September 1, 2004

VPIRG Issues Own Proposal for State Energy Plan

Vermont Public Interest Research Group proposes meeting 15% of Vermont's electricity needs with industrial wind plants. Of course, wind-generated power doesn't meet needs at all, unless those needs happen to coincide with a good sustained wind. Anyway, they estimate 272 1.5-MW wind towers, in 10-12 facilities, would produce that 15%. They fudge the impact, however, by saying wind could provide 15%-20%; the latter figure would push the number of towers to 362 (or 370, by my calculations).

Even the industry shills at Fair Wind Vermont are appalled. They've been trying to play down the impact of 5-6 "well sited" facilities, and here comes VPIRG giving away the game. [Well, not all of them: David Blittersdorf of anemometer maker NRG systems says we should go for 50%!]

The American Wind Energy Association estimates the wind resource in Vermont to be able to supply an average output of 537 MW, or 5000 GW-h/yr. The developer of East Haven Windfarm, Mathew Rubin, has said that only one eighth of that resource is not restricted from development. That would reduce the possible wind-generated output to an average of 67 MW, or 625 GW-h/yr, which is about 11% of Vermont's electricity consumption and would require 194 1.5-MW towers (assuming the 23% capacity factor of the existing Searsburg facility).

That is already an appalling possibility to most residents around those "available" sites. VPIRG, however, proposes defying their own environmentalist and public-interest values to not only ignore the wishes of the people affected by wind-turbine installations but also throw out existing protections of federal, state, and private land to build even more (along with the necessary roads, power lines, and PCB-containing transformers). And they call this a "green" solution!