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HERALD POLL: Should wind power get priority?

A famous oilman is touting windmills as a solution to the energy crisis, and a few Utahns are jumping on board. ...But there are solid grounds for arguing against the scheme. The much-hyped potential for windpower is itself largely wind. ...In fact, wind power will be an environmental disaster. The turbine blades measure 130 feet long, and weigh 7 tons. Guess who wins in any collision with a bald eagle or other bird? The windmills rise 400 feet above the ground, and because they must catch the breezes, they often hog the ridges and skylines. Do you think Squaw Peak or Mt. Timpanogos would look better with windmills 400 feet high running along their spines?

A famous oilman is touting windmills as a solution to the energy crisis, and a few Utahns are jumping on board.

T. Boone Pickens says the Pickens Plan will greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil while providing jobs for rural America. The Utah chapter of his group held its first meeting this month at the state Capitol. Noting that the White House will have a new occupant in January, the Utah group's president was quoted as saying, "Let's get ready to step up to the plate and propose a plan that maybe he's not going to be able to argue with."

But there are solid grounds for arguing against the scheme. The much-hyped potential for windpower is itself largely wind.

Yes, wind power has contributed to our energy mix. It's now up to a whopping ... 1 percent. It is virtually impossible that wind power could deliver 20 percent of our power, as the Pickens Plan claims, at least in the foreseeable future.

Wind turbines operate at about 20 to 30 percent of capacity, compared to 85 percent for coal, gas and nuclear plants. Obviously, when the winds die down, so do windmills. That is why they are destined to be only a part of any energy mix, no matter what.

Many other obstacles remain. For one, wind farms... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A famous oilman is touting windmills as a solution to the energy crisis, and a few Utahns are jumping on board.

T. Boone Pickens says the Pickens Plan will greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil while providing jobs for rural America. The Utah chapter of his group held its first meeting this month at the state Capitol. Noting that the White House will have a new occupant in January, the Utah group's president was quoted as saying, "Let's get ready to step up to the plate and propose a plan that maybe he's not going to be able to argue with."

But there are solid grounds for arguing against the scheme. The much-hyped potential for windpower is itself largely wind.

Yes, wind power has contributed to our energy mix. It's now up to a whopping ... 1 percent. It is virtually impossible that wind power could deliver 20 percent of our power, as the Pickens Plan claims, at least in the foreseeable future.

Wind turbines operate at about 20 to 30 percent of capacity, compared to 85 percent for coal, gas and nuclear plants. Obviously, when the winds die down, so do windmills. That is why they are destined to be only a part of any energy mix, no matter what.

Many other obstacles remain. For one, wind farms gobble up land. In West Virginia, for example, there's a proposal for building up to 400 windmills. They would march over 50 miles of the state's much-lauded mountain skyline. Meanwhile, a coal-powered plant already existing in that state pumps out 15 times as much energy, but occupies less than a tenth of the land.

In fact, wind power will be an environmental disaster. The turbine blades measure 130 feet long, and weigh 7 tons. Guess who wins in any collision with a bald eagle or other bird?

The windmills rise 400 feet above the ground, and because they must catch the breezes, they often hog the ridges and skylines. Do you think Squaw Peak or Mt. Timpanogos would look better with windmills 400 feet high running along their spines?

Liberals never picture windmills obscuring the view from places like Nob Hill in San Francisco or beaches at Malibu or Nantucket. Their opposition comes out anytime wind turbines are proposed in their own backyards. They just don't care about "flyover" country. A proposed wind farm off of Cape Cod, for instance, brought furious opposition from liberals who suddenly found that their summer haunts might be affected by this technology.

Many who live near the windmills complain bitterly about the sight and sound of them. The "whoosh, whoosh, whoosh" never stops; the blades send flickering shadows across the land.

Worries about health problems are now surfacing. Some observers suggest that low-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can have an effect on the inner ear, triggering headaches; difficulty sleeping; tinnitus, or ringing in the ears; learning and mood disorders; panic attacks; irritability; disruption of equilibrium, concentration and memory; and childhood behavior problems.

And nobody has even mentioned Don Quixote Syndrome.

One expert has calculated that building and installing enough wind turbines to produce as much electricity as a single nuclear plant would require five to 10 times as much steel and concrete as the nuke plant would need -- not to mention a vast amount of land.

There are better alternatives. Nuclear is a proven energy source that doesn't emit greenhouse gases. The $1 trillion sought for wind power could instead pay for major nuclear power plants in each of the 50 states.

Even if we overcame all the problems, a bigger roadblock remains: environmentalists themselves.

Yes, it's true. Wind farms (and solar farms) require transmission lines, and environmentalists and their accomplices in the bureaucracy fight every power line every inch of the way. This month, Duke Energy and American Power announced plans to build 240 miles of transmission lines in Indiana for new power plants. That's not very much -- but it will take at least six years, the utilities estimate, because of regulatory roadblocks and environmental lawsuits.

In California this summer, protesters and pressure groups are trying to kill power lines from solar and geothermal fields. Worries about the greater sage grouse are threatening to block power lines from a wind project in Oregon. Similar conflicts are hampering wind and solar projects in other states.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, this is a classic bait-and-switch tactic. Liberals and environmental fanatics have demonized oil, coal and nuclear power while extolling the supposed benefits of solar and wind power. But when those projects suddenly become reality, the same lobbyists begins shrieking all over again.

Sure, wind power might have a role to play -- a minor one. The real answer is first of all to tap our vast resources of oil, coal, oil shale and natural gas, plus build more nuclear power plants. Then unleash our dynamic economy and spur industry to develop new sources of energy.

The Pickens plans is hot air at best. At worst it's a dangerous drain on our national resources and attention.

Should the U.S. back the Pickens Plan to use more wind power?

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Source: http://www.heraldextra.com/...

AUG 22 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16664-herald-poll-should-wind-power-get-priority
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