Letters to the Editor

Wind advocate

August 7, 2008

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To the editor:

Russell Mesler's "Take a Stand" (Journal-World, Aug. 2) attack against wind power is full of misinformation and mistakes. He gets his information from National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank that denies humans cause global warming and is funded by conservative foundations and especially companies like Exxon.

He complains about tax credits that support development of wind power, when the subsidies for wind power amount to less than 1 percent of the subsidies for fossil fuel companies. Mesler conveniently leaves out the economic damage done by CO2 emissions as revealed in the Stern Report prepared by the world's best scientists and economists.

Wind is the lowest-cost source of electricity and wouldn't need tax credits if the environmental, economic and health care damage done by fossil fuels was added to your electric bill instead of showing up as insurance rates, hospital bills, military actions ($600 billion Iraq war) and Superfund clean-ups.

Wind isn't reliable but it is predictable, which allows for efficient delivery of its power. Technologies like compressed air energy storage will make wind power a source of baseload power.

Joe Spease,

Lawrence

Comments

lawrencian 6 years, 11 months ago

I am a firm believer in wind power, and the fact that it can be used effectively. Everyone I know who has a windmill is, when there is a breeze, constantly generating more energy than they can actually use, and effectively end up "selling" their power back to the utilities. That more than makes up for the fact that on a few days, it might not generate enough to be effective. Also, it seems like a silly argument to me that the energy can't be "stored" -- neither can the energy at the power plant north of town, which is why there is a plume of black smoke rising there 24/7. On a recent trip up I-35 to Minnesota, I enjoyed the part of my drive that went through a wind farm in Iowa -- there were so many I couldn't count them all, but it certainly wasn't anything that was like "martians" landing here. On a more practical note, wind turbines don't have to be a monster windmill. There are some really practical small vertical wind turbines that can be installed on many a rooftop. Noiseless, and a huge impact on our "carbon footprint" I suspect!

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

northtown, thanks for replying with some facts. Not that it'll make any difference to people like lawrencian. I was hoping some of these "one-size-fits-all" people would present some facts to support their imaginings of cheaper wind power. They didn't as they want to hide the fact it costs more.I'm not saying there shouldn't be "research" into alternative power. That's how it can become a reality at some future time. But it is dishonest of those to say it's power we should suddenly switch over to and be happy with paying 3-6 times higher costs when coal is the best way of generating that power. That's as shortsighted as saying, "Because I rent!" and therefore concluding they can't have a wind turbine, even though it's supposed to generate all this excessive power and a landlord would love to be left with such an asset (if true) or otherwise work out a deal. Of such people, well....

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

gr,here are some facts for you.www.windenergy.com And while it may seem expensive at first it does pay for itself longterm and then some. Read the testimonials for proof from real customers.Here is a video and it's even Fox, for those of you so scared of change.http://www.windenergy.com/news/video/FoxBusinessNews.wmv

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Cato, your reply lacks merit and is simply sniping. You stated that wind power is not practical. I replied to the contrary with evidence from industry and how they smooth out the wind regime. It seems your distaste for wind may be visual-to which there is no argument to be made on something that subjective. That's ok-just come out and say it.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

"Everyone I know who has a windmill is, when there is a breeze, constantly generating more energy than they can actually use,"Wow! That's a first I've heard. Maybe you can provide more information. Something like total kilowatts used, total produced, gross power sold back."neither can the energy at the power plant north of town,"Actually, it can be stored. It's stored in the form of coal. The reason they have to be generating power is incase someone flips a switch. Besides, saying there is smoke rising, says nothing since you use electricity 24/7."There are some really practical small vertical wind turbines that can be installed on many a rooftop."And why don't you have one???

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

You guys are so behind, Cato, it past the experimental stages and is now in full production mode, come on now keep up. As far as "storage" a professor from MIT has found a way to store energy through photosynthesis much like how plants do it, Don't ask me how as I am not a scientist, but he claims it is cheap and easy, this will revolutionize solar energy. He said nothing about wind power but full details are yet to be released. Wind equals energy equals dollars, is that so hard to figure out. And for northtown, you need a better tower and that will solve your falling down in strong wind problem.(concrete the thing in if you have to.) Some people buy the smaller models because they are cheaper even though the wind in their area may be too strong for the smaller model. See if you can trade it in or sell it for a bigger windmill that can handle strong winds but still produce in light winds.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Cat, I am puzzled how you can state that wind "..still in the experimental state." In Denmark the wind penetration is over 20% of the electric grid without benefit of storage and it is moving towards a goal of 30%. Kansas will soon have nameplate capacity of almost 15% of its average annual electric usage provided by wind and that is without a government mandate to do so. What percent by your definition is something no longer experimental? I still believe you need to admit you do have some problems with the visual impact of large wind turbines. Again, nothing wrong with that as that is personal taste-but it is part of your viewpoint.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 11 months ago

