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Response to science fiction writer Wendy Williams


Sorry, Ms. Williams, but you have no right to classify us all as ‘narcissists'; we hold our anti-wind positions for a wide variety of reasons. Mainly, though, those who oppose wind do so because we've taken the trouble to learn the technical details, and we realize that wind power is in fact an expensive scam, driven solely by developers eager to cash in on the concerns over climate change. Were subsidy money and incentives to be removed, these folk would decamp overnight.

This is a guest post from a Cape Cod Living reader from across the pond.

by Eric Jacobson [ericjacobson AT hotmail -dot- com]

Over at Cape Cod Today, I notice that ‘science writer' Wendy Williams has penned quite a piece in favour of Cape Wind. As a resident of the UK (though a US citizen) I have some practical experience with ‘wind energy'.

Regrettably, Williams' article is replete with questionable assertions. Indeed, I counted no fewer than three in just one paragraph:

Thus Ms. Williams:

"...[T]he ambitious Massachusetts endeavor would help stabilize New England's aging power grid..."

This is the first time I've seen anyone actually assert that wind energy ‘stabilizes' a grid. If Ms. Williams could explain how a stochastic energy source can ‘stabilize' anything, I'd be much obliged. Now, it may be that the laws of physics are different in the Cape Cod area-but I confess that I've only seen evidence for it in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Back in the real world, wind power invariably destabilizes regional and national grids-and the higher the percentage of wind electricity on the grid, the greater the instability. Over here in Europe, I'm afraid the Danish and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

This is a guest post from a Cape Cod Living reader from across the pond.

by Eric Jacobson [ericjacobson AT hotmail -dot- com]

Over at Cape Cod Today, I notice that ‘science writer' Wendy Williams has penned quite a piece in favour of Cape Wind. As a resident of the UK (though a US citizen) I have some practical experience with ‘wind energy'.

Regrettably, Williams' article is replete with questionable assertions. Indeed, I counted no fewer than three in just one paragraph:

Thus Ms. Williams:

"...[T]he ambitious Massachusetts endeavor would help stabilize New England's aging power grid..."

This is the first time I've seen anyone actually assert that wind energy ‘stabilizes' a grid. If Ms. Williams could explain how a stochastic energy source can ‘stabilize' anything, I'd be much obliged. Now, it may be that the laws of physics are different in the Cape Cod area-but I confess that I've only seen evidence for it in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Back in the real world, wind power invariably destabilizes regional and national grids-and the higher the percentage of wind electricity on the grid, the greater the instability. Over here in Europe, I'm afraid the Danish and German electrical engineers would roll their eyes over Ms. Williams assertion; the Germans in particular, after last winter's blackouts (made all the worse by grid instabilities) might make some fairly pungent remarks as well.

"...and ease Cape Cod's severe air pollution by reducing the use of the local oil-fired generator."

How? Would the generator be turned off? Throttled back? Perhaps Ms. Williams is unaware that wind electricity requires spinning reserve at all times-you cannot shut off, or even scale back, the original fossil-fuel plant's output. All you can do is take it offline, though the plant turbines must continue to spin regardless. So-let us be very clear-the fossil-fuel plant continues to emit CO2 and to consume fuel at pretty much the same rate as before the wind farm was built. At this point, the average person will be asking ‘why bother to build a wind farm at all, then?' Why, indeed....

And that, in a nutshell, is why wind power is a scam: it doesn't replace fossil-fuel plants, and has never done so. They must keep working regardless. But then, perhaps a miracle will happen, and the Cape Wind project will allow one or more fossil-fuel plants to either shut down or to throttle back to some appreciable extent. If so, it'd be a first in the world's experience of wind electricity. But then, so would ‘stablization of the grid' from wind electricity inputs.

That's ‘two impossible things before breakfast' so far, as Lewis Carroll might've said....

"It would also lower New England electricity rates."

Miracle number three. To my knowledge, no wind-generated electricity has EVER been ‘cheaper' than the conventionally generated product. Why? Because-keeping the economics simple-these projects are subsidized in one form or another using public tax monies. And because the existing fossil-fuel plants are not shut down, you get to pay the utility to run both the ‘old' plant and the new wind plant as well. In other words, the utility gets to ‘double-dip' you in one way or another. But then, having seen the ‘Miracles of Cape Cod' twice now, I'm of a mind to accept this third miracle as well.

"The stalled project is a loss for New England and a setback for wind-power proponents across the country. It's also a victory for the powerful people who aligned themselves against it. Many factors fueled their personal attacks and endless litigation, but their opposition boils down to social narcissism."

