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April 04, 2005

Pollution is so, like, last week.

Jerome à Paris has a très nifty post à Daily Kos about the wave of the future, wind power. Great pictures, too.

And there's something we can do to promote wind power:

Construction is highly irregular, because the federal support mechanism, the PTC [Production Tax Credit], is only renewed for 2 years at a time ...

The PTC works fine. Banks are happy to finance projects on the basis of PTC revenues, but the sector needs more stability in that respect. So if you want to help develop wind in the USA, lobby your representatives so that PTC is renewed for a lot longer than 2 years, as needs to be done this year.

And that brings us right home, doesn't it ...

NOTE TO DEVAL PATRICK: You will very likely get this enviro's vote if you come out in favor of the wind farm off of Nantucket. You will get my enthusiasm and hard work if you fully enumerate an aggressive, comprehensive wind power strategy as the #1 priority for power generation. You want some daylight between you and Tom Reilly? Here's your issue. (Hey, someone else had the same idea...)

Don't worry about the NIMBYs on the Cape -- you'll be doing them a favor by improving the air they breathe, currently the state's worst (cf. also here). Tom Reilly is doing a characteristically technical legal dosido about this issue, saying that the US Congress has to approve giving away the ocean area to a private interest. (On such limited grounds, his argument may have merit, but that's no reason to postpone an obviously beneficial project forever.)

By the way, there's a wind farm blog. And we've got some other old posts on this very subject.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 07:58 PM in Massachusetts, National, Random | Permalink


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Our bad air, therefore the cape's bad air, is a rwult of industrial waste from the midwest. This has increased under the Bush II administration because air quality standards were lowered so midwest factories are sending us worse air.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 4, 2005 9:04:12 PM

is a rwult of industrial waste from the midwest.

Not quite right... the right idea, but let me make a correction. The pollution in NYC and New England responsible for EPA's concern for air quality is a direct result of coal-fired power plants in VA, WV, MD, PA, OH, NJ, and NY-New England. Now, of those, MD and NJ have relatively few coal-fired plants. Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are the three states whose emissions are making things particularly bad.

But Massachusetts can't stop them, can it? Yes -- yes it can. In addition to national legal and policy influence, Massachusetts can generate as much power as possible with a lower marginal cost than coal. Which power does this? Well, wind, solar, hydro, geo-thermal, biomass, and nuclear all have higher fixed cost, but lower marginal costs. Nuclear isn't going to happen in the short term, and there isn't much room for hydro growth or geo-thermal in MA. Some biomass (landfills, septic processing) could help a bit, and solar and wind could help a bunch. By increasing the amount of green-e (which almost always has a lower marginal cost than coal) generated in NY-New England, the market demand for coal-fired plants will be reduced. Simplistic, to be sure. High initial costs? Yip.

Bottom line: the more green-e that MA buys (RPS) and generates, the stronger the green-e industry will grow, and will both face lower costs (and hence more easily expand) and afford DC lobbyists (and hence more easily adjust laws to benefit green-e).

Massachusetts is 26th in Wind Generation Capacity. Completing the Cape Wind project would boost us to 4th. Let's get 'er done.

Posted by: stomv | Apr 5, 2005 9:49:44 AM


Posted by: The troll | Apr 5, 2005 9:59:48 AM

A while back, when I was researching the older posts about the wind farm, I came across a pollution map that showed how pollution from the power plant on the Cape blew right back inland, creating the crappy air quality. I've been trying to find it again ... will post it if I do.

Anyway, the point is that the Cape creates a lot of its own pollution, too.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Apr 5, 2005 10:27:53 AM

Wind farm isnot going to cape power only. It it will be sold top new england grid.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 5, 2005 11:13:08 AM

According to the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability, Cape Cod, MV, and Nantucket require about 205 MW of electricity on average, although the peak in 2002 was 446 MW.

The Cape Wind Assn system proposed has a capacity of 468 MW. A wind expert has suggested that 40% efficiency is a good guess for the Cape, which would result in an average of 188 MW (of the average demand of 205 MW). So, there will certainly be times when Cape Cod would be providing power to the rest of MA, and times when the rest of MA would be providing power to Cape Cod.

Also note that the 1120 MW Canal Station plant in Sandwich burns residual oil instead of (cleaner but more expensive) natural gas. While I'm sure they wouldn't shut down the Sandwich station entirely if (when!) the wind power gets installed, they could certainly tone that station back, and even switch it to natural gas full time, thereby reducing emissions as well as demand for oil.

Isn't clean air part of the natural beauty of the Cape? Aren't current sea levels (and not those 5 feet higher) essential to preserve the natural coastlines of the Cape and the islands?

Posted by: stomv | Apr 5, 2005 1:51:39 PM

My family has a Cape house on the (sortof) waterfront, and I don't see anything wrong with this. It's just stupid, myopic NIMBYism where most rich people dont want to have to see little white poles off in the distance - even if it means cleaner air.

Posted by: Ken M | Apr 5, 2005 10:55:15 PM

^ They won't be white. They'll be blue-grey, very similar to the color of the sea & sky at that distance.

Posted by: stomv | Apr 6, 2005 1:51:01 PM

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