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The Wind Power Debate
Apr 09, 2009
It took me by surprise when I saw a reply to my question on Mail Bag on Sunday, April 6, 2009 regarding industrial wind turbines. In DeKalb County, IL, the situation is different because of the following:
1. This is not west Texas which is sparcely populated with few people per square mile. DeKalb County has many rural and rural/residential properties. In Feb., 2009, we counted about 107 rural/residential properties (less than 10 acres) in Shabbona Township (DeKalb Co.) alone. Many of these properties were originally purchased from farmers who profited by selling a few acres with old buildings they had no use for. After remodeling, these are now much more valuable properties, paying high real estate taxes.
2. In DeKalb County, 1/3 of the proposed industrial wind turbines are located on property owned by absentee landlords. 30 of the turbines are located on land owned by people from outside the United States (Germany, Italy and Venezuela).
3. As wind complexes develop, it is becoming clear that wind energy has many drawbacks. Research states that wind energy is about 20% efficient. Were it not for large federal and state tax subsidies, we would not have industrial wind turbines complexes. There are many health and safety issues (see www.nowindfarms.com) such as noise, ice fling, low level vibrations, lightening strikes, turbine collapse and/or blade malfunction, fire, not to mention bird and bat kills. The public should be appraised of the true monetary cost of wind energy.
4. The property value of homes in the footprint of an industrial wind turbine complex is reduced at least 25% to 30% according to Michael McCann, Certified Appraiser, specializing in wind farms. Mary Wells, Community Outreach Manager for Florida Power and Light Energy said to me on April 1, 2009 that there is "no evidence that property values are reduced." After Ms. Wells admitted that there is little population density in west Texas where there are numerous turbines, it became obvious that FPL uses arbitrary figures of dissimilar properties. John, if you were not making money from an industrial wind turbine, would you want a 40 story turbine, 1400 feet from your home creating noise, shadow flicker, vibration etc.?
5. Most importantly, in DeKalb County our A-1 agricultural zoning prohibits the construction of anything that dominates the landscape.
As a devoted listener of US Farm Report, sincerely,
EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is a transcript of the Mail Bag Segment that aired last weekend on U.S. Farm Report:
MARK JOHNSON IN DEKALB COUNTY, ILLINOIS PHONED IN WITH HIS OBJECTION TO WIND TURBINES.
"WHY ARE YOU ONLY REPORTING THE GOOD ASPECTS OF WIND TURBINES AND NOT THE NEGATIVE?"
MARK, WITH RESPECT, I THINK WE DO POINT OUT THE DRAWBACKS TO WIND TURBINES, BUT I TRY TO EMPHASIZE OBJECTIVE PROBLEMS, LIKE THE ECONOMICS AND ENGINEERING ISSUES.
I REALIZE MANY FOLKS HAVE COMPLAINTS ABOUT TURBINES SPOILING THE LANDSCAPE, BUT THAT VALUE JUDGMENT IS NOT UNIVERSAL AND MORE TO THE POINT, IN PLACES LIKE DENMARK WHICH HAVE HAD TURBINES FOR DECADES NOW, PUBLIC ATTITUDES RAPIDLY ADJUST TO THEIR PRESENCE. IN SHORT, WE KNOW THAT 10 YEARS AFTER WIND FARMS ARE INSTALLED MOST LOCAL RESIDENTS HARDLY NOTICE THEM.
OTHER OBJECTIONS LIKE INJURIES TO MIGRATING BIRDS ARE UNSUBSTANTIATED. THERE ARE NO PILES OF DEAD BIRDS UNDER OPERATING TURBINES. SIMILARLY, MANY OF THE EARLY NOISE COMPLAINTS HAVE BEEN RECTIFIED BY BETTER DESIGN. IF A TURBINE IS MAKING NOISE THOSE VIBRATIONS CONTITUTE AN INEFFICIENCY, AFTER ALL.
I HAVE READ CAREFULLY REPORTS OF SHODDY CONSTRUCTION AND UNNEEDED DAMAGE DURING THE BUILDING PROCESS, AND WHILE REGRETTABLE, MY INFORMATION SHOWS CURRENT CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES TO BE MUCH IMPROVED AND ESSENTIALLY SATISFACTORY TO LANDOWNERS.
THE REAL INARGUABLE PROBLEMS WITH WIND ENERGY ARE THE TINY OUTPUT - ONE 2 GIGAWATT COAL PLANT IS WORTH 1000 TYPICAL TURBINES; THE LAVISH SUBSIDIES NEEDED, AND THE INABILITY OF OUR CURRENT GRID TO ACCOMMODATE MORE THAN A SMALL AMOUNT OF THE VARIABLE OUTPUT FROM WIND FARMS.
WIND FARMS ARE FEEL-GOOD ENERGY PLACEBOS REQUIRING EXTRAVAGANT PUBLIC SUBSIDIES THAT WILL BE DECADES BECOMING COMPETITIVE WITH COAL OR NUCLEAR POWER.