October 30, 2005

The Low Benefit of Industrial Wind

Driving the desire for industrial wind power is the conviction that its development is necessary to reduce the effects of fossil and/or nuclear fuel use. Thus the local impacts of large wind turbine installations are justified by a greater good of healthier air and water, reduction of global warming, and moving away from harmful mining and fuel wars. These are all without question important goals.

While the wind power industry tends to downplay its negative effects, many conservation groups call for careful siting and ongoing study to minimize them. There is debate, therefore, about the actual impacts, but there is none about the actual benefits. Even the most cautious of advocates do not doubt, for example, that "every kilowatt-hour generated by wind is a kilowatt-hour not generated by a dirty fuel."

That may be true for a small home turbine with substantial battery storage, but such a formula is, at best, overly simplistic for large turbines meant to supply the grid. The evidence from countries that already have a large proportion of wind power suggests that it has no effect on the use of other sources. This is not surprising when one learns how the grid works: A rise in wind power simply causes a thermal plant to switch from generation to standby, in which mode it continues to burn fuel.

Read the rest of the paper at: www.aweo.org/LowBenefit.pdf.

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October 23, 2005

Lying about bat kills

From the Winona (Minn.) Daily News, Oct. 23:
During a tour last month of Carleton College's 1.65 megawatt turbine in Northfield, Minn., project director Rob Lampa told a group of about 30 Winona County residents that the college had found no evidence of bird or bat kills in the first year of operating the 230-foot turbine [plus 135-foot blade radius], situated in a cornfield about 1 1/2 miles east of town.

As the group was leaving, Winona resident Marijo Reinhard pulled County Commissioner Dwayne Voegeli aside.

"Look," she said, pointing at the ground, where she had spotted a small, brown bat dead on the gravel below the slowly spinning turbine. A few feet away, she spotted another, also dead.
Lampa will have to make sure the clean-up crew does a better job before he gives the next tour!

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October 22, 2005

Desire for wind turbines justifies killing

To the Editor, Providence (R.I.) Journal:

Jack Coleman (Opinion, Oct. 20), in citing two caveats from the Desholm and Kahlert study (Biology Letters, 2005) of geese and ducks flying around the off-shore wind facility near Nysted, Denmark, did not notice the most obvious limitations of the research: Monitoring was done only during fair weather and not during twilight. That is, it found a favorable outcome by restricting observation to favorable conditions.

Coleman then goes on to describe the toll of buildings, towers, cats, oil spills, soot, mercury, global warming, and habitat destruction on bird populations, as if that justifies the new mode of death he is advocating.

Of course he admits, apparently believing that opponents have never thought of it, that the new death toll "must be measured against the cost of failure to reverse climate change."

There he ends his opinion piece, simply implying that industrial wind turbines help mitigate global warming and thus save more birds that they kill, that they save more wildlife habitat than they degrade.

But that is precisely where the debate begins. Do large wind power facilities actually reduce the effects of fossil fuel use? Opponents look at the evidence -- instead of the industry's sales material -- and find that they do not. Therefore even the most downplayed impact is not justified.

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October 21, 2005

RPS makes it cheaper to pollute

An interesting analysis of the effects of a "renewable portfolio standard" (RPS) in New Jersey that would require 20% of the electricity sold in the state by 2020 to be from renewable sources was brought to our (National Wind Watch's) attention by Dan Boone, Conservation Chair of the Maryland Sierra Club.

The 206-page report was prepared in December 2004 by the Center for Energy, Economic, and Environmental Policy, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, State University of New Jersey, for the Office of Clean Energy, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and is available as a 2-MB PDF at www.bpu.state.nj.us/reports/EIAreport.pdf.

One of the things it found, which is hidden deep inside the paper and completely absent from the summary, is that the RPS would have no effect on sulfur and nitrogen emissions except to make it cheaper to exceed current limits. The report notes that the Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy came to the same conclusion about a national RPS. That is, the RPS would not reduce emissions and would benefit only the polluters, who would enjoy lower prices because of the greater supply of "green credits."

Only with correspondingly stricter caps on noxious emissions would this ironic effect be avoided. But then the RPS wouldn't be necessary. Politicians and their once-environmentalist supporters evidently prefer the easier path of imposing an RPS -- especially easy as it benefits polluter-donors more than our health and ecology, as long as the public believes we're all doing something grand to save the planet.

