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Monday, March 5, 2012

Rural People Who Hate Wind Power

Posted by on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The people are in a doc that's screening at Northwest Film Forum. It's called Windfall; it shows the power machines as monstrous, and the country people as little people; it's unbelievable. From my review of this doc:

There are few people in this world I could dislike more than farmers and other country types who see the continuation of their quiet way of life as more important than the loud improvement, advancement, development of their society. True, some people in this doc do see the social importance of wind turbines, but the most passionate and determined folks are squarely against them. They want peace, they want to live like the good old days, they want to retire and raise their barn animals. Unbelievable!

I recall an old lady in Tacoma once telling me that she did not mind the noise of the huge military airplanes approaching or departing McChord Air Force Base because it was “the sound of freedom.” As a city person, I do not mind the sound of the light rail or the noisy construction of a public transportation system because it is the sound of democracy. Those wind turbines the country people hate so much are the sound of the future. Get used to it or move out of the way.


I lived above the train tunnel in downtown Seattle for four years. The constant rumble of the trains was music to my ears. Often, a very long train made "a journey to a land that seem[ed] to have bought an entire state." I always slept like a baby. Nor was I alone. This area was packed with sleeping and dreaming people.

So, you will not win sympathy from urbanists about "loud wind turbines." Seriously, the extent some people will go just to have a nice house, a piece of land, quiet neighbors, and all of that mythical, folksy nonsense. (To make matters worse, some of the loudest and most passionate haters of the turbines are city people who moved to the country to spend the end of their lives playing shepherds and shepherdesses—really, they should know better.) How I miss the sound of the train.


Comments (47) RSS

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Charles, you silly African ape. Trolling again, I see.
Posted by catsnbanjos on March 5, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
Interesting post. Here is a true story about a small town in Montana that was a railroad community for nearly a century. In the mid 1980's Burlington Northern closed it's train repair shops in the small town I grew up in laying off a few hundred people or relocating them to Iowa.

Around the same time a company came to the town and wanted to build something like several dozen windmills to generate electricity. It would have provided jobs to build the windmills and maintain the facilities. Needless to say the small town was opposed to the windmills because they weren't what the town was about and, this was seriously maintained, windmills cause pollution.

Moral of the story, most small town folks are just stupid people who live in a world cloaked in fear.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 5, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Lurleen 3
I think you mean "turbines".
Posted by Lurleen on March 5, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
TVDinner 4
Jesus Christ, Charles. It's not that hard to type "documentary."
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 5, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
The folks I know who hate on Eastern WA wind turbines are from the Seattle suburbs but own a patch of land on the East side. Their complaint is that the turbines obstruct the scenic view. Unless you are willing to live without electricity or generate your own, you really have no business complaining about the existence of power generation facilities within view of your property. The visual aspect is a part of the shared cost of a wired society.
Posted by Nezz on March 5, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
In your heart you know he's right 6
Did they interview the Kennedy family? When an attempt was made to put a wind farm off the coast of their compound RFK Jr and Ted tried to block it. Their view was more important.
Posted by In your heart you know he's right on March 5, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Charles, I love you. If only my uptight Seattle sensibilities did not prevent me from giving you a big hug next time I see you.
Posted by kathy. on March 5, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
TVDinner 8
Also, the sounds of wind turbines are really obnoxious. It's a constant hum, not an occasional passing sound, and it's the sort of thing no human being is immune from. I wouldn't want one in my neighborhood.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 5, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
I'm not surprised you are such a fan of turbines Charles. The represent the fantasy of so many city folks that all the dirty nasty energy that makes our fascinating urban lifestyle possible can be made somewhere else, with no negative impacts on anybody.

The humming city you love is made possible by salmon-killing hydropower and carbon fuming fossil fuels. And it will continue to be, likely for at least a century to come.
Posted by Westside forever on March 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
RebR 10
That tunnel is the longest in the U.S.

It runs from Washington to Virginia.
Posted by RebR on March 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
I think you could win people over to your side if you refrained from using phrases like "country types". It smacks of elitism and unnecessary cultural warmongering. Attack the idea, not people.
Posted by MassTheDutchie on March 5, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
biffp 12
Agree with @2 and @11. We're in a desparate mess that will require change, and people selfishly clinging to their piece at the expense of society is going to make it worse. I'm not sure that "country types" are different in this from investment bankers fighting all reforms, Rick Santorum opposing birth control or the Koch Bros working with the Supreme Court to destroy democracy.
Posted by biffp on March 5, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Fnarf 13
@8, there are no wind farms in "neighborhoods".

If you have a couple of hours to spare, you could do worse than drive over to the Wild Horse Wind Farm, which is only 15 miles east of Ellensburg on the Old Vantage Highway (an interesting drive in itself). The visitor center is lame beyond belief, but driving up the hillside surrounded by these humming giants is really, really cool.

