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Click to see a simulation of the proposed wind plant atop Backbone Mountain in Western Maryland
Notable Quotes

"The trouble with wind farms is that they have a huge spatial footprint for a piddling little bit of electricity... ."

—Sir Martin Holdgate, former chairman of the British Renewable Energy Advisory Group.

Sound Bites: Wind Quotations from Jon Boone

"Environmental history is the chronicle of how adverse consequences flowed from the uninformed decisions of the well intentioned. When perception is wrong, reality will ultimately impose itself as itself, often with rude effect."

"Industrial wind is almost the perfect enterprise for our era, as it produces no meaningful product or service but is subsidized up to 80 percent by rate and tax payers. Like many "celebrities," it is famous for being famous, not for its actual performance."

"We need more wind projects like a prom queen needs acne."

"Many engineers find gainful, if not useful, employment enabling Rube Goldberg schemes."

"What if the boss demoted his company's most reliable, responsive, productive employee in order to hire his unreliable, unresponsive, unproductive nephew, while insisting that the rest of his employees work harder to cover for the kid's indolent, hapless ways? Most reasonable people, particularly those who believe in the importance of self-reliance and personal responsibility, would be appalled. But this is precisely what happens when subprime wind energy is forced on the grid."

"Wind is not David to coal's Goliath; they are step siblings, related because the same companies that own most of the nation's wind plants also own and control the majority of the nation's coal operations."

"Faith-based initiatives like wind energy symbolize the imaginative lacuna now at the heart of our national energy policy."

"There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of massive wind projects."

"The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. It is made possible because there's no penalty for lying in the energy marketplace."

"Pretending that zero capacity wind technology is an answer to building a responsive supply to meet new demand is, energy-wise, incredibly stupid."

"All commercial-scale energy sources are subsidized; but all conventional sources of power provide capacity value. Wind provides no capacity value--specified power on demand. It only provides the grid with sporadic bursts of energy, not energy commensurate with modern power expectations. Modern power vastly improves productivity. Wind reduces it. Trading wind for nuclear, or coal, or natural gas, or hydro is akin to trading Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Sandy Koufax, and Willy Mays for a third string high school first baseman who made the team because of his father's contributions to the alumni fund."

"Wind energy is a sideshow technology with great potential for mainline environmental harm."

"The challenge for the grid is how to reconcile the square peg of firm reliability with the round hole of wind's fluttering caprice. As it skitters unbidden on and off the grid, like sandpipers at the beach, wind is indistinguishable from demand fluctuations: when it appears, it's equivalent to people turning off their appliances; when it departs, it's like people turning the lights back on. Its perturbations increase the grid's instability, for the additional wind flux is even greater than demand flux—and much less predictable."

"Throughout my experience [as an intervenor in MSPSC wind hearings], I could not substantiate a single claim developers made for industrial wind energy, including the one justifying its existence: that massive wind installations would meaningfully reduce our reliance on fossil fuels."

"For five years, I've studied the claims of wind industry developers, their trade organization, the American Wind Energy Association, and the National Renewable Energy Lab, an agency of the US Department of Energy, with staff whose jobs are dependent upon the success of renewable technologies. I've concluded that industrial wind energy exemplifies American business at its worst, promising to save the environment while wreaking havoc on it. Spawned, then supported, by government welfare measures at considerable public expense, it produces no meaningful product or service yet provides enormous profit to a few wealthy investors, primarily multinational energy companies in search of increased bottom lines. It's an environmental plunderer, with its hirelings and parasites using a few truths, many half-truths, and the politics of wishful thinking to frame a house of lies. It's all a bill of goods. Not a single claim made for industrial wind energy is true."

"One can concur with concerns about how our culture's fossil fuel combustion practices help accelerate the process of global warming— without uncritically agreeing that the intrusive nature of wind technology is even a partial solution to the problem."

"Siting criteria for massive industrial wind plants are akin to making larger closets for the emperor with no clothes. It's much like giving a second story burglary ring both a ladder and an alibi."

"No one should believe that a highly fluctuating, unresponsive source of energy, which provides no capacity value, can replace highly responsive, steady sources of power that do provide capacity value. What a Faustian bargain this would be!"

