Wind farm, OLF are polar opposites

Published 12:13 am Thursday, December 15, 2011

To the Editor:

Concerning the Pantego wind-energy project, there are several misconceptions in the environmental community, especially in comparing this project to the proposed outlying landing field. The two projects are almost polar opposites in their impacts locally.

The OLF initially sought to condemn and remove from the local tax base over 30,000 acres of farmland and initiate bird control through crop selection and poisoning if necessary. The OLF would have displaced many rural families and destroyed many multigenerational farms. The character of the area would have been drastically altered.

Contrast that with the Pantego wind farm, no land removed from the tax base, (indeed an increase in the tax base), no displacement of rural families, no destruction of local farm businesses, no crop selection and no bird poisoning.

The tundra-swan issue is being exaggerated. There are operating wind farms in the Netherlands where swan impacts have been studied. No swans were killed by the turbines. Swans were observed eating sugar-beet residue only hundreds of feet from operating turbines. Radar studies showed that the swans could navigate around the turbines in all types of weather and light conditions. The wind turbine turning at 10-12 rpm is no comparison to a fighter jet moving at 600 mph. The birds can fly around a fixed turbine tower but cannot avoid an oncoming, low-altitude jet.

The environmental community has always been conflicted over wind power as well as many other forms of energy. It will say that it supports wind power, but just not here, however it nearly always finds fault with every single site that is proposed nationwide. I have no doubt there are many well-intentioned local environmentalists, but there will never be a zero-impact site anywhere in the USA. All human activity impacts the environment to some degree. One writer suggests use the mountains or let’s build offshore wind (which by the way I agree with as additional areas to harvest energy), but look at the past two decades as turbines have been opposed in the mountains of North Carolina and look at Cape Wind an offshore project that has been fought by environmentalists for the past decade.

The PJM grid is 19 percent nuclear, 41 percent coal, 16 percent natural gas, and 8 percent oil. Nuclear has no emissions but has radioactive waste to safely store for thousands of years, expensive to build new plants, many nuclear plants nearing end of planned operational life. Coal has sulfur-dioxide and mercury emissions, as well as ash to dispose of. Natural gas burns relatively cleanly, but there is concern over hydro fracturing to obtain shale-bed gas, and the use of a heating and chemical process feedstock for electricity generation. Offshore drilling in North Carolina to obtain more natural gas has been fought by environmentalists for years. Oil has pricing issues, being more expensive than uranium, coal or natural gas.

Wind has no fuel cost, no emissions, requires no import of fuel source. It can be built for comparable cost to coal, natural-gas plants, and it is cheaper than nuclear or solar power.