If you are looking for answers to global warming and America’s energy crisis, there’s at least one solution that many people overlook. Wind power continues to be a realistic and often-ignored alternative to fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. In the state and at the University there are budding opportunities that must be seized in order to integrate wind power into energy policies that are cost-effective and depend on renewable resources.
A testament to the growth of wind power, the state’s first commercial wind farm officially started churning out energy in Huron County at the beginning of this month. The wind farm – Harvest Wind Farm – generates about enough electricity to power 15,000 average homes. The windmills are built on land leased out by farmers, pumping money into local agriculture and pumping out clean energy – a win-win.
Meanwhile, about 100 miles southeast in Lansing, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed a Renewable Portfolio Standard. If passed, the initiative would require 10 percent of the state’s energy supply to come from renewable sources by 2015. Twenty-five other states have already passed similar legislature, with many of them calling for far greater future standards than Granholm has.
On the grand scale of things, Granholm’s proposal is hardly radical. What’s significant here, however, is just how much Michigan stands to benefit. Michigan’s excellent geographic position and strong winds could go a long way to attracting wind energy investors to the state. As Harvest Wind Farm illustrates, it’s good for the farmers already here, too. Overall, a move away from fossil fuels will also be a move away from the constant ups and downs in oil prices that threaten industry.
Closer to campus, the University can also do its part to set Michigan on the path toward a bright green future. Recently, the Michigan Student Assembly’s Environmental Issues Commission highlighted how. In a press release Wednesday, the commission called for the University to immediately purchase 3-6 megawatts of wind power – a move that would cover roughly 3 percent of its total purchased energy. This is a simple step that the University can take, but the results of such a change would be enormous.
As well as helping the Michigan economy, a shift to more renewable resources like wind power is consistent with the University’s image and tradition as a progressive university. MSA’s resolution goes on to call for the University to buy 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015, citing 100 percent as a long-term goal. Such proposals might be ambitious, but they are worthy goals and by no means unattainable. They would also serve as vital support to the wind industry in our state.
Granted, wind power has its inevitable critics. Some argue that windmills put some land in shadow, are eyesores, produce too much noise and are dangerous for birds. But these are largely aesthetic sacrifices for an energy source that presents great potential for the state and the environment. It’s a solution that’s blowing in the wind.