The question is blowing in the wind


Re March 18 Yukon News article Wind-Turbine Money Gone Like The Wind and March 24 letter Change Is In The Wind:

The article interviewing John Maissan and his follow-up letter a few days later, promoting wind energy, needs a consumer perspective added.

First, have the two turbines on Haeckel Hill, which Maissan was instrumental in setting up, resulted in a positive scenario?

In other words, have they proven to be a viable alternative to other energy sources?

I think not.

If a true cost-benefit analysis was run on this exercise, I am more than certain that the taxpayer/ratepayer dollars spent (for example, $1-million cost for the small 150 kilowatt turbine and the $3-million Vesta 660 much larger one; the several thousands of dollars to set them up and build a transmission line linking them to the grid; thousands of dollars spent on operating and maintenance each year; thousands of dollars on rime-icing equipment and installing; thousands of dollars of continuous reparation; and then thousands of dollars paid to rate base profits) would show a failed experiment.

Either this was a very unsuccessful research-and-development project, or it was simply undertaken as an attempt to be politically correct at the time.

In the years 2007 and 2008, these two wind turbines produced zero energy in the winter months when we actually could use a bit of extra power on the Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro grid.

For the remaining months of these two years, power production has been very marginal. For this year, I can see the two turbines from where I live, and the blades have not been turning at all.

And now you want more money invested in wind energy?

The Yukon is full of rivers.

Every community has a river flowing alongside the residences and businesses, which require electrical energy.

Why would you not want to invest or at least do a similar R&D on a run-of-the-river project? And maybe it could be done in an area where we actually need an alternative to diesel power, like Old Crow or Destruction Bay?

If this was done properly, power could be supplied 24-7, 12 months of the year, with negligible environmental consequences.

If you want to develop wind and solar energy in the Yukon, it would appear to me to be a lot more credible to develop an independent power producer policy and allow individuals to set up small-scale units and sell their surplus back to the grid.

Very small-scale. The problem is to convince the utility companies and government to implement such a policy.

The title of the article, however, was appropriate: Wind-turbine money gone like the wind!

Roger Rondeau, president, Utilities Consumers’ Group