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The Costs And Savings Of Alternative Energy


Re "Alternate power: A change is in the wind" (News: The United States, July 4), I question your statement: "Wind-power costs have declined to as little as 3 cents to 5 cents per kwh." This may be true for consumers who are happy to consume electricity only when there is wind. You must factor in the cost of standby capacity since availability of wind energy is not guaranteed. Wind energy does not reduce the huge investment cost we have for conventional energy but only the cost of conventional fuel. If the conventional energy happens to be nuclear, there are then hardly any cost savings since fuel consumption is pretty steady. If the future of energy is nuclear, as you claimed in an earlier issue, wind energy produces practically no cost savings.

Ludger Engbert

Schmitten, Germany

Kudos to the engineers at Oregon State University for new ideas on developing reliable sources of electric power "Generating current from ocean swells" (Developments to Watch, July 4). Wave and tidal action are the most powerful forces on earth and can be used for generating electricity. I commend those states that are developing alternate sources for producing energy, including solar power and wind energy, and not waiting for the federal government to figure out a sound and doable national energy policy. I have been to France, Norway, Denmark, and Ireland and marvel at their national energy advancements that avoid the use of oil. What's wrong that our government can't put a national energy policy in place -- before the problem progresses beyond a rational solution?

Gus Gregory

Santa Cruz, Calif.

Re "Go back where you came from" (Social Issues, July 4), concerning a backlash against illegals: We recently visited Nogales, Altar, and Sasabe on or near the Mexican border to learn about illegal immigration. You should look at why Latinos are leaving their homes in such great numbers. For instance, is an unintended effect of NAFTA the fact that small farmers can't compete with foreign imports? Some of the people we met in Altar who were preparing to cross the border were small farmers no longer able to support their families.

The solutions to the problem of illegal immigration are complex, and we encourage BusinessWeek's continued coverage. We believe, after our visit to the border and subsequent discussions at our church, that the guest-worker legislation sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) is a good place to start.

Heidi Calhoun, Associate Pastor

William Winslow,

Mission & Peacemaking Committee

Newport Presbyterian Church

Bellevue, Wash.

Here in the Low Country of South Carolina, illegals are an abundant, cheap labor source that makes rapid, uncontrolled land development and construction possible in our environment of small town and county governments, inadequate zoning regulations, and lack of experience in dealing with big developers. Cheap labor facilitates construction of thousands of new residences and stores in an area that has insufficient roads and services to handle them. Without illegals, development would proceed with a much smaller workforce at a gradual pace that government would be better able to manage.

Hart T. Joseph

Hilton Head, S.C.


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