LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

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Saturday, August 30, 2003

Two In-Depth Articles on Wind Power, Need for Power, Conservation and How Hard It Is To Get It All Right

In the wake of the blackout, the last week of August brings two in-depth pieces on wind power and the constant tension between increased demand for power and a commensurate aversion to conservation or additional plant (or transmission line) construction. In

Wind Power's New Current
, Scott Kirsner, New York Times (8/27/03), Kirsner reports that despite controversies with large wind projects (Exhibit 1 being CapeWind),

Utilities and independent developers are nonetheless moving ahead with plans to increase the generating capacity of older installations and establish new wind farms. Michael O'Sullivan, a senior vice president at FPL Energy, the biggest domestic operator of wind farms, said that 2003 "will probably be the second-biggest year in the industry's history, in terms of adding capacity," exceeded only by 2001.

As the country's electrical demand continues to rise, adding capacity is of keen interest. And the power derived from wind is power that a town like Princeton does not need to buy from sources that rely on coal-burning generators or nuclear plants.

And in Who's Got the Power?, Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/03
Mary Wiltenburg writes about the difficulty of making good choices to the energy shortage. For example, while conservation remains an option, people like driving SUVs and often, simply "forget" to conserve energy by turning off lights, etc...As for proposals like CapeWind, Wittenburg uses these as an example of other obstacles to solving energy shortages - even where a power source apparently poses no health risks, it still may face opposition for other reasons

The Cape Wind controversy isn't about the environmental issues under debate, argues University of Delaware environmental anthropologist Willet Kempton, "it's about how people think about intrusions into their community."

Alan Nogee, director of the energy program at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, agrees. "People have always preferred to avoid energy projects in their own backyards - most of the time for pretty good reasons: because of harmful emissions from these facilities," he says. Because Cape Wind poses no human health risk, Mr. Nogee says opposition to the project is probably the product of NIMBY, or "not in my backyard," syndrome.

Maybe so, says Isaac Rosen, executive director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, but "without NIMBYism, the Love Canal, the Hudson [River], wouldn't have gotten cleaned up. Sometimes it's the capacity of a community to stand up and say, 'No, we treasure this too much,' that defines that community."

Of course, if the solutions were easy, we probably wouldn't have experienced last week's blackout and would already have figured out what to do to fix the problem for the future.


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