***Editor's Note: John's comments on wind power in this weekend's (April 23-24, 2011) drew lots of reaction. First we are posting links pertaining to his comments followed by the transcript from his Mailbag segment...finally, viewer reaction...
TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG...A WIND ENERGY ENTHUSIAST, RICH DAHL, TAKES ISSUE WITH MY REMARKS ON WIND FARMS:
“JOHN REALLY BLEW IT TODAY WITH HIS LAME COMMENTS ON WINDPOWER.
GO BACK A FEW YEARS JOHN AND YOU'LL FIND SIMILAR UNINFORMED COMMENTS BY HORSE AND MULE FARMERS ABOUT TRACTORS.”
RICH, I AM NO EXPERT BUT I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING WIND ENERGY FOR SEVERAL YEARS. MY SOURCES ARE ON OUR HOMEPAGE. FIRST, IT DOESN'T EVEN COME CLOSE ECONOMICALLY. EVEN WITH ENORMOUS GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES CONSUMERS PAY 4 TO 10 TIMES MORE FOR WIND ENERGY. THE INTERMITTENT NATURE OF WIND ENERGY MEANS BACKUP POWER PLANTS HAVE TO BE ON HOT STANDBY WHICH ACTUALLY CAN CAUSE MORE CARBON EMISSIONS, NOT LESS. WIND POWER SUPPLY IS ALMOST NON-EXISTENT DURING THE HIGHEST DEMAND - HOT SUMMER DAYS.
DENMARK - THE POSTER CHILD FOR WIND POWER - HAS THE HIGHEST ELECTRIC COSTS IN EUROPE AND EVEN SELLS MOST OF THEIR VARIABLE WIND POWER TO NORWAY WHICH HAS HYDROELECTRIC PLANTS TO SMOOTH THE SUPPLY. FINALLY, IF BUDGET CUTTERS SCALE BACK WIND SUBSIDIES, FEW WILL BE BUILT. MOREOVER, THOSE SUBSIDIES ENRICH TURBINE MANUFACTURERS, DEVELOPERS AND LANDOWNERS WHILE BILKING TAXPAYERS AND CONSUMERS.
WE HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THE IDEA OF FREE ENERGY FROM THE WIND, BUT UNLESS WE TAX CARBON, IT IS NOT A RATIONAL CHOICE.
#1: Your comments on wind energy are correct. However, you miss the true potential of renewable energy. It is true that both wind and solar are limited by their very nature. The real benefit would be in converting excess renewable energy to hydrogen. Hydrogen can be created and stored just about every where. It then could be used to power automobiles and yes tractors. I saw a prototype Ford hydrogen powered tractor at the Farm Progress Show last year. All of the auto manufactures have prototype models today. These cars could be in production in a few months. It would take a few years to get this system fully operational but like the transcontinental railroad it would change this country for the better. California already has some hydrogen refueling stations. If we were able to stop importing Middle Eastern oil look at the huge impact it would have on our economy. Everyone in the oil industry in the USA today would still have their jobs 10 years from now. The big difference would be we would be in charge of our economy not some OPEC oil barons. Thank you, for your time.
Lone Tree, IA
#2: Your commentary was spot on. Windfarms/Wind energy are not the end all/be all that the Greenies are purporting them to be. Agri-professionals should be smarter than this but those getting excess cash will tout their effectiveness to anyone that will listen. If the subsidies stop and the companies go belly up, who is going to clean up the rotting and decaying turbine towers that are left behind. I hope it is not the tax payer or the energy consumer but rather the land owner who took the money up front! The north part of west central Indiana is getting littered with these turbines and they are not benefiting anyone but the wind co employees, turbine makers, construction workers, and land owners. More of this type of energy will only cost the average consumer with higher rates! Wind turbines are GREEN energy! You get lots of GREEN in your pocket from Joe Taxpayer if you are involved with the project.
Keep up the good education work!!!
#3: I couldn't agree more with John's comments on the high cost/low value of wind power. We are right in the middle of several wind farms being built in the Thumb of Michigan. An estimated $510 million (that's over half a billion) dollar transmission line is to be built to support this
extravaganza, with many cost overruns expected. Parts of five of our farms are being condemned/taken for this line-against our will-and the poles will be placed diagonally across many miles of beautiful farm land. I wonder how many wind energy lovers would enjoy having to give up THEIR land & view for this expensive fad. Meanwhile, 20 miles away, Consumers Power has mothballed a clean, coal-fired plant in Bay City, MI, that would, according to my friend who is an engineer there, make 5 TIMES more power, for LESS money than what's being spent on this wind farm experiment.