Wind Power Supporters Not Helping Cause

Yet another person who is touting wind power as South Dakota’s future while failing to get the basics:

[]Doug Sombke says South Dakota is known as the “Saudi Arabia” of wind for its wind energy potential.[]

I wouldn’t say it is known as that. Rather, it has been called that–as has every other Great Plains state as well as the whole region and other states here and there. Does the wind blow here? Yes, just like it does in a number of other places.

[]But investing in wind power is difficult right now because it’s expensive to transmit and hold it.[]

Transmission and storage of power is always expensive. It has been for a long time. It will continue to be. This is not an issue which is unique to wind-generated power but rather one which is inextricably tied to electricity, however it may be generated.

[]It’s a struggle Sombke compares to projects like the interstate highway and hydro–electric dams. Opponents had said the country couldn’t afford them but they happened anyway.[]

To say that something was considered too expensive but that it was purchased anyway is hardly a positive statement. Looking at the examples given, however, we find that the interstate highway system has paid for itself many times over. One could say that the highway system has been the single largest expediter of the increase in commerce among the several states.

Hydro-electric dams, on the other hand, have been a bit of a mixed bag. Unlike highways, one cannot replace a bit of one at a time and their replacement costs are insanely large.

That aside, wind power (unlike hydro power) is incredibly inconsistent. Therefore, it is unreliable. This in itself creates enormous issues with the grid–as noted by our English cousins.

If supporters of wind power wish to convince the general population that this is indeed the next big thing for South Dakota, there are a few things which could be done:

  1. Be honest about the weaknesses of wind power. Any power source has weaknesses, whether that source be nuclear, hydro, coal, wind, sun, etc. Don’t treat us as fools and tell us wind power has no substantive downsides.
  2. Show us, don’t tell us, that it is financially feasible. Point out particular windfarm installations which have paid back more than their installation + maintenance costs over a reasonable investment period (10, 20 years).
  3. Do not talk about upcoming breakthroughs in the technology and how that is going to make everything work if we can just wait a bit longer.

And finally, and this is enormously important, do not say things like:

[]”Agriculture can actually be a financial benefactor of the right kind of climate legislation if it comes with renewable energy incentives,” Johnson said.[]

How many of you think that agriculture needs to finance “the right kind of climate legislation” to get more subsidies? That’s what Mr. Johnson is saying here. Here’s hoping he doesn’t know what “benefactor” means and what he was really trying to say was that agriculture is happy to get more subsidies if that’s part of a climate change bill.

Either way, it’s not the sort of statement which appeals to anyone outside of the wind power industry. It is most assuredly not a reason to support a commerce-crippling cap and trade bill based on crumbling climate science.