Friday, October 16, 2009

Turbines would be eyesores

I support alternative energy, yet I was alarmed to learn that our county commissioners are working to create new codes that will allow wind turbines to be installed in our scenic corridor. Few of us have had first-hand experience with alternative energy, especially wind power, so I wish to share my negative experience with wind-generated power.

Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico, is a solar town. There are no city services available, so if you don't have an alternative energy source, you don't have electricity. Virtually all homes and businesses create their own electricity, mostly through solar power, with some having small generators as back-up for overcast days.

One neighbor decided to install a wind turbine to augment his solar system. His "windmill" had a 25-foot tower with 3-foot blades (6-foot span)—very small compared to the 40-foot towers with 6-foot blades (12-foot span) that Blaine County is proposing. Not only was our neighbor's wind turbine an eyesore to this beautiful little beach town, it was so noisy that everyone complained when it was in operation. Fortunately, the neighbor's windmill was blown down in a hurricane and it has not been rebuilt because it really didn't work all that well, even in this windy beach town.

On the drawing board the wind-power ordinance seems reasonable and, in a reliably windy environment, wind turbines can be a great source of alternative energy. But a wind turbine is not an attractive piece of machinery and it is not quiet, regardless of what the manufacturer claims. There are areas in rural Blaine County where wind turbines might not only work efficiently but could be built where they won't be an eyesore.

Our tourist economy is based on visitors who come to the Wood River Valley for its scenic beauty. If we allow our commissioners to make it legal to install these huge wind turbines in our scenic corridor, we are setting ourselves up for further economic impact in our tourism sector.

Before you think I am not "green" enough because I oppose wind turbines in certain areas of our county, know that I am one of the few in Blaine County who have first-hand experience with alternative energy. I own three 100 percent solar homes in Cabo Pulmo and I have paid the thousands needed to buy, install and maintain solar energy systems for these homes. Solar power is great! Solar power is renewable, it works really well when you have lots of sun, and above all, solar power is quiet.

From my personal experience, I suggest you be a NIMBY regarding wind turbines in residential and tourism areas of Blaine County. Please let your county commissioners know how important it is to keep our scenic corridor open and beautiful, free of unsightly wind turbines.

Betsy Barrymore Stoll


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