The case for hydro vs. wind

Written by Patty Bingaman June 15, 2010 12:11 pm
As I sit at my desk composing this letter, a neighbor is spreading rock on the top of his levy, to raise the elevation, in hopes of keeping the Grande Ronde River from going out of its banks and destroying his crops and possibly the crops on adjoining property.

In the past, we have had a levy break on our bottom farm ground and the helplessness you feel by not being able to stop the flooding from happening is indescribable. Homes are threatened by the floodwaters of the Grande Ronde River and some will most likely be damaged. It makes so much sense to construct a dam or dams on the tributaries of the Grande Ronde River to control flooding and have an adequate flow of water in the river channel throughout the year for fish runs and irrigation.

Controlling spring run-off and severe run-off from such rainstorms as we experienced this first week of June, with a dam generating electricity, would not only benefit homeowners and farmers, the entire county could reap year around rewards through taxation and recreation. A dam would avert flooding, provide irrigation for agriculture and control water quality. If a dam were to be built instead of wind towers being erected we would still have a beautiful valley, wildlife would not be threatened or displaced, sensitive plants would not be destroyed and we would preserve our Grande Ronde Valley for future generations.

Water is a renewable resource. Hydroelectric power plants are clean, green and the most efficient means of producing electric energy with long lives relative to other forms of energy generation. Why would we want to place wind towers on the ridges at the south end of our valley (Antelope Ridge Wind Farm), which will form a horseshoe shape around the city of Union, when we could prevent the flooding of our homes and farm ground by constructing a dam or dams that would generate electricity.

More wind farms in the Grande Ronde Valley will likely happen if Oregon Department of Energy Siting Council approves Antelope Ridge. Where will wind towers be constructed next? Will we have the unobstructed views of Mount Harris, Mount Emily, Pumpkin Ridge, Ladd Canyon and Mount Fanny we now enjoy every day? The wind blows just as hard and as often right down the middle of Sand Ridge as it does on the ridges at the south end of this valley. Will the next proposed site for a wind farm be located on prime tillable ground, from Island City to Pumpkin Ridge and Hunter Road to Lower Cove Road?

There is so much change in how energy is perceived at this time. Is wind power better and more economical than hydropower? No, without federal and state subsidies and tax relief there would not be the interest by wind power companies to get as many wind farms in operation as there is at this time.

I encourage all residents of the Grande Ronde Valley to investigate the dark side of wind power. If you have access to a computer, get on the website windwatch.com for information on how wind towers are ruining communities, destroying wildlife and its habitat, from big game to bats, sensitive plant species, natural scenery and the health and well-being of individuals in the United States.


Patty Bingaman is an Imbler resident.