On June 20, the joint venture between Wolverine Power and John Deere to construct a wind farm in the Thumb area of Michigan was announced. The article went on to say that they will receive a state tax incentive package worth $6.5 million and also will get $5 million in sales tax exemptions. And that’s not to mention the federal tax programs.
In return for these lavish subsidies, we are getting a very unreliable generating system that will still rely on coal-fired plants. Maybe the wind turbines will generate enough electricity for 15,000 homes today or maybe they will barely power a blow dryer. Because the wind is so unreliable and because coal-fired plants cannot produce power to meet demand at a moment’s notice, they must be kept running and be on standby, ready to produce when the wind turbines do not.
Would you buy a car, not knowing whether it will run tomorrow? Probably not. Wind farms very seldom reach their maximum potential.
It’s often said that we must catch up with Europe in the field of wind energy. In a cost comparison of megawatt hours, the Wall Street Journal reported that businesses in Denmark pay 43 percent more per megawatt hour than we do in the United States. Higher costs for electricity here in Michigan could mean more jobs leaving our state.
Michigan has a bigger crisis to worry about, and that is unemployment. We could be using these subsidies to attract businesses that could bring hundreds of jobs rather than the four full-time jobs a wind farm may bring or construct either a natural gas or perhaps a nuclear generating plant that will generate electricity 24-7.
Wind turbines for the most part are symbolic gestures that would have us believe we are doing something good for our environment when in reality we are doing very little.
2 August 2007
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