January 21, 2006

Eco-entrepreneur -- or censor?

Shea Gunther, who is behind the sale of "wind power credits" to the Whole Foods grocery store chain (who will continue to use as much "nongreen" electricity as ever), has a fairly clear post on his blog about how the system works. Namely, the money from Whole Foods supports the development of wind power on the grid, not to mention the profitable trade in "credits" (that are sold in addition to energy). It's rather a roundabout way of doing it, especially since they aren't changing their own energy use or getting any different electricity than their neighbors are -- but that's show business, I guess.

One point that Gunther emphasizes is that every kilowatt-hour generated by wind turbines replaces a kilowatt-hour generated by other fuels. From this he asserts, falsely, that every kilowatt-hour not generated from, say, fossil fuels, means that much less fuel burned. (More likely, however, a rise in the wind simply causes a plant to switch from generation to standby, in which mode it still burns fuel so that it can readily switch back to generation when the wind drops back.)

In the comments, one "Rucio" asked for evidence that less fuel is burned because of wind power on the grid. Gunther could only ask him to "imagine" the scenario he already described and ignored the request for actual data. It was not long before Rucio's simple requests for real evidence that Gunther's claims are true rather than the wishful thinking of "eco-entrepreneurs" (that is my addition -- "Rucio" was much more diplomatic however persistent) started to be removed.

Most people have a problem with awkward truths. But when you're advocating industrializing hundreds of square miles of rural and wild areas for what appears to be a sham, denial is not an option.

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