The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Benefits of wind power to Vermont and the interconnected electric grid

Dear Editor:
Recent claims that the Grandpa's Knob wind project would not meet a need on the electric system and that integrating wind power into the Vermont electric grid somehow does not reduce fossil fuel pollution are simply not true.

The value of wind power is that it produces kilowatt-hours that otherwise would be generated by fossil fuel. Vermont is electrically integrated into the New England electric grid which is controlled by the New England Independent System Operator or "ISO-NE".  Much of the electricity consumed in Vermont is generated elsewhere in New England, and, according to ISO-NE data, 60% of the kilowatt-hours generated in New England are produced by fossil fueled generators. More importantly for this discussion, in New England electric generators burning fossil fuel operate nearly 100% of the time.  ISO-NE manages the operations of these electric generators on a moment to moment basis, and is constantly adjusting power plant output to accommodate for changes in electric usage. When the wind blows and electricity flows, ISO-NE efficiently reduces the output or shuts down fossil generators, providing a substantial reduction in fuel consumed.

In New England, nation-wide and around the world electric system operators have long ago learned how to accommodate the addition of wind power generation, which is variable due to the nature of the wind. Variable does not mean "unreliable" and it does not mean that there is no value to the large amounts of electricity generated by modern wind turbines.

The 50 MW Grandpa's Knob wind project would produce approximately 140,000,000 kilowatt-hours annually, more than the electric use of 15,000 homes (the equivalent of more than one-half the homes in Rutland County).  Based upon information from the US EPA, ISO-NE and the US Department of Energy, the Grandpa's Knob wind project would annually displace 67,500 tons of CO₂ emissions from fossil fuel generating stations which presently help to serve Vermont's electric needs.  Put another way, again using US EPA data, it would be the equivalent of removing roughly 13,200 automobiles from the Rutland County roads.

Our planet's atmosphere does not care about rhetoric, it only cares about what we do, or don't, put into it. The Grandpa's Knob wind project would substantially reduce fossil fuel use and related harmful emissions by producing large amounts of useful and clean electricity.
Rob Howland, Pittsford, Vt. resident and consultant for Reunion Power

Tagged: Wind Power, Grandpa's Knob