Cohocton Wind Watch: US Department of Energy September 17, 2009 Response to Mr. Bowers
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

US Department of Energy September 17, 2009 Response to Mr. Bowers

Dear Mr. Bowers:

Thank you for writing to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regarding your concerns about wind power development in New York State. Your letter was forwarded to DOE's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program for response.

The Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program works to foster the responsible development of wind power so that local communities can enjoy its benefits. We provide local policymakers with objective information on the benefits and costs of wind power development to help them make informed decisions on wind power in their communities. For example, the program provides model ordinances for local officials to consider when evaluating the siting requirements of commercial wind energy projects. The program also collects case studies evaluating the economic impacts of wind power development in specific states and counties, and provides communities with financial analysis tools to help them evaluate local economic impacts of wind power development. Finally, in response to feedback from local communities, the program funds research on the effects of wind power development on property values and wildlife populations, and will commence a study of the impacts on scenic viewsheds in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Wind and Hydropower Technologies has undertaken considerable analysis of wind power's role in the nation's energy supply and determined that wind power can meet a substantial part of the nation's electricity needs. Last year DOE released a major report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030, which finds that wind power could feasibly supply 20% of the nation's electricity without requiring any major technological breakthroughs. Many nations already rely on wind energy to supply a large part of their electricity. Roughly 20% of Denmark's electricity is generated from wind, while Spain, Ireland and Germany respectively generate 12%, 9% and 7% of their electricity from wind. The 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report finds that wind would supply enough energy to displace roughly 50% of electric utility natural gas consumption and 18% of coal consumption by 2030, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 825 million metric tons annually.

As you point out, wind power's variability and intermittency present challenges to grid operators. However, variations in wind plant output should be considered in the context of an electrical grid designed to cope with both rapid changes in electricity demand and unplanned losses of output from major thermal generators. Flexible, quickly-dispatched generators allow grid operators to maintain grid stability by matching electricity production, including the varying output of wind power plants, with varying demand. Wind power generators do not need to be fully backed up by gas turbines because grid operators must match electricity output and demand across the entire grid, not for each individual power plant. Furthermore, as wind turbines are installed across larger geographic areas, the aggregated wind power output becomes more predicable and less variable. Finally, the Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program is developing tools and strategies, such as improved wind forecasting techniques, to improve the integration of wind energy into the electrical grid. The program has participated in several studies of wind energy integration that demonstrate that significant wind energy generation can be integrated cost-effectively into electric grid systems, with wind power's variability and uncertainty imposing ancillary costs of less than $5/MWh.

Thank you for your interest in renewable energy.

Sincerely,

Patrick Gilman
Environmental Specialist
Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
US Department of Energy
patrick.gilman@ee.doe.gov
202.586.3449

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