September 7, 2012
Letters, Michigan

Michigan should focus on energy conservation not wind

The Muskegon Chronicle | 6 September 2012

Many people feel that wind power is going to cut down on the amount of fossil fuel we use to generate electricity. The future will tell, but what will be the cost?

We have to assume that any additional electricity produced by wind power will be utilized. Is the population of Michigan increasing at such a rate that more electrical power is needed? The U.S. Census shows that the population has been decreasing since 2004. Schools are closing because they are losing students. Counties are redistricting because they are losing population. Energy conservation is increasing.

Here is an example from Heritage Media, 8/4/12: “Three years ago, the Ypsilanti City Council set up an energy efficiency revolving fund of $250,000. The money has been used to fund projects to improve energy efficiency and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Upgrades will include new LED lighting, motion-sensing light switches and a reduced number of light fixtures. These LEDs use maybe one-third of the energy. Parking lot lights at both buildings and City Hall also will be converted. It’s going to be a nice savings overall …”

Who is going to use the electricity generated by these wind turbines? We are, but who is going to use the electricity that the wind turbines replaced.

Companies that generate electricity are paid to not produce electricity when demand drops. This is a common practice for companies that generate electricity with fossil fuels and has happened to wind turbine companies in the United Kingdom and in the northwestern part of the United States. So if wind power begins to generate 25 percent of Michigan’s electrical needs, who in Michigan is going to pay for the 25 percent of electricity that is not going to be produced by fossil fuels. You guessed it; your price per kwh will jump from about $.13 to $.35 as it is in Denmark, which has the highest kwh of wind produced electricity per capita. You will have a few companies making turbines and turbine parts, but you will not have much else, in “Electric Rates Soar,” The Detroit Free Press, 8/22/12. But utilities say they fund green energy initiatives discussed current high electric rates in Michigan and how thousands of companies are on a waiting list to take advantage of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s 10 percent allotment for competitively priced electricity. How many of them will be forced out of Michigan if the wind turbine projects force electric rates to increase?

Wind turbines do not generate electrical power all the time. They depend on the wind and currently they are estimated to generate electricity between 8 to 30 percent of the time. This means that we will still need fossil fuels generating electricity to meet our needs. The fossil fuel plants will need to be shut down when the wind turbine electricity comes online. So you are paying the fossil fuel generators to shut down so you can use wind turbine electricity.

Many of you know that Michigan is in an economic crisis, but suppose the economy miraculously recovers. What does that mean to Michigan if we are mandated to have 25 percent of our electrical needs supplied by renewable means? Every wind project needs backup fossil fuel capacity to generate electricity when the wind does not blow. In order to meet the electrical demands when wind power shuts down, you will need a fossil fuel plant. This means that a 25 percent increase in wind produced electricity could require a 25 percent increase in fossil fuel generators to meet power demands or payments to the fossil fuel generators when the wind stops?

Fierce Energy, a website, has had articles detailing how companies and communities are saving up to 45 percent on their electricity costs by practicing conservation techniques. How about making our fossil fuel generating plants more environmentally friendly? Wouldn’t this be a better solution than turning our countryside into industrial wind turbine projects? We could eliminate the eye pollution, noise pollution, sound pollution, flicker, electromagnetic pollution, decreased property values and the health problems some of our neighbors will experience.

There’s a simple reason why many people are leaving Michigan: In its major cities it is becoming an unpleasant place because more of it is visually unattractive and because it is lacking in quality living options other than tract suburbia and abandoned factories; and we are turning our countryside into visually unattractive and unhealthy industrial wind projects.


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