Last June, Windaction.org commented
on the US Department of Energy's report "20% Wind Power by 2030" touting wind power could supply 20% of the US electricity needs by 2030. Buried in the document was a remarkable admission - that wind power cannot replace the need for many "capacity resources", i.e. those generators that supply electricity during periods when we need it. In other words, while utilities are obligated to provide electricity, instantaneously, when customers demand it, wind does not, nor can it ever, do that.
We liken wind energy to the wayward child. It's unavailable when needed, shows up when unexpected, and when it does arrive it often behaves erratically. Thus, the wind cannot be relied on as a primary fuel source.
As installed wind capacity increases on the grid, up to ninety-percent of this amount may be required in the form of redundant, backup generation from more reliable sources (coal, gas) to ensure supply when the winds die out. Without such redundant power plants, utilities will not be able to meet peak demand, and grid reliability will be compromised.
Today, wind proponents are advocating we populate our rural open spaces, ridge tops, and coastal areas with thousands of massive turbines and added infrastructure (transmission). The impacts of this development on the natural environment and on those living near the towers are far from understood. The need for independent, unbiased study is crucial.
Yet, if the public knew what the DOE already knows -- that no number of towers erected would result in the decommissioning of an existing power plant, nor will they negate the need to build new, reliable generation - would they tolerate the potential harm these turbines cause? We highly doubt it.