BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER
I first began to see the signs outside Sioux City, Iowa, along Interstate 29. They were white with big black letters: “Have Pride in Our Community.” The words were arranged around a central graphic of a wind turbine circumscribed by a red circle, a diagonal line through the middle. Just beyond the signs, and the farmhouses whose owners had put them up, were the real thing. Dozens of them. Giant, spinning turbines as far as the eye could see. Their presence gave the homes a sense of existing in occupied territory.
Wind turbines—and opposition to them—are an increasingly common reality, not just in Iowa but throughout the United States. According to Department of Energy statistics, wind energy generation quadrupled from 2001 to 2006 and did so again by 2011. By 2015, the United States was producing 190 million megawatt hours of energy by harnessing the wind, compared to just 5.5 million megawatt hours in 2000. Most of this capacity has been constructed in the heart of the country, where wind is plentiful. Iowa, with an installed capacity of 6,917 megawatts, is the national leader when it comes to in-state wind energy generation. Wind accounts for 36 percent of the state’s energy needs.
Assuming that the United States continues to devote land and other resources to large-scale wind and solar power (and experts believe it will, despite the election of Donald Trump, owing to market pressures), (more…)