Tag Archives: wind energy

Texas is becoming the ‘windy state’

We’re No. 1! It’s a common refrain heard on fields of athletic competition in Texas.

However, Texas has achieved a top-tier ranking in a most fascinating — and one might say unexpected — category. Texas has become the most wind-powered state in the Union. Texas is known more for its pump jacks that pull oil out of the ground. They’re still doing all over the state, but wind power is not to be denied.

I just posted a blog item lamenting the lack of discussion about climate in the upcoming presidential campaign. Here, though, is a reason to hope that Texas might become a leader in the discussion and promotion of wind energy.

The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind has replaced coal as the leading provider of electricity in this state. Yes, natural gas remains a huge energy source. Texas, though, has seen a skyrocketing rise in wind energy over the past several years.

I am happy to report that my wife and I have sat at a ringside seat while Texas has become a major wind-power producer. We used to live just a bit east of the wind farm in Adrian pictured along with this blog post. We’ve since moved on to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but the wind energy industry is continuing to grow significantly along the High Plains of Texas.

This is exciting news.

Wind power remains a costly endeavor. It is expensive to produce and store electricity generated by wind. Believe me, though, the Texas Panhandle has an infinite supply of wind, which to my mind is the cleanest possible energy source possible. Whereas petroleum, natural gas and coal are finite resources, the wind will always blow.

I usually am quite critical of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, however, I want to give Gov. Perry — who is soon to depart as secretary of energy — a proverbial high five for presiding over much of Texas’s wind-power development during his lengthy stint as governor. And, no, it didn’t hurt a bit to say something good about the man the late columnist Molly Ivins dubbed “Governor Goodhair.” 

So, the wind will blow in Texas. The state’s growth will require more electrical use. The wind will continue to play a growing role in fulfilling those power needs … and our precious environment won’t suffer a bit.

Wind turbines cause cancer? Gosh! Who knew?

I have heard the complaints and criticism of wind energy.

It’s too expensive to produce wind-powered KWH. The turbines are a “blight” on our landscape. They get in the way of migrating birds.

Those criticisms are understandable. Donald Trump has actually referred to the fowl casualties that the turbines inflict.

However, the president said in a campaign rally speech that the turbine noise causes cancer. Yes. He said it with a straight face. I am left to presume that he believes what he said.

He is wrong. Of course! No surprise there. I won’t accuse him of uttering another bald-faced lie. He well might not actually know of what he speaks. Ignorance of a topic is one way to excuse someone of actually lying. So I’ll give him (sort of) a pass on the lying part.

However, when the president purports to know about something that flies out of his mouth, he actually ought to know it.

Thus, the Ignoramus in Chief doesn’t know anything about wind energy. Such as what he said about its unreliability. Why? Because the wind doesn’t always blow.

What he failed to acknowledge is that wind producers store excess energy generated by wind turbines to use on those days when the wind doesn’t blow sufficiently to produce more electricity.

Then again, that’s just his ignorance showing itself.

The cancer-causing element is pretty damn serious. Donald Trump should know better than to say something about which he knows nothing. He excuses himself, I am going to presume, because he’s the president of the United States. I guess that entitles him to say whatever he feels like saying.

If so, I feel the need to remind the commander in chief that his position as the world’s most powerful politician requires him to at least give more than a smidgen of thought before popping off.

Sen. Grassley seeks to school Trump on wind power

Now he’s done it. Donald Trump popped off about wind energy, disparaging it and in the process he pis*** off a key Senate sponsor of wind energy tax credits.

Did I mention that Sen. Chuck Grassley is a Republican, just like the president?

Grassley, from Iowa, disliked Trump’s comments running down wind power as an alternative energy source. He made some stupid remark about wind turbine noise causing cancer.

Again, Sen. Grassley took umbrage.

Don’t fret it, Sen. Grassley. Many of us take umbrage damn near daily at things that fly out of the president’s mouth.

Keep the faith. If you can.

