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Wind farms poor investment in this region

We hear a lot about wind turbines effects on viewsheds and tourism, birds and bats and the question of whether or not wind energy can have any effect on CO2 emissions when the turbines must be backed up by fossil fuel generation. All these are valid considerations, but the strongest argument against wind farms in our mountains is that they are a poor investment. A look at the U.S. Department of Energy's national wind resource map tells the whole story.

There has been much talk about wind farms sprouting up like toadstools after the rain in Maryland, Pennsylvania and my state, West Virginia.

We hear a lot about wind turbines effects on viewsheds and tourism, birds and bats and the question of whether or not wind energy can have any effect on CO2 emissions when the turbines must be backed up by fossil fuel generation.

All these are valid considerations, but the strongest argument against wind farms in our mountains is that they are a poor investment.

A look at the U.S. Department of Energy's national wind resource map tells the whole story. Appalachian mountains are poor locations for wind farms, compared with our east, west and Great Lakes coasts.

The Department of Energy's Web site tells us that nationally, Pennsylvania ranks 22nd, West Virginia ranks 32nd and Maryland ranks 37th out of the 50 states in availability of wind as a resource to generate electricity.

Sure, there is the occasional ridge where there is good wind activity some of the time, but hardly worth the $2 million per turbine and miles of transmission line infrastructure necessary to collect and transmit the energy to more urban areas where it might be used. Surely... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There has been much talk about wind farms sprouting up like toadstools after the rain in Maryland, Pennsylvania and my state, West Virginia.

We hear a lot about wind turbines effects on viewsheds and tourism, birds and bats and the question of whether or not wind energy can have any effect on CO2 emissions when the turbines must be backed up by fossil fuel generation.

All these are valid considerations, but the strongest argument against wind farms in our mountains is that they are a poor investment.

A look at the U.S. Department of Energy's national wind resource map tells the whole story. Appalachian mountains are poor locations for wind farms, compared with our east, west and Great Lakes coasts.

The Department of Energy's Web site tells us that nationally, Pennsylvania ranks 22nd, West Virginia ranks 32nd and Maryland ranks 37th out of the 50 states in availability of wind as a resource to generate electricity.

Sure, there is the occasional ridge where there is good wind activity some of the time, but hardly worth the $2 million per turbine and miles of transmission line infrastructure necessary to collect and transmit the energy to more urban areas where it might be used. Surely the wind developers know something I don't, or they wouldn't be investing so much money in a losing venture. I believe that they do.

Last August I attended hearings, in Charleston, W.Va., for the AES Laurel Mountain wind farm near Elkins, W.Va. There was an interesting moment in that court room when the group fighting the turbines tried to return a brown envelope that contained the meteorological data on wind speed and availability that AES had gathered for their application to the Public Service Commission.

AES knew something we didn't, asking that this data remain secret and not be included in the public record. Why would that be? Why would you not want the great wind resource on Laurel Mountain to be public information and an aid in attracting investors in your project?

Could it be that there was a poor wind resource? Could it be that this wind farm would not be able to give a reasonable return on the investment? After all West Virginia only ranks 37th.

But aren't renewables our only hope to combat global climate change? Some are.

Rather than look at "renewables" let's think about "sustainables." The PJM Grid, where the electricity we generate in West Virginia goes, rates new wind farms in their network at 13 percent of nameplate output. That means that if a wind farm suggests it will power 100 houses on a power-hungry day in the summer, the reality is that it will be closer to 13 houses. The electricity may be generated by a renewable, but the output is not sustainable.

I think conservation is a large part of the answer to a more sustainable energy future. At the top of my Obama wish list is a National Green Building Code. The code would require all new construction of government, school, commercial, industrial and retail buildings to self-produce a tiny percentage of the energy they consume.

The percentage requirement would increase with time as technological developments make compliance more efficient and inexpensive.

The biggest gain from this program would be that it would create an incentive to be more responsible with our use of energy and the land from which it is produced.

An added plus would be that it would place the burden, as well as give the benefits equally, to every part of the country.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/a...

JAN 25 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/18796-wind-farms-poor-investment-in-this-region
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