Mountaintop wind turbines offend fancy columnist's sense of aesthetics

Kansas, the land of Dorothy and Bob Dole, already is ugly. But imagine if the "catastrophic aesthetics" of rows of wind turbines marred the magnificent landscapes of the mountaintops overlooking the Coal Region community of Shenandoah.

That's the horrible nightmare come true for Morning Call columnist Paul Carpenter, who filed a blowhard column today as a follow to last week's piece about a visit to Kansas, "my least favorite state":

That column came after I drove through Kansas and was horrified by the sight of wind turbines, stretching for more than 60 miles along Interstate 70. Luckily, Kansas already was ugly, so the aesthetic catastrophes were not so profound.

Among several passionate responses was an e-mail letter from Bob Kayes of Macungie, who grew up in Shenandoah (generally pronounced ''shen-doh'' in the local patois), a little north of Frackville.

''If you want to see how invasive a wind farm can be, just take a ride in Schuylkill County,'' he wrote. ''A ridge that stretches from Mahanoy City to Centralia, an area of the best hunting and passive recreational woods in that part of the county, has been ruined with these monstrosities.''

I had not visited that area for years, and the worst environmental damage I recalled was from anthracite mining. That, however, had a legitimate purpose; wind turbines are a scam that serves only to enrich those who peddle and build them.

Kayes, I'm distressed to say, was right. To truly appreciate how repulsive they are, I had to look more closely.

I drove through Shenandoah, past the Anthracite Miners Monument, and stopped at the top of the ridge. A barricaded gravel road headed to the gigantic monuments to greed, mendacity and waste. They appeared to be several hundred feet away, but it turned out to be more like a mile on foot. When I reached the base of the first one, it only made me more depressed.

Shendo ain't seen nuthin' like it since the coal barons raped the land a century ago. I hope Carpenter documented it all with fill-um he bought at the Ack-A-Me.

Carpenter offers not a scintilla of hard evidence to support his sour lamentations. But at this stage of development, it appears that while wind is free, the turbines are not, and one source says commercial turbines can cost up to $600,000. Working as a team atop mountains (Carpenter: "Grrrr!") the turbines can harness up to 20% of the wind's power and convert that energy into electricity.

And tilt at them all you want, the wind turbines are not likely to go away, not before 2012 at least. During the campaign, Barack Obama vowed to spend $150 billion over 10 years to create a green energy sector and said "we should be building windmills all across the country."

Even in the Lehigh Valley!

Generate your own wind or solar power for $200.