June 27, 2006

"Treehugger" protects wind industry from criticism

A correspondent has been valiantly challenging some of the many ill-founded assumptions about industrial wind power at "green lifestyle" site Treehugger. In their inability to imagine that a lot of people see the problems with big wind, she was even accused of being me! (Both of us using dial-up with the same Vermont ISP, our traffic is apparently routed through the same IP address in Connecticut.) When she did not properly defer to the authority of (or rather the evasive namecalling by) Thomas Gray of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), her further response was at first delayed -- then published when she reposted it half a day later. Further response to Gray's empty retort now appears to have been completely censored. She wrote to the editor of Treehugger but received no reply.

It seems the reputations of AWEA and Andrew Perchlik of Renewable Energy Vermont and now "Reimaginations" (with its fascist slogan, "the beauty of power") are fragile and must be protected. Their arguments are certainly fragile. She sent me her last reply to post here (links added).

() () ()

It is apparent that Tom Gray has a problem with misrepresentation, both of his product and his critics.

I noted only that the NYSERDA report's effective capacity value was fantasy.

The UWIG report, as I also noted, is a phantasmagoria. From that report:

"The addition of a wind plant to a power system increases the amount of variability and uncertainty of the net load. This may introduce measurable changes in the amount of operating reserves required for regulation, ramping and load-following. Operating reserves may consist of both spinning and non-spinning reserves."

They describe the cost of that extra burden as small, but they do not consider the effect on fuel use, i.e., more inefficiency causing more fuel burning and cancelling much of the theoretical benefit of wind power on the grid. Nor do they consider the cost (let alone the negative envronmental and social impacts) of adding the wind plant itself.

Gray points to GE's work on the UWIG report and on others. Yes, they know energy, but they are also the primary wind turbine manufacturer in the U.S., after buying the business from Enron. That could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

I already provided data showing the lack of change in Denmark's fuel use despite claiming that 20% of their electricity is produced by wind. And I already mentioned recent news stories about Germany's expansion of coal use.

For his part, if Tom Gray believes Denmark and Germany are success stories in replacing other fuels with wind, where are the data that substantiate that claim?

-- Rosa

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism