LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Walla should support clean energy

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Jim Thorn (letter to the editor on Feb 28) challenged the decision by the Bonneville Power Administration to compensate wind turbine owners for their loses during the shutdown last spring. He claims that if the wind farms were truly generating electricity their owners would have no legitimate cause to be angry about overproduction.

He then illogically jumps to the conclusion wind farms are swindling their customers and asserts that the owners do not need to be refunded because their losses are imaginary.

I disagree with this statement on three fundamental levels.

First of all, we have clear evidence that windmills are in fact generating large amounts of energy. According to BPA's website, wind farms are currently generating about 3,000 megawatts in just the Pacific Northwest - no small contribution.

Secondly, the wind farm owners have a valid reason for not wanting to shut down production. According to the Feb 8 article in the U-B, they are losing both tax credits and federal incentives by not running the wind turbines. While it helps to be reimbursed for half of that lost money, windmill owners are looking for a long-term solution rather than just a temporary bandage. They want to work out a balanced management system in which everyone can sell electricity on the grid and no one loses revenue.

The third and most important concept is that wind energy is a renewable technology that needs to be developed. Wind turbines emit no pollutants and have minimal environmental impacts in comparison with the detrimental aspects of our current energy sources.

Dams undoubtedly have important benefits, but, no matter what your opinion on hydroelectricity, they do hinder fish passage and eliminate habitat.

Also, independent of your acceptance or denial of global climate change, the production and use of fossil fuels causes death (mine and drill rig explosions) and illness (e.g. black lung disease).

It seems only logical that Walla Walla continue to expand and support its clean, local energy industry. According to ABC News, wind power is currently the fastest growing energy source in the world and seems to be a realistic part of our future.

Essentially, there are two aspects to the solution of this overproduction dilemma.

Short term, we ought to reallocate money and develop a more successful power distribution plan that can accommodate changing quantities of electricity from wind, thermal and hydropower.

Long term we need to utilize and appreciate the valuable resources surrounding us and incorporate alternative energy sources such as wind power into everyday life.

Chelan Pauly

Walla Walla

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