Friday, August 10, 2007

wind turbines are your friends

With the recent discussion of proposed electricity-generating wind turbines in Schoharie County there has been a virtual hurricane of nasty lies and disinformation blowing around. Given what we know about wind power battles in other communities, the disinformation campaigns are most likely going to get a lot uglier.

Ironically, the main argument against wind farms is that they are bad for the environment. People who make this claim and/or buy into it are misguided at best. We've all heard the claims that wind turbines will spoil those scenic mountaintop vistas that we all know and love. However, as an industrialized society we need to generate power. Even those of us living in remote, rural locations use electricity (much of the energy we take from the grid is generated in someone else's backyard). Of the options for generating power that we currently have before us, wind power is not only the least-polluting, but it also has the smallest impact on its neighbors and the surrounding environment. Some may object to living near windmills, yet what of those who have had coal-fired plants, nuclear plants, or incinerators sited near their homes or in their communities? Can we take seriously the complaints of exurban homeowners about diminished views when so many children living in inner cities experience skyrocketing asthma rates due to traditional electricity-generating power plants? The impact of windmills both in terms of actual measurable effects and visual impact is minimal by comparison.

Many also complain that wind turbines are unfairly subsidized compared to "other businesses". Well, wind power is subsidized, as it should be! So many of the costs and subsidies of other forms of energy, like oil, are well beyond measure. You will never see a protestor with a sign saying "no blood for wind". Subsidies for wind power help to encourage green companies that might actually put silly things like saving the planet over the bottom line. Do you think that garaunteeing access to middle eastern oil doesn't require "subsidies"? How much will we spend in the future to ensure access to oil in the mid-east? The numbers are quite staggering. According to some estimates as much as a third of the 300 bil dollar defense budget is needed just to protect our access to mid-eastern oil (http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2001/october24/energyvantage-1024.html). And people want to bitch about wind power companies making payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) instead of paying taxes directly.

Most of the arguments against wind power are not very rational. Instead, what most opposition boils down to, is nothing more elegant that good old American NIMBYism and a myopic fear of lowered property values. Many people in rural areas also have an instinctive resentment of outsiders coming in and changing the landscape.

I urge all residents to take an honest look at their conscience and their own energy consumption and consider the long-term effects of oil consumption on our economy and our environment. Any honest evaluation of the pros and cons of wind power should have wind power on top. If you can't see that, then you need to become better informed. Hopefully wind farm opponents will quit their scare tactics and realize that wind turbines are our friends!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The first problem with the entire wind issue is the name calling that both sides of the issue seem to resort to instead of constructive arguments over a controversial and complicated issue. I will not resort to name calling and insults and I hope you will do the same if you want to openly discuss this matter.

When I first heard about wind power I thought, “Hey, good. Let’s do something that is better for the environment.” I have researched the issue over several months and I still find myself teetering sometimes for and sometimes against. That is why it is amazing to me that other people I encounter seem to have their minds made up so quickly. Taking the issue at face value it seems that most people say, “Yes, wind is clean and I’m for it” and then they look no further. But will these projects (ever increasing in number) really have an impact nationwide to the point where a coal or nuclear facility is shut down or not built? I have serious doubts. One reason is because wind is not reliable and has to be backed up by other sources. I also think the real effort should be placed on electricity consumption reduction. The amount of waste that could be cut would go much farther than building industrial towers in the most scenic places of our country. But, hey corporations do not make money over reduction in consumption efforts. Here are some other points I would like to make:

