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Look before leap on wind development  

Thank you, Wes Kupsky, for having the interest to ask questions.

We, too, support renewable energy. We, too, agree that energy usage is on the rise and that something needs to be done. But we are asking that common sense-a little-used concept today -guide the choosing of the type of renewable energy and its placement.

When the idea of wind turbines was first heard, it sounded good. We wanted to learn more. So we read. We researched. We contacted people.

Unfortunately, what we found is that the government-mandated rush to “do something” about global climate change has provided investor groups with a perfect opportunity to pull in handsome returns on tax benefits and higher green rates for a relatively inefficient energy source. The wind rush also has the potential to allow some polluting facilities the chance to use the pollution “credits” of wind to offset their discharge limits.

Remember Betz’s law. Independent of the design of a wind turbine, only 59 percent of the kinetic energy in the wind can be converted to mechanical energy. And that’s only when the wind is blowing at its optimum. At different wind speeds, a turbine will be even less efficient. Too soft a breeze, it won’t produce at all. Too high a gust and it must be turned off. A wind turbine is said to generate about 30 percent of its theoretical maximum output in a year.

Viable alternatives? There are many. But it takes resolve on the part of citizens to pursue them and the will of our leaders to actually spur the effort. Foremost is conservation. It is cheaper to save power than to produce it, whatever the method. But what do we see? Inefficient vehicles. Inefficient houses. No urban planning for efficient sustainable communities. Schools and offices built with little thought for conservation. No push for telecommuting jobs or teleconferences instead of drive-to meetings. Where are the honest efforts being made?

And what are those alternative power sources? Check out solar-to heat water or as photovoltaics to produce electricity. Yes, it works here. Geothermal doesn’t get the press coverage but it is 300 percent to 600 percent efficient and you don’t have to pay the earth to use it. Biomass lets us grow our own organic inputs to produce electricity and fuel. There’s hydropower, tidal power and hydrogen. And they don’t have to ruin our environments, endanger people and animals and concern our health and safety.

You note that people have a right to use their land. We agree. But, as the saying goes, your right to punch ends short of my nose. We also have the right to our health and safety as we enjoy our property and protect its value. And the industrial turbines will not allow that.

Compensation? For those who leap before they look, there has to be consequences. Many take the leap for “easy” money-only to realize the catch later. Why should the rest of us have to pay for their folly?

Michael Popp

Chilton

Tri-County News

22 November 2007

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

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