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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Friday, December 20, 2008
The Editor
The Calgary Herald 

Re: Wind power in line for $1.83b grid boost (December 18) 

The Alberta Electric System Operator’s proposal of transmission lines for wind power, projects a “Field of Dreams” aura that transcends reason.   

AESO proposes to build a $1.83 billion transmission line to support 2700 MW of wind capacity that may or may not materialize.  The deleterious effects and increased costs of generating electricity from existing or new coal and natural gas fuelled generators which must ramp up and down in power to accommodate the capricious output of wind generators is only hinted at. There is no discussion of the very expensive energy storage/generation systems needed to “unlock the potential” of wind generated electricity so it could be useable independent from the back up systems that now subsidize it through the provision of reliable electricity. 

What is made clear is that the high cost of the oversized transmission system needed to cope with erratic wind power will be borne by electricity users as part of their monthly bill.  

Granted, transmission lines are needed, and the planned line could serve other kinds of generators. Still the line is likely much larger and more extravagant than would be needed for alternatives which steadily provide electricity whether the wind blows – or not. 

The sad side of this expensive experimentation with wind power, which may ultimately work to demonstrate its inadequacies to all, is that engineers already know how electrical supply systems work and have a good idea how much various components will cost. Is their knowledge irrelevant to decisions and actions which set the stage for our electricity supply system? 

Perhaps this apparent infatuation with wind energy is just part of a convoluted initiative to demonstrate to the world that Alberta is focused on green energy. Can Albertans really afford to play expensive “green wash” games with national and international environmental organizations? I don’t think so. We need solid engineering that ensures our hard earned dollars will not be frittered away in vaguely defined public relations games as a frivolous alternative to providing electricity at reasonable cost. 

Yours truly, 


Duane Pendergast


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