1. NIMBY. This is the case with many issues. Everyone uses the bathroom, but they usually do not want to live next to a sewage treatment plant. Everyone produces garbage, but they don’t want to live next to a landfill. I use electricity, but I do not want to live next to a coal plant, nuclear plant, or wind farm. For the record, I live near the proposed project in Schoharie County and I purchased my property after living next to a nuclear plant and a coal burning plant, but those facilities were already in an industrial area when I moved there. Now, I have invested in property away from industrial uses, but an industrial project may get plopped down in a rural-residential neighborhood (the zoning in Richmondville is R-2) where this use was supposedly prohibited. Reunion Power wants Richmondville to change the law. Is this fair to the people who bought in the area and relied on the law for some protection? If I live next to a vacant piece of property zoned industrial and then complain about an industrial use coming in, shame on me for not doing my research. But changing the law and telling the property owners to deal with it in the name of “good for the whole” – well “the whole” did not put their money in my property and what is the real benefit?? Speaking of NIMBY – the real NIMBYs are the wind execs and politicians that live nowhere near these projects. Ask the power company officials/investors/politicians that support wind where they live – I’ll bet it is not within 2 miles of an industrial wind turbine. I find it strange that a wind power company official that touts how benign the projects are would not make it a point to live within ¼ mile of a turbine. Now that would sell me. Also view the map that generalizes the best winds for power generation on www.truewinds.com. The coastal areas and more wealthy areas of the country have higher wind speeds, but where do the wind projects get targeted? Answer – the less wealthy, less sophisticated, less politically connected areas like Appalachia. The wind companies are seeking these areas. Sorry if I take it personally that because I live in a backwoods, slum along the Mohawk I’m being targeted out of greed. Impact on property values? - If you go to buy 10 acres for a house – are you going to pay the same for a piece with rolling hills as a view as you would a piece within 2,000 feet of a 400-foot whirling tower? There will be an impact on property values and why should we be losers while power company investors gain?
2. Your comments seem to focus on how wind will lead to a reduction in oil consumption. I have not found any evidence that wind will lessen our reliance on foreign oil, so please post information if you have it. Have you reviewed www.stopillwind.org? Companies are not proposing wind projects out of their love for the environment – they do it because there is plenty of money to be made. There is plenty of money to be made in oil, that use will not disappear even if every high point in the northeast US is covered with wind towers. Oil only accounts for about 3% of electricity production in the US. The 2 issues are only remotely connected. So I am not convinced wind projects will do anything to reduce our dependence on oil.
3. Please do an honest evaluation of the pros and cons of wind power and post the results. Our “accountable leaders” should be doing this, but they are silent when it comes to debate or trying to get educated on both sides before making up their minds.

My main reason for leaning against large wind projects is that the Federal government seems to backing it so heavily. Hmmm – I doubt that corporate profits have anything to do with this stance. The same gov’t that engineered and is carrying out the “successful” Middle East strategy is telling me that wind will solve our problems. Halliburton profits had everything to do with Iraq and power company profits have everything to do with wind. Hope we don’t dig up a WMD when were placing the towers. Yeah, sadly I think the Schoharie project will move forward because people are not really looking into the issues more than just giving it a 2 second sound byte about “clean, green power” to save our Earth. Well, more later - Gotta go rev up the SUV and head down to Wally World for a pack of cigs and some beer – Ha Ha.

Sean Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing your concerns. I’d like to address the strongest points in your post as they are fairly commonly heard in this debate.

1.

“But will these projects (ever increasing in number) really have an impact nationwide to the point where a coal or nuclear facility is shut down or not built? I have serious doubts. One reason is because wind is not reliable and has to be backed up by other sources. I also think the real effort should be placed on electricity consumption reduction.”

This is a fair argument, but I don’t think anyone is claiming that we will ever have a society that is completely powered by the wind. However, I do sincerely believe that if we as a nation make an effort to BOTH reduce our overall energy consumption and make a serious effort to seek out, invest in and develop new environmentally neutral ways of producing energy, we can make a substantial dent in the amount of foreign oil we consume and the amount of pollution we leave for future generations.

2.

“Now, I have invested in property away from industrial uses, but an industrial project may get plopped down in a rural-residential neighborhood (the zoning in Richmondville is R-2) where this use was supposedly prohibited. Reunion Power wants Richmondville to change the law. Is this fair to the people who bought in the area and relied on the law for some protection?”

Yes, it is fair, as long as public officials do not show any form of favoritism in decisions about the placement of such facilities. When you purchased your property, did someone tell you or show you in writing that adjacent property owners would never build anything ever or change the zoning code? I’m not sure whether or not you checked to see what was able to be built in Richmondville’s R-2 zoning district before you purchased your land and factored this into your decision to buy, but even you did, zoning codes are not etched in stone. Maybe it isn’t fair, but you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs.

3.

“Speaking of NIMBY – the real NIMBYs are the wind execs and politicians that live nowhere near these projects. Ask the power company officials/investors/politicians that support wind where they live – I’ll bet it is not within 2 miles of an industrial wind turbine. I find it strange that a wind power company official that touts how benign the projects are would not make it a point to live within ¼ mile of a turbine.”

I honestly don’t know or care where wind power execs live. I think the suggestion however, that execs should live near turbines is specious at best. However, if a wind power exec protested a proposed wind farm near his home, that would be a bit ridiculous. Show me proof of that and I will condemn it, otherwise, I really don’t care where wind power execs live.

4.

“The coastal areas and more wealthy areas of the country have higher wind speeds, but where do the wind projects get targeted? Answer – the less wealthy, less sophisticated, less politically connected areas like Appalachia. The wind companies are seeking these areas.”

