August 23, 2010

Gubernatorial misconceptions regarding wind

On July 27, the Burlington Free Press printed replies on Vermont's energy future from the five Democratic (primary) and one Republican candidate for governor. Here are their statements regarding wind, with commentary following in italics. Dunne and Bartlett did not mention wind.

Dubie: Last November, Bolton Valley became the nation's second ski area, and Vermont's first, to install its own wind turbine -- a 121-foot-tall Northwind 100, manufactured by Vermonters at Northern Power in Barre. It will produce 300,000 kw annually.

As of 10:11 a.m., August 23, 2010, the Bolton Valley wind turbine had produced 125,809 kWh since October 2009. So, apart from confusing kilowatts (rate of production) with kilowatt-hours (energy produced), Dubie is basing his claim on a projection that almost one year later can be shown to be wrong. In its first year of operation, the Bolton Valley wind turbine is likely to produce less than half of the energy predicted (yet still claimed).

Racine: There are locations throughout the northeast that make sense for solar, wind, biomass, and hydro, and if we take a regional approach, we can site these power sources with the least impact possible.

This assumes that these projects must be built. As for wind, its poor production of almost no value to the grid does not justify its erection anywhere. The least impact possible is to forget about it.

Markowitz: I am a strong supporter of community wind projects, hydropower, solar, biomass and geothermal energy production. As governor, I will review our regulatory process to ensure that renewable energy projects get a fair hearing and fast results.

Since energy projects are developed by well capitalized corporations and inordinately affect host communities and environments, the concern should be that those who are adversely affected or who advocate for the environment are able to get a fair hearing.

Shumlin: To meet our electricity needs we will need power delivered from small community-based solar projects to utility scale wind farms and everything in between. As outlined in a Vision for Vermont, I will work with the Treasurer's office to leverage the state's ability to borrow money at affordable rates and issue a series of Vermont renewable energy bonds so that every Vermonter who wants to can literally invest in our energy future. The revenue generated through these projects, guaranteed through electricity sales to the utilities, will help pay the bonds off.

The "everything is needed" approach as presented by Shumlin lacks any sign of rational evaluation of costs and benefits. The only people who would benefit from this circular funding model are the manufacturers and installers — it is a job creation program, but without regard to its effect on the environment and hosting communities, or to its actual contributions to a reliable electricity supply.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, Vermont