The Vine

North Carolina Considers Ban On "ugly" Wind Power

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Via Kate Galbraith, the Winston-Salem Journal brings word that North Carolina lawmakers are considering a ban on giant wind turbines atop the state's shapely mountain ridges. (Small turbines could still go up, but anything higher than 100 feet would get nixed.) Not everyone thinks wind turbines are hideousthe story opens by quoting the general manager of the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center at Appalachian State University, explaining how his guests always swoon at the 121-foot wind tower he maintains in his backyard. But enough residents have deemed wind power aesthetically unappealing that it's become a policy issue.

True, true, NIMBY-ism is hardly surprising or unheard of, but let's dissect this a bit. According to the Energy Information Administration, North Carolina currently gets about 60 percent of its electricity from coal, which comes not from North Carolina's own hills, but from West Virginia and Kentucky. And how do those states dredge up that coal? Mountaintop-removal mining. And what do the lovely vistas of Appalachia look like after that process? Well, like this:

       

There's nothing wrong with finding wind turbines unsightly, but the relevant question here is: Compared to what?

--Bradford Plumer

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