From Oil Derricks To Wind Turbines
April 9, 2010 1:26 PM   Subscribe

A 1999 Texas electricity deregulation statute included, almost as an afterthought, a requirement that the state develop 2,000 megawatts of wind power by 2009. This past February, wind generators delivered a record 6,242 megawatts of power to Texas population centers -- 22 percent of all the electricity consumed in the Texas grid. Could their model transform the nation's utility sector?, Or will it be derailed by special interests and politics? posted by zarq (68 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's also going to be a Windpower Expo in Dallas in May. Guest speaker: Former President George W. Bush. And Jason Alexander will be there, in what looks like a really bad toupee.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on April 9, 2010


"It is a no-brainer that stimulus funds should only go to projects that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, pointing at a proposed Texas wind farm whose backers include a Chinese power company.

Ugh, geez.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


22%, that's a fantastic number! Texas also has ample solar resources. With some large scale concentrated solar thermal power generation, it could crack 50% easy. Very inspiring.
posted by molecicco at 1:34 PM on April 9, 2010


Huh....

*tries to reconcile mentally ingrained Texas stereotypes with awesome green energy push*

*head explodes*
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:35 PM on April 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know there's a keen observation to be made on the irony of all of this, but I just can't hash it out right now.
posted by Think_Long at 1:35 PM on April 9, 2010


This is good
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:35 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, uh, I never thought I'd be saying this but Go Texas!
posted by Pseudology at 1:36 PM on April 9, 2010


At last a use for all that hot air blowing around in Texas. *Ducks to avoid objects thrown by reasonable people who happen to live in Texas. *
posted by bearwife at 1:36 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instantaneous demand isn't a particularly useful figure to throw around.

The total megawatt-hours for the month of February, on the other hand, *would* be an interesting number to known.
posted by schmod at 1:37 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would love to see smaller (relatively speaking) windfarms spring up in some more urban areas, ala Aerotecture.
posted by adipocere at 1:37 PM on April 9, 2010


Wow.

Do the Texans know about this?
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


With strong breezes blowing early Sunday afternoon in West Texas, wind-power generation hit a record 6,242 megawatts on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' grid, which serves most of the state. The wind generation peaked at 12:54 p.m., representing an exceptionally high 22 percent of demand at that time, ERCOT spokeswoman Dottie Roark said Monday.

To be clear, wind was providing 22% of Texas' electricity at a single point in time, not for the entire month. Wind provides nowhere close to 22% of any state's total consumption. Iowa is tops at 15%, and for the country, it's <2%.
posted by loquax at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


At last a use for all that hot air blowing around in Texas. *Ducks to avoid objects thrown by reasonable people who happen to live in Texas.*

The state Lege could probably power the entire continent. :D
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2010


Wow. Do the Texans know about this?

This.

How the hell did this happen in Big Oil country?
posted by jefficator at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2010


To be clear, wind was providing 22% of Texas' electricity at a single point in time, not for the entire month.

Yes. Sorry. I should have made this clearer in the FPP.

Wind provides nowhere close to 22% of any state's total consumption. Iowa is tops at 15%, and for the country, it's <2>

Right now it's about 5% sustained output for TX. Their transmission lines can't handle 22% yet. They're pouring 5 billion into upgrades to their grid and power lines to get them up to speed.
At the end of 2009, the capacity of Texas wind turbines, reaching to the horizons of farm and prairie land, totaled 9,410 megawatts, well more than the combined total of the next three largest wind-power states, Iowa, California and Washington. Over the course of a year, wind power is providing 5 percent of Texas' demand, and that would more than double if the state's grid goals are achieved.

posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on April 9, 2010


Reading that article, the turbines sees to have produced 22% of demanded electricity for an instant, not for a month. Texas isn't Denmark.

I agree that these purchases should be funded but I don't see how it stimulates US employment, which is specifically what the stimulus funds are intended to do. We should be building our own wind turbines.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Screwed up my italics tags.
posted by zarq at 1:46 PM on April 9, 2010


I agree that these purchases should be funded but I don't see how it stimulates US employment, which is specifically what the stimulus funds are intended to do. We should be building our own wind turbines.

