A rebuttal

To the Editor:

In a letter in the July 15 MVTimes, entitled “In response to the POINT advertisement”, Paul Pimentel, in reference to the POINT advertisement of July 1, complains how tiresome it is to have to set the record straight, and then, in the guise of doing so, goes on to mislead your readers in a number of particulars.

Mr. Pimentel states, “Wind power will reduce our oil dependence. Transportation, home heating and some electricity, comprising 62 per cent of our Island energy use, is derived from oil…”

How can this be when the transportation sector alone uses 70 percent of our oil? ISO New England, the regional power grid operator, reports that in 2000, roughly 15 percent of New England’s electricity came from oil-fired power plants. Today, it’s roughly 1.3 percent.

“Some may recall that Cape Wind was pushed as a way to reduce our dependence on oil for electricity,” said Mark Forest, chief of staff for congressman William Delahunt. “Looks like much has already been accomplished — without Cape Wind.”

Mr. Pimentel writes, “Wind power will reduce carbon dioxide emissions — about 1.3 pounds for every kilowatt hour we generate with wind.”

This, of course, assumes that wind can be “harvested” and used when needed. Unfortunately, without the ability to store wind for future use when needed, it can’t.

A far more effective and less expensive way to reduce CO2 emissions is to put some of the inordinate public money currently devoted to subsidizing wind and use it for conservation — both retrofitting, thereby creating jobs and saving money estimated to be as much as $130 billion per year, and reducing emissions by 1.1 gigatons a year.

Mr. Pimentel writes, “National Grid will pay about a third more per kilowatt hour for energy generated by Cape Wind than conventional sources… Vineyard Power members will pay less than they do now…”

If only that were true. Cape Wind is two to three times higher, not one third higher. They have contracted for 20.7-24.4 cents in year one This rises to 40 cents per kilowatt hour in the final year of the contract. Today, people pay 8 cents per kWh. This is a windfall for the developer and a good deal less than a bargain to the rest of us who pay for it as both tax payers and rate payers.

Mr. Pimentel asks, “As noted in the ad, taxpayers will pay 30 per cent of the cost to construct offshore wind turbines. According to Saturday’s New York Times, taxpayers already pay oil, coal, and gas companies $4 billion a year in subsidies that began in the late 19th century, to help stimulate a new business then. Give you any ideas?”

Cape Wind alone, one project among many, would receive $600 million in subsidies. Give you any ideas?

If the economics are so propitious, why are Walmart and others opposed to the Cape Wind contract because of its high price per kWh? Why did Spain just decide to eliminate subsidies for wind?

It is understandable that Mr. Pimentel, president of Vineyard Power, would take the position he does, but perhaps his enthusiasm for wind has somewhat dimmed his objectivity.

Wind is not a silver bullet. It may be silver buckshot —but at what cost and allocation of resources that could go to more effective and efficient sources of alternative energy?

Let’s be smart in our public expenditures for a sustainable environment.

Andrew Goldman

Chilmark

Director of POINT