This argument is a product of your own self-consciousness I’m afraid. You just called yourself less sophisticated and less wealthy, Reunion Power didn’t. If wind power companies are “targeting” rural areas over more ideal locations, it’s probably for several good reasons. First off, land in coastal areas is going to be more expensive. If wind power companies had to compete with residential and commercial developers for land in these expensive areas, it wouldn’t work. Second, less populated areas mean less people affected, and yes, less political opposition. It speaks nothing of a community’s level of political sophistication, if too few people are negatively impacted by a project to generate sufficient opposition to stymie the project.

5.

“Oil only accounts for about 3% of electricity production in the US. The 2 issues are only remotely connected. So I am not convinced wind projects will do anything to reduce our dependence on oil.”

The percentage of electricity generated from oil is low, that’s absolutely correct. But when I talk about the need to reduce our foreign oil consumption, I’m thinking long-term, not short-term. For example, while oil may be used for only a small percentage of electricity generation, oil is used as a major source of home heating fuel. But electricity can also be used, and if we can make electricity-generation potentially cheaper and greener, why not move in the direction of using electric for more things, maybe even to power our automobiles? The connection between oil consumption and wind power is not nearly as remote as you think.

I so often hear that we must be careful not to mindlessly accept wind power based on the simplistic assertion that it is going to “save the planet”, or some other such thing. Yet from those same people who urge us to look into this issue further, we get no credible evidence or even serious claims as to the nefarious nature of wind power. Don’t assume all supporters of wind power are merely accepting soundbytes as facts. I have done research, and the critics have yet to provide me with compelling evidence as to why I should oppose wind farms. And you want to talk about incredulity… what about the millions of dollars the oil companies are probably throwing at a lot of groups to spread disinformation about wind power.

Anonymous said...

You make some good points, but when you are one of the eggs that must be cracked, it is depressing and not as easy to believe that the pros outweigh the cons. You don’t have to deal with the cons. That is why where the wind execs and investors live is a valid point to me when they stand to reap the benefits at my expense while living away from any associated nuisances. I guess I would try to live near a wind facility if I was in the business – that’s just me. It might make it easier for the companies if some of their spokes people were “in the trenches” and could speak from experience. Not living near one and telling others not worry about “made-up” nuisances while having the area landowners sign agreements that hold the company harmless for noise, flicker and other “made-up” issues throws up some red flags to me.

I am leaning against large wind farms in the Northeast for several reasons including that there has been zero national effort first to reduce consumption and use the facilities we already have in place instead of disturbing new areas (we are all about using more and more). Wind plants need to be placed in the most visible locations that are typically foreign of any other industrial uses. The sacrifice of these locations has not been shown to be necessary to me. I see a lot of hopeful “ifs” in the future of wind that most likely will not come to fruition. In the meantime I see a people simply trying to make money masquerading as environmentalists when the actual contribution from these projects for long-term electric needs is miniscule at best (and perhaps unnecessary with a real effort to reduce consumption). Given that a large part of the Northeast is either densely populated or protected in some manner and we agree that the best coastal and other, better wind resource areas will likely not get a project because of previous protection and/or local opposition and political influence, then why should I be expected to make sacrifices for a technology that seems to have no future in the Northeast except for a few token, scattered examples that are simply profitable right now?

Yes, I researched what was allowed in the zoning district when I purchased my property and that is why it burns me in the manner it is being changed. I made a point to steer clear of areas that did not have zoning in order to have some basic protections. Believe me, I am not naïve enough that I expected no person to ever build next to me, but I guess I did expect the zoning to remain with some semblance of typical residential uses and not be changed to allow 40, 400 foot towers that move in a residential zone. 400 feet is almost as high as the Corning Building in Albany and we will perhaps get 40! I consider this a pretty drastic land use change.

The zoning can be changed, but it should be done with optimal public participation with the help of a citizen committee (that includes at least one citizen from the project area, not including the landowner that will “host” the majority of towers). Instead we get a rushed through process introduced and based on a power company’s desires and schedule. If other people own property near the proposed project and are not local residents, the Town of Richmondville has done nothing to notify these people that a major change is in the wind (pun intended). The Town Board could disseminate more information to the public and at least hold as many public meetings as the number of meetings they have had with Reunion. The local gov’t should take the reigns to get the public educated and try to diffuse opposition groups with constructive arguments instead of the old “born here” versus “newcomer” tactics and other insults. Not one of the local gov’t people in favor of the project will live near the project.

