Quantcast
Opinion

Letter: Wind power good for U.S.

Comments

Return To Article
  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    July 21, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    With natural gas and wind displacing coal and nuclear energy across the country, many in those industries are promoting myths and outmoded beliefs about renewable energy in an attempt to halt their inevitable growth.

    Coal's contribution to electricity in America has dropped from about 50 percent to below 40 percent over the past five years. In Utah, coal is being threatened because California is cutting off its coal contracts by 2025, and IPP is already planning to convert its coal-fired power plant to gas as to not lose its California customers.

    Aside from being clean, the risk and economic benefit of wind is its price stability. It will never have a carbon or clean up "tax" that everyone fears over coal and natural gas. With California facing a $1 billion price tag to shut one of its nuclear plants -- a cost that will be SOCIALIZED among all ratepayers -- citizens want price-stable energy that won't have a clean up price tag later on.

    Because electricity isn't a free market, the ONLY way to get utilities to switch to cleaner, price-stable energy is by government policies, such as the PTC mentioned here, along with state requirements.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    July 21, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    Why aren't wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    July 21, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    Thank you for your informative letter. Unfortunately, for many, they'd rather promote their political agenda using factless ideological dogma than allow facts to form and morph their opinions.

    So thank you for giving us the facts rather than cheap political points and AM radio vitriol.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    July 21, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Thank you for correcting those inaccuracies (lies) propagated by the "Oil Derrick Huggers"
    If we could get more of these farms, like the one by Milford producing for Utah We could set an example as good stewards, instead of a race to the bottom of the hole.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 21, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    @Mountanman
    Hayden, ID

    Why aren't wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds?
    7:28 a.m. July 21, 2013

    =========

    Associated bird deaths per year (U.S.)

    Feral and domestic cats -- 1 Billion
    Power lines -- 130 million to 174 million
    Windows (residential and commercial) -- 1 billion
    Pesticides -- 70 million
    Automobiles -- 60 million to 80 million
    Lighted communication towers -- 50 million
    Wind turbines -- 40,000

    THAT's Why

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    July 21, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    Wind turbines DO NOT replace other sources of electricity "1 to 1" because the wind does not always blow. Behind every wind farm there MUST be a traditional power source, or the lights will all go out when winds are calm.

    Redundant systems like wind are an unnecessary expense. Money would be better spent on 100% nuclear power. It has a 60 year safety record and works no matter what the weather.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 21, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    "Why aren't wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds?"

    Same reason drivers of cars are prosecuted fro killing dear out of season and birds as well. This is a really weak argument. I would start pulling on another straw here.

    If killing "nature" is criminalized, and the cost of it is passed on to the rate payer..... just wait to see what your price per barrel ends up being. We could start with how many animals were killed at Deep Sea Horizon, or Exxon mess. We can add the great salt lake spill... the Oklahoma spill.....

    And to really cap things off.... lets add up the cost in human life in the Quebec rail accident.

    Or even better yet, lets discuss that the oil industry average 30.5 per 100,000 workers (404 fatalities) , approximately seven times the rate for all workers (4.0 per 100,000 workers). We can decide.....birds.... or people. How many were charged for those worker deaths? You worry about birds....

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 21, 2013 2:21 p.m.

    @Thinkin\' Man
    Rexburg, ID

    =======

    A couple problems with your 'Thinkin'

    1. Wind turbines DO replace other sources of electricity "1 to 1" - on AVERAGE.
    When the wind blows they generate excess and is transmitted to the national power grid.

    2. Behind every wind farm there MUST be a traditional power source, or the lights will all go out when winds are calm.
    [Just like there already is with coal, natural gas, geo-thermal and hydro. There is no such thing as a single source power grid.]

    3. Redundant systems like wind are an unnecessary expense. Money would be better spent on 100% nuclear power. It has a 60 year safety record and works no matter what the weather.
    [Redundant systems is precisely what we already have. Coal, natural gas, geo, hydro and nuclear. Wind just ADDS to the established system.
    BTW - Nuclear can not ramp up and down with the demand. Every Nuclear system is considered baseline, and must be augmented with either Hydro or coal fed systems for peak loads during the DAY - Which just so happens to be precisely when God made Solar and Wind available to come on line. Co-incidence?]

