Blustering up a storm
Mahalo to the Weekly for the spotlight on renewable energy (“Wind Power Players,” Feb. 27).
The story cited a 2008 study concluding that wind power is more expensive than fossil fuel energy. In actuality, the price of buying fuel for our “industrial fossil” complex in Hawaii is more expensive than the fixed cost of energy for new wind power projects.
Given Hawaii’s high fossil fuel-based energy costs and strong wind and solar resources, renewables can be even more cost-competitive here.
The story cited Robert Bryce, who works for the conservative think tank Manhattan Institute, apparently funded by entrenched fossil interests like ExxonMobil. Bryce, a coal advocate, stated that wind power suffers from “incurable intermittency.” Intermittent supply can be readily solved by combining diverse energy sources, demand response, energy storage and other 21st century energy solutions.
The story incorrectly stated that wind energy “cannot be stored, must be used as it’s generated and must therefore always be backed up by conventional electricity sources.” Energy can be stored in many forms–like in electric vehicles that can feed energy back into the grid, or by using our water tanks and reservoirs as a pumped hydro system.
Richard Wallsgrove Program Director, Blue Planet Foundation
This story’s purpose was two-fold: 1) To explain how wind works by detailing the relationship between private wind developer, landowner, public utility, taxpayer and government, and 2) To ignite some critical thinking about how this can be done better.
If wind farms are using such large inputs of steel and concrete on ag land, should that even be considered a green or reduced carbon footprint in a place with such limited land and extreme dependency on fossil fuels to import our food?
How will we fuel those Matson shipping containers to bring us 90 percent of our food even when we have energy independence?
Please make the information you cite available on Blue Planet’s website, allowing for a more informed dialogue we can all participate in.
Tiffany Hervey Writer, “Wind Power Players”
First Wind’s estimated 14,500 homes powered takes wind’s intermittency into account. That’s roughly how many homes it will power, based on average wind for that location. Since wind operations can produce anywhere from 10–50 percent of their nameplate capacity, the production at real nameplate capacity of Kawailoa would be more like 43,000 homes if the turbines were spinning 100 percent of the time.
John Lamontagne and Wren Wescoatt First Wind
While I applaud Honolulu Weekly for printing a discussion of renewable energy, the recent article presents a skewed view of the technology and motives for a transition [to it].
It has been demonstrated in many countries that the amount of additional reserves necessary to compensate for the intermittency of wind power generation is miniscule in comparison to the amount of power derived from the wind. Also, many studies show that wind turbines contribute to nearly 10,000 times fewer avian mortalities than feral cats.
It seems that few people consider why wind turbines are being installed in the first place. We, as Americans, use too much energy. Since very few are willing to accept demand management as a viable solution, additional generation sources must be integrated.
Danny Terlip Honolulu, HI
The wind story is well researched and written. One clarifying comment: There are five land-based wind proposals currently being discussed. Facing opposition are Lanai, Molokai, and Kahe and Kaena Point, Oahu. West Maui [is unopposed].
Henry Curtis Via [HonoluluWeekly.com]
Big wind is not viable, but neither is importing 90 percent of your energy. EPA will be imposing new regulations to limit emissions. HECO will need an overhaul that ratepayers will foot anyways. Solar in Hawaii . . . is trickle energy and has a payback of [more than] 20 years (even with tax credits!). Overall, not many economical cases can be made for renewables until the true price of energy is reflected.
Nimbyism polarizes the community, creating a stigma towards the larger issues and the behavioral changes that are needed.
“Jus_Chill” via [HonoluluWeekly.com]
Payback on PV systems in Hawaii is roughly 3 to 5 years with tax credits. That’s 20 to 33 percent on your money, tax free. No moving parts, no noise, doesn’t kill birds or bats [or] mar the views of half the island like First Wind did.
Just because you’re opposed to a particular project, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a NIMBY.
“Get A Grip” via [HonoluluWeekly.com]
The first energy company to invest in big wind was ENRON. GE, [now] the biggest investor, claim[s] billions in tax credits. The big money in wind is made by sophisticated investors and energy firms. The tiny amounts of energy made do not outweigh the huge costs to taxpayers, ecosystems and ag land.
“KFoyle” via [HonoluluWeekly.com]