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Wind it up

But before you go all wacky for wind power, certain opposition groups like the Industrial Wind Action Group and National Wind Watch want you to hear their side of the story. Their claims are more than just not-in-my-backyard, wet-blanket-complaints. They believe the wind energy industry is spinning lies along with the turbines, luring large public subsidies for a system that is, at best, secondary to fossil fuels.

Are Delaware and New Jersey exploring alternative energy solutions Pennsylvania should be looking at?

While the debate about offshore drilling continues to underscore the environmental policies of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, Philadelphia's neighbors to the south and east are planning for a different kind of offshore energy.

Last week Delmarva Power signed a contract with Bluewater Wind-one of the largest wind energy firms in the country-to build offshore wind farms that, according to Bluewater, would power more than 110,000 homes.

The contract, which was signed on June 23, commits Delmarva Power to 200 megawatts-enough to power 50,000 homes. The proposed facility would contain anywhere from 55 to 70 turbines planted approximately 11 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Bluewater Wind hopes to find additional buyers outside the Delmarva service area in order to add extra turbines and reach their project goal: generating 600 megawatts. But first, someone has to buy it.

"Our contract allows us to produce up to 600 megawatts to be sold to other purchasers of power," says Jim Lanard, head of strategic planning for Bluewater... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Are Delaware and New Jersey exploring alternative energy solutions Pennsylvania should be looking at?

While the debate about offshore drilling continues to underscore the environmental policies of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, Philadelphia's neighbors to the south and east are planning for a different kind of offshore energy.

Last week Delmarva Power signed a contract with Bluewater Wind-one of the largest wind energy firms in the country-to build offshore wind farms that, according to Bluewater, would power more than 110,000 homes.

The contract, which was signed on June 23, commits Delmarva Power to 200 megawatts-enough to power 50,000 homes. The proposed facility would contain anywhere from 55 to 70 turbines planted approximately 11 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Bluewater Wind hopes to find additional buyers outside the Delmarva service area in order to add extra turbines and reach their project goal: generating 600 megawatts. But first, someone has to buy it.

"Our contract allows us to produce up to 600 megawatts to be sold to other purchasers of power," says Jim Lanard, head of strategic planning for Bluewater Wind. "And those purchasers could come from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, possibly even Pennsylvania."

Modern offshore wind power is a relatively new concept, first championed by Danish Environmental Minister Svend Auken, who oversaw development of two Danish wind parks, combining to power more than 200,000 Danish homes.

In 2006 former New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio traveled to Denmark with Bluewater Wind's team to see the wind parks for himself. Florio, an environmental consultant at the time, was looking for energy alternatives for his state. His findings, along with the work of several Garden State energy boards and legislators, set the groundwork for things to come.

In October, Gov. Corzine and New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities announced a grant of $19 million for a wind power facility pilot program to be built off the Jersey shoreline. Submitting proposals alongside Bluewater were Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., which owns PSE&G, and Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey L.L.C. The board has since accepted two more bids in their search and is scheduled to make its decision in August.

So where does this leave Philadelphians and other area Pennsylvanians hungry for a more diversified city and state energy portfolio?

According to a new wind resource map published by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the highest wind resource points can be found on ridge crests in the Southwestern part of Pennsylvania, located southwest of Altoona and southeast of Pittsburgh.

If you're doing the math in your head right now, that puts the theoretical New Jersey wind park closer, leading many to potentially assume that this more localized power is cheaper. Not necessarily.

"Generally, onshore wind is cheaper than offshore wind," Lanard says. "Due to transmission constraints and population density, large-scale wind parks will not be located on land in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania. Those purchasers of wind power may choose to buy energy from offshore or onshore facilities."

Where offshore wind does gain an edge is assuaging the concerns many opponents of wind power, concerned that unsightly turbines will disturb their local landscape.

"At 11 miles out," Lanard says, "the turbines look about half a thumbnail high and as thin as a toothpick."

Lanard also points to a reduced impact on wildlife, a point often cited by environmentalists. Located approximately 11 miles offshore, the Delaware wind facility would be out of the path of most migratory birds. And Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey, previously opposing wind energy, have since gotten into the race, alleviating the concerns of fisherman about the health of their game.

But before you go all wacky for wind power, certain opposition groups like the Industrial Wind Action Group and National Wind Watch want you to hear their side of the story.

Their claims are more than just not-in-my-backyard, wet-blanket-complaints. They believe the wind energy industry is spinning lies along with the turbines, luring large public subsidies for a system that is, at best, secondary to fossil fuels.

Lisa Linowes is the executive director of Industrial Wind Action Group (IWAG), a wind energy opposition awareness group concerned about the resources being spent on wind power, a technology she says isn't stable enough for prime time.

"There is a perception out there that there is a one-to-one replacement of wind for fossil fuels, a thinking that if we build a 200-megawatt facility, we can decommission a fossil fuel plant," Linowes says. "That will not happen."

IWAG compares the success of wind power vs. other types of renewable fuel (biomass, solar energy) and vs. cleaning up fossil fuel plants. Linowes believes that, while many in the wind energy business will tell you they are for energy diversity, they would like nothing better than to make wind the top renewable source.

"We just want to make sure energy investors are not putting all their eggs in one basket," Linowes says.

And she may have a point. PJM is the largest power grid in the nation. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and several other states are all powered on the same grid. According to PJM's published report, wind energy accounts for more than 93 percent of all renewable energy proposed for the next year. That's nothing compared with Texas and New York, both of which show 99 percent of projects proposed to their renewable sector will be wind projects.

But for now, the wind industry can rest easy knowing that, while there is opposition, the public perception and even the Department of Energy are behind them.

Just two months ago, on special order from President Bush, the Department published a report entitled 20 Percent Wind Energy By 2030. The report was compiled to "start the discussion about issues, costs, and potential outcomes associated with the 20 percent Wind Scenario." And while the report acknowledges that wind won't likely ever be a capacity resource (available any time, even when winds don't blow), it makes its feelings on a windy future very clear. "A 20 Percent Wind Scenario in 2030, while ambitious, could be feasible if the significant challenges identified in this report are overcome."


Source: http://www.philadelphiaweek...

JUL 7 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/15842-wind-it-up
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