Wind Facts vs. the Windbags
Longtime wind energy critic Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is back on Friday, October 22nd to launch a faux news mocumentary of sorts, something he calls “Blown Away: The People vs. Wind Power.” You can watch his trailer here, and the full version debuts on Friday.
Tucker Carlson, of course has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories, including reveling in President Biden’s alleged and completely fictitious war on hamburgers.
Fact checking isn’t a priority for Carlson as he has been called out repeatedly for his odd attacks on wind energy in the United States previously. Earlier this year during the Texas winter storm, which knocked out 30 GW of thermal energy capacity, Carlson was among the first to blame wind when it was gas and coal that had failed Texas. The produced water from oil and gas operations froze in the pipes.
Back then, Tucker Carlson appeared on Fox News claiming that “the Green New Deal Has Come to Texas,” repeating the false claim that wind energy caused the outages, connecting it to his familiar themes of anti-elitism, rural authenticity played against ‘decaying’ progressive cities, and xenophobia. Carlson’s claims were fact-checked and discredited then, but now he’s back at spreading misinformation.
Even watching the trailer for his new opus, the lies and distortions are obvious.
For example, Carlson shows President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and says that wealthy people like Kerry promote wind but didn’t want it in their communities. Of course, not only did Kerry support Cape Wind in his home state of Massachusetts, but he supports the Vineyard Wind project which is, literally, in his backyard.
So, while we will wait to see Tucker Carlson’s “film” in its entirety, let’s start by pre-butting some of the outrageous allegations we already know it contains.
Hot Air Lie #1 About Wind: Wind Energy Hurts Property Values
- The most comprehensive study to date, published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2015 by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Texas A&M University, and San Diego State University, and involving data from more than 50,000 home sales among 27 counties in nine U.S. states concludes: “We find no statistical evidence that home values near turbines were affected in the turbine post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods.”
- Lawrence Berkley National Lab has conducted two other major studies on this topic (in 2009 and 2013), and in all cases, found no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measurable impact on home sales prices.
- Wind projects benefit all local property owners by driving economic investment and tax revenue. These funds improve roads, schools, and community services, while also keeping local taxes low– all factors that can positively influence property values.
Hot Air Lie #2: Wind Energy Is Bad for Your Health
- Wind farms help make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier, and millions of people safely live and work near wind farms every day.
- Wind power reduces U.S. healthcare costs by $8 billion each year through avoided air pollution that triggers smog and asthma attacks.
- By reducing carbon pollution by millions of tons annually, wind power also offers a leading climate change solution.
- Millions of people around the world live and work near operating wind turbines without adverse health effects, and more than 80 credible, peer-reviewed scientific data and various government reports in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom find wind farms pose no negative health effects.
Hot Air Lie #3: Wind Energy Is Noise Pollution
- Typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine.
Hot Air Lie #3: Wind Energy Ruins Your View
- As an industry practice looking at siting and setback areas is standard practice. A “setback” for wind turbines defines the minimum distance a turbine can be built from residential structures, property lines, roads, environmentally, visually, or historically sensitive areas, and other locations. Setbacks can be set by federal, state, and/or local governments depending on the project location. Setbacks help protect the safety of people and property.
- Developers site turbines to minimize impacts to officially designated scenic resources and work with communities to minimize impacts to viewsheds.
Hot Air Lie #4: Wind Turbines Are Dangerous and Can Kill YOU
- No member of the public has ever been hurt by a blade failure as far as ACP is aware.
- Modern wind turbines are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and specialized sensors that automatically shut down the turbine if certain performance or safety triggers are exceeded.
- Blades are designed to withstand extreme weather events including tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning strikes.
- According to the US Department of Energy, “Wind turbines have an excellent safety record…Blade throws, a failure in which a turbine blade becomes detached mid-operation, are virtually non-existent on today’s turbines due to better engineering and the use of sensors. Although this type of failure was a concern in the early years of the wind industry, modern wind turbines are reliable, safe, state-of-the-art power plants with hundreds of thousands of hours of operating experience.”
- Reasonable setbacks and operational safety measures result in an exceedingly low risk level.
- Setbacks can be a fixed distance or a distance relative to the turbine height (e.g., 1.1 times the turbine tip height).
Hot Air Lie #5: Wind Energy Isn’t Reliable
- Renewable resources have proven their ability to deliver large amounts of electricity without reliability issues arising.
- At times wind energy provides 60% or more of the total electricity in the Southwest Power Pool, a system that encompasses parts of 14 states and stretches from Texas to North Dakota. Six states generate more than 20% of their electricity from wind, with two – Iowa and Kansas – generating over 40% from wind.
- Advances in the field of energy storage are helping boost the reliability of renewable energy sources even further, by capturing the solar or wind energy when it is generated and then releasing it during times of higher power demand.
- Hybrid projects are emerging that combine clean resources like wind, solar, and battery technology into one diverse energy product. This is the future. Combined technologies working together promise to make the total greater than the sum of its parts and provide an even better, more efficient, and more reliable energy source for Americans.
- The reality is that no energy source generates electricity 100 percent of the time. For example, coal yards in Texas flooded during Hurricane Harvey, forcing coal plants offline, and nuclear plants along the Florida coastline had to shut down due to concerns over storm surges. Likewise, coal piles froze, and natural gas pipelines failed during the 2014 Polar Vortex due to the extreme cold, while renewable energy generators kept generating.
Hot Air Lie # 6: Wind Energy Emits Low Frequency Pulses That Make People Sick
- Multiple public health agencies have studied modern utility scale turbines and have determined that there are no adverse health effects resulting from wind turbine exposure. The most recent review published this earlier year includes authors from the Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and the Environment.  This review concludes:
- “There is no evidence that diseases or afflictions can result from infrasound or low-frequency sound that are different from such effects of ‘normal’ sound. Any sound, including wind turbine sound, can be annoying and in some people lead to stress. There is no need for a Wind Turbine Syndrome based on erroneous ideas of the impact of sound, just as there is no need for a Road Traffic or Aircraft Syndrome (even though these noise sources can also lead to stress).”
- The ubiquitous presence of inaudible infrasound at levels close to or above wind turbine infrasound levels demonstrates that such levels cause no harm. If so, walking would make us ill because of the air pressure variations at the ears during walking. “It is important to note that there are more than 65,000 utility-scale wind turbines operating across the United States with hundreds of thousands of people living in proximity to these wind turbines without adverse reactions. The wind industry takes community health concerns very seriously and as evidenced by the extensive literature on the subject, wind farms do not represent a health hazard.