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By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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Would you want a wind turbine in your backyard?

Uploaded: Jun 14, 2020
After I posted about the use of eminent domain for power lines and pipelines, a woman who has been dealing with these issues for years reached out to me. Janna Swanson and her husband Paul own a farm in northern Iowa, where they are raising two kids. For several years they fought a long-distance high-voltage transmission line that would go through their farm, with 200-foot towers and a 150-foot easement, carrying wind power out to neighboring states. Iowa eventually ruled that these lines need to go underground and that project was shelved.

Now she and many others in rural Iowa are concerned about the proliferation of wind turbines. It’s a tough fight because there is a strong bipartisan push for wind in Iowa. It brings in money and jobs to a rural area that is shedding both. It provides clean energy. And wind power benefits from significant federal incentives. On the other side stand some rural farmers who have little time, little money, and little clout. But they keep at it. Would you want a wind turbine in your backyard?


Wind turbines in a soybean field in Northern Iowa (Source: Carol M. Highsmith’s America)

Swanson talks about noise (“like an airplane that never lands”), including low-frequency sound that you can feel rather than hear. Residents of Madison County talk about headaches, nausea, and interrupted sleep. Swanson describes shadow flicker, when the sun shining through rotating blades causes light to flicker on and off over your house. At night, red lights atop the turbines flash in the dark sky. Property values have been hurt. There are functional impacts as well. It takes longer and becomes costlier (and more dangerous) to spray fields, as the pilots have to dodge wind turbines to get access. And heavy machinery going to and from the turbines can dislodge or crack the perforated drainage pipes lying under the soil.

Yet even when residents object and crowd their local forums to speak up, the county may still approve the installations because the political pressure and economic incentives are so big. The residents have learned that they need to elect anti-wind county supervisors, and are pushing ahead with that. Madison County recently won a moratorium on wind development until a better agreement is reached with the utility companies.

Turbines are often sited on plots that have out-of-town owners, for example city-dwelling children who inherited property from farming parents. A turbine might pay $10,000/year and use up 1/10 of an acre of land, so it’s a pretty good deal for these property owners. But the neighbors aren’t always so sanguine. Even the utility companies acknowledge the effects wind turbines may have on neighbors. A waiver spells them out, and neighbors can sign one in exchange for (say) $10,000. You can find an example here. One sticking point is around setbacks. Neighbors want no turbines within a half-mile or even a mile of homes, while utilities want more flexibility so they can install more turbines.

I can only imagine how residents in this area would respond if our utilities opted to install wind turbines near our homes, so I thought readers would be interested in the situation and empathize with the conflict between green energy aspirations and the on-the-ground impacts of some of the solutions. As the CEO of one of the Iowa utilities says: "There's no perfect way to make electricity.”

Swanson does believe the climate is changing. When it comes to zero-carbon energy, she has some preference for nuclear over wind and solar since it takes up much less space and runs reliably. But after all these years of fighting “clean energy”, she isn’t sure that we should be focusing so much on saving the Earth. She doesn’t think the changing climate is caused by or can be fixed by us. She refers to the recent film Planet of the Humans and suggests that our fight is doing more harm than good. More specifically, she believes that it’s wrong to love the environment more than people, and cites a passage from the Bible, Roman 1:25: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator." Over the past year she has “come back to God”, and is focused on strengthening that relationship. “The world is more of a spiritual thing than a physical thing,” she surmises, wishing that people would stop trying to save the Earth and instead turn toward God. “If anyone believes that the climate is damaged yet doesn't turn to its Creator, they are leaving out the most obvious, most powerful solution. God takes care of things. I don't even worry anymore. I don't even fight wind as much as I used to.”

I really appreciated hearing Swanson’s perspective. She is passionate about her neighborhood, she is a fighter, and she has struggled for years to figure out the best options. Our country is a large and diverse place, and we are undertaking a massive overhaul of many sectors of our economy and our lives. The policy challenges we face are significant. The land-use challenges we face are significant. And the cultural challenges we face are significant. I thought this window into one small slice of the green energy transformation can help us to better understand that.

Notes and References
1. The DesMoines register had an overview of some of the contention a few years ago.

2. The Coalition for Rural Property Rights and National Wind Watch are two organizations that are pushing back against industrial wind in Iowa.

Current Climate Data (May 2020)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)

May 2020 tied (with May 2016) as the warmest May on record for the globe.


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Comments

 +   9 people like this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 9:10 am

> Would you want a wind turbine in your backyard?

If my 'backyard' was a farm? Hell, yeah.

Given the economic hell that farmers (farmers, not ag biz farms) go through, it's a real opportunity. Of course in this daydream, I wouldn't spray fields, choosing sustainable agriculture, etc..

In my backyard? Beats a fracking well, a pumpjack or any of those other fantasy 'solutions' proposed.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Maurice, a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 9:43 am

It seems that anti-windfarm activists are like anitvaxxers. Wind turbines have been in Europe since the early 1980s and we never heard complaints. That doesn't mean there weren't any, but, there didn't seem to be a movement against them until it started in the US and Canada (my home). So...the question becomes, why didn't Europeans complain. While we don't have wind turbines directly near our home, they are dotted all over the countryside in Nova Scotia and we don't hear complaints. I suppose I might not want one right by my house but nearby on a large field could be a boon. If I had acreage, I'd be amenable.


 +   68 people like this
Posted by ASR, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 9:52 am

No wind turbines in the back yard please.

Lot of noise constantly is not healthy for humans.


