Letter: Wind power hot air?

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 28, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    "And has anyone in the windmill world taken into account the amount of metal that needs to be mined, by using oil burning machines and furnaces, to make the windmills in the first place?"

    And just how much steel and like resources you mention above will be required to build the need components for the Keystone XL pipeline? Is anyone using these "cost" as a reason to nowt build it.

    Keystone will be built. With Steel just like the wind turbines. You can't criticize one, then ignore the same cost in the other.

    If building wind turbines is "dirty"... then surely building the pipeline will be as much or more. I think both should be built. The exception is one will transport and use energy and the other will generate it. Perhaps they can use wind turbine power to generate the electricity for the compressors on the pipeline.... who knows.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 27, 2014 12:36 a.m.

    @Thid Barker
    Victor, ID

    I have a friend who has a windmill...


    Fascinating --
    you still consider him your friend, and not your sworn bitter enemy?

    BTW -- your friend is trying to live OFF the grid,
    Industrial wind turbine power UP the grid.

    BIG difference.
    Like I said, study the facts.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 26, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    I have a friend who has a windmill and yes, he has batteries that are charged by the windmill! Criticize if you choose but be more knowledgeable.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 26, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    I was talking about the batteries solar power must use since the sun does not shine all the time and therefore needs the batteries plus the batteries used in electric cars. Mellow out!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 26, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    @Thid Barker – “Where is the outrage about the 'dirty' batteries from wind and solar that requires dirty mining and dirty refining and dirty disposal when they are used? How about the dirty bird kills from wind?”

    Would I be correct to assume that you never showed any outrage or even cared much for environmental causes until it became an expedient means of scoring political points? Nevermind… the question’s rhetorical.

    The “bird kills” one is rich though…

    Wind turbines kill around half a million (that’s a high estimate) birds per year. Sad, but small potatoes next to communication towers (5 million), vehicles (60 million) and the biggest killer of all – cats (low estimates are hundreds of millions per year).

    If you’re this worked up over wind turbines you must be positively psychotic about cats.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 26, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    @Thid Barker
    Victor, ID

    Maverick I would say we hold 'dirty industry' to a much higher standard than we hold wind or solar to. Where is the outrage about the 'dirty' batteries from wind and solar that requires dirty mining and dirty refining and dirty disposal when they are used?


    Your complete and utter ignorance about this technology is showing.

    Wind turbine do not use "'dirty' batteries".

    If you are going to comment, at least be somewhat informed.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 26, 2014 7:36 a.m.

    Maverick I would say we hold 'dirty industry' to a much higher standard than we hold wind or solar to. Where is the outrage about the 'dirty' batteries from wind and solar that requires dirty mining and dirty refining and dirty disposal when they are used? How about the dirty bird kills from wind? How about the dirty problem of where will we get all the electrical power to replace dirty fossil fuels? How about the dirty problem of cost increases from higher energy prices that will harm poor people the most? There is no "clean" energy!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 25, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    just a point of clarification.... you don't ship power anywhere. You put power on to the grid, and then pawer is drawn off from that grid. In the west, BPA manages the grid. Contracts are bought and sold based on what a power generator ships into the grid, and what consumers pull out.

    But there is no pipe sending Utah energy down a wire to California. They are buying and selling credits.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 3:34 p.m.

    We already have coal powered plants right in our own back yard (Huntington). Coal powered plants that ship their electricity off to California, Oregon and Washington!

    I think the huge one in Delta is owned by Rocky Mt Power.... but I'm not sure.

    We also have wind farms in Utah. Wind farms that ship 100% of their power off to California.

    IF we just had to worry about our own power needs (and not have to ship our power off to the un-self-sustainable metropolises on the coasts)... we would have cleaner air in Utah.

    At least the wind farms aren't polluting our air...

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 25, 2014 2:25 p.m.

    Amos...I, too, hope that someday a coal fired power plant is built 5 k's upwind of your home.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 1:51 p.m.

    You heard him...
    airnaut, LDS Liberal, LDS Treehugger, Open minded Mormon, etc, etc, judged you... and declared "Your premise is completely moot"... So you're done dude... totally mute by declaration of an authority on the subject... sorry.


    At least he acknowledged that you couldn't manufacture, much less operate wind turbines without oil and oil byproducts (for the manufacturing process, lubricants, transportation of components, assembly, etc, etc, etc...

    So at least one point you made was allowed to stand (by the self-declared authority on the subject).

    You got lucky.


    I still think we ALL want a good planet. We just have different ideas of what that is, and how to get there.