It's super-easy to find -- just head east on I-90, take the main Ellensburg exit (business loop), and keep going on 8th instead of turning right on Main. 8th/University will turn into the Vantage Highway after it passes the university.

The Gingko Petrified Forest, further east on the Old Vantage, is worth a visit too. The visitor center there is a charming slice of 1958 architecture and science exhibit, with amazing views.
Posted by Fnarf on March 5, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this
I live in the city (well, JBLM) and dislike wind turbines. They're loud and god awful ugly. From what I've read, they're not the most efficient means of producing power, either. Compare the average footprint of a wind farm with the average footprint of a nuclear power plant.
Posted by jj41243 on March 5, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Fuck windfarms! I especially hate the part where they spew carcinogenic mercury and other toxic compounds into the air or violently melt down as the result of violent seismic activity, creating entire uninhabitable regions for hundreds of years. Yeah. This makes sense...
Posted by Vitriolforbreakfast on March 5, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 16

This post alone insures you will lose.

When a "farmer" is deemed unimportant, but some Green Fantasy that allows you to play your iPod without guilt, merely sacrificing a few people in the hinterland.

Urbist Dictators Must Fall
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on March 5, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
@14 Facility footprint is a pretty deceptive way to measure efficiency. You do realize that nuclear plants require mines to source fuel and someplace crappy to store waste. If you're comparing footprints, you have to at least look at those factors as well. To say nothing of the many dangers associated with nuke power.
Posted by Nezz on March 5, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
@6: Setting aside feasiblity, how well do you think something like this would go over if it were proposed off of Alki or Golden Gardens or the San Juans or...…
Posted by bigyaz on March 5, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 19
And apparently those stupid rural folks on Cape Cod hate them too, including some very famous democrats.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 5, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 20
"Land spreading out so far and wide, take Manahattan and give me that countryside!"…
Posted by thatsnotright on March 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
treacle 21
The point about Charles using dismissive language is valid, this is an ongoing issue. We live in a 'globalized' world... We cannot afford to engage in petty infighting and ill-advised wars. Everyone -all fucking 7 billion of us- needs to find ways to see each other as sister and brother. So dismissing a whole class of people as "types" is in itself very small-minded.

About turbines: I personally find them very aesthetic and beautiful. The constant hum could be a real problem, as could be the allegations that they kill birds and bats at a high rate. (details up unclear to me, but worth researching more). I wouldn't want to live next to a giant turbine, so I can empathize.

However, we do have to decentralize our energy production... That's the only clear solution for the present and the future. So we need wind power, as well as all other options. I can hardly wait until fusion is finally operative.
Posted by treacle on March 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
You really do hate rural people, don't you Charles? First you go on about the difference between hicks and rednecks, and how unsophisticated and dumb hicks are. Now you bitch about how people want peace and quiet and are unwilling to sacrifice it to better your life. How about this? We want the turbines made quieter. Because if you're going to put a giant migraine-machine in our yard, you can at least pretend you're going to work on turning down the volume. Or you could be Charles and complain that anyone unwilling to fall on the windmill sword is a selfish fuck who doesn't care that Charles once lived by a train.
Posted by charlie on March 5, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Sorry, but as a farmer in Eastern WA, I honestly don't know a farmer who WOULDN'T put these on their land. Farmers are about making money dude. Truly, the people complaining are those from the west side who don't want an obstructed view. Your elitist attitude toward us hillbillies is absolutely insulting. Rural folk are not all simpletons and there are many smart, industrious farmers. We even have shady make a buck at any cost scammy farmers too! When I lived in Chicago and Seattle there was certainly a decent amount of stupid people, and now that I live in a rural area, guess what! Still some stupid people! Bbl, gonna go tend to my "barn animals" now, I am but a simple country dunce.
Posted by DumbOlFarmer on March 5, 2012 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Fuck you, Charles.
Posted by k.wren on March 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM · Report this
I know one of the retired-microsoftie boomer nimby douchebags whose ability to enjoy his $500K "cabin" has been impacted. I don't think you could really call this guy a rural farmer hick, although he probably has some chickens up there in the pastures of Wallingford.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on March 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
Gotta agree with @9 - the wind turbines are a fantasy that lots of electricity can be made with no waste. The wind farms are ugly, whether in Eastern Washington, West Texas or the California Desert. And a big ass wind farm makes less electricity than a small nuke plant, never mind that a wind farm produces power at the whim of nature, where a nuke plant makes a consistent "base load".
Posted by WestSeven on March 5, 2012 at 5:30 PM · Report this
balderdash 27
Sometimes you post great stuff, Charles. Thumbs up.
Posted by balderdash on March 5, 2012 at 5:49 PM · Report this
I think wind farms look great. It's like, the future. Whenever I see one, I fully expect to see flying cars coming over the horizon. Instead, it's always grumpy farmers in an F-250. I'm sure their grandparents also thought that power pylons ruined the landscape.

