The View From 1776
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
No Wind In These Sails
Environmentalists, it seems, oppose everything, including greener-than-green energy.
Senator Ted Kennedy has never encountered a socialist, micro-managing cause that could not command his support. Pagan worship of the environment has always attracted him.
Perhaps that’s why he so notoriously joined local environmentalists to stop construction of a wind farm to generate sufficient electric power for most of Cape Cod. It would, no doubt, be unfair to denounce him for hypocrisy just because the proposed site lay in the waters of Nantucket Sound, offshore from the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port.
Thomas Segel, in the essay below, tells us that environmental paganism is not confined to the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts.
More Than Energy in the Wind
By Thomas D. Segel
Harlingen, Texas, May 3, 2008:
A renewable source of energy that requires no coal, gas or oil, has no waste product and creates no greenhouse gases would seem to be the magical solution everyone is seeking. As gasoline tops $4.00 a gallon in many regions, Americans are screaming for a solution to the national attack on family budgets. With almost uncountable restrictive federal regulations, most of our available resources remain untapped. These same politically oriented restrictions have even stopped the construction of new refineries. In fact, the only resource our left-leaning Political Kings and their Environmental Jesters have not managed to completely regulate is the wind.
This does not mean they are ignoring attacks on wind power energy. From lamenting the possible death of birds and bats, to threats of damage to the ecology, charges and counter charges related to wind energy unfold in our newspapers and across television screens. In many regions of the country, these naysayers have managed to influence political bodies and regulations relative to permits and locale have been adopted. One of the few barriers to even more regulatory moves has been the fact that wind farms are constructed on private property.
However, the NIMBY (not in my back yard) crowd and environmental activists are now on the attack in Texas, just as they have been with every other attempt to increase energy across the United States. The latest of these attacks is taking place along the Gulf Coast where PPM Energy of Portland, Oregon is attempting to erect 240 wind-powered turbines on the Kenedy Ranch. This is the first of two planned farms on the 400,000-acre South Texas ranch. It is the start of an $800 million project that will eventually provide electricity for more than 100,000 homes, and have no negative emissions. According to a company spokesman, even before construction started it had completed three years of comprehensive wildlife studies. The conclusion of these studies was the farm would be outside the main migratory flight path and no endangered species or birds would be harmed. This failed to satisfy those opposed to the construction.
The first to attack the project was neighboring King Ranch President Jack Hunt. He claims the turbines will create an eyesore, even though the nearest highway is more than twenty miles away and there is little population to view the operation. He also claims the wind farm will harm wildlife and kill migrating birds. A coalition of state and local environmental activist groups started filing complaints early in 2007 making claims that birds migrating to the south flew on a path that led directly into the planned 200 to 400 feet tall wind- turbines. They predicted massive kills.
State courts and agencies have dismissed all attempted actions saying the King Ranch and the Coastal Habitat Alliance have no standing for action in a case that requires no permits and is on private land. Still the group persists and in December 2007 filed state and federal lawsuits to halt construction. If they fail to stop the building of the wind farm, they at least want to gain input in the project.
According to those involved in the Kenedy Ranch project, the litigation is completely without merit and will only serve to delay construction. In the event these law suits fail, Hunt, with his King Ranch clout, is contacting Texas state lawmakers in an attempt to convince them to pass legislation regulating and licensing the construction of wind farms.
The State of Texas leads the nation in wind-generated energy. Wind farms provide almost 4% of the state’s electricity. A total of 4,356 megawatts of electricity are produced in the Lone Star State from 40 different projects. This is more than one third of the current 11,600 megawatts being produced in the United States. California holds national second place with wind farms that generate 2438 megawatts. Texas is well suited to developing wind energy due to its size, availability of open land and ample winds. Farmers and ranchers have found wind farms a good source of supplemental income. Some large landowners are considering the development of their own wind farms, while others are content to lease their land.
One of the very important benefits to having wind farms on any site are the use of land is very minimal. Only about 42 by 42 feet of actual space is used for any single wind turbine, allowing farmers to plant right up to the base of the construction. Because some of these turbines are very high, between 100 and 400 feet, there is little noise, allowing normal conversation right at the base of the unit. There is also wide separation of units, with each one situated on about a forty-acre plot of land.
To better understand just what a megawatt provides, think of it in these terms?a megawatt is a million watts. If you turn on a 100-watt light bulb, it will burn 100 watts of electricity in one hour. So, a megawatt would provide one hour of electricity for ten thousand 100- watt light bulbs.
Texas has a renewable energy objective of 5,000 new megawatts of electricity by 2015. The Kenedy Ranch projects will provide a major portion of the target megawatt goal. However, just as in the case of oil and gas exploration, hydro-electric and nuclear power plants, more electric generators or refineries for fossil fuel, the self serving few do everything in their power to impede progress that is all in the national interest.