Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Wind Farms: What’s Your Position?

 

I’m against them, personally. There is a big push in my corner of the state to build wind farms — my county has one already and another being built. We tried to fight it, but when the editor of the paper at the county seat is gung-ho, we didn’t stand a chance, and none of the 30-some other people did either.

The county where I work is putting up a pretty good fight against them. A couple with a private airstrip (they’ve had it many years) will be severely impacted. The company involved came in and bought leases with ‘hush’ clauses in the contracts, and many of the people who sold leases don’t live where the farm will be. The number of towers planned has increased, as has the height.

When one of the company reps was asked if the towers would survive an F5 tornado, she said, “Show me the tornado.” I think that’s pretty flippant and dismissive, don’t you? When people brought up the number of bats, migratory birds, and birds of prey killed by wind turbines, the answer was ‘cats kill many times more birds’. How many bats have you seen your cat catch? Can they kill a swan, bald eagle, or snow goose? Why add something that kills, some say, over 500,000 birds a year?

What happens to old wind turbines? Do you know how far down in the ground they have to go for the base/foundation? What about emissions generated in mining the rare earths and ore to build and transport them?

Jobs? A few local cement contractors will have work, the road rebuilding will make a few temporary jobs, but permanent jobs? At most, 12 to 14, and they won’t be local people. Most won’t move to the area, so schools, etc., won’t see much impact.

Let’s “shoot the breeze” on this, shall we?

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  1. Spin Coolidge
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m not opposed to them at all, not in any ideological sense. We have plenty of them around Washington State. The Wild Horse Wind farm in Eastern Washington can generate as much as 300Mw of power, and they are out in the middle of nowhere. I always think they are pretty cool to look at when I drive that way.

    You know, a big thing in Washington state are the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. There are close to 100 dams on those two rivers alone, if you figure in those in British Columbia and Idaho. They have a lot of positive effects, but for decades now folks have been wanting to breach them to save the poor salmon. They talk about how the dam at The Dalles, Oregon, had such a negative impact on the local Native Americans. It’s the same thing, really. Last week it was dams, yesterday it was nuclear power plants, and today it is wind farms.

    I’m for “all of the above”.

    • #1
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:42 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. Bob Thompson Member

    You said little about the financials that are behind this. I hope something better than in solar. I’ve only come in contact with this visually when driving cross-country, but it’s pretty ugly where I’ve seen it.

    • #2
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:44 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Spin Coolidge
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I hope something better than in solar.

    I happen to work for a company that is in the solar business. It is a cost per kilowatt-hour question, and the costs have been dropping. That’s a good thing.

    The problem is when folks say “cut out everything and only use renewable.” I don’t think we can do that today. But we can supplement base load electricity generation with renewable sources, and we should.

    • #3
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:49 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noDJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    carcat74: There is a BIG push in my corner of the state to build wind farms—my county has one already, and another being built.

    Incorporate… “Acme Windmills, Inc.”… sweet sweet money.

    • #4
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:53 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    Remove the government subsidies and these things would never be built.

    Which is how it should be.

    Invest in nuclear and natural gas.

    • #5
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 34 likes
  6. John Bullock Inactive

    I used to be pretty gung-ho on these things myself but am much less so now. I was attracted to the renewable energy aspect of the technology and didn’t take seriously enough the environmental damage they can cause. You are asking the right questions – and there are no easy answers. Like every other energy source, they are neither good nor bad – they have economic and environmental costs associated with them, the sizes of which depend heavily on where they are to be placed and how they are designed. Unsatisfying reply, I know, but energy questions are nothing if not a bedeviling series of trade-offs.

    • #6
    • January 25, 2019, at 10:59 AM PST
    • 15 likes
  7. Bob Thompson Member

    John Bullock (View Comment):

    I used to be pretty gung-ho on these things myself but am much less so now. I was attracted to the renewable energy aspect of the technology and didn’t take seriously enough the environmental damage they can cause. You are asking the right questions – and there are no easy answers. Like every other energy source, they are neither good nor bad – they have economic and environmental costs associated with them, the sizes of which depend heavily on where they are to be placed and how they are designed. Ambiguous reply, I know, but energy questions are nothing if not a bedeviling series of trade-offs.

    This is an area that exposes the simplistic approaches of politicians like Ocasio-Cortez that touch only the surface issues about problems they are trying to address. I think that is a feature in the behaviors of young people who have not developed critical thinking processes.

    • #7
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:03 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… Coolidge

    This is from 2015, and in Newsweek. And see the “Editor’s Note” at the start which attempts to draw a guilt-by-association.

    That said . . .

    What’s the True Cost of Wind Power.

     

    • #8
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:04 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When they fail it’s spectacular to watch.

    • #9
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:08 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. JoelB Member

    The video linked by @occupantcdn on the thread by @richardeaston is very germane to this topic as well. Show it to your friends and neighbors. It is 48 minutes long and relates directly to Australia, but it’s worth the time.