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    July 21, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    Did any of you liberals bother to look at this woman's credentials? She is from the American Wind Energy Association. Therefore using AGW arguments, she has ZERO credibility. She might as well be from the tobacco industry telling us that cigarettes are not harmful.

    Can you liberals explain why we should listen to her propaganda that is only being produced to support a liberal agenda that makes it so that only the wealthy can afford electricity, and that destroys migratory bird routes? Also, why go to wind power when recent studies have shown that the noise is harmful to people too?

    Plus, her piece forgets to mention the fact that wind gets over $22/Megawatt Hour in direct subsidies, while nuclear get $1.59 in subsidies. Why keep trying to use a 1700s technology?

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    July 21, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    When someone calls a substance ESSENTIAL for plant life “pollution” they lose all credibility.

    Baron,
    Natural gas is NOT a renewable source – nice obfuscation, the same thing you accuse those with whom you disagree of doing.

    A carbon “tax” can only come to fruition if the chicken littles of the world have their alarmist way.

    Maverick,
    Thank YOU for continuing to promote your political agenda – as you accuse others of doing. Is 43% a majority yet?

    Thinkin man,
    Don’t confuse the alarmists with truth

    LDS? Lib,
    You say behind every wind farm is a traditional source – OK, so we now have twice the expense. Tell me, are YOU voluntarily paying the additional charge for “green” energy?

    Though I do agree with your apparent support of nuclear energy.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    July 21, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    Fossil fuels have a limited life span. It makes sense that we begin developing alternatives now. Other alternatives are more use of geothermal, including Yellowstone if we are serious about global warming. New nuclear power plants are engineered to be much saver, they are inherently stable, and not dependent on operators doing the right thing in order that there not be an accident. Conservation is also an other viable option. Cars and other energy users can be made more efficient.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    July 21, 2013 6:36 p.m.

    @ LDS Liberal. You used fictitious, made up numbers which you can not back up. Wind turbines kill around 600,000 birds annually according to a recently published scholarly article in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. But the number is likely higher. I am not opposed to wind generated electricity but I find it interesting that Exxon-Mobile was fined over one half million dollars recently because 85 birds were killed in an open oil container but nothing is mentioned about the birds windmills kill.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    July 21, 2013 9:15 p.m.

    Is wind energy cost efficient? Does anyone really know the impact they have on birds flight paths, as well as deaths caused by them? How expensive is the maintenance? (We can all see those little stairs each installment has going up to a door to an access to the turning mechanism when it fails.) I don't have the answers, and a doubt very much the author of the article does either, or wouldn't share them if she did.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    July 22, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    Just one honest question to the AM radio listeners...

    Exactly why is clean, free, green, renewable energy such a bad thing for us to pursue and for future generations?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 22, 2013 7:01 a.m.

    I drive past the "wind farm" in the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon several times a week. Rarely are all the turbines working. If there's enough wind for one turbine, why isn't there enough wind for all the turbines? For years, I drove past the Alta Wind Energy Center in Tehachapi Pass near Mohave, CA. The same problem was evident there.

    The wind doesn't always blow. When it does blow, not all of the turbines generate electricity. What about the excess electricity? Where is that stored? Is it stored in batteries for future use or do the turbines depend on an exisiting coal or gas grid being nearby so that they can dump their electricity on to that existing grid?

    If the goal is to get away from fossil fuels, then how will excess electricity be stored? Unlike coal, gas and water, the wind can't be made to blow when people need power. How is that electricity going to be stored? Who is going to clean up the toxic waste from those batteries?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    July 22, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    To "LDS Tree-Hugger" persuing it isn't bad, but adopting an unproven and unreliable technology that requires a redundant power source is bad.

    If you want a renewable power source, why not adopt more nuclear power? The fuel is recyclable, it is not dependant on nature for production peaks, and produces no CO2.

