Skip to main content

June 1, 2010 – What a lovely experience: my husband and I drove up to Chicago for the holiday weekend. It’s a trip we have made countless times, but this time we were treated to a sight I hope will become much more common during the years ahead. As we drove north on I65, in the vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana, we came upon windmills. At first we saw them on just one side of the expressway, placed in rows that reached the horizon. Then my husband exclaimed “Look! They’re on both sides of the road now!” The graceful behemoths were as thrilling a sight as coming upon a group of whales might have been. There was an unexpected grandeur, even dignity, in the propellers’ leisurely pace. The fact of their seemingly independent motion conferred upon them a sentience they did not possess, but which was heightened by their uniform activity, almost as if they all agreed with regard to something of considerable importance. Actually, we did see an occasional turbine standing still; however, the majority were engaged in an energy-generating purposefulness, a mechanical meeting of the minds. It was a happy sight that continued for roughly ten miles.

I wanted to learn more about the Hoosier state’s forward-looking plans in action.

Though one website I visited maintained that Indiana is not well-suited to pursuing production of wind-generated energy, with average winds of less than 10mph statewide, other sites indicated that both individuals and agencies have plunged ahead and are not to be denied. Indeed, while southern Indiana is home to some pretty cloudy/rainy weather, homeowners there and across the Ohio river in Kentucky are participating in net metering, which means they can reverse their electric meter, based on the power they’re producing, back as far as zero. The farmers and homeowners interviewed (see, accessed June 1, 2010) said they didn’t expect to recover their investments. Their priority was decreasing their coal-generated energy usage.

Indiana enacted their net-metering program in 2005. Unfortunately, it has been given an “F” by the Network for New Energy Choices because of its very weak administrative code. Furthermore, it does not offer net metering to businesses, an egregious oversight. One can only hope municipalities will elect to set a worthwhile example. Neighboring states Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan all earned “B’s.”

Cincinnati, where I live, is not considered a good candidate for wind-generated energy or solar power. The sun’s appearance cannot be taken for granted, and the Appalachian foothills that comprise this river valley town contribute to the winds’ somewhat circular pattern here. Geothermal energy is conceded to be the best bet hereabouts, yet it was not even mentioned in a list of renewable alternatives for Indiana, which I thought was odd.

It isn’t the least bit surprising that our embrace of new forms of energy production has taken the form of a hesitant two steps forward, one step back. We have been enacting the parts of very shy, awkward, kissing third cousins. The problem now is that we no longer have the luxury of pussy footing. Like it or not, the time for shyness and awkwardness is in the past. We must act more confidently than we feel, and plan for the future as if we knew what lies ahead. Our children will thank us.


Popular posts from this blog

The SunShot Initiative

In 2007, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. was 1.1 gigawatts (GW). As of 2017, that amount has increased to 47.1 GW. Enough to power 9.1 million average American homes. If you're thinking "we've still got a long way to go," you'd be right. On the other hand, increasing installed power by 4300% deserves some attention.  How'd we do it?

The Department of Energy played an important role. In 2011, they initiated a program called The SunShot Initiative. They set targets for the years 2020 and 2030, by which times generating solar power would have become more affordable. More affordable on a utility scale, more affordable on a commercial scale, and more affordable on a residential scale. Thus far, they've succeeded in hitting the 2020 goal for utility-scale generation. Needless to mention, they reached that goal three years early. The goals, it should be mentioned, don't take subsidies into account. It's the technology, in the case of util…

Book Review: Irrevocable Acts

July 30, 2017 - Before I begin, let me mention that Jonnie Hyde is a member of the writing group I belong to, here in Vancouver, Wa. I took a stab at writing a novel about climate change awhile back; it wasn't very good, and subsequently went nowhere. Irrevocable Acts, on the other hand, is deserving of attention.

The beginning of Hyde's book is, perhaps, its only weak point: it's a bit confusing. All becomes clear as the book unfolds, and the characters are interesting, so there's no question of remaining involved. The characters hold your focus because they live their lives differently from most, yet the Sanders are a family, with three generations living under one roof: Anna, Kate, and Gracie. That family begins to unravel when the matriarch, Anna, decides she must embark, finally, on the life she was meant to live.

Anna, Danny Shepard, and Mac Caffrey have been friends most of their lives. Products of Berkeley at a time when the name Berkeley was believed to mean o…