Long as I don’t see it on a ridge top

Dave Erb's recent commentary ["Wind Power or Hot Air?" May 26] suggests that industrial windmills on privately owned ridge tops in our mountains would abuse the public "commons" for private profit, akin to mountaintop-removal coal mining. Negative impacts from wind farms would mainly be limited to visual, but let's not quibble. It's an impact. Mr. Erb doesn't want to see big windmills.

His past writings suggest that he doesn't mind seeing solar panels. I don't either but, on a per-acre basis, ridge-line wind turbines can more than triple the power output of photovoltaic arrays such as the one FLS Energy operates at the old Haywood County landfill.

Mr. Erb protests corporate abuses in coal country. Good for him. However, coal and nuclear plants generate the lion's share of electricity in the Southeast. Let's conserve. Let's maximize efficiency. But at the end of the day, any switch not powered by a sustainable source, such as solar or wind, amounts to money in the pocket of the status quo. Unless he actually proposes to make up the difference with solar, Mr. Erb's rejection of large-scale wind power is a tacit agreement to burn more fossil fuels and/or uranium.

He can't see the greenhouse gases polluting our commons. He may not have seen the N.C. Division of Public Health advisory that coal-related mercury contamination of largemouth bass statewide makes their consumption unsafe for children and women of child-bearing age.

Nor, possibly, are his eyes assaulted by the more than 60,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel sitting around the United States or the tens of thousands of additional tons that nuclear proponents want to saddle the Earth's commons with for tens of thousands of years.

Forget NIMBY. Mr. Erb seems willing to tolerate problems in his back yard. This is more like LAIDSI: Long As I Don't See It on a ridge top.

— Michael Hopping


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3 thoughts on “Long as I don’t see it on a ridge top

  1. nuvue

    Good points, How about cell towers on ridges? Nobody seems to worry about those. I don’t like the tower on Mt. Pisgah, would think it would be enhanced by a wind turbine on top.
    We all have made many sacrifices for our lifestyles, I agree that some ridges need protecting and prudence will have to be employed. Nobody wants energy producers of any type in the backyard. But take away our frides and laptops and windmills will spring up everywhere.
    4 windmills on Bull Mtn? or another Deepwater Horizon?
    I’ll take the windmills in my view.

  2. Piffy!

    I’m confused by these comparisons between technologies like Wind and Coal or Wind and Nuclear. Sure, we need to move away from Coal and Nuclear. I agree completely. But windmills arent replacing either of those as far as major power sources ANY time in the forseable future.

    Can we talk about realistic power options instead of ideological, reactionary, all-or-nothing scenarios?

    Personally, I think we need to have more small-scale, regionally-controlled power sources and energy providers. That way, no matter what source we are using, the impact is on the community using the power.

  3. Kudos Michael, good letter. As for cell towers, good communication saves people driving and thereby helps the environment a great deal

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