The May 2 letter in the Union-Sun & Journal by American Wind Energy Association representative Tom Vinson was typical of wind industry sales propaganda and deserves correction.
The reality is: Industrial wind is a net loser, economically, environmentally, technically and civilly. Let’s examine how.
• Economically: New York State has some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S., a whopping 53 percent above the national average, in large part due to throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars into the wind. High electricity costs drive people and businesses out and ultimately hurt the poor the most.
Why destroy entire towns, when just one 450 megawatt gas-fired combined cycle generating unit located at New York City (where the power is needed in New York state) operating at only 60 percent of capacity, would provide more electricity than all of the wind factories in the state combined – at about a quarter of the capital costs, and without all the negative civil, economic, environmental, human health and property value impacts of industrial wind factories, or all the additional transmission lines to New York City.
The Institute for Energy Research tallied the numbers and found that each wind job costs $11.45 million, plus more than four jobs lost elsewhere in the economy; and all while wind is subsidized over 52 times more than conventional fossil fuels on a unit of production basis.
• Environmentally: According to AWEA, there are approximately 45,100 industrial wind turbines in the U.S. today. They are remotely sited, far removed from urban centers where the power is needed, and necessitate the addition of a spider web of new transmission lines (at ratepayers’ expense), which will exponentially add to the needless bird deaths being caused by turbines themselves.
Additionally, sprawling industrial wind factories cause massive habitat fragmentation, which is cited as one of the main reasons for species decline worldwide. Studies show there are millions of birds and bats being slaughtered annually by these giant “Cuisinarts of the sky.”
• Technically: Because wind provides no capacity value, or firm capacity (specified amounts of power on demand), wind cannot replace our reliable, dispatchable baseload generators. Thus, wind needs constant “shadow capacity” from our reliable, conventional generators and, therefore, locks us into dependence on fossil fuels, while failing to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The list of accidents, blade failures (throwing debris over ½ mile), fires (10 times more than previous wind industry claims), and more, is updated quarterly at www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/AccidentStatistics.htm. This lengthy and growing list is evidence of why these giant, moving machines do not belong anywhere near where people live.
AWEA admits that the life of industrial wind turbines is only 10 to 13 years.
Adding insult to injury, the capacity factors (actual outputs) of all of wind factories combined in New York has been averaging 23 percent. If these turbines were cars, they would have been dubbed “lemons” and relegated to the junkyard long ago.
• Civilly: The only thing that has ever been reliably generated by industrial wind is complete and utter civil discord. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor, and even family member against family member, totally dividing communities (already apparent in Orleans and Niagara counties). It is the job of good government to foresee and prevent this kind of civil discord, not to promote it.
Health-wise, state officials admitted at a 2009 NYSERDA meeting they knew “infrasound” from wind turbines was a problem worldwide. A former noise control engineer, Dr. Dan Driscoll, testified that infrasounds (sounds below 20 Hz) are sounds you can’t hear, but the body can feel. Driscoll said infrasound is not blocked by walls, and it can negatively affect the human body, especially after prolonged, continuous exposure. Symptoms include headache, nausea, sleeplessness, dizziness and ringing in the ears. Dr. Jan Storm, a state health department official, testified that infrasound from industrial wind turbines was a problem worldwide, yet New York still had not done any health studies (despite having federal money available to do so).
Here we are six years later, and indefensibly, state officials still have not called for any independent studies to assure the protection of New York citizens.
The Golden Rule, as espoused by Rotary Club International’s excellent “Four-Way Test” of the things we think, say and do, should be the moral and ethical standard our public servants aspire to uphold. The Four-Way Test asks: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
When applied to the industrial wind issue, the answers are a resounding “no!”
Mary Kay Barton is a retired New York State-certified health educator and environmentalist in Silver Lake, Wyoming County.
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