Puppet power

Leave it to Art Pope's minions to argue against one of the very few energy sources that could immediately contribute to building a sustainable energy portfolio. And, as usual, their arguments are full of hot air.

RALEIGH – North Carolina needs a “Coast Law” to protect residents from wind turbines that ruin local landscapes, harm wildlife, and pose potential health risks, all while providing an unreliable source of electricity. That’s the key conclusion of a new John Locke Foundation Spotlight report.

Oh. My. God. Now we have Puppets all a'twitter about local landscapes, wildlife and health. Will wonders never stop ceasing?

“The legislature should make a new ‘Coast Law’ a top priority,” said report author Daren Bakst, JLF Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst. “That type of law would prohibit construction of industrial wind turbines in coastal areas. Local communities should not be burdened with fighting proposed wind power plants that will harm their communities.”

Existing state law prevents industrial wind turbine construction in the state’s mountains, Bakst said. “Since the mountains and the coast are the only sections of North Carolina under threat from possible wind turbine construction, existing state law and a new ‘Coast Law’ could work together to help protect North Carolinians from an alternative electricity source that does much more harm than good.”

Bakst obviously doesn't know his elbow from a hole in the ground when it comes to wind power. Nor does he seem to have the ability to think outside the box about anything.

For example, this wind farm off the coast of Copenhagen has 20 turbines, each equipped with a rotor 250 feet. With 40 mega-watts of power, the farm produces 3% of the electricity consumption of Copenhagen all by itself. And judging from my recent visit to the city, it doesn't look like the mean old wind farm is hurting the local economy one bit.

And as to harming bats and birds, I wish Bakst had as much concern for facts as he does for wildlife.

In the United States, cars and trucks wipe out millions of birds each year, while 100 million to 1 billion birds collide with windows. According to the 2001 National Wind Coordinating Committee study, “Avian Collisions with Wind Turbines: A Summary of Existing Studies and Comparisons to Other Sources of Avian Collision Mortality in the United States," these non-wind mortalities compare with 2.19 bird deaths per turbine per year. That's a long way from the sum mortality caused by the other sources.


wind turbines

Greetings! Been reading the blog for a bit and had to register to post about this subject. I live in a coastal county (Currituck) that has recently approved wind turbines. We have strong winds, not constant, but when they blow you wouldn't believe it. And we have migratory wildfowl. Not the tweeties referred to in the article. Big birds: duck, geese, swan. Do you know why they call rough,rainy weather only good for ducks? It's when they fly. These big birds will fly in the worst of it and settle when it's sky blue. Wind turbines and these fowl will not mix. They will never see them. (And for the tweeties, they cannot see them at the speeds the blades rotate). But the local commissioners approved it anyway. And just for good measure, they removed the noise limitation. So if your neighbor wants one and it's noisy due to ill-maintenance or installation, you're out of luck. I understand the need for alternative energies, but I have to agree with the article for the coastal counties. We need help to save us from our elected officials. Just for the record, I'm an Indie ... with progressive and libertarian leanings, if that even makes sense to ya'll, but I enjoy the blog. :)


I agree with you that the Currituck County legislation leaves much to be desired, but there are lots of other ways to do windmills that make plenty of sense. Plus I hope you'll follow the links on my original post to the data about bird strikes.

When I was in Copenhagen, the rotors on the windmills turned slowly enough that you could watch the individual blades as they moved. That's not to say they won't kill birds, but the data suggest windmills are much more benign in terms of their negative effects than any other energy source except solar.

Thanks for stopping by. It's always great to have a lurker jump in. I hope you'll keep commenting ... and give us the scoop from down east whenever you can.

If these ducks could talk,

Wind turbines and these fowl will not mix.

they would tell you that the fish they eat don't taste right, the shells on the eggs they lay are too thin and don't protect their young, and they just can't seem to fly as far as their great grandduck did.

If you're really concerned about these birds (and I hope you are), take some time to study the dozens of different toxins that are emitted from the burning of coal and how these affect animals (and people).

And you also need to look at how many species will not be able to adapt to a 3-4 degree warming, much less the 10+ we'll likely see before the end of this century.

