2014-01-03 / Opinion

US Wind Projects Not a Good Investment

To the Editor:

The Dec. 12 letter in Newport This Week entitled “Wind Farm Deserves Support” appears to be written by a well-meaning environmentalist who is ignorant of certain aspects of the Deep Water Wind Project. I served as Director of the Governor’s Energy Office from 1984-1988 and installed the first wind turbine on Block Island. I wish to point out the following facts:

Phase One of the project will cost R.I. electricity ratepayers about $400 million and Phase Two an estimated $2 billion. This does not include federal and state subsidies and credits. This will mean that R.I. will have the highest electricity costs in New England. The only beneficiaries of the project will be Block Island electricity ratepayers. If they want to lower rates, they should fund the cost of wind turbines that are installed on Block Island.

Offshore wind turbines require backup power since they operate only about 45 percent of the time generating electricity. In New England, this backup power is natural gas, which is in short supply because of insufficient pipelines.

The initial phase of the Deep Water Wind Project may require 35-50 temporary jobs that are not likely to be from R.I. Only six permanent jobs will be created, according to Deep Water Wind’s testimony before the Public Utilities Commission.

Both the Public Utilities Commission and the primary seller of green energy in R.I., People's Power & Light, have declared the Deep Water Wind Project too expensive. Denmark has more offshore wind turbines than any European country and has the highest electricity prices in the European Union, with negligible reduction in carbon dioxide.

Finally, Donald Furman, executive vice president of Iberdrola, the world’s largest wind power company, has stated that offshore wind projects in the U.S. are not a good investment. He is installing wind turbines in upstate New York, where Niagara Falls can serve as backup power.

Roger L. Buck
Captain USN (Ret.)

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