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Biologist questions fervor of advocates  

D. Daniel Boone doesn’t understand why people get so excited about wind energy.

Boone, who lives in Maryland, is an independent environmental consultant. Trained as a biologist, he formerly worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Wilderness Society. He was among the speakers Dec. 2 at the Wildlife and Wind Energy Conference at Kutztown University.

“There’s a mythology of wind energy,” he said. “It’s peddled as a panacea for climate change, air pollution and avoidance of mining.”

Armed with that mythology, wind supporters argue that wildlife concerns should be of secondary importance, Boone said. While wind energy doesn’t emit harmful pollutants, it can’t accomplish nearly what its supporters say it can, he added.

“I’m a supporter of wind energy, but location, location, location,” Boone said. “The scenic impacts are huge. We are on the brink of [determining] what our mountain ridges will look like for the next 100 years.”

Do the math, he said.

Ten thousand 1.5-megawatt wind turbines will be needed to meet alternative-energy-portfolio standards in states in the regional power pool, which includes Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Many of those turbines will be built in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Wind turbines are usually spaced eight per mile, meaning that 1,250 miles of ridge lines will be needed, Boone said.

Yet, to what end, he asks.

Only 3 percent of oil consumption in the U.S. is for electricity production, Boone said. Wind energy won’t reduce use of gasoline by automobiles, at least until true electric cars are marketed.

As for the coal burned to create most of the country’s electricity, wind will have no significant impact on reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions beyond what the Clean Air Act has and will accomplish, he said. Only a third of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide come from power plants, he said.

The state’s largest coal-fired power plant is the 2,360-megawatt Bruce Manfield plant in Shippingport owned by FirstEnergy Corp. To replace it would require 5,000 turbines in the winter and 10,000 in the summer because of the low reliability of wind, Boone said.

“Wind energy won’t keep us from building new coal plants,” he said.

Boone believes conservation and offshore wind farms are the answer.

Frank Maisano, a spokesman for the wind industry in the Mid-Atlantic region, agreed that wind energy won’t fix global warming or allow less mining of coal.

“Is it a factor that we need to have a balanced energy approach? Absolutely,” he said. “Is it something that is essential to what we do? Yes. Should it be something we continue to make a bigger part of our generation capacity? Absolutely. We need as much power as we can get.”

Maisano said electricity provided by wind is power that doesn’t have to be provided from other sources.

By David DeKok
Of The Patriot-News

pennlive.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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