Mountain Breezes – Green Energy’s New Coal?

The citizens of the high Alleghenies are often portrayed as slow-witted and ignorant.  Outsiders form quick images of folks sitting on falling down porches, pooch at heel, puffing on a corncob of terbacky, sipping moonshine and just waiting for the last block to crumble under the wheel-less ’53 Buick in the front yard.  In much of the country, other than this comic view, these folks are not seen at all.  This is especially true in the major population, financial and political centers of this nation, where the region is seen only as the storage bin of that necessary evil that fuels their homes and ambitions.  Ask someone what they know about the region and chances are coal, miners and hillbilly will be among the first terms you hear.

Coal, a resource primarily responsible for this country’s productivity and wealth, is under attack.  Providing cheap electrical energy for factories and homes, the black diamond, always dangerous to mine, is now considered a dangerous and obsolete energy source.  Coal fired power plants are the slaughter houses of America’s power needs – everyone wants the results, yet those providing it are looked down upon.

The region, rich in resources and the wonderful cultures of its inhabitants, has been plundered for decades.  Critics of coal rightly point to the plight of miners, the destructive nature of mining and how that effort negatively alters our natural landscape.  While vast improvements in technology have improved the “taking of the coal,” there is still much to do.  If only there were better ways to meet the energy needs of the nation.

Enter the wind turbine!  The charm of the old world and the technology of the new age combining to offer a panacea of clean, cost effective, readily available and renewable energy that has the side benefit of reducing the CO2 that “billows” from the dreaded coal-fired plants.  Coal-fired plants that, year to date, have contributed 45% of the Nation’s electric power.  Source: The US Energy Information Administration’s “Electric Power Monthly,” September 2009.

But much like the gathering of coal, harnessing the wind comes with its own set of problems, not the least of which is that it is an inefficient, unreliable and costly source of energy that does not replace coal-fired plants or reduce CO2 emission and, some would say, negatively alters our natural landscape.

So, why would the residents of this great region happily accept this additional plunder of the country side?  Why would these same residents, well aware of the history of companies taking the profits of their labors and resources for the benefit of owners far removed, actually welcome, with open arms, a new set of companies seeking to take the profits of their labors and resources for the benefit of owners far removed?

Well, not all residents are welcoming of the wind towers.  Opposing voices are often drowned out by the push for everything green, often misinformed elected officials and some media outlets.  They choose not to automatically accepting as fact, the summaries produced by the slick and well-funded suppliers of wind turbines.

The purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for ideas that require a bit of research beyond the Wind Industry’s brochures in the hopes that citizens can become informed and make a decision based on all points of the discussion.  Commentary on this blog which references factual information will be supported by a credible source and linked for the reader’s benefit.  We encourage respectful comments, regardless of point of view.  Comments not supported by credible resources will be challenged just as I hope the posts offered on this blog are challenged.

To be informed, we must be educated.  To be educated, we must see all sides of the issue.  We will make every effort to give you the “other side” here at Allegheny Treasures.

As a starting point, it’s worth noting that the same US Energy Information Administration’s “Electric Power Monthly“, referenced above, states, “Year-to-date, coal-fired plants contributed 45.0 percent of the Nation’s electric power. Nuclear plants contributed 20.8 percent, while 21.4 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants. Of the 1.1 percent generated by petroleum-fired plants, petroleum liquids represented 0.8 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke. Conventional hydroelectric power provided 7.6 percent of the total, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) and other miscellaneous energy sources generated the remaining 3.8 percent of electric power.”

Consider the massive task we face if we are to remove coal from our power grid.  Is Wind Energy the salvation we are all looking for, or simply the new strip mine clearing our mountaintops and, unlike coal, offering so very little for the effort?

We’ll try to address that issue as we proceed.

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One Response to Mountain Breezes – Green Energy’s New Coal?

  1. Pingback: Breaking Wind – Quick hits from the industry for January 19, 2012 | Allegheny Treasures

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