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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 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

Editorial Staff

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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