Wind Energy Resource Atlas of US map showing potential wind areas rated 3 to 7 (Please click on map to enlarge.)
This page addresses the debate over the construction of coal-fired power plants in White Pine County, Nevada, to produce electricity for Las Vegas, 250 miles south, and other southern Nevada sites. Over 5 gallons of oil are required just to transport each ton of coal the 683 miles from Powder River, Wyoming, to White Pine County, Nevada, not to mention mining demands. The Reno Gazette Journal's assertion (editorial Sept. 11, 2007) that "..purely green technologies are in their infancy and the costs are prohibitive..." is outrageous. So many renewable technologies, including wind power generation, have been well developed for decades (and longer), but the United States has not put them into full implementation.
Areas rated 4 and higher are suitable for wind power production.
According to the American Wind Energy Association,www.awea.org , installed wind energy generating capacity in the US now totals 9,149 megawatts.Worldwide, utility Ėscale wind turbines total about 17,000 megawatts generating capacity. Utility-scale wind systems generate electricity for costs as low as 3.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. The costs will go down as they go into mass production, but the construction of more coal-fired power plants reduces that possibility. While southern Nevada electricity demand increases by 3% per year, these plants are designed for needs for decades to come. Enough wind towers could be built yearly to keep up with the demand, as that future potential doesn't need to be build all at once, as a coal-fired power plant would require. One large utility-scale wind turbine can produce 1.8 MW of power and supply enough electricity for 600 homes. For decades wind power generation has been widely used by foreign countries to a far larger degree than in the U.S., and the technology is well advanced. An Internet search would easily confirm, such as the American Wind Energy Association.
The basin-range topography of Nevada lends itself ideally to late afternoon winds coinciding with utility peak load demands, because the sunís warming of the valleys leads to rising air currents along the slopes, increasing in the afternoon to coincide with peak loads from summer air conditioning and winter lighting and heating needs. The transmission losses and construction costs from Ely far outweigh the slightly lower wind values in Clark County. Please see attached map from Wind Energy Resource Atlas of US showing feasible wind areas rated 3 to 7, viewable at http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/maps/chap3/3-56m.html . For more information about wind energy, see the American Wind Energy Society. Senator Ensignís assertion that transmission lines built for proposed White Pine power plants would be necessary for wind energy to reach Clark County is erroneous.He makes the assumption that wind power must come from White Pine, 250 miles north, requiring huge expense building lines over mountain ranges, and ignores the extensive areas with good wind potential within 60 miles of Las Vegas, along valleys opening into the metropolis.Nor does Ensign consider the huge amount of oil necessary to transport millions of tons of coal 683 miles from Powder River, Wyoming, annually.(It requires in excess of 5 gallons of oil to transport one ton of coal that distance over flat land.)The price of renewable facilities will drop as more are constructed.