Toledo Talk

Miles upon miles of...wind farms (photos & thoughts)

Driving from Indapolis to Chicago my friend and I drove through something very cool and interesting: miles upon miles of wind farming. We drove rather close to many. I took photos of the wind farm as we passed through it. During our drive through I made a few observations I wanted to share, seeing as wind farms are a local "hot topic".

A few points I'd like to make:
*Driving through the wind farm in our little soft top Jeep Wrangler crazy buffeting wind. We drove right through the middle of the wind farm and even our little car was perfectly fine and undisturbed. There were no "freak" winds generated by the turbines. You can see by photos we even drove close to many of the turbines. Yes, the wind farm was running and the turbines spinning.
*The wind farms were surrounded by farms. There were crops and animals all seemingly perfectly happy and healthy.
*No crazy insane deafening sound. If sound is so bad with these..why were we able to pass through miles of countless turbines without being phased by sound? We were close to many, all but driving under their shadow. I understand that while driving you dont hear as much...but if the sound on these things is so bad that "it disrupts life and kills animals"....why didn't we hear a thing from the possible hundreds of the wind turbines we passed? If 1 is loud enough to cause animals to die from the sound then surely hundreds of close range turbines should have been very loud according to all the reports 'nay saying' wind farming. All in all sound was not even a factor. Heck, the traffic was far louder.
*Indiana certainly now seems more progressive then Ohio with Green Energy.

Just a few photos...the wind farm stretched for miles.

created by OhioKimono on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:21:30 pm
updated by OhioKimono on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:25:20 pm
    Outdoors     Comments: 39

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Pretty neat looking aren't they?

posted by tm2 on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:34:18 pm     #  

Before we all jump on the windmill bandwagon, let's check some things.
First, what is the cost of building and maintaining a windmill over a set number of years vs cost of electricity from a standard plant.
Second, I just read in national geographic about how windmills are causing the deaths of bird and bats due to them running into the blades.

While not a "tree hugger", I do believe the U.S. should move towards other power sources, but not just because it looks appealing and/or there is some hidden motivation behind it.

posted by hockeyfan on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:47:09 pm     #   1 person liked this

like Ethanol?

posted by billy on Jul 21, 2011 at 03:54:16 pm     #  

Hokey - while the fans certain pose a problem to flying animals...the environmental impact of fans verses coal, oil, and nuclear power is far less. I'll take the few deaths caused by animals flying into a wind turbine over the mass pollution that effects all life (oil, coal, nuclear).

either way, I posted this because my first hand observations were very contrary to the experience people are chanting "against" wind power.

posted by OhioKimono on Jul 21, 2011 at 04:06:24 pm     #

Res ipsa loquitur.

posted by holland on Jul 21, 2011 at 05:12:45 pm     #  

A couple of years ago, we drove to Denver, CO, passing miles of wind farms in Iowa. My husband pulled off the road and up to a wind turbine, just so we could hear how noisy it was.

Nothing but a gentle swish-swish, far quieter than the fan I have in my bedroom window!

posted by Anniecski on Jul 21, 2011 at 05:16:55 pm     #  

There is a great quote released by the Audubon Society a few years ago saying something along the lines of, "Windmills don't kill near as many birds as feral cats."

I can't find it, but I did find this:

Audubon's Position on Wind Power:
Summary: Audubon strongly supports properly-sited wind power as a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming. Wind power facilities should be planned, sited and operated to minimize negative impacts on bird and wildlife populations.

posted by SavageFred on Jul 21, 2011 at 06:14:49 pm     #  

From the Audubon link: If the United States obtains 20 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2020, it will reduce global warming emissions equivalent to taking 71 million cars off the road or planting 104 million acres of trees.

One square mile being 640 acres, we're talking 162,500 square miles. Ohio is 40,986 square miles, so we're talking about an area about four times the size of Ohio. I find trees prettier to look at than buildings, and so the idea of planting 104 million acres of trees appeals to me.

The thing about wind turbines is that they are an eyesore. A wind turbine is uglier than the back end of a Juarez city bus. Added to the eyesore is the certain fact that the people living next to the wind turbines will not experience a drastic reduction in their electric rates in spite of all that cheap power being generated. Instead, the electric company sees an increase in their profit. Unless, of course, that there is not cheap power and the whole thing is a scam.

