2010-02-25 / Letters to the Editor

Put the wind turbine idea to bed

In my opinion, the wind turbine generator (WTG) remains a bad idea. The costs are underestimated and WTG revenues are overestimated.

One of the major objectives from my perspective has been determining how much money this is really going to cost. AAER, the Portsmouth WTG manufacturer, was very helpful in explaining the recipe for wind power success, but could go no further than the typical project operations & maintenance estimates. So far, the actual O&M costs of similar WTG power projects as proposed have proven elusive, if not unavailable.

Because wind power is variable and highly subsidized, measuring future revenues on this project is, at best, based upon a pricing shell game and, at worst, overestimated entirely.

The projected revenue amount assumes that the WTG will produce 23% of its generating capacity based on its location, that the generating capacity doesn’t decline over its lifetime and that this generated electricity will be purchased by National Grid as mandated.

Did you know that for the last four quarters, NG and Narragansett Electric have reported revenue shortfalls? Some would say: Good! Not really; in this economy, many people cannot pay their electric bills. NG uses these revenues to purchase energy; e.g., green energy and related carbon offsets.

Some of the major risks to this mystical profit include, but are not limited to: What happens when it is no longer politically favorable to buy this in the future? What if the utilities just don’t have the money? If you follow the U.K. papers – read for yourself – the climate claims winds are changing and as always, Europe is ahead of us on such issues.

Many of us “feel” that if this is such a great idea, it will still be a great idea when the economy turns around or after R.I. responsibly solves its $400 million deficit and real governance exists for this technology. Those with credibility on this subject in Jamestown have disregarded or discounted questions to the extent that one can only conclude that this is not about education, cost or “real” benefits. It is unfortunate that this is moving ahead without considering other options that may be the “best” approach, if it exists, then determining the criteria on which to measure success.

In conclusion, if the WTG doesn’t pay for itself, real costs to taxpayers are hidden and simultaneously, the town still buys the same amount of carbon electricity that allegedly poisoned children in its making at a higher price, how is this good for Jamestown? Doing something, no matter what the cost, based upon good intentions is not the model for best practices even in good economic times.

Let’s just turn the lights off and put this to bed once and for all.
Blake Dickinson

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