All that being said, any steps we can take to minimize negative impacts on wildlife and the environment should be explored. That's what sustainability is all about.

Bird kills

Just FYI, it's pretty unusual for ducks or geese to collide with wind turbines. It does happen occasionally, but the mere fact that they are using the area around wind turbines doesn't mean there is much risk to them.

For bird collisions in general, we normally talk now about 3-5 per megawatt (MW) of capacity (larger turbines have larger swept areas, hence more collisions per turbine). As others have stated, though, at this rate wind turbines will never cause more than a very small fraction of all human-related bird deaths, no matter how extensively wind energy is developed. (To give one example, a plausible estimate for bird kills by cats in the U.S. is two billion per year. That's my estimate, extrapolating from a Wisconsin study that estimated 40 million in that state alone.) Bird kills can be an issue with specific species in specific areas, but they are rarely a significant problem.

Bat kills, by contrast, are a legitimate issue that is currently the subject of a bat research program jointly funded by Bat Conservation International, several wind power companies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. More info about this here.

At the moment, the research is focused on testing a sonic deterrent that would warn bats away from wind farms. Much more testing and engineering work needed before it can be declared a solution.

Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association

Thanks for the input, Tom.

I wish we could join forces and bring innovation to the political process, just as entrepreneurs and companies are trying to bring innovation to the technology.

This "Report" is the biggest

This "Report" is the biggest joke I have ever read. I recently had an article published on the regulatory framework for offshore wind energy development (gosh that sounds boring), so I took a special interest in JLF's report. As I read through it, though, I kept coming across point that left me scratching my head. First of all, what type of report fails to cite any authority for the claims that it makes? Also, all of the warnings and concerns in it seemed to be the same ones that were being voiced several years ago. So I looked into the report a little further and can definitively say that it is one of the most dishonest attempts to scare North Carolina citizens that I have ever come across.

Tomorrow, when I have a little more time and energy, I will write a post for everyone to see the blatant dishonesty. I really think that everyone will find it laughable.

Can't wait

I look forward to reading your post. All of the JLF "Reports" are jokes, this one being no exception.

Flagrant hypocrisy.

Bakst,the Locke Foundation's representative to the N.C. Climate Action Plan Advisory Group, wasted no opportunity to argue against regulation as an approach in essentially any energy-related situation.

For the Lockites to shriek for regulations on wind energy now is staggering in how far it pushes the boundaries of their hypocrisy. I'm waiting for Art Pope to come out from behind the curtain and call "April Fool!"

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse

the birds

If you're really concerned about these birds

Of course, that's why I posted. I host them from hummingbird to osprey. Turbine generated power is a wonderful idea .... it's placement on the major flyways that concerns me.

That's understandable.

it's placement on the major flyways that concerns me.

And I don't see any reason why a compromise/accomodation can't be found, especially with the amount of information we have access to dealing with migratory patterns, nesting behavior, etc.

Here's my concern: most environmental groups tend to be passionate and uncompromising in their specific areas of concern, which is a good thing. But often this focus causes an inability to perceive the "bigger picture" (if you will), setting up unnecessary conflicts between normally like-minded people.

This dynamic is often used by those who don't give a crap about anything but maintaining the status quo to neutralize those who want to bring about positive change, as is evidenced by (among others) the article above.

We are smart enough to figure out the right way to do things, but that will only happen if we work together.

While I'm in my "I'm a genius" mode

there's something I've often wondered about. (OK, here's where the genius part starts....) Why don't the makers of these large wind turbines coat the blades with the stuff they make fishing line with. I string this across my picture window and it keeps the birds from committing suicide.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

While I'm in my "silly" mode

If the black box is the only part of the plane that survives the crash...

why don't they build the whole plane out of the black box?

Sorry, your post just reminded me of an old Jerry Seinfeld chestnut. (Or maybe it was Saturday Night Live making fun of Jerry Seinfeld...)

relocating from Indianapolis, IN to RTP, NC soon

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

i think the real danger here...

is the alarmingly large number of latent don quixotes that windmills will bring about. can't get anything done with a bunch of would-be giant killers running amok now, can we?