11/18/03 12:00AM By Sam Lloyd
(Host) The debate about developing wind power continues to blow hot and heavy in Vermont. Today VPR offers two views on the subject. This morning we heard from commentator Bill McKibben, who believes that wind power is a necessary part of the remedy for global warming. Now, here is Sam Lloyd, who continues to have serious reservations about the wisdom of generating energy with wind power.
(Lloyd) As Vermont considers the pros and cons of wind generated energy, questions arise which require answers. First, would wind power produce sufficient energy to benefit Vermont ratepayers? If so, what parts of Vermont's long-standing environmental ethic would need to be sacrificed to produce this energy? And will its generation improve air quality and reduce reliance on foreign oil and fossil fuels?
The first answer begins with the fact that wind produces electricity only intermittingly and thus requires back-up power when it is not there to turn the turbines. In 2001, the eleven turbines in Searsburg produced energy only 22% of the time. At maximum efficiency, wind power produces energy only 30% of the time.
As to air quality, the biggest sources of wind-produced air pollution are the coal burning power plants in the midwest, infecting our mountains, forests and citizenry with their residue brought to us by prevailing winds. No amount of wind generation in Vermont will change what happens to power plants in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. Most of Vermont's energy sources are pollution-free, with none created or purchased from coal-burning sources, and less than 1% from oil. And hydro power, the cleanest energy to be found, is available in abundance in the Canadian marketplace and in our own rivers.
Heading the list of Vermont's most spectacular scenic resources are its mountain peaks and ridgelines, home and pathway for much of our wildlife. The only intrusions on these ridgelines are communication towers: unpleasant, to be sure, but as nothing compared to the proposed scores of 300 ft. plus illuminated windmills, each needing two acres of clear-cut forest, miles of substantial roadway, with obvious damage to migratory birds and other wildlife.
So, is a small amount of peak power, unavailable two thirds of the time, worth extensive damage, if not destruction, of Vermont's ridgelines, which we have committed to protect for many generations? If we can discard this committment for so small a return, will it not become all the easier, in future years, to set aside other parts of our environmental ethic, for equally questionable returns?
This is Sam Lloyd from Weston.