Changes to energy production will always have their detractors. Let’s look closely at a few common arguments by wind opponents to see how they hold up.
While it’s true that wind development in the US has involved a modest amount of federal subsidies, this pales in comparison to the amount of public funds used to support the fossil fuel industry- $649 billion in 2017 alone. In contrast, the primary government subsidy for wind energy, the Production Tax Credit, is being phased out next year. As wind power continues to plummet in cost (66% cost decrease between 2009 and 2016), most industry leaders have supported this change.
2.) Carbon Footprint
As with subsidies, most forms of energy production involve some carbon footprint, but the greenhouse gases produced by wind energy are negligible compared to fossil fuels. Through component production and transportation, wind power produces about 11 grams of the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, compared to 980 grams for coal power and 465 grams for natural gas.
3.) Property Values
Some opponents have claimed that wind development will hurt nearby property values, but local research suggests the opposite- the third-party Market Impact Analysis for Alta Farms II found that landowners are likely to use extra income to improve their property, increasing equalized assessed property values within DeWitt County. Across the board, there is no peer-reviewed research suggesting that wind farms are deleterious to local property values.
4.) Land and Water Resources
Unlike natural gas and oil drilling which have frequently contaminated local ground water, wind energy production is comparatively safe to local water tables, due to turbines’ shallow depth of construction, and Alta Farms is no different. To quote a third-party hydrological analysis by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, “contamination of the Mahomet Aquifer from Project related activities is almost impossible.”
Wind energy’s massive growth across the Midwest couldn’t happen without the enthusiastic support of countless American farmers who have found that wind development is an economically viable “third crop” that complements existing output. With permanent facilities covering just 0.70% of the Project area, Alta Farms’ impact on DeWitt County’s agricultural land will be minuscule and poses no foreseeable impediment to farming in adjacent acres. Through construction, maintenance, and associated transportation for the project, all land will be returned to its original topography and condition, per the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement. (See Tradewind’s Application for Further Details)
5.) Avian Deaths
Bird and bat deaths due to wind turbines do occur, but oil fields, power lines, and other energy infrastructure cause vastly more. Greater threats to flying wildlife exist- windows kill about 1,000 times as many birds and bats as wind energy, while household cats kill at least 10,000 times more across the nation. Considering the total number of deaths effects on migration patterns, and natural habitats, wind turbines are simply not a significant threat to flying wildlife. That’s why both the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club have endorsed wind as a safer form of energy for flying animals and the habitats they inhabit.
Despite what opponents suggest, the drawbacks of wind power are less than those associated with most forms of traditional energy. Wind is an unfolding success story in American energy production, and we look forward to writing the next chapter in DeWitt County.