Wind energy has pros and cons, but could benefit Wyoming, professor says RSS Feed

Wind energy has pros and cons, but could benefit Wyoming, professor says

Wyoming wind could power all of California at peak demand five times over, but allowing companies to develop wind fleets in the Cowboy State is a contentious topic.

Exchanging a scene of sagebrush on a pale horizon for a viewscape of turbine blades is considered a bad deal by many in the state. But Wyoming is also plodding through an economic valley, and the state’s key revenue drivers — coal, gas and oil — are each depressed. Talk of diversification enters every discussion on Wyoming economics. That dialogue frequently turns to wind energy, but more often than not those conversations leave a wake of uncertainty and frustration behind them.

Are the gales that blow through the state at 50 miles an hour an economic benefit in this time of trouble? Or is the development of wind a liability that blights the landscape and challenges an already troubled coal sector?

Those are some of the questions the University of Wyoming’s Jonathan Naughton wanted to address in a lecture series at University of Wyoming in Casper on Thursday. To a handful of students, the director of UW’s Wind Energy Research Center stressed that there are pros and cons to wind but that it represents an opportunity.

Wind development doesn’t please everyone in Wyoming, the professor said. There is something particularly irksome to the human ear when wind blades whoosh through the air. Others dislike the look of 100-meter turbines on the hills, and many argue that wind doesn’t offer the same payoff for development that a coal mine or drilling site does.

If Wyoming is going to continue developing its wind resources, it must be done with sensitivity to the downsides of wind farms, he said.
Read full article at Casper Star Tribune