Discussion of the proposed windmills on Glebe Mountain has so far focused on aesthetic and environmental issues. I should like to add some comment on the practical and financial aspects of this project. As a scientist I always find it disturbing that the public is often called upon to make important decisions in the absence of relevant data.
Due to the unpredictable nature of wind, the market value of electricity produced by windmills is quite low, at something less than 2.5 cents per KiloWatt-Hour. Given the high cost of construction and maintenance of windmills such as those proposed one can reasonably expect the actual cost of the power generated to greatly exceed its true market value, probably costing in the vicinity of 9-10 cents per KiloWatt-Hour. Clearly wind power is not a practical endeavor and cannot be expected to yield economic benefits to the public as a whole.
In engineering terms, wind power belongs to a class of energy sources referred to as “low-grade energy.” In other words, wind power is not a concentrated form of energy, but rather is dispersed or “dilute,” since the actual energy of wind “per square foot” is quite low. Utilization of low-grade energy is a classical engineering problem that is well understood, having long been realized to be impractical. Wind energy was made obsolete by the advent of the steam engine over a century ago.
Given the impractical nature of so-called wind turbines, one may reasonably ask, why would anyone want to build them? The answer has to do with the bizarre economics of regulated utilities. Unlike competitive enterprises that make money by reducing their expenses, regulated monopolies such as utilities increase their long-term profits by increasing their costs. By itself CVPS cannot afford to build the Glebe Mountain project. Instead, they no doubt expect a larger utility to buy their permits, so that the buyer can inflate its costs, raise its rates, and increase its profits-all in the name of renewable energy.
When told that the people of France were starving for lack of bread, Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake dough!” Wind power is the Marie Antoinette solution to the low cost of coal-an abundant resource. Readers who are interested in learning more details about the impracticality of wind power may wish to consult my essay at www.glebemountaingroup.org.
Fergus Smith, Londonderry
Weighing in the wind needs careful planning
Energy versus beauty is a subject requiring much thought and careful planning.
The National Geographic’s Traveler magazine (March 2004) states in an article called Destination Scoreboard that under their Stewardship Index, Vermont, USA ranks 6 of a possible 37 in the world.
To name some, Vermont keeps “unspoiled destination” ranking in the good company of Norwegian fjords, South island, New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, Scottish Highlands, UK, and Quebec City historic center, Canada. There are only 10 possible top scores.
Clearly when weighing wind versus wise stewardship the global aspect must be considered. We humans have a very small globe to protect and defend.
I would suggest that:
1. Machines have never enhanced nature, modern windmills while utterly streamlined are utilitarian, and they are very, very tall and noticeable.
2. Manchester and Dorset together create a tourist destination, which helps keep Vermont “green.” There is no sense in deliberately choosing to ruin a stunning economic advantage for the State of Vermont
3.Good Stewardship is an item for the state of Vermont to manage. The state needs to adopt tough land-use and building codes as has, for instance, Tuscany, Italy (March 2004 National Geographic Traveler)
4.In other locations where windmills have been implanted, they have fallen into disuse, broken, become very ugly, and no one then cares to remove them. They remain a blight.
5. Vermont is smarter than to allow this willy-nilly building of windmills by companies not one bit interested in global beauty or Vermont economics, but interested solely in their corporate bottom line.
6. This energy problem requires a fierce commitment by Vermont, to study and solve on a state-wide basis, not expecting each small town to figure out the same policy over and over again.
7. Vermont can be a leader.
Clarissa Lennox, Manchester
What are the facts about wind power?
It appears that the “powers that be” have decided that we are to embark on a massive wind machine construction project. This will undoubtedly make many feel good. But what are the facts?
Fact ONE: Approximately three percent of petroleum we use generates electricity. Fact TWO: If we stopped using this three percent it would still be used by other countries, such as India and China.
Fact THREE: Windmills that effect migrating patterns kill thousands of birds.
Fact FOUR: To generate all of our current electric needs by wind machines we would need to construct twenty-five thousand (25,000) of them.
Fact FIVE: General Electric, the polluter of the Hudson River, would stand to reap great financial benefits from a large wind generating project. Fact SIX: The great majority of visitors to Vermont come to enjoy our scenery and undeveloped ridge lines.
Graham Whitney, Londonderry
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