Hoping for more than a breeze

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We will soon switch our thermostats from "heat" to "cool" and concerns about a constant and clean source of electricity will begin to become news.

With all of the talk about high oil and gasoline costs, as well as high natural gas costs, many consumers are looking into electric heat pumps to heat and cool their homes.

Currently, the majority of our electricity is generated by coal fired plants. You only need to watch the trains that come through town to learn a little bit about how much coal is being used every day.

Coal is our most abundant fossil fuel, but concerns about the carbon dioxide generated by its burning may cause problems in the years to come. Also, developing countries like China and India are building new coal fired electric generation plants on a rapid pace, with China bringing on-line two coal fired power plants every week. India will bring on-line 200 coal fired power plants during the next seven years. Furthermore, costs of materials are increasing as contractors turn to China and India as their main customers.

Recent news that Rock Port, Mo., population 1,300, located in the northwest corner of the state has become the first U.S. city to get all of its electricity from wind power is an encouraging bit of news.

The St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group, according to an article by the Associated Press, and John Deere Wind Energy built a wind farm of towering turbines on bluffs not far from the Missouri River west of Rock Port. The wind farm generates five megawatts each day, almost twice as much electricity as the town needs.

Iowa continues to make advances in wind energy, but efforts will need to be on the forefront as excess electrical capacity in the U.S. vanishes.

As windy as it is in Northwest Iowa, private and public entities should be doing everything they can to harness this clean, free and endless supply of power.