And so the market triumphs. Bad money drives out good.

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October 20, 2005

Chinese herbs effective for asthma

As published in the September issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and being widely reported this week, researchers who had previously found a traditional Chinese 14-herb combination to be an effective treatment for allergic asthma tried a formulation of just 3 of the herbs. The simpler combination was also effective. Unlike steroids and another herbal treatment, ephedra, these herbs have no side effects.

The full article is available at the link in the title of this post, and excerpts can be seen at www.kirbymountain.com/rosenlake/asthmanotes.html#wen.

The dosage, divided into 3 doses daily, was
  • Ling-Zhi 20 g, Ganoderma lucidum -- Reishi mushroom
  • Ku-Shen 9 g, Radix Sophora flavescentis -- root of S. flavescens or S. angustifolia, yellow mountain laurel
  • Gan-Cao 3 g, Radix Glycyrrhiza uralensis -- root of G. uralensis or G. glabra, licorice
(Note: I have been using herbs instead of steroids to manage my asthma for a couple of years. See my notes at www.kirbymountain.com/rosenlake/asthma.html.)

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October 14, 2005

Wacky windfarm math

"Lee anticipates that the five turbines would provide four times as much energy as Searsburg's 11 smaller turbines."

That's Harley Lee of Endless Energy, who wants to erect five 1.8-MW turbines on Little Equinox Mountain in Manchester, Vt., as reported in the North Adams (Mass.) Advocate Weekly.

The existing wind facility in Searsburg, Vt., consists of eleven 555-KW turbines for a total capacity of 6 MW. Four times that capacity is 24 MW. Lee's proposed project has a total capacity of 9 MW.

Nine megawatts is quite a bit short of four times six megawatts.

Even if he expected a better capacity factor (actual output as a fraction of capacity) than Searsburg's 21%, it would have to be an impossible 56% to so produce four times as much as Searsburg. When Searsburg was erected, they too expected output about twice what they actually get.

It is not surprising that these salesmen exaggerate the prospects for their product so brazenly, while downplaying their negative impact. What is so troubling is that so many people just smile and nod and enthusiastically eat it all up, ignoring the actual record for this technology.

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October 13, 2005

The end of empire

Sam Smith of the Progressive Review has a new essay about cultural decay in the U S of A. He goes on a bit long about music, but it is nonetheless an essential read. Here are some excerpts.
Thomas Jefferson saw it coming. He warned, "From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights." ...

Instead of being outsiders, critics and moral observers, the American intelligentsia have become players accepting many of the values of the system they should be scorning. ...

It is particularly telling that in the past thirty years, America has passed more laws than it did in its first two centuries, a sign of a country that has lost its way and trying desperately to compensate by making the results of its failures illegal.

[A few contributing factors to our cultural decay:]

ABUSE OF MYTHOLOGY -- ... the culture that accepts such a redefinition of its own myths becomes a prisoner of the myth twisters, causing it to turn - as in the present case - not to Christ but to a Karl Rove or George Bush for an understanding of what faith means. While plenty of cultures have thrived on mythological faith, it is impossible to do so when faith becomes a massive fraud.

TELEVISION -- ... has become the means by which leaders have escaped their own culture, and their culture has lost contact with them.

THE CORPORATIZATION OF CULTURE -- ... Inherent in this bizarre value system is the inference that those who make or create things are less important than those who manage or sell them. In other words, as a matter of government, economic, and intellectual policy, the content of our culture is no longer as important as how well it can be marketed. Any culture with such priorities does not have a long life expectancy.

FAILED COMMUNITIES AND FORGOTTEN STORIES -- ... "Where we are is a world dominated by a global economy that places no value whatsoever on community or community coherence. In this economy, whose business is to set in contention things that belong together, you can no nothing more divisive than to assert the claims of community. This puts you immediately at odds with powerful people to whom the claims of community mean nothing, who ignore the issues of locality, who recognize no neighbors and are loyal to no place." [Wendell Berry]

... it is long past time to drop the pretense. As I was walking through one of our frightened airports I heard the real motto of our land repeated over and over: "Caution, the moving walkway is about to end." It's true. We're on our own now.
This is good place to mention the Vermont Independence Convention next Friday, Oct. 28. See the Second Vermont Republic for more information.


