We recently wrote about the New York Times blog post by Stanley Fish, who didn’t want wind turbines near his summer home in New York.
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a short, four paragraph editorial that writes off wind power as a “bit player” even as it criticizes the Kennedys for opposing a wind farm near Cape Cod that would obstruct their view.
Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of putting turbines on Nantucket Sound, as proposed by a private company. Though costs have come down to 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour from 6.1 per KWH in 1999, the technology is still not balancing out as cost-effective for some areas. Last week, Long Island scratched its plans to build a wind energy center in the Atlantic when costs were running up toward $800 million. Projects in windy Texas have also been scrapped over cost considerations.
But advocates often tout renewable energy not for its economics, but because it’s virtuous. Many of those who are willing to impose the costs of various environmental schemes on other Americans based on “ideals” suddenly have started looking more closely at the tradeoffs when something they hold dear would have to be sacrificed, like a nice view. Wind energy is never going to be anything but a bit player in meeting the world’s energy needs. The Nantucket tempest is useful mainly as a real-world test of whether some of the world’s most privileged liberals wear their ideals all the time, or only when it suits them.