    The ironic thing is that most of the "tree huggers" are violently opposed to building nuclear power plants.

    We should continue to persue green energy, but until it can compete with coal, gas, or nuclear power it should remain in the research lab and for those that want to pay the full market price of the green power sources.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    July 22, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    It seems rather hard to find out exactly what things cost. I love to see a wind farm, but I have read wind is three times the cost of nuclear or coal or natural gas. If so it is not a viable alternative. This article was favorable to wind, but did not seem to have the facts I need to make an opinion.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 22, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    @lost in DC – “When someone calls a substance ESSENTIAL for plant life “pollution” they lose all credibility.”

    Is it credible to point out that (synthetic chemicals notwithstanding) they are ALL natural substances? That’s not the point…

    The point is what is the equilibrium balance of any substance needed to sustain the life that evolved in that balance?

    Or simpler still – lock yourself in an airtight box tonight and let us know in the morning if this concept of balance of atmospheric gases is still unclear.

    @Redshirt1701 – “why not adopt more nuclear power… produces no CO2.”

    Wait, I thought CO2 was ESSENTIAL (i.e., totally awesome!)?

    You and lost in DC need to get on the same page… one of you didn’t get the talking points memo.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    July 22, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    Tyler
    unlike libs, who get their talking points from msnbc and george soros, redshirt and I do not walk in lock-step. But whether or not nuclear plants produce CO2 is irrelevant to the discussion about whether it is pollution or not. Nice obfuscation. Tactic well learned.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    July 22, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    To "Tyler D" when explaining things to tree huggers, you have to use terms they understand. To say talk in terms of power density, cost, efficiency, and so forth are useless with environmentalists. However, when you start to talk about CO2 emissions, they pay attention. Personally, I don't think that eliminating CO2 emissions will change anything since 98% of CO2 comes from natural sources.

    You also have to consider the goal of "green" energy, which is to reduce CO2 emissions. Don't you find it ironic that the best source of power that has no CO2 emissions is not supported by the green energy supporters.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 22, 2013 10:43 a.m.

    Definition of Pollution – “the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change, and can be either foreign substances or naturally occurring.”

    Please note the last two words in the definition…

    Looks like we’re both learning today… for me, it was your preference for ad hominem and your equivocation on the relevant issue at hand (i.e., balance of environmental substances).

    Do you have a different definition of pollution, or do you just want to keep pushing your “CO2 (as one component of man-made emissions) in not pollution” line of…?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 22, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 – “… since 98% of CO2 comes from natural sources.”

    True, but the relevant issue is the balance in the natural carbon cycle. There is overwhelming evidence that the amount of CO2 we have contributed since the industrial revolution cannot be absorbed by the natural cycle (around 40% can) and so the rest remains in the atmosphere (atmospheric CO2 is at its highest level in 20 million years and reached this level at an extremely fast rate compared to past changes).

    Carbon based energy may be part of our energy sources for a long time to come, but ideally, it would be reduced to a level that can be handled by the natural carbon cycle.

    Nuclear solves this problem but the waste material is a problem because 1) it is deadly and 2) it stays around for thousands of years (and no one wants it in their backyard).

    If we were in a compromising mood, perhaps Dems would agree to allow some nuclear while Reps would agree to fund alternative energy research.

    RE – “speaking to people in terms they can understand” - brother, you’re preaching to the choir.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 22, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    @Redshirt1701 – “… since 98% of CO2 comes from natural sources.”

    Here's the problem... perusing any dataset (the longest is the Mauna Loa one which shows a consistent annual cycle and increase from year to year in CO2) shows that it's been increasing to levels unseen in hundreds of thousands of years. So, there's an anthropogenic component but how can that be if your numbers are accurate? Well, let's say that there's 300 units of CO2 in the atmosphere, that nature produces 98 units of CO2 each year, humans produce 2 units of CO2. What if nature only removes 98 units of CO2 each year? Then the next year you're starting with a base state of 302. Then the following year 304 if this trend continues which it appears to have in some form based on datasets like Mauna Loa.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    July 22, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    To "Tyler D" but how can we balance the carbon cycle, when we don't even understand it in the first place? See "NASA hopes to track disappearing CO2" in the DN. In there you find that "Thirty billion tons of carbon dioxide waft into the air from the burning of fossil fuels each year. About half of the 30 billion tons stays in the air. The other half disappears. Where it all goes, nobody quite knows."

