Wind Energy Not a Panacea

A recent article (26 Sep 16) from The Heartland Institute depicts a growing concern and opposition to wind power across the US (https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/opposition-to-wind-facilities-spreading-across-us).

While I support research to find better and inexpensive energy sources, I also must ask myself about the trade-offs to the average rate payer and business owners. Wind power in NH is limited and has unintended consequences. The NH Wind Watch group has done a very good job in carefully researching the pros and cons.  As a result, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has enacted some very tough rules to govern the addition of any new wind projects.  I welcome this.  In 2015 alone, several states, including New Hampshire enacted local or state legislation severely limiting or canceling wind projects. In fact, some 66 governmental entities in 22 states moved to ban or  restrict wind projects in 2015. The entities include 30 towns and 27 counties.  Also,  planning and development authorities covering 82 additional towns in VT. See: http://www.robertbryce.com/articles/671-us-governmental-entities-that-rejected-or-restricted-wind-projects.

As a long time NH resident, growing up in Orford not far from the White Mountains, I am not pleased with the wind turbines I see.  But more importantly, I don’t believe the overall expense and negative effects to human and bird life justifies more projects. While it is “cool” to say one supports “renewable” energy, wind may not be in the best interests for New Hampshire.

Yes, we have wind and, yes, the current projects contribute a very small percentage of wind power to the grid.  But our terrain does not support optimum placement of wind turbines.  They must follow along a mountain ridge in a straight line.  Not only does this place them in full view of hikers, tourist visitors and residents, but it creates noises that transverse down along the valley to be heard miles away on occasion.  In states like Kansas and Texas, where there is space to place turbines in optimum arrays, the noise issue is abated, but not the danger to birds and wild life.  One only needs to review the Antrim Wind Project public hearings brought before the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to hear the pros and cons, mostly cons by the public.

Additionally, wind turbines must, of course, hook up to transmission lines.  If more are built, there will be need to built more transmission lines and towers if none are available at new locations.  Think more towers, cut tree paths, and scenic pollution.

Germany and Denmark embarked on massive wind projects.  They have flat lands and much wind. They leaped full throttle into dumping traditional forms of energy and embraced wind as the panacea for their desires.  Unfortunately, even these countries have put a brake on wind.  Residents are up in arms for the view blight and the stress on the power grid caused great concern.

And lastly, wind cannot be a base power source as it is intermittent. It must be backed up by spinning reserves.  Spinning reserves must be able to generate power within 30 minutes of call. The only fuels that can do this are fossil fuels which will still produce some emissions.

Wind power does have  a place, but just because its “renewable” does not mean its right in all places at all times.

 

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