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Wind power is great, but we should develop it carefully

But we can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, the state should be taking steps to indemnify itself against the possibility, however remote, of "ghost wind farms" - sprawling graveyards with 30-story tombstones in the event a developer or the technology fails.

We don't mean to be a spoilsport when it comes to the burgeoning wind-power industry in Montana.

Wind is clean and mostly green, and, so far at least, the sight of 30-story turbine towers arrayed across the horizon is more exciting than disturbing.

Montana's existing and planned wind farms bolster tax bases and provide jobs, extra income for landowners and an environmentally acceptable form of electricity to consumers.

But we can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, the state should be taking steps to indemnify itself against the possibility, however remote, of "ghost wind farms" - sprawling graveyards with 30-story tombstones in the event a developer or the technology fails.

Maybe just study what might be done - what other states and nations are doing - for that hopefully distant day on which the giant propellers stop turning.

Certainly nobody wants or expects that. But nobody wanted or expected the government to be taking over banks, either.

A lot of money is rightly going to wind development right now, and the government is providing more and more incentives to maintain that momentum.

But a lot of money also is headed toward research and development of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

We don't mean to be a spoilsport when it comes to the burgeoning wind-power industry in Montana.

Wind is clean and mostly green, and, so far at least, the sight of 30-story turbine towers arrayed across the horizon is more exciting than disturbing.

Montana's existing and planned wind farms bolster tax bases and provide jobs, extra income for landowners and an environmentally acceptable form of electricity to consumers.

But we can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, the state should be taking steps to indemnify itself against the possibility, however remote, of "ghost wind farms" - sprawling graveyards with 30-story tombstones in the event a developer or the technology fails.

Maybe just study what might be done - what other states and nations are doing - for that hopefully distant day on which the giant propellers stop turning.

Certainly nobody wants or expects that. But nobody wanted or expected the government to be taking over banks, either.

A lot of money is rightly going to wind development right now, and the government is providing more and more incentives to maintain that momentum.

But a lot of money also is headed toward research and development of other green alternatives, and who's to say one of them won't be the "new wind"?

What if carbon capture, coal-to-liquids, nuclear or tidal technologies emerge, making wind too expensive and unreliable in a competitive market?

We're just sayin' ...

Maybe it's a remediation fund based on a small percentage of the towers' product - a small version of the coal severance fund.

Or maybe a mill or two of the property taxes on the big machines could go to that purpose.

Deconstructing a wind farm, or even a wind generator, is nothing compared to reclaiming a coal strip mine, but it almost certainly costs more than the landowners would be able to put up.

Wind is a boon to landowners, school districts, local governments and taxpayers throughout Montana. We encourage Montana to continue to harvest one its most abundant - and renewable - natural resources.

We also think that Montana has been fortunate to attract reputable companies who are good stewards of our land.

We think the natural inclination of these types of companies is to go lightly upon the land, and we'd encourage them to do so.

But as the wind boom increases, so does the likelihood of some bad actors getting in the game.

Montana should take some small steps now to protect itself from these possibilities - while it can.


Source: http://www.greatfallstribun...

MAR 10 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19404-wind-power-is-great-but-we-should-develop-it-carefully
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