You may have heard about it, even though it seems crazy. It involves windmills, those very tall poles with blades that sometimes work. What we are talking about is a project to build windmills off the coast of Humboldt County, about 30 miles into the ocean. The hope is that these giant windmills will be a welcome addition to America's renewable energy.
While I lean against this project, I am not arguing in favor or in opposition to this project. My only aim today is to ask some questions that we are all thinking, and to urge some caution.
My first thought was how would these windmills impact the fishing industry. For me there can be no compromise if the windmills will hurt our ability to fish. When you look at fishing we are talking about sustainable food, provided by thousands of workers, in an industry as old as whenever the first human beings set foot in this beautiful area.
It is hard to imagine that the disruption of birds that die as a result of the turbines will not somehow affect the ecosystem of the fish below.
Where do we look for answers?
An article studying fishing around the Block Island Fish Farm of Rhode Island argues that fisherman like the windmills, because the fish tend to gather around the base of the giant machines. These pro-windmill fisherman believe the mills act as an artificial barrier reef. (1)
Of course, we cannot assume that the fish in the Atlantic that cozy up next to their windmills and make it easy for fisherman are going to act like the same fish in the Pacific, and in our bigger ocean with all its incredibly complex animal migration routes, do we want to encourage that?
My second question. What if the wind doesn't blow, and the turbines don't spin. How can these windmills possibly be more efficient than other energy sources?
The answer is, it's not as efficient.
The wind doesn't always blow, and to gloss over this simple fact, environmentalists forget to mention the $23 per megawatt-hour federal Production Tax Credit for wind power and state mandates requiring the use of renewable energy (2)
Sorry, just because the government subsidizes something or requires you to do it one way over another, doesn't make it more efficient.
More questions. These windmills will need constant maintenance. Simply search for two words, "broken windmills" on YouTube and you will see what happens to them.
In efforts to fix them, it will require work crews that will use a combination of helicopters and boats. Until Mr Musk equips us all with electric choppers and boats, don't pretend that these windmills will not ultimately burn a lot of fossil fuels for their upkeep.
With so many other economic problems around the corner as a result of our out of control inflation, and our new executive Branchs' war on oil and coal, we must make sure that we make good choices when it comes to energy production.
IF I were to make a list of the best methods for prying energy from our environment, I would place windmills very low on the list. As we hear more about the off shore windmill, I hope you will consider my questions and thoughts on this.