Hydra power

Greenpeace's Hallie Caplan is at it again, this time in a couple of Pennsylvania newspapers (the State College Centre Daily Times and the Philadelphia Daily News), railing against the high price and filthiness of natural gas, the even worse pollution and greenhouse gas emissions of coal, and the radioactive waste and water pollution of nuclear power. These are valid and serious issues. But she then insists that wind power could provide 20% of our electricity, replacing all of our nuclear power or a third of our coal burning.

Interestingly, 20% wind power penetration is exactly what is claimed for Denmark, which still burns as much coal, natural gas, and oil as ever.

(By that paragraph, she had apparently already forgotten that her letter was about natural gas. It doesn't make for a very coherent piece, but perhaps she noticed that unlike coal and nuclear, only a quarter of the natural gas we use is for generating electricity. And, after all, it is better than coal and nuclear, which is why it was promoted in the first place.)

As mentioned before, it is very difficult to respond to these letters -- which may be deliberate -- because the incoherence seems to feed on itself and multiply into a writhing quagmire, a hydra.

The main concern of her letter is global warming (or was it the price of natural gas?), caused by the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Then she throws in the dangers of nuclear power, the traditional focus of Greenpeace's activism. But nuclear fission doesn't emit any greenhouse gases, so what is the focus now? The doomsday approach to global warming seems to be driving people to support more nuclear power. Maybe more nuke plants is actually what Greenpeace wants, so they can stay in business opposing them.

Or if the price of natural gas is the concern, then coal is cheap and plentiful.

Or if the pollution from coal is the concern, then natural gas is much cleaner. And its expense might stimulate conservation and efficiency efforts.

Or if we should move away from all fossil fuels, then why the exclusive obsession with electricity, which is only two-fifths of our total energy use? Although nearly 90% of our coal and all of our nuclear power are used for electricity, 75% of our natural gas and 98% of our oil are used for other energy needs (such as heating and transport). Where's that in Hallie Caplan's urgent concern?

Or maybe Greenpeace is just a shill for big wind, and it doesn't matter what they say as long as they keep talking enthusiastically enough to shut out dissent and query. That seems to be the only conclusion that can explain letters like Caplan's.

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October 10, 2005

"Suitable" sites for industrial wind turbines

The Rutland Herald dismisses concern about the blight of industrial wind turbines on the Vermont's ridgeline, repeating the line that "only a half-dozen or so" sites are "suitable," i.e., strictly in terms of the developers' desires.

In fact, there are currently seven proposed new locations, and at least two others have been mentioned. There is no indication that it would stop there, either. With VPIRG calling for 20% of our electricity to be from wind, development would have to march onward, especially as power demand continues to grow. And success in taking "a half-dozen or so" mountaintops would hardly suggest to the developers that they should stop. After all, concerned citizens will have already made it clear that they consider sprawling power plants on the ridgelines to be a good thing, a wise and sustainable choice. And so their misplaced energy will destroy Vermont.

In addition to the existing 6-MW facility in Searsburg, here are the currently active projects in Vermont:
  • Searsburg, Readsboro (two possible directions, 30-45 MW each)
  • East Mountain in East Haven (4 MW currently awaiting permit, 46 MW planned)
  • East Haven, Ferdinand, Brighton
  • Sheffield, Sutton (52-70 MB, applying for permit Dec. 2005)
  • Mt. Equinox in Manchester (9 MB, applying for permit Oct. 17, 2005)
  • Glebe Mountain in Londonderry (49 MW)
  • Lowell (18-39 MW)
  • Kirby
  • Umpire Mountain in Victory
All of these projects together would at best produce electricity equivalent to less than one-eighth of Vermont's use. And because "spinning standby" has to be kept on line ready for the wind's frequent dropping out, it would displace no other sources. It is not only destructive, it is practically worthless.

The companies involved are Enxco (aka Deerfield Wind in Readsboro) and its reps John Zimmerman and Martha Staskus of Vermont Environmental Research, Green Mountain Power, Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, EMDC (i.e., Mathew Rubin and Dave Rapaport), UPC Wind Partners (Timothy Caffyn, Brian Caffyn, and Peter Gish), Endless Energy (Harley Lee), and Catamount Energy (Rob Charlebois). They are supported by the efforts of trade group Renewable Energy Vermont and its head Andrew Perchlik, Vermonter and communications director for national trade group AWEA Tom Gray, as well as local utilities, self-important architects, and numerous public interest and environmental groups, such as Vermont Public Interest Research Group and the Conservation Law Foundation.

