February 12, 2005

Full of beans

A guest commentary in Thursday's Upper Cape Codder by Matthew Patrick, representative of the 3rd Barnstable District in the Massachusetts House, is full of beans. For example:
"... [Cape Light Compact members] are quick to remind us that wind turbines need a backup source of electricity when the wind is not blowing. What they neglect to mention is that it is the responsibility of the wind supplier to provide backup electricity eliminating that concern for the Compact.

"... Hull has gained national recognition for placing a wind turbine at its high school that generates all of the municipal electricity ..."
The second claim is an obvious impossibility, and the first one doesn't make a bit of sense. Since when has an application for a wind-power facility included the building of a non-wind backup plant as well? And nobody expects a contracted schedule of energy to be supplied by a wind plant -- utilities have to take whatever whenever the turbines happen to spurt out, for which "performance" the operators are richly rewarded. When the wind blows, they are showered with cash whether or not the electricity is useful to the needs of the grid at the moment. And when the wind is slower -- or too fast -- the wind plant owners still enjoy accelerated depreciation. They certainly aren't expected to worry about the effect on the grid of their erratic product.