Benefits of wind power are unproven, hypothetical

A recent report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation states that allergy sufferers may have to get used to early seasons such as the one experienced this year in the Northeast.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is quoted in the April 15 issue of the Portland Press Herald as saying that,” This is one of the many emerging public health concerns related to pollution and climate change.”

One of the most common alternative energy sources promoted by the U.S. government and the current Maine administration is wind power. In a paper that she wrote last February called “Wind Turbine Neuro-Acoustical Issues," Mills, an ardent proponent of wind power who denies sleep-related disturbances due to wind turbine noise, wrote that wind turbines in Maine would decrease the incidence of many diseases including asthma, allergies, lung cancer and cardiac diseases.

The statement was based on the assumption that wind power in Maine would displace conventional electrical power plants' fuel of coal, oil and gas, and that the sacrifice of the mountain ridges for the erection of thousands of turbines was a necessary trade-off for the health benefits that would accrue to Mainers from the decreased pollution.

On the surface, that seems like a reasonable position. But for those of us who have dug deeper into the hypothesis, the facts paint a very different picture that shows there is no connection between the goal of 2,700 megawatts of installed wind turbine capacity in Maine and improved air quality for Mainers.

First of all, there are no after-the-fact studies showing a correlation between the increase in electric generation from wind turbines and the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and chronic disease. Those assumptions are purely hypothetical, untested and unmonitored by any government agency. There are no state or federal standards in place to verify the reality of those hypotheses. Mills’ statements about the climate benefits of wind power are not based on peer-reviewed studies, but are merely opinions without concrete substantiation.

Secondly, it is important to recognize that industrial wind turbines are gigantic machines weighing several hundred tons, not including the foundations, which are heavily reinforced with mats of steel bars. The Siemens turbines proposed by Angus King for his Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury weigh 304 tons. More than 6,600 tons of steel must be smelted and forged to build the 22 turbines proposed for that 50-megawatt wind project, which will actually produce about 12 megawatts at the 25 percent capacity factor achieved by land-based wind turbines in Maine.

To make that steel would require about 3,000 tons of “coking” coal and 9,000 tons of iron ore. More than 35 million tons of steel have been used to build the steel towers used for wind turbines in the period 2007-09. Steel production requires the use of coke, which is a byproduct of pulverized bituminous coal. Coke production is a major source of pollution in the production of steel. Air emissions such as coke-oven gases, naphthalene, ammonium compounds, crude light oil, sulfur and coke dust are released from coke ovens.

Steel production is a major user of coal, the very villain polluter that wind energy is supposed to suppress.

Are you beginning to get the picture? There are no demonstrated climate benefits in Maine, but substantial production of greenhouse gas emissions in the production of the turbines themselves.

Mills tells us that wind power will reduce the incidence of chronic diseases related to pollution because wind power displaces other pollution-producing power plants. That, in fact, has never been scientifically measured nor proven, and we know that no power plants have closed because of wind-produced electricity. To be more specific to Maine, wind power is generally more available at night, when grid demand is low. Because Maine already produces most of its electricity at night with renewable hydro and biomass, wind power will not replace fossil fuel generators, but rather will cause biomass plants and hydro-electric facilities to reduce output, providing no benefit but costing jobs in the forest industry.

Without taking into account the enormous amount of real pollution created by manufacturing turbines, and coupled with the absence of any proof that wind turbines in Maine will reduce fossil fuel use in electricity production, Mills’ claims seem misleading.

Mills has dismissed the complaints of people in Mars Hill, Freedom and Vinalhaven about the impacts on their lives from living too close to the turbines in these towns, and at the same time has advocated for the destruction of Maine’s treasured mountain landscapes for the benefit of an industry that relies heavily on government subsidies for its existence, while demonstrating none of the benefits attributed to it.

Rather than deluding us with unsubstantiated, non-peer reviewed and non-patient correlated epidemiological predictions about CO2 emissions and early allergies, Mills should sit down with the real people in this state who have been sleep-disturbed by the presence of those massive steel turbines.

Monique Aniel of Mexico is co-chairwoman of The Citizens’ Task Force on Wind Power.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Gerry  Meyer's picture

Wind Hoax

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention an ardent proponent of wind power who denies sleep-related disturbances due to wind turbine noise must have her head in the dirt or be on the big wind payroll. I can not believe a medical Dr. would make such comments. I wonder how many homes in wind factories she has spent the night in? I wonder how many victims she has interviewed. I am a wind factory victim. Health issues are rampant to residents of wind factories. Sleep deprivation is called torture to the Gitmo detainees, yet wind factory residents are expected to sacrifice their health for what? Politicians that want to look "green". Research all the diseases caused by sleep deprivation plus car accidents from exhausted drivers. Wind energy companies tell community residents that property values don't decline in wind factories and often say property values actually go up. If that is the case they should be very happy to guarantee property value protection to those within and 2 miles outside the wind project. They refuse. This article is right on with it's comments on not reducing pollution and the reasons to back it up. Wind energy is expensive and terribly inefficient. Wind is not free.

