As Stearns County considers the Paynesville-area wind project, consider this:
Denmark is the poster country for wind energy, with more per capita turbines than any nation. Government-backed Dong Energy, producer of more than half of Denmark’s electricity, has announced a moratorium on new land-based turbines. Massive protests are the cause.
The primary issue is noise. A setback of at least 1 mile, the recommendation of the World Health Organization, is needed for relief from the turbine’s repetitive low-frequency sound. For Stearns County, the offer of Geronimo Wind to provide a 1,000-foot setback from homes may not soothe nearby residents.
Also, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported on Aug. 23 that it set a new electricity demand record with 65,776 megawatts between 4 and 5 p.m. ERCOT also reported that its 9,319 MW of name plate wind capacity produced an actual 650 MW during that period, or 1 percent of demand. This is consistent with ERCOT’s report for all of 2009, when Texas wind operated at 8.7 percent of name plate capacity and provided 1 percent of total demand. …
In the U.S. in 2009, wind produced 70 billion kwh at a 26 percent capacity factor, which provided 1.75 percent of total U.S. electric power.
At the same average capacity factor, the 95 MW Geronimo wind farm proposed near Paynesville would provide actual output of an unpredictable 25 MW. Wind turns itself on and off. The Monticello nuclear plant produces more than 20 times that output at a predictable time.
There is a role for wind energy in our electric future, but it is a supplement, not a substitute, requiring very large taxpayer subsidies. Wind is not a solution to our oil imports. … The substitute for polluting coal is reliable natural gas and nuclear energy.
By Rolf E. Westgard,
member Geological Society of America
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