Friday, November 23, 2012

Blowin' In The Wind

       The federal government recently granted a lease to NRG Energy Inc. to build a wind farm off the coast of Delaware. As a result, it soon will be generating lots of clean, cheap electricity? And producing lots of 'good, well paying, green jobs?' Well, maybe...or maybe not.
      Apparently, no one is willing to put up the money to build those things unless the government, i.e. YOU, guarantees the loans and grants tax credits so they can be guaranteed a profit. 
      Nice work if you can get it. But why does anyone need a guarantee? Henry Ford never needed one and he did alright. So did Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and many, many others. Renewable, cheap, clean....sounds like a winner.
       Well, wind is definitely renewable but maybe not so 'cheap.' It's expensive to build those towers in the middle of the ocean. And building on land, while also not so cheap, may not really be all that 'clean and green' either. Turbines vibrate. People who live close to one complain about the noise and 'wind turbine syndrome' - sleep deprivation, anxiety, dizziness...
      And those whirling blades also kill an awful lot of birds (est, 500,000/year and up). What did you think all that fluffy stuff around the base of  the poles was? (Although, as we say in Brooklyn, "Dere's plenty more where dos' come from.")
      And finally, remember, the wind doesn't always accommodate us by blowing whenever we need electricity. Wind turbines, which on average, operate at 30% of maximum capacity, still need backup for when there's no wind. Building a wind farm? Don't forget to throw in a couple of gas turbines too.


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