Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Local Wind Project Gets Some Unwanted Publicity

The folks at Maple Ridge in Lowville and more importantly the many wind supporters in various communities in Northern NY might want to work really hard to bury this story in the NY Times - Power Grids Limits Potential of Renewable Energy.

This has long been the problem with renewable energy in the Northeast - an antiquated transmission system that can't handle the flexible energy schedule that is subject to the whims of the shifting winds off Lake Ontario.

"The grid’s limitations are putting a damper on such projects already. Gabriel Alonso, chief development officer of Horizon Wind Energy, the company that operates Maple Ridge, said that in parts of Wyoming, a turbine could make 50 percent more electricity than the identical model built in New York or Texas.

Transmission lines carrying power away from the Maple Ridge farm, near Lowville, N.Y., have sometimes become so congested that the company’s only choice is to shut down — or pay fees for the privilege of continuing to pump power into the lines."

The problem is that the wind energy issue is being fought locally without any strategic input from the Federal Government. A $60 billion enhancement of our grid that would enable large scale wind (and solar) projects in the middle of the country to feed that power to our cities on the coasts would be a fantastic first step. The cost is not insignificant but when viewed as a long-term strategic "investment" it is substantially more attractive than some of our most recent multi-billion adventures (the GSE bailout comes to mind).

Just in case, there is any confusion I am an enormous proponent of wind power. However, I think it is disingenuous of the wind industry to simply talk about generation of power and fail to discuss the transmission issue.

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