Thursday, January 13, 2005

Misinformation

To the [North Adams] Transcript editor:

In the Jan. 13 article about Enxco's plans to build 20-25 turbines in Readsboro, Vt., many of the numbers are confusing.

According to John Zimmerman (whose pose as part of Vermont Environmental Research Associates hides his other role as Enxco's northeast representative), the proposed turbines will be rated at 1.5 MW each. Times 20-25, that's a facility rated at 30-37.5 MW.

The industry typically claims that each MW of installed wind capacity produces the amount of electricity used by 333 homes. This is of course a meaningless value, but the 10,000-13,000 homes figure cited thus fits the calculated rating of 30-37.5 MW.

The article says that the output of the existing Searsburg facility is one third of the proposed plant. Searsburg's rating is 6 MW, three times which is 18 MW. What was meant is that each new turbine -- not the whole facility -- has almost three times the capacity of each of the older Searsburg turbines (of which there are 11).

The claim that the proposed project would generate 750 MW remains unclear. At most, the 25-turbine facility could generate 37.5 MW. Depending on the wind being just right, this would of course rarely occur. The annual output of the existing Searsburg facility is less than 25% of its capacity. At that rate, the new facility would generate about 82,000 MW-hours over a year, equivalent to 1.5% of Vermont's electricity use.

Unfortunately, two-thirds of the time the facility would be generating at a rate less than its annual average. When its production is better, it would rarely correspond to actual demand on the grid. In other words, the only thing it will be powering is the sale of "green credits."

(((((((( ))))))))

There are a few of other items of note in the article responded to above.

First, as noted in the letter, John Zimmerman, Enxco's eastern-region representative in the U.S., presents himself only as the president of Vermont Environmental Research Associates, whose consulting and management services are used by Enxco. (Be sure to pronounce it "enksco.")

Second, related to the first, is that the proposal was submitted by Deerfield Wind, a newly created company with a local name for Enxco to hide behind.

Third: '"The concern early on was to put turbines on the ridge line you would have to clear cut the forests, and the fact is you don't," Zimmerman said. He said there would be minimal clearing in a circle around each turbine, and along the roads that would have to be built in order to connect the turbines to each other.' That is to say, there will be no clearcutting except where there will be.

Fourth, the proposed site is completely on federal land (the Green Mountain National Forest). Having until now avoided federal land (the Forest has refused a swap to accommodate Enxco's plan to expand the Searsburg facility), Enxco is clearly now testing the process, which may turn out to be easier for them than the increasing resistance of local citizens and the state.