Anyways, nuclear is the future of America. Heads up Noble Farmers Of The Heartland: you're going to hate those also.
Posted by tiktok on March 5, 2012 at 6:36 PM · Report this
onion 29
false equivalency. a farmer in the country is not the same as a charles in the city. charles chose to live above the noisy train tunnel. farmer chose to live in the country BECAUSE s/he had reasonable expectation for it to be peaceful.
city dwellers have reasonable expectation for access to things like public transport. turn off those buses and light rail that charles rides on every day...hear him squeal.
Posted by onion on March 5, 2012 at 6:40 PM · Report this
I've never lived near a wind turbine, but I stood right under one in the Netherlands and couldn't hear a thing. It was out in a field with a handful of other turbines, at least half a mile from the nearest building. Here's a hint: if the most densely populated country in Europe can find a place to put its wind turbines so they don't bother anybody, so can we in the US.

If I'd never seen or heard a wind turbine I'd give wind-haters the benefit of the doubt, but I have, so I have to call NIMBY. Either that or it's political--you just can't stand for anybody to get electricity without somehow giving Dick Cheney a piece of the action.
Posted by Prettybetsy on March 5, 2012 at 6:46 PM · Report this
To opponents of wond frms:

Go to Palm Springs (in California, east of LA) and you can see how benign wind farms can be.
The newer models are very quiet.

Go check it out before anyone reaches a conclusion.

I think they are beautiful, too,
Posted by David Sucher on March 5, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 32
I hate to comment on utility issues, because I spend all day thinking about them, and being polite to a certain segment of Seattlites who are convinced they know everything about everything, based on a few Google searches.

But I will say this: Not all rural types hate wind power. Iowa, for example, is second only to Texas in wind power generation. Wind supplies 20% of Iowa's electrical load.

Also, many people who grew up in a multi-generational farm family will remember that the windmill is what filled the cistern, which was a real labor saver. The downside was that you had to make sure you shut it down when there was a storm coming.

As for the Kennedy family and wind: As I understand it, Teddy was sort of a butt bag about it, but RFK was opposed to the location based on enviro concerns and the fact they would be turning control of public waters over to a private generation company. When they relocated it further off-shore, he was fine with it.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on March 5, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 33
Wind farms are indeed ugly. Put them far enough off-shore (at least 15 miles) and they will be all but invisible, but almost any other application will provide an ugly view for someone.

The one that was planned off of Cape Cod (which Kennedy opposed) would be hardly noticeable from, say, Nantucket - which is 14 miles away, but it'd be as close as 4 miles from other shorelines, where it indeed would be an eyesore.

However, back to rural: If each farmer had one turbine on his land (or maybe one per 100 acres for large farms), that could have a nice look to it. A solo turbine is stately and elegant - just as a solo grain silo is. (Or, for an urban comparison, as a solo water tower is.)

It's the concentration that makes wind farms ugly. A grid of 50 grain silos (or 50 water towers) would be hideous, too.
Posted by Free Lunch on March 5, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
@33 with all due respect, I just don't see how a wind farm is ugly. Surely if living in the country means anything, it means there's no HOA telling you which color you can paint your house. How is a wind farm any different from a sky-blue house with orange trim, plastic-wrapped windows flapping in the wind, and a few rusting appliances in the yard? I've seen both those things on country roads, and I'd take the wind farm any day.
Posted by Prettybetsy on March 5, 2012 at 7:50 PM · Report this
More of Chuckie's pseudo-intellectual bullshit. A previous generation suffered through his dick-tator sucking dad's pseudo-economic bullshit. (Just be glad neither of them pretended to be doctors.)
Posted by BetarayBilly2 on March 5, 2012 at 8:09 PM · Report this
There's a village of about 30 people near me that consists of farmers. The town board approved a wind farm in the area and the townspeople (aka rural conservatives) got in such a tizzy that they recalled the entire board and kicked the wind farm company out.
The wind farm company sued the town but has recently dropped the lawsuit - presumably because 1). it would cost more than the entire town and land is worth; and 2). The wind farm company may be able to put some up in near future.
Posted by Drew2u on March 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Sea Otter 37
More countries should do what Denmark has done and set up a system where people get tax exemptions for generating their own wind power, or buying shares in wind power co-ops. I believe in Denmark, you can also sell your wind power back into the grid when you generate excess power. This system apparently works quite well there.

