Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wrong 'Tude on Renewables

Attacking renewable energy because, um, it's not an instant fix or something, this op-ed, written by Eleanor Tillinghast, is a lame excuse at NIMBYism, but let's analyze it anyway, so people can get past the malarky. The main gist of the peice is coming from an "environmental" group in the Berkshires that doesn't want wind turbines in the Berkshires. The mountains are pretty, after all.

Here's what she has to say.
Governor Deval Patrick’s goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind power by 2020 will achieve very little at great cost, according to the state’s own data.... The governor has a study estimating that more than half his goal could be met in the Berkshires with 710 industrial wind turbines on public and private land. Those would replace just 5.3 percent of the state’s electricity consumption.
Just? 5.3%, for the math impaired, is 1 in 20. That's pretty damn good. Why should that number be attacked?
For those modest benefits, we would pay about $2.7 billion in federal, state, and local subsidies over 20 years.
It's expensive. And coal factories aren't? Even accepting that $2.7 billion figure, it's a pittance compared to either the long term costs of fossil fuels or the costs (long or short) of nuclear power plants.

It gets worse.
If we subsidized all electricity use in Massachusetts at that rate, we would spend $54 billion during that time on subsidies.
Major straw man alert. Who the hell is suggesting we do anything of the sort? If people read nothing but this sentence, they could tell this piece is not for real.

Now that Tillinghast is done with her straw men, she finally gets to an "alternative" proposal. The problem? It's by no means an alternative. She suggests we go after conservation as the big way to save the world. She's right that conservation is probably the most important aspect in tackling Global Warming -- and the most cost efficient -- but we can't conserve our way to the promised land. Conservation isn't an alternative, it's one piece of the puzzle. So are wind turbines.

We need to retire our state's oldest and worst coal plants, and we need to replace them with renewable sources. We need to be respectful in the way we build wind turbines and place solar panels, but there's a difference between respect and Not In My Backyard. In this case, we can build the Turbines this state desperately needs, throughout the state, while ensuring they don't detract from, but add to, our state's natural beauty. Tillinghast is terrified, but she should be far more terrified at the alternative. If society doesn't start building wind turbines all across the country, including the Berkshires, the world will become such a horrible place that Wind Turbines at the Berkshires will become a moot point.


Anonymous said...

math impaired?her figures are skewed and she got it wrong.We can do better and we will.You live near the dirty coal Salem plant.Ash,anyone?Bet she drives an SUV.

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