Aesthetics of Wind Power

The environmental movement made a Faustian bargain in the 70s and 80s when it used aesthetics as way to build local opposition to power plants instead of talking about how conservation efforts could prevent the demand for new power plants. While this did succeed in stopping the power plants, it created a model for how communities are now fighting wind power. From Long Island to Upstate NY, communities are struggling with how to deal with the fact that wind power is now very cost competitive with other means of power generation. I find it extremely irritating that Asthetics have become a major talking point against building windmills on private property.

Baloghblog points us to a local farmer who is facing local opposition to his idea of building a solitary windmill on his property which would power 50-60% of his power needs. I have written about how this NIMBYism toward wind power may be very short-sighted and my idea on how to reframe the wind power debate by powering the Statue of Liberty with wind power.

The link of this debate to peak oil is that the most logical next step after we hit $5-6/gallon gas is to simply use as many plug-in hybrids as possible. This could result in a doubling of electrical demand during off-peak hours, when wind is best.

My question back to the people who are against wind power is what their alternative is: More Dirty Coal? Increasing Dependence on Expensive Natural Gas?

What if every community (County, zip code, congressional district, whatever) needed to deal with its own (let's say at least 50%) energy production (or at least electrical power generation), waste disposal, food production, etc.

In one swift move this would eliminate all those stupid NIMBY fights and political deals which exports pollution and the true environmental costs our modern lifestyle to the poorest communities of this and other countries.

Don't like the aesthetics of windmills, ok how do you like a big coal plant in your backyard?

Tons of "bad" things are done despite opposition for aesthetic reasons. Weird that we're having so much trouble doing "good" things when there is...
I agree with Kunstler that windpower doesn't generate much energy relative to fossil fuels. They also seem like they take up a lot of land and, well, the aesthetics leave something to be desired. The only way out of our energy problems, that I see, is conservation. And that's why the city is so great: Low per capita energy use.
Wind is only part of the solution - it will have to be included in a long list of other new power sources as well as well as many conservation efforts. One positive note last night as I was walking around my neighborhood was that much of the outdoor lighting in front of buildings were using compact florescent bulbs. Indoors is another matter...
I think modern wind turbines are rather elegant.  They are certainly better-looking than smokestacks with plumes of colorful exhaust.
Nothing generates much energy relative to fossil fuels. So we just have to put a lot of different things together.
The Altoona Mirror is more likely to discuss hunting and fishing than the environment, so I was surprised to see this headline, which is only in their print version:

Windmills not entirely green
William Kibler


Windmills deliver clean energy, but that doesn't give them a free pass with environmentalists.
  In a recent conference at St Francis University on wind farms, aesthetics was the biggest worry, followed by potential hazards for wildlife, said Erik Foley, director of the university's Center for Collaborative Conservation.
  "Wind energy development, like any other human enterprise, does impact the environment," Foley said.
  Gamesa Corp. proposed last week (that) it lease City Authority watershed for windmills on Brush Mountain and Chestnut Flats. If Gamesa installs 10 windmills on authority land, it eventually will generate $60,000 per year for the authority. The total authority budget is about $25 million.
  There is no price for some on the natural beauty in those areas.
  Some people don't want ridgelines broken by windmills because they want the mountaintops to stay the way they
always knew them, Foley said.
  They feel windmills are "ugly and deface the viewscapes," he said.
  Pennsylvania currently gets less than 1% of its electricity from wind. Half comes from coal.
  One windmill generates enough electricity for about 500 homes, Foley said.
  Others worry about windmills killing birds and bats.
  Windmills on local ridges may foul up bird and bat migration routes, Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audobon Society said in a recent letter published in the Mirror.
  The society does not oppose construction of a windfarm on City Authority land on Chestnut Flats because it's been strip-mined and lacks the designations given to Brush
  Clearings for windmills on high-value ridges like Brush Mountain will break up "habitat islands" that the scarlet
tanager, wood thrush, cerulean warbler, fisher and bobcat rely on, Kotala writes.
  Access roads can provide a route for invasive species, with seeds brought in by tires and shoes, Foley said.
  Still, we must weigh all the pros and cons when considering windmills, and consider the net effects of choices, Foley said.
  Some people see windmills not as ugly, but as "futuristic, progressive sculptures of the new age," Foley said.
  They kill a miniscule percentage of the 680 million birds per year killed by man-made constructions, Foley said.
  Windmills also create jobs.  Gamesa will create 177 permanent jobs at the windmill factory it's building in Ebensburg, company Project Developer Terry Nicol said.
It will create about eight maintenance jobs with its proposed 8--megawatt wind farm in Portage Township and other municipalities, authorities and private landowners - from $2,000 to $6,000 a year for each turbine.
  Siting windmills properly can help avoid many of the problems that worry environmentalists.
  Windmills don't cause many problems on farms, he said.
  Old strip mine areas are ideal.
  The debate presents "big questions to think about for our children," Foley said.
  "What kind of world are we going to
leave them?" he asked.

Altoonans would see windmill turbines if they drive south on I-99 towards Bedford PA.