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Great letter to the editor advising caution before signing a wind turbine contract

Lewiston Sentinel — December 26, 2013

To the editor:

On the surface, the concept of wind energy has a lot to offer: unlike outdated coal-burning sources of electricity, wind turbines produce no acid rain, and Pennsylvania is ground zero for acid rain.

In their place – unpopulated locations with proven, consistent winds, such as deserts and off-shore sites – energy-producing wind turbines can be valuable alternatives to coal-burning plants, but the 436-foot tall towers proposed for Jacks and Stone Mountains in Big Valley lie far beyond those sensible guidelines.

In addition to uglifying a beautiful area, the average “windfall” on those ridges is negligible. Volkswind, one of two German corporations, plans to construct 20 turbines on Jacks Mountain, covering a span of at least four miles above Belleville. E.ON is planning a much bigger project on both Stone Mountain and Jacks Mountain that may include as many as 70 turbines, requiring at least 10 miles of mountaintop. The mountaintops will have to be leveled and widened for roads and for locating the towers.

These corporations are in it for the money. Valuable subsidies, which are really a kind of money-laundering of our tax dollars, lure them into areas where profits must seem to them to arrive on the prevailing westerly winds, along with the mercury and PCBs. When they could not secure enough signed leases to conscript the mountaintops near Shade Gap they abandoned the project and moved on to Big Valley, where a number of leases have already been signed.

It takes a lot of thoughtfulness, courage and even faith to turn down what must seem like the easy money that comes with signing a lease. Signing a piece of paper, especially when an attorney hasn’t read it and advised you about what it really means, could have some scary consequences.

For example, might you be signing away your neighbor’s right to the water that many generations of ancestors drank, bathed in, and made available to their animals? If your reading of the “Song of Ascents” in Psalm 121:1 about looking up to the mountains includes watching bulldozers messing with groundwater that supplies family reservoirs, our interpretations of that biblical passage are very different.

Haven eaten my share of food from Big Valley farms and gardens, I am grateful that when I look up to the mountains, I see where they meet the sky, instead of watching a collection of giant whirligigs trying to outdo the colorful, simple ones on Amish barns.

The farmer, poet, and activist for the landscape, Wendell Berry, wrote, “There are no sacred and non-sacred places. There are only sacred and desecrated places.”

In his poem, “Hope,” he writes:

Because we have not made our lives to fit

Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,

The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope

Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge

Of what it is that no other place is, and by

Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this

Place that you belong to though it is not yours,

For it was from the beginning and will be to the end.

Jack Troy



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2 Comments on “Great letter to the editor advising caution before signing a wind turbine contract”

  1. jerrygraf December 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I am enjoying your articles this morning, Here is a relevant excerpt and quote regarding the cost and value of wind energy from my article regarding Blue Creek Wind Farm in Ohio:

    In an editorial response appearing in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on 10/21/2013, four co-authors make the following points with regard to the Blue Creek Wind Farm (Ohio) and wind energy in general. I have taken the liberty to re-arrange their words for brevity in covering the main points here, but I certainly suggest the reader should seek this letter on the Journal Gazette website and read it in full:

    ” Electricity from wind is very high in true cost and low in true value……………… Electricity from wind turbines is low in value because it can’t be counted on to be available when needed, and it is most likely to be produced at times when it is least needed. Wind turbines tend to produce most of their electricity at night in cold months, not on hot weekday afternoons in July and August when demand for electricity is highest. Furthermore, the electricity from wind tends to be low in value because the output can’t be counted upon to be available at the time of peak demand, unlike reliable (“dispatchable”) generating units that can be called upon to produce whenever needed.

    Wind turbines produce electricity only when wind speeds are in the “right” range. Other generating units, powered by conventional energy sources (such as natural gas, coal, oil, hydropower, nuclear energy, and perhaps biomass) must always be immediately available to compensate for the intermittent, volatile output from wind turbines. This necessity adds to the true cost of using wind energy, and the unreliability of output from wind turbines adds to the burden on grid managers in keeping electrical grids in balance (supply and demand, voltage, frequency).

    The principal reasons that companies such as Iberdrola build wind farms (including Blue Creek) are generous government tax breaks and subsidies provided to wind farm owners………….The cost of government financial subsidies for wind energy is borne by taxpayers, including Ohio taxpayers, and is in addition to the cost of electricity from wind that shows up in electric bills.”

    Tom Stacy, Glenn R. Schleede, Joan Null, and Larry Long – Wind farm endorsement blows past facts – October 2013 : http://www.journalgazette.net/article/2013310219934

    • Donna Quixote December 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Thanks Jerry! Glad you’re enjoying the articles. Always nice to hear from our followers!

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