March 4, 2011
Letters, Virginia

Governor is blind to renewable energy faults

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 March 2011

Virginians know that “Virginia is for Lovers.” We also know the adage that love is blind. Such blindness is exemplified by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s and Sen. Frank Wagner’s love affair with renewable energy.

Offering reason to those committed to love relationships obviously seen as disastrous to rational outsiders is often futile. Scientific analyses, cost-benefit economic impact studies and the disastrous experience of wind power and solar power have not dissuaded the governor.

For lovers, cost may be no object to happiness; for others it is objectionable. The Massachusetts Cape Wind and the Rhode Island Deepwater Wind projects stick the consumer with guaranteed higher electric-rate costs and guaranteed profits to promoters of taxpayer-subsidized projects. Ignored are the additional conventional power plants needed to provide reliable power when the wind fails.

Evergreen Solar Company loved $58 million of Massachusetts taxpayer subsidies. After two years, it closed shop, laid off 800 workers and moved to China, even as China builds more coal and nuclear power plants and sells low-cost solar and wind-turbine components to the West.

Renewable lovers will find disappointment in Spain, France, Denmark, Holland, Germany and England. Spain’s splurge on subsidized solar and wind resulted in a 20 percent unemployment rate. France has seen the light and is cutting subsidies for solar and installation of Chinese solar panels. Denmark’s on- and off-shore wind-power craze has climaxed with the closing of five wind-turbine production facilities, the highest residential electricity rates in Europe and no lower coal usage. Holland is slashing renewable subsidies and planning its first nuclear power plants in 40 years. Germany has the second highest electric costs in the EU and is projecting power blackouts. England reports shortfalls in renewable energy production.

Perhaps McDonnell might share the hidden charms he sees in renewable energy, everywhere else a demonstrably more expensive and less reliable energy source.

Charles Battig,

President, Piedmont Chapter,

Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment.


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