Ah, yes: it couldn't possibly be that ‘opposition' is based on a recognition that wind power is a gigantic scam. No; the opponents must be ‘narcissists'. This, along with the familiar (and incorrectly used) allegation of ‘NIMBYism' are merely ad hominem attacks-in this case, ad hominem attacks of a particularly nasty, mean-spirited nature, carrying overtones of class-warfare as they do.

Sorry, Ms. Williams, but you have no right to classify us all as ‘narcissists'; we hold our anti-wind positions for a wide variety of reasons. Mainly, though, those who oppose wind do so because we've taken the trouble to learn the technical details, and we realize that wind power is in fact an expensive scam, driven solely by developers eager to cash in on the concerns over climate change. Were subsidy money and incentives to be removed, these folk would decamp overnight. Please re-read my earlier explanation of wind power and ‘backup' sources until you ‘get it'.

Allow me to repeat: wind power supplies exactly zero net benefit to the grid and to consumers.

From our experience, wind power is:

Expensive-more so than conventional electricity;

Does not replace conventional generation;

Does not replace conventional generation (did I just say that?);

Does not result in shutdown or even reduction in conventional plant operation (re-read that bit until you understand);

Does not reduce CO2 by any significant amount (ditto);

Destabilizes the grid. The greater the penetration of wind into regional grids, the greater the instability, and the more difficulty operators have in avoiding blackout;

Is generally vastly overrated by developers, who toss around claims that ‘this plant will supply enough electricity to power X thousand homes'. From sad experience in Europe, we know how inflated these estimates are.

Wind power does, however, act as a conduit by which public money flows into the bank accounts of developers and utilities. At that, at least, wind farms are quite effective.

"...[T]he campaign against Cape Wind is a sad commentary on the state of democracy and public policy in America."

This is a truly amazing comment. Apparently robust opposition is indicative of deficient democracy-and rather hyperbolically, not just for eastern Massachusetts, but for the entire nation. One wonders then what Ms. Williams would characterize as ‘healthy democracy', though I can hazard a guess.

"Particularly effective has been the meddling of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Democrat."

‘Meddling'? Thus the characterization of two citizens exercising their right to open debate and opposition. That such activity is characterized as ‘meddling' is a bit frightening, to be honest. I'm no fan of Senator Kennedy's politics, but I'd be the first to defend his absolute right to involve himself on civic matters-just as ALL citizens possess that right. If that's ‘meddling' on his part, then long may he do so. Heaven help us when strident opposition is characterized as ‘a sad commentary on the state of democracy' and civic participation as ‘meddling'. I grant that statist societies such as those of the old Communist bloc did ‘get things done' despite their citizens' wishes, but I have no desire to see such a model in the US (or even at Cape Cod).

"I have sat through thousands of hours of meetings, including a Saturday morning "emergency" session held in the summer of 2002 in a century-old Nantucket Sound ballroom by the fabled and ultra-WASP Wianno Yacht Club."

Ah, my ‘class warfare' detector WAS working. Hard to tell whether it's the ‘opposition to wind' or merely being ‘WASPy' which Williams finds the more sinful.

"Since then, this privileged crowd has certainly been anything but complacent."

Imagine: people who live in a given area having the infernal gall to object to a local project. How dare they? Do they think that they're free citizens with the right to organize and protest? The nerve of them! At least, ‘how dare they' if they're, ahem, ‘privileged'. I guess ‘having wealth' means you are supposed to keep your mouth shut, or something.

"The Cape Wind battle matters to the whole world."

Once again, Ms. Williams woefully exaggerates Cape Wind's importance-but this time, not just as a mere comment on the health of democracy nationwide. No; this time the Cape Wind battle is the deciding clash between Light and Dark, the pinnacle of a global struggle-Sauron versus the West, with Normandy, Stalingrad and perhaps Gettysburg tossed into the stew--the Last Battle, a veritable Armageddon which the forces of Light must win against evil NIMBYs (or was it ‘WASPs'?), lest the entire planet fall into eternal darkness.

I give Ms. Williams credit for an active imagination, at least.

"As we have it, we cannot allow the public discussion to be hijacked by those with hidden agendas. There's simply too much at stake."

As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger (I think), ‘what's with the "we"?' Keep in mind, citizens, that she's talking about YOU when she claims the discussion is...hijacked'. These two sentences fill me with a cold fear-more so than most of the rest of Williams' commentary.

I'm left with the impression that anyone who opposes Cape Wind is an ‘undemocratic meddler who's hijacking the discussion'. Such a characterization is extremely concerning, to say the least, for reasons which should be obvious.

It is clear that Ms. Williams feels ‘wind power' is viable, which position simply cannot be supported by the empirical data. That's bad enough; but the way in which the opposition is characterized is simply reprehensible.



Source: http://capecodliving.blogsp...

MAY 18 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/8940-response-to-science-fiction-writer-wendy-williams
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