Should Maine Yankee be reopened?

Posted Aug. 22, 2008, at 1:29 p.m.

Maine Yankee had approximately the same capacity (800 MW) as the new windmill proposal for The County described in the Aug. 16 edition of the BDN, requiring some 400 windmills and a lot of land. As is the case with every power plant, there always has to be spare generating capacity available to keep the lights on if a generator has to be shut down. Nuclear power plants run basically 24 hours a day 365 days a year, pausing only for refueling and routine maintenance. …

These power plants are online providing power close to 90 percent of the time at full capacity. Wind power is rarely available at full capacity, requiring a larger amount of backup generation for those periods of little wind. This is an added, rarely mentioned cost of wind and solar power. Additional generation must be built to cover the lower availability of these sources. To meet the reliability level of an 800 MW nuclear plant would probably require the installation of not 400, but more like 800 windmills. And these would have to be well scattered over the country so lack of wind in one location would be compensated by windier conditions elsewhere. — georgeary

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