     

    • #10
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:12 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. tigerlily Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    This is from 2015, and in Newsweek. And see the “Editor’s Note” at the start which attempts to draw a guilt-by-association.

    That said . . .

    What’s the True Cost of Wind Power.

     

    Thanks for the article Drew.

    • #11
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:26 AM PST
    • Like
  12. OldPhil Coolidge

    When they start building them off Nantucket Island, in Lake Michigan next to Chicago, or in San Francisco Bay, I’ll know we really need them where everyone else lives.

    • #12
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:34 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  13. TGR9898 Coolidge

    Small scale windmills are fine for farm/home supplemental use.

    The technology does not scale up very well, and the stresses of the big blades on the rotating parts of the generator are the major reason that downtime & maintenance costs far exceed projections.

    Solar is just at the point of being a good source of supplemental power. I hope to have panels on my roof in the next few years.

    But neither solution is effective for all of a civilized society’s power needs. Not by a long shot. Not even with half the population culled could you meet those needs.

    The right solution is nuclear, but the environmentalists hate that too.

    It’s almost like they want total control of every aspect of society to shape it in they way they feel is best….

    • #13
    • January 25, 2019, at 11:55 AM PST
    • 24 likes
  14. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Spin (View Comment):
    But we can supplement base load electricity generation with renewable sources, and we should.

    But the base load generation needs to incur the capital cost to handle *all* the load when the renewable sources are not available.

    • #14
    • January 25, 2019, at 12:04 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  15. Flicker Coolidge

    I think the bottom line is do they produce any electricity? Are they cost effective given the slow wind times, the mechanical down time, the repair and replacement costs, and the damage to the environment? I don’t tend to think so, and no one’s going to give you a straight answer until long after they’re up and a done deal.

    • #15
    • January 25, 2019, at 12:25 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  16. Flicker Coolidge

    And no commenter here has yet mentioned the physical effects on people from the powerful low frequency vibrations. The human body according to something I read long, long ago, resonates at 7 hertz (or 4 hertz or something like that) and causes ill-feeling, stomach ache and diarrhea (it was supposedly a DARPA study). It think it’s the Germans now saying it is causing all kinds of soft health issues, and are protesting. But what can be done once the investment has been made?

    • #16
    • January 25, 2019, at 12:34 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Spin Coolidge
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    But we can supplement base load electricity generation with renewable sources, and we should.

    But the base load generation needs to incur the capital cost to handle *all* the load when the renewable sources are not available.

    Not if we increase our ability to store energy. My company builds systems that allow you to generate power from all sources (utility power when it’s cheap) and store that energy on site. Then you can use that stored energy to supplement your needs during peak, expensive times. If I can generate and store energy when utility power is cheap and/or when solar/wind are available, then the baseload sources don’t need to be able to handle the full load.

    The efficiency of a lithium-ion battery can be as high as 80% or even greater, depending on how it is deployed. Additionally, both the cost per watt-hour, and mass per watt-hour of batteries declines every day.

    We may not be there yet, but we are getting there.

    • #17
    • January 25, 2019, at 12:42 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  18. Hoyacon Member

    While travelling in eastern South Dakota on I-90 (speed limit 80, Yes!), the wind farms are numerous and inescapable. I’m not sure why I found this surprising, but it really made me wonder about the economics of the situation–especially since they appeared to be used on large farms (agribusiness?). They’re ugly, but, in such large numbers, they must generate a sizable amount of power. Any South Dakotans?

    • #18
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Spin (View Comment):
    Not if we increase our ability to store energy. My company builds systems that allow you to generate power from all sources (utility power when it’s cheap) and store that energy on site. Then you can use that stored energy to supplement your needs during peak, expensive times.

    It may be economically feasible to store energy for a few hours of demand, and is useful to do so even with conventional power plants. But what happens when all or the vast majority of the grid is powered by “renewable” sources….and there is a prolonged period of bad weather such that output from these sources is minimal? I believe this actually happened in Europe not too long ago.

    The renewable source that has significant integral storage capabilities is hydropower, but, interestingly, most environmentalists don’t want to count it as Renewable, and many even want to destroy the existing dams.

    • #19
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Hugh Member

    I get a number of notices about new wind farm developments next to our lease properties every year. We own several hundred communications towers in the area and a number of them have weather stations and bat monitors maintained by the power company. I guess I don’t really care about them that much since in most areas (around here) there is somewhat limited impact to the local rural population. (sparsely populated and very windy) 

    The foundations for these things are immense. I understand that the lifespan of the mechanical/electrical is in the neighborhood of 20 years but may be replaceable. I don’t know what the return on investment is but there are subsidies and I expect the overall cost will come down over time.

    What really bothers me is the impact to bird and bat populations. I don mind dead seagulls or pigeons so much but the impact to raptors (hawk/falcons/eagles/etc) seem to be to be unconscionable. When I was growing up i remember the big fuss about DDT and the effect on birds but not there is hardly a peep about slicing and dicing these birds.

