Thursday, May 20, 2010

Attacking a wind power plan that no one's proposed. Or, are you calling Google a liar?

He’s baaaaacckkk! Russ Harding of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has penned a new column attacking wind energy as too expensive for Michigan and….get this!....a blight on our scenic vistas!

There’s nothing wrong with the “blight on our scenic vistas” argument. Lots of people think wind turbines are ugly. And even those of us who don’t generally agree that there are spots where they don’t belong. On top of Sleeping Bear sand dunes, for example.

But it’s just a hoot that the Mackinac Center has suddenly found a soft spot for Pure Michigan. But only when it involves wind turbines. Apparently they don’t see the same aesthetic dilemma with coal plants. Or drilling rigs on the shores of the Great Lakes. Or piles of toxic mine tailings. Or paved over wetlands.

Anyway, Mr. Harding cites a study done for the right wing Heritage Foundation that “predicts that using on-shore wind to provide electricity for a family of four as opposed to coal would increase monthly bills from $188.66 to $339.58. For off-shore wind that climbs to $403.65.”

Good God. Surely this would make clean energy proponents rethink their plan to generate the entire nation’s electricity from wind power. Right?

Oh, wait….NO ONE IS PROPOSING OR HAS EVER PROPOSED GENERATING 100 PERCENT OF OUR ENERGY FROM WIND POWER! But that’s how the Heritage Foundation did the calculations cited by Russ.

No, Michigan’s just hoping to hit 10 percent renewable power by 2015, and only part of that is wind energy. Most plans to cut our dependence on dirty, polluting and expensive coal envision energy efficiency as the most important way to meet our electricity needs. That saves ratepayers money as they use less electricity. Efficiency is followed by a mix of numerous renewable energy generation sources: Wind, solar, biomass, natural gas, geothermal, hydroelectric, and, in some scenarios, nuclear.

I mean, for God’s sake, even Google has a plan to eliminate our reliance on coal by the year 2030: And everyone knows Google rules the universe. The chart shows Google’s plan. Wind is a modest part of the mix.

The cost of wind energy is coming down. The cost of coal is going up. Michiganders sent $1.36 billion to other states in 2008 to buy coal according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That’s money that would stay in our economy if it were invested in homegrown clean technologies or energy efficiency products instead.

Plus, mining coal requires blowing the tops off beautiful Appalachian Mountains and bulldozing the rubble into the streams in the valleys below:

Now, there’s an aesthetic concern worthy of Russ Harding’s attention.

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