Van Dyke: Wind power project should not be obstructed

Back in April (“Wind farms and polar bears,” April 24), I wrote about the wind farm projects being hatched by Tim Carlson and his company, Nevada Wind. The story back then focused on projects out in the eastern part of the state, in White Pine and Lincoln counties. Well, Carlson and company are making news around here now, and it’s exciting stuff.

The story came out a couple of weeks ago. Nevada Wind wants to plant 20 to 50 giant wind turbines, up to $300 million worth, in the high country of the Pah Rah range. The result would be a serious wind farm, making clean, renewable energy that could produce enough electricity to power as many as 125,000 northern Nevada homes.

The Pah Rahs separate Warm Springs Valley, also known as Palomino Valley, from Pyramid Lake. A better location for a wind farm is difficult to imagine. And it wouldn’t be all that large, area-wise. As Carlson said, it takes about one acre per turbine. So a 50 to 100-acre facility, built in an area that already has a few roads servicing a communications outpost up there, seems like a gentle enough proposal that would be easy to approve.

“Seems” is the key word here. You never know when somebody is gonna get their NIMBY panties in a wad. In the case of this project, I’d be surprised if that happened. But, then again … not really. Because that Not In My Back Yard mindset is fairly well-entrenched these days, and surfaces a lot, even in situations when it’s not particularly appropriate. And let’s face it. There are many times when NIMBY attitudes betray an effete, elitist stance that’s somewhat detestable. As in “build it somewhere else where the folks can’t afford the lawyers that we can.”

As we head into this new era of enormous transition, where more and more firms are coming up with ways to actually build and deliver significant amounts of renewable energy, it’s time to give the NIMBY screeching mindset a bit of a break. Not tied up, boxed up, and hidden in the darkest corner of the garage, maybe, but certainly backed off in favor of the common, greater good. Backed off in the spirit of compromise, a spirit that’s going to be tapped frequently in the near future.

So anybody out there who’s even thinking about bitching about Nevada Wind’s Pah Rah Plan because you think the turbines are “ugly” or some other equally flaccid argument, just please … be quiet. Don’t mess it all up! Yes, wildlife concerns are important, and devices that would warn birds and bats to stay away should be required. I’m sure Nevada Wind is aware of all that. Bottom line here: It’s time for us to suck it up and start saying yes to getting some things done. This one, from what I’ve seen so far, has the look of a no-brainer that should sail through the county commission.