REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Not if, but when, for wind

Two items of interest came out at last week's wind power presentation by Green Energy Ohio and other organizations at BGSU Firelands
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Two items of interest came out at last week's wind power presentation by Green Energy Ohio and other organizations at BGSU Firelands.

The first item was the flat public statement that wind power alone won't supply our electric needs.

Instead, the program's presenters pushed a mixed bag of power sources -- wind, solar, clean coal and even nuclear -- to keep our light bulbs lit. The idea is one we've supported before in this space: Explore everything and develop what can be made to work so we're never again dependent on any one source of power.

An interesting sidelight to that first item: Wind power is more expensive than coal power -- for now. But the cost for kilowatt coming from the windmills has been dropping, and the old coal plants will soon need replacement -- for a price. So look for the cost-benefit analysis to shift in wind's direction in the near future.

The second item of interest: The presentation included a variety of perspectives. The Audubon Society, for example, is helping to figure out where to put windmills so they don't kill too many birds and bats. The Farm Bureau is involved in talking with landowners about erecting windmills. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo and this area's congressional representative, chimed in with her desire to involve NASA Plum Brook (where Ohio's first experimental wind turbine was installed, decades ago) in wind power research and development. A question from the audience dealt with home-sized power units based on designs more compact than the giant propeller-style units most people now associated with wind power.

A great number and variety of interests are talking -- not about whether wind power can work, but how to make it work.

The talk about wind power has moved from the abstract to the concrete, especially when we're talking about easement rights and payments to property owners, the same way utilities now pay farmers for rights to put up a transmission-line tower.

Taken together, it's easy to say the main question about wind power is not so much if, but when.

YOUR 2 CENTS

-- North Coast Wind and Power will be at tonight's (March 27) meeting of the Erie Regional Planning Commission, 7:30 p.m. at the Erie County Office Building, Columbus Avenue and Washington Row, downtown Sandusky. Reservations are required; call Cynthia Millis-Walker at 419-627-7792

-- A second alternative-power presentation at BGSU Firelands will be 6:30 p.m. April 1 in the Cedar Point Center on the Huron Township campus. David Konkle, energy coordinator for Ann Arbor, Mich., will present. It's open to the public and no reservations are required.