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The Limitations of Wind-Generated Power

There are two locations in California where wind and solar power are notably adaptable. One of them, the Altamont Pass, mentioned in the editorial, contributes significantly to local requirements. The increase in wind velocity off the Pacific Coast is so predictable that you can almost set your watch by it, and it comes just when the regions served by the windmills need the output.

Few other areas are so favored by such a match of availability and demand, however. In the Northwest, peak demand occurs in the coldest winter months when, typically, winds die down or are erratic and the sun is farthest from the earth. The best sites for both wind and solar generation in the Northwest are hundreds of miles from the population centers that need the output.

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But the biggest strike against "renewables" is unreliability. Neither wind nor solar power can be relied on under the least favorable conditions. Renewable-generated capacity must be backed up by something that can produce firm power such as oil, gas, coal, or nuclear.

I am waiting for dependable wind-generated power to bloom, but I will not consider it to be in full bloom as long as I have to continue to pay for California's electricity through my taxes, and as long as every megawatt of wind-generating capacity has to have something else in reserve to take over when the wind doesn't blow. Earl E. Eigabroadt, Port Orchard, Wash.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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