    Both are just as valid, just as noble, just as worthy..

    But some want to insist that EVERYBODY adopt THEIR ideas on Environmentalism... by force if needed. By the government force... if needed.

    And if you resist... it's OK to take you away by force and put you away.. maybe jail, in a concentration camp or something until you accept THEIR level of environmentalism... (derived that from the solution they came up with for the people who dared to protest the BLM)...

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 25, 2014 1:32 p.m.

    Pasedena, CA

    I've worked with graphite for over 30 years,
    graphite is made using pet coke, which an oil BY-product (waste), and it is also used in the Steel and Aluminum industries.

    NO ONE was ever said anything about the 100% elimination of oil or it's products.

    Why is a reduction such a bad thing?
    Why is looking at green, renewable sources a bad thing?
    What is you issue with progress - other than you hate progressives?

    But tell me Red,
    why should we burn oil and gas - in the broad Day-light or on Windy days?
    [Day time is when we used the most energy.]

    There fore -- Your premise is completely moot.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    Where did you come up with your brilliant assertion that oil and coal gets less scrutiny than wind??

    I think they get LOTS of scrutiny.

    Just look at how long they've been analyzing and re-analysing, and studying and re-studying the Keystone Pipeline proposal... After now many times the Obama administration has put off the decision and told them to go study it again and again... they just recently decided not to decide AGAIN... and told them they haven't researched it enough yet. And every study agrees it would be the safest pipeline we have ever built!

    How many years of study and scrutiny is that... and you think WIND gets too much scrutiny??

    How much government regulation is involved in oil exploration? Do you even know?

    How many government agencies have been created to monitor, regulate, inspect, and scrutinize coal mines?

    It's WAY more than wind, I can tell you that... and yet you whine that "if only big oil and coal were held to the same level of scrutiny that wind is"...

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    April 25, 2014 12:38 p.m.

    I don't think liberals have a good grasp of the engineering that goes on for the wind turbines. They are made out of carbon fiber composites. Carbon fiber composites are made out of oil. Making really big towers out of petrolium products can never eliminate our need for oil.

    To "Baron Scarpia" Utah doesn't have many wind turbines because we don't have enough wind to support many turbines. Plus, they mar the landscape more than an oil or gas well.

    To "The Real Maverick" if oil was held to the same scrutiny that wind power was we would probably cut the cost of gasoline in half. You see there are few regulations that are actually enforced regarding wind, plus they don't have to pay royalties for the wing they harvest.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2014 12:34 p.m.

    Real Maverick

    You kind of missed J Thompsons point. He was only referring to France as getting 75% of its power from nuclear. The rest of his numbers are worldwide stats, not just France. yes he could have been a little more clear in the way he posted it. However, his numbers do say something important about how we get energy. And if I read the main point correctly, it is that going wind power for a majority of our needs would likely be impossible. Wind is fine, but so is every other source. And has anyone in the windmill world taken into account the amount of metal that needs to be mined, by using oil burning machines and furnaces, to make the windmills in the first place? It's just like they are finding out that using corn to make gasoline makes more pollution due to production than the cleaner fuel saves. You see, we are a LONG way away from going totally off of liquid petroleum for much of our primary energy needs.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 25, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    Land under wind farms cannot be used for anything else?

    Okay, how about telling that to a few hundred or thousand farmers in Iowa who are happily receiving handsome checks for renting parcels of land for wind turbine platforms and then continuing to plant and harvest crops all around and under them?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 25, 2014 11:05 a.m.

    "- France gets 75% of its power from nuclear power plants.

    - Coal provides 40% of all electric power

    - Gas provides 21%

    - Hydro (water) provides 16%

    - Oil provides 5.5%

    - All other (wind, solar, geothermal) provides 2.8%"

    Your math seems a bit off there bud. Last I checked, if something is 75 percent then that means there's only 25 percent remaining. Perhaps you should redo your math or reformat your post in order to make more sense.

    Wouldn't it be nice if big oil and coal were held to the same level of scrutiny that wind is? I want to know all the answers to these questions right now about the dirty energy we use here in Utah today. Before we even consider letting Stericycle or Energy Solutions stay, I want to know all of these answers. Before we let the Holly refinery expand, I want to know all the negative impacts it will have. Finally, I want to know about our power plants. What negative impacts are they producing.

    Let's hold dirty industry to the same level of scrutiny that we hold wind to. Otherwise, wouldn't we just be acting hypocritically?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    IMO Wind-power is good. So is GeoThermal, and solar, and hydro, and nuclear.

