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Letter to Editor Staten Island Advance – June 1, 2008

letter to editor

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I’m often asked whether I think wind power can help meet our electricity needs. My answer is yes: Wind has a role to play in the energy mix. But wind can’t do the job by itself.

Because wind is by nature an intermittent and somewhat unpredictable power source, it has to be backed up by more reliable power sources, like gas, nuclear and hydro.

On the other hand, when the wind is blowing, it is often possible to reduce fossil fuel-based electricity generation, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution. This is beneficial to both the environment and human health.

The path toward cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions lies in the reduction of fossil fuels and an energy mix that favors nuclear energy and renewables such as hydro, wind and biomass.

There are leaders in government who understand this. Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro is one.

I’ve spoken to the borough president about his efforts to site a wind farm at the former Fresh Kills landfill by Earth Day 2009. He’s gone over his plans with me in detail, and his initiative is admirable, not least because he has offered his borough’s own back yard for the development of this project, bucking the Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) trend that has derailed other wind farm proposals.

If Borough President Molinaro succeeds in bringing the wind farm about, then during strong wind periods it could produce enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. And during those times, gas plants could be turned off, thus avoiding large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions.

By combining wind with other clean energy technologies, and encouraging new technologies such as smart metering, New York can take a positive step towards reducing the use of fossil fuels. This, in turn, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

New York can continue on its path toward clean energy by encouraging new wind energy developments.

The time for common sense, for scientifically sound decisions on energy and support for clean energy generation, is here and now.

[The writer is an adviser to the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA), and is also a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd.]

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