Scout Clean Energy from Boulder, Colorado has proposed building 500-foot turbines along 24 miles of our Southern skyline in the Horse Heaven Hills.
A 500-foot turbine is massive when you consider the top of the turbine blades at Nine Canyon Wind Farm in Kennewick are only 350 feet. The Space Needle and the Gateway Arch are roughly as tall as these proposed turbines.
I am opposed to this project. I will not support another wind project in Eastern Washington until those on the Westside start to contribute by also building wind sites in Western Washington.
Late last year I had a discussion with one of these so-called environmentalists at an industry meeting in Portland. She explained to me that they always will be able to build turbines in Eastern Washington because the counties get paid handsomely via taxes and the farmers that own the land get millions of dollars per year via federal subsidies.
I explained to her that we are tired of being paid off so they can destroy our environment. I told her that I find it ironic that the federal government can tax us and then give the money to vulture capitalists so they can use the money to destroy our local community.
It is time for those of us in Southeastern Washington to stand up to these faux environmentalists. We need to start making our own decisions. We need to demand that the governor commission an environmental study to determine the effects of these wind turbines on our community.
The study that was recently done regarding the Snake River dams can serve as a blue print. We cannot trust an environmental study conducted by wind energy companies whose only real intent is take make money via federal subsidies and become wealthy.
Any environmental study should be done by a third party and be multi-year in order to determine long term effects on the people and animals that live here.
Much of my professional career has been spent in public power. In that time, I have learned that many people who say they are environmentalists are exactly the opposite.
I have witnessed Initiative-937 – the clean energy initiative – pass with the majority of our community opposed. All this initiative did was force local utilities to pay millions of dollars for intermittent wind energy they did not need, and allow much cheaper hydro power to go to other states that were not affected by the initiative.
This initiative was supposed to lower our levels of carbon in the state. It did not.
Both wind and hydro power are both carbon free, but wind is far more expensive. It did however make wind developers extremely rich.
Wind projects in this state enjoy massive subsidies from the federal government. Currently that incentive is $23.00 for each megawatt-hour produced. I refer to these people as vulture capitalists. They take hundreds of millions of our dollars via federal subsidies, build projects that we do not need, and then transmit the energy to Portland, Seattle and beyond. Very little of the energy produced is used locally. They do this while living in faraway locations like Boulder, CO. and Seattle, WA.
Many in the so-called Western Washington environmental community are only environmentalists when the laws they pass do not affect them. They continue to pass so called “green laws” in Olympia and then expect those of us in Eastern Washington to build their turbines in our back yard.
In the process our birds are killed and we are forced to look at these unsightly turbines on a daily basis. What they fail to recognize is that we are located on one of the major North American bird migration flyways called the Pacific Flyway. This Flyway stretches from Alaska to Patagonia and involves millions of birds migrating annually.
The NW Energy Coalition is the leader of this movement in the Western Washington. These people are backed by wind manufacturers and are paid handsomely for their services. They are also the people that are leading the movement to tear down our Snake River Dams.
They are doing all they can to tear down the dams in order to save orcas, but do not care about the thousands of birds that are killed annually by their massive wind turbines. I can only assume this is due to the fact that the hydro energy community is not backing them financially.
These people are just fine with the industrialization of our viewscapes, but will never consider building a wind farm or any other energy project in their own backyard, even though many great wind sites exist on our Western coastline and offshore.
In a very short time Benton County Commissioners will be asked for permits to allow the Scout Clean Energy project to proceed. Please call your county commissioner and let them know that you are opposed to this new project and will vote accordingly in November.
Barry A. Bush is a board member of the Benton PUD, however, he wrote this column as a private citizen.
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