I'm pretty sure that humming noise becomes a lot more tolerable when you have a personal investment in it.

Of course, wind power isn't a replacement for hydro, or coal burning, or nuclear power. Bottom line is, switching to "green" power will mean using less power, period.
Posted by Sea Otter on March 6, 2012 at 2:27 AM · Report this
The first thing you do going off the grid is buy a battery - not a wind turbine or a solar panel, there just used to charge the battery. It's impossible to sychronize how much electricity you're using with how fast the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. There are no batteries storing the power of industrial scale wind turbines, so instad gas generators are used to synchronize wind or solar output with grid demand. That's right, it does not displace fossil fuels, it DEPENDS on fossil fuels. Rural people usually don't bother with logic arguing with our urban cousins because most of them are fucking retarded.
Posted by 1carlos2 on March 6, 2012 at 3:14 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 39
Carlos dear, I hate to break this to you, but it's not 1970 anymore. They now have wonderful battery systems, some with several megawatts capacity (for utility use only, developed by those "fucking retarded" urban people while you off were watching re-runs of "Hee-Haw") .

And it's not about going "off the grid", it's about augmenting the grid. You are right that wind is transitory, just like solar, but those issues can and are managed by system operators - more of those meddling citified idiots.

Now do go sniff some Round Up or make some meth, or whatever it is you people do.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on March 6, 2012 at 7:07 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 40
While I certainly agree with the necessity of alternative energies and believe that general progress is more important then the personal wishes of the few, your disgust with people who are different from you is almost unbelievable. You do realize that white people who hate black people use the same thought process complete with the same fallacies, right?

A quiet, rural home is not just a mythical folk idea. It actually exists, and a lot of people prefer it. People who are no better or worse than you are. Is your self esteem so poor that you have to loudly denigrate everyone who does not believe everything you do, or has differing ideas of how to live?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 6, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Soupytwist 41
I grew up in orchard country, and when they crank up the windmills to keep the frost off the apples (or whatever it is those things are supposed to do), they get LOUD. You get used to it, it becomes white noise, and the windmills are a part of the landscape.

The air cannons they use to keep the birds off the cherries are a whole other story... I never got used to those.

The country isn't quiet. The desert isn't quiet. The forest isn't quiet. These are noisy places. The only truly quiet place I have ever been is White Sands, which I imagine is a lot like being on a glacier - sound just doesn't travel well.
Posted by Soupytwist on March 6, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
So, urban noise is the sound of freedom, and rural people (who presumably have some sort of reason not to want to live in urban areas) are supposed to embrace it too.

Okay. So urban noise doesn't bother you. A lot of people feel that way, but will start screaming bloody murder if they don't like a new piece of large urban art or the design of a new major building in the skyline (or the removal or renovation of a beloved existing one.)
Posted by Lymis on March 6, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 43
I have no problem with country folks. I'm from country folks. Growing up, I had a choice of five farms to "summer" at. I was one of the few in the family who wanted to keep the original Old Home Place, which is now owned by ConAgra or something.

What I do object to is the "I'm country and I'm stupid and belligerent" meme that you see these days. Farming is hard work and takes brainpower. Real farmers retire from it and move to town. Some Schmuck sitting out on an acreage gassing on about how they're a self-made rugged individual is just a parody.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on March 6, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
Charles, it doesn't happen often but you are absolutely right about this. People need to accept this tiny amount of minimal change in their world to dramatically improve life for everyone, including themselves.

It's just a shame you had to be such an uptight narrow-minded douche bag about it.
Posted by Root on March 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 45
Windfarms are the lighthouses of tomorrow. Everyone fucking loves lighthouses.

They're brick chimneys with a big flashing light on top. We just like them because they're emblematic of a trip to the coast. In a generation, windfarms would be the same way.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 6, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Bonefish 46
I love wind farms (aesthetically and politically), but Mudede (along with more than a few sloggers) are blatantly talking out of their asses.

You'd think it would be easy to draw the conclusion that maybe a lot of wind farm opponents are rural because THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE NEAR PROPOSED SITES.

If a wind farm is proposed in Burns, Oregon, then of course the opposition is going to be comprised of people from Burns rather than from Portland.

If we want to pretend that urbanites are well-informed sophisticates, we need to work on our "putting 2 and 2 together" skills.
Posted by Bonefish on March 7, 2012 at 5:15 PM · Report this
It's not the farmers, it's the rich assholes from the city, or god forbid, the suburbs, who sure as hell don't want their property values to drop because you can see a turbine from their house. The farmers would love it if it meant breaks on their electric bills, or they would earn some fee from having it on their land. Why don't they put them in cities too? Chicago would be great for it!
Posted by gnot on March 8, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this

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