Monday, May 23, 2011

Blow, wind, blow

Medford has been trumpeting the amount of power that their wind turbine has generated on massive electronic billboards along Route 93. (Oh, the irony.) We are supposed to be impressed by the large numbers: 196,000 kWh since January 2009! But the turbine was supposed to generate 150,000 kWh per year, and it’s generating less than half of that. It cost $650,000 to generate 7000 kWh per month.

The solar panels on my parents’ house on Long Island went operational the same month, and generate 1250 kWh per month for an initial cost of $75,000. That’s 50% more efficient, less maintenance required, and costs are still dropping fast on solar.

Neither party directly paid full price, of course: Medford had grants for most of the wind turbine cost, and my parents received rebates and tax incentives for 2/3 of the solar cost. But you can’t justify large-scale decisions on energy production by hiding the costs.

I’m glad we’re experimenting with wind, and I think negative results should be published. Just not as if they’re positive results.

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