Friday, August 05, 2005

The difference between theory and practice

According to the New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group, the "wind farm in Searsburg, Vermont, produces enough power for 2,000 Vermont homes" ("New Energy Solutions," www.nhpirg.org).

According to Green Mountain Power (GMP), Searsburg's average annual production has been around 11,000 MW-h for the last two years, and their average residential customer uses about 7.5 MW-h per year. Searsburg therefore produces power equivalent to that used by fewer than 1,500 Vermont homes.

After a facility is built, there's no longer any excuse for using sales projections. There's a record of actual performance. Of course, it seems to be invariably disappointing in the case of wind power, so naturally the advocates choose to ignore it.

And lest 1,500 homes sounds significant, remember that production does not necessarily correspond to actual need (so the homes are not using the power), and residential use is less than a third of GMP's load. (Residential use is a little more than a third of the total load nationally.) Searsburg's 11 200-foot-high towers, with all the roads and clearcutting and new transmission lines, produce less than 0.2% of Vermont's electricity. (Vermont has about 600,000 people.)

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