    IMO we need them ALL. And we need a bridge to the new technology of the future that will get us gradually more and more away from power generated by burning stuff.

    But we need to be a little like monkeys. We don't let go of the branch we have until we have hold of the new branch. IF we just let go and HOPE something comes along that we can grab before we hit the ground... we're probably going to wish we had grabbed the new branch before we let go of the old one.


    We should continue energy sources we have currently... while we develop the new ones.

    We don't have to vilify people for using the old ones (we can't all afford the new technology even when it becomes available). It takes time... for the technology to mature, and to become affordable to the masses (not just the wealthy).

    Therefore... we don't need to vilify people for building a pipeline, or exploring for new pockets of the old energy sources, or driving a conventional car.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    April 25, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    According to the World Nuclear Association, "There are currently 435 operable civil nuclear power nuclear reactors around the world, with a further 71 under construction. (This under construction total includes recent changes including Tianwan 4, Yangjiang 5, Yangjiang 6, Shin-Hanul 2, Barakah 2, Ostrovets 1, V.C. Summer 2&3 and Vogtle 3)."

    - Eleven percent of all electricity, world wide, is generated by nuclear power plants.

    - France gets 75% of its power from nuclear power plants.

    - Coal provides 40% of all electric power

    - Gas provides 21%

    - Hydro (water) provides 16%

    - Oil provides 5.5%

    - All other (wind, solar, geothermal) provides 2.8%

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 25, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    @Thid Barker – “Environmentalist are just selective on what they are willing to ignore, that's all.”

    Good point…

    So let’s make a deal – from now on let’s make sure every energy project accounts for ALL the costs involved, not only production & operations, but the cost of all externalities including environmental damage, pollution mitigation, health effects, etc., etc., etc…


  • Wally West SLC, UT
    April 25, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    I'm all for alternative energy sources.

    We need to...

    1) Seriously consider Hydrogen & working on the infrastructure for it
    2) Then, bio-fuels synthesized from used vegetable oil. Tax credit for Mickey d's? ROFL!?

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    Here's an answer. Go nuke. Just don't build the plants directly on fault lines or in sunami prone areas. For all you anti-nuke types, just google nuclear power plants worldwide. I was amazed at how many are operating and have been operating for decades. Many have even been decommissioned now. I'll bet a lot of you think that nuclear power plants are only a handful around the country and world. There are lots of them. And they have been operating safely worldwide. France practically runs everything on them. And, our U.S. Navy has been successfully running them for decades now too. As for the waste. Well, dump the stuff into the bottom of the Marianas trench. Yeah, maybe someday Godzilla will swim out and threaten Tokyo and New York City, but we can always nuke him too.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 25, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    If wind power is so wonderful why can't the public know the real costs? All we ever hear is how "bad" fossil fuels are and never any truth about how bad the alternatives are! The truth: There is no such thing as "clean energy". They all have bad effects, all of them! Environmentalist are just selective on what they are willing to ignore, that's all.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    April 25, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    I'd like the letter writer to go to a military cemetery.
    Visit the families of those lost in Middle Eastern Wars for Oil.
    Visit the families of those killed in mining accidents.
    Spend so time at the Hospital dying from Utah's polluted air.
    and ask WHY oil corporations making $Billions in quarterly profits -- STILL get $Billions of dollars from the Federal PORK handouts...
    Then -- Let's talk about the high "costs" of wind...

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    April 25, 2014 8:00 a.m.

    Iowa gets 27 percent of its electricity from wind. Kansas? Almost 20 percent. Texas? About 10 percent. Renewable energy is booming in red agricultural states, but Utah seems to be lagging. Why?

    Our dominant utility monopolies in the state own coal-fired power plants and don't want to lose the profits of those assets as the nation shifts to cleaner, price stable energy.

    Here's the risk we have in Utah: Looming carbon taxes and "adders" related to clean up costs.

    Because our utility monopolies can pass those costs and risks of their current coal-fired power onto consumers, there's little incentive for them to be working in the best interest of rate payers to shield them from that risk of their burning coal and natural gas. Wind and solar will not face carbon taxes, so those conservative risk-averse states noted above will enjoy not only cleaner air and water, but lower costs going forward.

    How to force utility monopolies to move to lower risk, cleaner sources? Encourage our legislature to enact a Renewable Energy Standard and encourage the Public Service Commission to seek ways to push those monopolies to act in the interest of rate payers.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:49 a.m.

    Before we bury our heads in the sand about wind, why don't we ask these exact same questions about oil and coal?

