Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Energy: Wind vs. Solar in Taos

Taos seems the perfect place for a battle between wind energy and solar energy advocates. Actually, the solar folks are much more than advocates, passionate prophets, perhaps, in the intensity of their opposition to a 40-turbine wind farm on private land west of Taos proposed by Taos Wind Power Inc. of Ranchos de Taos. Opponents' unhappiness covers the usual basics, reported The New Mexican on Sunday, "health impacts of noise and low-frequency vibrations from wind turbines, flashing strobe lights changing the night sky, turbine blades killing birds and giant structures forever changing the open plateau's landscape." The opponents are more than unhappy, they are angry, The New Mexican said.
Some of the opponents live in the Cielito Lindo subdivision near the site. Homes in the subdivision mainly use solar power. In the subdivision there are off-the-grid homes. Construction materials include straw bales. Supposedly the homes have no negative impact on the environment, except, of course, the impact of building the homes and of people living in them.
Another element in the story is: Establishment vs. counterculture. The establishment is Eliu Romero, Taos attorney and founder of Centinel Bank. After nearly 40 years in business, notes the bank's Web site,, "Today Centinel is one of very few minority-owned financial institutions in the United States."
Yesterday the Taos County planning commission voted 5 - 2 to approve the application for the wind farm. The commission attached 31 conditions to the application by Taos Wind Power.
Opponents have created a blog to present their views, The opponents were outraged at the commission's action yesterday. The blog said, "But tonight the worst of modern America was on display. Entitlement, arrogance, cronyism and ignorance ruled, while our regulatory protections were stomped on. We thought tonight was going to be about Taos Wind Power, but it turned out to be about one very broken regulatory system."
The Web site for Taos Wind Power is: The site says the company is working on projects in Colorado and Montana.

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