As an electrical engineer, I have always embraced the technology behind wind, hydro, solar and other forms of “alternative” energy production. It is undoubtedly cool. What I despise is an agenda by special interest groups to mislead the public regarding the maturity and efficiency of those systems in an effort to destroy the nuclear and fossil fuel industries that drive our economy.
The recent failure of the 5-year-old wind turbine at Tom Ridge Environmental Center is a good example. Numbers were not provided for that turbine, but were for the one on Barracks Beach, also offline (Erie Times-News, March 31).
The turbine and tower cost about $36,000 in 2004 dollars, when installed. The stated best-case energy generation for it is 15,000 kwh/ year. Electricity rates around here are about 13 cents/kwh, but I’ll use 15 cents for best-case analysis. That multiplies to $2,250 worth of electricity per year. So, it would take 16 years to recover the cost of replacement at that rate. The turbine has lasted 8 years, yielding an amortized cost of $4,500 per year. Installation would include expensive cost for cables and equipment for interfacing the wind generator power to the commercial power, which are not figured into my calculations.
Similar numbers dominate for solar power as well since installation costs are high and the cells lose efficiency over time.
Yes, we must continue pursuing other forms of energy generation to supplement fossil fuels. No, we must not punish and cripple the country’s economic well-being in mindless obeisance to groups that are making billions of dollars pushing their disingenuous agenda.