Blowing hot and cold on offshore wind

I want to point out an oversight in Staff Writer Tux Turkel’s otherwise fine March 12 article, “Oil dealers: Offshore wind plan a mistake.”

Turkel states that 8,000 megawatts (MW) of wind is the equivalent of six Seabrook nuclear plants. In fact, it is about the equivalent of 2.5 Seabrooks.

Seabrook has a nameplate capacity of 1,244 MW. Nuclear power plants typically operate at about 90 percent or better of that capacity. At 90 percent of capacity, it would have an effective output of 1,120 MW. A check of its output over the last few years reveal that it has actually done a little better than that. It achieves that kind of performance because the nuclear fuel is always there to run it.

By comparison, 8,000 MW of nameplate capacity land and ocean-based wind power has an effective output of about 2,800 MW, largely as a result of the intermittent nature of wind. Land- and ocean-based turbines can achieve 30 percent to 40 percent, respectively, of their listed capacity, producing electricity only within a discrete range of wind speeds.

Using figures provided by the developer of the proposed Highland project, this facility would only be capable of producing just under 32 percent of its 129 MW nameplate capacity, or about 41 MW. This is an important distinction and the media must not muddy the water with apples-to-oranges comparisons.

Our state is vigorously pursuing the conversion of our mountain landscape from “quality of place” production to exportable electricity production. Gov. Baldacci has set a goal of 2,700 MW of wind turbine capacity on hundreds of miles of Maine’s mountains in the next 10 years. Only, it’s not 2,700 MW of production. At current expected rates, it will amount to only about 900 MW of electricity – less than one Seabrook.

Mainers need reliable figures in the media so that we can decide if this amount of electricity is worth the loss of many of our mountains, and possibly, our state’s identity.

Kay Michka, Lexington Township

In regard to the March 12 article, “Oil dealers: Offshore wind plan a mistake,” I ask the oil dealers if they will shoulder the following burdens of continuing our oil habit:

1) Form and finance a military division to help defend our Middle East oil supply. 2) Capture and sequester carbon dioxide and the other pollutants from burning oil. 3) Increase our exports to correct this part of the trade deficit.

Walt Johansson, Pemaquid

So, the oil dealers think the offshore wind plan is a mistake. What a surprise. Imagine, not wanting to champion an idea that has “the future” written all over it.

The last time I was in Portland I didn’t notice a single buggy whip store. Nor did I notice a horse-drawn wagon manufacturer. No blacksmiths, either. Maybe when it is more closely looked at, the whole idea will be deemed not feasible, too costly or too difficult to maintain, but please let’s give it a chance.

This might be a chance for Maine to be first in something instead of the usual last or next to last. Mr. Chuck Digate, who seems to have some expertise in the technology, talks of $1.5 billion building/ongoing costs, a 22-cent per kilowatt hour cost and an average increase of $8 per month in my electric bill, not to mention hundreds and perhaps thousands of jobs in a cutting-edge industry.

If that is true, that gives us clean, renewable energy, a real positive step in reducing our “carbon footprint” and reduced dependency on oil from the Middle East, where do I sign?

Let’s get serious and take a close look at this and the other projects that are starting up.

Tom Deignan, Scarborough

Fishermen’s issues continue to be ignored by state leaders

I find it extremely troubling that no one in the Maine press covered the fishermen’s rally in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 24. I did read an editorial by the Press Herald regarding the closure of a sardine cannery. This is a troubling occurrence, but it is not the top story here.

The entire East Coast groundfish industry is under attack by a new form of regulation driven by environmental groups and unsound science.

I’m surprised this rally, which saw 5,000 people unite on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, got zero coverage here.
Maine is a tourist state, a forest state and a fishing state. What is on our license plate? A lobster and “Vacationland.” Without fishing, will tourists still flock here to have tilapia sandwiches? I wonder how much influence the aquaculture industry has in Maine’s press and politics.

Other towns across the Northeast are getting involved and supporting their fishermen. In Maine, once a leader in groundfishing, we have barely heard a whisper from the governor on down to Portland’s mayor.

The groundfish are recovered. We can catch them, but the National Marine Fisheries Service won’t let us. Soon Portland may be turning into a non-working waterfront. Where will we sell our fish, get our vessels serviced, buy fuel, ice, tie up? The future looks grim at a time when stocks are coming back threefold.

I thought better things would come out of this paper. I am a lifelong commercial fisherman, but I guess I’ll have apply to work as a fish farmer.

Rob Odlin, Scarborough

Pagan worship circle fits fine at Air Force Academy

I’m responding to a letter by Frederick Giese of Lisbon Falls, printed Feb. 13. I’ve been out of town, and while I’m a bit late here, I couldn’t let this one go. Mr. Giese seems to have a fundamental objection to druids and pagans having a place to worship at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

He points out that this is a taxpayer-funded institution, and wonders if we will soon be funding mosques.

Exactly how much do you think some empty space with some stones in it costs, sir? Especially since it was already there, and not built especially for that purpose originally. The article also makes it clear that Muslims already have a special place to worship, as do Buddhists and Jews.

And what part of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom is a problem here? Those who serve have a right to get spiritual comfort where they can, as long as they serve the Constitution to which they swore an oath. Pagan ethics in no way contradicts this oath.

Yes, the founding fathers were Christian, but who wasn’t back then? They made a point of creating the First Amendment, which might suggest they saw some problems with one religion being the basis for the law of the land.

“Tolerance” – unlike “political correctness” – should not suggest one is giving up all ethics or unique identity. But as a taxpayer-funded institution, the Air Force Academy is well-served to deal in religious tolerance.

Selina Rifkin, Harpswell