The Mill on the Carolina North Floss

As we watched the oily horror spread through the Gulf, some fiendish homeowner's demons launched a shock-and-awe assault on the homefront, leaving us at one point without hot water, air-conditioning, television, all kitchen privileges, or garage door opener.  We particularly missed the A/C as six behemoth heaters and dehumidifiers blasted hot air throughout kitchen and living room.   Our savings have taken a breathtaking hit, soon to be eased somewhat by a low interest credit union equity-line-of-credit.  (We need more credit unions and fewer ... but that's another blog.)

The link between the oil spill and the pushme-pullyou of A/C vs. floor-drying machines hit me like that hot slap of air on emerging from an air-conditioned building into 98-degree heat -- and it did so as I was looking across Penobscot Bay at 3 windmills on an island. And I'd noticed several others have popped up, more or less one at a time, around the Boston area, NH, and Maine. 

Why not one -- or two -- windmills in Orange County? I wondered.  Why not, indeed, a windmill at Carolina North - at the top of a hill and at a site already planned to have considerable undeveloped space?  I admit, I have been warned about noise, vibration, and bird carnage, although I really have no firm grasp of how much of each is truly involved - there are different sizes of mills, I'm told. And for that matter, how many birds have we already lost in the Gulf and Prince William Sound?

All idle speculation, of course, since Carolina North's future seems frozen in lucite at the moment - though the environment has at least been ostensibly served by the clean-up of the hazardous waste there.



Just a thought on the bird issue, which Andrew Sullivan has covered extensively recently.  The American Bird Conservancy estimates that 100,000-300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines every year, which is much higher than the total expected bird death toll of the oil spill.  Of course, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 97-196 million birds are killed every year simply by crashing into buildings and windows -- a number that completely dwarfs both the oil spill and wind turbine deaths.Another important consideration, however, is the type of birds being killed.  Wind turbines and building collisions tend to kill land birds, which have much quicker reproductive cycles and shorter life spans.  The oil spill, however, threatens mainly sea birds.  They live longer, have fewer children, and generally take much longer to recover from significant population dips.

You are correct to point out that high rise buildings (such as those owned by the big coal & nuke utilities that oppose wind power) are responisible for more bird deaths than any other source - including domestic cat kills which are more than deaths by wndmill. Red herrings are harder to kill than bird myths. 

There isn't enough wind potential here in the Piedmont to justify the investment.  Turbines have to be located strategically--like on top of a mountain or in the ocean.

Hard to resist suggesting that placement of a windmill near local and state legislatures might collect enough wind to convert to actual power ... (...but I thank those who've resisted comments about tilting at Carolina North windmills...)


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