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Old 02-14-09, 04:40 PM   #3
Bob McGovern
Lurking Renovator
Join Date: Feb 2009
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It's always fun to research who is behind the anti-wind websites and blogs. Many are NIMBYs; I always ask people opposed to wind turbines in their viewshed how much electricity they use per month, and whether the "big ugly coal plant in someone else's back yard" is their idea of fair. Inevitably, the most frothing haters of turbines use 40 kWh per day; I dismiss them by saying, "come talk to me when you aren't driving new capacity, okay?"

Some opponents are legitimately concerned about wildlife impacts; they can be usefully informed about low bird mortalities near wind turbines, with the sorry exceptions of Altamont and Gibraltar. Foot Creek Rim here in Wyoming did extensive bird mortality research as part of their site approval. They have about 200 large turbines and found two dead birds a year. Find a lot more than that under power lines! Utility lines serving the Pinedale gas rigs killed over 200 golden eagles last year.

Some (slightly better informed) critics argue that wind turbines are inefficient and require a good bit of energy to build and install. I answer that ALL utility power generation -- coal, gas, hydro, and solar thermal -- relies on fluids turning rotors, and all are desperately inefficient. Physics sets the maximum efficiency of any turbine at 60%, in an ideal world. Add friction, drag, turbulence, alternator losses, transmission losses, and home inefficiencies and you're below 10% of the input potential. Further, wind turbines of all scales repay their energy debt in less then six months; fossil plants take lots of energy to build, too, but they never pay it down.

Some free-marketeers grouse that commercial wind power depends on tax breaks and subsidies to compete. It's worth informing these people about the staggering tax advantages and subsides the US government gives to coal, gas, oil, hydro, and nuclear industries. Wind subsidies are chump change and merely level the field.

But a large number of anti-wind sites & "grassroots movements" are paid for by fossil fuel PR coalitions -- including some of the most rabid "bird kill" sites. The coal power industry, especially, views wind as a threat because they know coal is suffered only for lack of alternatives. They want to drive a wedge between wind developers and their natural allies, people concerned about the environment.

BTW, I have no connection to the wind power industry beyond the borders of my own yard. Just kicking in some strategies to counter disinformation that's circulating.
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