Windmills: an ugly way to get clean energy

By Eion ONeill
October 10, 2010

Whenever you plug your hairdryer in or turn on that light you’re using energy. It doesn’t matter where that energy comes from, there’s some sort of consequence. In recent years, there’s been a push for green energy but it’s important to understand that while some energy sources may be cleaner than others, someone is still feeling the effects of it.

I personally am a witness to the drama unfolding behind looking for new resources. My family’s cabin is in a rural part of Pennsylvania where gas companies are searching for energy sources. In fact, our 17 1/4-acre plot is being surveyed right now. The company comes in, leases the land, pays a nominal fee and then observes to see if there is potentially anything there and then if there is they will drill.  So far nothing has been found on our land but miles in the distance is an energy goldmine.

Right across from my cabin’s deck is a scenic view of upstate Pennsylvania where the green trees enliven the hills for miles on end. There’s nothing except green, not even a single cell phone tower or utility pole. It’s stunning to see a piece of nature unscathed by human development.

According to the grassroots environmental justice organization, ActionPA’s website, in 2005, Japanese developer Marubeni and Cincinatti, Ohio-based Duke Energy Generation Services came and proposed windmills be built along this thrilling stretch of scenery in Lycoming County. Naturally, the neighbors around my cabin started to protest the destruction of the scenery they’ve grown up with or moved to the area specifically for and have done so ever since.

Some might tell me that such a proposal would bring in good jobs and help America’s sustainability. I see that side of the argument and honestly if this hadn’t happened so close to what I call my second home, I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelash but it’s here in my backyard.  Everything is a threat when it’s in your backyard.

Those who push for wind power may also point out that windmills impact the community less negatively than say a nuclear power plant or coal power plant but asthetically, windmills are equally as displeasing as a nuclear power plant’s monstrosity of a cooling tower or a coal plant’s smoke stack. While a wind-powered turbine may not have as many negative effects as a nuclear power plant or coal plant, the point is that it is not a miracle power source. A wind-powered turbine may not be as much of a risk to a meltdown or terrorist attack or releasing dangerous toxins but it has effects on the local communities that it is placed in, no matter how big or small. Everything has a consequence, it’s just a matter of what we personally consider a consequence.


For example, I may not fear nuclear meltdowns so I may fight for nuclear power but it’s only because I don’t live near one so I don’t necessarily think the consequences impact me. Ultimately, those consequences affect me in some form or another and clearly affect someone else.

It is very easy for me to say that energy from windmills is good and that the windmills be built somewhere else, but after arguing against them in my backyard, do I have a say in them going in someone else’s backyard? I do believe this country needs to use less fossil fuels and wind and solar power are the way to go but how do we combat aesthetic and light pollution in the process? As we go green, we need to think these things over but most importantly, we need to think of consequences that everything, no matter how seemingly innocent, has on all of us.

Eion ONeill

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