Let’s Know the Truth About Wind Power
Regarding Rolf Westgard’s Aug. 21 column, “Wind farms provide only 3.5% of U.S. energy,” wind power is more reliable, produces more power, can add hundreds of thousands more jobs, save us more on power bills, and invests billions more dollars in our economy than Mr. Westgard claims.
All energy sources have advantages and disadvantages. Mr. Westgard focuses on wind’s disadvantages, but its advantages are compelling: it uses no fuel, protecting consumers and utilities from fuel price volatility; it emits no pollution, protecting public health; it generates no radioactive or hazardous waste; it uses no water in generating electricity, a critical plus in times of drought; and it gives farmers a reliable income source that helps them and their families stay on the land.
No power plant runs 100 percent of the time. During two major utility supply emergencies in Texas last year (a February freeze and an August heat wave), the state’s utility system was bedeviled by outages of conventional power plants due to extreme weather, but wind power helped to keep the lights on.
Under the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy found that wind power could provide 20 percent of America’s electricity needs by 2030. American wind power recently surpassed 50 gigawatts of installed generating capacity nationwide, enough to produce as much electricity as 11 nuclear power plants or more than 44 coal-fired power plants. Last year, U.S. wind farms generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of the entire state of Michigan.
Finally, in terms of boosting our economy, the D.O.E. predicts American wind power is capable of supporting 500,000 more manufacturing, construction and other related jobs over the next 20 years. That’s in addition to the 75,000 wind related jobs existing already – and as of 2010, up to 3,000 jobs in Minnesota alone.
Miller is an owner of a wind farm in Stearns Co.