Trump shows off his energy ignorance

Just about the time you think Donald Trump cannot demonstrate any greater degree of ignorance on important matters, he pops off to one of his right-wing fanatics.

The president of the United States is insisting that wind energy is a waste of money, it doesn’t work when the wind doesn’t blow and that he intends to continue to push for revival of the coal industry.

He and Fox News’ Sean Hannity exchanged ignorant rants this week about wind power, which Trump has detested for years.

I believe the president needs to acquaint himself with the secretary of energy, Rick Perry. I would bet real money that the former Texas governor might have a markedly different view of the value of wind power than the man who nominated him to the Cabinet post.

It was on Perry’s watch as Texas governor that the state became a leading producer of wind-generated electricity. Perry signed off on legislation allowing for the construction of wind turbines all across West Texas. Yep, they turn constantly out there on the High Plains, the South Plains, along the Trans-Pecos.

The electricity generated by those turbines — or “windmills,” as Trump refers to them — is replacing energy produced by fossil fuels. DOE’s website says this: “Grid operators use the interconnected power system to access other forms of generation when contingencies occur and continually turn generators on and off when needed to meet the overall grid demand.”

Trump isn’t sold. He continues to foment the canard about the hazard the turbines pose for migrating birds. Yes, some birds are injured or killed when they fly into the turbines. The Energy Department says the numbers are insignificant and that wind turbines pose less of a threat to fowl than buildings. According to IJR Blue’s website: Wind turbines do present a threat to birds, but the Energy Department points out that these deaths are rare and that habitat destruction and development of infrastructures such as roads and powerlines poses a much greater threat.

Trump’s shallowness reminds me of the time U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a noted climate change denier, brought a snowball to the Senate floor one winter to say that because it was cold outside that day in Washington that Earth’s changing climate poses no threat to anyone or anything.

Yep. We are being governed by an ignoramus.

Where are the wind turbines?

CASPER, Wyo. — We drove 275 or so miles today from suburban Denver to this central Wyoming community and didn’t see something I thought I’d see during our entire journey here.

Wind turbines. They were, um, nowhere man!

The terrain was perfect for them. Rolling hills. The atmosphere was, too. We ran into occasionally stiff wind almost throughout our drive.

But … we saw not a single turbine spinning in the wind during our lengthy drive, producing electricity to be shipped elsewhere or to be consumed by the locals.

I want to offer this only for observational purposes. I have no particular answer as to why much of northern Colorado or western or central Wyoming haven’t seemed to have invested in this form of alternative energy.

Now, you may spare me the notion that Wyoming digs a lot of coal out of the ground or pumps oil and natural gas. Texas also has a lot of fossil fuel, albeit no coal. Still, Texas extracts plenty of petroleum and natural gas out of the ground. It also has invested heavily in wind energy, dating back to the George W. Bush and Rick Perry governorships.

I don’t know whether local politics keeps the wind farms from springing up along this vast landscape. I will concede as well that the Colorado-Wyoming countryside is quite gorgeous.

Still, Wyoming is as politically conservative as the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains of Texas. Maybe more so.

Texas is full of these clean-energy devices. Why not Wyoming? Or Colorado?

What was I thinking?

AMARILLO, Texas — I must have been off my rocker, had rocks in my noggin, gone around the bend when I had all those positive thoughts about the Texas Panhandle wind.

Twenty-three years of life on the Caprock have schooled me about the wind. It’s far more of an annoyance than a blessing.

We have returned to the Panhandle for a brief visit. And, oh yes, the wind greeted us — with a vengeance.

There once was a time when I could rationalize the benefit of the wind. Such as:

  • It keeps the bugs away.
  • It cleans the air.
  • It helps reduce the stifling humidity.
  • It provides a relentless, endless source of clean energy.

That’s about it. But I would trot those “benefits” out when someone would gripe about the wind. I now join the gripers. The whiners’ chorus has gained a member, although I remain a huge proponent of wind power as an alternative energy source.

I also understand the threat the wind presents, particularly during the summer months.

