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Renewable energy is not all green

Commentary

I had a discussion with a retired state official about the July 24 Editor’s corner “Lake turbines part of new power play” by John D’Agostino in The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER. My friend preferred not to have his name used, and realizing that the new standards in journalism allow for “unidentified sources” I thought we should hear from this individual who is close to the subject.

In response to that article, he said:

“There is more to be told that the state energy policy makers would rather not be known. The article makes renewable energy look far better than it is. How, can hydropower, the only reliable and true renewable resource, be included in the percentage calculations of renewable generation? Wind is less than 2% at best, solar is about the same. So 17-18% of generated renewable power was hydro and only 1-2% from solar or wind. Also, solar and wind power cost five to six times more than hydro or nuclear or hydrocarbon power.

“Wind and solar are only renewable if you completely disregard all of the hazardous waste of construction and demolition and disposal, heavy metals, steel, concrete, copper, rare earth metals, magnets and wastes. All of the turbine blades that wear out routinely and must be replaced are not recyclable and consume a huge landfill space of non-recyclable fiberglass. All of the solar cells that break down every year are hazardous waste — all of it. The solar constituents are toxic heavy metals, silicates and glues all non recyclable. Any fair minded, reasonable and accurate assessment readily demonstrates this. Maybe that is why energy moguls don’t clearly disclose it.

“Any time the unreliable wind and sun power is being brought into the system, stand by reliable power must be instantly available. Reliable sources are petrol, coal, hydro or nuclear plants. That power and those plants must be instantly available to avoid brownouts, blackouts and system failure. So as the plants are already running to back up the unreliable ones you are saving nothing – just expending more money to cover the unreliable ones. It can take up to five days to spin up a coal plant and the same or more to power it down, not instant and a lot of waste. It is far more efficient if kept running.

“Solar and hydropower have no storage capacity. The rare earth minerals required to manufacture and run these ‘green’ systems, come from China, and are super expensive.

“Rare earth metals are needed for every cell phone on the planet and the integrated circuits in all electronics including military and defensive applications and weapons. How reliable and affordable a source do you think China will be? What happens when the supply is either exhausted or withheld?

“Neither turbines nor solar in the real world work or are affordable or reliable. Neither of these work at all without being heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. Remember, the government is only spending our money. And then this governor will try to force the system to pay five or six times more for these unreliable un green systems. Who profits from this and how? Follow the money back to huge international conglomerates, investors and campaign contributors not you or me or the public in general. We haven’t even gotten to the deleterious effects on the fish, wildlife and humans.”

That commentary is thanks to a conscientious former state employee.

Karen Engstrom is a Mayville resident.

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