THOUGHTS ON WIND ENERGY by Steve Moreland, June 12, 2016
Normally I am a strong advocate for private property rights, but Wind Energy brings different factors into play. Wind Farms being put into existence depend completely on government subsidies to have the illusion of being profitable. If and when these subsidies expire, so will the viability of wind energy. As a hard working American taxpayer, I resent the fact that my money would be donated to those who put wind turbines on their property.
Wind turbines are not very efficient. When the wind doesn’t blow, they don’t produce energy. They cost mega bucks to build, erect, and maintain, and without the government subsidies and tax credits, they would never produce enough electricity to pay for the initial cost and upkeep. If they are not profitable in the long term, it would be easy to walk away and leave them. Even when new and in working condition, they are a blight on the landscape. When they are left unattended and without care, they would be a real eye-sore.
Another factor to consider is that even though those erecting wind turbines on their property stand to make money, their neighbors stand to lose their quality of life. Most of the landowners seeking to put wind towers up in the Kilgore area don’t even live close enough to be personally affected. Nearby neighbors will be affected, and the value of their property will diminish. Is this an acceptable way to treat your friends and long-time neighbors?
Ranch windmills have satisfactorily pumped water for livestock for well over a century. They have served the purpose very well, even though on windless days other means of providing water must be implemented. These windmills standing sentinel over a water tank are very picturesque. Their wheels contain eighteen separate sections, which resemble the petals of a flower in bloom. Countless pictures have depicted the glory of these ranch windmills.
Before power lines on wooden poles brought electricity to the Sandhills, single primitive wind-chargers were used to provide very minimum amounts of 32 volt electricity. This would be enough for the simple things of life, such as lights, toasters, and food mixers. If the wind didn’t blow, you did without. Even though most ranches in this area had a 32 volt wind-charger, very few photographs exist. There is a simple reason for this—the three prongs on the fly wheel were not nearly as photogenic as the full wheel of a windmill that pumped water. Instead of looking like a flower in bloom, the wind-chargers at their best more closely resembled a weed after a hail storm. This is the same appearance of big wind turbines spread across the landscape. They all resemble horse weeds after a hail storm.
It has been mentioned that there was resistance to early electric power lines coming into the Sandhills, as well as pivot irrigation systems, grain elevators, communication towers, and the like. There is a difference though, as most of the other blotches on local scenery made our lives more abundant. The big wind turbines are a different story. They will not enhance the lives of most local residents at all, and will instead have way more negative effects than positive. Any production from these turbines will mostly be transported far away from this area. This brings another problem immediately to the fore-front. Large transmission lines will need to be built to transport electricity to where it will be used. Eminent domain will come into play, and private property rights will be trampled.
We already are receiving all of our electrical needs from other sources. The coal industry has served our power needs very efficiently and adequately for a long time. It could continue to do so, if politics weren’t stacked against it. “Green Energy” is mostly a buzz-word for justifying the liberal agenda. It is a glaring example of style rather than substance.
Even though water pumping windmills have long been used on area ranches, solar pumps are now becoming quite popular. They seem to be an improvement, as sunshine is more dependable than wind. A very likely future scenario is that solar energy will be replacing wind turbines on a large scale, and about the time Cherry County litters the landscape with Wind Farms, wind power will become obsolete and completely unprofitable. Solar developments could be here to stay.
Here are some attributes of solar versus wind.
A solar power system:
Has no moving parts
Has better reliability and a 25 year warranty
Requires less monitoring
Does not require expensive maintenance
Provides more predictable energy output based on Bureau of Meteorology and National Aeronautics and Space Administration data.
Better value for money in sites with average wind speeds less than 5 meters per second
Is less conspicuous than a wind turbine
Is totally silent in operation
Allows for quicker installation
Is less susceptible to lightning damage
Is less susceptible to high wind damage.
Requires less space in most cases
Possibly investors wishing to make more honorable profits from energy development should look at solar opportunities rather than wind.
Our unique and pristine Sandhills region is one of the premier locations in which to ranch in the whole world. The natives of this area love our Sandhills just as they are. Sometimes the wind blows too much, but we laughingly declare that if this wasn’t the case, everyone would want to live here.
There is always the question, “What would I do if I won the lottery?” If I didn’t already live in Cherry County, Nebraska, I would want to. It has everything that people desire, including a beautiful landscape, blue sky, pure water, an abundance of elbow room, and great neighbors. Why would we want to implement change that would jeopardize any of these wonderful attributes? What is the purpose of making more money, especially in a venture that has to be subsidized by the government to prosper, when we already have everything needed to be content? Before anyone gets too carried away with cluttering Cherry County with wind farms, we might want to pause, take a deep breath, and soak up the great blessings that have already been bestowed upon us.