Your editorial “Where Legislature should look for energy ideas” on July 29 concerning Mass. energy policies and the Block Island Wind Project implies all will be well if we just build more wind turbines.
You neglect to mention the cost of electricity from the project which will be borne by all utility users, the tax credits and subsidies required to build and operate it, and the fact that power will be provided by nuclear, natural gas, or coal when the turbines are not operating. In addition, users will continue to pay through built-in rate escalation. Perhaps the Block Island turbines will be better, but a typical capacity factor for wind turbines ranges from 27 percent to 35 percent, and their output may not always be available during periods of peak demand. Turbine power drops rapidly as the wind speed decreases and rotating blades provide little indication of the power being developed. Also not presented is the cost of removing the turbines at the end of their design life, typically 20 years.
As for China, they may be reconsidering their use of coal in the future, but doing so could only be achieved through their extensive program for building new nuclear power plants.
Forcing utilities to buy renewable power from any source without considering the true cost to retail, commercial users, and to taxpayers, as well as the effect on grid reliability, can never be a good idea. If utilities are required to purchase this subsidized power, the cost cannot be unlimited. An upper limit is required.
Unfortunately, many of (your) editorials and letters contain the same omissions by presenting renewable power as absolute without providing the total cost impact to all users, and the long term effect on grid reliability.
RICHARD F. GAUTHIER
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