    Can you explain how we balance nature if we don't even know where 50% of the CO2 goes?

    To "atl134" those are not my numbers, but NASA's numbers. If you disagree with them, take it up with NASA. The problem with your analogy is that we don't understand the carbon cycle. Some years nature sucks up all the carbon emitted and then some, but other years it doesn't. So tell us, how are we supposed to balance a cycle that we don't understand?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 22, 2013 5:28 p.m.

    "Can you liberals explain why we should listen to her propaganda that is only being produced to support a liberal agenda that makes it so that only the wealthy can afford electricity, and that destroys migratory bird routes?"

    And your sources are who.... and they without agenda? Really?

    Migratory birds are really the issue here. Do you know how many bird strikes there are by aircraft each year. One such bird strike ended up with an Airbus in the Hudson River. Should Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger, III have been charged with killing a bird? Perhaps we should just shut down the airports?

    If bird deaths is really such a big deal... then

    "During the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, biologists initially counted about 30,000 affected birds, but that number later soared to 250,000"

    On incident - 250k birds. So by your guys complaints.... shale we also shut down oil? BP Spill... 82,000 migratory birds, 1700 turtles, 650 dolphins.... and still counting. And there have been many many other spills since.

    I am not anti oil... they pay me my paycheck. But this birds/windmill argument is completely contextless... and silly.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    July 23, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" lets do a simple comparison of average costs and average uptime.

    Nuclear costs $112/MWh and has a 90% capacity factor. Wind costs $96/MWh, but has a 30% capacity factor. That means for wind to have the same capacity factor, it would cost $288/MWh. What do you think would happen if you trippled the cost of the electricity?

    Now, can you imagine what the cost would be if your power grid depended on wind and solar ($156.9/MWh with 25% capacity factor)? How many poor people could run their AC if their power bills jumped from $100/month to $300/month or more?

    As for the number of birds killed and the migration routs that are destroyed read the Forbes article "Angry Birds? No, But Obama's Wind Energy Subsidies Have Them Very Frightened" there are 600,000 birds killed each year by wind turbines. What do you think will happen if we get more turbines?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 23, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    @Redshirt1701 – “600,000 birds killed each year by wind turbines.”

    Show of hands – how many think those on the Right are genuinely concerned with bird deaths? If they are (not) I suggest they first focus on cats…

    @Redshirt1701 – “Can you explain how we balance nature if we don't even know where 50% of the CO2 goes?”

    Not sure what your point is here. If you’re suggesting that science needs to understand everything involved in a process/mechanism before we act… well, I guess by that standard we would be obliged to toss out virtually all modern medical care.

    Seems to me the only relevant issue is that we do know the natural carbon cycle is overloaded. What more do we need to understand?

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    July 23, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    To "Tyler D" Most people on the right are raising their hands. Concern for the environment is something that conservatives believe in also. We want to leave nice places for our kids to live in and see.

    Here is why you need to understand the CO2 cycle. We can't know what the impact of additional CO2 will be if we don't understand where it will go. At what point is the natural carbon cycle overloaded? How can you predict when it will be overloaded if you don't know how it is used and re-used? Think of it like a large train set that is set in a big looping path. If you can only see one small 3 ft section, do you know how big the entire path it?

    We only have a 50% picture of the carbon cycle, and now we are trying to manipulate it. Would you let an electrician wire you house if he was going to make it up as he goes 50% of the time?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 23, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Wow..... we have all kids of Redshirts around now days.