Mike DiCenso's picture

well said Dr. Aniel

Dr. Mills must want a cushy spot with FoulWind like Kurt Adams. If he makes 1.3 million then Gov. Baldacci should expect 2 million with all his connections. After all it's subsidy money! It's free!!! Hey John...had any offers lately you would like to make public? I think the CO2 spewed amounts to around 4.5 million lbs. per turbine made. What a scam. Oil slicks in the ocean and windsprawl covering the mtns. Maybe America could stop wasting energy?

Brad Blake's picture

Wind Power is a scam

Thank you, Dr. Aniel for the insight into one of the plethora of negative issues concerning the proliferation of industrial wind sites in Maine.  What's even worse is that many of these components of wind turbines are made in countries that have much less pollution controls than we do in the US or Europe.  Case in point:  moldering under the snow all winter in Chester, Maine were 40 turbines and 120 blades bought by bankrupt First Wind for the stalled Rollins project in Lincoln Lakes.  The turbines--made in China, a country that has one of the worst air pollution records ever.  The blades--composites made in Brazil, likely with lots of noxious gases vented into the atmosphere.  So all you people who want wind turbines to reduce pollution because you demonize "dirty" sources of US produced electricity and you want to save the planet should think this through.  My analysis is that so much energy and pollution goes into putting up industrial wind sites that in the 20 year life cycle, the piddling bit of electricity produced by the wind will never offset that energy and pollution.

So why do any industrial wind sites in Maine?  Why blast away 350 miles of Maine ridges and mountains and permanently clearcut 50,000+ acres of uplands and lay out a spiderweb of hundreds of miles of new powerlines?  Why ruin the incredible beauty and tourism that supports jobs in upland Maine?  Why ruin people's lives who are unfortunate to live where turbines are built on top of them?   Why create industrial wind electricity when Maine already produces more electricity than its consumes? Why shouldn't we tap into inexpensive Hydro Quebec as a steady source of electricity rather than turn to unpredictible, unreliable, intermittent, and expensive wind?

So many people have believed the "feel good" Big Wind /Big Lie, rather than actually research and think through this scam.  The industrial wind turbine has been cleverly marketed to us to the extent it is worshiped as some kind of pop icon.  Politicians have caved in to the lobbyists who have taken the playbook right from Enron.  Wind is heavily subsidized.  Without subsidies there would never be industrial wind sites anywhere.  Subsidies are taxes.  Today, subsidies are ballooning the $12 trillion national debt.  Who buys the T-bills we float for the national debt?  The Chinese!  So, getting back to those turbines in Chester.  They were bought with subsidy money from the national debt, supplied by China, and the money was sent back to China to purchase the wind turbines from a factory with no pollution controls.  Doesn't that make you feel real patriotic?

 

Lisa Lindsay's picture

Mills

Mills flip-flopped on this issue seemingly overnight. One minute she indicated real concern for those in Mars Hill suffering from the affects of wind-related noise. Then suddenly she was essentially calling them liars or crazy, stating that it was impossible for wind turbines to cause sleep deprivation or daytime disturbances. State employees have been mandated by the so-called emergency wind power legislation to encourage and make easy the siting of industrial-scale wind projects anywhere with a ridgeline. Mills is just another one of Baldacci's sheeples. We need a governor who appreciates the uniqueness and beauty of inland Maine and who recognizes that this legislation was a scam.

Rob Pforzheimer's picture

Besides the pollution from

Besides the pollution from steel making, consider also the pollution created in transporting the tons of huge heavy towers, blades, nacelles, transformers, cement, rebar, wires, etc.

Consider also the loss of pollution absorbtion of the thousands of acres of forest being cut for turbines and associated road networks.

Mountain top destruction for ineffiecient wind turbines destroys wildlife and wildlife habitat, headwater streams and wetlands, property values and enjoyment of one's property, and kills birds and bats. Tranmission lines built for wind developers will have more adverse environmental impacts.

Wind developers and their political allies have been making their false claims of lowering emissions, creating jobs, ending  dependence   on oil, and energy independence for far too long. Kurt Adams is undoubtedly not the only Maine gov't official that has received money and "contributions" from First Wind and other sleazy wind developers.

Industrial wind "farms" are more about generating subsidies, grants RECs, double accelerated depreciation and tax credits than about generating electricity. Without all these handouts of our tax dollars and our grandchildrens tax dollars no one would be building these monuments to corruption, gullibility and greed.

Wake up people, wind turbines won't cure your allergies, end global warming or do anything but raise your electric rates, ruin your tourist and second home economy, divide rural communities and harm people's health.

There's currently a glut of power in the New England market. We don't need to be building inefficient, unreliable, intermittent industrial scale 400+ foot strobe lit wind factories.

Use Less

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...