Tuesday, April 20, 2010

San Diego Gets Serious About Wind Power



Right now wind power in San Diego County is going through growing pains. But that is to be expected when a new technology is introduced to a change-resistant public.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the latest negative publicity involves a wind-farm worker who remains hospitalized after he and a colleague were injured from the heat of a giant spark called an "arc flash" while working in the nacelle, or hub of a turbine on the Campo Indian Reservation in East County.

The Kumeyaay Wind farm is operated by Bluarc Management Group.

This is the latest setback to the project, which started in 2005 and produces 50 megawatts, enough power for 32,500 homes. Last December a winter storm damaged the blades of the turbines with 70-mph winds.

Similar to the early days of oil drilling and coal mining even to this day (the recent tragedy in West Virginia comes to mind), the construction and operation of wind farms will take time to perfect.

But is that a reason to give up on wind? No way. Those who would argue against wind power usually cite the visual blight. This excuse just doesn't hold water. Wind farms are generally located in rural areas off freeways, in places that aren't exactly the most scenic parts of America.

And in my humble opinion, when I see giant wind turbines spinning fast and generating clean, renewable energy as I drive the freeways of California, I see hope for a better future. I actually think wind turbines enhance the scenery.

But sometimes "environmentalists" can be their own worst enemy. It is shortsighted to try to block wind farms or solar farms or geothermal plants and pipelines because of the environmental impact. What about the bigger environmental impact of our continued over-reliance on dirty oil and coal?

The latest battleground between preservationists and renewable energy advocates is federal land near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where a 100-tower farm is being planned by Spanish conglomerate Iberdrola.

The project is called Tule Wind and would produce about 200 megawatts on a windy day.

So instead of creating jobs here in the USA and creating revenue and dignity for Indian Reservations other than attracting visitors to Casino Resorts, some of these companies are looking to place their wind farms across the border in Mexico. That would be a real shame.

It will be a great day when there are more wind turbines than billboards along our nation's freeways.

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