Writer misinformed about wind’s ability to generate power
In his Aug. 26 letter, “Take note of changing views on climate change,” Vito Spinelli discounts the viability of “alternative” energy sources such as solar and wind.
While I don’t disagree with some of the points he is trying to make about Mother Nature’s impact on the environment, Mr. Spinelli provides misleading information about alternative energy which makes his argument less compelling than it might otherwise be.
Mr. Spinelli focuses on wind power as an example, so that will be my focus also. Mr. Spinelli states, “Wind farms require large land areas. A 1,000 megawatt fossil fuel or nuclear plant powers 100,000 homes. A wind farm supplying these homes would require 2,000 square miles, roughly the size of Delaware. They do not operate when there is no wind.” He provides no source for this information.
In New York state, we have the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in the Tug Hill Plateau area. This is one of the largest wind farms east of the Mississippi. This facility consists of 195 towers (Vestas model V82). Each tower generates 1.65 megawatts. Total generating capacity is about 320 megawatts. This wind farm is currently providing the electricity for just over 100,000 homes in upstate New York. The facility site includes approximately 21,000 acres of land.
Although much of this remains in active use as income-generating farmland, and the towers themselves use only about 1 percent of the land, let’s accept the 21,000-acre figure as the total area necessary to operate the wind farm and the appropriate rights of way.
I am well aware that opinions about the Maple Ridge Wind Farm run the gamut from “economic boon” to “environmental catastrophe.” But the fact that the wind farm exists on 21,000 acres of land and is providing electricity to about 100,000 homes is not in dispute. Twenty-one thousand acres is approximately 32 square miles. So Mr. Spinelli’s statement about the land area required by a wind farm to provide electricity to 100,000 homes is off by a factor of over 60. And, yes, wind-generated energy can be stored for later use. It just makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the information he is providing.
My own view on energy usage in this country is that we will have to depend on a mix of conventional fossil fuels and alternatives such as wind and solar for many years to come. As “conventional” sources of energy become more expensive, economics will likely dictate a switch to a larger percentage of alternative sources over time.
There is no form of energy extraction that comes without cost. There is no form of energy extraction that is 100 percent fail-safe in terms of its effect on the environment.
I will leave the debate over the relative merits of fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, etc., to those more knowledgeable than I. What I can say is that we will most certainly need alternative energy sources in the future, and passing along misinformation does not help to move the discussion forward in any meaningful way.
Path to wellness should not include tobacco
Recently Rep. Paul Tonko stopped by to highlight “The Pathway to Wellness” at the newly renovated Rite Aid pharmacy on Eastern Avenue in Schenectady, in an effort to bring attention to the important role that pharmacies play in the health care system.
He stated [Aug. 21 Gazette story], “The pharmacies are a big part of the health care equation and the wellness equation,” and I couldn’t agree with him more.
Pharmacies and the knowledgeable pharmacists who work there are the most accessible part of our health care system. Many pharmacies are mirroring what this Rite Aid pharmacy has done, adding more health and wellness products, installing private consultation areas and providing more free testing and vaccinations.
This all sounds so good, except for one glaring problem: The majority of chain pharmacies still sell a product that is the leading cause of preventable death and disease. A study by the state Department of Health found that pharmacies have the largest tobacco product displays of any tobacco retailers, with an average of 50 square feet of tobacco products covering the front wall.
The newly renovated Wellness Rite Aid on Eastern Parkway is no exception. On a quick visit to that store, we saw that not only are the tobacco products covering the front end of the store, right next to the stop-smoking aids, but they are being promoted through price discounts, making cigarettes even more enticing to youth and the individuals who are trying to quit.
I am all for the chain pharmacies adopting a wellness format. And, in fact, the majority of independent pharmacies already do this, making it a matter of routine to promote health and wellness products, to know their customers personally and provide the information they need to manage their medications and stay healthy.
And, of course, all the independently owned pharmacies in the Capital Region do not sell cigarettes or tobacco products. Chain pharmacies that truly want to lead their customers on “the pathway to wellness” should do no less.
The writer is director of the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition.
AP writer dismissed concerns over fracking
Re July 8 AP article, “Gas industry up against legions of fracking foes,” by Mary Esch: Instead of sharing the substantive issues [retired resident] Vera Scroggins brings to the table, which has been an impetus for this movement to grow, Mary saw only buffoonery.
Who’s lying? Discover the gas industry’s dirty little secret they try to hide behind identical-looking garden sheds in Dimock and Montrose, Penn.
Friday is water delivery day. Tanks are filled to replace homeowners’ poisoned well water.
High-volume horizontal fracking gas-drilling techniques leak more methane than conventional ones. Methane is 105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming contributor.
Billions of gallons of good water that’s turned into fracking wastewater may be stored in tanks, but is radioactive. What’s to be done with it?
In Pennsylvania, 80 percent of the jobs go to out-of-state workers, including roustabouts living in man camps. It’s cheaper to hire outside labor.
The gas industry has a fortune to spend on airtime and the press. I don’t appreciate Mary’s dismissive attitude toward the real-life concerns of upstate landowners, including myself.
I thank and respect everyone, whatever their age, who’s working to bring the truth to the people.
Don’t call an abortion of convenience ‘health care’
I resist, mightily, writing letters to the editor because all I usually do is get myself into trouble with somebody, or several [people], without solving or accomplishing anything. I do tend to rant, which just leads everybody else to just stop listening.
Occasionally, though, someone else writes one that gets me smiling broadly, and I just can’t not give them a “literary” hug. I just love it when somebody speaks my mind so much better than I could’ve.
Donald A. Vanderwarker of Malta is one of them. His short, (bitter)sweet and to the point — and perfectly true — Aug. 26 letter, “Don’t equate abortion with women’s health care,” is about as good as I wish I could’ve written. Thank you, Donald.
There’s room for argument or discussion on some cases, but how dare anyone call “abortions of convenience” “health care?” Nothing “healthy” about it at all.
Re the comment in the Aug. 26 AP article, “Hundreds of lobbyists on states’ pensions,” that 120 lobbyists getting state pensions “barely make a ripple” in the huge state retirement systems because there are 633,100 current workers in the state’s $158.7 billion pension system.: Is it a ripple when they also do not have to pay any state income tax on those huge pensions, which for many of those lobbyists is well over $100,000 a year?
Is it a ripple when taxpayers also have to pick up the tab for their monthly Medicare deduction from Social Security, which is scheduled next year to be over the $100 we now pay for them, and higher the year after that?
Getting rid of all those ripples would not only be fair to the taxpayers, but those ripples could make waves in helping the state reduce its deficit.
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