Ok, I’ll concede that there are problems with wind energy. But I won’t concede throwing that option out. Why, because not only did I look into what was not being said about wind, but I also looked into what that which was not being discussed by natural gas or coal….

And my conclusion was that even with the problems aforementioned with the wind scheme, those other two options, both gas and coal, have far more serious economic flaws built into their proposals, and that without public discussion, and the usual shell games performed by our lobbiests, certain members of our legislature just might be bamboozled into unknowingly escalating our electric rates another 60%, just as they did with deregulation.

As I write this, the consultants who gave a preliminary look over all the data, are confirming to the News Journal that the gas fired plant is first, the Blue Water initiative is second, and the coal gasification plant is third. And, although it is not considered an option, Delmarva is positioning itself as a proponent for a fourth option: to leave our system as it is.

Anyone who loves this earth as I do and considers stewardship of this planet as their personal responsibility, has already made their choice. But I am not writing this for you.

Instead I want to focus on the economics of energy consumption and bring up new theories of which you may not be aware. These will have serious consequences if overlooked. They must be considered.

Gas fired leads the pack, or so we were told. There are some benefits. Gas plants are the easiest and the cheapest to build and bring on line. Depending on the data given, they were the most economical way to produce electricity, roughly between 4 and 5 cents a kilowatt hour. Comparatively, wind energy in a perfect atmosphere, can get as low as 2.3 cents a kilowatt hour, but if you factor the cost of standby idling power plants for lulls, the price can climb to over 7 cents a kilowatt hour. Coal, runs between 5 and 6 cents a kilowatt hour.

That’s it. Gas. Let’s go with it.

Before we sign the dotted line, there is something we should know. Gas has almost tripled its cost in six years. It costs three times more to get a kilowatt-hour from gas now than it did during the Clinton presidency. Domestic natural gas extraction has peaked and is on the down side. Only the development of eco sensitive off shore areas in Florida, will provide any hope of increasing local supply. Among industry professionals, all future hope for maintaining supply lies in bringing LNG ships in from the Middle East. Some estimates predict that we only have 20 years of natural gas supplies left. Only Saudi Arabia will have natural gas after that time. And we all know what depending on Saudi oil did for gasoline prices……..

Throughout the nineties, natural gas was touted as the clean cheap fuel. The price never rose above 3 dollars per MMbtus.
Between 2000 and 2004 we had three spikes where it rose over 9 dollars. Currently the speculation is hedging on 6 to 7 dollars a MMbtu. This points to the flaw of gas as a fuel for Delaware. Although it is cheap to build and bring on line, it is at the mercy of the wildly fluctuating price of natural gas. And do not fail to remember New England in 2003, when all natural gas was routed to heat homes and business and none was left to fire up power plants, on which most of New England’s power is derived, because they were built in the nineties when natural gas was cheap..

Generating power from natural gas, is still a viable option economically, if it is done next to a well. This would be a good option in Alberta, or southwestern Iraq, where the waste product from drilling could be turned into electricity at the source. Likewise, depending how much natural gas is spun off from the cracking of crude oil, refineries, instead of wasting the waste gas in a flair, could use it to generate power, as is done in Delaware City, right next to the Valero refinery.

The problem with gas is it’s supply. Not so with coal……Totally missed by the news media, was an incident on June 8th. George Bush, speaking to builders and engineers, said “and what about coal. We have 250 million years of supply left.” I don’t know which was more troubling. The fact that normal Americans do not comprehend how just how little energy we have, or the the nations chief executive is also unaware”…. He meant to say 250 years. That seems like a long time, but is it? As we run out of gas and oil, we most likely will gasify our coal deposits, turning it into a diesel fuel and gas to heat homes. Meanwhile China is bringing a brand new power plant on line every week, and India is doing the same, but not as fast, can we assume our current usage of coal will stay flat. Most energy experts say no, and say that if you look back to 1840 we had 11,000 years of coal, and in 1937 we had 4407 years of coal left. And some of those reserves lie under National parks and residential areas. Will we be so desperate as to mine them too. We may run out much sooner.

So when one looks back to the past, and sees what happens to both availability and price as energy becomes scarce, one realizes that there is NO WAY oil and gas will not rise. Therefore any action we base on data from the 1990’s will lead us down the same path as did deregulation of Delmarva: somewhere down the road we will have to pay another 60% increase.

Against this future scenario, wind looks good. When we choose wind power, all we pay for is the initial investment and repairs. With insurance, the utilities future repairs can be reduced to a fixed cost. The wind is free. If the wind blows, we receive some of the most efficient energy available on this planet. If it doesn’t, we are buying the same oil and gas generated power we would have had anyway. The difference, is that every time the wind blows, our average kilowatt rates go down. Even if it is not perfect, it sure beats sending excess money up the smokestack in the form of hot air…..

So when someone tells you that wind power is not so wonderful after all, and gives you a litany of reasons, tell him you agree and then tell that person that with all things considered, all the other alternatives are worse……………..