How exactly are Chinese people going to build our wind turbines without being over here? Plop them down via megablimp?

Blade manufacture and assembly (and maintenance) are two separate tasks, and there are still going to be a lot of jobs installing those things, regardless of where the blades are made.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


IIRC GE make Denmarks turbines.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2010


I agree that these purchases should be funded but I don't see how it stimulates US employment, which is specifically what the stimulus funds are intended to do.

Maybe they're hoping installing the windfarms and upgrading the powergrids will provide jobs in the short run, with a small increase in jobs for long term upkeep.

I'd say start a work division to travel around the country installing stuff like this, might as well make the most of the training and provide longer-term employment. Then, take that experience and contract out to other countries to build similar infrastructure.

... of course, that would also require fighting the various power interests in each state before such a thing could actually take off.
posted by yeloson at 1:52 PM on April 9, 2010


I agree that these purchases should be funded but I don't see how it stimulates US employment, which is specifically what the stimulus funds are intended to do. We should be building our own wind turbines.

You don't say?
Now, admittedly, those are foreign businesses. But, still...it's jobs.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:57 PM on April 9, 2010


Do the Texans know about this?

People in Austin do. At least in theory, anyway.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:57 PM on April 9, 2010


I know about this and I live in Texas. My electricity is wind generated.

Funny thing is, when I first started with this plan I was paying significantly more than standard electricity. For whatever reason the price has dropped quite a bit and the two seem to be at parity right now.
posted by Talanvor at 2:01 PM on April 9, 2010


"Do the Texans know about this?"

They were told that they were propellers for pushing Texas off into the gulf as an island.
posted by klangklangston at 2:03 PM on April 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Do the Texans know about this?

A number of turbines are located in just west of Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle. While my family was still living there, they were in the news a lot.

Until January of this year, T. Boone Pickins was planning to fund the biggest wind farm in the US.
posted by zarq at 2:05 PM on April 9, 2010


Do the Texans know about this?

Wind turbines, huh? I always figured them for giants.
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:08 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


This particular Austinite just signed up for his allotted five years of high power bills and warm fuzzy feelings. (Then again, if coal prices go up, my bill will stay constant, which is nice.) But so, yeah, we know about it. Anecdotally it seems to be quite popular here, although the people I hang out with are pretty ecologically minded even for a liberal town, so it's hard to generalize.

Hadn't heard that Pickens's wind power plan was back on hold, though. That's too bad — I mean, if the power line capacity isn't there, they're not worth building, so it makes sense, but I figured with the amount of money and influence he had to throw around he might just be able to get the lines built. Oh well....
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:12 PM on April 9, 2010


You Texas haters are just tilting at windmills.
posted by Mister_A at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Texans definitely know about it, and many of them are downright proud of their wind energy. It's a money maker for West Texas, much as oil was in the last century. In fact, when you choose your electricity provider, you have the choice of 100% wind power.

What I didn't know until I read this article was why Texas had its own grid system. I knew it was separate from the rest of the United States, but I never knew why. Now I know - it opted out in 1935 when the federal government sponsored consolidation. States' rights for the win, I guess...
posted by fremen at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2010


There is a lot of absolute nothing in Texas. Wind turbines seem like a good kind of thing to fill up that space.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:16 PM on April 9, 2010


IIRC GE make Denmarks turbines.

Just to clarify, GE might make some small portion of Denmark's turbines, but the lion's share are manufactured by Danish and German companies, particularly Denmark's own Vestas, which remains the world's largest turbine company by market share.
posted by gompa at 2:17 PM on April 9, 2010


The contradiction here isn't that Texas is interested in using its resources to provide energy. That is what they have been doing for almost a century in every way they could find.

Is it a bigger contradiction for the 'conservatives' who supposedly have 'free trade' as one of their major tenets to, once again, be hollering for protectionist measures? Or have we all become so used to that form of double speak to even pay attention to it?

(In the interest of full nondisclosure, I admit that, though liberal in most matters, I like free markets (at least the concept and when it doesn't simply mean fewer and fewer global corporations controlling more and more economies) and that I often support protectionism (When it protects real jobs at least, and it doesn't only take the form of subsidies to large companies). However, I do recognize and admit these positions or irreconcilable.)
posted by Some1 at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2010


There is a lot of absolute nothing in Texas.

