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Letter to Time Magazine

I read your recent article about the clean energy myth surrounding ethanol fuels. There is another major clean energy myth and it concerns the use of wind power. Large "wind farms," are being built all over the U.S. in the mistaken belief that they will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wind farms only produce usable power in a fairly narrow range of wind speeds and this does not reliably occur at times when the power is needed. Base power plants burning fossil or nuclear fuels must be cut back to balance the grid, but must be kept idling to take up the demand when the wind dies. In such spinning, idling conditions, power plants are relatively inefficient and their fuel usage and emissions are not effectively reduced. Here in northern New York, the grid manager is often tempted to use hydro-power as the balancing power for wind as it is more easily controlled than coal fired or nuclear power. In this situation, there are obviously no savings in fuel use or emissions from the use of wind generated power.

Wind power produces only very small and intermittent amounts of power at a very high cost, considering the large investment required. What wind power does accomplish is the transfer of large tax liabilities from wealthy investors to the rest of us because of large tax write-offs and subsidies granted by federal, state and local governments. These subsidies, coupled with an increase in our utility bills, constitute the economic drive supporting construction of these mammoth wind towers. In addition, investors are allowed the accumulation of false "energy credits," permitting industry to continue polluting practices elsewhere. The wind developers proceed with construction based on the myth that they are creating "green energy," - a myth that is not questioned or examined critically by the public or our elected representatives. Wind energy is a false solution to our problems of energy consumption and global warming. It gives people comfort that we are on the way to solving our problems while diverting attention and financial resources from the task of finding real solutions.

Until we can find reasonable solutions to our energy problems, simple programs for energy conservation can go a long way to mitigate our situation.

Albert H. Bowers III
Naval Architect & Maritime Consultant



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