A Blustery Blog

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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(Two Norwegians on their first visit to South Dakota)
  “Doss da vind alvays blow dis vay?”
“No, I hear dat sometimes it blows da odder vay.”
I know, I know, windy days are all part of the great South Dakota living experience but, like me, it’s getting old.
I’m tired of worring about the huge maple trees in our yard bending to the breaking point as they sway back and forth like a hula dancer on crack.
 I’m tired of it blowing so hard that you have to yell at the person next to you outside in order to be heard.
Oh, wait..that might just mean it’s time for Linda to change her hearing aid battery. (Yes, I’ll pay for that one.)
I’m tired of pulling out the driver to have a chance of reaching a short par three at the Brandon Golf Course when the wind is howling out of the South or a sand wedge on the same hole when it’s blasting from the North.
 
When people were saying nice things about me in the days and weeks leading up to my retirement last winter, one of the most common comments was that I always seemed to have an optimistic view of the world.  I even helped perpetuate that perception. But it was a lie..at least where the wind is concerned.
The real optimists are those who experience two weeks of gale-force winds and say things like “well, it’ll help dry up the flood areas.” Or, “It keeps the gnats and mosquitoes off.” Or, “Instead of golfing, boating or fishing, these prairie hurricanes give me a chance to catch up on those indoor projects I’ve been putting off.”
 
Prolonged windy days also get people talking again about all the money South Dakota is blowing by not building wind generators by the thousands to harness this abundant resource we have.
 
Nearly everybody from politicians (of both parties) to environmentalists to farmers have jumped aboard the wind power bandwagon.
Just last week I heard a report on MPR that said South Dakota has the potential to generate enough wind energy to supply half of the nation’s electrical needs.
Trouble is, according to the report, the state lacks policies that encourage wind power and doesn’t have transmission lines to get the energy where it’s needed most and building them would be a very expensive proposition.
 
I just wonder if we’ve really thought this thing through.
Do we really want thousands and thousands of those 300 foot tall whirligigs cluttering up our landscape so South Dakota can be the electrical outlet for the country?
 
I know…wind generators are fascinating to look at..for a while anyway.. and they would provide a badly needed source of income for farmers who are already raising corn for "fuel" instead of food. But what about long-term? Who is really in charge of construction, maintenance, distribution and control of costs?
Why is the environmental crowd so in favor of this passive energy source here in South Dakota but is fighting tooth and nail against construction of proposed giant wind turbines off the shores of Cape Cod because wealthy sea side homeowners don’t want their pristine ocean panorama spoiled?
What makes their panorama any more precious than ours?
 
I’m just askin’.

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