An editorial in the April 22 Journal Sentinel discusses offshore wind generators (“Offshore wind farms have great potential for states,” Our View, Crossroads).
This is not a new idea; about 40 years ago, a professor at the University of Massachusetts made a similar proposal. Representatives from Wisconsin Electric met with the professor to explore the concept. Among problems considered was how to maintain the machines in Lake Michigan in the winter.
The same editorial mentions a 500-megawatt wind farm. Can you imagine over 200 such machines off the beaches? No way. Placing the generators out of sight not only makes them more expensive and difficult to maintain; it also creates a significant hazard to shipping.
The editorial asks, “What’s not to like about this?” Well, besides the visual pollution, there is a matter of cost, reliability and availability. Electricity from wind generators is more expensive than more traditional producers; that’s one reason Wisconsin ratepayers are paying above average rates, as stated in the Business section of the April 22 Journal Sentinel (“Utilities fight to build power lines”).
Wind does not always blow, which means backup generation also must be built. The fuel (wind) is free, but the electricity is certainly not.
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