The wind exacerbates fire dangers manyfold. It dries out the grassland that has been moisturized by rain or snow. The grass grows, it adds fuel that can ignite easily.

You know how the rest of it goes.

Our new home near Dallas presents some other annoyances, such as the humidity that one doesn’t normally find way up yonder on the Caprock, which sits roughly 3,600 feet above sea level.

But … I look at it this way: My family and I spent nearly 11 years on the Texas Gulf Coast, in the Golden Triangle. We didn’t exactly enjoy the stifling summers there; we merely adjusted to it.

My memories of that period are still vivid. So I won’t let the relative humidity of the Metroplex get me down.

I also remember the Panhandle wind. Those memories are even more vivid. I no longer enjoy what I used to pass off as a flying bug deterrent.

Waiting for the wind to become part of our energy policy

SNYDER, Texas — This picture really doesn’t do justice to the subject of this blog post, but I thought I’d show it anyway.

I snapped this shot Thursday as we sped along U.S. Highway 84 on our way to Interstate 20. I intended for it to show the seemingly endless array of wind turbines along this stretch of West Texas highway.

It begs a question I have had kicking around my noggin for some time: Where is U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and why isn’t he using his new federal platform to carry the message of wind power to the nation?

I ask the question for what I believe is a valid reason. He served for 14 years as Texas governor and on his watch as the state’s leader, Texas became a model for alternative energy production through the use of wind turbines. Texas and California moved to the head of the line in the promotion of wind energy.

Think about that for a moment: Two states with wildly different political profiles had this one important energy-related matter in common!

You see them everywhere in West and South Texas. For as far as you can see — and even if you stand up on your tip toes — you see the turbines blowin’ in the wind. They are cranking out megawatts of electrical power. For every megawatt of wind-generated electricity, that’s a megawatt that is not necessarily produced by fossil fuels.

Wind energy is as clean as it gets. “Clean coal” is a misnomer, yet the Donald Trump administration keeps harping on its plan to “save” coal jobs by producing clean coal energy.

Those of us who live — or have lived — in West Texas also know that wind energy is the ultimate renewable energy source. Those fossil fuels? They’re finite, man! You pull the oil out of the ground, it’s gone forever. The wind keeps coming. It keeps blowing. It keeps providing “fuel” to make those turbines turning and making energy.

Rick Perry knows how this system works. If only he would use his Cabinet post as a bully pulpit to promote it to the rest of the energy industry.

His silence is quite unbecoming.

Wind: a curse and a blessing

I wrote this tweet earlier today: It’s official. I have grown weary of this incessant Texas Panhandle wind. Enough … already!

Truth be told, I view the legendary Panhandle wind in two contexts.

Yes, it’s a curse. The dirt that flies gets in my eyes. It coats everything. Our recreational vehicle that now shelters us full time is constantly dusty, which drives my wife crazy; me, too, actually.

Our RV rocks and rolls as the wind buffets it. Hey, it’s March! We’re supposed to be this windy on the High Plains of Texas. I get it, man!

That’s the curse part of it.

The blessing? It provides “fuel” to turn those thousands of wind turbines one sees on our expansive landscape. When I hear the wind howl outside, when I see the trees bend and the tall grass wave I think of the benefit that the wind brings.

It provides evidence of the wisdom in Texas’s heavy investment in wind energy. I’ve noted already on this blog how Texas and California have more in common than one might think.

Both states have developed sophisticated wind energy economies. I cannot remember at this moment which of these states is No. 1 in the nation; something tells me it’s California. Texas, though, is a strong No. 2 if it hasn’t overtaken California already in the amount of energy produced by wind.

I happen to be a big proponent of alternatives to fossil fuels. I am chagrined in the extreme by Donald John Trump’s continued emphasis on drilling for oil and for the development of what he keeps referring to as “clean coal,” whatever the hell that means.

The wind that annoys the daylights out of folks like me also has contributed to the surplus of fossil fuel that has helped — more or less — keep a lid on the price of oil and natural gas.