    Oh yeah, because then the choice between dirty fuel and clean energy would be obvious.

    I'm afraid that the letter writer is pretending to act concerned over wind yet is actually just trying to bash wind and create paranoia to which big oil will continue to exploit.

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:30 a.m.

    We are all citizens of this planet.

    We should all be very determined to do everything possible to preserve quality of life on this planet.

    In Utah, the term "environmentalist" is used as a put-down; I just don't get it. We are blessed with some of the greatest geography on the planet, yet some seem to argue in favor of more pollution, more destruction, and turning Utah into a moonscape.

    For your children's future please become an "environmentalist".

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    It's too bad we keep hiding our heads in the fossil fuel sands but it's probably because we can't breath the air it produces, or drink the water it pollutes or maybe even pay for the subsidies we give it.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:19 a.m.

    Have you all ever seen a real wind farm? If not check out the one near Palm Springs, Ca. You talk about the environmentalists not liking land being used for oil production. These things make thousands of acres of land unusable, and unless you like the image of big propellers slowly turning in the wind, they are pretty unsightly too.

  • slcdenizen t-ville, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:18 a.m.

    The costs? Suddenly non-environmentalists are interested in true costs? That's rich. There's no need to continue the climate change debate past the issue of cost. Take the climate data and extrapolate the monetary damage to our land, air, and water and the case is closed. Shifting to renewables is pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of continuing to burn fossil fuels at expanding rates. Fossil fuels, by the way, have more than a century of technological innovation behind them. Perhaps a bit of virtuous patience for burgeoning technologies, please?

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:09 a.m.

    I've been looking for other ways to go off grid. There are a lot of fascinating things. From heat to magnets to self generating generators. I figured that wind or sun needs a battery. I'm looking for something that is easier to maintain. like water or magnets.

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    But trillion dollar wars to secure oil and billions in subsidies to oil companies are easy to ignore, right?

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 6:10 a.m.

    Great letter. Yes, alternate forms of energy should continue to be explored. But we must be totally honest about their true costs and benefits, rather than blindly pursuing a so-called “green” agenda. The truth behind some of these “green energy” projects is dismal and should spark concern.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 25, 2014 5:59 a.m.

    Did the report also mention the up to $4.5 billion that Duke Energy rate payers are going to be asked to pick up in increased rates to clean up the coal ash ponds - one of which broke free here in North Carolina recently? Did it happen to mention that?

    Of course there are other factors not included in the report. You site land usage. Ok… If a 20 unit wind turbine frame is put up in the middle of farm land, that land can still be used for agriculture. If a coal or natural gas plant goes into the same space, can that land still be used for other productive uses?

    Rhetorical question of course…. but the over simplified nature of the challenges shows the author has no intention of objectively looking at how to balance out the US energy portfolio. That somehow this is a zero sum game, and that we must choose one or the other, not a multifaceted portfolio approach.

    The honest answer is as the rest of the world industrializes, we are going to need to figure out technologies that allow for growth that don't come with a heavy environment burden. Its not if, but how.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 25, 2014 4:59 a.m.

    Amos - you are correct. I bet the report also left out the 3.5 to 4.5 billion environment clean up cost that Duke Energy is going to be passing to their North Carolina users to cover the cost of cleaning up their Coal Ash ponds... and that these cost are not included in average but cost in most reports.

    Funny how it works that way. What ever group that is promoting what ever technology leaves certain cost out.

    Listen, some of your arguments are just silly. For example the use of land. If you put up a farm of 20 turbines, you can still farm that land. If you put up a coal or natural gas power plant, that land is single purpose only. to say we should not do a particular type of energy because if too has an environment cost to it is also a false argument.. since all energy production has a cost. Lastly, the argument that it doesn't produce energy when the wind doesn't blow is a bit of an obvious statement, but no one is recommending a single source strategy, but rather a portfolio approach.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 12:24 a.m.

    Before you go negative on the power coming from the wind farms, have you toured them? Been to Milford and their Solar Days? Been and seen the geothermal plant Rocky Mountain has in the area that produces power day or night, wind or not?

    Granted, we have removed too many hydro power plants in the US over the recent years, and we are not using all the natural gas plants we can.

    The wind farms are impressive. You don't see stacks of birds or bats at the base of the units by Milford. There are wind droughts, which is why we need solar, geothermal, natural gas, and yes coal for now. I am not opposed to nuclear in the future.

    We should not plan on importing any energy from overseas, and to do that, yes, we need wind, along with the others.