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On renewable energy, reject fallacy of false choices

One need not state a falsehood to tell a lie. Misleading presentation of facts and rhetorical sleight of hand have become modern art forms. One of the most insulting practices is the framing of arguments in terms of false choices. I’m particularly disappointed to see two local environmental organizations with whom I share much common ground distilling the debate over industrial scale wind farms down to: We can let the coal industry flatten the mountains and pollute the air and water, or we can let the wind industry turn the mountains into Gary, Ind.,with slopes. Which shall we do? I’ll take C), neither of the above.

One need not state a falsehood to tell a lie. Misleading presentation of facts and rhetorical sleight of hand have become modern art forms. One of the most insulting practices is the framing of arguments in terms of false choices.

I'm particularly disappointed to see two local environmental organizations with whom I share much common ground distilling the debate over industrial scale wind farms down to: We can let the coal industry flatten the mountains and pollute the air and water, or we can let the wind industry turn the mountains into Gary, Ind.,with slopes. Which shall we do?

I'll take C), neither of the above.

Everyone pays lip service to democracy. In the wind debate, that means we always pretend to respect the will of local communities. But, whenever community members actually try to assert their will, they're vilified as NIMBYs, for "not in my back yard." So let's examine that term. When Person A sneeringly calls Person B a NIMBY, who has the backyard? Who has the undesirable object he wants to dump in the backyard?
Why doesn't he keep it in his own backyard?

Much hay has been made over Cape Wind, a proposed wind installation off Cape Cod, Mass. Talk show... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

One need not state a falsehood to tell a lie. Misleading presentation of facts and rhetorical sleight of hand have become modern art forms. One of the most insulting practices is the framing of arguments in terms of false choices.

I'm particularly disappointed to see two local environmental organizations with whom I share much common ground distilling the debate over industrial scale wind farms down to: We can let the coal industry flatten the mountains and pollute the air and water, or we can let the wind industry turn the mountains into Gary, Ind.,with slopes. Which shall we do?

I'll take C), neither of the above.

Everyone pays lip service to democracy. In the wind debate, that means we always pretend to respect the will of local communities. But, whenever community members actually try to assert their will, they're vilified as NIMBYs, for "not in my back yard." So let's examine that term. When Person A sneeringly calls Person B a NIMBY, who has the backyard? Who has the undesirable object he wants to dump in the backyard?
Why doesn't he keep it in his own backyard?

Much hay has been made over Cape Wind, a proposed wind installation off Cape Cod, Mass. Talk show screamers paint easy targets like Sen. Ted Kennedy as spoiled hypocrites imposing high electric bills on Joe the Plumber. But the venture capitalists seeking to force their structures into Nantucket Sound aren't exactly homeless refugees living on food stamps. Cape Wind is a battle over local self-determination and the intrinsic value of place, not a class war.

Similarly, the battle over renewable electricity isn't mainly about hardware. It's about whether utilities can preserve their monopolies on generation, monopolies they were granted (along with monopolies on transmission and distribution, "T&D") for good reasons during the days of Edison and Westinghouse, but which technology rendered obsolete 30 years ago.

Grid-tied, net metered photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity reliably and predictably, at the time it's most in demand. With intelligent regulations, PV capital costs are borne voluntarily by the owners of the homes and businesses on which the panels are unobtrusively mounted. By locating generation in small blocks throughout the distribution network, T&D costs are reduced and deployment can be incremental and immediate.
Industrial wind farms, on the other hand, must be located on the transmission network, meaning that we're going to see quite a few new high-tension lines if we allow 750 megawatts of wind turbines to be built on 100 miles of ridge tops. Wind is much less predictable than sunshine, making grid management problematic. And the capital costs of any given project are measured in tens of millions of dollars, making deployment a multi-year maze of financing and regulatory obstacles.

PV is always cast as too expensive, usually by citing obsolete data, and the red herring issue of batteries is always raised. But electricity is the world's most perishable commodity. Why would anyone store it at the time it has peak value? Storage is a problem for nuclear plants, which require pumped storage hydroelectric facilities to soak up their excess output in off-peak hours. Despite pairing two dams, both with generators, on a flowing river, pumped storage is a net consumer of electricity. It actually uses more electricity than it generates. But, without it, some base load generators (nuke and coal) would need to shut down at night. Public utilities commissions make pumped storage finances work, but they can't fix its inefficiency.

Western North Carolinians should thank God profusely for making our mountains without coal. The dollar value of rafting, fishing and scenery-driven tourism dwarfs the value of energy, and the wealth is distributed far more equitably. Having avoided the firing squad that most of Appalachia still faces, we should be fiercely protective of our most valuable nonrenewable resource.

NIMBYs of North Carolina, stand proudly, and reject the fallacy of false choices.


Source: http://www.citizen-times.co...

AUG 19 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21874-on-renewable-energy-reject-fallacy-of-false-choices
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