I want to commend Chandler Woodcock, Republican Candidate for Governor, for having the courage and good sense to question the value of wind power (“Debate sparks some electricity,” 9/15/06). Wind is both inefficient and expensive, which is why it depends on rich subsidies”“the federal production tax credit, special rapid depreciation, renewable portfolio standards, and renewable energy credits”“which we all pay for and which still don’t bring wind’s cost down to the standard offer.
We are told we ought to pay extra for wind because it can reduce emissions and tame global warming, but wind is in fact a weak instrument to this end. Typically, wind plants produce only about 30% of their nameplate capacity; their output is intermittent and unreliable because of the vagaries of the wind. As a result, they can never replace fossil fuel plants; at best, wind can cause intermittent reductions at those plants. And even during periods of reduced operation, the fossil fuel plants must be kept running to step in when the wind fails. While running, of course, they continue to produce emissions.
Testimony at the recent LURC hearings on Redington showed that the avoided emissions claimed by the developer were almost certainly exaggerated, were unsupported by analysis of the grid, and were in any case not significant. Woodcock’s cautionary words about wind power are well taken. They could help to provide the basis for a realistic and effective energy policy.
Dain A. Trafton
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