Contributed by Jane Twitmyer
This is a guest article written by Loudoun county resident Jane Twitmyer. It is her testimony at the SCC PATH Hearing on February 3, 2011 at Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, VA.
Hello. My name is Jane Twitmyer, I am a resident of Loudoun County and I am here is to ask you to disallow the siting of this line. At the hearing held here on August of 2009 I made the same request. My reason then was that “the need for this addition to the grid is based on old assumptions.” A year and a half later my argument is infinitely stronger, backed up now by the reality of a changing energy landscape.
The PATH transmission line is proposed for the purpose of upgrading and expanding the amount of electricity that can be transmitted from the coal plants of West Virginia to the Mid-Atlantic States. The original application was premised on the need for additional power based on a 2006 projection. Since 2006 the need has changed dramatically. Demand for electricity has been reduced by the recession. Demand has also been reduced by the commitment of the Mid-Atlantic States to develop the next generation of renewable power sources as well as a renewed commitment to energy efficient buildings. Their commitment to Clean Power is demonstrated by strong Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) as well as the number of projects now underway. The PJM website lists 3,900+MW of offshore wind projects in the ‘queue’ on the coastline of NJ, DE, and MD.
The Mid-Atlantic commitment to Clean Energy:
DELAWARE – offshore capacity to meet 137 percent of current electric requirements (2.8GW) … RPS – 20 percent by 2019 … Power cost savings – $274million annually. (Oceana 10/10 “Untapped Wealth”)
MARYLAND – offshore capacity to meet 63-79 percent of current electric requirements even when accounting for various social, environmental, and nautical exclusion zones and conflict areas.
RPS – 20 percent by 2022 – Power cost savings
(‘Maryland’s Offshore Wind Power Potential’ A Report Sponsored by the Abell Foundation and Prepared by the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.)
NEW JERSEY – offshore capacity – 92 percent of the current needs (16GW) … RPS – 22 percent by 2021
The transmission potential for Offshore Wind on the Mid-Atlantic Bight is 6000MW by 2017.
The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) has announced their plans to build an offshore transmission backbone for wind farms on the Atlantic Bight between NY and MD. In the initial phase, the plan will be able to connect 6,000 MW of wind energy to the Eastern Grid. According to a release from the Atlantic Wind Connection the Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf. These shallow waters, which extend miles out to sea, allow for the development of large, distant wind farms, mitigating visibility issues and allowing for greater energy capture from stronger winds. With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the Atlantic coast, this transmission project will help states meet their renewable energy goals and standards by enabling the local offshore wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean, cost-effective energy.
(Markian Melnyk developed the AWC concept while researching Offshore Power: Building Renewable Energy Projects in U.S. Waters, his book on offshore renewable energy. AWC Release)
AND beyond 2017 … the second phase of AWC would reach to VA.
the Virginia Offshore Wind Studies, July 2007 to March 2010 concluded: “Development of an offshore submarine high-voltage, north-south “backbone” (with offshore interconnection capability) would enable Virginia’s large offshore wind resource area to supply Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.”
The Myths of Wind Power’s requirements for LARGE SCALE BACKUP, massive new energy STORAGE CAPACITY, and Vast Open Land availability.
Wind power opponents have claimed that wind energy requires an equivalent amount of “backup power”, negating the benefits of energy produced by the wind for fuel savings and the environment. That requirement is simply not true. The same tools that utility system operators use every day to deal with variations in electricity supply and demand can readily be used to accommodate the variability of changes in wind energy production.
System operators always maintain significant “operating reserves,” typically equal to 5-7 percent or more of total generation. In addition, grid operators provide interconnections to pool those reserves among operators, enhancing a given utility’s ability to deal with rapid and unpredictable changes in electricity demand. On the other hand, changes in wind supply actually occur more gradually when wind turbines are spread over a reasonably large area, as they are in offshore projects, giving the operator time to bring reserves online. On average, adding 3 MW of wind energy to the U.S. electric grid would at most require anywhere from 0 to 0.01 MW of additional spinning reserves, and 0 to 0.07 MW of non-spinning reserves. Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
In addition, wind turbines generate more power than on-shore turbines because wind speeds are generally greater offshore, the wind itself is steadier and the blades used can be larger. The ‘sea breeze effect’ of wind farms this far offshore means that the power generated from the offshore turbines occurs during times of high electricity use. Finally, transmission loss is minimized as the power is produced close to the major population center. 75% of the population lives in relatively proximity to our coastline.
Substantial Investment is required now in our power industries
$70+ Billion is the cost estimated by several large banks to upgrade or replace our current power plants. That investment must occur over the next 10-20 years and is based only partially on the requirement to meet enforced and expanded Clean Air regulations. The main reason is the age of the plants. Seventy percent of our coal plants and all of our nuclear facilities are more than 30 years old. Thirty percent of the coal plants in the U.S. are more than 40 years old. Some have no pollution controls installed at all. They must be replaced and upgraded and that will require a massive investment.
The Better Investment … Use less & develop micro-power or energy produced on-site.
Renewable energy and efficiency can save Mid-Atlantic ratepayers billions by 2020, and more billions by 2030.
From a report published by Duke and Georgia Tech in 2010 “Energy Efficiency in the South”
“Under realistic renewable expansion and policy scenarios, the region could economically supply a large proportion of its future electricity needs from both utility-scale and customer-owned renewable energy sources.”
The nine energy efficiency policies evaluated in Energy Efficiency in the South could reduce energy costs for Maryland consumers and could generate jobs in the State. Energy savings of $2.1billion would accrue to customers in 2020 and $3.6 billion in 2030.
Rooftop solar PV can meet up to 86% of total US residential electricity demand. This estimate excludes 35 percent of commercial and 78 percent of the residential roof area in the US as not well sited for solar.
New Jersey ranks second only to California in installed solar capacity in the U.S. with over 5,800 rooftop installations.
Finally, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has produced guidelines based on research and best practices that will save 54-58 percent of energy used in medium and large commercial buildings.
A recent study from the Pew Foundation is entitled, Global Clean Power, a $2.3 Trillion Opportunity. The study states that policy matters if we are to seize this opportunity. One small part of that opportunity is before us today. Careful analyses, many quoted here, predict that with substantial investment in Clean Energy, we will save consumers money, provide jobs, develop new manufacturing capacity and protect our health. The PATH line represents old thinking. It was developed using an outdated energy model and should be rejected.