Subsidy Generation Farms
“How do you feel about windmills?” Dennis asked, initiating a morning-long seminar on wind energy
“I hate them. They dominate the landscape and blot out the scenery,” I replied, even though I sensed this was the wrong side of the coin flip.
“Yeah, most people either love them, or hate them,” he said. (I doubt you could find anyone outside the industry more in love with windmills than Dennis – he takes his
grandson on vacations to the various wind farms. To his enormous credit, it sounds like the teenage grandson enjoys the educational vacations.)
“I’m happy for the truckers who get to haul the things,” I said. “I just wish they were put somewhere where I didn’t
have to see them.” And soon enough we were into the Columbia River Gorge Scenic stretch, an aesthetic refuge off-limits to the monstrous mechanical weeds.
“Power generation is going to be ugly no matter whether it’s coal, gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, or whatever,” one of us said somewhere near Celio Falls, a 10,000 year old fishing hole flooded/obliterated by the Dalles dam in 1957.
But like everybody else, I love my cheap electricity and suck it up like a certain conflicted vampire of the area. (It bothers me.)
Wind farmers are drawn to the Columbia Gorge because it is already home to a massive, firmly entrenched power grid thanks to the Bonneville Power Administration’s system of dams. On top of that, Dennis explained, the wind farms contract with the dams to produce a certain amount of
energy. Pretty slick stuff, really. As wind energy kicks in, dams shut down, thus storing water (potential energy, revenue). Wind-win, as long as the weather forecast is accurate.
Cool, fascinating. So, why not take it a step further: shield the earth with a solar parasol and reap unlimited wattage. Huh? What? You heard me. Screw the environment, we need green energy! (And maybe some (Soylent) green snacks, please.)
Sidetracked. Sorry. Where was I…
Wind farms are for our own good. That’s why we taxpayers are shelling out, according to the Sunday Oregonian, 1.2 billion in subsidies to one (just one!) wind farm in eastern Oregon. But hey, we gain 34 jobs. Without those subsidies
those jobs would have gone to, uh, nowhere. The gorge has wind, and you don’t have to run the extension cord very far. The bottom line (financially, not anatomically): wind farms would be profitable in the gorge regardless (again,
according to the Oregonian). Sweet deal, surely, but layers upon layers of corporate welfare must be making somebody sick?
Near Medford, Oregon.
Latourell Falls, Oregon (near Multnomah Falls)