Paul Vigeant is properly concerned about the future availability of electrical energy in the commonwealth (“Your View: Offshore wind can help state replace lost power suppliers,” May 17). The recent or imminent closures of Mount Tom, Salem, Brayton Point, and Pilgrim power plants mean that Massachusetts is facing a significant energy shortfall. Mr. Vigeant further presents many accurate facts in making the case for our legislators to require consumers to buy more of their electricity from wind turbine operators.
Nonetheless, the arguments in favor of offshore wind fall short of being persuasive because they fail to take note of key pieces of factual evidence.
First, offshore wind, because of its intermittent nature, cannot be considered to fulfill any of our base demand needs. If the wind is not producing electricity at a given moment (i.e., about 30 percent of the time), we will still need to have enough fossil fuel or hydro or nuclear generation capacity built and operating to avoid brown-outs or black-outs.
Second, offshore wind is expensive. According to the 2015 analysis of electrical costs by the (pro-green-power) U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of offshore wind-generated electricity is expected to be reduced to 19.7 cents a kilowatt hour. In comparison, electricity generated by gas is expected to cost 7.3 cents a kilowatt hour, a mere 42 percent of the cost of offshore wind electricity. No consumer should be forced to pay $100 for a product that they could buy for $42 if the government would only allow it.
Third, power plants using natural gas produce virtually no sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, or particulate pollution. They do produce carbon dioxide, which has no harmful health effects on humans and which is beneficial to plant life. But even if one is frightened of using natural gas because of the potential impact of its greenhouse gas emissions on global warming, abundant Canadian hydroelectric power costing 8.4 cents per kilowatt hour would still be a better buy for consumers. Hydro power costs only 57 percent as much as offshore wind power and hydro power emits no pollutants or greenhouse gasses.
Consumers and businesses need electricity to thrive. We should not allow our legislators to force consumers to buy our indispensable electricity at an unnecessarily high price when much less expensive, non-polluting alternatives are available.
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