Senator John Thune is on the radio grousing that his friends at Heartland and the other utilities have killed thousands of jobs by cancelling Big Stone II. Surely this means Senator Thune will change his mind about fighting "with every fiber of my being" climate change legislation that could bring South Dakota 5000 sustainable energy jobs.
It sounds to me like Senator Thune needs to get back to what I said back in September when Russ Olson set out on his now-failed sales pitch: Quit whining, build wind! For today's wild scheme, check out this new-fangled home wind turbine from Honeywell:
This gearless wind turbine can crank out 2000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year in areas with Class 3 wind. Class 3 is about as low as the wind gets in South Dakota. These 6-foot, 170-pound turbines generate power in winds from 2 mph to 42 mph—that's about as close to power every day as you're going to get.
Instead of sinking $1.6 billion (and I've read that was a 2006 estimate; the cost may have been up to $2 billion) into a massive capital project that no one utility could finance on its own, Heartland and the other utilities could each fund their own programs to help small farms and businesses install small wind turbines like these (along with solar panels!) that would help the utilities meet local peak demand without building more expensive generating facilities. And instead of waiting six years or more for a big coal plant to start belching electricity and air pollution, Heartland and homeowners could have a big network of on-site turbines and solar panels up and running within months. Senator Thune could help out by supporting federal support for such investments, the same way the feds are helping Black Hills Power and my own Sioux Valley Electric install smart meters and other energy-saving smart-grid tech. Invest now in the energy tech of the future, and 30 years from now, as we sit warm and cozy in our energy-self-sufficient communities, we'll look back at BSII as a wisely avoided boondoggle.
Yes, Senator Thune, Otter Tail and market realities handed the BSII dreamers some lemons. Now let's make some lemonade.
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