    Anyway.... which ever Redshirt.... first of all, I am not anti-Nuke, but anyone who thinks our future energy supply is going to be 100% has been around the glowing rods just a little too long. So called "generation" cost are only a very small factor to the total cost of these plants. Lets leave the who environment side out of this... to some extent. The simple cost of decommissioning a Nuke when it reaches EoL is astronomical.

    For example, the UK has 14 nukes that powers 20% of the nation. Of those, all will go end of life by 2023. The cost of mothball these plants.... 16 billion dollar us.

    Nuke is a viable component to our energy matrix... but it is very costly, and scale poorly. Other energy forms need to be in the mix to balance it. You can't build cheap nukes.... the smallest is still billions to build. wind, solar, wave, natural gas all scale very well, and can incrementally be built to match demand.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    July 23, 2013 1:10 p.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" yes nuke plants have a limited life, but using new technology, the costs for decomissioning is dropping, along with increases in safety and reliability.

    You can build "cheap" nukes. The big reactor designers and builders have designed "small" reactors. See NY Times "The Next Nuclear Reactor May Arrive Hauled by a Truck" where they explain the small reactors. The cost would be significantly less to remove a small reactor than it is to decomission the current large reactors. Again, savings costs through small scale.

    You have also ignored the fact that the cost to decomission the plant is covered in the operating costs for the nuclear power plant. So, what difference does it make if by producing power with nukes if the price of the power already includes decomissioning?

    The overall cost per megawatt is about equal for wind or nuclear because of the capacity factor of wind being so low.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 23, 2013 2:10 p.m.

    Redshirt - you can't have it both ways. You can't factor in planned future cost of operation for Nukes, then not do the same math for other energy sources. Cost per KWh for solar and wind have been falling at a faster rathe than nukes. Nukes were given 60 years to get to their effectiveness.... and yet people want to kill emerging technologies because they haven't reached that same efficiency in a fraction of the time.

    To the cost side.... no.... those cost are not all included. THe nuclear industry has revived over 100 billion in super funds allocated for clean up and containment, that is not recorded as "cost" for those plants. We, the people, are paying for the decommissioning and securing of these sites.

    Again, I am not anti nuke, but lets be reasonable here. Nuclear power has been and is one of the most subsidized energy sources yet. If the automotive industry had their basic research funded like nuclear has been, we would all be driving cars that got 150 mpg. Billions of DoE and DoD dollars have been funneled to this industry.

    Lets at least talk apples to apples here.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 23, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    Wind farms are not a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions anytime in this generation. The manufacture, transportation and assembly of wind farms uses good old conventional energy sources, including lots of fossil fuels. Setting up a wind farm results in an immediate INCREASE in greenhouse gas emissions, and because it takes years for CO2 to come out of the atmosphere, it can take two or three decades before there is any net decrease in CO2 from the establishment of a wind farm.

    In the meantime, have you noticed that the news media no longer publish charts showing the global average temperature? It has been 15 years since there was any stable increase in temperatures. Contrary to the predictions made by ALL of the global warming comoputer models used by the UN, despite the steady increase in CO2, there has been NO increase in global temperatures since 1998! There is something very wrong about global warming theory. If they can't predict 15 years ahead, why should we trust their forecast for 100 years ahead? Theories that are not validated by reality are NOT SCIENCE.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    July 23, 2013 4:16 p.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" according to the NRC, the operating costs of a nuclear power plant include decomissioning cost. See th NRC website, under the "Student Corner - Decomissioning" where the NRC clearly states "Since it may cost $300 million or more to shut down and decommission a plant, the NRC requires plant owners to set aside money when the plant is still operating to pay for the future shutdown costs." Are you saying that the government doesn't know how to plan for future costs?

    The nuclear energy has been getting research money because of the potential for weapons, generating power was just a bonus.

    Nuclear power is the new technology. The wind has been harvested for power for thousands of years. There is a reason why it was dumped when electric motors and fuel powered motors came about.

    You are wrong about the subsidies. See the WSJ article "The Energy Subsidy Tally". Nuclear gets $3.14/MWh while wind get $56.29/MWh of energy produced. Nuclear power accounts for 20% of US power, while wind accounts for 6% or less.