Evanston’s Windfarm Committee urged aldermen Monday night to continue research on the possibility of building a windfarm off the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline, but several residents urged that the idea be dropped. What do you think?
Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now. More by Bill Smith
Why Stop the Study
Of course we should continue to research this. Continuing to study the Wind Farm Idea for it's possible net benefit it wise. It's feasibility hasn't been ruled out. Stopping the study before solid results are in would be silly. It would be ASSUMING that it's not feasible BEFORE feasibility is established one way or another. The study must go on.
Entertaining the idea that a wind farm off the shore of Lake Michigan would be a terrible idea. One of the most beautiful and powerful daily events that occur as the sun rises over the horizon of Lake Michigan will be destroyed. No matter how far they put them out there.
It will only be for the benefit of the greed hungry profiteers and politicians who are see this as a "wind" fall to make money!
Whatever happened to the natural gas facility that was built by the city with taxpayers money to support the Evanston city vehicles that were going run on natural gas?
Oh yeah, the city council brain trust bought it, didn't support it, then sold the components for scrap.
Now windmills! Just fix the potholes.
Windmills in Lake Michigan?
If Evanston wants to put windmills in Lake Michigan, I don't see how it gets done. I thought that the Governors from the bordering states had to give permission for anything to be done to or in all the Great Lakes. Didn't Mayor Daley (or one of his cronies) want to put a refinery at the south end of Lake Michigan and it got shot down – severely? isn't there a watchdog group from all the bordering states that have to give permission to do anything in any of the Great Lakes? Also, Canada?
btw, how are they going to do this, build an island in the lake w/windmills on it? Have a barge floating in the lake w/windmills?
What I want to know, too, is who's going to get richer by this project, certainly not the tax payers of Evanston.
Again, I don't think any municipality can do anything they want in and to any of the Great Lakes.
Wind farms not a good idea for densely populated areas
How far out in the lake are we talking about putting this wind farm? I don't think people realize that while wind farms sound like a very touchy-feely and gentle concept, they are actually quite noisy, and they can cause a strobing effect with sunlight that can give people living near them severe headaches (if the noise doesn't). They really belong in deserted areas where there aren't a lot of people (this took me about half an hour of research on the Internet to find out–it would be really nice if some of this town's most active activists thought and reflected a bit before bringing stuff like this to the council).
Wind farms in densely populated area?!
Let me first be clear that I have zero opinion regarding wind farms. My concern rests solely with the financial burden placed on tax payers by our incompetent city government, and dare I say it? A City Manager who repeatedly disregards the law, but effectively creates smoke screens to divert attention. In answer to 'who benefits?', I humbly suggest you look there, first.
I have the understanding that the proposed location of the wind farm is a number of miles offshore, approximately 8 miles if memory serves. As far as I am aware, there is no bi-ped population inhabiting that area, thus the 'noise' and 'strobing effect' would not be a factor.
Further, and continuing to assume the location of 8 miles out, the Chicago skyline is barely discernable when viewed from the lake. My feeling is that the windmills will not mar the beauty of the sunrise unless you are watching it through binoculars… or you are Sarah Palin.
Angry much? Ok, if we’re
Ok, if we're talking 8 miles out, then yes, I would have to agree with the person who wonders how Evanston would have the authority to put something way out there, far from any taxpaying bi-ped constituency. As I recall NU wasn't even permitted to mess with its already existing lakefill a few years ago without permission, which they didn't get.
Wind Farm Support
I support the offshore wind concept and concur with the Mayor’s Commission recommendations that we continue to move forward and that Evanston take a leadership role in establishing policies at the state level.
For in-depth responses to many of the questions that have been raised I’ll call your attention to research done on the topic by the Renewable Energy Task Force of Citizens’ Greener Evanston. Their FAQ on the topic presents the results of hundreds of hours of research, all done by volunteers at no cost to the city.
Every kilowatt of power generated by a wind turbine is one less kilowatt of coal or nuclear generated electricity. Displacing coal improves our air and water quality significantly, both in the short term by reducing emissions of mercury, sulfur and nitrous oxides, and in the long term by reducing CO2 emissions which contribute to global warming. Displacing nuclear will take some of the burden off of our rapidly aging and deteriorating fleet of nuke plants, reduce the amount of nuclear waste that must be stored for thousands of years, and decrease the chance of a tragic accident.
