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Old 11-23-2007
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The twist does incidentally reduce noise caused by stalling at the tips -- on many smaller turbines, the blade tips actually have a negative angle of attack, because their apparent wind is essentially in the plane of the blades, the tips are moving so fast. Some of those machines have tip-speed ratios of eleven or higher (tips moving eleven times actual wind speed).



About 35 miles north of my house in Wyoming is Foote Creek Rim, home to one of the largest wind farms in America. At last count, 183 big Mitsubishis on a mesa near Arlington. We also have large farms in Medicine Bow and on the Terry Bison Ranch south of Cheyenne. I fancy them. They look quite splendid along the skyline, like kinetic sculpture. But I'm biased -- wind power drives my entire house and business.

Designers could do a better job of blending the turbines into the landscape without making them significantly more a navigation hazard; visual impact is the number one complaint against them. Noise is the second, but that's not too honest: I've stood beneath the Arlington beasts in full flutter, and they are not loud. Had trouble hearing them over truck noise from the highway, which no one seems to notice. Third gripe is some vague notion of bird mortality. This perception, that wind machines puree birds by the thousands is provably false, and nearly all the websites devoted to hand-wringing over the issue are, provably, financed by the fossil fuels industry. The raptor mortality rates at Arlington are 0.03 birds per tower per year; more birds probably die on our front picture windows.

Some sailors use sea-based turbines as lighthouses and racing buoys. I love the idea of giving each tower a distinct code -- maybe the nav lights flashing colors? Blue-white-white means the twelfth to shoreward, style of thing?

Here's a funny Casper Star-Trib article on the Arlington installation: note the date (late October 2007), and the 105-mph wind speeds. Yeah, I recall that couple of days. It was pretty windy. (Now y'all see why I wanted a boat with some ballast?)

As for the "not in my back yard crowd": clean up your back yard first, then you'll have some standing in the matter. Anyone burning thirty-five kWh per day of electricity is in no position to pick and choose its provenance.
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