Category: History  Listing Date: 2015-04-21
The Wind Wars
South Dakota certainly has its share of wind. One would argue that the Pierre area is the windiest, particularly during the legislative session. Residents in all areas of the state experience windy days. The flat plains of eastern South Dakota (East River) seem ideal for wind farms but do they make economic or environment sense?
I have to say that I don't have a horse in this race but I visited the White Lake wind farm a couple of years ago and have been to the Beethoven wind farm north of Avon, South Dakota but honestly I had not given it much thought until a recent trip to Spain.
Spain is beautiful country, however on a bus ride to Ronda one day and a trip to Gibraltar on another day presented views I had not anticipated. A lot of solar "farms" and a landscape full of windmills. Not the kind of windmills you might expect to see on the horizon of a country with such history. These windmills are the type that overpower. They reminded me of the animus being generated in eastern South Dakota between friends and neighbors by the proposal of yet another wind farm close to Avon, SD.
The Avon Clarion, of which I am a subscriber, has included a number letters to the editor over the past weeks from "friends and neighbors" on both sides of the debate. For those that live near existing windmills and those that may in the future, the nays seem to far outnumber the yays.
There is plenty of evidence and arguments all over the internet supporting both sides (just do a Google on the internet machine) but it seems that these monster mills cannot be profitable without significant subsidy. Spain and other parts of Europe have gone through or are going through the cycle of renewable energy experimentation. This renewable energy has become very expensive to the Governments involved and passing that cost back to the citizenry has met with significant push back. This article is an interesting read and of course you can find the opposite view point which in itself is puzzling since we all know that if it's on the internet it has to be true.
It may be that these giant windmills represent a step toward the development of something that makes sense; something that doesn't destroy the beauty of the landscape or disrupt the calm of a summer's evening. Let's hope that the "friends and neighbors" close to this issue can remain friends and neighbors and not become the angry mobs seen on the news.
In the meantime get your copy of the Avon Clarion and watch as the debate in this small eastern South Dakota community continues!