Generating the electricity offshore offers several benefits over land-based generation. Being closer to the point of use, significantly less energy will be lost in transmission. With offshore wind blowing faster during the day compared to land-based winds which peak at night, offshore turbines provide power when it’s most needed. Moving turbines offshore will eliminate the most frequent objections (even if they’re incorrect) to land based turbines—that they’re loud and the shadows are disturbing. Also, we don’t have an unlimited supply of land for on-shore turbines—our downstate neighbors are imposing ever stricter zoning requirements which is making land-based wind farms more and more difficult.
Of course, nothing is going to happen if it doesn’t make economic sense, and the truth is it doesn’t make economic sense at the moment. The price of gasoline may be up, but our electricity prices are really very low by any reasonable standard. But that’s going to change, sooner rather than later, and at some point an offshore wind farm will be a viable option for a private developer funded with private capital. I’d like to be as ready as we can be by then.
The state has begun to consider their role in an offshore wind farm, and the proposed state commission includes seats for representatives from lakeshore communities. The City of Evanston is well placed to ensure our community is represented on the state commission, and I’d like Evanston to take a leadership role in moving this forward.
Politics and the wind farm
There are underlying, prevalent problems in Evanston’s pursuit of an offshore wind farm; including, but not limited to the exclusion of factual information on issues raised. It was recently brought to my attention that this problem is indicative of a much larger problem; how things are being handled by our current City government. The City’s “business as usual” is a highly political and exclusionary process that does not necessarily translates into what’s best for the residents of Evanston.
Yesterday, the Evanston Wind Committee Minority Report, (Minority Report) was posted on the City’s website, but only because I made an issue about its omission to the City’s Sustainable Programs Coordinator. Her response was she needed to the consult the City Manager regarding my request. I had also sent email copies of my correspondence to her to the Mayor and Council members. Shortly after receiving an email from one of the Council members: “I would like all information, including the minority report, shared with the council and posted wherever the majority report appears on the city's website. These are professional environmental engineers who happen to disagree with the findings. Why would we want to exclude this information?” the City’s Sustainable Programs Coordinator did end up posting the Minority Report.
The Minority Report’s omission is significant; please take the time to read it: http://www.cityofevanston.org/government/boards_committees/Minority%20Report%2020JUN11.pdf This report by Wind Farm Committee members Joe Jaskulski and Fred Wittenberg is in strong opposition to any further development of offshore wind and articulates why the City should immediately stop any further involvement. An informed decision cannot be made without the crucial information contained in the Minority Report. While all members of Mayor’s Wind Farm Committee bring to the table a breath and depth of expertise, Joe Jaskulski’s expertise in the energy industry far surpasses, most, if not all of the members of the Mayor’s Wind Farm Committee. Joe Jaskulski is a Senior Executive with a strong record of leadership and thorough knowledge of the energy industry in the United States and international experience in United Kingdom, Canada, Guatemala, and Guyana. His green energy experience includes wind energy construction, smart grid implementation, building energy conservation measures. Joe’s experience is comprehensive and in all aspects of the independent power industry; development, financing, operations, maintenance, asset management, and facility acquisition. Fred Wittenberg’s enterprise is in a long history of environmental & mechanical engineering. A summary of their expertise: Fred Wittenberg is an Environmental & Mechanical Engineer, licensed in Illinois for 31-1/2 years. Retired from 30 years of governmental service, he worked for the City of Evanston and is now President of Envimech.
Just think what a few well-placed propellers in a City Council meeting could do!!!
Continue studying wind farm prospects
Reading through the responses to the original report on the wind farm, I suspected that the writers were not aware of the very extensive FAQ prepared by CGE’s wind farm taskforce. This group has worked very hard to develop answers to a large number of questions that installing a wind farm in lake Michigan raises. The subject is complex and there are many uncertainties and probably many educated guesses by the “experts.” But some facts are reasonably certain and would-be critics would do well to read through the FAQ before going public with their opinions. Go to: http://www.greenerevanston.org. Click on: Renewable Energy on the homepage; then on the page that comes up, click on: Evanston Offshore Wind Farm Project FAQ.
As far as I can see, none of the objections speaks to the question whether Evanston should continue to study the wind farm issue. My own view is that the city would be remiss if it did not keep well-informed about developments. The city may also have an opportunity to have a voice in the proposed Lake Michigan wind farm council (the bill awaits Governor Quinn’s decision). To pass that up would be a mistake. Eventually Evanston may even be in a position to influence some of the aspects of a wind farm installation in Lake Michigan; whatever the outcome, the city probably will have to make decisions regarding the effects on its residents. Evanstonians should want their city government to be in a position to make sound judgments. Shutting down the inquiry would be a mistake.
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