Wind energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Lately in our area there’s been a lot of activity surrounding the possibility of building wind farms.  The local electric companies already have one turbine each, but there’s been a push to put up more of the wind-powered generators. There’s a lot of angst on both sides of the issue here, primarily between those who want to make some money leasing their property and those who are concerned about the noise and “flashing” and such.  So, being the hot topic that it is, I was interested to see this article at the Illinois Review site.  I’ll go ahead and put the whole thing here, since it’s nice and short:

$873K FOR “LARGER” NUTS AND BOLTS

from Illinois Policy Institute

According to our transparency website, IllinoisOpenGov.org, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) gave an $873,700.00 grant (#09-463009) in fiscal year 2009 to Unytite Inc. for “equipment that will enable the company to produce the larger nuts and bolts used in construction of wind turbines.” The DCEO’s grant tracker explains “these larger bolts (up to 48mm in diameter) are beyond the company’s existing bolt-making capability.”

For those who don’t know about DCEO (most people call it “decco” around here), it’s a government agency that handles divvying up grant money for economic development in the state of Illinois.  There was – and I’m not sure if there still is – a local office in Quincy, where I’m from.

The way I read this grant information is that Unytite Inc. needed almost $1 million to expand their manufacturing operation to make larger bolts and nuts.  Well, I can understand why it would be pretty costly to tool up to make a bolt that’s nearly 2 inches in diameter – that’s a big bolt.  But why do the need money from DCEO to do so?

We’ve been told for years how evil coal and oil are as energy sources.  We’ve been fed scary stories about nuclear power til we assume they melt down all the time and turn us into mutants.  If only we’d embrace wind, hydro, and solar power, it would be sunshine, rainbows and lollipops until the end of time.

This grant to Unytite for bolts tells me that for some reason wind turbines aren’t efficient enough and don’t make enough (or save enough) money to be able to sustain the industry that builds them.  Yet again the government is propping up an idea and telling everyone how good it is, hoping that no one will notice that it can’t even pay for itself.

Think about this for a bit.  If wind energy was such a good idea and could make money, why in the world does the government need to subsidize it?  Our local government in my area is struggling to find ways to get into hydropower on the Mississippi River.  If hydropower on this river is a money-maker, why isn’t some private company already running a plant here?  How about another one – E85 ethanol.  Without government subsidies and cheap corn prices, E85 can’t be sold cheaply enough to offset the difference fuel mileage and power delivered.

Some would argue the old point: “But, wouldn’t you rather the money stayed here and have it go overseas to the oil countries in the Middle East?”  Yep.  You’re darn right I would.  And IT CAN!  Expand drilling here at home, and start developing nuclear power again.  Reduce our dependence on foreign countries first, get the fuel sources we need, and at the same time find EFFICIENT ways to harness wind, solar, hydro, ethanol – maybe even something we’ve not heard of yet.

We’re the USA, dammit! We thrive on challenge – it’s what makes us great!

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