The Dec. 20 edition of Midwest Energy News has one of those articles I love: titled “Years later, Wisconsin wind farm fears fail to materialize,” it provides an update on Lincoln and Red River townships in Kewaunee County, Wis., where there was a storm of controversy and bitter recrimination in 1998 and 1999 when two utilities announced plans to build wind farms in the area.
The full article is worth a read, as it has some nice local color–a number of industrious Belgian immigrants were among the first Europeans to settle in the area, in the 1850s, and their character helps define it. Today, some residents remain unhappy about the process by which the wind farms were built, but actual objections to the turbines seem to be minimal:
Unaffected property values: Check. Town officials in both townships agree that the turbines have had no apparent effect on property values.
Income to farmers and local governments: Check. To the knowledge of those interviewed, the utilities have provided steady payments, both to farmers and other landowners and to the towns in lieu of property taxes.
Wildlife: Check. A state Department of Natural Resources spokesperson said there have been no reports of dead or injured animals near the turbines.
The article ends on a somewhat downbeat note, saying that enough formerly passionate opponents are still bitter about the past experience that new projects are unlikely in the area anytime soon. Given that wind power is demonstrably one of the cleanest energy sources (no mining or drilling for fuel, no air pollution, no water pollution, no greenhouse gases, no hazardous wastes or ash, and virtually no water use), that's a shame. In this era when so much false information spreads so rapidly via the Internet, it's also an admonition to us all to try to keep disagreements within the bounds of civility, look for trustworthy information sources, and understand the choices our society faces in fulfilling its energy needs.