If this juggernaut is not stopped at the gate, it certainly will not stop after "only a half-dozen or so" projects.

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Wind turbines do not produce heating oil

The Rutland (Vt.) Herald says in an Oct. 3 editorial that "the rules of the energy game have changed." They evidently mean that the rules of logic have changed.

After expressing concern about the cost of heating fuels this winter, they call for the blighting of "only a half-dozen or so" ridgelines in Vermont with strings of giant wind turbines as a necessary solution.

An Oct. 5 editorial in the Old Colony Memorial of Plymouth, Mass., expresses the same concern and makes the same call for giant wind turbines as an urgent necessity.

Dear editors: Wind turbines produce electricity, not heating oil. And less than 2.5% of our oil use is for generating electricity, so even if wind turbines displaced other sources (the evidence is doubtful) they wouldn't affect the oil supply.

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October 8, 2005

Environmentalists falter in gale of wind power propaganda

To the Editor, Vermont Guardian: Shay Totten ("Political winds: Vermont falters in a gale of opposition to wind power," Oct. 7) reports that wind power could easily produce the base, or average, load of electricity used in Vermont, which he gives as 600 MW. His calculation of how many turbines that would require is, however, quite wrong.

He apparently considered only a turbine's nameplate, or rated, capacity, which is very different from its actual output. For example, the existing 6-MW Searsburg facility generated power at an average rate of only 1.25 MW last year. Despite industry claims otherwise, output less than 25% of capacity remains typical for modern wind turbines. Totten's figure has therefore to be multipled by four.

Current proposals in Vermont involve 330-ft-high 1.5-MW turbines from GE and 410-ft-high 1.8-MW turbines from Vestas, so we would require 1,600 of the GE or 1,333 of the Vestas turbines to provide our average load. On a ridgeline oriented exactly perpendicular to the prevailing wind, a turbine needs 3 rotor diameters of clearance in each direction. For the GE, that's 37 acres or 7.5 turbines to a mile, and 1,600 of them would require -- at the very least -- almost 60,000 acres. For the Vestas, it's 60 acres, 6 to a mile, and 80,000 acres for 1,333 of them. Both would use well over 200 miles of ridgeline. If they are expected to perform at all well when the wind is not exactly perpendicular to the line, they need even more space. And that does not account for new and widened roads, substations, and power lines.

But roughly a third of the time they aren't producing power at all, and another third of the time they're producing below their average. Periods of high production may come suddenly and fall away again just as suddenly. Base load would still have to come from other sources almost all of the time. Even at the rare moments when rising wind corresponds to rising demand, backup sources still have to be ramped up as "spinning standby" because the wind may drop out at any moment. This is critical: Wind does not significantly displace other sources of electricity.

Apart from these technical issues, it is amusing that Rob Charlebois of Catamount Energy characterizes the diverse concern of Vermont citizens as "very vocal and well-funded." This is from a company imposing wind facilities around the world, in an article that doesn't seek out a single dissenting view to his and other developers' complaints. Totten only mentions two groups in passing to dismiss their concerns as "mainly aesthetic," as if fighting to preserve rural landscapes, wild habitats, and bird flyways from chains of 400-ft-high steel-and-composite strobe-lit and grinding giants that provide negligible benefit is somehow distastefully effete.

Totten also seems to be unaware that opposition to this industrial sprawl is not unique to Vermont but nationwide and worldwide, from Washington to Maryland, Kansas to Wisconsin, the Basque country of Spain to Zapotecas land in Chiapas, from Norway to New Zealand. It is not "schizophrenic," as Charlebois says, to hold an environmental ethic and oppose this obviously impractical, destructive, and wasteful scheme. Any environmental ethic worth the name requires such opposition.

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October 7, 2005

Big wind steals Peter Freyne's brain!

Peter Freyne flakking for Enxco and GE? He certainly follows their line that Free Press editorials opposed only to industrial-size turbines on Vermont's ridgelines are obstructing all progress on energy issues ["Freep Wins Award!," Inside Track, October 5].

Even as evidence shows that giant wind turbines will contribute very little to our energy future, and as big wind's supporters nonetheless insist they are essential to any solution, Freyne says it is the Free Press that has made them a "fetish."

If anyone has been "dogmatic in its approach to Vermont's energy future," as Lawrence Mott is quoted, it is he and others determined to plant their 400-foot-high erections across otherwise undeveloped land -- despite their many negative impacts, negligible benefit, and diverse local opposition.

