Outside of manufacturing, wind jobs are not so much in demand. One example: on the new Prairie Wind development near Minot, N.D., there are 77 turbines but the project requires just eight operations and maintenance employees, or about one for every 14 megawatts. As a job-creator, wind proponents themselves admit that coal plants put many more people to work.
In July and August wind generation is minimal because hot air is not dense, and it takes even more wind to turn the blades when it is hot. Those in the industry call this the summer doldrums.
A coal or nuclear power plant cannot scale down their production on a windy day. They are fined if they don’t produce enough power to meet the demand.
Therefore, most (if not all) wind power is wasted.
Then I got hit over the head. I was reading the New York Times and came upon an article about multiple lawsuits against wind farms all over the United States because of health concerns, and I said to myself, "What health concerns?" Three hours of intense Internet research later, I was shocked.
Fortunately, it appears that the seven-member Rochester School Board won't face a similar moment, now that they've backed out of a proposal that would have involved the district in the creation of a new wind-energy farm.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, which was last year. The district, supposedly at no financial risk, would team up with developer Johnson Controls and more than 20 other school districts statewide to become owners of a 10- to 20-megawatt wind farm. The schools would send a positive message by becoming stakeholders in the growing clean-energy movement, and down the road it was possible that some financial windfalls would come Rochester's way.
But the devil's in the details, and it didn't take long for serious doubts to arise about the project. Almost from day one, the funding mechanism for the wind farm has been puzzling to the point of being inexplicable, as have Johnson Controls' claims that the district would likely make a little money while incurring no financial risk.
America’s growing wind power industry is now facing new challenges — resistance to the wind turbines. Wind power critics have raised concerns about visual pollution, such as on Cape Cod and upstate New York where rows of wind turbines constructed or proposed can impact scenic skylines. America’s Defense Department has raised concern about the impact of multiple wind turbines on defense radar systems. Now, conservationists and coal advocates have asked Congress to seek an assessment of how many bats and birds are maimed or killed by wind turbines’ blades before the industry grows too large.
"We don't have a noise standard that's designed to work for turbines," said Commissioner Paul Aasen, Dayton's appointee to Minnesota's Pollution Control Agency. Yet, the distance between an industrial wind turbine and your house is determined using the state's noise standard.
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Most of what the public knows about wind turbines comes from the media.
Without a grounding in the sciences of thermodynamics and economics, the average person, eager to be politically and environmentally correct, fixates on the concept of "free energy," and closes his mind to further discussion of how expensive "free" can be.
The public believes, more than it really knows, about wind turbines, and well-meaning advocates of wind as the solution to our climate and energy woes are unknowingly on a crash course with reality.
Passing paper laws is easy; the laws of nature are a little tougher to amend.