Given the scale of our wind power needs, we need a plan

Saint Albans Messenger; June 16, 2017; Letter to the editor

There seems to be a lot of naiveté on the part of those advocating for Industrial wind in Vermont.

Firstly: The eastern part of the United States has poor onshore wind resources. The areas with the best wind resources in this country are the mid-west and the mountain areas to the west. That is why Texas is often used as a shining example. Vermont is not Texas. To confirm this simply look at a map of the wind regimes of the United States.

Because of the increase in wind turbine size, to capture the light winds, rotational rates (revolutions per minute or rpm) and the blade pass frequencies (BPF) have dropped into the range of motion sickness identified in ISO 9996:2000, as occurring at 0.1 to 1 Hz and observed in naval research on motion sickness. ‘Naval studies identified acceleration oscillations in the range of 0.1 to 1 Hz as associated with motion sickness, with sickness strongest at about 0.2 Hz.

The association of acoustic oscillations to motion sickness was documented in studies of large wind turbine noise emissions by Dr. Paul Schomer.’ wp-content/uploads/2008/11/kamperman-james-1028-08.pdf These sound levels are very low (infrasound) and are not even measured for consideration in the siting of industrial wind turbines. The trend has been larger turbines in closer proximity to people. Swanton Wind exemplifies this with the largest proposed turbines (499’) located the closest to homes (1,877’) in the State of Vermont. This is why setbacks are so important.

Secondly: These large turbines do not simply start spinning on their own when the wind begins to blow. Electric motors are used to jump start them. That is why at times you will see a few turbines turning while the others are not. In light winds, they can be constantly searching for enough wind to start spinning on their own and not generating any power- in fact using power. And in gusty winds they are constantly feathering the blades to spill the strong gusts to prevent damage. In general, large industrial wind turbines, 2 megawatt (MW) for example, need 7 MPH winds to begin generation 11 MPH winds for 50% output and 17+ MPH for 100% output. So, the number of houses they claim to supply can be reduced by two thirds.

Thirdly: It cannot automatically be assumed that every proposed industrial wind project is sited in an appropriate location. The eastern United States is densely populated and industrial wind turbines are not compatible with people. So randomly locating industrial wind projects with regard only to the accessibility of three phase transmission lines is not a well thought out renewable energy plan. The pace at which these projects are proposed will only quicken as subsides and production tax credits, which make them feasible, are sun set in 2019.

Fourthly: Because of the poor wind resource here in the east these industrial wind turbines are inefficient and what they produce for power is held in secret by the wind industry claiming; “competitive business information”. So, they are obviously not proud of these production numbers. This was revealed by Amazon at their Elizabeth City NC location amazon-perpetuates-misleading-claims-aboutwind- farm/ where along with Avangrid /Iberdrola they have erected 104 two MW 492-foot-tall turbines over an area of 22,000 acres. Amazon claims the power from these turbines powers their data centers near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. The intermittent energy from this wind generation facility can’t supply the actual demand of the data centers and is not used there. Richmondbased Dominion Power provides retail electricity to Amazon’s data centers in Virginia and they say that power in 2015 consisted of 30% nuclear, 26% coal and 23% natural gas. Renewables — including solar, wind, and hydro — constituted 3%, and these data centers will continue to operate in the future with the same mix of fuel types that power other Dominion customers.

According to Dominion, onshore wind provides only 13% of its nameplate capacity as “firm capacity” which is available for use on the regional electric grid. This large industrial wind turbine project is just a marketing effort by Amazon to distinguish themselves from their competition- Microsoft and Google. A marketing ploy using a massive wind project for which Amazon won’t even disclose the production numbers to the government, who provided the subsidies for the project, claiming they are “protecting trade practices and secrets”.

Wind energy is very inefficient and requires large areas of land to counter these inadequacies. What Bill McKibben and his fellow professor friend Mark Jacobson have proposed for wind turbine capacity to supply the United States would require 33 times the land area of the state of Vermont. So, what’s the plan? Start with Vermont and use it as a template.

Dennis Hendy, Fairfield

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