SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 21, 2013

Letter: Betting the farm on dumb decisions

To the editor:

There can be no resolution to the Salem power plant debate as long as they talk past each other. It’s like shadow boxing. Instead of throwing punches in the air, they hurl invectives tinged with disjointed anecdotes that are portrayed as technical know-how. They also throw in a guilt trip. We must have due process (which means use the courts to delay and delay...) and do our part to save the world from AGW (Al Gore Warming).

The real issue is the elite NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd cannot tolerate anything at all productive. Don’t believe me. Just suggest a mega-megawatt wind farm located at Halfway Rock or Misery Island, but remember to duck.

Technology is a long way off from providing electricity 24/7 powered by anything but coal, oil, gas or nukes. (The destruction of existing dams puts hydro-electric power in the non-dependable column.) Until there is an effective, inexpensive electrical storage device (batteries aren’t there yet) wind and solar are relegated to very expensive supplemental, fringe input to the grid. (Take away the subsidies and how many would pay full price plus the cost of subsidizing conventional power plants to be on standby?)

The technical capability and experience to predict the system reliability with about 350 power plants with different failure rates due to their different point in their life cycle and response times (how fast they can be brought on line from a cold start) is not something I would expect to find on the LinkedIn page of a local politician. Definitely having kept the lights on when Salem had the unexpected, extended down time is a credit to ISO and not something to be casually dismissed with vague references to “the feasibility of replacing that lost power through energy efficiencies, renewables and a number of other measures” by a state agency that doesn’t have to make it happen.

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