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


"It would take thousands of these clean-energy, landscape-marring machines [wind turbines] to generate only a slice of the region's [Maryland's] power needs." "Consider a recent Department of Energy Study. It shows that nationwide, moving to 10 percent renewable energy would still see coal burning increase substantially—because of rapidly growing electrical demand."

—Tom Horton, staff environmental writer of the weekly column, On the Bay, The Baltimore Sun: "Wind farms a problem, too," February 27, 2004.

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Jon Boone Challenges Ted Williams To Go Beyond Cape Wind....

One can certainly 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 windpower technology is even a partial solution to the problem. Note: Ted Williams' 'Wind Advisory' is available via the link below.
April, 2006 by Jon Boone.

Ted Williams' take on the massive Cape Wind project targeting Nantucket Sound focuses upon many of the right questions while also finding the correct answers (see "Wind Advisory," Jan./Feb., 2006, Fly, Rod & Reel). As a noted debunker of environmentally treacherous renewable energy schemes, he forthrightly begins his discussion with the problems created by hydroelectric, formerly a centerfold for green power. His stance on ethanol remains a marvel of rational analysis. However, although he skewered Cape Wind, his discussion about windpower, especially regarding wind installations onshore in the eastern United States, did not go far enough, for, contrary to the banner below his article's title, windpower may not be such "a splendid idea."

There are only finite amounts of wind-rich land resources east of the Mississippi River, perhaps less than five percent of the nation's total. Moreover, we increase our demand for electricity at a pace of two percent annually. In little more than 30 years, we'll double our present demand, as we did from 1970-2000. Even if we could immediately saturate all those wind resource regions with scores of thousands of massive wind machines, each more than 400 feet tall, they at best might temporarily lessen the rapidly increasing rate in the growth of demand for electricity from "dirty power sources." In about 15 years our increased rate of demand will absorb any yield produced by windpower, necessitating additional energy sources to supply it. Not one coalplant would close, while more would likely be constructed. So much for reducing our reliance on fossil fuel....

Because of the intermittent, unpredictable nature of wind, no homes would be powered by the wind industry. Given this limitation and the fact that industrial electricity must be consumed immediately, wind can generate only energy, not capacity, to an electricity grid. In fact, even using Cape Wind's projections (and Williams knows the dangers of believing a developer's boilerplate), the project if built would likely produce even less usable energy than the one percent of New England's grid production Williams claims for it, since it wouldn't penetrate beyond the grid's buffer of "reserve" supply.

One can certainly 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 windpower technology is even a partial solution to the problem. The harsh reality is that Cape Wind's turbines are much more functional (and lucrative) as corporate tax avoidance generators than they are as environmentally friendly producers of energy, symbolic not of a more enlightened energy future but rather of our continuing attraction to the forces of ignorance and greed. Given the evidence, they represent a placebo solution to our energy dilemma, distracting from the necessary level of discourse—and political action—for achieving genuinely effective responses.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics puts a heavy burden upon us. There are no magic bullets here, alas, as we try to convert the solar energy producing the convection forces of wind into electricity. The only humane short-range solution to the problem of our dependence upon fossil fuels must combine effective conservation efforts with much higher efficiency standards—heavy lifting indeed for the most wasteful culture in the history of the planet.

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