 +   62 people like this
Posted by CharlesE, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm

In my "backyard" we have suffered the imposition of a wind factory for the past twelve months. Prior to that was the bickering and the lying, and the manipulation. The workers are not local. 80% of the land owners are not residents, and those that are, now are "were".

Our roads are a deplorable mess, though promises are made to improve them once the turbines are complete. If the promises are anything like the road use agreements, we will have to fight tooth and nail to get them kept.

The lights at night are already a bother to those close by and even several miles away. Noise and flicker are already noticeable and all the turbines are not yet on-line. Some water wells are showing the effects with turbidity.

All that and then the subsidies provided by our various forms of government to just keep the big wind dream alive. Heavy metals, over seas investors and owners. All for little effect in the form of reliable energy. The wind and sun are fickle providers. If you intend to have constant energy to your electric grid, then a constant source must remain available. Tax dollars and incentives are being wasted, when those same dollars might be use for real research. Research on nuclear, and a reduced need. Big wind doesn't blow it sucks,


 +   45 people like this
Posted by Norm , a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 1:39 pm

I loved the vast majority of your comments. However, your comment: "It brings in money and jobs to a rural area that is shedding both. It provides clean energy" needs a response. The gentleman in charge of DTE's (formerly Detroit Edison in Michigan) wind division stated at a Q & A in Kawkawlin Township located in Bay County, Michigan that about one job is created for every ten wind turbines installed.

What would that mean for MY community in Almer Twp, Michigan? The nineteen wind turbines that were proposed for my township by NextEra would have created two jobs. That's right. Two jobs! How much would TWO jobs benefit my community? The local gas station has more employees than that. And, those wind techs more than likely would not be from our small rural area.

The CLEAN energy claim is just that. It's a claim. No form of electricity production is CLEAN. Not solar. Not coal. Not hydro. Not bio-fuels. Not WIND. The Michael Moore documentary Planet of the Humans exposes that CLEAN energy claim within the first 45 minutes.

Google Baotou Toxic Lake or click on the link below. Baotou Toxic Lake is a six mile wide lake filled with black barely liquid TOXIC and RADIOACTIVE sludge created from the waste products of mining rare earth minerals used in part for the large magnets needed in wind turbines. Toxic and radioactive lakes created by the need for wind energy-------THAT is NOT clean.


Web Link




 +   59 people like this
Posted by A Silly Question Deserves Silly Answers, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Quote: Would you want a wind turbine in your backyard?

Response: If my 'backyard' was a farm? Hell, yeah.

^ 'Response' makes sense...wide open spaces can accommodate a sizeable number of wind turbines.

A backyard in Palo Alto is another story...not only an eyesore but a potential obstruction. Besides, trees would block the overall efficiency of such eco measures.

A silly question as practicality is based solely on LOCATION as well as available/consistent winds...why not place them in the SF Bay (or in the ocean)?

Hint: where ideal sailboat conditions exist (or in the rural hills like Altamont)...DUH



 +   45 people like this
Posted by Norm , a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm

This is in response to Maurice who said< "So...the question becomes, why didn't Europeans complain." Complain and complain they did.

The problem is two-fold----The federal states in Germany, for example, have not made available enough areas for new wind turbines, and those that are available are fought tooth and nail by local campaigners. 


Subsidies have been slashed, wrecking the business model of wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers (as well as the parasites that feed on those subsidies). Tens of thousands of their workers have been sacked and numerous operators have filed for bankruptcy: "Wind Power Investment Collapses as Germany's Wind Industry Faces Total Armageddon"

German residents voted down a wind development 25 to 1 against wind project---269 to 11. That's 94% to 4%.

The German newspaper Die Welt, reported that new wind installations in Germany during the first six months of 2019 “collapsed" falling to the lowest level since 2000, the year the country introduced the Renewable Energy Act.


 +   53 people like this
Posted by Norm , a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Here is an incomplete list of the negatives of wind developments. Anyone is free to match this small list with a list of positives of wind development. I've yet to see anyone present 31 positives/benefits of wind developments.

1. Audible sound
2. Inaudible sound and vibration/pulsation
3. Accompanying sleep deprivation that
4. May cause negative health issues.
5. Trespass Zoning (uncompensated easement without permission)
6. Loss of property value IF the house can even be sold
7. Shadow flicker
8. Barely 35% efficient. Need back up fossil fuel plants that run constantly
creating nothing but pollution.
9. Higher electricity rates
10. Red flashing warning lights
11. Weak or NO decommissioning language in wind ordinances that can result in eyesores for generations.
12. Miles and miles and miles of additional transmission lines above and below ground.
13. Oil leaks from the nacelle
14. Ice throw
15. Blade throw
16. Fire in the Nacelle
17. Wind turbine collapse
18. Stray/Induced Voltage
19. Possible damage to water in water wells depending on layout and location of wind turbine.
20. Aesthetics
21. Damage to wildlife, domestic and farm animals
22. Bird and BAT kills especially raptors
23. MASSIVE gov't handouts oil, nuclear, and natural gas don't receive anywhere near that amount.
24. Reduction in economic growth and expansion
25. Interference with emergency radio, tv, and cell phone reception.
26. Interferes with crop dusting
27. Mercy flight interference
28. Damaging to economy of tourist areas
29. Destruction of the social fabric in smaller communities
30. Toxic/radioactive pollution from mining rare earth minerals used in wind turbine magnets.
31. Interference with weather radar


 +   3 people like this
Posted by WilliamR, a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 5:01 pm

When we think of wind turbines, the image is always the giant airplane-propeller design. But look up 'vertical axis wind turbine' for some alternative designs, which may be 'friendlier'. Some styles are like old egg-beaters, others like box kites on end. There are some models which could work in a backyard for household power generation.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 6:14 pm

> I've yet to see anyone present 31 positives/benefits of wind developments.

