Big Wind Will Bring Power to the People
Cost of production is the correct comparison
By John D. Boyle
In regard to "Wind Jammers", the editorial in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 28, about the protest against Cape Wind, which would build erect 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound: The Journal wrote that Greenpeace "considers wind power a key source of renewable energy, while some of the locals consider it an offense against the scenery."
While it is true, as you imply, that Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. William Delahunt, prominent opponents of the windmills, are hypocritical, it is not true that wind power is, as the Journal put it, desired because it is "virtuous." The Journal editorial writer makes the same error that many commentators make in comparing the "price" of electricity produced by wind with the price of electricity produced by fossil fuels.
The correct comparison is to look at the cost of production. The relevant costs are not measured by impairment of ocean views but by air pollution and water pollution resulting from fossil fuel use. For example, there have been thousands of lawsuits litigated in Massachusetts in the past 20 years over environmental damage caused by oil spills. These range from homeowner oil tank leaks to gas station underground tank leaking.
The costs of such litigation are ultimately passed on in higher insurance premiums. This is a financial cost that is not built into the price of electricity but is a real cost of fossil fuel generation of electricity. This is over and above the collateral costs of air and water pollution.
The writer also errs in stating that wind power will never be more than a "bit player" in energy production. Wind power potential is virtually unlimited. The only limitation is the number of windmills that are built; such windmills can be large or small scale, and every kilowatt hour produced by wind is one that does not have to be purchased from hostile producers such as Nigeria, Venezuela and the Middle East.
Until the voters get rid of hypocritical politicians like Rep. Delahunt and Sen. Kennedy, we will never make meaningful progress on energy independence, but wind power remains the energy solution for the future.