In June 2009 Dr. Dora Mills released a health study, which (of course) I critiqued. Along with not being able to find any negative health issues with wind turbines she also mentioned their positive health benefits due to reduced emissions. Her numbers came from Maine’s Department of Environment Protection, but I couldn’t find how the DEP came up with them. Just recently I came across a series of emails that were obtained via the FOAA in Maine, and in there was my answer! My main concern with her health study is her inability to find any health effects from wind turbines so the emissions numbers are a sideshow. I ordinarily wouldn’t bother with a separate posting on them, except the DEP’s method was so dishonest I felt I had to.
Let’s start with what Mills said:
According to the Maine DEP, if Maine generated 5% of its electricity from wind power, there would be significant pollution cuts:
o 464,520 tons per year of CO2
o 252 tons per year of SO2
o 147 tons per year of NOx
And sure enough, in an email from David Littell, the DEP Commissioner, is the following:The NRCM is the National Resources Council of Maine. Mills decided to use the DEP’s numbers from the first column. Where did Littell get these numbers? Later in the same email is this:If you do the math you can verify this is where Mills’ final numbers come from. So far everything seems pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? This is where being retired has its advantages.
I start checking to see where the DEP got the above numbers from. First thing was to find which year they used. From the EIA’s web site (table 5), the only year where Maine generated close to 16.8MMW-Hr was 2006. In the last box above the “New England on-peak marginal emission rate” is mentioned, so a google quickly turns up the 2006 New England Marginal Emission Rate Analysis [backup link]. Looking in the Executive Summary, page 4, we find Table 1.1:
Sure enough, the numbers the DEP uses are in there. But note which numbers the DEP uses. In all cases they select the largest available number, which is the on-peak value. Why didn’t they pick the more honest average number? After all, wind turbines don’t just produce during on-peak periods. So right away the DEP isn’t being honest. It gets worse. The table above is an aggregation for the entire New England region. Wouldn’t it be more honest to use figures just for Maine, if they were available? In section 5.4, page 25, we find just such a series of tables:
NOx: used 0.35 -> 0.16.
SO2: used 0.60 -> 0.09.
CO2: used 1106 -> 975.
In all cases even using their own sources the beneficial numbers the DEP provided Mills are overstated. You might say, especially in the case of CO2, that there isn’t much difference. But notice that the direction of the mistakes are consistent. This cannot be an honest mistake. It shows the DEP was intent on deceiving us.
I also have problems with the ISO source even to begin with. Notice the word “calculated” on all of these tables. Apparently the ISO has never bothered to actually measure anything. Wouldn’t you think that before spending billions of dollars on a scheme to reduce emissions, you’d make sure you were really doing so?
As it turns out, the evidence is pretty clear that wind energy results in no CO2 emissions savings at all, while NOx and SO2 are increased. To be fair to the DEP (although they don’t deserve it), this latest evidence was publicized after these emails.
It seems apparent to me that the Maine DEP has ceased caring about the environment and now has an agenda of supporting the governor’s wind-energy push, regardless of the environmental consequences. I can only hope the Maine voters become aware of how their government has been hijacked before too much damage is done.
Update, Nov 5 – oops, I forgot to provide links for the FOAA emails. I originally found them courtesy of windaction.org, and I have them available under my reference materials – look down to “mills—-“, especially 4a.