Freyne also quoted Mott referring to "changing times" and "the latest information." Where is Freyne's usual journalistic instinct? What has changed about multinational corporations swindling landowners and paying off politicians to take over land and resources? What is the latest information other than more PR from the industry about sales projections?

Freyne is almost always more insightful and witty, but here he resorts to lame terms like "boneheaded," "shortsighted," and "blanket idiocy," as if blind to the possibility of a reasonable alternative. It is not just the Free Press but a wide range of individuals throughout Vermont -- and the world -- who question the wisdom of large-scale wind power. Anyone who looks beyond the sales material quickly discovers that industrial wind power is little more than a shameful boondoggle. (It is not surprising to learn that the modern large-scale wind industry was pioneered by Enron.)

Many members of Renewable Energy Vermont are working for real change in energy use -- small-scale and more sustainable alternatives to the centralized utility structure that giant wind turbines from GE (which acquired Enron's wind division) only reinforce. But Enxco, a part of the French nuclear power consortium EDF, and other pushers of large-scale wind power also are members and have clearly skewed REV's vision.

Like George Bush blaming Osama bin Laden for the violence in Iraq, REV's "Energy Ostrich Award" to the Free Press for opposing big wind only underscores their own "head-in-the-sand" viewpoint.

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October 5, 2005

Wind power and foreign oil

To the Editor, Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times:

In the Oct. 4 article, "Clinton offers help on border," the senator is quoted after visiting the Maple Ridge Wind Farm that such a project "is so profoundly important" because "we have to end our addiction to foreign oil."

If the concern is our dependency on foreign oil, then wind farms are irrelevant. Less than 2.5% of our electricity is generated by oil. In fact, as we connect large wind plants to the grid -- with their unpredictable fluctuating output -- we become more dependent on oil-fired plants, which generally provide the necessary quick-response backup.

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October 4, 2005

Vegetarian Times swallows bull about wind

To the Editor, Vegetarian Times:

In promising an examination of "the most important issues in the debate" about industrial wind power, Caroline Kettlewell proceeded to deliver instead an unbalanced promotion for the wind industry.

Whereas she introduced each objection only to shoot it down with an unexamined riposte from one of the industry trade groups, she presented each of the claims in favor of wind power without question. The only sources suggested for more information were the government's industry-friendly energy department and the wind companies' own lobbying and PR organization.

She even went further, mocking opponents as "otherwise" environmentally sensitive and now "freaking out."

But it is not "ironic" that many opponents come from the environmentalist community (including vegetarian animal rights activists like me). Concern for animal habitat and health is central to much of the opposition. What is ironic is that an article in Vegetarian Times so readily dismisses it.

Nobody claims that giant wind turbine facilities kill anywhere near as many birds as the rest of our industrial society, but that doesn't excuse them. One has to ask if the number of birds and bats they do kill is worth it. Advocates say (and Kittlewell dutifully repeats) that "every megawatt it generates is a megawatt that doesn't have to come from a conventional power plant," and that therefore it will reduce the threat to animal life much more than its own negative effect (like the "destroy the village to save it" argument from the Vietnam war).

A little research, however, quickly reveals that wind does not displace other sources to any significant degree and that even in Denmark it hasn't changed their energy use.

Turbines produce at their full capacity only when the wind is blowing above 25-35 mph. Below that the production rate falls off exponentially. In many regions, the wind is higher at night, but demand is low, so much of the power is not needed. Large base load plants can not be rapidly ramped up and down as the wind fluctuates. Those plants that can be quickly modulated do so at the cost of efficiency, thus causing more pollution.

The statement that Denmark "now gets 20 percent of its power from wind" is both misleading and inaccurate. Misleading, because "electrical power" is meant, which represents only about a fifth of Denmark's total energy use. Inaccurate, because around 84% of the wind-generated power has to be exported as it is produced when they can not turn down their very efficient combined heat and power plants.

Though there is much else in Kettlewell's article to argue, one should at least pause to consider what is required for wind to provide the nearly 2,000 billion kilowatt-hours of new electricity that we are projected to need by 2025. That represents an average load of more than 225,000 megawatts. Because wind turbine output varies with wind speed, their average output is typically a fourth of their maximum capacity, so we would require more than 900,000 megawatts of new wind capacity. Every megawatt of wind capacity requires about 50 acres, so we're talking about more than 70,000 square miles of wind plant -- most of it targeted for our last remaining rural and wild places.