The Kennedy clan, headed up by Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 August 25, 2009), prevented wind turbines from being built in Massachusetts, where Himself would have to look at them every morning and evening when he took his martinis on the back porch. Since the untimely demise of their leader, the push to construct a wind farm in Nantucket has seen some success, but now there may be another snag: cost. Check the link to this article in the MV Times - At Large : Turbines to the north, turbines to the south a bad bargain From the article: "Someone," Mr. Kennedy argues, "needs to tell the politicians in Boston and Washington that Cape Wind, the long-stalled plan to cover 25 square miles of pristine Nantucket Sound with 130 massive steel windmill-turbine towers, is a rip-off. That someone is most likely to be the newly enlightened electricity ratepayers and voters of Massachusetts."

This has the ring of truth to it. My thought is that if incredibly cheap electric power could be produced from a wind farm constructed somewhere inside the Toledo area, construction would have been underway five years ago. The NIMBY crowd would have been officially ignored and unofficially harassed by police. Land would have been confiscated by abuse of eminent domain, and we'd have lower electric rates. But that isn't what happened.

Instead, we got the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station which was constructed with promises of all kinds of low cost nuclear energy. This monster took eight years to build and has been a money pit ever since it went on line in 1978. Where's all that cheap electricity we were supposed to get? It never existed. They lied.

They lied then, and they are going to keep on lying. This time it's about wind farms.

posted by madjack on Jul 21, 2011 at 07:55:41 pm     #   1 person liked this

Wind turbines are less ugly then a coal / oil / nuclear power plant. Just saying.

Cost is a different matter...

posted by OhioKimono on Jul 21, 2011 at 08:16:13 pm     #  

The thing about wind turbines is that they are an eyesore.

that is a very subjective statement.
i think they are beautiful

posted by upso on Jul 21, 2011 at 08:29:45 pm     #   4 people liked this

I'm not against them, nor any form of energy as long as I'm properly and fully informed.
I would personally love to have a windmill right in my own backyard if it would help lower my electric bill, but what does it cost to build/maintain, and how long does it last?

Like the solar panels, which have a definate lifespan and still need to have a converter to conver the DC power to AC, and then of course the batteries so you can use the power in the dark.

I'm still wondering how much a windmill costs to build? What is an expected lifetime for a typical windmill? Are there operating costs involved? What is the approximate power output and are there any hidden costs like a converter, etc.?

Once the true facts are in front of us, we can all make educated decisions.

posted by hockeyfan on Jul 22, 2011 at 12:00:04 am     #  

Maglev Wind Turbine - Video

posted by CharlesBronson on Jul 22, 2011 at 12:42:52 am     #  

Don't forget about the spinning blimp wind turbine.

And the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine

posted by jr on Jul 22, 2011 at 01:11:50 am     #  

Wind Energy is a step in the right direction, but they don't provide enough power/economic impact for their worth. Just like the solar panels on the fancy new bridge that will take longer to see the economic recoverey than the bridge will stand.

Lets get this thing right before we start polluting our landscapes with inferior technology. Why not are all of you "wind lovers" not driving Leafs or Smart Cars... because they are inferior technology. You want to make sure they "get it right" with electric cars before you sink your money into it. I'm afraid we are going to make the next big "jump" in energy, and then we will have a maze of abandoned wind towers littering once great scenery. It's not like these are Walkmans we can throw away when the New iPod comes out.

Most "Green" people I meet did really well with Earth Science, not so much with accounting or civic planning.

posted by dbw8906 on Jul 22, 2011 at 06:08:54 am     #  

you should see the I-80 west (from where I-76 splits off and goes to denver) going to cheyenne - that has the largest and frankly most majestic wind farms. you see them twenty miles out and you can't believe how long it takes to get to them and there are hundreds of them.

bird kill is a small problem, especially in terms of habitat loss and pollution killing off many times more birds and animals.

mechanical noise can be a problem over the life-cycle and vibration humm will need to be solved on a case by case basis - each installation will have unique difficult to ascertain attributes that will lead to humm.

it is funny, going through coal country in pennsylvania, you see the bill boards that read something like "the sun stops shining, the wind stops blowing, but coal is always there". the thing is, we are developing a wide enough network of turbines that what the coal industry claims about loss of generating power is wrong.

the wind my fade for a while at a specific location based on a high pressure dome but that certainly means there are tightly packed isobars at other locations on the wind turbine grid that are compensating for that loss - same as any power plant going down for say maintenance.

posted by enjoyeverysandwich on Jul 22, 2011 at 09:36:53 am     #  

The other day I stopped by the wind turbine off Buck road behind the Electrical Workers union hall. Standing under the thing I could not hear any noise at all and it was spinning pretty fast. I too think they are neat to watch and would have no problem seeing them from my home. They make more economic sense around here than solar, which could never survive without grants and tax breaks.

posted by OldTimer on Jul 22, 2011 at 12:21:31 pm     #  

Since people are arguing over cost, I'd like to see a comparison done based on what a typical power plant puts out in a year. From there, have columns broken down into wind, coal, and nuclear. Have each column contain everything that would go into the equation in order for that category to hit the output goal. Total cost of construction, cost of repairs, cost of labor, etc.