Um I like it that there are places with "absolute nothing". We don't need to fill up every square foot with strip malls and the like. If wind power can have it's spot the let's do it but some of the most beautiful areas to me feature nothing.
posted by leetheflea at 2:25 PM on April 9, 2010


Communist power? The Great State of Texas surely has enough oil left to fuel the Triumphant Stride towards a Glorious (Near)Future?
posted by flippant at 2:27 PM on April 9, 2010


There is a lot of absolute nothing in Texas.

And Amarillo is one of the flattest places in the whole darn state. Buildings on farms are often surrounded by trees to help block wind, which means you can look over a farm or ranch from the road and immediately identify where the farmhouse and barn(s) are.
posted by zarq at 2:27 PM on April 9, 2010


U.S. Wind Energy Industry Continued Strong Growth in 2009.

Graph: U.S. wind power industry growth, 1995-2009.

"..while Texas still claims the most installed wind power capacity among the 50 states, Iowa has the highest percentage of total energy produced by wind, with 14 percent of its electricity coming from wind power. "
posted by stbalbach at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2010


There is a lot of absolute nothing in Texas.

...except for year-round Dairy Queens with steak finger baskets.
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2010


Texas is last in a lot of things, but is first in energy star homes (couldn't find a direct link to the story, because it's from the middle of an epa podcast from november 09 - look at the 5th story from the top, it has the details and the link to the podcast). This is just more evidence that there is some degree of environmental consciousness going on.
posted by Raqin at 2:50 PM on April 9, 2010


Adjacent to Texas... University of Oklahoma main campus to be 100% wind-powered by 2013. According to this, the dedicated transmission line was turned on this Wednesday.
posted by ormondsacker at 2:56 PM on April 9, 2010


The state Lege could probably power the entire continent. :D

Yeah, but only every other year. Do you want them to sit continuously? And it hardly counts as clean power....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


A 1999 Texas electricity deregulation statute included, almost as an afterthought, a requirement that the state develop 2,000 megawatts of wind power by 2009.

Was it an afterthought? I taught a renewable energy summer school with some of the guys who worked on the development of the Texas RPS and got the impression that wind power was included in the legislation as a result of EPA led negotiations concerning state level emissions from industry and the poor air quality in the state. Essentially as a quid pro quo response to the emission problem.

outstrips the capacity of the existing transmission lines to move the power to urban areas.

This is not uncommon. Ireland had to have a morotorium on wind power development while it caught up on the transmission grid side of things, as did some of the Spanish regions, incluing Andalucia during the 1990s. The UK is currently edgiing towards a major deficit in infrastructure to connect Scottish wind power to consumers (predominantly towards SE England) and putting it right is going to be far from stragithforward. Denmark has enjoyed a fairy privileged position in this regard in that its grids have been able to act as a conduit for shifting cheap hydropower from Norway to Germany, with Danish wind output effectively tacking on to the back of that, with utilities selling on to Germany in strong energy producing weather and taking from Norway when there is a shortage.

IIRC GE make Denmarks turbines.

No, Danish wind turbine companies have been the market leaders since pretty much the beginning of the modern turbine market. The Danish market acted as a key source of stability in maintaining demand for Danish sourced wind turbines and allowing Danish manufacturers to stay operational in the bad times (esp late 1980s), while acting to stimulate competition amongst the Danish companies at home so that they were stronger internationally. The result was that the Danish companies dominated the wind turbine market internationally into the 1990s. This has changed going into the 21st century as other international companies have emerged (in Spain, Germany, and GE in the US) but Danish compnaies (or rather Vestas, since they have been the end result of nergers between NEG and Micon, which then folded into Vestas) continue to dominate at home as well as having a large part of the international market.
posted by biffa at 3:07 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is a lot of absolute nothing in Texas. Wind turbines seem like a good kind of thing to fill up that space.

