Wind Energy Part Two

In last weeks blog I yakked about T. Boone Pickens, a dyed-in-the-wool oil man who has a plan to build the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. I applauded his efforts while questioning some of his motives. In Sunday’s Washington Post there was a smallish article in the Metro section about the state of Virginia exploring the idea of installing wind turbines in several locations across the state.

Virginia currently doesn’t offer any kind of incentives to consumers who want to use alternative energy such as solar or wind, so a plan to explore wind is a pretty big step in the Old Dominion. Virginia is a coal producing state which would typically put them on the opposite side of the alt-energy debate but their coal production has been dropping for a number of years.

Just to give you an idea, in 2005 Wyoming took first place in coal production by mining over 400,000 tons, Virginia for the same period is rated at 27,743 tons. These numbers are per Platts, a news service who generally knows about such things. Anyway, demand for electricity continues to increase which means higher energy costs and eventually, (that time being now) people start wondering if maybe there isn’t a better way.

The funny part of the article is that there are groups of people opposed to the idea of wind turbines in the wilds of Virginia. You’d think they would be coal lobbyists, coal miners, power companies, truckers or the railroads who make money from moving the coal to the power plant. But in this case you would be wrong because the opposition comes from the Virginia Sierra Club.

Being a left wing pinko tree hugging type, I’m generally on the same page as the Sierra Club. But in this case I think they may be wrong. The two biggest causes of global warming are cars and coal-fired power plants. America is blessed with large deposits of coal and for a long time nobody knew or cared about global warming so we built our energy infrastructure around it. Same deal with the car.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost and we need clean alternative energy. That means hydro, solar and wind. Wind power is already here producing electricity in 34 states and powering 5 million homes – with no coal being burned. If Virginia doesn’t diversify it’s energy sources it will have to build more coal powered plants to keep up with demand.

The Virginia Sierra Club says in the article that they want to see renewable energy “developed responsibly” and they’re worried about the effects that the turbines will have on plants and animals. Another small article in the Post talked about how June was the hottest June on record in the DC area, which I’m also assuming has an effect on plants and animals. Now maybe the Sierra Club is just being contrarians or overly careful or maybe they know something that I don’t know. But even Mike Tidwell, a DC area alt-en activist thinks the Sierra boys may be misinformed and wrong on this one.

The whole scenario once again illustrates how fast things are changing. One week the oil guy wants to put up wind farms in Texas. The next week, the environmentalists in Virginia are opposed to them. What the heck just happened?

Scott Sowers


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