Editorial

Why not wind energy?

Friday, September 20, 2013

In the U.S., the greatest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is the power sector, at about 38%.

The largest source of power is coal, which, even though it produces less than 40% of the power, produces over 70% of the power sector's greenhouse gas emissions. (20% of the greenhouse gas emissions are from natural gas-fired power plants.)

Although wind turbines have become familiar in much of the U.S., wind power still today only accounts for about 4% of the power sector.

The potential for wind energy is immense, and experts suggest wind power can easily supply more than 20% of U.S. and world electricity. Among the advantages of wind energy:

*Revitalizes Rural Economies: Wind energy can diversify the economies of rural communities, adding to the tax base and providing new types of income. Wind turbines can add a new source of property taxes in rural areas that otherwise have a hard time attracting new industry.

*Fewer subsidies: All energy systems are subsidized, and wind is no exception. However, wind receives considerably less than other forms of energy. According to Renewable Energy World magazine, conventional energy recieves $300 billion in subsidies per year, while renewable energy has received less than $20 billion of tax-payers' money in the last 30 years.

*Free Fuel: Unlike other forms of electrical generation where fuel is shipped to a processing plant, wind energy generates electricity at the source of fuel, which is free. Wind is a native fuel that does not need to be mined or transported, taking two expensive costs out of long-term energy expenses.

*Price Stability: The price of electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power can fluctuate greatly due to highly variable mining and transportation costs. Wind can help buffer these costs because the price of fuel is fixed and free.

*Creates Jobs: Wind energy projects create new short and long term jobs. Related employment ranges from meteorologists and surveyors to structural engineers, assembly workers, lawyers, bankers, and technicians. Wind energy creates 30% more jobs than a coal plant and 66% more than a nuclear power plant per unit of energy generated.

*National Security/Energy Independence: Wind turbines diversify our energy portfolio and reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuel. Wind energy is homegrown electricity, and can help control spikes in fossil fuel cost. Distributed generation facilities, like many community wind projects, provide a safeguard against potential terrorist threats to power plants.

*Supports Agriculture: It is not often a new crop emerges from thin air. Wind turbines can be installed amid cropland without interfering with people, livestock, or production.

*Local Ownership: A significant contribution to the worldwide energy mix can be made by small clusters of turbines or even single turbines, operated by local landowners and small businesses. Developing local sources of electricity means we import less fuel from other states, regions, and nations. It also means our energy dollars are plowed back into the local economy.