The start of another David and Goliath battle seems impossible to avoid. A battle between outside wind turbine developers seeking to profit from the frenzied rush to develop renewable energy and local citizens interested in protecting the beauty and habitability of the area. No one can deny the need for energy without CO2 emissions. These emissions largely responsible for global warming are probably the greatest threat to our lives. At the same time destroying land with miles of concrete bunkers housing behemoth sized chopping blades, to churn the air with sound and shadow, shredding thousands of migrating birds is not the answer. The efforts to create renewable energy to prevent an environmental catastrophe threatened by global warming can’t be justified if the renewable energy creates another environmental threat.
The practicality of wind power is not proven and will not reduce the need for power plants. The sporadic nature of turbine power forces electric companies to constantly power levels up or down to compensate for the inconsistent wind power. New sources for renewable energy such as solar power and geothermal offer less intrusive green energy and expend less energy to procure.
In Denmark the government is to pass a bill giving compensation for loss of land value to people living near turbines. These (Babcock and Brown) developers are not environmentalist but are promoters seeking to profit from green subsidies (our tax money). Fifty to 65 turbines between Ripley and Westfield presents a devastation of land, tons of concrete, and miles of destructive access roads through farm and forest lands. The power the area would help to create will not benefit anyone locally as power goes into the national grid.
Local farmers and landowners are understandably interested in the prospect of money through windmill leases. However, the increased expense of gas prices, make the transportation of crops high enough that a return to using local produce, grown in local fields could put the farm back in the farmer. Chautauqua County has benefited from an increase in tourism but the presence of wind turbines won’t attract tourist dollars. Once these tons of concrete are embedded in the ground and the colossal sized turbines are erected nothing will return to its original state. What widget of technology do the town councils desire, what tax monies do they need that will justify this destruction of land?
The landscape is a common space that belongs to us all. The tranquility of forest, field, and sky provide strength and solace in our lives, as do the wings of thousands of migrating birds to their northern breeding grounds, offer us hope and nurture our imagination. Once these turbines are plunged deep in the ground, we will lose all of this common space in a profound way, taking generations to regain what we lose.
North East, Pa.
Grew up in Ripley
28 February 2008
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