I think a lot of people are making an unfair argument when they talk about the cost of building the wind farms. How much does it cost to build a nuclear power plant? I have no idea about the numbers for either, but I'd imagine you could probably build into the hundreds of wind turbines for the cost of building one power plant. Then you get into the cost of maintaining them, and the cost of running them. Power plants employ a lot of people to keep them running on a daily basis. Other than a truck parked next to a wind turbine, I've never see anyone running one, so I'd imagine that would be a big cost savings as well.

I'm not saying the wind farm would cost less to put out equal amounts of power over a year's time, but I think people are leaving some pretty important factors out.

posted by Johio83 on Jul 22, 2011 at 03:18:11 pm     #  

Anyone who says, "windmills are an eyesore" is lying.

They're beautiful. They look like flowers gently dancing in the breeze. Find me someone who idea of beauty truly is this. I mean come on here, make up a better gripe.

posted by hank on Jul 22, 2011 at 03:34:54 pm     #   1 person liked this

^ totally agreeing with hank here, that photo is perfect

posted by OhioKimono on Jul 22, 2011 at 05:19:43 pm     #  

I love the idea of wind power, but let's be honest these are a niche power source. There are places where they work well, but Ohio should focus on building nuclear power plants instead.

Of course, I'm in favor of the "all of the above" approach.

posted by BusterBluth on Jul 23, 2011 at 03:48:54 am     #  

The government is the only one who can afford the WM. But like many technologies, government creates demand, which lower prices, which create more demand and so on.

The government never got it's RIO on the first computers it bought back in the 50's. But 60 years later we all have $400 laptops and millions of jobs have been created.

posted by SensorG on Jul 23, 2011 at 09:10:26 am     #  

But 60 years later we all have $400 laptops...

Which was going to happen with the government or without it.

Those of you who like looking at windmills can move to an Illinois wind farm. Me, I think they're ugly as sin and do not want a wind farm in my back yard.

posted by madjack on Jul 23, 2011 at 05:02:50 pm     #  

No Madjack, you don't think they are ugly. You don't mind them at all. Where are all of your threads complaining about cellphone towers and radio antennas? There aren't any because they don't bother you. You see them everyday and they don't bother you. You are suspicious of green energy so you have made up a pretend issue to direct your emotions.

posted by hank on Jul 23, 2011 at 07:16:05 pm     #   1 person liked this

Here you go MJ. Required reading for everyone.!/entry/how-the-militarys-shift-to-renewable-fuel-could-lower-the,207054

posted by SensorG on Jul 23, 2011 at 08:33:36 pm     #  

SensorG, The link doesnt work and I'm very keen to read it.

posted by holland on Jul 23, 2011 at 09:40:01 pm     #  

Holland, give this link a try...

posted by prairieson on Jul 23, 2011 at 10:08:16 pm     #  

I think they are very interesting to look at as well. Almost hypnotic and calming. From a distance anyway, never been up close and personal. As far as birds runing into them; cant that be said for most things in the air? Or even ground level for that matter. How many die each day doing a kamikazi(sp) into a window?

posted by Ryan on Jul 23, 2011 at 10:10:12 pm     #  

Good Reading - Thank You

As to the bird slamming into a window, that's an isolated incident. I wonder about the spring and fall migration. Ohio is an extremely important part of the Mississippi Flyway.
What say you jr?

posted by holland on Jul 23, 2011 at 11:16:26 pm     #  

just an example, add that to the ones that fly in front of cars, get eaten, starve, fly into planes engines, get zapped, whatever. point is i hardly think these turbines are a huge concern for their existence.

posted by Ryan on Jul 23, 2011 at 11:24:42 pm     #  

I did some searching and found this table and some interesting reading about the difference in cost by type of power source. Table #2 is the easiest to compare. You can see why coal is so popular. The cost is the lowest. I did not search for wildlife lost due to each source.

here's the link

posted by hockeyfan on Jul 24, 2011 at 02:44:35 am     #  

Read Table 2 again; coal is not the lowest in terms of cost, as hydro and several natural gas methods are less expensive than coal. Wind is very close to coal in cost per megawatt hour:

energy costs

Also, note that the attractive coal option is the conventional coal fired power plant, which has fallen out of favor over the past few decades due to environmental concerns. Part of the reason it seems less expensive is that demand for coal is comparatively lower. If we were to suddenly shift a significant amount of energy generation to coal, the cost per megawatt hour would rise due to the associated rise in the price of coal.

