from an expert in the field:
Denise Bode is chief executive officer at the American Wind
Energy Association (
SEPTEMBER DEBATE RESULTS:
Is legislation the right way
to deal with cyberbullies?
We already are using a significant amount of wind energy. last
year, wind energy was responsible for 42 percent of all new electricity
generation in the United States. But the potential is limitless. the
United States is the Saudi arabia of wind—we have some of the best
resources in the world. according to a recent study, the United States
has more than enough wind to generate all of our electricity need.
We need not go that far. if we take the steps necessary to harness
more of it—say, 20 percent of our electricity needs—we can accomplish several important
national objectives. For example, using wind instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity
will help reduce global warming. at the same time, we can reduce our dependence on for-
eign oil because using more wind will free up natural gas, which can replace foreign oil, in
Using wind energy also helps protect consumers from rising fossil fuel prices—wind
uses zero fuel, so its costs are fixed once the turbine is in the ground. and since wind uses
no water, we can help conserve water in the arid West.
these days, the best news of all is that wind energy creates jobs. each wind turbine
consists of about 8,000 components. Manufacturing those parts here is a huge boost to our
industrial economy: Wind energy created 35,000 new jobs last year alone. the 5,000 tur-
bines that went in the ground in the U.S. last year required 1 million tons of steel.
Wind technology is ready now, and its cost is similar to that of other energy sources. to
take full advantage of our wind resources, however, we need to make some changes in the
way we do business.
We need to make a strong national commitment to wind by directing utilities to meet
aggressive targets for renewable energy—the so-called renewable electricity Standard. We
also need to streamline the approval process for new transmission so that we can build new
lines to carry electricity from the wind farms that generate it to the cities where it is used.
if we do these things, we will be on our way to greater energy security, economic prosperity and a clean-energy future. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by September 9, 2009.
AUGUST DEBATE RESULTS:
Should mail delivery be cut
to five days a week?
YES: 46% NO: 54%
Percentage reflects votes received by
August 31, 2009. Results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
from an expert in the field:
Lisa Linowes is executive director of the Industrial Wind
Action Group (
the United StateS is under tremendous political pressure to
develop its alternative-energy resources. conceptual plans are in place
that will transform the midsection of the United States into a massive
wind facility with thousands of miles of new transmission needed to
deliver the power to population centers. Few americans understand the
scale of this development or whether the benefits justify the costs.
Wind farms are often portrayed as one or two gentle giants spinning slowly in the distance
with animals grazing nearby. But make no mistake. Wind farms are sprawling industrial com-plexes occupying square miles of land. areas of the country once known for their endless open
landscapes are now visually torn up by “windmills” as far as the eye can see. these towers are
neither gentle nor benign. an operating wind plant places bats and migratory birds at high risk
while permanently industrializing sensitive habitat areas and driving wildlife away. For those living in the shadows of the towers, turbine noise is severe. reports of pulsating thuds, both heard
and felt, suggest families in proximity to the towers are experiencing high levels of stress and
potentially degraded health.
it’s easy to assume the impacts of these “farms” are minor when compared to the benefits of
greening our grid, but the fact is, we have little idea what the real impacts are, both local and
cumulative, on individuals, their communities or our natural resources.
Since wind turbines are reliant on an unpredictable fuel source, turbines cannot serve as a
primary energy supply. More often than not, wind is unavailable when needed or, when available, behaves erratically. When winds diminish suddenly, an alternative, likely fossil fuel, is
needed to ensure constant service. this backup generation is expensive and redundant.
according to the department of energy, wind power cannot replace the need for many reliable
resources. Put another way, no amount of wind power will negate the need to build more reliable generation, nor will it result in the decommissioning of an existing plant.
Unfortunately, energy policy has become more about erecting turbines than about meeting
our energy needs. in this renewables fever, it’s imperative that americans remove the rose-colored glasses, stop with the wishful thinking and demand the truth about wind’s benefits and
costs before too much is blindly sacrificed. C
OCTOBER 2009 The Costco Connection 17
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and The Costco Connection take
no position on any Debate topic.