Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wind Turbines

Today I introduce to you my first guest blogger, my dear wife LuAnn Winkle!

Last week, on our trip across the country, we began to encounter wind “farms” in northwest Wyoming. Along Interstate 80 the first field contained more than 50….it is difficult to count when your dear blogger is driving along at 80 mph but that is another story. About an hour later, I saw in the distance another field of turbines. This field, with the mountains as a dramatic backdrop, was over 60 miles away at the time I first sighted it but was so large that it was unmistakable.

As the miles rolled by and the field became more visible I began to count. I lost count at over 100 turbines stretching south to north for miles. These wind farms were a noticeable change from the last time we made this trip. We are still trying to figure out if it was 2005 or 2006 that we last passed this way but that, too, is another story.

Our first ever encounter with the wind farms was in southwest California and western Arizona on one of our previous loop camping trips. I vividly remember stopping for lunch at a truck stop diner in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mammoth white silent turbines. I remember seeing fields of turbines stretching endlessly across the desert valley and thinking how amazing they looked. They fascinated me.

In the past year, a wind farm has developed near my parents’ home in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. Across dairy farms and low mountain ranges the graceful blades move silently. Mom told us of the opposition voiced when the turbines came: “They would obstruct the view-shed; they would hurt birds; they would pose a danger to aircraft; and the most interesting objection, to me anyway, was that they would ‘sling’ ice and snow in the winter.” Somehow the objections were overcome and the turbines now gracefully turn in the distance.

Back to last week in Wyoming….as I watched the miles of turbines pass, I found myself thinking of how delighted God would be that man found ways to harness the wind that He gave us using the gifts that He gave us to develop and install that technology. I saw the turbines as graceful, fluid works of art that have a purpose beyond the aesthetic.

Then I looked closely at the miles and miles of utility lines that crossed the prairie and grasslands and at how dated and ugly they seemed. It is hard to believe that barely 60 years ago those power lines were welcomed with such anticipation by the rural families who were farming the mid and western states without electricity even as late as the 1950s. Imagine how they felt when at last those lines brought access to electric lights and appliances and tools that would make their rural life so much easier. Yet, here barely 60 years later, those same lines looked obsolete and intrusive on the landscape.

I wondered if the wind turbines would look ugly and obsolete in a short time? Would we view them as an intrusion in the landscape as we view utility poles and lines now? Would we forget our vulnerability to foreign oil producing nations and no longer welcome the development of new cleaner technologies? In short, would the next generation view the wind turbines the way we view utility poles and lines today?

Only time will tell. Until then, my dear blogger and I are excited to welcome new technologies for energy on our farm through the Ohio Department of Development.
. We applied for a grant to assist with the cost of installing a wind turbine that will supply our residential needs. My dear blogger is looking forward to cutting, storing and carrying less firewood. We both look forward to the energy cost savings. We look forward to the conveniences (central air conditioning, dear blogger) that cheaper electricity will afford us.

We also look forward to being pioneers in wind energy technology in our county. I always thought I would have made a great pioneer. Through the wind energy program I may get my chance.

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