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Power Hungry by Robert Bryce

Once you've carpeted your tract of wilderness with turbines and gotten over any guilt you might feel about the thousands of birds you're about to kill, prepare to be underwhelmed and underpowered. Look at Texas, Mr. Bryce says: It ranks sixth in the world in total wind-power production capacity, and it has been hailed as a model for renewable energy and green jobs by Republicans and Democrats alike. And yet, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state's electricity grid, just "8.7 percent of the installed wind capability can be counted on as dependable capacity during the peak demand period." The wind may blow in Texas, but, sadly, it doesn't blow much when it is most needed—in summer. The net result is that just 1% of the state's reliable energy needs comes from wind.

If using a huge amount of real estate to generate a tiny amount of energy from an intermittent energy source sounds deranged, consider, too, that we haven't yet found the holy grail for storing wind-generated energy. Wind is either an instant energy snack or a famine. It must be used when it's there or immediately replaced when it isn't.

But if you are managing an energy grid, you have to meet constant demand or face blackouts, which means that you will have to have conventional power plants to back up the wind farms. As Jing Yang reported in The Wall Street Journal last year, this strategy is precisely the one that China is pursuing, adding in one province alone the coal-fired equivalent of Hungary. These plants, Mr. Bryce notes, are designed to run continuously and will in all likelihood "be run continuously in order to assure that the regional power grid doesn't go dark." The irony of wind power is that it "doesn't displace power plants, it only adds to them."

It is not for nothing, then, that the scientist and ur-environmentalist James Lovelock (the author of the Gaia theory of holistic planet-nurturing) now thinks that wind power and renewable energy are "rotten ideas." What is arguably worse are rotten ideas that no one is allowed to criticize: Last year, Britain's minister for climate change, Ed Miliband, declared that the British government had to make opposition to wind power "socially unacceptable." There are more than 200 groups opposed to wind farms in Britain on the grounds that the turbines disfigure the landscape, thrum like air-conditioning units and, when the sun sets, create an irritating flicker-light for miles.

"Power Hungry" is a bracing attempt to call this kind of revolution to account, literally, by asking us to look at the math and to face the numbers. It is unsentimental, unsparing and impassioned; and, if you'll excuse the pun, it is precisely the kind of journalism we need to hold truth to power.

Mr. Butterworth is editor of STATS.org and a columnist for Forbes.com.



Italy Wind Turbine Resolution

At a Special Meeting of the Town Board of Italy NY on April 26, 2010, following many months of study and deliberation, the Board adopted by a 3 to 2 roll-call vote a Resolution that deletes two Wind Energy Incentive Zones from the Zoning Law and restores in the Zoning Law and Comprehensive Plan strict prohibitions against industrial wind turbines in all districts within the Town.

The Town continues to fight the lawsuit that was filed by Ecogen last November after the Board rejected their Application for an industrial-scale wind project. We will be filing a Motion For Dismissal on April 28 and anticipate a Hearing on May 24 in Penn Yan, NY. A Legal Defense Fund should be operational shortly.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support in our efforts to protect the health and welfare of our citizens, and to preserve the rural heritage and character of this beautiful region.

Linda and Brad Jones

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Italy revises zoning law

Penn Yan, NY

Town officials have started the process to change the town’s comprehensive plan and zoning law to repeal the creation of wind incentive zones and prohibit industrial wind turbine towers throughout the Town of Italy.

The board held a public hearing on April 10 and the proposed changes will be reviewed by the Yates County Planning Board on Thursday, April 22.

The proposed zoning law will be amended to include a statement that any facility which exceeds 140 feet in height and all down-wind design wind turbines are prohibited in the town of Italy.

The law will also contain a statement that the town board has determined that industrial wind turbine towers and their associated energy facilities would have a detrimental impact on the health, safety and welfare of the town and its citizens.

The town board will hold a special meeting about the revisions to the comprehensive plan and zoning law at 7 p.m. Monday, April 26 a the Italy Town Hall, 6060 Italy Valley Road, Naples.

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