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Dispelling the myths of tall-tale turbines  

Everyone who likes taxes raise your hands.

C’mon, anyone? Nobody?

OK, well how about an efficient source of renewable energy? Yeah, that’s more like it! I couldn’t agree more!

Now how about a project that is 70 percent inefficient, could cost around $240 million of your tax money, and does irreplaceable damage to environmental and housing economies – say, like a wind turbine farm?

I completely support progress and the development of alternative sources of energy, as long as actual progress is being made. We all know that the wind doesn’t blow every day, and even if it did, wind turbines can only operate between wind speeds of 25 and 55 mph.

Thus, numerous studies have shown that wind turbines are often only efficient 30 percent of the time. Nobody would buy a television, car or computer if they knew it would only work 30 percent of the time. So why would we pay $3 million for a lemon?

Many supporters of wind energy claim that it can replace conventional, less eco-friendly sources of energy. This is not true. Our power supply system resembles a grid, in which everything must be connected to provide a continuous flow of energy.

During the other 70 percent of the time that the wind turbines are not working, the electrical grid relies on conventional thermal power stations to maintain a constant source of energy.

Even when winds are ideal for producing energy, these thermal power stations must remain on “spinning stand-by” due to the rapidness with which winds can change and the amount of energy required to restart a conventional power station. Wind turbines don’t reduce the need for, or the environmental effects of, traditional power plants.

Despite being a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, my permanent residence is in Mount Calvary, the epicenter of the Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac County. My critics could say that I am just playing the “Not-in-my-backyard!” card, but the majority of my time is spent in Milwaukee, where I cannot be lulled into the belief of progress by the 340-foot monstrosities of cold, white steel.

I am sure that the legions of titanic invaders, and the flicker of their slashing swords will eventually fade into the horizon, but their effects on our land and our wallets will not.

The only thing “green” about these windmills is the money in the pockets of big business. They could care less that the roads they blaze into farmers’ fields transgress the fruit of our forefathers’ toil. They could care less about what happens to the area wildlife and ecosystems. They could care less that noise and shadow flickering jeopardize the health of the local community.

They could care less because for every turbine, they receive $1 million back in tax credit, and they gain an image as valiant protectors of the environment.

Their pocket change of $3,000 – which they so generously spare for their vassals – is hardly compensation.

Alternative energy sources, such as tidal, solar and geothermal would use our tax money in a more efficient and responsible way. The fastest, cleanest and cheapest alternative is simple conservation. Studies of turbine farms in Denmark and Germany suggest that a directed conservation effort could save nearly as much energy as wind farms produce, without the negative effects.

These are only a few suggestions for a problem too big for any one solution. A cooperative effort, a multifaceted approach and efficient alternatives are needed. Wind turbines do not accomplish this.

Kollin G. Petrie is a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee. His home residence is in Mount Calvary in Fond du Lac County.

Fond du Lac Reporter

22 April 2008

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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