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Opinion

February 28, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 28, 2013

We should question wind farm efficiency

One of juwi Wind’s claims is that the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm will provide electricity to 56,000 homes by generating 150 megawatts of energy.

With some investigation, common sense and a little bit of math, that number is closer to 1,000.

Assuming my home uses the average amount of electricity for a home, it used about 2,100 kilowatts per hour (1 kilowatt equals 1,000 watts) of power in December. Converting this to watts would be 2,100 x 1,000 / 744 = 2,822 watts. The 744 equals the number of hours in December.

Assuming the industrial wind turbines are running at 100 percent, 24 hours every single day, then 53,142 homes could be powered.

But 150 megawatts is not really the power generated. The industrial wind turbines are only generating power at about 12.7 percent of usable output — representing wind power’s contribution to consumption, according to the Energy Information Agency.

So, this lowers the output of 150 megawatt industrial wind turbines to about 6,749 homes.

But that’s not all: Over time, dead bugs and other debris build up on the turbine blades. According to the numbers from California’s wind farms, this build up has been shown to halve the maximum power generated by a wind turbine, reducing the average power generated by 25 percent and more. The amount of bug buildup is attributed to the lack of birds and bats that have been driven away or killed by turbines.

So the number of homes is reduced to 5,061 that can be powered.

And there’s more — or less, actually: The head of Xcel Energy in the U.S., Wayne Brunetti, has said, “We’re a big supporter of wind, but at the time when customers have the greatest needs, it’s typically not available.” The U.S. Department of Energy said the load factor or capacity factor of wind speed is usable only about 20 percent of the time. Even if 150 megawatts are produced in one particular hour, if it is not used, it is lost because it cannot be stored.

So the number of homes that can be powered during the morning and evening hours is now reduced to 1,012.

On top of that, the electricity that actually is produced will not go to Tipton County. It will not benefit those who have to suffer living with these industrial machines that are not even efficient.

If we want to produce energy for Tipton County, we can buy just one gas-powered Siemens Westinghouse model GTG1543 33 MegaWatt generator that would supply power to 11,000 homes for $650,000. Also, this generator is made in the United States by American workers. And, yes, it might cost another $650,000 to install it. But that’s $1.3 million for a gas-powered generator that would probably do the job of all 94 wind turbines that juwi is proposing.

If this could be done for about $1.3 million, why is the other $299 million needed?

The energy claims for the wind farm project are pretty far fetched. The only thing green about the industrial wind turbines is the $300 million taxpayers are burning and sending to Germany.

John West, Sharpsville

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