Thursday, October 1, 2009

This Subject Blows!

No doubt, Upstate NY is beautiful in the spring, summer and fall; and no doubt it is a polluted state. However, they have wind turbines off I-390 that are absolutely breathtaking in size, presence and abundance. They are producing clean energy for power. Seeing them is one of the highlights to my often travelled trek from Buffalo to Horseheads. There is resistance to the placement of these “farms” near homes, schools and communities, however. New York Currently has 14 different projects running this year.

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How it works:

Wind energy is quite simple, but very complicated. In short, the wind turns the blades, then it is “harnessed” by a nacelle. Here is a cross section:

The energy moves southward into the “stem” or the horizontal axis turbine. Each of the windmills has a box that is the point that is the first voltage increase, there is a second voltage increase after travelling a ways down a power line. The electricity then moves across power lines to the transmission towers, (The ones that look like metal Tasmanian devils to me), which is then brought to consumers. You and I! They are touted for their renewable energy, but run into many other obstacles.

Some of the elements the Department of Environmental Conservation studies are the migratory patterns of birds and bats, near the windmills, to ensure that they are not disrupted. Why? You ask…. There is not just one windmill in one area. They are omniscient in these groupings and loom over the landscape. (and are $3million a pop). They range any where from 2-3 to thousands in one area. Don Quixote would be absolutely terrified!

A lot of communities near these wind turbines are a-complainin’ about a lot of different elements from these monsters. alleges that the low frequency noise is possibly the cause of Mad Cow Disease. Also, the low frequency noise is very loud, and impossible to get used to. Wind Turbine Syndrome, as taken directly from the eponymous website has the following symptoms:

1) Sleep problems: noise or physical sensations of pulsation or pressure make it hard to go to sleep and cause frequent awakening.
2) Headaches which are increased in frequency or severity.

3) Dizziness, unsteadiness, and nausea.

4) Exhaustion, anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression.

5) Problems with concentration and learning.

6) Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

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Last year, Jack Sullivan wrote an article for The Empire Page, detailing the dismal returns that the turbines have had. The energy output is too little and for too many people and suggests that this is an “Elaborate tax break” for the state. Money is being redirected from schools and hospitals to these turbines that are seemingly not very efficient. As we all know, New York State is full of upstanding politicians that are honest, loyal to their wives and great with money. Why would this project be any different? There is a plan to place turbines near Long Island and perhaps off shore in the ocean and Great Lakes in the near future. My opinion is that anything new will come up against conflict and resistance. I didn’t intend for my blog to be a negative “spin” on wind power plants, but in NYS, that is a prevalent theme in a lot of the articles that I came across.

Obviously, Upstate New York isn’t the only place with wind energy. They can be found in North America, Europe Asia and the Pacific. New Zealand has had turbines since the 1990’s (as opposed to UNY’s 2006 installation). New Zealand is a conducive place for this type of energy because it has a lot of coast line, and therefore, more sea breeze. Of course, Denmark has been successfully using wind power for decades and is arguably the PR agent of the windmill, or vice versa.

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Just remember folks, even though wind turbines are found world wide, America is where we originated “Wind Turbine Syndrome”. Boo-yah!

For more information about Wind Power in New York, please visit:

Thank you for reading my blog and have a nice day!


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