The cancelation of a wind farm project in Barry County highlights the tradeoffs involved in green energy.
The power producer Invenergy canceled plans for a wind farm after the city of Monett expressed concerns over the turbines’ effects on its regional airport.
But what do wind turbines have to do with airplanes? Wind turbines can create turbulence several miles away from their site, generating hazards for general aviation airplanes and airports. Additionally, the turbulence created from wind turbines can pose problems for radar scanning and airplane communication systems, while the sheer height of some turbines can obstruct flights if they are located close to an airport.
Local naturalists also expressed concern that turbines would jeopardize eagles and an endangered bat species. The conflict between green energy and wildlife conservation has raged for years. Wind energy plants have come under serious scrutiny for killing hundreds of thousands of birds (including protected birds of prey) and bats annually. Many wind energy companies consider precise wildlife casualty details to be a trade secret and have sued to block their public release.
This tug-of-war is emblematic of a struggle developing nationwide between energy planners and local communities. Some communities welcome wind energy development, while others like Buchanan County have banned it entirely. In the Northeastern United States, many developers are building wind energy projects in the state of New York, where the governor created a rule that allows the governor’s office to override local opposition to wind energy project locations. Many communities have declared themselves “sanctuary towns” in opposition and plan to refuse such projects.
As I wrote earlier, land use is an important part of energy production and cannot be overlooked. Green energy is not free energy, as each energy source has its own set of tradeoffs.