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At what cost wind? 

Credit:  North Adams Transcript, www.thetranscript.com 31 January 2011 ~~

For some time I had thought industrial wind projects were a good idea in helping the world rid itself of facilities that pollute the environment to produce electricity. That is, until I looked into the claims of the builders of Hoosac Wind.

The reality of wind being so variable and not dependable means that wind turbines connected to the grid, conventional plants, must continue to spin because it takes some time to start generating electricity with conventional generation. This means conventional plants must continue operating to provide base and peak loads to the grid.

The proponents say Hoosac Wind will generate enough power for 22,000 homes. Peak capacity of the combined turbines is rated at 30 mw of power, but it will never be able to actually add that amount of power to the grid. Power is lost on the way to the substation, then conditions must be perfect in order to generate peak capacity, and that can be only a fraction of the time, as not only too little, but too much wind means little to no power generated.

Ice collection on the blades is an issue as well. Then consider that wind turbines do in fact use electricity to control the blades, orientation of turbine and shutting down for whatever reason, taking away from capacity.

According to statistics from Searsburg and other projects, less than 25 percent of total capacity can be expected and over time even less. Hoosac Wind will never provide electricity to power 22,000 homes, and a more realistic figure is about 5,500 homes. Then we still have the issue of needing electricity that is dependable and varies with demand, not wind.

Things don’t always go right. Not too long ago, one of the turbines was destroyed at Searsburg Wind in Vermont, and that was just after 10 years of operation. Also, in 2003, a turbine fell down at Princeton Wind. I might add that facility was shut down in 2001, far short of the projected life span of 30 years, with only about 16 years online.

Other environmental concerns are; burning up from malfunctions, getting struck by lightning, disruptions to flora and fauna, not to mention tearing up the mountain top.

How can the state not require a complete environmental study for a project of this scope? There are issues about the bridges on Route 2 and curves to transport 210-plus loads, some over 120 feet in length and up to 195,000 pounds up the mountain. Who will be responsible for the impact to the roads? So far there has been no formal transportation plan submitted, in spite of the project getting the green light.

Iberdrola, headquartered in Spain, will be compensated in various forms of tax breaks and incentives of close to $94 million, yet projections to build the facility is said to be about $40 million. Something on the order of $50 million would be left as profit for building it, compliments of U.S. taxpayers. So much for not giving multinational companies money to reduce the trade imbalance.

The town of Florida decided to accept payments based on electric production instead of taxing based on value, which would be much higher, making the deal even sweeter.

We can expect electric bills increasing as a result of the Hoosac Wind Project. In Denmark, wind power provides approximately 20 percent of total electric generation, yet not one conventional plant has come off-line, and the cost of electricity is 3 times the U.S. average.

While Hoosac Wind will be able to add some electricity to the grid, is the cost really worth it? We all need to do our part in living greener and having less impact on the environment, but Hoosac Wind doesn’t do that for us. A small fraction of electricity boasted by Iberdrola will make it on the grid, and not one power plant will be able to be shut down as demand requires a dependable power source – something wind will never be.

I feel for the residents living nearby the project as their lives are about to change dramatically and not for the better. Many residents living near similar projects regret having these industrial projects in their neighborhoods.

This letter is not about it being on the ridge near my home, but about generation being economically, scientifically and environmentally sound, and if you go past the rhetoric, Hoosac Wind won’t do that. The big winner of Hoosac Wind is Iberdrola, and I think we are giving up too much for a pittance.

Larry Lorusso


Source:  North Adams Transcript, www.thetranscript.com 31 January 2011

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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