True. After essentially *CARBON FREE ENERGY*, the list gets thin. Shucks. Just carbon free energy.

Not quite as thin a list as your list, populated with "mercy flight interference" but pretty thin nonetheless.


 +   45 people like this
Posted by Jim Feasel, a resident of another community,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

Notice how every comment in favor starts out something like "If I had enough land then sure..". These people are not exposed to the threat of having to live in the middle of a heavy industrial zone among hundreds of some of the largest machines on the planet at 600+ feet tall and over 6000 horsepower each. They live in areas where they will never be exposed to such a threat and a wind "farm" is just an idealistic thing in their imagination. It's a whole different experience when it gets real.


 +   38 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 14, 2020 at 8:42 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

I'm glad to see people weighing in from the midwest. Jim is right that it's very different to live with these than it is to read about them or watch them on TV.

It is interesting to see Norm's list of wind turbine impacts, though I would add that you would see a substantially worse such list for coal, oil, and gas, particularly when you look at the scale of the impacts. You will also find problems with solar, geothermal, batteries, nuclear, you name it. Idealists will see such lists and despair "There is no hope" or rally with "We just need to use less energy" or "We need fewer people", all of which go over about as well with the general population as you would think. (I consider Planet of the Humans to be a film made by disillusioned idealists.)

I am a pragmatist, not an idealist. These problems are not all equal. And there are always alternatives (e.g., offshore wind) and continuous innovation (e.g., energy storage). But I think we have a real challenge ahead of us to pull the country together while making more efficient use of our land and designing effective policies that will transition us to a low-carbon future while creating more opportunity for all.

I want to share a few links if people are interested. This one and this one discuss the lifecycle carbon footprint of wind energy. And this one shows the overall impact of industrial wind on our power supply. (I was surprised to see it has now surpassed hydropower.) These do not, however, reflect some of the quality-of-life and other impacts that we are hearing about in this post.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 15, 2020 at 5:42 am

Great list, Sherry - 2019. Excuse the formatting.

Important note from the heading: "The EIA estimates that an additional 35 billion kWh of electricity generation was from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems in 2019" Not on the list below.

U.S. utility-scale electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 20191

Renewables (total) 720 17.5%
Hydropower 274 6.6%
Wind 300 7.3%
Biomass (total) 58 1.4%
Wood 40 1.0%
Landfill gas 10 0.2%
Municipal solid waste 6 0.1%
Other biomass waste 2 0.1%
Solar 72 1.8%
Photovoltaic 69 1.7%
Solar thermal 3 0.1%
Geothermal 16 0.4%


 +   44 people like this
Posted by Jeanette, a resident of another community,
on Jun 15, 2020 at 8:22 am

Quote:

^ 'Response' makes sense...wide open spaces can accommodate a sizeable number of wind turbines.

A backyard in Palo Alto is another story...not only an eyesore but a potential obstruction. Besides, trees would block the overall efficiency of such eco measures.

So in your backyard it would be an eyesore? but in a rural backyard it is not?
They are not just installing them in large agribusiness farms, many of the 500-800 foot turbines are being placed 1000 feet from residences (not property lines.)
Look into trespass zoning and wind turbines.

To the comment on there not being complaints in Europe for the last decades,
there have been and it too has been growing and 1. The turbines are getting larger with a bigger footprint. and 2. As they are moving closer and closer to places people live.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by Kristi, a resident of another community,
on Jun 15, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Wind turbines destroy rural health, destroy peaceful enjoyment of your private property, destroy rural communities. There is zero net benefit to society. They are monuments of subjugation.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by A Silly Question Deserves Silly Answers, , a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:11 am

> "Wind turbines destroy rural health, destroy peaceful enjoyment of your private property, destroy rural communities. There is zero net benefit to society. They are monuments of subjugation."

^^ I read somewhere that wind turbines kill a large number of birds as well.

Best to dispense with the concept of wind turbines both rurally and in the suburbs as well.


 +   39 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:20 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@ASilly: Here is the data on bird deaths. Onshore wind turbines are in the sixth row.


 +   21 people like this
Posted by A Silly Question Deserves Silly Answers, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:54 am

> "@ASilly: Here is the data on bird deaths. Onshore wind turbines are in the sixth row."

^ I was referring to LANDBASED (rural and/or suburban based wind turbines). Note the 5th row on your chart...a sizeable difference compared to offshore installations.

As aforementioned, having wind turbines in the ocean (or SF Bay) where it is consistently windy might work BUT it would also create potential maritime issues/problems (i.e. collisions and other mishaps) as even high-voltage powerlines pose safety concerns for low-flying helicopters and planes.

Wind turbines seemingly pose more problems than they are worth.

Besides, who would want to maintain wind turbines that are situated in the ocean or bay as it would be extremely dangerous as well as COSTLY.

Next question...


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Witheld, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 10:51 am

Sure. I think they are cool and we need the power. They do a lot less harm than fosile fuels and they work at night when the solar power quits.

In college I lived for 2 years across the street from train tracks. We learned, after signing the lease that freight trains would run through town in the middle of the night. *that* was annoying, but we got used to it.

