Moultrie Observer

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Opinion

March 17, 2012

Maybe a new book: 'Back With the Wind'

MOULTRIE — Back in February, a federal review panel announced that proposed offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean would not pose any environmental damage. Who would have thunk it?

I thought it would have gone without saying that the wind is about as clean a power source as you can get. But then I’m just a layman who grew up on a farm where a windmill pumped all of our water for household use and livestock. So what would I know? I mean I don’t have a Ph.D. in windmillology. I only have a working experience and a little common sense relative to this subject.

That old windmill still stands on the old home place off Wolf Creek Road in Grady County. It’s one of the few left in the county from a time period of what was known as the “Arab Farm Projects.”

A lot of people have tried to buy that windmill. But I won’t sell it. That’s part of my life. It would be like selling my little brother, if I had one. If you put a new drive shaft on it and hooked it up, it would still pump water.

It stands there as a monument to a time when people didn’t lock their doors, when a handshake was a contract and when you could drink from a stream without having to be tested for heavy metals.

Yessiree Bob, experts have now determined that windmills are safe. They have noted that cows will graze around them without being disturbed. If they had asked me, I could have told them that. But they did note that an occasional bird will fly into the propeller. But they also will fly into power lines, sliding glass doors, windshields and jet engines. Despite that, we still have plenty of birds. And in all my years of growing up around that windmill, I never knew it to cause the demise of a spotted owl.

I’m not sure what it cost for this environmental impact study, but if it was more than the price of a tank of gas to go out and stare at a windmill in action for a few minutes, then some money got wasted. Or they could have just asked the Dutch about them.

You see, windmills are reasonably quiet. They don’t emit any kinds of pollutants unless you’re smoking pot while you’re greasing the bearings. And if you do that, don’t get the idea that you can just fly down when you get finished.

Staring at that old windmill the other day, I thought how poetic! It’s like the whole time, as we have discussed an energy crisis, that it was screaming, “Try me! Try me!” Someone should write a book: “Back With the Wind.”

Now these new windmills are nothing like the one I grew up with. They are new and improved, kind of like toothpaste and washing powder. But much more is expected out of them. And of course they are designed to turn turbines which generate electricity. My windmill only pumped water.

Anyway, these new windmills we are talking about would be way out in the ocean. Therefore, the question about cows grazing around them is a moot point.  Or maybe I should say a “moo” point.

Now I’m not naive to think that the windmill is the sole answer to our energy issues. I’m just saying it can help. Obviously, a windmill can’t be used to power our cars. That would really be a silly sight. Besides that, look what it would costs to raise all the overpass structures along the interstates. I see wind power as just one tool in the shed.

There’s been speculation through the years that people who lived around big power lines suffered health issues as a result. I don’t know if that was ever confirmed. But I’m not aware that having grown up under a windmill has affected me adversely, although my wife might argue the point. She looked at me rather strangely the other night when I had a banana sandwich and a bowl of butterbeans for supper.

(Email: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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