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An unbalanced case for wind turbines

Two of the three Highland County supervisors seem to have dismissed one of life's cardinal rules: There's no free lunch.

Highland County supervisors unwisely dismissed the costs while pushing the benefits.

Two of the three Highland County supervisors seem to have dismissed one of life's cardinal rules: There's no free lunch.

After the 2-1 vote granting a permit for 22 electric-generating wind turbines atop Allegheny Mountain, a resolution laid out the majority's reasoning: bigger tax base, more jobs, no pollution and no damage to tourism or nearby properties. The two supervisors apparently don't see even a potential down side.

They must not have looked, or listened, very closely.

Assume for the moment that the Highland New Wind Development LLC project provides the expected tax revenue and creates a significant number of permanent jobs, as opposed to mostly just temporary construction work.

Those gains would almost certainly be offset to some extent by costs to the community that the board majority failed to acknowledge.

Consider: The Wachovia Tower dominates Roanoke's skyline at 367 feet, including its spire. The Highland County supervisors would allow on Allegheny Mountain a series of 22 structures that would stand even taller. Each would be 400 feet high, with rotors continuously spinning in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Highland County supervisors unwisely dismissed the costs while pushing the benefits.

Two of the three Highland County supervisors seem to have dismissed one of life's cardinal rules: There's no free lunch.

After the 2-1 vote granting a permit for 22 electric-generating wind turbines atop Allegheny Mountain, a resolution laid out the majority's reasoning: bigger tax base, more jobs, no pollution and no damage to tourism or nearby properties. The two supervisors apparently don't see even a potential down side.

They must not have looked, or listened, very closely.

Assume for the moment that the Highland New Wind Development LLC project provides the expected tax revenue and creates a significant number of permanent jobs, as opposed to mostly just temporary construction work.

Those gains would almost certainly be offset to some extent by costs to the community that the board majority failed to acknowledge.

Consider: The Wachovia Tower dominates Roanoke's skyline at 367 feet, including its spire. The Highland County supervisors would allow on Allegheny Mountain a series of 22 structures that would stand even taller. Each would be 400 feet high, with rotors continuously spinning in diameters of as much as 200 feet.

Other Western Virginia counties, recognizing the value of their scenic ridge lines, have struggled for years to protect them from despoliation by condos and cell towers. And similar wind-turbine projects elsewhere have inflicted documented harm on bird, bat and other wildlife populations.

As crucial as development of alternative energy sources is, that effort should not come at any cost.

It is naive at best to declare that such a project would impose no external costs in terms of damage to the rural environment or the mountain beauty that are Highland County's most valuable and cherished assets - by tourists and as well as many landowners.

Yet that is exactly what the supervisors have done. Like so many state and national officials who set industry-friendly energy policies, they haven't presented a balanced, comprehensive accounting of costs and benefits. If they did, they couldn't claim this lunch is free. (C)2005 The Roanoke Times


Source: http://www.vawind.org/Asset...

JUL 18 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/236-an-unbalanced-case-for-wind-turbines
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