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Posted at 5:56 PM ET, 02/ 9/2010

Stop tilting at wind-power projects

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Frank Maisano
Gambrills

The Feb. 5 editorial “Winds of change” highlighted an ongoing problem with renewable energy development that goes beyond nascent offshore wind projects, such as that in Cape Cod.

Even more battle-tested commercial, land-based projects are facing the same opposition from people who don’t like them, especially in this region. Neither Maryland nor Virginia have large-scale wind-power stations, but it’s not for lack of trying.

In fact, despite state government calls for more wind power and legislative policy reforms designed to encourage it, opponents are trying to block projects in Western Maryland that are good for the rural economy (providing revenue and jobs) as well as the environment. And while Virginia has its first project under construction in Highland County, the same opponents are attacking the project with the same stale claims. In each case, the project’s timelines are approaching eight years.

Last year, the wind industry installed nearly 10,000 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power 2.4 million homes. After eight years of waiting, it would nice to add to that total in our back yard.

The writer is a spokesman for wind developers in the mid-Atlantic, including US Wind Force, Synergics, Constellation and Highland New Wind.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | February 9, 2010; 5:56 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Maryland, Virginia, energy  
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Comments

Every energy source (including human) has downsides as well as advantages. But it's time we people began to see the writing on the wall. The number of humans on the planet and the push to industrialize, modernize, and otherwise be part of humanity's technological advances will demand energy use unlike any we have yet achieved. Even with conservative use and greater efficiencies, we must explore and utilize wind, tidal, solar, and bio-fuels. Ultimately, hydrogen may be an important source for large-scale energy centers.

Whatever we wind up doing, the writing is on the wall. Petroleum producers have already ramped up prices and there's more (or worse, depending how one views it) to come. Every source has drawbacks, known and yet to be discovered. For example, I have yet to read how extensive use of wind may affect near surface and upper-level wind flows. What effect could changes have on climate? But we must either move ahead on those known alternatives or agree to limit/reduce world population (which we should be considering anyway).

When I was a kid in my 8th grade science class, the teacher was talking about the growth of population and demand for resources. Oh, that seemed so long off, but here we are facing those very issues - and not doing that well accepting the realities. For those of us reading and thinking, however, it remains to help make aware our fellow humans and be instructive guides to choosing reasonable paths to pursue.

Posted by: Jazzman7 | February 10, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

As a recent transplant from Texas which is the largest wind producing state in the USA I can tell you wind power isn't all its cracked up to be! One afternoon a few months ago the wind suddenly stopped causing massive rolling blackouts across central Texas. Wind power is unreliable in that when the wind stops, so does power generation. It must be backed up 100% with a redundant power system which, unfortunately, cannot kick on quickly enough to prevent power failures. To put it bluntly wind power is full of hot air. Why build redundant systems when natural gas systems can be built more cheaply and are much more reliable? Wind turbines are noisy, and kill birds as well. Give me clean natural gas over wind anytime!

Posted by: Ken430TX | February 10, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The main reason wind is doomed: there is not an entrenched group of well-connected people and companies currently making a living off it. That can't be said for all the fossil fuels and even nuclear. Those well-connected can be pretty per$ua$ive come election time, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: steveboyington | February 12, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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