I've never heard any significant noise from the turbines on Altamont Pass, even when they are going full blast. If a farmer doesn't want them, they can turn down the money. But what gives them the right to dictate what their neighbors do?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by MPer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm

why are we discussing wind turbines in IOWA???


The turbines on the altamont pass have been there for years. no issues that I now of?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Dave Classick, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm

I take it no one saw Michael Moore's latest documentary, Planet of Humans? Wind turbines are not the savior we would like them to be... basically all hope is lost anyway, so all things considered, no I wouldn't want one in my backyard

Web Link


 +   4 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove, a resident of Shoreline West,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 4:38 pm

No one should be citing the Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans, which has has been the subject of extensive debunking. Many of the attacks the film launches against renewable energy are misleading or just plain false.

Here's a good roundup of many of the debunkings: Web Link

Two things can be simultaneously true:

1. Wind power is clearly cleaner than fossil-fuel produced energy. Fossil fuel burning causes a host of serious, possibly existential, health problems for individuals, societies and ecosystems.

2. Wind turbines close to human domiciles probably cause health problems as well. Excessive noise (that continual hum) is a real concern. So are the constant flickering shadows, if the turbines are in the path of the sun. Finally, any concentrated electrical power generation system can have well-documented negative effects on the health of living systems. This is true of power lines running from coal plants, but is no less true of electricity that is generated through renewable generation.

For a deep dive into the long history of research into electricity and its effects on health I recommend the meticulously documented book The Invisible Rainbow by Arthur Firstenberg. Fun fact: the idea that certain people are "electro-sensitive," that is, that some people react very strongly to very tiny doses of electricity (headaches, fatigue, dizziness) has been known and extensively documented since the *1740s.*


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm

> No one should be citing the Moore-produced documentary Planet of the Humans, which has has been the subject of extensive debunking.

Not as much extensive debunking as the extensive debunking of the debunkers. The basic point in Planet of the Humans are very compelling.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Quack Alert, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Quack Alert is a registered user.

PeaceLove, Arthur Firstenberg? The guy who sued his neighbor for $1.43 million for damaging his health by using her iphone and a wi-fi connection? I'm not sure you know quackery when you see it. Web Link

CrescentParkAnon, the basic point of the movie that you find so compelling is what? That there are some side-effects to every energy production mechanism? (How could that not be true?) Or is it that because they are less than perfect we should give up on addressing climate change? That is compelling? The movie is blatantly wrong and very outdated on solar and EVs. It hardly mentions wind or much else. It makes good points on biomass but everyone has already made them for 10+ years. It's like an old movie that was released 15 years late. The people who made it are unrealistic idealists whose misguided beliefs were shattered and then decided to whine about it. That is productive or inspiring or compelling how?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 5:13 pm

200k vs HALF A BILLION bird deaths from buildings?? Really? That's the reason? Aren't we outlawing straws (the thing for which you're grasping?)

Other than the cancers that the Impeached Obesity says are caused by windmills - I'm pro wind. Web Link



 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Harry Merkin, a resident of Ventura,
on Jun 16, 2020 at 9:12 pm

I would love to have a wind turbine in my back yard. Do I need easements from my neighbors for when the blades cross the property lines?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Robyn, a resident of another community,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 6:26 am

There is a group of ornithologists that collects the decapitated heads of birds in the Altamont Pass.
It would be interesting to see what the international treaties say about bird migration through these places.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by A Silly Question Deserves A Silly Answer, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 2:53 pm

For those who actually believe in and endorse residential wind turbines, here's a suggestion...

Organize a series of 'block parties' in your neighborhood and have the attendees wear beanie caps with those propellers on the top.

Wire them all together and capture the eco- friendly electricity with no hazzrds or threats to birds, property lines and/or low-flying aircraft.

It would also provide an entertaining and educational photo/news op.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by David Page, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 3:04 pm

In 2020 millions of employees experienced working from home. Despite the obvious benefits (for most, but not all), some employers are considering having workers return to their old car-commutes.

More than 100,000 Americans died from the Coronavirus within the first 6 months of 2020...approximately 100,000 Americans die from air pollution every 6 months.

Can we not grab the low-hanging fruit when it's ripe? There are no perfect answers, just options to choose from.

Sherry's column gives us the opportunity to explore those options in an educated manner; Thank you Sherry.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 3:28 pm

I am all for research and projects that work to develop wind power, but
there are some drawbacks to it that I don't think we have the big picture
on yet. Wind, solar and storage are important.

I am against it being legislated as the only one of two green or energy options,
wind and solar.

We need to develop many different technologies while drawing back on
hydrocarbons, and some of the aspects of biomass.

I think in say 200 year if humans are still on this planet nuclear will be the
major source of power. Eventually people will come to their senses and
not be willing to cover the planet with windmills and solar panels ( not that
they are bad ) and at some point nuclear will be safe and acceptable.

With that vision, I think it is also important to push to research, develop
and roll out new nuclear technologies and to realize we will probably still
have accidents.

I could very well be wrong but I don't think future nuclear accidents with
these new technologies and plants will have disasters like Chernobyl or
Fukushima - but there is no guarantee.

We have had nuclear working since 1958, and worldwide there have been
two major awful accidents --- in 60 years. That is really not so bad.

What did we have with oil ... that I can remember ...
Exxon Valdez
BP Gulf oil spill
Thousands of cancers along the Southern Mississippi cancer alley I
think it is called from petrochemical plants and refineries.

Megatons of CO2 burned off from venting gas, and I think on the order
of thousands of oil spills.

