i] If that turbine achieved a capacity factor of 35%, it would produce 3,066,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in one year or 61,320,000 kWh over 20 years. [ii]
Second, calculate the electricity savings from energy efficient light bulbs. With energy efficient light bulbs now selling for about $2 each, $2 million would buy one million light bulbs. Replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 15-watt energy efficient bulb providing similar light would save 45 watt-hours in 1 hour. If used 4 hours per day year around for 5 years, savings from that one bulb would be 328.5 kWh. One million bulbs would save 328,500,000 kWh over 5 years. [iii]
Apart from the absolute savings shown, keep in mind that:
- Electricity that is saved doesn’t require building expensive transmission lines.
- Not all the electricity from a wind turbine ever reaches electric customers because of line losses.
- The $2 million for a wind turbine doesn’t include costs for 20 years of operations, maintenance, repair, and replacement.
Further, building “wind farms” creates very few jobs because an overwhelming share of the cost capital of a “wind farm” is for turbines, blades, and towers that are built elsewhere and imported. Construction lasts only a few months and is done by temporary workers from outside areas. Few permanent jobs are created. Electricity produced is high in cost and low in value because it is intermittent, volatile, unreliable, and unlikely to be available when electricity demand is highest. Wind turbines do not replace the need for reliable generating capacity. They provide few environmental benefits and cause significant environmental, scenic, and property value damage.
Glenn R. Schleede, 18220 Turnberry Drive, Round Hill, VA 20141-2574. 540-338-9958
[i] Joe Romm, quoted in Bloomberg.Com, January 15, 2009, “U. S. considers $7.7 billion in grants for green-energy projects.” http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&refer=environment&sid=ax6IcWxIH4kM
[ii] That is, 1,000 kW × 8,760 hrs. per yr. × 35% capacity factor = 3,066,000 kWh. 20 yrs. × 3,066,000 = 61,320,000.
[iii] That is, 45 × 4 hrs. per day × 365 days × 5 years = 328,500 watt-hours or 328.5 kWh. 328.5 × 1,000,000 = 328,500,000.