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Blowing Away the Windmill Lies

Oops. It would appear that there is more to clean and renewable energy production than we have been led to believe. Moreover, due to the intermittent nature of wind energy, nearby fossil-fuel power plants still have to be kept running in order to cover for the down times. Any overall reduction in carbon emissions is minimal. Moreover, the windmills often require trees to be cut down and roads to be cut into pristine countryside. Birds and other animals fall prey to the massive blades, and such is the pressure created that bat lungs explode. A bat expert quoted in the documentary speculates that massive deployment of windmills could put bats at risk of extinction. The more you look into windmills, then, the more they seem like the 21st century’s ethanol -- a huckster cure that does little about the disease or maybe makes it worse.

So why are these windmills being built in the first place? As is often the case when something bizarre and senseless catches on, there is a one-word answer. Government provides huge subsidies to wind production, and it’s not much of a surprise when Windfall looks at a list of investors in the monstrosities and names like “Morgan Stanley” and “Goldman Sachs” pop up. Apparently depreciation schemes encourage the wind farms to be sold and re-sold and re-re-sold to generate tax advantages -- a blizzard of paperwork that snows over the original green purpose. Absurdly, the state of New York announced in 2004 a goal that 25 percent of its energy would come from renewable resources by 2013. Many other states have passed similarly cockamamie mandates, as if reordering the energy economy happens by wishing it so. With subsidies sloshing around the budgetary trough -- even in an age of so-called “austerity”-- large industrial firms such as GE and Wall Street banks are only too eager to  come running and lap up the excess like purring kittens.

The average American has simply been duped by the false promises of renewable energy, and until now the green lobby and its deep pocketed cronies in big business have largely managed to keep the flaws of newfangled fuels under wraps. But Windfall makes it clear that large-scale industrial wind turbines are simply inappropriate for populated areas, and given the costs of transmitting energy over long distances there are questions about their feasibility even in open spaces. Now that the mid-2000s scare about global warming has been exposed as mostly hype, it’s time to start removing the government life-support system from renewable energy so the sector can thrive or fail on its own merits. Windfall, which has been praised by the New York Times (“urgent, artfully assembled”), the Huffington Post (“profound”) and other liberal media outlets, is a vital and bracing blast of truth.