For example. I would not like to see windmills all up and down the CA
coastline or coastal mountain ridges.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 4:44 pm

> There is a group of ornithologists that collects the decapitated heads of birds in the Altamont Pass

Why go so far? Seems there's a lot of them closer to home.

200k bird deaths due to wind.

500,000,000 due to buildings.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 17, 2020 at 9:29 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@CPA: You sound a bit like Ernest Moniz, former US Secretary of Energy, nuclear physicist, etc. You can watch a recent interview here. He strongly believes we can’t leave too many options off the table, and we should be innovating like crazy right now so that by 2030 we have a whole suite of things to choose from. I don’t disagree.

One thing I wonder about is, with so many people in this area being so worried about climate change, what sacrifices are we willing to make, personally, in order to improve our planet’s health? The midwesterners commenting here are being asked to live near some very large wind turbines and they are not excited about it. If we were asked to live near wind turbines, would we do it? A nuclear plant? A high voltage power line? What sacrifices will (or should) be asked of wealthy communities like ours? Is it just whether we pay some extra taxes? Or is it incorporating more density? Taking in climate immigrants? Giving up our cars?

I asked my aunt about this. She was introspective: “I would give up some, and, if squeezed, a little more, but I wouldn't want to give up a lot. I think I used to be more generous. A lot of us talk the talk, but walk the walk? Not so much. On the other hand, if someone made me do it, and everyone was in the same boat, I'm sure I'd adjust.” I expect her thinking reflects that of a lot of people, and points to the importance of leadership.

@David: I think you are right that there are no perfect options. I just don’t understand how people go from that to “There is no hope”. We have 20-30 years to keep our carbon budget below 2 degrees. That is well within our capacities as long as we make an effort. People are great at challenges like this when we pull together.

@Peace/CPA/Quack: I agree with people that say Planet of the Humans is less than accurate (I think I’ve called the producers “negligent” in that regard). I also agree with @Quack that it seems to be written by a bunch of disillusioned idealists who are giving up because the options we have aren’t perfect. So why does that message appeal to some people? Why do they find it so satisfying to purposefully sit and watch while we destroy this beautiful planet and so much of the life on it? I need to understand that mindset better, because it is foreign to me.

Re birds and Altamont Pass, I read that the turbines there were particularly hard on raptors (e.g., eagles), in part due to poor placement of the wind farm (it is an old one). Newer turbines that turn much slower have been installed and they are supposed to kill fewer birds.

Someone asks why I’m writing about Iowa in a local paper. Well, elections are national, and much of the work we have to do spans our country. I think it behooves us all to understand each other a little better.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 5:55 am

Six posts above with mentions of nuclear, with fantasies about future inventions, allusion to some safety or storage strawmen, yet nary a peep about the reality of nuclear.

> Ernest Moniz, former US Secretary of Energy

A brilliant man. He knows Gregory Jaczko well. Mr. Jaczko licensed the last 4 reactors in the US.


Gregory Jaczko served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2005 to 2009, and as its chairman from 2009 to 2012:

"And here in the United States, those four new reactors " the vanguard of the “nuclear renaissance" " still haven't opened. The South Carolina companies building two of the reactors canceled the project in 2017, after spending $9 BILLION (my emphasis) of their customers' money without producing a single electron of power.

The construction company behind the utilities, Westinghouse, went bankrupt, almost destroying its parent company, the global conglomerate Toshiba. The other two reactors licensed while I chaired the NRC are still under construction in Georgia and years behind schedule. Their cost has ballooned from $14 billion to $28 BILLION and continues to grow.

History shows that the expense involved in nuclear power will never change."


Web Link from 2019


This post will be attacked, of course. Yet the facts about the insane high costs of nuclear will not be refuted: costs to ratepayers and taxpayers for construction, maintenance, operations, closure and long=term storage of materials for nuclear plants. Nor will the posters defend the realities of how LONG it takes for a nuclear plant to produce a single watt.

Stop with the nuclear fantasies; invest those hundreds of billions (trillions?) into existing renewables and accelerate storage research - today.

Thanks Sherry, for nicely bringing this back to the posted topic - Wind, from the constant daydreaming about nuclear.



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Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:25 am

Sherry
> @Peace/CPA/Quack: I agree with people that say Planet of the Humans is less than accurate

I would disagree with that. When you look at what was being presented, there was fact, and there was a lot of CONCERNED IN A REAL WAY people voicing opinions. Some of the facts and things shown were out of date, but they were videos and thus not inaccurate.

> (I think I've called the producers “negligent" in that regard).

You made your contention and now you sling the negative mud. Negligent? Inaccurate can cover a lot of territory. You can be telling the truth, which I think POTH did fairly well to make a point, but have problems with the data but that do not necessarily extend to incompetence or prevarication.

In a way that is a fair criticism of Michael Moore's movies, of which this was NOT one, but movie and documentaries are usually efforts to convince that mostly rely on emotion, just like we are bathed in 10,000 times a day with all the advertising and manipulative things we see online, click-bait, etc. So I have to complain about the word negligent. If I had to I might go with incompetent in that I don't think they went through the movie thoroughly enough, but they did say the facts were vetted.

I would guess they decided not to miss a captive COVID-19 audience was more important than re-vetting, updating and refreshing the movie before a commercial release that maybe will not happen for months or even years.

> I also agree with @Quack that it seems to be written by a bunch of disillusioned idealists who are giving up because the options we have aren't perfect.

