Noon: Who wants wind turbines?
Last month’s wind-turbine fire near Palm Springs, Calif., serves as a reminder of just one of the many reasons why people don’t want to live near the towering steel structures.
Other reasons no one wants them nearby include the health impacts. Last month, Dave Langrud, of Alden, Minn., sent a six-page, detailed complaint to the Minnesota Public Regulatory Commission. In it, he states: “Wisconsin Power and Light constructed the Bent Tree Wind Farm surrounding my home. There are 19 turbines within one mile and five within a half mile. Both my wife and I have had difficulty sleeping in our home since the turbines started operating. If we leave the area, we don’t have this problem. The turbines have also caused severe headaches for my wife. She didn’t have this problem before the turbines, and this isn’t a problem for her when we spend time away from our home and away from the turbines.”
Langrud’s letter addresses property values. He asks: “How do we get a fair price if we sell in order to save our health?” Recent studies prove that it isn’t just those forced to live in the shadows of the turbines whose property values are diminished. Waterfront properties that have offshore wind turbines in their viewshed would have a “big impact on coastal tourism,” according to a study from North Carolina State University. The April 2016 report in Science Daily states: “if turbines are built close to shore, most people said they would choose a different vacation location where they wouldn’t have to see turbines.” The economic impact to the coastal communities is estimated to be “$31 million dollars over 20 years.”
A similar study done in Henderson, N.Y., found the loss in property taxes, due to reduced values, would be made up by an increase in taxes on all non-affected homes — which would have a “devastating impact” on towns and school districts.
Then, there are the U.S. utility companies that are forced to buy the more expensive wind-generated electricity due to an abused 1978 law that was intended to help the U.S. renewable energy industry get on its feet. The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA, was designed to give smaller power players an entry into the market. If wind-turbine projects meet the guidelines, utilities must buy the electricity generated at “often above-market” costs. Instead, in many cases, big projects, owned by one company, get divided up into different parcels with unique project names, but are still owned by the major developer. Led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., a move is underway in Congress to review the nearly 40-year old legislation.
So, residents who live near wind turbines don’t want wind turbines. Nor do residents and renters who have them in the viewshed, governments looking to cut costs, utility companies, or ratepayers.
Who does want wind turbines?
Wind turbine manufacturers, the American Wind Energy Association, and the crony capitalists who benefit from the tax breaks and subsidies — which Robert Bryce, reports total more than $176 billion “given to the biggest players in U.S. wind industry.” He states that the growth in wind energy capacity has “not been fueled by consumer demand, but by billions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer money.”
If only the rent-seeking crony capitalists want wind turbines, why has the industry experienced such growth? Because the wind energy lobby is powerful. Unfortunately, in December 2015, Congress extended the wind energy tax credits through 2021. But tweaks, such as reforming PURPA, can take place — which would be good, because, it seems, no one really wants wind turbines.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy. She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy — which expands on the content of her weekly column.