The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has approved a $1 billion “renewable energy” project, the lion’s share of which will generate power … for Maine. The deal calls for Connecticut to buy energy from a 250-megawatt wind farm in upstate Maine and a 20-megawatt solar farm in Sprague.
It’s not quite as simple or bizarre as all that, of course. ”Because of transmission limitations, it appears that the electricity generated by this project will remain exclusively or largely in Maine and not be delivered to Connecticut or elsewhere outside of Maine,” regulators said. Explained William Dornbos, the Connecticut director of Environment Northeast, an advocacy group: “It’s always important to remember that we participate in a regional electric grid. More wind power helps lower electricity costs in our regional wholesale electricity market by pushing more expensive resources like oil-fired power plants, outside that market.”
Well, OK. We’ll see.
But here’s a more troubling thought. Read the first part of the PURA quote again. “Transmission limitations.” In these two words, we find the tragic flaw of wind energy.
To wit: You can build wind farms in very remote locations, but you’ll have trouble transmitting the energy they produce to populated areas.
You can identify suitable areas where high-capacity power lines are available, but such areas tend to be more heavily populated, and folks won’t let you build a wind farm there. They don’t like the danger of ice being thrown from the blades, they worry about something called “wind turbine syndrome” that supposedly sickens people, and they know wind turbines kill birds and other wildlife. So wind farms don’t get built in populated areas near power lines.
I think that’s what’s called a conundrum. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s resolved in this case.
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