CHEVELON – When Tom Lahman first heard about wind turbines in Navajo County, he said he had “warm fuzzy” feelings.
“I spent most of last winter in Montana and when I came back here in January, I found a letter from Navajo County Public Works saying John McCauley had applied for a special use permit for a met tower,” Lahman said. “At that time, I thought if something produces power, it’s justifiable.
“Then all I did for four months was research on renewable energy and found the downside. Now I’m very much against it. Those who are looking at ‘green’ power, renewable resources, say it’s free but it doesn’t take long to discover these things are built to make money and get government grants.”
Others may be concerned about health issues but he said his major concern deals with the financial impact of these energy producers, especially considering taxpayers will have to pay back the funds borrowed from China for Obama’s stimulus plan.
He said President Obama had put millions of dollars into encouraging renewable energy production which pays about 63 percent of the construction costs. In Arizona, he added, the state legislature “coerced” the commerce commission to require that utilities use a specific amount of renewable energy.
In his research, he stated, he found that the renewable energy production companies would base their claims of how much power was being generated at 100 percent production but, Lahman said, typically the percent of production is much lower.
“The production is abysmal when you look at the damage to the environment and the economy,” he commented. “It’s dangerous economically. Every place they have tried it (wind turbines), it has increased the cost of energy. Not only do we, the taxpayers, have to pay the debt on those things but other products will be more expensive.”
He cited the making of steel by the Bessemer process which was developed in the United States. Now, he said, because of the global economy and countries such as China increasing their use of coal power, American steel is more costly than other countries.
Several years ago, he added, he had a steel fabricating business and checked out his supply, noting he had steel from Korea, Brazil, India and South Africa but only one very old piece of antique steel that had been made in Pennsylvania.
“We can’t compete with cheap energy costs,” he commented. “If we double the cost of energy, it’s going to impact American industry that uses it. If they can’t afford to pay for it, the government will give them a subsidy which will be paid by taxpayers who will be less able to pay for the products they manufacture.”
Lahman said his figures come from several different sources including documents written by the University of Rey Juan Carlos in Spain and another published by a German university, all of which indicate that using wind power has had a negative effect. He has also read articles in the Atlantic Monthly and Washington Post.
As for the projects being considered in Navajo County, Lahman said the process of obtaining a special use permit to construct wind farms has allowed them to “fly under the radar.” The process requires notification to any property holder within 300 feet of the boundaries but many of the projects are being planned for areas surrounded mostly by public land, whether federal or state, he explained.
“Arizona was last in line for developing wind power because we don’t have good winds,” he said. “We have high bursts of wind. Snowflake, with a 3 rating is marginal, NAU did a study and found only two sites in the state would be viable and those are on Mt. Humphreys.”
Lahman owns a hundred acres including a home in Chevelon about 15 to 17 miles southeast of Winslow and is trying to bring interest in the issue to people in the Winslow area. The difference between that area and the Heber/Snowflake/Cedar Hills area is that people in the latter area are aware of the wind farms because Dry Lake I is already operating and Dry Lake II is under construction.
Before leaving the area to go to Michigan, he mailed out more than 360 fliers with a CD and an introductory letter intended to explain his point of view.
In the end, he said, people think wind power is going replace coal but that isn’t so. If anything, it will displace natural gas. The country has coal enough to last for another 400 years, he claimed.
“When I ask people why they support renewable resource power production, they say because it will reduce our dependency on foreign oil but that isn’t true,” he said.
“And its use won’t displace coal either.”
Anyone interested in contacting Lahman can do so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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