Should Fox go with wind power or not?

Saturday I got a brochure in the mail from my utility company. They’ve been doing this wind power thing for the past couple of years. I ignored it because I thought it would be too expensive. As it turns out, for about a dollar a month I could buy ten percent of my power from wind. Well, not literally. I’m assuming that my power would, for the most part, still come from the same place, but that the utility company would buy an amount of wind power equivalent to ten percent of the KwH I used that month. Did that make sense?

It sounds intriguing. I can afford a dollar a month.

Of course, the question is…do I want to support wind power or not?

That’s a bigger question than it seems. Now I have to weigh the options.

Looking into it, the wind power comes from Abilene. Specifically, the companies responsible are American Electric Power, Luminant Energy, and GE. Considering I don’t know (and couldn’t find out through the utility company’s website) who supplies the conventional electricity, it may or may not make a difference.

Assuming the worst, my electricity comes from coal. The extraction itself is environmentally disastrous. I’m not even going to list the ways.

The generation of wind power relies on the manufacture of the turbines themselves and their placement. Since I’m not going to even touch the manufacture of coal mining equipment, I’ll ignore the manufacturing cost of the turbines (the environmental cost, anyway, the actual cost factors into efficiency along with the maintenance and repair costs).

The negative effects of turbine placement include their allegedly unaesthetic looks, a tendency to kill birds and bats, the lights on the top (again, unaesthetic), the noise levels, and their potential inefficiency.

But really, is all that anywhere near as comparable to a coal mining operation? Maybe it seems that way because wind turbines are typically located closer to human settlements and therefore are subject to NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) syndrome. But what would you rather have in your backyard…a turbine or a coal mine?

For one, displacement of wildlife due to wind turbine noise and presence is probably a lot more limited than displacement due to coal mining. The aesthetic arguments are pretty one-sided. Coal mines are fucking ugly and lack even the curiosity value of turbines. From what I understand there are efforts being made to avoid collisions with birds and bats, and again, coal mines likely kill more per KwH than turbines do.

I’m tempted to go with wind power for that reason. I don’t know enough about wind turbine inefficiencies, and no amount of research will bring me to an ultimate decision in that. But I don’t feel that the negatives of wind turbines come anywhere close to the negatives of coal mining.

Now, if my power comes from somewhere else, that may make a difference. But I don’t think there are any hydroelectric dams near me, and most of the country’s electricity is sourced from coal. Natural gas is a very high possibility in Texas, and the negatives of natural gas extraction are less apparent than those of coal mining or wind harvesting.

But again, this is based off of limited knowledge. Anyone have any input on this? Should I go with wind power or not?

3 Responses to “Should Fox go with wind power or not?”

  1. More importantly, I think, is the fact that your extra dollar helps add to data that’s letting the power companies know what we want.

    I still think we should employ the unemployed as labor for generating electricity. Turning big wheels all day is easy money!

  2. Read this post again (I’ve been rereading a bunch of stuff) and I wanted to add a few things.
    First, I actually think the windmills look kinda cool. I’ve had to drive by them a few times, and I always enjoy it. They’re also kinda neat to fly over, but not as neat as a lot of other things. Better than oil wells, though. Those look like massive unconstructed suburbs.
    Second, I noticed you didn’t mention nuclear power. It’s honestly a damn good alternative, especially if we moved towards developing smaller thorium reactors and put them more places.
    Just $0.02

    • I didn’t include nuclear because I don’t know very much about it. I’ve heard some on both sides, and I definitely respect the power of Not In My Backyard Syndrome, but ultimately, I have no opinion either way on nuclear.

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