June 16, 2006

Less incentive needed for wind power boondoggle

To the Editor, New York Times:

Since Goldman Sachs and others are already investing so much in renewable energy projects ("Let Them Go Green," editorial, June 12), one wonders why the Times thinks they need more incentive to do so. For example, the purchase of wind developer Zilkha (now Horizon) Renewable Energy was hardly a risk. According to legal firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, federal subsidies can pay for two-thirds of the value of a wind project. State subsidies may cover another ten percent. The modern wind industry (home of Zilkha/Horizon) was developed in Texas by George Bush and Kenneth Lay, and it shows.

Public investment may help to establish new beneficial technologies, but industrial-scale wind power is not one of them.

Because its generation of electricity depends on the wind speed, it is highly variable and can not significantly reduce our use of other fuels. This has been the experience in Denmark. The benefits are neglible, but the negative environmental and social impacts are substantial. The machines are huge -- now commonly more than 400 feet high -- and necessarily numerous, requiring new roads and transmission infrastructure in typically wild and rural landscapes.

We need less incentive for such a boondoggle, not more.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism