Sunday, September 03, 2006

Letter to the Editor, Rutland (Vt.) Herald
September 3, 2006

To the Editor:

Hugh Kemper’s anti-wind letter of Sept. 3 contains some errors of fact and omission.

First, he correctly states that Vermont’s current power plants emit very little pollution. This is true, but doesn’t speak to the future, when Vermont Yankee’s license and the Hydro Quebec contracts expire. Something will replace those sources of electricity, and there is no guaranteeing that it will be clean unless we make it so.

Second, he mistakenly claims that because the wind is a variable energy source, it cannot displace electricity generated from other sources. A fairly detailed recent study of the effects of adding wind to New York’s power system found otherwise. It said that 65 percent of the wind-generated electricity would displace electricity from natural gas, 15 percent would displace coal, 10 percent would displace oil, and 10 percent would displace imported power from other states.

Third, he claims that wind produces little net electricity generation or emissions reductions. The New York study disagrees with that also, finding, “By displacing energy from fossil-fired generators, wind generation causes reductions in emissions from those generators. Based on wind and load profiles for years 2001 and 2002, annual [nitrogen oxides] emissions would be reduced by 6,400 tons and [sulfur dioxide] emissions would be reduced by 12,000 tons."

Finally, Mr. Kemper claims that opposition to wind is growing around the country. While this is true, the wind energy industry is also growing by leaps and bounds, with a growth rate of 29 percent per year over the last five years. Since wind farms are being built in many more places, it is not surprising that the number of opponents—and the number of supporters—is growing.

Wind machines installed in Vermont would generate electricity indefinitely, with no mining, drilling, or water use, and no air pollution, no water pollution, and no global warming pollution. They would increase Vermont's energy security and help keep a lid on natural gas prices (a growing amount of natural gas is used for electricity generation, and that causes price pressure on gas for home heating).

Vermonters need to think long and hard before abandoning this inexhaustible energy resource.

Thomas O. Gray
Deputy Executive Director
American Wind Energy Association

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