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The viable alternative to fossil fuels is using less energy

In her letter to the editor, Virginia Irvine of Windwise Massachusetts writes: "Encouraging the replacement of old energy-hog refrigerators for one-half of the households in Massachusetts could generate a substantial savings in electricity use."

To the editor:

Victor Feldman, a reporter covering the Berkshire Community College energy forum on Monday June 19, 2017 for The Berkshire Edge said “… wind turbines generate nearly twice the electricity of photovoltaic cells and are the most viable alternatives to fossil fuels.” Yes, wind turbine capacity factor is greater than solar which is at the bottom of the list of electricity generators. Rooftop solar arrays average 16 percent; however, utility scale solar facilities have a higher capacity factor of 20 percent according to the U.S Energy Information Administration. But while Hoosac wind project has a capacity factor of 40 percent it only produces 0.0018th of the electricity used in Massachusetts – an insignificant amount of electricity for its large footprint covering two mountain ranges.

The most “viable alternative to fossil fuels” is to use less electricity. I calculated a monthly saving of approximately 55.25 kilowatt hours on my electric bill after installing a new energy efficient refrigerator. Encouraging the replacement of old energy-hog refrigerators for one-half of the households in Massachusetts could generate a substantial savings in electricity use — 810,047 megawatt hours per year equivalent to the output of eight Hoosac wind projects. According to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, energy efficiency costs a fraction of the price of generating power; therefore, it is the “first fuel.” The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center could easily fund a replacement program for energy-hog refrigerators with the $140 million it is sitting on from the Renewable Energy Trust Fund, the surcharge it collects from commercial and residential electric bills.

Land-based wind turbines in Massachusetts have limitations in affecting climate change. The negative impacts on homeowners, their families and the environment should be of primary importance. Participants at the BCC forum on Monday June 19, 2017 made that clear.

Virginia Irvine

Brimfield, Mass.

The writer is a member of the Windwise Massachusetts Board of Directors.

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