That's pretty much of a content free statement based on nothing but Quack's image of Michael Moore combined with this position in this world that I could say is threatened so he/she feels obligated to attack it for his own benefit, and be just as valid or correct. It is basically a I can say clever things in a way that appeals and activates my base ... think Trump's mode of campaigning or marketing.

The point being that that comment is basically just name-calling.

> So why does that message appeal to some people?

Perhaps because just as the inaccurate disillusioned explained in the documentary ( you did watch the documentary and pay attention? ) , the first Earth Day was 50 years ago and we are not improving except in rhetoric and cheap talk. This meme is pretty well shown in the movie by the many cases of dishonest marketing.

> Why do they find it so satisfying to purposefully sit and watch while we destroy this beautiful planet and so much of the life on it?

Come on that is such a desperately emotional comment that you can't know that they are sitting, watching and finding it satisfying that this beautiful planet and its life is being destroyed. In fact when you look, actually look, at the movie it's the exact opposite, they did they movie because they saw, and could make a case that it was everyone else sitting, watching and finding it satisfying that this beautiful planet and its life is being destroyed - that was the problem.

> I need to understand that mindset better, because it is foreign to me.

We all have our blind spots and imperfections, and that is why we must foster discussion ( not debate ) I was listening to a podcast by Sam Harris who made a great point about the difference between discussion and debate. Sam said that if he is a debate, it is a contest, if he accepts a point from the other side he is LOSING, and he has been in debates where he felt uncomfortable because the other side had a point or was even right - and he is wedged into paralysis because of the whole context of DEBATE, whereas if he was in a discussion the whole effort could actually be productive and create synthesis.

Today there is this debate show on PBS - the Intelligence Squared Debates, but they are branded as Oxford-Style debates moderated by John Donvan, and the deadness and awfulness of the show is just as Harris points out. Very disingenuous rhetorical devices to manipulate the audience rather than to bring them into discussion. At least POTH generated awareness and discussion of these issues.

When I was younger we used to have a show called the Advocates on PBS that was a bunch of renowned experts in their fields DISCUSSING and issue, and they were always useful learning experiences. Why is it that over the intervening time all these media shows have rotted to such a degree that they are almost useless for informing the public?

But the way, the POTH crew has editing the movie since it was so stridently attacked and removed from YouTube due to a excessively exuberant application of copyright infringement that is nothing but political censorship. Just based on the backlash and from who it says people need to see this and make up their own minds.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:44 am

Sherry:
Moniz always kind of creeped me you, but I guess I have to agree with what you presented above ...

> He strongly believes we can't leave too many options off the table, and we should be innovating like crazy right now so that by 2030 we have a whole suite of things to choose from.

That very comment seems to be custom made to apply to nuclear.

As someone who until even years after Fukushima was completely against nuclear power, now ironically after seeing the result of Fukushima I have slowly and reluctantly changed my mind.

daydreaming,
I would say the problem with your argument is that you have a few numbers and a rigid spiel memorized that you are very emotional and insistent about, but are so stuck in the box you have constructed for yourself you cannot see or REACT to field new data from anyone else's comments.

Back a few blogs were went round and round and what you did in every case was to repeat the same points, use hyperbolic emotionally charged words and phrases to apply to anyone who disagreed with you, and seeming to think that declaring victory and ignoring any points was a valid debate strategy.

I am not going to bother discussing with you any because I think that anyone who actually cares about the subject and reads your comments will notice this for themselves.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by oooofff, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:57 am

Crecpkanon-

Are you disputing the words from Gregory Jaczko of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission & chairman from 2009 to 2012?

Or just attacking a poster you don't like?

Looks like the latter. Your entire point is that the poster is "hyperbolic"?

What about the numbers? They look real.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Down Down Down, a resident of another community,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 12:36 pm

@downtown

What numbers for the last 4 nukes were wrong?

8 billion lost in south carolina?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescantParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 1:52 pm

The post from the spurious names here just annoying.

Here is from the Wikipedia page about Gregory Jaczko. I am not going to spend time going back and for on this only this to show that his words and position have been used so the poster above make an argument Jaczko did not even make and so what if he did ...

>> On February 9, 2012, Jaczko cast the lone dissenting vote on plans to build the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years when the NRC voted 4"1 to allow Atlanta-based Southern Co to build and operate two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. He cited safety concerns stemming from Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying "I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened".[9]

The lone dissenting voice back at the time of Fukushima???

There ain't no tidal waves in Georgia, and the problems that cause Fukushima to happen were not about nuclear power, they were about generators that got submerged and reactor plant designed that did not shut off without power. Technical engineering problems that are easy to solve.

This is the poor quality of argument one sees on the con side of nuclear power. There may well be other more valid arguments, but to manipulate the public and scare people is all a majority of anti-nuclear activists really want to do anyway. The anti-nuclear folks in the majority don't want to think or see anything but NO NO NO. That is not a good decision making process.

As I've said before, those numbers quoted do not mean anything when weighed against the future of the planet.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Down Down Down, a resident of another community,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 2:59 pm

You brought up Vogtle.

How much has Vogtle cost?

What if the ten billion wasted in Carolina was spent on solar, wind, hydro etc?

Costs matter.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Apparently, this is "hyperbole" from the former head of the NRC:
- South Carolinians lost $9 Billion on a nuclear plant that will *never* open
- Georgia spent $28 Billion on Vogle

But this is not hyperbole:
- (but you) "use hyperbolic emotionally charged words and phrases"



Thanks for clearing that up. And many more thanks for proving this statement correct:

"This post will be attacked, of course. Yet the facts about the insane high costs of nuclear will not be refuted..."



