Whenever the Union-Bulletin prints an article about windmills, it includes a prediction of the amount of generated electricity, using a standard formula: megawatts divided by three equals thousands of households served.
This formula has a serious shortcoming: it ignores the wind.
Portland General Electric is about to build 116 windmills in Columbia County west of Dayton, an area where numerous anemometers on meteorological towers confirm that no electricity will ever be generated. This construction will permanently destroy 232 acres of prime farmland, including the beautiful wheat variety plot trials on Pettichord Road, where just two months ago, WSU researchers praised local farmers for their stewardship of a precious natural resource.
In addition, this construction will adversely affect 928 more acres, because gigantic obstructions in the middle of farm fields make it inefficient to use modern farm equipment.
Despite the fact that no electricity will be generated, landowners will receive lease payments, and PGE will receive tax credits and subsidies, as if the standard formula applied. For a landowner, this will amount to about $35,000 per year per windmill.
Whitman College owns the 1,000-acre Usher farm, upon which PGE will build 13 windmills. Naturally, Whitman College will be delighted to receive half a million dollars per year in windmill lease payments, which is far more than the $93,000 per year Whitman typically gets in crop shares from the entire Usher farm.
Funny, isn’t it, that pretend energy is worth more than real food.
Despite the fact that no electricity is being generated, the tax credits and subsidies paid to PGE will amount to $3.5 million per year per windmill, which is ever so much more than is needed to build the new gas-fired power plant from which PGE will get its electricity.