I am adding a political commentary section because wind turbines are actually driven by money and politics. They are not about energy production, since for the huge expense, we get virtually no readily available, reliable energy. There are no firm numbers on production, no studies showing on their efficiency in the field, only anecdotal evidence and comparison to countries in Europe. The wind industry has existed for over 10 years in the USA. Firm numbers do exist, though the numbers do not seem to be part of the sales pitch for turbines.
I have designated a new term for politicians that is similar to the NIMBY designation that is so condescendingly thrown about to refer to people who don't want a wind power plant in their backyard: FREMS Fiscal Responsibility Except for My State. This applies to politicians who want the government out of their states and to cut the federal budget EXCEPT when it applies to money for their state. For example, those who vote to extend oil subsidies and ranch subsidies but not farm subsidies. Those who turn down certain grants while lapping up subsidies for alternative energy claiming it creates jobs (the theme seems to be that any subsidy that claims to create jobs is the way to go, whether or not jobs are actually created). Those politicians who say "we have to use our resources" while actually taking everyone's money and propping up industries that are totally ineffective.
This section will start with Wyoming politicians since I am most familar with their records. It will include how each votes on wind, since the current feeling in Washington is politicians will rarely vote to stop a worthless subisdy that they believe will make them look green (and trust me, it does, though not in the way they were thinking). It's time to show the reality that those using the term NIMBY are just as guilty of self-interest as they accuse others of being, starting with those individuals handing out the money.
Both senators from Wyoming voted to extend 1603 grants and other subsidies to the wind industry. (Our lone representative does not appear to have voted for the bill. Thank you, Representative Lummis.) This is while complaining about $4.00 per gallon gas, which actually creates many high paying jobs in Wyoming. Your tax money is distributed to an industry that cannot stand alone in a free market and has no evidence of effectiveness, yet high prices creating jobs in the oil patch are bad and the government has to stop that from happening.
Voting to keep spending tax payer money to "create jobs" is seems irresponsible. That's not the government's job. Or at least that what most of the representatives from Wyoming have claimed when campaigning. In all honesty, Barrasso did say he was going to get Wyomingites all the money they have coming to them. He did not really say how one would determine how much money Wyoming was owed nor how the money would be distributed. So in that sense, he is doing what he promised--dumping federal money into Wyoming (while complaining about deficit spending, of course).
While our federal representative are lapping up all the money they can from subsidies, our governor is trying to turn away federal money (extending unemployment benefits). Of course, that's what he's saying to the press, while holding his hand behind his back and taking all the federal subsidies for wind power possible and giving tax breaks and business incentives to a wind turbine component plant for Cheyenne. It's the politically correct way to appear sincere in cost cutting while doing nothing of the sort. Always use indirect subsidies so people have no idea how much federal money is involved. (This website makes the arguement that wind developers need to hide as much information as possible: http://blogs.northcountrypublicradio.org/inbox/2010/09/28/its-time-for-green-energy-to-hide-its-subsidies/ )
Politics is a strange and confusing realm......
July 2011 Update
With budget battles raging, politicians continue with the subsidizing of anything that might get federal money for their states. In Wyoming, our representative does not seem to be following this path. She seems genuinely interested in solving the budget problems and using proven technologies for energy.
Trillions of dollars in debt should be a red flag to start sorting out unworkable programs. However, in the USA and globally, those pushing unproven technologies and wanting to tax CO2 are ramping up the fight to keep putting money into "environmentally friendly" energy forms, none of which have been proven to work other than in extremely limited capacities. Even though few jobs have materialized, renewable energy keeps claiming there will be jobs. Wyoming Senators appear to believe this, even though 9 wind turbine sights in Wyoming yeilded only 50 job. At 2 million dollars for the turbines alone, you would think the payback in employment would be higher. Or maybe that does not matter as long as people believe jobs are being created? Neither Senator has answered my follow-up questions. Which makes one ask: "What is this person really interested in? Fiscal responsibility or re-election?" I think you can guess.....