Monday, March 27, 2006

Wind farms: not always an easy sell

An NPR article entitled, "Wind Farms Draw Mixed Response in Appalachia", describes the problems some wind energy projects face in gaining approval. While proponants of wind farms point to the projects' environmentally favorable attributes (no carbon emissions, energy from a non-polluting renewable resource), wind energy still has its detractors.

In some areas, local residents are turned off by the noise from turbines, and many feel the windmills scar the local landscape. Turbines are often built on ridges and hilltops, leaving many to worry about their visual impacts and the resulting effects on tourism and property values. Environmental groups have long been concerned about the impacts that windmills might have on bats and migratory birds. Clearly, improvements in windmill siting and design will be needed for wind farms to gain more converts.

The interesting thing about many of the proposed wind energy projects is that they are often driven by legislative mandates. Initiatives requiring governments and energy utilities to derive a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources are increasingly commonplace and widespread; such measures have been adopted in many American states, and in countries from Canada to Scotland.

Thanks to CQ for the NPR story link. Be sure to check out the interactive map in that article detailing each state's wind projects.