One of our New Year’s resolutions for 2011 is to switch to 100% wind power for our household’s energy needs. Powering our home with renewable resources is not only good for the environment, but it should save us money as well. Additionally, the company we are choosing will donate a small amount of our bill to our favorite charity. I figure it is a win-win situation all around!
In states where energy services have been deregulated, the local utility still controls the distribution of energy, but competitors are able to enter the market for the generation of energy. Therefore, while our bill will still come each month from our local utility, we are able to choose from where our energy originates. We have selected a company that purchases energy directly from renewable resources, as certified by Green-E. They offer several different plans, and we are selecting the 100% wind power option.
Electrical rates are variable, and while there is no way to guarantee what we will pay in the future, historically, rates from this company have been consistently several cents per kilowatt hour below the rates of our local utility. Should costs escalate dramatically, we can cancel at any time without penalty.
I simply can’t think of a good reason why not to switch to wind power!
In recent years, wind power has been criticized as being bad for wildlife — particularly birds. It’s true that any tall structure — cell phone towers, buildings and yes, wind turbines — pose a collision threat to birds. This can be minimized, however, by following fairly simple structural, lighting and siting guidelines that reduce the potential for wildlife interactions. Strobe lighting, for example, significantly reduces the number of bird collisions. Additionally, as with all development projects, care should be taken to avoid placement in important breeding grounds and migration corridors.
Bats, on the other hand, are a group of species of concern as structures such as wind turbines can interfere with their ability to navigate using echolocation. Ways to minimize this impact are currently being researched. And as the push for offshore wind farms moves forward, it will be important to remain mindful of potential or unknown consequences to marine ecosystems.
Overall, however, wildlife mortality can be cut significantly by implementing basic siting and structural recommendations for wind turbines. Though environmental impacts are never zero, they are minuscule in comparison to the ecological disaster that is coal mining. In my opinion, opposition of wind power on environmental grounds is generally a mask for “NIMBY” attitudes influenced by aesthetics more than anything else.
I am excited to get on board with wind power. What green resolutions will you be making for 2011?