Here's some research to back you up, Agnostick. It's sad that this forum is not more of a discussion rather than serial name-calling, but for those interested in actually seeing if a mix of renewables is a viable alternative to building more coal and nuke plants, the numbers are quite encouraging. It turns out that the problem of intermittent power supply that seemed to face sources like wind and solar can be addressed so well that its reliability can rival or even exceed coal and nukes. Check out the research:http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Palmintier_SolarandWindinNGU(SOLAR2008).pdf

lawrencian 6 years, 11 months ago

gr (Anonymous) says:"Wow! That's a first I've heard. Maybe you can provide more information. Something like total kilowatts used, total produced, gross power sold back."------- Honestly, I've heard that anecdotally, and would not like to make up statistics just to satisfy you. But it was worth mentioning, since that is what I most often hear from folks who do own windmills."It's stored in the form of coal. The reason they have to be generating power is incase someone flips a switch. "--------- The whole point of increasing wind energy is to reduce our dependence on things like coal. I'm absolutely certain that a windmill has less environmental impact than the power plant!"Besides, saying there is smoke rising, says nothing since you use electricity 24/7."---------- Not always true, but then you don't know me, so how would you know??? I try to turn everything off and unplug unneeded items as often as possible. I also turn off the A/C unless the temperatures climb above 85 inside my home - can you say the same?"There are some really practical small vertical wind turbines that can be installed on many a rooftop."And why don't you have one???----------- Because I rent! The first time I can afford a house, I'll be doing just that, and probably making other improvements to be as energy efficient as possible. Solar water heating, solar panels, passive solar modifications, and the aforementioned rooftop wind turbines.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Belexus, if you want to build wind turbines all over the country so that most of North America looks as though the Martians have landed and that we are in the middle of "The War of the Worlds," then you should first contact the artist "Christo," as he's usually out of work.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

To Cato and Joe- Compressed air storage is being experimented with wind as the driving force for compressed air storage at a location in Iowa. It has previously been used with natural gas in Alabama. I think both of you have made assumptions that have not been proven one way or another yet. Let's have the data come in from this site up north and then begin drawing some conclusions. Cato, you're comment that wind is not practical flies in the face of all the wind installations going up in the United States and the world. Again, as I have said before, if you spread the turbines out over several sites, the wind oscillations will smooth themselves out-the developers and utilities know this and that is why they will put their money in it.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

"that denies humans cause global warming"Do you have any proof that humans do cause global warming?"Mesler conveniently leaves out the economic damage done by CO2 emissions as revealed in the Stern Report prepared by the world's best scientists and economists."What damage do CO2 emissions do?"Wind is the lowest-cost source of electricity"If that isn't a lie, then why isn't the majority of our electricity produced by wind?"if the environmental, economic and health care damage done by fossil fuels was added to your electric bill"Ah.... qualifier. And those can always be manipulated into greater costs no matter what the current electric rates are."Wind isn't reliable but it is predictable"Would that be predictably unreliable?

acoupstick 6 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps wind and solar power will eventually be used to create hydrogen gas, effectively storing that energy to be used in fuel cells for homes and/or cars.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Joe, there is no effective way to store the energy. Compressed air energy storage is both unreliable and potentially dangerous. The bottom line is that If the windmills aren't turning, you've got no energy. It's not practical. Engineers know this. End of story.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

No, Belexus, I stand by what I originally said. As you stated, compressed air storage is in the experimental stage. As you also said, turbines need to be "spread out over several sites." In the minds of the critics of wind power, those "several sites" would up being as ubiquitous as Thomas Edison's multitudinous powerhouses and many thousands of individual electrical wires spread all over New York City before Nikola Tesla's alternating current theory was adopted and modern generators and power lines were born. If there is a Tesla out there who can discover how to make wind power practical, fine. Until then, it's still in the experimental stage. In the meantime, the citizens and businesses that make this country run require electrical power, which is best generated by coal-fired and nuclear plants.