That's not "nothing". Some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen are in Texas. To call the rolling prairie, the clear desert, and the sweeping lowlands are all very much something, each with incredible landscapes and biodiversity. To dismiss it so is to think that a forest or ANWAR are just spaces to be filled or resources to be harvested.

This is away from the main point; I just don't like people to assume that the Great Plains or the Southwestern Desert aren't places or don't deserve to be protected and admired.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:14 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bully for Texas. Up here in Vermont, which has some pretty good wind resources on high ridgelines, beyond a few wind turbines installed we are still arguing about whether they won't kill birds, mess up somebody's view, or drive them crazy with a loud hum.
posted by beagle at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2010


I'm glad you all can so clearly see what I mean by the "nothing" in Texas.

But you're right, every single square mile of the 200,000 empty, flat prairie lowlands, hours away from anything, and unseen by human eye outside of flyovers to Continental's hub, maybe littered with oil derricks, should be preserved instead of this crap wind power.

By the way, "beautiful landscape" != "nothing."
posted by jabberjaw at 3:30 PM on April 9, 2010


Austin also has quite a bit of solar power and the city-owned utility offers incentives to go solar. There's a lot of "awl bidness" down here but the energy industry isn't all petroleum.
posted by immlass at 3:34 PM on April 9, 2010


Never understood the "eyesore" argument about wind turbines. I think they're really cool-looking, actually, and I like seeing them.

I've wondered why they couldn't shroud the blades to keep birds from getting whacked, but I guess that's an engineering decision.
posted by Thistledown at 3:44 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


heh. it's sort of like a legislative easter egg.

I wonder if there are any similar 'afterthoughts' in the HCR legislation, little common-senseish pilot projects that the Democrats will be able to expand nationwide in a decade or so.

Points in favour of this theory: President Multi-dimensional Chess Obama

Points against this theory: the blue dog caucus.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:55 PM on April 9, 2010


A practical money saving program that benefits consumers derailed by the political power of special interest companies? Pshaw. This is America sir!

T. Boone Pickins? The guy that rode the atomic bomb and ate all those beans?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:08 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, Texas has a lot of people in the energy business, and those that understand energy get wind power. It's probably a little unfair of me to point out that GE bought their wind business from Enron, so they're kind of the johnny-come-lately of the industry. (Siemens bought out Bonus, which for a while looked really painful, as Danes and Germans don't really get on.)

Ontario just announced 184 renewable energy projects. These do have quite strict (to some people, too strict) local content rules.

Can I just say that I've had lunch with the CEO of Vestas? (and I nodded off - hey, a man can get really jetlagged, y'know?)
posted by scruss at 4:24 PM on April 9, 2010


Lynda Barry and I are concerned about the health effects of turbines.
posted by agregoli at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2010


Guest speaker: Former President George W. Bush
As an exhibitor at the show I was less than thrilled that the big speakin' guy is an oil guy that will probably deny wind exists.
posted by mss at 4:28 PM on April 9, 2010


200,000 empty, flat prairie lowlands

I'm not sure where the 200K comes from, but most of the wind farms aren't in the "low lands". They're in the high plains, and the Llano Estacoda. Even the Permian Basin has its special beauty. The trouble they're having is finding ways to get it across the Hill Country, and into the cities.

(I hope a few of the links work.)
posted by Some1 at 4:31 PM on April 9, 2010


Adjacent to Texas... University of Oklahoma main campus to be 100% wind-powered by 2013.

You know why it's so windy in Oklahoma, right?
posted by Evilspork at 5:13 PM on April 9, 2010


Why can't the government use some of the stimulus money to subsidize US companies to build the turbines so that they are competitive with offerings from other countries? I think it's time for Americans to stop complaining about how nothing is built here anymore and get off their fat asses and make something.
posted by digsrus at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2010


You know why it's so windy in Oklahoma, right?

