Article

Wind power is not benign

If not a free pass, wind power still gets a fairly strong presumption of social benefit. As the U.S and the world seek ways to produce more electricity without putting more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, wind turbines have acquired a popular reputation as a low-impact, high-tech replacement for older power plants. Reality is a good deal more complicated.

Its ‘Green Imprimatur' should not give turbines a free pass in wild lands

In an example of what is certain to become a familiar conundrum, the Oregon-California Trails Association is concerned that wind turbines may adversely impact how people experience the Oregon Trail. The association wants the Oregon Department of Energy to close a loophole in current regulations.

If not a free pass, wind power still gets a fairly strong presumption of social benefit. As the U.S and the world seek ways to produce more electricity without putting more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, wind turbines have acquired a popular reputation as a low-impact, high-tech replacement for older power plants.

Reality is a good deal more complicated. Aside from the viewshed worries expressed by the trails association, wind turbines have in some cases proven to be less than sterling neighbors. Low-resonance vibrations, noise and wildlife deaths all make wind energy something considerably less than totally benign.

There also is room to question how well the economics of wind energy would pencil out in the absence of government subsidies, incentives and tax breaks. It may very well make... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Its ‘Green Imprimatur' should not give turbines a free pass in wild lands

In an example of what is certain to become a familiar conundrum, the Oregon-California Trails Association is concerned that wind turbines may adversely impact how people experience the Oregon Trail. The association wants the Oregon Department of Energy to close a loophole in current regulations.

If not a free pass, wind power still gets a fairly strong presumption of social benefit. As the U.S and the world seek ways to produce more electricity without putting more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, wind turbines have acquired a popular reputation as a low-impact, high-tech replacement for older power plants.

Reality is a good deal more complicated. Aside from the viewshed worries expressed by the trails association, wind turbines have in some cases proven to be less than sterling neighbors. Low-resonance vibrations, noise and wildlife deaths all make wind energy something considerably less than totally benign.

There also is room to question how well the economics of wind energy would pencil out in the absence of government subsidies, incentives and tax breaks. It may very well make sense to offer these enticements for utilities and other investors thinking of getting into the wind business so long as the industry indeed begins to free us of our dependence on fossil fuels and eventually stands on its own feet. But it is still early in the game and too soon to conclude for sure that wind power is more than "hot air." We should be careful not to give it a free pass in our enthusiasm for finding clean power.

The immediate issue highlighted by the trails association legitimately merits attention. Developers have been breaking their projects into small incremental packages so that they can avoid the threshold for review by the Oregon Energy Siting Council. The proposed rule change will make this more difficult and ensures that the ESC can take into consideration the entirety of the impact of a development on Oregon's culture and history, not just local economic concerns.

Clearly, the siting council should consider the total impacts of entire complexes of wind towers. Doing otherwise is a ridiculous short-circuit of the regulatory process.

Wind-energy proposals should be subjected to the same careful consideration of environmental, social and economic impacts as any other large industrial development. That they come with a hypothetical "green" imprimatur must not be a license for plopping dozens of enormous machines down in pristine rural settings.


Source: http://www.dailyastorian.in...

APR 13 2010
http://wind3.herokuapp.com/posts/25655-wind-power-is-not-benign
back to top