Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Maine's wind power scam is a disgusting joke.

An open letter to Senators Collins and Snowe (feel free to copy and redistribute if'n you wanna):

Dear Senators Collins and Snowe,

I am writing to beg you both to do something about an impending disaster, the worst environmental and economic disaster in Maine history, and all sponsored by the government: Wind power.

Without the huge government subsidies and back room permit procedures, none of those wind companies could stay in business. First Wind is having a hard time staying in business even WITH the subsidies and the government's statutory support.

Maine already has a surplus of about 15% in electric power, and more than half of our generation is already powered by renewable, "clean" technology like hydro and biomass. We are one of the cleanest states in the country in that respect (but still have some of the highest electricity rates, not good for attracting new businesses). Most of the rest is generated with natural gas, as I'm sure you already know. Wind power will NOT "lessen our dependency on foreign oil", since we don't use oil to generate electricity. Nor can it replace dirty coal that we don't use.

Nor will it lessen our need for the conventional generators that we already have. Due to the unreliability of wind and its refusal to schedule strong breezes during peak energy consumption times, those conventional generators must remain online in standby, burning fuel, in order to prevent outages when the wind fluctuates. The German government found they must keep an 80% backup capacity in conventional generation ready to go at all times. You can't just start those plants up and shut them down every five minutes as the windspeed fluctuates, you have to keep them running, all the time, to prevent shortages.

Maine is a very low-wind-resource state. I ask you to look at the government-issued wind map of the United States, where you will see that the only place in the lower 48 that has enough reliable wind to make wind turbines a good deal is in the flat, windy center of the nation. Nowhere in this state does the average wind top 12-14 mph, and industrial wind turbines require around 27 mph winds just to start generating more power than they need to power themselves. Betz' Law limits the extraction of energy from wind to 59.3%, and that's assuming a perfect airfoil and absolutely no losses from friction, delays in adjusting to changing wind directions etc., which everyone knows is impossible. In many areas they end up being net power users. Even in the midwest you see farms of immobile turbines, due to unreliability and low winds.

Maine has Class IV wind levels in virtually the whole state, and GE doesn't even make turbines that operate in Class IV winds. They are not economically viable, because you can't get the RPMs needed to generate useful power out of winds that most of the time won't keep a kite aloft. Would you spend billions to build oil wells on land that produced ten barrels of crude per day? I wouldn't.

As you also probably already know, the peak demands for electric power in Maine occur on hot, steamy summer days, when there's no wind!

Do I need to mention the billions that we'll have to pay for new transmission lines? Billions that will come right out of the taxpayers' pockets, both in government giveaways and higher rates? For AT BEST 25% of the rated power advertised by the manufacturer and a less than 5% increase in our output? Between the subsidies and the higher rates, the taxpayer will be paying for the entire capital cost of these projects, much of which will go to foreign companies. And what do we get in return? A devastated landscape and higher electricity rates and taxes, and less than 5% more electricity that we don't even need.

Do I need to mention the effect even higher electricity rates and taxes will have on the attraction of new businesses to a state that's already too expensive to attract new businesses?

Do I need to mention the cost of recovery from another ice storm, when on top of the normal ice storm damage, those turbines and their transmission lines go down in the middle of nowhere? Wind turbines do NOT like cold climates, much less icing conditions. After all, an airfoil coated with ice is just as inefficient and prone to failure on a wind turbine blade as it is on the wing of an airliner. Probably more so, since they are not designed to take the loads that aircraft wings must survive.

Do I need to remind you of the economic disaster that clearcutting and blasting 300 miles of mountain tops will cause to our tourism industry ('bout the only industry left in the state)? The damage to our "quality of place"? Governor Baxter would roll over in his grave if he could see the future view from the top of Katahdin. You might as well just erase the last 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail while you're at it, because who wants to backpack through the helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now? Or just put a few McDonald's restaurants and casinos up there next to the trail huts, since it will no longer be anything like a wilderness.

Jobs? What jobs? Six months of construction work and a handful of guys in the control rooms, that's it. Is that worth all this destruction? Ask the Spanish government about the economic viability of investing in so-called "green" jobs, they published a recent study that showed just how misguided and expensive that idea is.

So why are the state and federal governments endorsing the destruction of 300 miles of mountain tops for no reason? Wind lobbyists and the mistaken belief that we're "being green". That's it. Not only are there virtually no economic or environmental benefits, it actually makes things worse in both respects. Do you want this to happen on your watch?

Remember the knee-jerk bandwagon of biofuels that everyone jumped on because they were so "green"? Well, they turned out to generate more pollution from clearing the land than the fuels they were meant to replace.

Again, I beg of you, educate yourselves on this scam before it's too late. Save the life of our state. Please.
Thank you for your time,
Cowcharge (Real name and address removed)
p.s. For the record, I have no financial, business or political interests of any kind in this issue. The only dog I have in this fight is the one who loves trees.

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