     

     

    • #20
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:31 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  21. ctlaw Coolidge

    • #21
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:48 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. carcat74 Member
    carcat74

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    You said little about the financials that are behind this. I hope something better than in solar. I’ve only come in contact with this visually when driving cross-country, but it’s pretty ugly where I’ve seen it.

    The subsidies? The boondoggles you and I are paying for? THAT money?

    • #22
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:53 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. carcat74 Member
    carcat74

    Hugh (View Comment):

    I get a number of notices about new wind farm developments next to our lease properties every year. We own several hundred communications towers in the area and a number of them have weather stations and bat monitors maintained by the power company. I guess I don’t really care about them that much since in most areas (around here) there is somewhat limited impact to the local rural population. (sparsely populated and very windy)

    The foundations for these things are immense. I understand that the lifespan of the mechanical/electrical is in the neighborhood of 20 years but may be replaceable. I don’t know what the return on investment is but there are subsidies and I expect the overall cost will come down over time.

    What really bothers me is the impact to bird and bat populations. I don mind dead seagulls or pigeons so much but the impact to raptors (hawk/falcons/eagles/etc) seem to be to be unconscionable. When I was growing up i remember the big fuss about DDT and the effect on birds but not there is hardly a peep about slicing and dicing these birds.

     

     

    I’ve seen reports of them being 400-600 ft.deep, with around 400 cubic yards of cement, plus the needed reinforcements. The towers are likely to be 450 to 600 ft tall; think of the resonance generated……

    • #23
    • January 25, 2019, at 1:56 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. carcat74 Member
    carcat74

    I tried to talk to co-workers about this subject, but was pooh-poohed. When I brought the bird kills up, one said, “Well, they can fly around them.” Raptors are sight predators; they fly right into turbine blades. Those blade tips can be rotating 160-200 mph, by the way. I mentioned migratory birds who use the airspace occupied by the blades; was told the birds will have to adapt & change their patterns. About bats—their echo location is disrupted. I was told they could just move to my place I said I’d be happy to have bats, but not that way. Yes, cats kill lots of birds, but if people would spay/neuter, there would be fewer cats!

     

    • #24
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:08 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Painter Jean Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Remove the government subsidies and these things would never be built.

    Which is how it should be.

    Invest in nuclear and natural gas.

    What Drew said…..

    We have lots of them here in southern Minnesota. They are ugly, inefficient, and kill migratory birds. Why is an oil company fined when a spill kills waterfowl and marine life, but windmills get a pass? 

    • #25
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:16 PM PST
    • 25 likes
  26. Flicker Coolidge

    Hugh (View Comment):
    When I was growing up i remember the big fuss about DDT and the effect on birds but not there is hardly a peep about slicing and dicing these birds.

    Isn’t that amazing? Almost makes you think it’s a conspiracy.

    • #26
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:22 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  27. Randy Webster Member

    carcat74:

    What happens to old wind turbines? Do you know how far down in the ground they have to go for the base/foundation ? What about emissions generated in mining the rare earths and ore to build and transport them?

    Jobs? A few local cement contractors will have work, the road rebuilding will make a few temporary jobs, but permanent jobs? At most, 12 to 14, and they won’t be local people. Most won’t move to the area, so schools, etc., won’t see much impact.

    I approve of the foundation part. Maybe we could put in the foundations and not put up the turbines. Probably be cheaper in the long run.

    • #27
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:34 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Spin Coolidge
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Foster (View Comment):
    But what happens when all or the vast majority of the grid is powered by “renewable” sources

    Let’s be realistic: that’s just never going to happen. The enviro-nazis will yell you it is…but it’s not. We won’t let go of one rope before we have ahold of the next rope.

    • #28
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:43 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  29. Spin Coolidge
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Foster (View Comment):
    The renewable source that has significant integral storage capabilities is hydropower, but, interestingly, most environmentalists don’t want to count it as Renewable, and many even want to destroy the existing dams.

    Yes, I mentioned that previously. They’ve been trying to breach the dams on the Columbia for decades. Those dams do more than provide electricity: they also provide a thoroughfare which is still heavily used, and they distribute water throughout the Columbia basin, which is used to grow a lot of the wine these hipsters like to drink. They may sit in a snobby restaurant in Bellevue sipping the Pinot Gris, never knowing the the dams they hate make that wine possible.

    • #29
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:46 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  30. Randy Webster Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    The renewable source that has significant integral storage capabilities is hydropower, but, interestingly, most environmentalists don’t want to count it as Renewable, and many even want to destroy the existing dams.

    Yes, I mentioned that previously. They’ve been trying to breach the dams on the Columbia for decades. Those dams do more than provide electricity: they also provide a thoroughfare which is still heavily used, and they distribute water throughout the Columbia basin, which is used to grow a lot of the wine these hipsters like to drink. They may sit in a snobby restaurant in Bellevue sipping the Pinot Gris, never knowing the the dams they hate make that wine possible.

    Never noticed that the Columbia basin was short of rain. On the west side of the Cascades, anyway.

    • #30
    • January 25, 2019, at 2:53 PM PST
    • 1 like

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