Creation Care merges faith with proactive solutions to protect God’s creation. Next week, the season of Lent begins for millions of faithful people around the world. To mirror the 40 days of Lent, here are 40 churches, religious schools and faith-based organizations around the world that are putting their faith to work by promoting wind energy.
Wind turbines and sailboats share many commonalities. Both are super advanced, highly popular and lovable, low cost and protective of the environment, but do you know all of the 19 1/2 ways wind turbines and sailboats are similar?
The Department of Energy just announced a $2 million funding opportunity for taller wind turbines, which is big news for everyone in the South. Not only could the funding go to a Southern business, but also the research to accompany the funding announcement shows a giant resource potential in the South that has been previously largely unknown.
Weiss Lake (located in Cherokee and Etowah Counties, Alabama) has the noble distinction of “Crappie Fishing Capital of the World” and is the lifeblood of Northeast Alabama’s tourism. The lake was created in the 1950s and 1960s as Alabama Power developed a hydroelectric dam on the Coosa River. Several organizations have developed in an effort to improve and protect Weiss Lake and the surrounding watershed. Wind farms may provide a new opportunity to advance those protection efforts. Wind farms use modern technology for electric generation, emit no air pollution and consume no water, and at the same time, offer local communities economic development that can spur reinvestment into local programs and infrastructure; key factors that make wind energy a clean power resource and a new tool to help save Weiss Lake.
To support this American-made industry and many other sources of energy, President George H.W. Bush passed the Production Tax Credit in the early 1990s. Every president since then has renewed this tax credit in order to reduce the overall tax burden on the relatively new wind industry, highlighting its wide bipartisan support. The Production Tax Credit for wind energy has historically been renewed on somewhat of an annual basis; but because of the dysfunction of the current Congress, the tax credit has recently lapsed.
Generally, wind turbines have been compared to refrigerators in terms of their relative sound level. According to the EPA, sound levels at 55 dB outside and 45 dB inside are unlikely to cause annoyance. For example, if a proposed regulation is below 45 decibels (the EPA level for indoor noise), it should be fairly clear that the proposing regulator is not interested in allowing wind development but is instead aiming to ban by regulation.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a little-known federal incentive to promote economic development from the private wind industry here in the United States. Wind farms have been slow to develop here in the Southeast, but the region already benefits from the PTC.
To kill the Alabama’s first two wind farms, a small number of local residents is suing Pioneer Green Energy through two separate but very similar lawsuits. While these foes exhibit just about every tell-tale sign of wind farm opposition, they now appear to be borrowing a tactic from high school: plagiarism. Indeed, the lawsuit (which is available online here) mirrors a 2005 lawsuit from Texas where a small number of residents there sued to block a wind farm (text of that lawsuit is available here). By 2008, that Texas lawsuit proved to be a losing strategy on four separate occasions – in front of a trial judge, a trial by jury, by an appeals court and by the Texas Supreme Court through its refusal to reject the lower courts’ decisions. Just like in high school, the consequence of plagiarism is failure and history suggests the plagiarized Alabama lawsuits won’t make the grade.
This year in Providence, Rhode Island, the American Wind Energy Association and the Offshore Wind Development Coalition hosted the Offshore WINDPOWER Expo. One of the unique aspects of this conference was the renewed focus on the value of offshore wind energy. Another aspect that was new to this conference was the focus on logistics – specifically ports, vessels and transmission capabilities. Several speakers and many attendees from various government agencies could not confirm their attendance until just a few days before the exposition. But, some people still were unable to attend in part because of sequestration and the reduction in available federal funds. With all the manufacturing, ship-building and offshore energy expertise here in the South, perhaps the conference organizers should look towards New Orleans or Jacksonville as potential conference locations.
Alabama has become a hotbed of wind energy activity. At least four different wind farms have been proposed across the Yellowhammer State – from upstate, mid-state and downstate Alabama. Alabama Power is buying 404 megawatts of wind energy from the Plains (enough to supply 3% of the company’s power), and the state’s biggest power company just erected a tiny 4 kilowatt turbine on their headquarters building in Birmingham. The flurry of activity has some people asking, “Why?” Here’s just a few reasons that may help explain the interest. State electric costs are high. The wind is better than estimated. Alabama’s Pro-Business. Wind turbines have dramatically improved. Wind energy costs are predictable.