Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
Recently the New Hampshire Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources amended Senate bill 99, placing a moratorium on new wind electricity generation projects for one year. That's a nice start, but it doesn't go quite far enough. What's needed is a repeal of the New Hampshire renewable portfolio standard mandate. Why? Because ratepayers are being forced to buy extremely expensive electricity when cheaper alternatives are available.
It now appears likely that the state's Site Evaluation Committee will grant a permit for the construction of 33 410-foot tall, blinking-light-topped wind turbines across seven or so miles of horizon, and the huge road system needed to construct and maintain them. ...we have become a state willing to sell its scenery and its very skyline for profits and power going elsewhere.
Grant Bosse, the editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, said the move by RGGI has little to do with lowering carbon emissions. He said the economic collapse and slow recovery meant fewer emissions, fewer producers purchasing permits, which meant a loss of projected revenue for the nine states. "This has everything to do with revenues and nothing to do with the environment. This is driven by a desire for more state revenue."
While we all want a future that includes renewable energy sources, such as wood, wind and solar, we continue to face many challenges. Capital for many of these projects has been reduced or eliminated as a result of our deepening economic problems, and time lines for siting and permitting renewable energy projects can take up to seven years.
This should not be an excuse to stop the charge to create new renewable energy, but it should cause alarm for decision makers considering policies that undermine the effort to clean up our existing power plants -- or worse, shut them down.