Because the terrain (in the western half, anyway) is treeless, unvaryingly flat prairie with no large regulating bodies of water to break up the prevailing southerly wind patterns caused by Texas blowing?
posted by ormondsacker at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I seriously wonder what the fuck Texas has to do to not get backhanded "compliments" from people here. I swear we could solve goddamn global warming and someone here would still find some way to talk shit about it.
posted by dead cousin ted at 5:51 PM on April 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


There just was a big segment on Wind Energy growth in Oklahoma on Science Friday today
posted by edgeways at 7:20 PM on April 9, 2010


dead cousin ted: "I seriously wonder what the fuck Texas has to do to not get backhanded "compliments" from people here. I swear we could solve goddamn global warming and someone here would still find some way to talk shit about it."

Don't worry about it, Cousin Ted (hey, when did you pass away? just saw you at the last reunion). "H8ers gonna H8" and all that. Besides, if you're me, you get used to it and just go about being a member of a minority (a liberal in Texas) that's slowly but surely changing people's minds about what passes for good governance and sanity down here.

Every 12 months, I do my part by making sure I stay on a 100% wind energy plan from whatever provider offers good rates and doesn't charge to pay online. Did anyone notice that TXU has rolled out their solar panel leasing program? That's a definite head start.
posted by fireoyster at 8:10 PM on April 9, 2010


Why can't the government use some of the stimulus money to subsidize US companies to build the turbines so that they are competitive with offerings from other countries? I think it's time for Americans to stop complaining about how nothing is built here anymore and get off their fat asses and make something.

I would argue that that ship has sailed with regard to the wind energy sector. The big companies are now well established, entry to the sector would be fairly tight unless someone big enough bought out one of the existing big companies. There is still potential for substantial jobs on the back of wind energy growth through siting of manufacturing, but not the full benefits of tech ownership and new US owned companies. There are other renewable technologies that the US might still grow its industry in though, wave and tidal are at a much less advanced stage and a few of the coastal states have been advancing efforts there, most of the kit is only at the pilot stage so successful support could pay off in the long term. Likewise, heat pumps are not sown up, I suspect the US could still be a big photovoltaic cell manufacturer, and the US actually is a world leader in geothermal energy.

scruss: I thought dinner with the Vestas CEO is cool, I wonder if I'm the only MeFite who does?
posted by biffa at 9:48 PM on April 9, 2010


I don't have anything constructive to add, but my mom called me over lunch to excitedly announce she was switching to "windtricity!". It's really not taking much to convince people to switch here.
posted by Partario at 9:56 PM on April 9, 2010


Agregoli, that's an interesting article about the health effects of wind turbines. The video of the shadows they cast does make it look pretty irritating to have them that close to your home, I can only imagine how that would wear you down over time. Those turbines look too close to homes to me. But I hope Lynda Barry isn't relying on Nina Pierpont's science for backing: Pierpont has lied about her work being peer-reviewed, it doesn't seem very solid. But maybe that was the Chicago Reader's reference, not Barry's.
posted by harriet vane at 5:01 AM on April 10, 2010


Extremely easy-to-follow, award-winning, short (longest is 7 minutes) excerpts of e-learning courses from Vestas here for those who want to learn more.

Do the Texans know about this?
Yes. We've been interested in energy for a while now. I would guess that I don't know anyone who doesn't know about this.
posted by Houstonian at 6:21 AM on April 10, 2010


Yeah, that video of flickering shadows on top of residential homes is compelling. I'd never heard of that issue at all before now.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on April 10, 2010


Disclosure: my employer builds large-scale wind and solar.

The wind industry is getting crushed right now. The key culprits:

1) The collapse of natural gas prices. When natgas was $10 and above, the economics of wind were competitive with gas-fired plants, and this caused some utilities to purchase wind voluntarily.

2) The fulfillment of existing Renewable Portfolio Standards. Absent high gas prices to make the economics of wind work, many states passed RPS laws forcing utilities to purchase renewable. Most of the utilities decided to purchase wind (the cheapest renewable resource on a $/MWh basis), and have purchased most of their requirements, at least for the next five years. So we all rushed out to build in windy places like West Texas and Kansas and Oklahoma, and all the possible utility buyers connected to the grid have purchased what they need, and now I'm stuck with a bunch of projects in these places with no utility buyer. At least for the next few years. And because of the constraints of the transmission grid, I can't get the power from these windy places to regions where the utilities still have to buy renewable power (like California). And I have to have a utility buyer willing to pay me a fixed price over 20-years in order to get financing.