As I keep reminding anyone who’ll listen, wind is infinite and clean. There’s no need to call it “clean wind.”

OK, so it blows a lot here. I might be officially sick and tired of it, I also recognize the long-term benefit it brings.

Trying to process Perry’s affection for fossil fuels

I am having a bit of difficulty processing Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent tortured and convoluted connection between the use of fossil fuels and sexual abuse.

The former Texas governor spoke in Washington the other day and said — you have to follow this closely — that nations in Africa can avoid sexual abuse of children and young women if they burn more fossil fuels that help “keep the lights on.”

I’m still in a bit of a fog over how one connects one with the other — and does so with a straight face.

I want to offer another element in this strange conflating of energy use and sexual abuse. Actually it’s hard setting aside Perry’s nutty notion that sexual attacks occur only at night, but I’m going to try nevertheless.

When the energy secretary governed Texas, our state turned into a leader in the development of alternative energy sources. I’m talking mostly about wind power. Yet the energy boss seems to have swilled the fossil-fuel Kool-Aid served up by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who seems enamored with the oil and natural gas industry.

If the energy secretary believes it’s important to keep the lights on, why doesn’t he fall back on the wind power that has become such an enormous presence in places like, oh, the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains?

I don’t often say something positive about Perry, but the development of a clean, renewable alternative energy source — which has an infinite supply out here on the Caprock — provides a pretty stellar legacy that should make the former governor proud.

Indeed, he ought to speak more openly and aggressively about promoting wind energy as a critical component of the national energy policy.

I haven’t heard much from Perry on that score. Instead, he offers a silly notion that connects burning fossil fuels as an antidote to sexual abuse.

Weird, man.

EPA boss seeks to boost oil allies … but at what cost?

It might be that two decades ago, I would be committing heresy by espousing energy development that does not emphasize oil and natural gas.

Not so these days. The Texas Panhandle — indeed much of West Texas — is sprouting wind farms faster than spring dandelions. Wind is a clean source of renewable energy. Yes, it’s expensive to produce, but those who produce it must find ways to keep the turbines turning at a price they can afford.

That all said, the Environmental Protection Agency is being run by a guy who is in the hip pocket of fossil fuel producers. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt once served as Oklahoma attorney general; he sued the daylights out of the EPA whenever he could.

Now he runs the agency.

A lengthy New York Times story published Sunday detailed how Pruitt’s work as AG benefitted companies such as Devon Energy, an Oklahoma-based fossil fuel producer.

Pruitt is overseeing a rolling back of EPA rules and regulations that are helping his good friends at Devon, according to the Times.

Here’s what I do not get: How is it that oil supposedly supersedes the production of clean energy alternatives? Pruitt seems to think the EPA needs to roll back regulations intended to mandate more fuel-efficiency, cleaner production of fuels that protect our air and water, and development of cleaner alternatives to coal and oil.

Pruitt and Donald Trump both bemoan what they insist is a “disastrous” energy policy. Is it? The United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil; the nation has reduced dramatically its dependence on imported oil; meanwhile, we have invested over the past eight years into development of wind and solar energy.

I must declare that I also support nuclear power as an alternative to oil production. Utility companies have gone many miles in the development of safer nuclear technology. Yes, disposal of nuclear waste is an issue, but its disposal can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.

The president’s Cabinet-level appointments have been, to say the very least, a mixed bag. I think he has more clunkers than winners in his Cabinet, although I do think a great deal of Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; national security adviser H.R. McMaster also is a keeper.

EPA boss Pruitt, though, remains among the worst of Trump’s picks.

As the Times reported: “Mr. Trump and his team believe that loosening the regulatory grip on business will help the economy, create jobs and allow Americans ‘to share in the riches,’ as he said during the campaign. But in the energy field, environmentalists, Democrats and even some in the industry fear the efforts will backfire, harming health and safety without creating much economic benefit.”

Doesn’t the EPA boss know that the very title of the agency he leads requires him to “protect” the environment?