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Attack on wind power a lot of hot air

Renewable EnergyAgricultureWind PowerEnvironmental PollutionConsumersNuclear Power

Charles Campbell, a retired executive with Gulf Oil, once again gets the facts wrong in his latest attempt to attack wind energy ("Nuclear power is good for the environment," May 28).

First, Mr. Campbell falsely claims that Denmark has not seen a reduction in pollution as it has ramped up its use of wind energy. That could not be further from the truth. Denmark's electric sector carbon dioxide emissions are down 21 percent over the last decade, from 16.5 million tons in 1999 to 13 million tons in 2009, even though electricity use increased. Denmark's use of wind energy more than doubled over that time period, with wind energy currently providing more than 25 percent of the country's electricity. Other European countries, as well as leading wind energy states in the U.S., have seen similarly drastic reductions in emissions.

To support his claim Mr. Campbell cites a debunked fossil fuel industry attack on wind and actually misreports the findings of that report. Even this report, paid for by a fossil fuel lobbying group and conducted by a fossil fuel company, found that wind energy drastically reduces pollution. All utility and grid operator data and peer-reviewed studies on the subject confirm that finding, concluding that wind energy has no negative impact on the efficiency of fossil-fired power plants. In fact, wind energy's pollution reductions are often larger than expected because wind energy displaces the most expensive, and therefore least efficient, fossil-fired power plants first. The reality is that wind energy is easier and cheaper for grid operators to accommodate than large fossil and nuclear power plants, as wind energy output changes gradually and predictably while conventional power plants break down frequently and abruptly.

Finally, Mr. Campbell incorrectly blames European countries' high electricity prices on wind, when in reality their electricity prices were already high before wind energy was added, due to aggressive taxes on energy use. Data from the United States confirms that wind energy lowers electricity prices for consumers by displacing the use of expensive fossil fuels. Last month, Synapse Energy Economics released a report that found consumers in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states, including Maryland, would see $6.9 billion in net savings on their electric bills every year if the region doubled its use of wind energy beyond existing standards. Similar studies have found the same result in other regions.

As much as he would like to, Mr. Campbell cannot hide from the fact that wind energy is a win-win for consumers and the environment.

Michael Goggin, Washington, D.C.

The writer is manager of transmission policy for the American Wind Energy Association.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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