While invoking concerns about global warming to trump all arguments against constructing industrial wind energy plants in largely undeveloped areas, Mike Tidwell neglects to show that wind farms actually help fight climate change (“Need for wind farms in Maryland trumps aesthetics argument,” Opinion • Commentary, Dec. 26).
Instead, he goes on to invoke logging and acid rain as other threats to the forest, as if those abuses justify the additional threat from large-scale wind energy development.
But nobody contests the idea that wind farms produce clean electricity. The problem is that they do so in a highly variable, intermittent manner.
Their average annual output is only 20 percent to 30 percent of their capacity, and they generate at or above that rate only one-third of the time.
For that reason, wind farms are unable to replace other sources of electricity, which are still needed to provide reliable energy on demand.
Wind power may occasionally displace hydropower and natural gas, which can switch off and on quickly enough. But coal consumption is not likely to be affected at all. And its effect on acid rain and carbon emissions is minimal.
The rest of the power grid inherits the extra burden of balancing the variable output from the wind turbines, which may cause more emissions and cancel much of the occasional benefit from wind power.
Global warming, acid rain, and energy security demand real solutions, not expensive, destructive distractions.
East Hardwick, Vt.
The writer is president of National Wind Watch, a nonprofit group critical of the impact of wind energy.
Turbines could ruin mountain forests
Mike Tidwell would have us all believe that the proposed site for 100 massive wind turbines in Garrett County would simply involve the removal of some scraggly old trees that would soon fall prey to the ax, polluted air and acid rain (“Need for wind farms in Maryland trumps aesthetics argument” Opinion • Commentary, Dec. 26).
But when I recently attended a state forestry board meeting that discussed the issue, I learned that each turbine would be 400 feet tall and would require four to 10 acres of forest to be clear-cut; that access roads would be 20- to 30-feet wide; and that, of course, the electric wires would have to go somewhere.
The turbines would be visible over 25 percent of Garrett County.
Maryland does not have to choose wind turbines to be on the cutting edge of alternative energy.
Some things do not make sense in our small state.
Let’s protect our beautiful natural heritage.
1 January 2008
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