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Conlin landscaping napervilleIL sierra crops wind turbines see the light of day on tower in fortsworth, colorado as the foundation for a commercial wind turbine is poured into place next to the earlier mill site of 2007thursday, march 8, 2017 this original mill site, known as the willow point community mill site, is home to the construction of the largest industrial wind turbine in the u.s. (see story at right) (luan armillao/zuma wire)View of wind turbines from IWRI at Fortuna, SCWIS image 7751212202
When it comes to wind power, we have the best nation in the world.
All of the power generated by U.S. wind turbines and wind farms now delivers at least 22 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States, a milestone our country reached just three years ago.
We know that installing more wind turbines will cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by about 400 million tons over the next 25 years, and that wind farms and related jobs boost local economies while boosting energy security and decreasing dependence on foreign oil.
But given all of this, there's a lot of misinformation and bad politics out there.
Time for an update.
Here are some of the biggest myths around wind power:
Myth: Wind turbines are ugly.
Fact: There are more than 40,000 wind turbines already in use around the world, many of them in the U.S., and they are actually very pleasing to the eye when viewed from a distance.
They are not like the pale white movie production windmills of the 1970s, and they aren't like the array of blinding white monsters on TV's "Game of Thrones."
While wind turbines appear monotonous from the street, looking up from above shows their complexity.
The thin blades sweep steadily upward and outward. That the tower is usually less than 40 feet tall, with a base of three to eight feet, heightens the sense of scale. Even large turbines are small on the land, where a one-megawatt wind farm may cover 30 to 50 acres.
Fact: We don't want more wind turbines.
This myth has been propagated by the oil and gas industry to discredit renewable energy and to fuel the narrative that America's existing wind turbines are too ugly and obnoxious to be allowed anywhere.
The wind industry rightly says: If you look at a population of 100 million people, you'll find 100 million objects you don't like. Don't look at one.
Back in October, a petition in Alabama was started by a wind-energy group, Renew Alabama, to get the public to sign the petition to declare Alabama a "wind energy war zone." It collected more than 8,000 signatures.
By no means is it a sign of mass support for installing turbines. It's just a cheap ploy to discourage people who don't like them from contributing to the petition.
The problem with this approach is that, yes, wind turbines are ugly from a distance, but they don't look ugly when you're actually near one.
On my personal site in Maine, my tower resembles nothing more than a small steel shed on a lonely mountain. I drive by it every day, and every day I'm struck by its beauty.
The grandeur of New England is represented by the Maine wind turbines. Viewers from the North Central and Northeastern U.S. may view these as a distraction. Viewers from other parts of the U.S. do not. They see a magnificent object that reminds them of that wonderful place, and they take pride in having turbines of their own.
Myth: Wind turbines produce too much power.
Wind turbines do, on average, produce more electricity than nuclear power plants.
While it is true that wind turbines are not as efficient as coal or natural gas, they are far more efficient than most people realize. Even those who are keenly aware of the benefits of wind power tend to focus on the ratio of capacity to rated capacity and they neglect to consider the potential impact of technological improvements and high wind speeds.
Over the next few years, all of our utilities will increase the percentage of power we get from wind from the current average of 6.7 percent to 50 percent by 2050, the U.S. Department of Energy said last year.
Even in our most energy-intensive areas, wind will provide half of our future electricity needs.
Our nation's energy intensity is expected to drop from 23 percent to less than 20 percent by 2050.
Fact: Wind turbines create millions of jobs.
This one is true.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we're already producing enough energy from wind and solar alone to meet the annual needs of all the power plants in the United States. This is equivalent to employing all the engineers, foresters and technicians of the American