Well now you have gotten over the shock value of living next to an industrial wind turbine, maybe you are ready for more technology in your life? How about microwave towers for cell phone communications or emergency response teams or high definition TV and radio? Why not? Your once rural area is now an industrial park anyway, so what does a few more poles and towers matter now?
And remember your driveway and small country road? Well it’s now been widened and graded and 50’ wide access roads carved away from it to provide clearways for giant tractor trailers. And the deer you used to enjoy so close to your home? Gone, gunned down by hunters who before could not penetrate the area but now have free and easy access with open lanes to shoot hapless wildlife from. Now deer start up and move off immediately from any human nearing them (deer and road).
That small country road also is no longer the simple drive it once was. Now it’s more like an army vehicle testing course. With the heavy equipment vehicles on it literally tearing up the surface on inclines and slopes large sections are now barely passable. So you have to weave from one side of the road to the other to find even tarmac. And what about towing in your boat or camper? The uneven camber makes low slung loads bottom out in many places, so now you have to have someone ahead of you to hold up traffic while you are negotiating around the worst sections.
Why not complain to the DOT? Sure go ahead. We did that last year and they spot patched and re-surfaced areas, but now whole new areas have been damaged instead. Seems like the turbine company controls that whole process anyway, and they are not rushing to pay for repairs each time they damage the road. The DOT even seems to let them re-route the road as they please. They were adjudged to have turbines too close to the road so that literally the spinning blades pass directly above the edge of the road. So what is their solution? Relocate the sites of the turbines perhaps? Of course not, simply dig up the original road and in its place put a detoured temporary gravel section instead.
But doesn’t all this create local jobs for people who need them? That seems to be the clarion call around these parts. In fact the turbine company uses it often to gloss over the fact that they want to do pretty much as they please around here. Come to find out that the federal government is paying millions of tax dollars to support this whole Nedpower/Shell WindEnergy venture. So what else in your community is not getting done because the money is spent already? Is this project really cost effective or is this just a boondoggle and public relations exercise for a large mega-corporation, subsidized by the tax payers?
Turns out that the numbers game may actually have worked against the mega-corporation as the exchange rate of the US dollar to the Euro has almost halved since the wind turbine project was conceived and approved and the funding calculated. The turbines and parts are being purchased from Spain and the Ganesa company and shipped to West Virginia. Every cost has escalated, right down to the cost of diesel to haul the parts from Baltimore by rail and road to the construction site. But most importantly the turbines which once cost $1.25M each are now effectively costing twice that when the price is fixed in Euros rather than dollars.
Looking at the current state of installation one could estimate that it will be well into 2009 before they are ready.
The biggest concern is that this whole project simply becomes uneconomic. The pay back period was previously somewhere around 10 years. But now they must have a better idea of actual wind conditions on the mountain and the likely yield. Wind conditions are really only ideal in the fall and otherwise are intermittent and inconsistent for the rest of the year. An annual yield of somewhere in the region of 20% would be typical for this mountain location. So yes – over $300M of tax subsidy is being spent overseas for systems that only work 20% of the time. Your car would not be much of a purchase if it did that.
And whose brainchild is all this anyway? One Mr. Hieronymous Niessen who I’m sure is right now pouring over maps of rural mountain areas looking for the next one to pass his brilliant schemes off on. Fortunately though the internet now allows people to find out first hand exactly what these projects entail and educate themselves on the choices they face (http://www.windaction.org/faqs/16715).
So what was your life once like back in those tranquil old days before your property area became an industrial wind energy site?