It was back in 1990 that my wife and I purchased our idyllic “country place,” about 75 miles southwest of Chicago in Livingston County, Illinois.
It was a delightful little spot, a weekend refuge from the hustle and bustle and noise and commotion of the city and suburbs. We’d head down either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and return late Sunday or Monday morning.
A little less than three acres, it included a 100-year-old farmhouse, large outbuildings and an orchard with several kinds of apples as well as apricot, peach, and cherry trees. Situated on top of a rolling landscape, the house offered a commanding view of the surrounding area, including, to the north west and many miles away, the Braidwood nuclear plant, and at times, even the sight of belching flames from the Joliet refinery.
The Cayuga ridge (locally pronounced “Kew-gee” we quickly learned) is regarded by some as the one-time southern shore of what is now Lake Michigan. Others say the ridge is still geologically active and note its proximity to the large New Madrid fault, near St. Louis.
Surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, ours was the only house in an entire mile of gravel road, which was soon paved by our local road commissioner. Traffic was non-existent. I believe on one Fourth of July we experienced exactly one car traveling on the road in front of the house.
Most of all we enjoyed the sunsets, as our house faced west. Photos of those sunset views have been sold to collectors and given to friends; some currently decorate several homes in the Pontiac and Dwight areas of the county.
And, of course, this being Central Illinois, the wind blew. And therein lies a problem.
We sold the property about five years ago, preferring an in-town spot in Pontiac, and completely unaware of the trauma that was to come.
The trauma was produced by a misguided governmental action (is there any other kind?) that demanded that a certain percentage of electricity must be produced from “renewable sources.” The rationale being that we must wean ourselves of our dependence on “foreign oil,” and also help the planet by cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions.
Wind, it appeared, was the answer to this dual challenge. But as is the case with most attempts by governments to dabble in chemistry, this one was flawed from the start. The solution to the problem of foreign oil is to drill more of our own; and recent studies, noted in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Mr. Robert Bryce, a fellow of the Manhattan Institute, show that rather than decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, wind-generating power often increases it, due to the necessity to “cycle” coal- and gas-fired plants when the wind doesn’t blow.
There are many other problems with wind-generating. The jobs they create are temporary; they kill thousands of birds a year; they take needed farm land out of production; the machinery is constructed by foreign companies in Spain, Portugal, Denmark, China, and India. These companies receive a subsidy from our government that is 200-times more than what is available to other types of power production.
This subsidy is shared with landowners, who often live in Chicago and its suburbs and elsewhere, rather than on the land involved, enriching those who already own thousands of acres with even more income. Local owners are enticed by the money offered to them and blinded to the destruction they are wreaking on their very own land. Local municipalities and governments gobble up these federal funds instead of managing their affairs prudently.
But the people who want to enjoy the quiet, contemplative, beautiful life that brought us to the country in the first place, have the greatest reason to cry. But, studies funded by the wind-generating companies demonstrate that turbines cause no decline in real estate values.
Is that so? How exactly can there be no effect on property value when a sunset is ruined by a hundred whirling blades, slicing the sunlight into flashes of light, and then brightening up the night time sky with flashing red lights. Residents have complained of sleep deprivation, anxiety problems, increased livestock deaths and declining crop production. Try selling property among the towers and see what price you can get. Just quote from the company-sponsored studies, and expect top dollar..
Recently, a helicopter rescue had to be aborted and the victim driven to a local school because the copter couldn’t land safely among the towers. Another copter crashed among the turbines. Aerial application of pesticides and herbicides is impossible for farmers with wind turbines on their land.
But most of all, these turbines represent another attack on the quality of rural life, a life that those who have lived it from childhood often don’t appreciate as much as those of us who have chosen it because it provides the peace, quiet, contemplative life that we seek, and need.
But no more. We have sold our soul for a pot of filthy lucre. We have allowed government bureaucrats to do our thinking for us. Foolishly, we have trusted them. We have allowed money to dictate our lives and our landscape. We have ruined all that is best and beautiful in our world; and we will never get it back.
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