Letters to the Editor
As I watch discussions on alternative energy sources and development in Maine, it troubles me that the biggest drawback to all of them is rarely being considered. In and of themselves, I have no real problems with properly sited facilities. Note I say properly sited facilities. To date for example, the only denied major wind power project has been the ill-conceived and under-evaluated Black Nubble/Redington proposal. We'll see about tidal generators as the process evolves.
The problem with wind is, as stated by the Industry, it will only operate efficiently 30% of the time. Likewise, tidal will only work on portions of the incoming and outgoing tides. They, like most of the other "green" energy in Maine - Hydro, are Peaking Plant. As such, the wind and tidal plants will often create competing excess supply at the whim of wind, time, and tide. On any given calm day at slack tide when Harris or Wyman Dams aren't running because of their FERC License Conditions - gas fired, coal fired, or nuclear generated electricity will be required. That's called Base Load.
The other existing and potential Base Load sources in Maine are biomass generators which use wood. My opinion is that is not a good use of our forest resources which have more value as timber and fiber, especially the former which can produce value added products. While first conceived as a way to use "waste wood", reality is that everything gets chipped and burned. I also question using wood to create biodiesel for the same reason. The cost of wood for saw and mills is going through the roof because of demand for wood for biomass and an increasing use of wood pellets. Doesn't anyone remember the last energy crunch when wood pellet stoves were popular and then went away? A good friend spent a lot of his time buying out biomass plant contracts whose mandated use cost us an arm and a leg because the energy was mandated by State Law.
The proposal in Wiscasset to use pump storage to utilize the green power when electricity demand is low intrigues me. If the wind is blowing and the tides are running at 2:00 AM when most of us are asleep and in the dark, the proposal would act as a "battery" for lack of a technically better term. That battery would then generate at breakfast time when its Low Tide and the wind has died. We'll see how such proposals evolve as well.
The fact that we produce more (40%) energy than Mainers need already makes me wonder if we are going to end up as a "Power Plantation" for the rest of New England. Finally, all of these alternative energies are dependent upon Tax Incentives. That tells me something about the need to more thoroughly analyze the long term viability of these proposals to take us off our reliance on foreign oil and gas.
I'm not making a judgement. Just providing Food for Thought.
Bud Brown, President ECO-ANALYSTS, INC.
I have just read the article by Melissa Waterman. An excellent article and very informative about what is going on re wind and water power projects in our area. However, no mention is made of what could be the greatest factor that will allow us to become truly enrgy indendent and will eventually allow the world to continue using energy, as we now do, without causing a world wide environmental disaster.
To understand what I am talking about I recommend everyone, who is concerned about this imminent disaster, read the book "Smelling Land, The Hydrogen Defense Against Climate Catastrophe," by David Sanborn Scott.This book was published in 2008 by the Canadian Hydrogen Association, www.h2.ca.
When we barge ahead with new ideas and technologies such as wind an tidal power it is essential that we look at the possibilities that these may create and how they can be fully utilized to provide a solution to the real need. Right now the real need is to change our entire energy source and distribution system in order to save us from the "real" catastrophe of climate change. Action is needed immediately or it will be too late. This book emphasises the need to make what some would call "Revolutionary change in our energy system." To do this we cannot depend on the experts who are fully involved and committed to the present system to decide how to achieve our objectives.
David Scott gives a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer to get this point home,
"All truth passes trough three stages.
First, it is ridiculed,
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Laurence Outhouse, Tiverton, NS