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Monday, February 1, 2010

Amerts Want to Build Wind Turbines in Madison!

In policy debate, we talk about overtagging, or powertagging, when a debater reads a headline or tag that completely exaggerates the main point of the evidence they read.

In the Madison Daily Leader, we talk about undertagging, when a headline totally undersells a story and misses the big news.

The latest star example: last Friday's headline, "Wind Turbine Ordinances Reviewed." Bad enough it's in passive voice—what, couldn't afford the ink to say "Commission Reviews Wind Turbine Ordinances"? I nearly skipped the story, thinking, "Great, the city read its rules. Call me when you actually do something."

This shoddy headline hid reporter Chuck Clement's real story. Seven paragraphs in, we learn that local construction magnates Don and Dick Amert want to build wind turbines in Madison. Amerts have a pretty clear plan: two 80-foot towers with 65-kW turbines sporting 27-foot blades. They want to sell the power to the city and thus offset their utility costs.

Clement's subdued prose makes it sound like the city's response was, Well, it's possible, but you'll have to work out an agreement with Heartland, and you'll need a fence and a lot of signs to warn people about those dangerous wind turbines....

Um, hello? City of Madison? Wind turbines! Locally generated power! Giant gleaming symbols of progressivity visible from miles away on the highway!

I've worked for Don and Dick. They are no crazy idealist hippies (well, maybe Don, just a little). They buy tools to get the job done. If these wind turbines weren't practical, maintainable machines that would produce a return on investment, Amerts wouldn't waste their breath on them.

Kudos to Amerts for forward thinking. Let's double-check the noise outputs and shadow flicker, talk to the neighbors, and sign that agreement! Let's get some Amert wind power into our grid!


  1. I can add a few details here for those who are interested:

    1. The ROR appears very good.
    2. For a good ROR, installations in the 100-150 KW range are ideal. Big enough that the generators are efficient, but small enough so that you don't have to jump up a level in regulation.
    3. The problems of sound and flickering are not seen for this size of installations (they generally occur in multi-megawatt installations).
    4. Rules are being put in place by the utility commission that will guide these types of installations in the future. Right now it's a lot of trailblazing to get this done.

  2. There's a great difference in offsetting part of their power bill and simply operating as a brokerage firm for their power to the city of Madison. Also, there is an acceptable noise level of 55 decibels that must be met and will be met by the seller of the turbines and Amerts. It seems that if Howard and Pipestone (just to name a few) can be progressive enough to supplement their power with wind turbines then so should the great city of Madison.
    Dan Bohl

  3. As a community, we need to get on board this quick moving train called wind power. The opportunities for development, service and manufacturing are going to blow right past us if we don't learn all we can about wind power potential and how it can help us, both in Madison and at our area lakes. Perhaps we should host a wind power symposium in Madison and invite those who make, service and sell everything related to wind power. We'll all learn, and expose Lake County's potential to the world.

  4. Thanks, Rod, for saying what I'm thinking. And, yes, Cory, we need to catch up to several counties and several area states in our approach to wind power ---- a renewable, clean source of power ---- in the nation's second windiest state, I might add. That doesn't sound really fattering, does it?
    Dan Bohl


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