Matt Walker made many claims about problems caused by fracking and the benefits he believes are inherent with “renewables,” in his Aug. 12 Guest Voice column, “Erie should focus on clean energy.”
While it is true that there are problems that come along with the development of any energy source, wind is no exception. And while it may come as a surprise to those in the alarmist camps, the fact is that there is a direct correlation between improved health and longevity in the United States, and the availability of reliable, affordable power here (ie: coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro).
Let’s consider the results to date of the billions of dollars that taxpayers and ratepayers have been forced to fork over to the wind power sector that Walker favors.
First of all, the same big, “bad” oil, coal, gas and nuclear corporations also own industrial wind factories (many of which have not paid any taxes in the U.S. in years). Initiated by Enron in the U.S., industrial wind is most useful to these giant corporations as a tax shelter generator.
Because wind is not reliable, predictable or dispatchable, it provides virtually no capacity value, or firm capacity (specified amounts of power on demand). Thus, wind needs constant “shadow capacity” from our reliable, conventional power sources, and it cannot replace conventional generators.
With approximately 200,000 industrial wind turbines installed worldwide today, wind has not significantly reduced CO2 emissions anywhere.
I live in Wyoming County in western New York state, not far from Erie. There are already 250 industrial wind turbines sprawling throughout entire towns here, with another 59 going up this summer. Contrary to Walker’s claims, no meaningful permanent jobs have been created here, and nobody is getting free or reduced-rate electricity either. In fact, New York state has been cited as having the most expensive utility rates in the continental U.S.
Much of what used to be one of the most beautiful areas in New York has been turned into a sprawling industrial wind factory. Many of my friends’ homes have been rendered virtually worthless. Let’s be real. Would you buy and move your family into a home with towers that are 430-plus feet tall, with 7-ton blades spinning overhead, only hundreds of feet from your home?
I have yet to meet anyone who would.
And what have we gotten for all of this environmental and civic degradation?
New York’s 16 installed wind factories produced an average 23 percent capacity factor (actual output) in 2012. Which one of you would buy a car that only operated 23 percent of the time? You wouldn’t. You couldn’t afford to. It’s that simple. Any other piece of equipment that had such an abysmal performance record would have been dubbed a lemon and relegated to the trash heap a long time ago.
Consider the fact that one single 450 megawatt gas-fired combined cycle generating unit located near New York City (where the power is needed in New York state), operating at only a 60 percent capacity factor, could have supplied more electricity than all of New York state’s 16 installed wind farms combined. That single 450 megawatt gas-fired combined cycle generating unit would significantly reduced CO2 emissions, with only about one-quarter of the capital cost of the wind factories.
Furthermore, that one gas-fired plant would actually create real, full-time jobs, unlike the wind farms, which have been figured to cost $11.45 million per job created, and as a result, cost more than four jobs lost elsewhere in the economy.
If that’s not enough proof for you, now consider the fact that offshore wind has been estimated to cost three to four times more than onshore wind.
If you want to chase people, businesses and industries out of Pennsylvania by defacing the natural beauty of the Great Lakes and causing your electricity rates to skyrocket, pursuing the “green” energy boondoggle of wind power is a sure means to that end.
People need to educate themselves about these energy issues if we hope to maintain reliable, affordable power for all Americans. A good place to start is by reading “The Wind Farm Scam,” by John Etherington, and by visiting the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions site, www.WiseEnergy.org/.
MARY KAY BARTON, of Silver Creek, N.Y., is a retired health educator and a small business owner. She has served on local water quality organizations and enjoys gardening and birding in her Backyard Wildlife Habitat, certified by the National Wildlife Federation
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding