Last summer I heard that wind energy companies were planning wind farms in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in Umatilla County. At first, the idea of local wind energy was very appealing to me. I wondered who would be opposed to local wind farms and why. After learning more about these wind projects, I am opposed as well.
Private companies, some from overseas, build wind farms. These projects are heavily subsidized by Oregon tax money. We cover up to 50 percent of the cost of the wind turbines, up to $20 million per project. Most commercial turbines installed today are two megawatts in size and each costs roughly $3.5 million to purchase, transport, and install. The energy produced would not be used locally, but sent to California. Eighty percent of the electricity Oregonians use is hydroelectric, produced by dams that have already been paid for.
In 2007, wind energy represented 0.8 percent of all electricity generated in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy hopes to increase this number to 20 percent by the year 2030. Where are all the wind turbines going to be placed?
Imagine our view of the Blue Mountains with 400 steel wind turbines. The blades can reach 550 feet above the ground. Instead of the blades, picture a 747 jumbo jet spinning on the rotor. That is almost how big they are. Some of the most scenic areas of our county could be littered with these machines.
If you are concerned about the proposed wind farms east of Highway 11, please plan to attend the Umatilla County Planning Commission meeting in Pendleton on June 25.
I am sure there are far better uses for our mountains and for tens of millions of our tax dollars.
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