Wind power, as a form of so-called green energy, has been slowly gaining popularity. It has several disadvantages—as with other methods of energy production, the manufacture and maintenance of equipment may have indirect effects on pollution. There are also concerns about impacts on wildlife, especially birds, though this seems to be diminshed with newer designs. And wind power is intermittent and relatively low-density; it is uncertain how much of the world’s energy demand could be met through wind power alone.
And yet, wind power has some significant advantages. It is quite appealing because once wind turbines have been constructed, no fuel is required, and maintenance is generally low. Unlike hydroelectric power, the environmental impact is small, though wind farms do require a relatively large amount of land. As Wikipedia summarizes, “Wind energy is ample, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and mitigates the greenhouse effect if used to replace fossil-fuel-derived electricity.”
Yahoo! News reports that electric utility Southern California Edison has entered into a contract to eventually generate at least 1500 megawatts of power, the largest wind power contract in U.S. history. Wind power generation in the U.S. was around 2500 megawatts in in 2000; it has now increased to around 10,000 to 11,000 megawatts, according to the article. In general, California has been leading the United States in environmental issues.
I’ve been looking into the matter, and it turns out my region has a pretty good supply of wind power (see a Wikipedia map of wind power available in the U.S.). It turns out my local power company offers wind power for an additional one cent (USD $0.01) per kilowatt-hour, which is actually quite reasonable. Not only that, but some rough calculations I’ve done suggest that I could offset most or all of that if I were to change the three incandescent light bulbs I use most often to compact fluorescent light bulbs. As if that weren’t enough incentive, my power company also offers a 50% rebate for the purchase of compact fluorescent light bulbs. I’m quite impressed by the steps my electric utility is taking to promote environmental responsibility. What is your power company doing to help?
In other good news, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association just announced their 2006 awards, and An Inconvenient Truth was selected as best documentary. Have you watched it yet?
Update: There’s a new post about compact fluorescent light bulbs today at Saving Energy.