In an Oct. 15 letter, Stephen L. Miller of the Center for Energy and Economic Development accused Energy Secretary Bill Richardson of making misleading remarks about the potential of wind energy for electricity generation.

Mr. Miller -- whose organization is a coal industry lobbying group -- did not mention:

That utilities could use intermittent sources for electricity generation for at least 10 percent of their generating capacity. As wind generation now provides less than one percent of the U.S. electricity supply, this means that huge increases in wind generation are possible.

That the existing power grid would be able to handle a gradual increase in the use of wind and other renewable energy sources. Although the greatest wind potential is on the Great Plains, many good wind sites exist on both coasts, where demand is highest.

Wind power is land-intensive, but less so than hydropower, which provides approximately 10 percent of our electricity.

Though some people find wind turbines noisy and ugly, most people feel the same about strip mines and coal-burning power plants -- that's why we have zoning laws.

The threat to birds posed by wind turbines is minuscule compared with that posed by fossil fuel technologies -- the Exxon Valdez spill alone resulted in the death of approximately 1,000 times the number of birds who die each year flying into all of California's wind turbines.

Mr. Miller is wrong when he says that we don't have the option of choosing between powering our nation with wind and using other fuel sources. We have that option, and in the states that are undergoing electric utility deregulation, thousands have chosen to switch to utilities that generate electricity using wind and other renewable resources.



The writer is an independent renewable-energy consultant.