Problems with Wind and Solar Need to be Addressed

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Initially, the Casino and hotel were powered by the wind turbine.

The first tribally owned wind generator was dedicated on the Rosebud Reservation on May 1, 2003. When this editor visited the area in 2010, it was inoperative.

The economic development advisor for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s President’s Office said the turbine was not working because of mechanical problems. “It keeps heating up and shutting itself off,” he said.

The NEG Micron 750-Kilowatt turbine was paid for through NativeEnergy of Vermont, which included supporters Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, the Dave Mathews Band, and the Natural Resources Defense Council for their Rolling Stones’ climate change awareness benefit concert.

Twelve years later, CTN spoke with officials at the Casino and the turbine is still inoperative.

It might seem like wind generators on the Res, would be the perfect way to power the grid. Because energy to poor economic areas is desperately needed. This editor’s mother wrote about growing up on a farm:

“In South Dakota, on the plains where we lived, trees were few and far between. Our sources of fuel for our cook stove were corn cobs, coal, and wood when we could find it.

In the summer we would use a small kerosene stove to cook on since that wouldn’t heat up the house,” she said. “During the ‘Dirty 30s” some people resorted to cow dung to burn since they had nothing else to burn and no money to buy fuel.

“I remember my job after school was to go out in the pig pen and pick up the corn cobs. I always hoped the pigs were in a different part of the pen so they wouldn’t come and knock me over.

“We didn’t have any source of electricity until the late thirties, no indoor plumbing until the early fifties, and that was also when we got our first phone,” she said, noting that when she was a child, she loved the wind. It meant that power was generated to run the radio and lights. No wind meant no radio, no lights and the family used kerosene.

In a June 20 Opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal (“The Rich World’s Climate Hypocrisy”), it was explained that Dharni, India, was supposed to be the country’s first solar-powered community.

“But the day the village’s solar electricity was turned on, the batteries were drained within hours. One boy remembers being unable to do his homework early in the morning because there wasn’t enough power for his family’s one lamp.

“When the village was connected to the main power grid, which is overwhelmingly coal-powered, villagers quickly dropped their solar connections. An academic study found a big reason was that the grid’s electricity cost one-third of what the solar energy did. What’s more, it was plentiful enough to actually power such appliances as TV sets and stoves. Today, Dharnai’s disused solar-energy system is covered in thick dust, and the project site is a cattle shelter.”

Solar and wind power aren’t reliable, yet. According to the article, an average person in the developed world uses more fossil-fuel-generated energy than all the energy used by 23 poor Africans.

How do you get a wind turbine on the Reservation fixed after it has been inoperative 12 years? What are the intermediate steps that can be used to stop those in undeveloped countries from burning animal dung and coal?

That middle step must be addressed, and it might be something that has not yet been invented.

In a July 18 WSJ piece (“The West’s Climate Police Debacle), editors wrote “Soaring oil and natural gas prices. Electricity grids on the brink of failure. Energy shortages in Europe, with worse to come. The free world’s growing strategic vulnerability to Vladimir Putin and other dictators.

These are some of the unfolding results in the last year caused by the West’s utopian dream to punish fossil fuels and sprint to a world driven solely by renewable energy. It’s time for political leaders to recognize this manifest debacle and admit that, short of a technological breakthrough, the world will need an ample supply of carbon fuel for decades to remain prosperous and free.”

(Editor’s note: Please do not send letters calling me an oil shill. I have solar panels, and believe in reusable energy, but I also think intermediate problems need to be addressed. Until they are, world-wide, people will continue to use dirty power. The Journal noted that even “Super-green California plans to buy electricity from diesel generators when the supply is tight.”)

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