14 September 2011

The hot air behind wind energy



I am an environmentalist. A few right-wingers out there are salivating over the fact that I just admitted that, and no doubt it will come back to haunt me somewhere down the line. I remember the first time I said those exact words. It was in front of Republicania County's Drainage Board when I challenged the 19th century dredging philosophy still in use which was causing ever-increasing flooding in River City.

So, naturally, I would be the first to embrace massive wind towers across our Hoosier landscape, right? Well, much like the fervor behind the ethanol business only four short years ago (remember that? it was going to solve our dependency on foreign oil), I question the authenticity of any "get on the band wagon" energy plan. Naturally, any undertaking of such magnitude has to be profitable to work. But just like an ethanol plant shouldn't be plopped down just in any 'ol location.....neither should the newest commercial venture in dependency-free energy.

The wind energy debate landed in Republicania County and has risen to a boiling point since discussions about towers shooting up east of a lake resort community began several months ago. Now, I'm not opposed to wind energy towers.....but to somehow equate them to grandpa's windmill on the 'ol homestead is ludicrous. Grandpa's windmill couldn't be seen 3 miles away. Our wind energy ordinance requires that towers not be placed any closer than 1,000 feet from a home. Now, that's less than a quarter mile away (roughly 4 city blocks). Why should home owner's have the enjoyment of their property, and its cash value, be lessened just so a farmer (maybe, or maybe just a guy who purchased enormous tracts of land) and a large corporation can make some serious cash? These are massive commercial undertakings with little local benefit.


Top photo is off the massive wind farm stetching for miles along the South Dakota/Minnesota border. The photo above is the wind farm constructed along I-65 northwest of Lafayette.

My friends on the clean energy side of this debate need to come to terms with the prospect of a potential for windmills randomly placed throughout the county. SMART planning, something our county has failed to do since we adopted zoning in the 1970s, would create zones based on wind maps, and then make the commercial towers only acceptable in those locations with no deviation. 1,000 feet from any residence? That's even less than wind energy corporations' OWN standards. Frankly, there should be a push to place these near or in our industrial or highway commercial areas......this is far more appropriate in land use.

I've had several people ask me to weigh in on our county's wind energy debate, to which I've said that if I could trust our county to do the right thing, I'd be all for it. I've even looked out my windows and thought...hmmm.....1,000' could drop a tower very close....but I found a few acceptable locations that a wind farm could locate in my view. I fully support exploration in renewable energy, including wind, but there are appropriate places for any such initiative. This is not NIMBY, this is simply doing what is right, for everyone, all the way around.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey I thought u weren't going to get in on the windmill debate! Couldn't help yourself,could you?

Bec. said...

My problem with the turbines being talked about in our county is that the energy generated by them won't be used in our county. Plan is to ship it elsewhere. Why would I want a turbine on our farm or close to us if the energy generated wasn't going to be used by me.

Anonymous said...

Energy gets "shipped" all over the country. I wonder how many REMC members know where their power comes from? The arguement that power generated here must be consumed here if we are going to allow the wind turbines is simply not consistent with the reality of our nations energy grid....which frankly needs substantial upgrades. I don't disagree with HH, our county zoning leaves much to be desired, perhaps we should hire a REAL TRAINED ZONING/PLANNING PROFESSIONAL, instead of letting a life long double dipping politician pose as a zoning expert!

Anonymous said...

www.wvpa.com Wabash Valley Power Association....click on it and find out where the Marshall County REMC gets it power? Certainly not in its backyard! What I fear most in this debate is that we will once again, as we so often do in this county, bury our collective heads in the sand instead of arriving at some logical compromise. We cannot maintain the status quo as a county, state or nation if we are going to be competitive in a world economy.

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump, REALLY? I am in favor of wind energy but have been troubled by both the Pro and Anti Marshall County Windfarm Sites on the internet. I would like to know who the real string pullers are behind both of these groups. The most laughable comment I have seen posted on these sites is one on the Anti site that references Donald Trump's anti windfarm position; so now he is an authority on Wind Energy? He may know all about Gambling, Stupid Reality Shows and Beauty Pageants but wind energy? HA!

Kestrel said...

Wow, great topic HR. I just today spoke with someone who suggested that I google "Wind Lens". Looks to me like a better form of Wind Generator may be on the horizon, and since so many seem to be worried about how our "horizons" may look, perhaps we should call a time out in this debate. This would give us time to put a better wind generator provision in our county zoning ordinance.

Anonymous said...

IF wind farms are a Federal Boondoggle as some of the Anti group is saying then can we please stop the farm welfare that is disguised as the Corn Ethanol Subsidies too.

hoosier reborn said...

I couldn't help myself, no.

It would be wrong to believe that energy produced would stay here, just as oil or nuclear produced stays in its location. I think each locality should do its part in providing some allowance for wind energy (has anyone asked Marion County to do their fair share?) but I also think that has to be very well thought out rather than blanket approval.

Good minds, not swayed by politics or business, should be able to come up with a reasonable approach to location.

And I think we need to look at ending subsidies-period. It has helped to create this false economy of cheap food, and fake prices at the pumps for true cost. We might just be more consumer-conscience if we were paying the real cost of food and gas. If we could just curb wasted energy-it would do the work of thousands of wind farms.

HR