Can we now get back to Wind?

Cleantechnica: Web Link

“In total, the mix of all renewables will add more than 53 gigawatts (GW) of net new generating capacity to the nation's total by April 2023. That is nearly 50 times the net new capacity (1.1 GW) projected to be added by natural gas, coal, oil, and nuclear power combined."

Fifty to one.

Nice!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by BruceS, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 8:58 pm

BruceS is a registered user.

Sigh, not sure if I should bother adding to this already voluminous thread, but a few notes:

1. The guy who supported PotH (Planet of the Humans) by saying that movies all appeal to emotion has it dead wrong. Emotion is fine, but if the facts are wrong then the whole premise is busted. And the facts in PotH are mostly very wrong.

2. While some of the complaints about windmill noise and lights sounded plausible, a lot of the comments seemed overblown. I wonder how many of the people writing are really rural people directly affected, and how many are just trolls. The number that cite PotH suggest to me more of the later.

3. On Nuclear, I'm surprised that nobody (that I noticed - gave up on reading all responses) mentioned the Bill Gates supported venture to create inherently safer nuclear power plants. That sounds very interesting.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:39 pm

BruceS ...
> 1. The guy who supported PotH (Planet of the Humans) by saying that movies all appeal to emotion has it dead wrong. Emotion is fine, but if the facts are wrong then the whole premise is busted. And the facts in PotH are mostly very wrong.

Your comment is incoherent in that you start out complaining about emotion and then saying IF THE FACTS ARE WRONG.

So, tell me what facts are wrong? You said if, so you must have some idea what facts are wrong, and the magnitude and importance of whatever you are referring to, so rather than say the facts are wrong without any actual factual basis, your comment is dishonest.

Movies, documentaries have to rely on emotion. It is not that there are no fact in them, but you cannot discuss any worthwhile issue in the time it takes to watch a movie. You cannot do justice to opposing points of view. You have to present the facts you think support your argument and then make that argument in a strong memorable way that lights up your amygdala and hippocampus so your documentary makes an impression you remember.

> 2. While some of the complaints about windmill noise and lights sounded plausible, a lot of the comments seemed overblown. I wonder how many of the people writing are really rural people directly affected, and how many are just trolls. The number that cite PotH suggest to me more of the later.

Listening to the aimless logic here. Complaints sound plausible, but they are overblown because you wonder how many people are really rural people directly affected ... and then call people you don't even know or cannot quote trolls, because as you already failed to establish in 1, people who cite POTH are trolls. This is illogic and name calling, not discussion or debate.

Facts are useless if you you do not apply critical thinking to them and just assume you can wave them off by saying they are wrong by dictate?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:57 am

BruceS: Welcome to the discussion. I too look forward to Gates, Moniz, etc.. finding new solutions. Please note that the only ones who bring up safety with any regularity on these boards are the the pro-nuclear daydreamers, as a strawman to avoid debating the insanely high cost of nuclear.

Unfortunately, new nuclear technology will be prohibitively expensive and not be ready for a minimum of 20 years (think in trillions to research and build at a scale that makes a difference.)

Please see the above comments for costs on current nuclear plants and wait times.

Why not put a trillion into renewables today (at today's zero interest rates) and get clean power in a year or two? Not a cost-prohibitive 'maybe' - in 'maybe' twenty years.

Look forward to your thoughts.


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Posted by Three Feet, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:46 am

Three Feet is a registered user.

I'd love to see more on the use off designs that are other than the "airplane rotory" design. Here's a link I found showing that safer, quieter designs exist Web Link.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:36 pm

> are the the pro-nuclear daydreamers, as a strawman to avoid debating the insanely high cost of nuclear.

I'd like to point out that in the USA nuclear has, or had supplied about 20% of our electricity and safely and already and for a long time.

Power source Summer capacity (GW) share of total
Wind____________87.60___________________8.17%
Biomass_________13.96___________________1.30%
Solar___________26.97___________________2.51%
Total___________________________________12%

Nuclear_________809_____________________19.7%

* figure it out yourself why they need to denote summer capacity.

So, who is the daydreamers, and who is avoiding debate, and who is it wants to put their finger down on the scale using emotional analytics to support their pet vision of what the future should look like - without anything to back it up but the claims that nuclear is expensive by pointing at some big numbers but without a clear comparison of costs across all energy sources?

I love how people try to make an argument by fiat without really making an argument.

Basically the argument about energy in America is so corrupted and dishonest, each sector always trying to use persuasion technology to manipulate the public, and then others who understand almost nothing about the issue or even how to objectively analyze anything - and don't want to learn or discussion anything. To be driven by that kind of argument is not only not optimal, but destructive to our society.


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Posted by Sam I Am, a resident of Professorville,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Nukes bankrupted Westinghouse.
A nuke plant bankrupted S Carolina ratepayers to the tune of almost 10 billion bucks.

How can you defend that? I'm with the poster who posits a bird in the hand, almost instant results with green power today, not decades of wishful thinking.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:23 pm

What happened with Westinghouse is not a simple one-liner. There is a lot behind it, and it was just financially restructuring.

Brookfield Business Partners to buy Westinghouse for $4.6 billion. (Reuters) - A subsidiary of Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc (BAMa.TO) (BAM. N) plans to acquire Westinghouse Electric Co LLC, the bankrupt nuclear services company owned by Toshiba Corp (6502. T), for $4.6 billion.Jan 4, 2018

Those of you, or the one of you who keeps changing your name to make it seem like a mob is demonstrating against nuclear power, just keep repeating this same disingenuous comment. What is going on with nuclear power is political and economic warfare. As I said, look at the history of nuclear power in this country, and the costs and capabilities of other energy sources.

