Winkler takes on firms trying to build towers
Most of the firms trying to put up wind farms in east central and northeast Wisconsin are familiar with Mike Winkler. He has been fighting them for five years.
A resident of Malone, in Fond du Lac County, Winkler considers the rush to build networks of wind energy towers a folly that will do little to meet the region’s needs for electricity.
Now, Winkler has written and is privately publishing a book that raises his concerns.
The book is a 93-page paperback titled, “Wind Energy…It Blows!”
A subtitle describes it as “a novella about the fight between good and the tax farms invading Middle America.”
By labeling it as fiction, Winkler likely is making it difficult for his critics to launch successful lawsuits against him.
Allegory aside, the book paints a picture of wind energy as a venture of dubious worth, but one that will make wind farms profitable for their owners by passing the expenses on to taxpayers and electricity ratepayers.
In the book, there is no Fond du Lac County, but there is Fonde Lake County. There is no Calumet County, but there is a Peace Pipe County, and, to little surprise, the Calumet County seal includes two peace pipes.
Wind energy systems are described as a boondoggle, viable only with government subsidies.
Chapter 5 begins by quoting Dr. Howard Hayden, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Connecticut: “With the right subsidies, wind could become a viable energy source. And with the right subsidies, gasoline could be made free, and 2-carat diamonds could be given away in cereal boxes. How is it that wind, with a 4,000-year head start, is such a small player in the energy scene? Could it be – just possibly – that the answer has something to do with physics instead of economics and politics?”
Winkler’s point: wind energy is not a reliable source of energy and never can be, because the wind doesn’t blow all the time.
The book maintains that landowners who sign contracts to allow wind farms on their farmland are blinded by greed. They just want the annual payments the contract gives them and don’t care about anything else, including what the big wind towers do to the rural landscape.
In Chapter 5, Winkler gets out his calculator and compares the cost of electricity generated by wind power to the cost of the same power generated by a nuclear power plant. By his calculations, wind-generated power is nearly seven times more expensive.
He suggests that only government subsidies allow for wind energy firms to make money. This is why he refers to wind farms as “tax farms.” Taxpayers will foot the bill so the wind energy firms make money.
State law, he notes, allows the cost of power generation to be passed on to electric customers through the rates they are charged.
This means that if electricity costs more to generate using wind energy, electric utility customers would have to absorb that cost in their monthly utility bills.
The book also disputes industry claims that the noise generated by wind towers is insignificant.
The book is a good read, in part because Winkler’s language is colorful. Although he seems serious about wind energy, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, as this passage from Chapter 12 illustrates:
“It is a good thing this is a fiction book, since we are debunking the fiction of real life to create truth in fiction. OK, wait. That might be just a bit too deep for me. Whoa, dude, that is sooo deep!”
Interludes like that make the book a fun read, even though it is told as a tale between good and evil.
By Ed Byrne
15 February 2008
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