Marcus DeMond 6 years, 11 months ago

I would believe this guy over the wind haters on this forum. Watch the short video.http://www.pickensplan.com/

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Belexus, I never stated that the unsightly appearance of these turbines had no impact on my point of view on the subject, which may be the only thing on which Senator Kennedy and I apparently agree. Based on what I posted earlier and the views of many who agree with Senator Kennedy, it's part of the equation - but what is most objectionable is the current propaganda that "wind power" can be made to provide the lion's share of our energy in the near future, which is patently ridiculous. I recognize that "wind power" at present might be perhaps a tertiary source in certain limited situations, but it's simply not ready for prime time. I'm also suspicious of many of its advocates, who frequently exaggerate the present utility of this source simply because of their misguided beliefs in the ubiquitously-floated myths about carbon emissions causing the destruction of Planet Earth. Tell you what, Belexus: Why don't you consider spending your time instead in trying to raise capital from investors - I suggest that you first contact Daytrader, who claims to be loaded and will be quite pleased to confirm that to you himself - to scrap all engine-powered seagoing vessels, and return to utilizing clipper ships for all of the world's trans-oceanic shipping. The "Flying Cloud" was one of the most enjoyable ship models I ever made some years ago, and the days of clipper ships still hold a great romantic attraction for many. Good luck.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

Daytrader: present some facts then on cost and payback. Why do you refuse? Otherwise, quit your yacking.Excuse me belexus:Wind is not the lowest cost of electricity or we would be using it - if allowed to.

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

Anonymous usergr (Anonymous) says: Wind is not the lowest cost electricity or we would be using it. There wouldn't be an argument, there would be lines of companies creating most of our power from it..............................................................................We have been using it, for a few thousand years actually, and yes the utility companies from around the world have been placing orders in the billions for wind turbines. Just because they haven't been installed overnight doesn't mean they are not on the way.This is what we call the difference between dumb money (gr) and smart money (Me) gr only sees the facts that supports his (false) conclusions, and I see facts that makes business sense or money for short. Of course when it comes to wind and solar I am long.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

Daytrader, northtown's tower blowing down was just one of the problems. Why didn't you address the others? Were they not so easy to knock down?I must be missing something, but of the two testimonials I saw in the link, one said it was "somewhat affordable" and the other said one day they purchased no power. I did see the wind map showing there is more than 9MPH winds here. That's a start.The main link had a segment on high electric bills. It said, "The cost of a turbine large enough to power a whole home ranges from $12,000 to $55,000, depending on the size you need." At 8 cents per Kilowatt hour, that would be 150,000 hours. Say you use about 500 KWH per month, that would be 300 months or 25 years for break even. But, wait. The Skystream model only generates up to 500 KWH in a "good wind". Guess it might take a few more years. And then, what are the maintenance costs and lifetime?So, I don't see many hard-core facts. And such facts presented are not favorable. Northtown presented some. Why didn't you? This was you chance. Why did you blow it?autie, how many summer evenings does the wind blow in Kansas?Spease, just because scientists tag some isotopes of CO2, found them in the atmosphere, doesn't mean the man-made nor the natural CO2 is causing global warming. Spouting about how global warming is "bad" does not mean that we caused it. Just because someone is spending billions of dollars on an imagined threat, does not mean we caused it.Then pleading that death to our soldiers is some reason we should do something, doesn't mean that we caused it, nor can stop it. You are just giving emotional tripe.Wind is not the lowest cost electricity or we would be using it. There wouldn't be an argument, there would be lines of companies creating most of our power from it. Coal plants have been canceled because of irrational wackos.Just because people seek to take advantage of wackos, doesn't mean it is a legitimate reason. When the sebils of the world prevent coal plants from maintaining our power needs, doesn't mean when people see the wackos are going to ruin the world and they put their money elsewhere, doesn't mean it's the best.You never dealt with "predictably unreliable". You may be right, we could produce enough power in the Midwest. But at what higher costs? You say the cost of wind never changes. Don't know what you mean by that statement other than it is higher now but may get cheaper in the future.

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

Anonymous usergr (Anonymous) says:So, I don't see many hard-core facts. And such facts presented are not favorable. Northtown presented some. Why didn't you? This was you chance. Why did you blow it?------------------------------------------------------From what I read from Northtowns "Hard core facts" is something along the lines of We use two wind turbines on the farm.Have no problem with storageBut so far so good,keep house and barns supplied with no problemBut the wind does work,and help,gr, I think the only thing you read was his tower blowing over (in which I suggested concreting a better one in the ground) and the repair cost, (possibly from falling over due to a cheap tower?) Also having a stationary turbine in a sporadic wind area is not good either so maybe he has the wrong model for his location. If your looking for the bolt on $99 dollar kit from wal mart forget it, this is an investment which allows you to save on your monthly energy bill and a penny saved is a penny earned and so, if you do it right, you will eventually get your money back and thats a fact Jack. And in no case have I seen it to be more than 10 to 12 years, average is 5 to 7 years. And then think of all that free profit afterwards............

