By Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
I don’t how I feel about wind. Sometimes it blows the hat off my head, and I have to chase the hat while Benny Hill music plays and onlookers laugh at me. On the other hand (my good hand), wind keeps my kites in the air, jingles my wind chimes, and provides a nice cool breeze on a warm summer day. It also keeps the paperweight industry afloat. Here’s to wind!
However you view it, wind just got a lot more useful. According to the The Seattle Times, Principle Power has acquired the go-ahead from the Department of the Interior (I don’t know what they do either) to construct a $200 million offshore wind farm in the Pacific Coast, right at the spot where you like to fish. Set to be constructed in Coos Bay, Oregon, the wind farm would generate about 30 megawatts of power by 2017, which is enough to keep the lights on in 8,000 moderately-sized homes, assuming that none of them have year-round Christmas lights or a rock tumbler.
Since fish have no need for the power, the turbines will send their life-giving power along a cable buried three feet in the seabed, and back to a substation on land, where it will be sent out into the community for people to waste.
How does a wind turbine work? I thought you’d never ask (I totally knew you’d ask). You see, wind just flows about, lazy, aimless, going wherever the wind takes it, never really putting itself to any use, like my friend Pete. The wind turbine stands athwart the wind’s path and uses some of that windiness to turn a few propeller-like blades around a rotor. But the fun doesn’t stop there! If it did, the wind turbine would just be a really boring whirligig. No sir, that rotor then spins a generator to create electricity. And then we use that electricity to power alarm clocks and stereos and animatronic dinosaurs and whatnot. Pretty cool!
There are numerous environmental and fictional issues to be concerned about. For one thing, fish live in the ocean, or they at least appear to be using it at the moment. Who knows how a giant wind farm will affect them? The vibrations could cause them to bob up and down humorously, the electromagnetic waves might give them fishermen-defying superpowers, and the ample supply of dead birds killed by the wind turbine could cause them to rely on it as a form of food, eventually canonizing the turbine as a god. Have you ever seen a fish pray? It looks really weird because they can’t kneel.
Of course, back on land, where you and I live, people often complain about wind farms blocking their view of things, like other wind farms. This is one of the arguments for floating wind farms. By putting them out in the middle of the water, no views are supposedly being blocked. That may be shortsighted. Does a view need eyes to appreciate it? Sure, no one will live anywhere near these wind farms, but is not the platonic ideal of the ocean being tainted by such a farm? No? Well, how about the fish’s view? They have eyes, stupid-looking eyes. Is it fair for them to have to move down the block to get a better of view of the sky?
What about oncoming boats? A Titanic-like cruise ship could wind up hitting the turbine (“Wind turbine, straight ahead!”). Will a movie be made about it? Who will play Jack and Rose? And who will play the wind turbine? Would it not be simpler to just put a few blades on the Space Needle? It’s just sitting, not doing anything.
Look, I have a hard time getting worked up about a wind farm in the middle of the water in a place (Coos Bay) that totally sounds made up. There are various potential implications and hazards to placing a wind farm on the water. It could lead to more wind farms, until the entire ocean is a, well, ocean of wind farms that boats have to sail around to find the last remaining fish that weren’t killed by the wind farms. Or nothing could happen at all. So yeah.