Wind Power: Still Not Blowing Away the Competitionby Tim Manni
Wind turbines are supposed to be a clean source of energy, so why then is the controversy surrounding them getting so dirty?
As the demand for wind-generated electricity has vastly increased, power companies have been quick to jump at the limited land space available across the US suitable for installing turbines. The seemingly overnight boost in wind-powered turbine installation has brought along with it a vast number of advocates, opponents, and according to current investigations happening across New York, “dirty tricks.”
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), over 9,000 small-wind turbine units were sold in the US in 2007, with total sales totalling $42 million.
“The United States currently boasts more than 18,000 megawatts of wind-generating capacity spanning 34 states, enough to power 5 million homes. The rate of industry growth escalated dramatically in 2007, when new installations more than doubled and wind provided 35 percent of the nation’s new electrical capacity.”
With more wind, comes more responsibility. New York Attorney General Anthony Cuomo has launched investigations into two companies that have, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
“…improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions; and whether the companies entered into anticompetitive agreements or engaged in anticompetitive practices.”
Recent controversy over wind power has not been limited to New York, or for that matter, the United States. Wind-watch.org, a site dedicated to “presenting the facts about industrial wind power,” contains numerous negative accounts over communities’ dissatisfaction with wind power in their towns.
Windaction.org is another site that warns about the limitations of wind power, and its ability to harm — rather than help — communities where they are built:
“The rapid growth of industrial wind energy has been fostered by federal and state policies that, while well intentioned, fail to reflect wind energy’s limitations as an energy source, its ineffectiveness in reducing emissions, and its impacts on our environment, economy and quality of life.”
Wind power advocates like the AWEA claim “85% of Americans support incentives for renewable energy development.” That statistic may well be true, but many residents touched by wind power might disagree. While wind-generated electricity remains a valuable, clean, and alternative form of energy, towns across the US are proving they might not be ready for it.