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

And since you hate wind so much why not talk about the sun. "Hey, now there is another free energy source"Ladies and GentlemenThe Future Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Gr....some clarification on your quote, " Wind is not the lowest cost of electricity or we would be using it. You are mixing up the cost of power that is already installed and new installations. A an older coal plant will be cheaper than almost anything but energy efficiency investments. However, if you look at the costs of a new coal plant versus a new wind plant-the scenario changes greatly. Thus it greatly weakens the "or we would be using it" statement. We are using it and unless I miss my guess there will be another announced wind purchase in Kansas by the end of the year by a utility. It looks like we are using it as Westar, Empire, Sunflower, Midwest, BPU, and KCPL are all involved in wind projects in Kansas. As far as the costs of wind never changing, I believe the writer was inferring to the fuel costs being 0. The installation costs are certainly tied to various factors as are other types of power installations.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

GR, a good question, "If coal is more expensive, why is anyone wanting to use it?" Because there are other factors than price when a utility looks at new power generation. If the location is in a class two or worse wind regime there may very well be transmission difficulties that disallow investment in wind. Next, if the utility is in such an area, they will be hesitant to get involved in a power source (wind) that they have not dealt with before. Third, they may be able to make more money if the PUC grants them the ability to recover all the costs of a more expensive coal plant. 12% of a billion dollars is more than 12% of 750 million dollars.

Charles L Bloss Jr 6 years, 11 months ago

I like wind, and I like it as an electricity source. Thank you, Lynn

Daytrader23 6 years, 11 months ago

(Anonymous) says:Daytrader: present some facts then on cost and payback. Why do you refuse?To many variations due to localized wind conditions, model selected and average energy consumption to give number set in stone, but I have laid out some pretty hard facts which I doubt that you read any. And whats with "your" facts gr? Where are they? LOL

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Gr-I did not state that wind is the cheapest form of energy. I stated that it is less expensive than a new coal powered installation but not an older coal plant already being used. Do you see the difference? I am talking about new installation. I can't understand your point, "or we would be using it." We are using it-it is the fastest form of new power installation for electricity in the United States and in Kansas. All of our private utilities, and the bigger cooperatives have invested in wind projects rather than coal or nuclear plants. All of these investments were done before the KDHE decision on Holcomb II. I think you may be mixing small-scale wind power to assist a home or business to utility-scaled projects. I am only speaking of utility scale projects. Small wind still has some ground to cover but some of it will be made up when Congress and the new President enact a cap-and-trade system next year.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

"I did not state that wind is the cheapest form of energy.But, Spease did. Or he didn't. Hard to tell."I am talking about new installation. I can't understand your point, "or we would be using it." "That's why I said, "allowed to"."We are using it-it is the fastest form of new power installation for electricity in the United States and in Kansas. "Maybe I'm lost here. If that's true, why the discussion? Why the need to be a "wind advocate"? If coal is more expensive, why is anyone wanting to use that? Why would anyone be against cheap power? Why is Texas building new coal plants if wind is cheaper and can provide all our power needs? Why don't people like daytrader give any hard facts but create all this secrecy and vagueness without even giving a simple example of cost? Why do the few people who do have wind power talk about how it costs more?I don't know.But, makes one suspect....

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Cato, while I agree that wind power cannot provide the "lion's share" of our electricity in the near future, I have not seen too many people advancing that point. The mainstream thinking is 20-30 percent of our electric grid could be provided by wind as a fuel source. That is not a lion's share-but it is most certainly "ready for prime time" borrowing your phrasing. As far as raising capital goes, Wall Street seems to be doing well without me as far as loaning wind developers and utilities money to install more wind capacity at or near record development. Being in Kansas, I am probably not best suited towards working on trans-oceanic shipping. However, if I can spend my winters in the Caribbean working on this project I will consider it.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 11 months ago

Cato, thanks-let me know about ship designing opportunities in St. Lucia or Barbados......

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Belexus, I enjoyed your response. I'm sure we both share the same goals, regardless of how we advocate getting there.

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