Tilting at Windmills

Energy, alternatives and the rising costs of fuel have all garnered a lot of much needed press lately. I am a supporter of alternative energy, the funding of it and the need for it. Though I am not the perfect example of using it. I do not yet drive a hybrid and my home is not powered by alternative energy. My excuse for the latter is that I am currently renting and looking to buy. My excuse for the former; I am waiting for my current car to make the choice for me. It doesn’t excuse me from teaching my children that every decision I make whether it is the gas I put in my car or the means that I use to turn on the lights, is not an easy one. We have errands to run in Malone and decide mid-trip to check out the wind turbine farm that has conjured up all sorts of controversy.
I have seen wind turbines in the Altamount Pass when visiting Northern California and from the highway they looked quite serene, lining the ridge as I drove on I 580. Of course I was just visiting and the wind turbines seemed far away and separate. As I now look around to purchase a house the thought keeps running through my head, “Not in my backyard.” But they are in someone else’s. We drive through Malone to Chateaugay on Rt. 11 and ask directions to the turbines. One gentleman just waves us on indicating we can’t miss them.
He is correct. They loom over houses, silent and forbidding. My son makes a reference that the turbines look like giants standing guard. When we reach the outskirts of Chateaugay we turn onto Cemetery Rd. From there we stop and look. It is incredible the size each, about 400 ft in height, standing above the tallest tree. He counts them and comes up with 84. I try my best to answer his questions fairly for reasons why someone would want that in their yard. Some people view the turbines as white knights pinning their hopes on that energy to resurrect their land while others see them as monsters set to destroy property values and communities. Each turbine is placed facing a different direction. It is worth the drive to look, to see what is happening in our backyard, to see where our electricity may be coming from. Right now the turbines are not producing as the substation is being completed and the parent company undergoes an investigation. It doesn’t make the sight of them any less incredible. For us, we continue on our way discussing the various ways electricity is generated and the pros and cons of wind farms.

(as published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise)

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