And we'd still have to build an equal amount of conventional plants, because the typical wind facility does not produce any electricity at all about a third of the time and much less than its already low average for another third of the time.

Large-scale wind is clearly not a practical nor an environmentally sound alternative.

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October 3, 2005

GE study finds huge need for GE products

To no one's surprise except the many newspaper editors who reproduced the "findings," a collaborative sponsored by GE, the only U.S.-based manufacturer of industrial wind turbines, developed a framework for extensive construction of off-shore wind facilities.

Helping GE out with the effort was the U.S. Department of Energy (really?! ) and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (a state agency), who have long been taken for a ride by the wind industry.

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From Ironic Times:

We erroneously reported that President Bush had appointed a timber company lobbyist to head the National Forest Service, a partner in a law firm most well known for union-busting as Assistant Secretary of Labor, a mining industry lobbyist who believes public lands are unconstitutional to be in charge of public lands, a utility lobbyist who represented the nation's worst polluters as head of the Clean Air Division at the EPA, a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute onto the Council on Environmental Quality and a veteran to head the Women's Health Section of the FDA. In fact, the woman he named to head the Women's Health Section of the FDA is not a veteran. She is a veterinarian. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

October 2, 2005

"The conmen and the green professor"

No surprise here.

Today's Times (U.K.) has two articles about a company of excons setting up shop to take advantage of the free flow of wind-energy subsidies and the gullibility of people who are sure they have the answers. From "'Green' adviser takes cash for access to ministers":
An investigation by The Sunday Times has found that Professor Ian Fells, one of Britain’s foremost academic experts on energy and an adviser to the cabinet, is trading on his connections to help clients lobby government. Last week Fells negotiated a fee of £600 to broker a meeting between a reporter, posing as a businessman, and a senior civil servant. Fells said the official was writing the forthcoming energy white paper.
And from "The conmen and the green professor":
Like thousands of other modern entrepreneurs, they hoped to turn a quick profit from trading in wind power and other forms of green energy.

Labour’s push to generate 10% of Britain's energy from green sources by the end of the decade has created a boom time likened by one expert last week to the South Sea Bubble.

Nathan and Rees hoped that their new company, Pure Energy & Power, would take advantage of generous government subsidies, European grants and an eagerness by the City and banks to invest without doing proper due diligence.

For they had a dirty secret. Nathan was not the respectable lawyer with a PhD in economics that he made himself out to be. Fellow inmates at Wandsworth prison had known him as Ronnie, a serial fraudster who could not resist a con. It was in prison that he met Rees, a disgraced private detective, who was serving a seven-year sentence for attempting to plant drugs on a client’s wife.

Given their dubious backgrounds, they needed someone who could give them credibility and open the door to the corridors of power. Enter Professor Ian Fells.

The emeritus professor at Newcastle University is one of Britain’s foremost experts on green energy. ... His expertise is much sought after. He was the science adviser to the World Energy Council for 11 years until 1998 and is also an energy adviser to the European Union.

He is particularly close to senior British government officials after acting as an adviser for cabinet and select committees. This week he will be in London to advise officials engaged in rewriting the energy white paper.

Despite his many commitments, he is still available for hire.
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October 1, 2005

Immaturity is in the wind

Rob Roy Macgregor writes in this week's Manchester (Vt.) Journal to admonish the effort by Londonderry citizens to prohibit giant wind turbines. He points out that such a law will not make the developer happy, and since the state decides such utility matters it is "immature" to take this stand for local zoning control.

In a revealing parenthetical paragraph, Macgregor berates those trying to preserve the ridgeline -- that it is not "theirs," that it is not "pristine," and that if it is "ours" metaphorically or spiritually (duh), then he has a right to see turbines there if he wants. As he admits, "there is no substance to this logic." That is because he equates installing the power plant with not installing the power plant, insisting that it is simply an aesthetic preference. His preference, however, would impose on everyone else. To claim that preventing the installation infringes his aesthetics is simply ridiculous. Not installing the power plant would not change his life, aesthetically or otherwise.

His conclusion, following logically from false premises, is that the town should make it easier on themselves by doing everything they can to accommodate the developer. Democracy (let alone reason) has no place in the desperate world of Rob Roy Macgregor's aesthetics.

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