Chandler Woodcock, Republican candidate for governor, has done Maine citizens a great service by calling attention to the fact that wind power is an inefficient and expensive way to generate electricity (“Blaine House hopefuls square off,” BDN, Sept. 15).
Industrial wind plants are very large but generate very little electricity. Testimony submitted to the Maine Public Utilities Commission for their 2005 report on wind power indicated that it would be necessary to cover about 36 miles of mountain ridges with 1.5-megawatt turbines (each 400 feet tall) to produce the same power annually that the Rumford 85-MW co-generation plant produced in 2003.
And the power produced by those 36 miles of turbines would not be reliable. Wind plants produce electricity only when the wind is blowing at the right speed. As a result, even if the 36 miles of turbines were erected, the Rumford plant would have to be kept operating to supply baseload and fill-in when the wind wasn’t right.
Wind power requires duplication within the system – unreliable wind backed up by reliable fossil fuel or nuclear or hydro or biomass – which is a reason (though not the only one) the cost of wind power remains higher than the standard offer. And this higher cost of wind explains why developers work constantly to increase their already rich subsidies (such as the federal production tax credit, which comes out of the pockets of all taxpayers) and to persuade legislatures to favor them (for example, by increasing renewable portfolio standards, which force consumers to buy expensive electricity we wouldn’t otherwise buy).
Apparently Woodcock is the only one of the current candidates who has looked into the economic facts that are concealed by the current hype about wind power.
Dain A. Trafton