QUESTIONS PLAGUE EFFORTS TO GROW WIND POWER USE

December 26, 2007

Interest in wind power production seems to be on the rise, but a verdict on the long-term viability of wind as an energy source has yet to be reached, and no hope is in sight for the scores of birds and bats meeting grisly fates among the turning turbine blades, says Cheryl K. Chumley, a Virginia-based journalist who specializes in land-use issues.

Consider:

  • At the Altamont, California wind farm, an estimated 22,000 birds, including some 400 golden eagles, have collided with wind turbines or been electrocuted by power lines there, according to the Sierra Club's Sierra magazine.
  • In Lake Township, Michigan, officials are considering banning wind turbines within township boundaries, saying they disrupt the idyllic countryside and put wildlife at risk, according to a report by The Detroit News.

"[Industry officials] say the bird and bat problem has been solved," says Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow specializing in energy and environment for the National Center for Policy Analysis.  But that's not true; they've just made bigger turbines that turn slower. So they're still whacking birds, just not as many."

In addition to bird and bat deaths, plenty of other issues fuel widespread concern about wind power production.  Wisconsin Independent Citizens Opposing Windturbine Sites (WINDCOWS), a grassroots group formed to fight the development of 49 windmills that would span three townships, decries a lot more than aesthetics.

The WINDCOWS Web site protests excessive wind turbine noise, flickering lights, toxic fluid leaks from generators, and well and groundwater contamination resulting from grading during construction and operation of the windmills.

Source: Cheryl K. Chumley, "Questions Plague Efforts to Grow Wind Power Use," Heartland Institute, January 1, 2008.

 

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