It is now a forgone conclusion: Fast track the development of wind energy in Wyoming, a White House mandate to all of the land management agencies in our state.
This will be at a great environmental and a fiscal cost to the nation. Fast tracking generally results in less consideration of environmental concerns.
I can’t blame the developers. If I was young and money-oriented and didn’t worry about changing the face of Wyoming, I would be part of the effort.
From the Wall Street Journal to the Wyoming Business Report, millions and in some cases billion dollar figures are being brought to print on this subject. In this part of the country we are told our winds will bring new wealth and happiness. I believe the readers of this paper have been appraised of the millions of dollars of tax revenues the counties and state will receive. The numbers of new jobs during and after construction makes us all rejoice. All of this is based upon room on the existing power grid for all of the newly developed electricity from the wind.
Now for the down side: Federal subsides for wind power generation, nationwide, cost the tax payer about $12 billion. The cost of wind subsidies are $52.48 per one million watt hours generated. By contrast; for nuclear $3.10, for coal $0.63, for natural gas $0.64 (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 16, 2012). On the environmental side, scientific studies have discovered that bat mortalities in the area of industrial wind generators could lead to the extinction of the species in that area. In addition to the loss of numbers of migratory and resident birds, the wind people have requested the federal government to allow wind turbines to kill eagles for the next 30 years (the Indian tribes have a hard time acquiring eagle feathers). Perhaps I have not heard, is there money in escrow to be used for dismantling of wind towers in the event of company bankruptcy, or tower abandonment?
At the moment Wyoming has the potential of developing about 10,000 megawatts of electricity from public lands. The Chokecherry and the Sierra Madre, to be built in Carbon County in 2013, will produce about 2,500 megawatts and will cover about 220 square miles.
All in all, it is not enough to sacrifice Wyoming’s wide open spaces for reducing a relatively small part of the country’s carbon foot print or perhaps to replace generating electricity with fossil fuels. According to the experts, the demand for electric energy is so great this will not happen in the near future.
Finally, an industrial wind generating facility is not a farm by any stretch of the imagination. The word farm has come onto common usage to camouflage the real impact of this industrial development. With all that said, Wyoming gets ready for new age of wind mills on the horizons.
Eiserman lives in Casper.
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