Actually, if I could see more monetary benefit, I might be swayed to put up with some negatives. I understand we will get no use of the electric on the local level. If we have a wind resource, why not explore a community wind project so Cobleskill, Fulton, and Richmondville residents get cheaper electric and perhaps the towers will not need to be as high or as many? The Town seems to be bowing to the first company that comes along and flashes some dollars in their face. They have not considered other options. I say leave the current zoning prohibition in place, educate and poll the public, explore using the wind resource to maximize benefits to Schoharie County residents and then consider adopting a law (if the poll shows people want it) that is developed with resident and property owner participation. If Reunion then fits in to this picture, - so be it.

Promises of big money through a PILOT agreement does not take into account what may happen to the tax base if people stop buying in the area or move away because of the project. The local real estate market in this area is driven in part by people buying property as vacation and second homes. My fear is with the vast amount of real estate available away from such projects, these buyers will look elsewhere. Then our taxes go up anyway.

I guess in the end I am skeptical that Reunion Power has my and other area residents best interests at heart. I would feel better if a local company was making the proposal with employees that actual live in the area and the Town board was trying to be more balanced by looking into all the impacts and options. I think it is easy for non-impacted people to tout the many benefits, but I wonder how many of these same people would actually choose to buy property next to a 400-foot wind tower or would change their minds in the face of such a proposition?

Anonymous said...

A real effort to reduce consumption would include making it economical to get structures to be more energy self-sufficient using solar, small wind, and/or other renewable resources. This would also benefit the country during times of a disaster, as individual structures would not necessarily lose power. Instead the bucks get spread to large-scale projects with the big lobby efforts – including wind.

Anonymous said...

Re: if people stop buying or move away. Um, don't property taxes go down when land values fall? I'm pretty sure my taxes go down if the assessed market value of my parcel declines, all other things being equal. In terms of the rising taxes/falling land value arguement, those making it appear to still have a cake after they are done eating it.

Anonymous said...

Um, you are wrong. All things being equal (tax levy remains the same), if assessed values go down the rate you are charged per thousand may need to go up in order to meet the tax levy. In other words, it is possible for assessed value to go down, but you may pay more taxes if the same amount of service needs to be provided.

Anonymous said...

Hi !.
You may , perhaps curious to know how one can collect a huge starting capital .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may commense to receive yields with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you thought of all the time
AimTrust represents an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with structures everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become really rich in short time?
That`s your chance That`s what you desire!

I`m happy and lucky, I started to take up income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to choose a correct companion who uses your money in a right way - that`s it!.
I make 2G daily, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to join , just click this link http://gaqelapu.digitalzones.com/ipozol.html
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to get rid of nastiness of the life

Anonymous said...

Good day !.
might , perhaps very interested to know how one can make real money .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may start to get income with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you haven`t ever dreamt of such a chance to become rich
The company incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with offices everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your choice That`s what you desire!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to take up income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to choose a correct partner who uses your savings in a right way - that`s AimTrust!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to get involved , just click this link http://topumawufe.ibnsites.com/jidesyv.html
and lucky you`re! Let`s take our chance together to feel the smell of real money

Anonymous said...

I am the kind of hombre who passions to taste recent things. Presently I am manufacturing my own photovoltaic panels. I am doing it all alone without the aid of my men. I'm utilizing the net as the only way to acheive this. I saw a truly awesome site which explains how to make photovoltaic panels and so on. The place explains all the steps needed for solar panel construction.

I'm not exactly sure about how precise the data given there is. If some people over here who have xp with these things can have a look and give your feedback in the site it would be awesome and I'd extremely treasure it, because I truly take an interest in solar panel construction.

Tnx for reading this. U people are the best.

davidbaer said...

Work at home jobs can be hard to trust. That's why we research and publish only the best of the best... carefully pre-screened, 100% scam-free work at home jobs you can depend on. No get rich quick schemes. No scams. Just 100% real work at home jobs


www.onlineuniversalwork.com

Anonymous said...

Hi!
You may probably be very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no need to invest much at first.
You may begin earning with a money that usually is spent
for daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one project for several years,
and I'll be glad to share my secrets at my blog.

Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I make 1000-2000 per day now.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hi
[URL=http://blog.bakililar.az/Botshark/]Buy Tramadol Online[/URL]

Anonymous said...

Glad to greet you, ladies and gentlemen!

We are not acquainted yet? It’s easy to fix,
my name is Nikolas.
Generally I’m a social gmabler. all my life I’m carried away by online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out my particular opinion on famous gambling projects.
Please visit my web site. http://allbestcasino.com I’ll be glad would you find time to leave your comments.

Oscar Lewis said...

I support Renewable Energy.
GO into it.

Oscar Lewis said...

I support renewable energy.
Some Tips:
Nice article about
wind generators for home use .