American Hunter: Of windmills and wildlife

Font Size:

Walk onto a modern wind farm and you’ll feel like an ant in a field of sunflowers. Modern wind turbines stand 30-50 stories tall. Their blades swinging high above can be more than 130 feet long. Their steel towers are anchored in platforms of more than a thousand tons of cement and steel rebar, which are typically 30 to 50 feet across and anywhere from 6 to 30 feet deep.

Mountaintops have to be blasted flat to bear them. As you stand under one you’ll realize Don Quixote couldn’t have jousted with these giants, and then you’ll wonder if such leviathans are really all “green.”

Ken Salazar, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, thinks so. He recently declared that the federal government’s goal is to generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity from the wind. Achieving this goal would require an estimated 186,000 giant wind turbines that would collectively cover an area the size of West Virginia. Those turbines would also require around 20,000 new miles of high-voltage transmission lines to carry the electricity from windswept landscapes to distant cities.

Full story: Of Windmills and Wildlife