Wind energy development serves a vital public need

January 21, 2010 - 2:16pm -- Anonymous

A wind power article failed to detail its positive aspects, according to Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of Windustry, as she reminds us that “Wind energy development serves a vital public need.” The article "Wind power takes a blow around Minnesota," by Tom Meersman published in the StarTribune on January 12, 2010, reports a single residential complaint in Elkton, Minnesota as the basis for voicing critics’ concerns about the health effects of wind turbines.

The article points out that “Minnesota regulations require that wind turbines be at least 500 feet away from a residence, and more to make sure sounds do not exceed 50 decibels. In most cases, that amounts to at least 700 to 1,000 feet, depending upon the turbine's size, model and surrounding terrain.”

The article also quotes Larry Hartman, manager of permitting in the state's Office of Energy Security, “I've been doing this for 14 years and people are raising issues I've never heard of.”

Lisa Daniels responded with a Letter to the Editor published on January 21, 2010, as follows:

Tom Meersman's Jan. 12 article, "Wind power takes a blow," is a one-sided negative portrait of a thriving renewable-energy industry in Minnesota. Our state leads the nation in community ownership of wind energy and is fourth in installed projects. Our innovative public policy is copied by other states, and the industry has created a decent amount of new manufacturing jobs.

Wind energy development serves a vital public need. We need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which pollute our environment, and foreign energy sources, which subvert energy independence and security.

When folks in wind-rich communities have the opportunity to participate in and own wind energy projects, there is a much greater sense of community engagement and greater economic benefits that contribute to long-term sustainability. The siting of wind energy projects must be done with great sensitivity to neighborhoods, wildlife and the land.

Change can be upsetting. But we are learning that thoughtful policy can bring intelligent wind project design that can be a tremendous asset to a community. Wind projects don't have to look like Texas in the oil boom or be controlled by large, absentee corporations.