In our zeal to find an alternative to fossil fuels for our energy needs many people have advocated the construction of offshore wind farms to provide this alternative. Many use Europe as an example because of the wide use of wind energy, but let’s look at some facts.
Wind farm builders rely on high electric rates to finance their investment, contrary to the public interest. The result is higher electric rates and taxes, due to the government subsidies needed to build and operate these wind farms. In Germany the public utilities pay up to 10 times the rates they pay to plants that use fossil fuels. Even the proposed Cape Wind project off Nantucket needed a minimum of 21 cents per kilowatt hour to operate. In Denmark, wind provides about 20 percent of the country’s electricity, but no conventional plants have been shut down because of the variability and intermittency of wind. Conventional plants must be run at full capacity to meet demand. Over all, European wind farms produce only 20 percent of their rated capacity.
So where is the savings from this free energy if we must maintain two separate and expensive sources of power? Not to mention, how are we going to reduce our carbon footprint if we must run our fuel-powered plants at full capacity to offset wind power’s shortcomings?
Offshore wind farms have been found to be notoriously unreliable due to the harsh marine environment. The largest wind farm in Sweden has been closed after 13 years because only one out of five turbines was ever operational. General Electric recently shut down their wind farm known as Arklow, off the coast of Ireland, because of similar problems. Even salt buildup on the blades has been shown to reduce the power generated by 20 to 30 percent. As anyone who owns a boat or waterfront property can attest, anything that comes in contact with saltwater is very difficult and expensive to maintain.
They’re environmentally destructive to the marine environment. The drilling of the sea bed for a wind turbine’s foundations is every bit as destructive as building an oil rig. The digging required to build the trenches for the many necessary transmission cables is equally destructive.
The artificial electromagnetic energy that is emitted has been found to significantly impede the migration and foraging of marine mammals and fish. The two areas being proposed for the windfarms off Long Island are right in the middle of some of the most important fishing grounds in the Northeast. Fishermen from North Carolina to Maine work these grounds for dozens of species, especially fluke, squid, sea scallops, scup, and monkfish. The loss of these grounds would destroy hundreds of small businesses, many of them your own neighbors.
In a time when we’ve seen significant improvements in our fisheries and the status of endangered marine species, can we really advocate allowing irreparable damage for an obviously unviable energy source? I hope our town board reconsiders advocating for this project before we have another ill-considered nightmare like the so-called beach replenishment in Montauk.
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