Thursday, January 10, 2008

Letter to the Editor: Wichita Eagle, Jan. 7th, 2008

Letter in response to Mr. Scholdfield's editorial of January 2, 2008 "State poised for new wind energy era."

Dear Mr. Scholfield,

In your obviously promotional generalities and glowing report on the wind industry, "State poised for new wind energy era", you neglected to mention a few facts and details that might interest some of your readers.

The risk that Westar and other utilities understand is that electricity has two components energy and capacity. While wind can produce energy, it has no true capacity, which by definition is the ability to produce energy on demand. Thus every MW of wind energy has to be backed up with conventional energy. No wind=No power. In addition, while wind is often described as being 44% efficient, in reality it often produces one third or less of its name plate power. In the summer heat wave of 2006, Sunflower Electric received less that 3% of the power it was supposed to be receive. Texas only factors in an actual year round use of 7% to 8% of name plate power because the power cannot be produced when it's needed at peak load times.

The economic development that is frequently touted by the wind developers amounts to payments for a few landowners, (Elk River has 5 landowners, 4 of which are absentee), and no taxes since wind developments are exempt from property taxes in Kansas. The neighbors of these industrial wind complexes in the Smoky Hills and Elk River and other proposed complexes have been and continue to be vehemently opposed to the complexes due to ecological, safety, health and landscape impacts. There are NO State or Federal regulations to protect them. The idea of irreversibly altering 8,000 acres to produce possibly 120MW of unreliable energy at a 35% to 40% efficiency is suspect, when a conventional plant can produce 1200MW on a site of several hundred acres, is 85% to 90% efficient, and produces energy 24/7 on demand.

The dubious 'payments in lieu of taxes' that developers offer countys is tenuous at best since even with a written agreement they legally are a 'payment without consideration' and cannot be enforced. These have been called 'bribes' by some zoning experts.

The construction jobs mentioned are transient with both Elk River and Smoky Hills being constructed by out of state workers driving out of state vehicles. Neighbors to Elk River can count 7 jobs, all held by workers who live in Wichita . In both cases, there is an on-site rock quarry and on-site cement plant which saves local contractors the bother of the extra business.

The 'experts' at the 'energy summit' in Topeka, formerly called a Wind Energy Conference, are all connected to and paid by the wind industry. One such expert explained why Texas was doing well with wind when I attended in 2005. He stated the key was to levy a high RPS requirement with stiff penalties and NOT allow less expensive renewable sources such as hydro-energy to be counted in the percentage that utilities were mandated to buy.

Concerning tourism, as more industrial complexes go up, they will be places to avoid, not travel destinations, as Europe as discovered. Europeans have voted Industrial Wind Developments the "Number One Eyesore" out of the top 10 listed.

There are also very real ecological issues that make some places more suitable for Industrial Wind Complexes, provided the community wants them, than the prairie.

In the interest of maximum reality education concerning the wind energy and the wind industry, I would suggest you undertake having an Industrial Wind Complex of 50 to 100 turbines built next to your neighborhood or suburb. Have your community hooked up to that complex and rely solely on that source of power for a year. Keep track of the developer s promises, where the money comes from and goes to. After a year of actual experience, write another article on wind energy; the number of hours/day & days/year that you actually had adequate energy, the cost involved, subsidies paid, jobs that local people fill, your adjustment to the noise, lights, shadow flicker, your neighbors opinion of you, and which direction your property values are headed. That would be a truly interesting article.

For any of your readers who are interested in wind energy facts that are not supplied by the wind developers, check out:
Or contact me and I'll be happy to give you a tour of the prairie and discuss real facts with you.

Rose Z. Bacon
1181 Four Mile Road
Council Grove, KS 66846
Kansas Flint Hills

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