February 9

Another View: Wind energy produces economic and environmental benefits

If wind farms provided even one-fifth of our region’s power, that could cut 25 percent of carbon emissions.

By Abigail Krich

I must take issue with the recent column by Mike Bond (“Maine Voices: LePage is right – wind farm subsidies are poor use of government funding,” Jan. 27), which has misstated the facts regarding the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy.

about the author

Abigail Krich is president of Boreas Renewables in Somerville, Mass., a renewable energy project development consulting firm.

Once a wind farm is built, the fuel it needs to produce electricity is free. In the New England wholesale electricity markets, wind acts as a price-taker, displacing the most expensive electricity the region would otherwise have needed to purchase.

This lowers the price of electricity for all consumers, including those in Maine.

If New England adds sufficient wind energy to meet the regional renewable energy standards, this type of savings could amount to more than $1 billion per year.

In addition to the economic benefits, wind energy has significant environmental benefits. Bond’s column demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of spinning reserves, also sometimes referred to as backup power. Spinning reserves are required in case the largest source of electricity has a sudden failure. Wind farms, which are each relatively small compared to fossil power plants, have had no impact on the reserve requirement or any associated carbon emissions.

In fact, the most expensive power plants that are displaced by clean wind energy are generally expensive because they are the least efficient and thus the most polluting. The ISO-NE New England Wind Integration Study found that carbon emissions from power plants would decrease by 25 percent if 20 percent of our electricity were produced by wind. Nitrogen oxide emissions would also be reduced by 26 percent.

Wind energy is a smart choice for our region, both for its economic and its environmental benefits.

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