At 12.4 to 26 cents per kilowatt-hour, solar power appears to be the most expensive source of energy ("Negawatt Power," January/February). Yet that figure fails to address the subsidies given to competing sources and the fact that the sun delivers those kilowatt-hours directly to rooftops on hot summer days when conventional grid power can be as expensive as 30 to 40 cents per kWh. All the other sources listed, except wind turbines (which are impossible to erect in most backyards), require a high concentration of power generation to be cost-effective, whereas solar power can be competitive when installed on several million rooftops. In short, solar power is an incredibly powerful "distributed" energy source.
Robert J. Cunningham
In "Energizing America" (January/
February), Bill McKibben correctly states that Europeans use half the energy per capita that Americans use. But the reason is neither high taxes nor some abstract love of community that we lack. It is simply urbanism and transportation policy: Most Europeans live in places that discourage driving and provide great public transport. They drive their efficient cars only half the distance that we drive our SUVs. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita are a fraction of ours. Pamela Lindstrom
Testing the Wind
Regarding "The Birds and the Breeze" in the January/February issue: The positive spin that is being put on the debate about birds, bats, and wind turbines needs some perspective. My personal experience is that avian impact assessments are incomplete and rushed. This is caused in part by the pending expiration of the federal tax credit at the end of 2007. The large amount of money involved in these projects affects everyone right down to the local officials responsible for the final decisions on the environmental review.
Investors don't finance wind projects for the greater good. They do it for the money. We need a permanent tax credit and other incentives to assure that thorough, multiyear avian impact assessments are done before wind projects are built. Tom Salo
Co-chair, Franklin Mountain Hawkwatch
West Burlington, New York
In January/February's "Negawatt Power," we stated that the "2,000-Watt Society" program aims to reduce energy use to 2,000 watts per day. Several readers pointed out that a watt is a measure of power, while a watt-hour is a measure of energy consumed. Thus, the program's goal is actually to be able to supply the average person's needs with 2,000 watts of capacity, which corresponds to an energy usage of 48 kilowatt-hours per day.
In the same issue's "WWatch" ("Lay of the Land," page 13), we misstated the full name of Congress's investigative arm: It is the Government Accountability Office. In "One Cool Country" ("Sierra Club Bulletin," page 114), we mistakenly credited the Club's Long Island Group with persuading Suffolk County, New York, to adopt a green-fleet program. In fact, the county initiated the program.
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