So many answers better than wind

So many answers better than wind

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Although the newest Island wind turbine startled its neighbors when it rose to its 150-foot height at the popular Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown last week, at 55kw, it’s definitely a little guy in the big backyard turbine category.

The turbine and its permitting exemption inspired an unusual number of comments, 46 as of Monday afternoon, spanning a broad range of objections (see http://www.mvtimes.com/marthas-vineyard/article.php?id=976). The positive comments (a decided minority) are fueled by a familiar passion: “If the BP oil spill shows us anything, it’s that we need to put a stop to our dependence on fossil fuels.”

The kudos to the owner for doing something about the tragic BP oil spill — while taxpayers foot the bill and someone, guess who?, pays him an $.88 per kw first year “production incentive rebate” — illustrate an uninformed enthusiasm for going green (vs “deep green” — see Robert Bryce’s new book, “Power Hungry”) which only diverts attention and resources away from developing real solutions to our real and urgent problems.

Negative comments address permitting and scale, seasonal supply vs. demand, taxpayer and ratepayer support with private owner gain and community cost, alternatives, aesthetics and “What’s next?” All of this alongside the bottom line, “These things don’t work.”

Considering the specifics, one wonders whether MGF’s presumed permitting exemption as a “wind energy project…for agricultural use” would withstand a serious challenge. (All power goes directly into the grid when the wind blows; MGF gets a projected $18,000 annual credit to use anytime during the year, while the farm draws its power off the grid when it needs it just as it always has.)

“The subsidies for wind are a misuse of public money. The ‘benefits’ from wind are a fantasy and an escape from our energy problems.” From wind-watch.org

In the context of the unimaginable magnitude of the human, environmental, and economic consequences of the BP oil disaster and the opportunistic propaganda surrounding it, we need to remember that wind turbines can’t replace oil rigs. Oil goes primarily, of course, into fueling transportation, also into millions of miles of asphalt, into lubricants, plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals, two gallons in every average auto tire — imagine tractor tires, big-rig tires…. Less than two percent of our US electricity comes from oil. We can’t turn wind into tires.

BigWind can’t possibly honestly pretend it will make a dent in oil consumption, even if thousands upon thousands of 50-story high turbines — towering across what were once our unsurpassably beautiful rural and wilderness areas and waters — were to provide significant electricity, which they can’t, which is another topic. But BigWind misleads shamelessly, and we irresponsibly cheer them on.

From the Philadelphia area, just to show you what we’re up against: TV ads paid for by a veteran group: a vet says, “Too many of us have died overseas fighting for foreign oil, and now a leak is destroying Louisiana and the gulf — We need wind, not oil.”

While he is talking, photos of war, oil on the beaches and then peaceful shots of wind turbines.

The photos of the BP disaster fill us with horror for what our energy use and permitting abuses have brought down upon us. But as for energy independence, transcending the use of fossil fuels, and a “deep green” solution to renewable energy, wind has nothing to offer. The emperor has no clothes.

The newest little turbine on the Vineyard, 15 stories high and “farming the wind” to power 10 average-size houses, is a jarring intrusion to generate a tiny bit of energy, which recalls a Kansan’s requiem for his own unique landscape: “Promoters of the wind-energy craze, absentee landowners, and a few locals hoping for a windfall are about to destroy the soul of the Flint Hills.” There are so many better answers to the energy questions coming at us from every direction.

Helen Schwiesow ParkerChilmark