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Glad to have you here but remember, you could be spending your time more wisely. Family, friends, maybe even your job if you are really pushed for something to do. David also writes the Building Our Home Blog as well as the wildly popular Dave’s Mindscape

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shot in the Foot Again

Who would have thought that at this early stage of the game or late stage if you are an environmentalist, that we would have too much wind power? That’s right. According to an article in the International Herald Tribune by Matthew L. Wald, nearly 200 windmills in New York have been forced to shut down due to congestion in the power transmission lines. This lack of infrastructure sounds a lot like the North American oil supply problem. In recent U.S. political campaigning one presidential hopeful suggests that his opponent’s stand against offshore drilling would be damaging to the U.S. economy. This is contrary to the opinion of many experts who say that the bottleneck is not the supply of oil but the capacity to refine the stuff. There doesn’t seem to be any incentive to build new refineries for an energy source that is going the way of the endangered species that helped create it, albeit kicking and screaming all the way. So we have two energy sources with inadequate infrastructure. Gas may be on the way out but the need for electricity is not going to go away in the foreseeable future so why not just start the process of building the estimated $60 billion cross-country backbone needed for the increased energy production from solar and wind powered sources? Fear and Greed would be my guess. Getting any sort of an agreement between the 500 groups that own the power lines and the multiple levels of government may call for federal intervention, something the U.S. Energy Department is considering. Augmenting the electrical power grid will take years and billions of dollars. It will happen because it has to happen. During that time coal fired power plants will be built (there’s always room for coal) and will contribute to the already too high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Wind farms have to be built where there is wind and it seems that most of the wind is in out of the way places. It makes me wonder what the cost of running transmission lines is compared to building new coal fired plants. Here’s a thought. If coal fired plants pollute the environment and wind farms are environmentally clean, why not scale back the electrical output of the coal burning utilities to make room on the existing transmission lines for the power from the wind farms. The result will be the same amount of energy only cleaner. Using green energy will bring down the price of producing it (economies of scale) and might just help save the planet. Reference: International Herald Tribune, Matthew L. Wald Published: August 27, 2008