You can see that coal once supplied the vast majority of U.S. energy needs, but demand leveled off and has actually fallen in the last few decades as a percentage of total energy demand:

That being said, the debate over energy is now so politicized that it is difficult to find unbiased sources (note that I used the pro-coal Institute for Energy Research in the second graph).

posted by historymike on Jul 24, 2011 at 07:13:41 am     #  

HistoryMike: Your argument about demand is valid. Another example of this is OPEC as well as the commodities board.

If I'm reading the chart correctly, it seems that wind farms didn't make the top five:

1. Natural Gas-fired: Advanced Combined Cycle
2. Natural Gas-fired: Conventional Combined Cycle
3. Hydro
4. Natural Gas-fired: Advanced CC with CCS
5. Conventional Coal
6. Wind

The part that really surprised me was the difference in cost between wind and wind offshore, which is what the lime green Moonbats want to build in Nantucket Sound. I may have mentioned that Kennedy was against that particular development in spite of the rather attractive high cost (that's a shot at Moonbats).

I'd like to point out that this chart was released in December of 2010 during The Anointed One's first term. So, for any of you who'd like to attack the veracity of the figures, consider that you'll be criticizing one of your own.

posted by madjack on Jul 24, 2011 at 09:09:21 am     #  

Very good information Mike.

The side effects of coal is the polution in the air, and I believe the ash that is left over.

I agree 100% that it has become so political that finding accurate, unbiased info is hard. Even that info I referred to in the link is speculated.

We haven't even begun to learn all the effects on wildlife and/or nature. Like I've posted before, I know that nuclear power plants dilute their "waste" water and just dump it. Making a connection from that to environmental change is very, very hard.
Makes candles and firewood sound good sometimes.

posted by hockeyfan on Jul 24, 2011 at 12:28:25 pm     #  

historically speaking..candles and firewood in dense populations was as bad as any coal burning power plant. London during the Victorian and industrial revolution was known to snow carbon ash from the pollution caused by factories and personal use alike.

Burn candles at home? Notice all the sooty dust you clean when dusting? Nuff said.

posted by OhioKimono on Jul 24, 2011 at 08:09:33 pm     #  

Okay, if candles are out of the picture, what about kerosene lanterns? Besides, I've never noticed any soot, dusting or not.

One thing I have noticed and spent time studying is that people who live aboard a boat, generally a sailboat, charge their batteries with a combination of solar, a wind turbine and the boat's diesel engine or generator. Even around the equator solar and wind by themselves won't keep up with the demand.

posted by madjack on Jul 26, 2011 at 08:38:51 am     #  

Good point, madjack. I'd like to get some solar panels on top of the garage to diversify my own power supply. It would be great to have a combination of geothermal to help heat the house, solar panels to generate extra juice on air conditioning days, and the usual furnace/electrical to be used when necessary.

I think anything we can do to reduce the draw on the old traditional power generation systems would be an improvement.

Although I may be paranoid, I can't help but notice that the big power users are installing solar panels whenever they renovate or build new. If they reduce their use of electricity, won't the utility companies just raise rates on the small-time home customer to cover their expenses? I would like to be in a position where if they raise our rates significantly, I can just drop my usage a bit to compensate.

BTW, the extra attic and wall insulation we had installed via Columbia Gas's rebate program last winter has carved 60% off of our electric bill for the summer so far. Sixty per cent reduction in electricity use because we had wall and attic insulation done (plus caulking and general air sealing). Feeling pretty mellow about power right now! ;-)

posted by viola on Jul 26, 2011 at 04:01:26 pm     #  

The biggest problem with solar panels is that they aren't cost effective yet. The reason you see companies install them and promote them is because there is government subsidies to use them.
To justify solar panels, you have the initial cost, the converter to convert the DC generated power to usable AC, and then batteries if you want to store and use the energy later. Also, you don't get power if it gets too cloudy.

posted by hockeyfan on Jul 26, 2011 at 05:05:28 pm     #  

I believe I saw today on CNN that the cost of solar panels has fallen 15% in the last year.

posted by SensorG on Jul 26, 2011 at 05:09:48 pm     #  

I'm installing insulation in our attic this year. Im doing my own using blow in that is made from recycled newspaper - good up to an R30 rating and fire resistant. Even if I dont get a rebate its still totally worth it.

posted by OhioKimono on Jul 26, 2011 at 05:14:13 pm     #