Cohocton Wind Watch: T. Boone’s Windy Misadventure And the Global Backlash Against Wind Energy
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

T. Boone’s Windy Misadventure And the Global Backlash Against Wind Energy

Three years ago this month, T. Boone Pickens launched a multi-million dollar crusade to bring more wind energy to the US. “Building new wind generation facilities,” along with energy efficiency and more consumption of domestic natural gas, the Dallas billionaire claimed, would allow the US to “replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years.”

Those were halcyon times for the wind industry. These days, Pickens never talks about wind. He’s focused instead on getting a fat chunk of federal subsidies so he can sell more natural gas to long-haul truckers through his company, Clean Energy Fuels.

(Pickens and his wife, Madeleine, own about half of the stock of Clean Energy, a stake worth about $550 million.) While the billionaire works the halls of Congress seeking a subsidy of his very own, he's also trying to find a buyer for the $2 billion worth of wind turbines he contracted for back in 2008. The last news report that I saw indicated that he was trying to foist the turbines off onto the Canadians.

Being dumped by Pickens is only one of a panoply of problems facing the global wind industry. Among the issues: an abundance of relatively cheap natural gas, a growing backlash against industrial wind projects due to concerns about visual blight and noise, increasing concerns about the murderous effect that wind turbines have on bats and birds, the extremely high costs of offshore wind energy, and a new study which finds that wind energy’s ability to cut carbon dioxide emissions have been overstated.

Yeah, that’s a long list of things. But the mainstream media rarely casts a critical eye on the wind industry. So bear with me for a few minutes. And in doing so, consider how the backlash against industrial wind is playing out in Wales, where, on May 27, the BBC reports that some 1,500 protesters descended on the Welsh assembly, demanding that a massive wind project planned for central Wales be halted.

Earlier this month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. came out with another broadside (this one in the Wall Street Journal) against the Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, not far from the Kennedy clan’s place in Hyannisport. Kennedy says New England shouldn’t put 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, instead, it should import hydropower from Canada. He neglected to say that Cape Wind likely won’t ever get built because the Department of Energy is withholding its financing of the project.

Over the past few days, protesters in Denmark have been camping on a wooded tract in Northern Jutland in order to prevent the clearing of a protected forest where the government plans to build a test center that aims to install a series of wind turbines 250 meters high.

The increasing opposition to industrial wind projects – opposition that’s coming from grassroots organizations all over the world – should be a wake up call for advocates of renewable energy. Instead, the wind industry’s apologists continue to claim that they are victims of a conspiracy, and that they are under attack from the “fossil fuel industry.” That’s been the typical response from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its hirelings, who prefer to use character assassination rather than engage in factual debate.

Here’s the reality: the wind industry is under a full-blown attack from market forces. Those markets are economic, political, social, and environmental. And the wind scammers are losing on nearly all fronts.

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