Wind Power Can Blow Away Blackout Blues

As more than 50 million Americans and Canadians recover from the Blackout of 2003, conversations turn to the future and how to avoid this kind of disaster from happening again. At the Renewable Energy for Wyoming Conference in Douglas, Wyoming, discussions will undoubtedly focus on how wind power and other sustainable energy sources can play a larger role in the prevention of future catastrophic blackouts.

Douglas, Wyoming – August 25, 2003 [] According to New York-based developer Arcadia Windpower and its Wyoming partner, HTH Wind Energy, a featured conference participant, wind power can help solve some of the problems that contributed to the blackout and can help reduce the likelihood of future blackouts. “This first ever renewable energy conference in the state of Wyoming comes at a time of rising fossil fuel prices and concern about grid reliability,” said Dan Leach, CEO of HTH Wind Energy. “Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal deserves credit for his focus on renewables and their benefits to his state. With 140 megawatts of wind electricity generators spinning, wind in Wyoming will stimulate economic development, help stabilize electricity prices, and provide fuel diversity in the state’s generation mix.” According to Arcadia Windpower, grid stability can be achieved through distributed generation, placing generating facilities throughout the region’s grid so that when one section of the grid goes down, the distribution facilities are able to keep the rest of the grid in operation. Wind farms are particularly suitable for this strategy because they are scalable in nature and therefore can be sized according to local energy needs. Fossil fuel plants, on the other hand, can work only as large-scale power plants. “Wind power, which is naturally clean, safe, and renewable, is also perfectly suited to strengthening the grid, which is what’s important after a blackout like the one we had last week,” said Peter D. Mandelstam, founder and president of Arcadia Windpower. “Wind power needs to be part of the short-term solution and long-term reliability of the grid.” Additionally, wind farms, which can be plugged directly into a metropolitan area like New York City or a local pocket such as Long Island, can also ease transmission bottlenecks, according to Arcadia Windpower. The company maintains that transmission bottlenecks north of New York City that likely contributed to the Blackout of 2003 could have been reduced had a wind farm in close proximity been in place and operating, such as the off-shore project currently proposed for the south shore of Long Island. “One of the most attractive features of wind power and off-shore wind, in particular, is the ability to site a plant close to where the electricity will be used,” said Tom Gray, Deputy Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association. “The recent blackout makes a compelling case for a wind plant off of Long Island that can deliver electricity directly to neighboring communities and the region.” According to Arcadia Windpower, another benefit of wind power in a blackout situation is that as long as the grid is operating, a wind power facility can begin generating electricity almost immediately. In contrast, nuclear and fossil fuel plants must go through long restart and warm-up procedures of up to 48 hours. Time is also reduced in the development of wind power generating facilities, which can be built in just six to nine months. A conventional power plant generally cannot be completed from design to operation in less than two years.
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