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Opinion - Opinion
 
Brewer at the Legislature: Wind energy is testament to greedTell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by Nebraska Unicameral
Sen. Tom Brewer

I went to a meeting about Wind Energy in Mitchell, S.D. this week. There, I met representatives from more than a dozen South Dakota counties, a member of the South Dakota legislature, county commissioners and nearly that many people from Nebraska.

While I sat and listened to the many horror stories of citizens being forced to live with wind turbines near their home, it reminded me of how important our struggle against the wind energy scam really is.

I wonder how many land-owners willing to sign the 50-year easement to build one of these 550-foot towers planned for sites in Nebraska are actually willing to live near one?

I wonder how many wind energy company executives are willing to live near one? The Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln is only 400-feet-tall, by comparison.

The collusion between wind energy and government disgusts me. If the Federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy didn’t exist, you would not see another industrial wind energy turbine built. As Warren Buffet said,

“….on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."

He is absolutely right. Wind is an incredibly inefficient way to make electricity. Something that only makes electricity 30-40% of the time is why the industry will never stand on its own, without being propped up by tax dollars. These dollars are taken by the federal government in taxation from all of us and then transferred to a few lucky people who own wind energy companies.

Land owners are paid for their easement by the wind energy company with these dollars, many of whom live nowhere near the wind farm on their land. All of this is done because some wrong-headed mastermind in Washington D.C. decided wind energy was “green.”

I’m all for “green” or “alternative” sources of energy, but wind energy is neither of these.

An industrial wind turbine will never produce enough electricity in its entire lifetime to offset the so-called “carbon footprint” that is needed to manufacture, install and maintain it.

Aside from tax dollars, wind is also utterly dependent on “conventional” power plants (coal, gas, etc) because when the wind doesn’t blow, the wind farm still “owes” the power grid the rated generation capacity.

Roughly 800 megawatts are produced by about 475 industrial wind turbines currently in Nebraska. Those 800 megawatts have to be delivered to the power grid every single day, whether the wind blows or not.

Additional capacity has to be built into near-by conventional power plants to pick up the slack from the wind farm when it’s not making power. Additional generation capacity isn’t free, and its cost is reflected in the electric bill consumers have to pay. When you look at the “all-in” cost of electricity production, making these 800 megawatts all from coal in the first place would be “greener” and much cheaper than using wind.    

People argue that wind energy is a “private property rights” issue. I hear it all the time -- who are you to tell me what I can or can’t do on my land? I understand this, but my question is -- who pays the neighbors who had no say in the siting of these things?

Who pays for their loss of property value? Who pays for the constant torment brought on by the incredible noise these turbines make? The 24/7 vibration constantly shaking their house? The flicker coming from the shadow of the blades causing migraines and nausea?

Can you imagine a constant 55-decibel noise (like a window air conditioner) invading your home and there was nothing you could do to stop it?

That was reported by a person whose house is 1.3 miles from a wind turbine. Imagine what it’s like for the person who is only 1,000 feet from one of these things.

One thousand feet is the setback the wind energy companies fight for from county planning and zoning boards. Who fights for the property rights of people affected by these things?

We will meet with executives from NPPD concerning the R (transmission) Line again next week. I’m sure we’ll hear the R Line has value in balancing electrical loads and relieving “congestion” on Nebraska’s power grid.

As I have stated before, I believe the chief purpose behind the current routing of the line is to service future wind energy projects in the Sandhills. I hope to convince them to change the routing and avoid the most environmentally fragile area of our state, but I am not very optimistic.

The way Nebraska state laws are set up right now, the only citizen recourse to an NPPD board decision is litigation in the courts. Nebraska doesn’t have a “Public Utility Commission” like many other states do.

There is no entity of Nebraska state government to which a citizen can appeal an NPPD board decision.

Whether they keep making electricity or not, these gigantic steel and concrete structures will be there for generations, monuments to the greed of a few in a short-sighted land rush to hurry up and get them built and collect their profits off the backs of taxpayers before Uncle Sam wises up and shuts off this gravy train.

This is despicable public policy. It hurts people. It hurts Nebraska, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop it.

 

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at tbrewer@leg.ne.gov or call us at (402) 471-2628.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/22/2017
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