3) Collapse of the banks. The need of the banks to deploy capital and their desire for tax shields drove the wind building boom in this country. The link to the AWEA graph showing increased wind capacity is misleading; wind farms have at least a 12-month build cycle (assuming a 100 MW project) but the development cycle is at least two years in Texas (where permitting requirements are low) (and can be upwards of ten years in a place like California). The building boom in Texas, like in the Midwest and the Columbia River Gorge, really started in 2005 to 2007. During this period, the banks were flush and their risk tolerance was high. Now, the banks don't have the large tax bills, plus they're holding onto their capital and not investing the money (or they're offering terms that don't work). Buy me a beer and I can rant for hours about those fuckers at the banks.

In Texas, all that wind got built quickly in a relatively short period. But because that Texas is its own island of an electricity system, I can't export the power beyond the state. The integration of that wind into the ERCOT system has caused major transmission issues and the transmission operators are considering rules that would render most proposed wind projects uneconomic. Texas was a little unusual w/r/t to the financing because the power market was liquid enough that I could get hedge the power price with the commodity trading group of a major bank and pre-meltdown I could find a bank (usually the same bank that owned the commodity trading group) that would be willing to finance the project on the basis of that hedge (vs. a long-term power sales contract with a utility). But that is not possible today.

Talanvor: your electric bill has dropped primarily because of the decline in natural gas prices. Power prices in Texas are highly correlated to the price of natural gas (over 90% in most studies I've seen), and more specifically the price of gas at the Houston Ship Channel. I wish I could say it's wind that did it, but, as they say in Texas, it ain't.
posted by jchilib at 8:07 AM on April 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the assessment jchillb. I've been following Texas since the wind market started and its interesting to see how its gone.

The balance of evidence in Europe suggests that the RPS mechanism which is the dominant RE support mechanism at the state level in the US but which is supplanted by the tariff mechanism in most EU states, is superior in that the tariff reduces risk and this leads to reduced capital cost for developers. I think it would be interesting to see how those EU states with tariffs have dealt with the downturn. Taken on its own then the tariff would seem to stand up better since it guarantees the price and there is no possibility of exhausting the capacity limit. I suspect that the additional support might also play a part, for example, the soft loans available in Germany subsituting for the need for private investment to some extent, and it will be interesting to see the long term figures for installations in the different systems.
posted by biffa at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2010


"Yeah, that video of flickering shadows on top of residential homes is compelling. I'd never heard of that issue at all before now."

I couldn't seem to find any indication of how often and for how long the flicker lasts. Even in the worst case where the house is directly north of the turbine (and therefor the shadow is moving its slowest) the shadow, if I've done the math right, will on average be moving ~4 feet per minute ("~" because I used a circle rather than an ellipse). And even then the shadow won't follow the same path everyday because of the change in relative sun position over the course of a year.

That's not to say it wouldn't be objectionable when it's happening. Just that a shadow flicker for 30 minutes a day 14 days of the year is a different degree of annoying than a shadow for few hours a day everyday.

I've got to finagle a trip out to one of these large turbines someday so I can hear them myself. The audio example, minus the wind noise, reminds me of surf crashing on the beach that initially kept me from sleeping for weeks the first time I lived next to the ocean. Be nice to have a better feel for the magnitude and feel of the sound.
posted by Mitheral at 2:12 PM on April 11, 2010


Miterhal, I've visited quite a few wind farms for work, and one of the things most new visitors say is how quiet the tubrines seem in operation. it is possible to have one off effects in particular locations but generally the noise gets lost in the wind, which helpfully is always there when the turbines are operating.

Flicker has been regarded as an issue for a while. It can be pretty disturbing for people, even if its for a fraction of the day. It can also be a road safety issue if it falls across a road because of the rapid changes in light conditions it causes and the difficulty the human eye has in adopting to this.
posted by biffa at 2:26 AM on April 12, 2010


This morning the Texas Tribune has an article on the PUC choosing transmission routes for wind power to get it from West Texas to the metropolitan areas where it will be used.
posted by immlass at 6:59 AM on April 13, 2010


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