Quick Facts on Nuclear Industry Jobs
Building a nuclear power reactor employs up to 3,500 workers at peak construction. Nuclear worker salaries are 20 percent higher on average than those of other electricity generation sources. The typical nuclear power plant creates $40 million in labor income each year.

Wikipedia: Economics of nuclear power plants: Web Link

Wikipedia:
>> Two of the four EPRs under construction (the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland and Flamanville in France), which are the latest new builds in Europe, are significantly behind schedule and substantially over cost.[11] Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, costs are likely to go up for some types of currently operating and new nuclear power plants, due to new requirements for on-site spent fuel management and elevated design basis threats.[12]

If this is not political, why were the costs on nuclear power in Europe affected where there are no tsunamis?

COSTS:
The cost of climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases is hard to estimate. Carbon taxes may be enacted, or carbon capture and storage may become mandatory.

Operating reserve requirements are different for different generation methods. When nuclear units shut down unexpectedly they tend to do so independently, so the "hot spinning reserve" must be at least the size of the largest unit. On the other hand, some renewable energy sources (such as solar/wind power) are intermittent power sources with uncontrollably varying outputs, so the grid will require a combination of demand response, extra long-range transmission infrastructure, and large-scale energy storage.[116] (Some firm renewables such as hydroelectricity have a storage reservoir and can be used as reliable back-up power for other power sources.)

Potential governmental instabilities in the plant's lifetime. Modern nuclear reactors are designed for a minimum operational lifetime of 60 years (extendible to 100+ years), compared to the 40 years (extendible to 60+ years) that older reactors were designed for.[117]

---

Even what seems like an excessive cost overrun amortized OVER 60 YEARS is not significant and certainly not in itself the deciding factor as to whether nuclear is economic or not.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:42 pm

Reuters - How two cutting edge U.S. nuclear projects bankrupted Westinghouse, by Tom Hals and Emily Flitter: Web Link

> WILMINGTON, Del./NEW YORK (Reuters) - In 2012, construction of a Georgia nuclear power plant stalled for eight months as engineers waited for the right signatures and paperwork needed to ship a section of the plant from a factory hundreds of miles away.

> The delay, which a nuclear specialist monitoring the construction said was longer than the time required to make the section, was emblematic of the problems that plagued Westinghouse Electric Co as it tried an ambitious new approach to building nuclear power plants.

> The approach - building pre-fabricated sections of the plants before sending them to the construction sites for assembly - was supposed to revolutionize the industry by making it cheaper and safer to build nuclear plants.

> But Westinghouse miscalculated the time it would take, and the possible pitfalls involved, in rolling out its innovative AP1000 nuclear plants, according to a close examination by Reuters of the projects.

> Those problems have led to an estimated $13 billion in cost overruns and left in doubt the future of the two plants, the one in Georgia and another in South Carolina.


This is nothing but guerrilla political and economic tactics against nuclear power - not a failure of the technology.

It is nauseatingly ironic that the most hysterical and vicious people who claim to be Global Warming Activists and Environmentalists are blindly attacking in every way possible either "a" or "the only" solution to the energy generation problem that can end the release of CO2 into our atmosphere in the generation of electric energy.

Solar is sure not going to supply the energy needed to replace gasoline powered cars and run electric cars?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:58 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@ThreeFeet: Thank you for your on-topic comment! And for the pointer to other designs. The design that everyone seems to use -- "horizontal axis" -- is much more efficient, from what I read. The others seem to be intended for small backyards or similar. Which I guess is relevant to at least the title of this post :)

@CPA: I don't believe any commenter is posting under multiple names on this post.

@BruceS: I believe the midwesterners on this thread to be genuinely reflecting their concern about the wind turbines. Their concern is in no way unusual. "In some countries, such as Germany and Norway, citizen opposition has nearly ground onshore wind to a halt." (Source)

I'm not going to comment on nuclear, since it's not the topic of this post! I do think wind is a terrific source of energy, though, so welcome comments/questions about its promise and its limitations.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by daydreaming, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jun 20, 2020 at 9:28 am

Yes, let's go back to wind, allowing @anon's own words end it:

> Those problems have led to an estimated $13 billion in cost overruns and left in doubt the future of the two plants, the one in Georgia and another in South Carolina.
> This is nothing but guerrilla political and economic tactics against nuclear power - not a failure of the technology.

You conflicted yourself within two sentences. The industry failed itself and you call it "guerrilla political and economic tactics".

Westinghouse's failures (of which there are many, such as installing a reactor vessel backwards - in California, no less!) are multiple. But it is the entire industry that brought together colossal failures such as charging South Carolina ratepayers $8 Billion for a plant that will never open.

The only thing "guerrilla" in that is of the "800lb" variety - describing the inordinate political and governmental support for the ridiculously expensive and deferred delivery of nuclear power to the public.

Let's invest in carbon free sources of power that will deliver today - not in 20 years, if ever (see the daydreams of some fantastical "new nuclear" - faster! cheaper! better!)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dr. René Sternke, a resident of another community,
on Aug 4, 2020 at 8:16 am

Dr. René Sternke is a registered user.

Dear Sherry,
here are two articles, which could be interesting for you:
Web Link
Web Link
Best regards,
René


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