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Numbers can’t sustain faith in wind energy

Deciding whether wind turbines are good for your community is more about the numbers than “what you believe” as Dennis Sewell stated (“State enters wind energy debate,” Nov. 6).

The article got a couple of things right. One, Indiana is not the vast sweeping plains of Texas or even many of the other western states that can support an extensive network of wind farms. Whitley County has more families living in a square mile than most of the places in the United States that support wind farms. The article was also correct in stating wind farms spring up because of government incentives to big wind developers. However, these companies are not American-owned companies taking Americans’ tax dollars. They are Chinese- and Irish-based companies putting up as many turbines as they can to take the subsidies.

Recently, professor Roger McEowen of Iowa State University spoke in Whitely and Marshall counties and gave some compelling numbers for our region. Wind turbines, which McEowen refers to as aero-generators, need a consistent wind speed of 11 to 13 mph to be efficient. Parts of the country that produce these winds are states in Tornado Alley (Texas, Kansas, Iowa) and the coastal regions, not Indiana. Therefore, the efficiency of Whitley County’s proposed turbines will be less then 20 percent, and the power that is produced will be shipped to larger cities.

Only 0.8 percent of U.S. electricity is produced by petroleum, therefore not reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Only 1 percent of U.S. power comes from wind and could reach only 6 percent by 2020. However, as McEowen points out, the U.S. Energy Administration Annual Energy Outlook for 2006 concluded that by 2030 wind power would supply no more than 1.2 percent of U.S. needs and “only if current incentives and subsidies stay in place.” Seems to be a lot of tax dollars for such a small gain. The amount of U.S. carbon dioxide savings by using wind power over current methods will be only 1.755 percent by 2020. Again, a very small percentage for such a large cost to taxpayers.

The wind companies are also receiving taxpayer dollars for the energy produced. McEowen outlined the infrastructure problems for communities that allow wind farms – problems such as road construction and repair and police and fire protection after the turbines have been erected. All those costs will be incurred by taxpayers of the county.

It is costing taxpayers billions in federal government subsidies to wind power companies then additional tax dollars to the county taxpayers once the turbines are in place with very little gain for anyone but the large wind companies. Cutting subsidies seems to be a good place for the government to start saving the taxpayers some money.


Columbia City