In the April 23 issue of the daily news(?)paper was a “Viewpoint” column and the headline of which caught my eye. It was: “Wind farms cause cultural, economic damage.” The story was authored by Geoffrey M. Standing Bear, principal chief of the Osage Tribe/Nation. I don’t have in my memory file the necessary information to comment on his recitation of the cultural problem they have with the “wind farms” in relation to their ancient tribal customs. However, it seems to me that they may be most valid and distasteful to them, and thus deserve and have my sympathies.
However it has long been my position to oppose the use of giant windmills such as can be seen in these multi-unit wind farms for the generation of electricity. That is both from the point of esthetics and practicality.
My first encounter with one of these was in California in February 1993 when my wife and I had been in Las Vegas for a meeting of the ISAA (International Shrine Aviation Association). At that time, my oldest son, Bob, III, was a public works officer of the 29 Palms Marine Base, so we had decided when the meeting ended we would fly on down there for a few days to see him and his family (especially my grandson). They were unavailable on Friday so I had called one of our 8-member Cascia Hall graduating Class or ’43 who had a home in Palm Springs and been invited down for dinner. On heading west to go around the national park, we saw one of the early such wind farms to the west covering a hill. We both remarked how it destroyed the view of the hills behind it.
Putting on my “engineers hard-hat,” some thought was given to this movement and there were several things that immediately came to mind, many if not most of which have later proven to be a serious problem. It later developed that bird killing has been a serious problem, to the extent that the PRESBO Administration had issued exemptions for them from the restrictions on killing bald eagles. In addition, many other species have been victims of these relatively slow-turning blades. Also, we all know that at these latitudes there is no prevailing wind blowing all the time, so no wind equals no generation. Further, later reports from different sources have indicated that there are serious problems with maintenance of the units, with many being out of service, even broken apart, much of the time.
Now, is there an alternative machine? Well, apparently yes. A number of decades ago, the number buried in my memory, there were published stories, in engineering magazines, about true “wind turbines” that could be used for generation, as well as other power providers. To be grammatically correct, the media uses of the term “turbine” for the currently used “windmills” is totally erroneous and misleading. The round units often seen on building roofs freely turning by wind power to pull hot air out of the building are true turbines. The ones shown in the stories were also vertical and also had the design ability to expand or contract their diameter to adjust to the differing wind speeds and maintain the same rotational speed – most desirable for electric generation.
Because of their multiplicity of blades, it is highly unlikely that birds would fly into them because they are more easily seen. Also, they are much less noisy than the three-bladed windmills complained about by Chief Standing Bear, which I agree with. They also exhibited much more reliability and can work in both faster and slower winds.
In short, it seems to me that these existing wind farms have been developed, with federal and state financial benefits, at the insistence of a misguided EPA bureaucrat staff.
Possibly this is with the intent of underhanded benefits to the manufacturers and the utilities using the power, at a subsidized discount. In this case at the expense of we users. Hopefully the new PRESDT administration will take a long look at the situation and correct it.