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As the blades turn

And turbines are still something of a novelty for most of us, so the "not in my backyard" mentality hasn't yet set in when it comes to wind farms. In fact, as we reported in the Energy Journal, groups of ranchers in eastern Wyoming -- seeing an opportunity to make some money without significantly disrupting their ag operations -- have banded together to market their properties to wind energy developers. That, of course, could change. As turbines begin to spring up in more sensitive, pristine spots, or closer to residential areas, the novelty could wear off quickly.

Anyone who drives the Interstate 80 corridor with any regularity can testify that there's world-class wind in southern Wyoming. But most drivers wouldn't use the term "world class," because that would bestow a positive connotation on something they cuss n especially during winter.

Regular I-80 travelers also have noticed in recent years a proliferation of big machines to harness that fearsome wind. Most noticeable are the dozens of turbines that have sprung up recently along the interstate on the western end of the Bridger Valley.

During a late-night trip I made to southwest Wyoming last week, the blinking red lights and turning blades of the Edison Mission Energy wind farm created a surreal scene for a weary traveler.

From the sounds of things, we should expect to see more and more of the spinning spectacles in coming years.

As we reported in our most recent edition of the Wyoming Energy Journal, a number of companies plan to erect thousands of wind turbines in Wyoming in the next few years. Rocky Mountain Power is putting up hundreds right now near Glenrock in east-central Wyoming, but most will be placed in southern Wyoming: near the Albany/Carbon county... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Anyone who drives the Interstate 80 corridor with any regularity can testify that there's world-class wind in southern Wyoming. But most drivers wouldn't use the term "world class," because that would bestow a positive connotation on something they cuss n especially during winter.

Regular I-80 travelers also have noticed in recent years a proliferation of big machines to harness that fearsome wind. Most noticeable are the dozens of turbines that have sprung up recently along the interstate on the western end of the Bridger Valley.

During a late-night trip I made to southwest Wyoming last week, the blinking red lights and turning blades of the Edison Mission Energy wind farm created a surreal scene for a weary traveler.

From the sounds of things, we should expect to see more and more of the spinning spectacles in coming years.

As we reported in our most recent edition of the Wyoming Energy Journal, a number of companies plan to erect thousands of wind turbines in Wyoming in the next few years. Rocky Mountain Power is putting up hundreds right now near Glenrock in east-central Wyoming, but most will be placed in southern Wyoming: near the Albany/Carbon county border, south of Rawlins, on White Mountain near Rock Springs, and elsewhere.

For most Wyomingites, that's good news. We like the idea of turning one of our biggest nuisances into a valuable, clean energy resource. And turbines are still something of a novelty for most of us, so the "not in my backyard" mentality hasn't yet set in when it comes to wind farms. In fact, as we reported in the Energy Journal, groups of ranchers in eastern Wyoming -- seeing an opportunity to make some money without significantly disrupting their ag operations -- have banded together to market their properties to wind energy developers.

That, of course, could change. As turbines begin to spring up in more sensitive, pristine spots, or closer to residential areas, the novelty could wear off quickly. We're getting some hints of that in the plan to put wind farms atop White Mountain, which dominates the landscape west of Rock Springs: Some people don't want to see that view altered by hundreds of massive, man-made machines.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that thousands of wind turbines will bring hundreds of miles of new power lines.

I'll be watching with interest to see if and when the pendulum swings against wind turbines in the Cowboy State.

Aside from negative comments in letters to the editor, at public meetings and in submissions to the Bureau of Land Management, the best gauge of public sentiment may be the Wyoming Legislature. Wind farm and other alternative energy projects currently enjoy a sales tax exemption for purchases of materials during construction, and some local governments where big wind farms are being built say they're being hurt by the lack of tax revenue. If lawmakers decide to get rid of the state incentive, that'll be a good sign that folks may be tiring of turbines.

Keep in mind that unlike oil and gas wells, wind farms don't produce severance taxes. They do contribute significantly to counties' property tax bases, and they do create jobs, but they don't bring the economic bounty of Wyoming's other energy industries. They also don't create as many environmental problems -- although the massive wind farms on the drawing board are of a scale we can't really fathom now.

At this point, however, Wyoming remains warm to wind power. Now, if we can only find a way to generate energy from sagebrush.

Do you have a question or a comment for Editor Chad Baldwin? You can call him at 266-0545, or send e-mail to chad.baldwin@trib.com.

 


Source: http://www.trib.com/article...

AUG 9 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16427-as-the-blades-turn
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