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Who will pay?

Editor, in the July 4 edition of the County Journal, there was an article about Bayfield County’s attempt to get into the electric generation, transmission and distribution business by way of a wind driven electric generator. This 400-foot tall structure would be built near Mt. Ashwabay. At this location, it would be visible from almost anywhere on the Bayfield Peninsula and from the Apostle Islands.

The article stated that two 1.7 mw turbines could generate as much as 7,000,000 kwhs. Also, it stated that a 1.5 mw facility in Massachusetts cost $3,900,000. That amounts to $2,600 per kw installed. Using the $2,600 cost figure, the Bayfield project would cost $8,840,000 not adjusted for inflation. Using a 4 percent interest rate, $353,600 would be required each year just to pay for the interest. If the project could generate 7,000 mwh at full estimated output as stated in the article, each kwh would have to be sold for 5.05 cents to cover interest alone. The article states that a power company will only pay about three cents per kwh, not enough to pay for the interest. There are additional expenses to consider, too.

Who will pay for insurance including liability and for metering? Who will provide back-up generation to cover no-wind situations? Wind energy is considered to be dump energy, when, as and if it is available. It cannot be considered as firm capacity like that from the power company. Who will pay for line losses and maintenance on the wind driven generator? Icing could cause some special maintenance problems? Does the county plan to have linemen available to repair downed power lines? Also, the proposed location could interfere with helicopter traffic and other aircraft including transmission line aerial patrols. Has the county considered the impact on the ski hill and on Big Top Chautauqua? Are the power lines, which the county proposes to use adequate for 3.4 mw? Has any consideration been given to migratory waterfowl and other birds and raptors? The tips of the blades will be moving at speeds close to 200 mph. There will be a noise factor to consider, too.

If the project goes forward, it will become an $8,840,000 unnecessary investment placed on the backs of the already tax-stressed residents. Do the proposed benefactors know that when the wind stops the lights will go out? They will have to pay for back-up capacity to keep that from happening? Bayfield County does not need this wind generator. If the structure is built at its proposed location, it will be an environmental esthetic disaster.

It’s time to abandon this ill-fated project before another dollar is spent.

W. D. Maki, Washburn, Wis.