Dear Representative Klein
[chair, Vt. House Committee for Natural Resources and Energy]
I was taken aback to hear you state in a VPR report by John Dillon today that the Ellenburg and Clinton wind energy projects in New York "brought to one of the poorest counties $1 billion, injected into their local economy within four years."
Like most figures claimed for wind power, this obviously has no basis in fact.
The developer's own web site says: "Together, the Noble Ellenburg Windpark and its neighboring Noble Clinton Windpark, represent a $360 million investment in clean, renewable energy that will bring an estimated $231 million in new revenue to the Ellenburg and Clinton economies over the next 20 years." (www.noblepower.com/our-windparks/ellenburg/) Most of the $360 million went to GE and the crane operators, and "estimated" should throw up warning flags about what those communities will really see over the next two decades, especially when maintenance costs increase and the tax avoidance schemes expire. (See, e.g., (blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=137120338&blogID=470655268), which is apparently an excerpt from an article in North American Windpower (www.nawindpower.com/page.php?5).)
Roughly 75% of that money comes from taxpayers, even as the lion's share of the profits goes into the bank accounts of a few "investors". Surely a few hundred million dollars could be spent to greater benefit. How many old houses could be insulated with that kind of money? That option lacks the thrusting symbolism of industrial wind power, but it has the advantage of actually making a positive difference.
Dillon also said that you said that the state needs new energy sources as existing power contracts phase out. You must know that wind is intermittent and highly variable and thus does not relieve the burden of finding other sources, or even measurably reduce their use when the wind does blow -- since they have to stay on line ready to kick back in when the wind drops again. (And you must have missed the story from Canada yesterday that Hydro-Quebec is eager to expand its sales to the U.S.: (www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1295265).)
Wind's record is hardly a compelling reason to industrialize farmland as in Clinton County, New York -- much less so sensitive ridgelines.
Unless, of course, developing our ridgelines -- with "clean green" wind energy clearing the way with roads and transmission lines -- is exactly what you want. After all, construction and maintenance of McCondos bring steady work and tax revenue, whereas bats and bears, rocks and trees, starlit skies and clean water, simply don't give back the same way.
Feb. 17, 2009
H O M E