- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

Your article “High-voltage opposition to a power plan” (Citizen Journalism, Tuesday) should warn us of the folly of politicians claiming that wind power will replace coal plants for generating electricity.

Termed a monstrosity by many politicians and others, the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is a proposed transmission line from the existing John Amos coal power plant near Winfield, W.Va., through part of Virginia to Frederick County, Md. It requires a swath 275 miles long, 2,200 feet wide, and will have towers of 200 feet (20 stories) high. PATH will provide no new electrical power, but it will service parts of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland as a backup to an electrical grid that may be overloaded.

The strident opposition to PATH may become an opening skirmish to a prolonged and costly war to bring electricity to the East Coast if the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill becomes law. Massive wind farms and transmission lines will be required to replace compact coal generation. Few making such demands admit to the size and scope of these projects, which will not enhance our productivity or prosperity.

For example, the John Amos plant has a nameplate capacity of 2,933 megawatts; assuming 90 percent efficiency, it has an effective capacity of 2,640 megawatts and occupies less than one square mile. Using the calculations of T. Boone Pickens, to obtain the same nameplate capacity in windy North Texas, a wind farm requires an area of 396 square miles. But wind power is only about 25 percent efficient, so the same effective capacity requires 1,584 square miles.

Under ideal conditions, to replace the Amos power plant with wind power would require an area of almost 14 PATHs (275 miles long and 5.8 miles wide), covered with wind turbines 200 feet high - even before calculating transmission lines, backup generating power when the wind fails, etc.

How many PATHs will it take to replace effective, compact coal on the East Coast with unreliable electricity from far-off places? How many of those supporting the Waxman-Markey ration-and-tax (RAT) bill, officially known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, will support such facilities?



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