Some area folks involved in conservation and environmental concerns see proposed energy production from offshore turbines as an arrival of ill winds.
New York Power Authority (NYPA) officials have put forth a Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project (GLOW), which will generate power from windmills installed in open Great Lakes waters in Western New York.
The GLOW proposal was begun with NYPA issuing a “Request for Proposals to Construct” on Dec. 1, 2009. This proposal offers private companies and contractors the right to submit detailed plans for the construction and operation of these offshore windmills. Facilitators for NYPA make presentations on these project stages and expected outcomes. NYPA, at this stage, is not planning or constructing these devices.
While many individuals and agencies have pointed out the plusses in this program, a number of individuals, outdoors groups, and at least one county legislator have serious doubts about the efficacy and environmental impact a fully operational GLOW project would have on the Great Lakes.
“Right now the focus is mainly on Lake Erie, not so much on Lake Ontario,” said Tom Marks, New York director with the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council and an active member of many other area, regional, and national fisheries and conservation groups.
The GLOW program states it would need to install 166 windmills along the Erie shoreline between Buffalo and Barcelona Harbor to be profitable, Marks noted.
When residents along the Chautauqua County shoreline heard of the GLOW proposal, Chautauqua County legislators convened and framed a resolution opposing the proposal, which was passed by a vote of 22 to 2.
George Burillo of Hanover in Chautauqua County was one of a few legislators who attended an informative program Marks coordinated at the Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls on Oct. 15.
Marks invited John Droz Jr., a physicist and environmental activist, to offer a presentation, “Our Energy Future: Determined by Science or Lobbyists?”
Droz asked his audience of about 150 to be open-minded in forming assessments. He stressed using the scientific method, calling Galileo someone who was open-minded and who relied on provable fact rather than group thinking.
Without once mentioning NYPA or GLOW projects throughout his thoughts, Droz noted that at first he tended to support the “wind farm” resource for power production.
After applying a six-stage, scientific analysis of wind production, paralleled with other sources such as coal, gas, and nuclear, he now sees the wind option as impractical and lacking in proof of consistent power output.
Green-oriented environmentalists look to wind as a clean source of energy and a solution to global warming. Droz sees the Global Warming Theory as not scientific and unproven, one that appeals to the public good but remains a hypothesis. And, using data taken mainly from German and Norwegian wind-farm production, he showed that these facilities are not a reliable source of energy. German generators produce a lot of power, but they serve as a predictable source of energy only 30 percent of the time.
“The problem is that wind power cannot ensure peak-load needs. The wind grid cannot provide ‘base [average] load,'” he said. On average for all units currently in use, Droz notes that wind farm efficiency is at about 13 percent as a reliable power source.
Carbon dioxide emissions, a large concern of green environmentalists, have not been reduced in European countries that have adopted wind energy. Droz points out that Denmark has the most windmills now in use followed by Germany. Data for the continent show the top CO2-emission sources in Europe are Denmark and Germany so the windmills had no effect, he said.
Droz likens the current methods of selecting new, green power sources as a person seeing transportation. He said, “Think of a person buying 10 cheap cars with hopes one of them will run properly with no consideration of excess repair costs and loss of [transportation] service.”
He does not advocate for or fully support any one energy source. As a scientist, he asserts that individuals, companies and governmental agencies must take into consideration total costs, the costs imposed upon taxpayers to fund subsidized proposals and projects, and the many governmental moves to allow power companies from avoiding taxes while developing these programs. Instead, he advocates solving our energy-production needs with critical thinking and applying the scientific method to all proposed options.
Droz, throughout his talk, stressed environmental interests that may not be factored into the science and politics of wind farming. He said, “Science is never arrived at by a vote; there is no such thing as ‘consensus science,'” a reference to the unquestioned acceptance of wind-farm production.
After Droz’s discussion, Rich Davenport, with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen and an outdoors writer, expanded on Droz’s conservation concerns, citing the recreational fisheries resources that will be negatively affected by open-water structures. Davenport noted both the good fishing and spectacular waterfront views could be negatively impacted by the grid needed to make Lake Erie wind farms effective and profitable.
To view the NYPA GLOW program, go to nypa.gov/NYPAwindpower/GreatLakesWind.htm.To see Droz’s assessment of wind and other power options, visit energypresentation.info.
After the presentation, Marks concluded, “Currently, only scattered groups have formed to stop this program. Until we can get legislation in Albany to ban these offshore ‘wind farms,’ this will be a continuous fight.”
For an update on opposition efforts, check with Marks at 997-6919.
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