“Thirty-five windmills at a Western Pennsylvania wind farm have been silenced at night since a bat that belongs to an endangered species was found dead under one of the turbines,” reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review a few days ago.
Duke Energy shut down the windmills as soon as the bat was discovered Sept. 26. The windmills will start up again sometime in mid-November, when bats go into hibernation. The incident provides more evidence that wind energy’s benefits carry tradeoffs. Not only is it more costly than carbon-based power generation, it is also much less reliable.
Like Gov. Bob McDonnell, we favor an all-of-the-above approach to energy production, including renewable sources such as wind. And like Google and Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, we suspect offshore wind holds promise. Wind also might be able to reduce coal and gas consumption, at least modestly.
But if one dead bat can shut down an entire turbine farm every night for nearly two months, land-based wind power is not going to become a realistic source of base-load generation. Those who contend otherwise may find they are whistling in the dark – literally as well as metaphorically.