"It's untrue that people in Appalachia merely find wind plants "unsightly." We also view them as the latest energy bunco scheme and we resent the pillage of our mountains, the destruction of our wildlife, and the devaluation of our property to support an industry that is a poster boy for irresponsible development."

"We have arrived at a point in our legal culture where no negative consequences seem to exist for making false or misleading claims to sell energy. There is a range of wind plant- generated nuisances verified across three continents. The failure of many local governments to provide appropriate leadership on this issue is appalling. After-the-fact lawsuits brought because of predictable nuisances are difficult, expensive, and time consuming. These massive wind plants precipitate incivility, pitting neighbor against neighbor. A major duty of government is to anticipate, then eliminate or mitigate this kind of incivility. Those who endorse or profit from placing such industrial complexes near the homes of others evidently don't have a clue about how to foster civil society."

"Modern society exists on a foundation built upon productivity that comes from reliable, controllable, interdependent high-powered machine systems. All conventional units that provide electricity must pass rigorous tests of reliability and performance; they must produce their rated capacities, or a desired fraction, as expected whenever asked--or be removed from the grid. Some are like refrigerators, doing heavy-duty long-term work; others are like our toasters or irons, not working all the time but responsive when called upon to do so. This ability to perform as expected on demand is known as a machine's capacity value. Conventional power generators have a capacity value of 99.999%. Using them for 97% of our electricity, the country achieves high reliability and security at affordable cost. Wind provides no capacity value and can pass no test for reliability; one can never be sure how much energy it will produce for any future time. Generating units that don't provide capacity value cannot be reasonably compared with those that do.

Here's a practical way to think about this concept. You don't drive your car all the time, with the result that its capacity factor--the percentage of your car's potential that you actually use--is probably 15-20%, if that. But when you do wish to drive it, the car works virtually all of the time, getting you from pillar to post in line with your own schedule. This is its capacity value. Ditto with your chain saw--or television, or any modern appliance we all take for granted because it works when we want it to work. Appliances that don't do this are quickly discarded, although this wasn't the case for much of our history (look at the early days of television or radio or even the automobile). Only in the last hundred years or so have we in the West come to rely on machines with this standard. In fact, it's the basis of our modernity and it underlies contemporary systems of economic growth and wealth creation."

"The percentage of time that an energy source performs a specified amount of work on demand as expected is known as its capacity value; the higher the percentage, the greater the value. This is the proper way to evaluate the true worth of generating units performing in situations where high reliability, affordability, and system security are given premium values. With this in mind, imagine that all gas pumps were wind "powered." How sure would you be that the amount of gas you wanted would be there? How long might it take to fill your tank? How long would the lines be awaiting service? As you parse this situation, think of the loss in productivity that would result."

"Physicists define energy as the ability to do work, while power is the rate at which work is done. Huge turbines can convert wind energy into electrical power. But they do so with the same capacity standards that powered sailing craft and water pumps in the early nineteenth century."

"Wind technology is a lot of dumb and ugly in service to ignorance and greed. Because it produces no capacity value, is inimical to demand cycles, provides only early nineteenth century power productivity, in the process destabilizing the match between supply and demand and making everything and everyone around it work harder, it cannot shutter any conventional plants or reduce meaningful levels of CO2. Massive wind technology will, however, damage much of what many knowledgeable environmentalists hold dear, not least intrusively increasing our footprint on the land in ways that will decrease other (often more vulnerable) species and valuable habitat while furthering the cause of civil discord."

"Wind energy is impotent."

"Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally backasswards, a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge. It would take more than a smart grid to incorporate such a dumb idea successfully."

"As a system, wind represents nonsense in and a whole lot of dumb and ugly out."

"The Sierra Club has become a real whack job, for there is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of massive wind projects--and their related sprawling transmission systems."

"By the industry's own admission, wind is "not a capacity resource." How, and at what cost, can a grid provide a correlative for the instability that wind volatility imposes upon the grid--a volatility beyond the destabilizations caused by demand flux? This business is actually quite absurd. The whole point of modern power systems, for more than a hundred years, has been to move beyond the flickering flutter of variable energy sources. Prostituting modern power performance to enable subprime, lazy energy schemes on behalf of half- baked science is immoral. As is implementing highly regressive "incentives" to make it appear that pigs can fly."

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