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May 01, 2007

McNeilus Wind Farm + Terrapass

I stumbled across a reference to the Garwin McNeilus Wind Turbine Farm in Dodge Center in a story in a University of California, Santa Barbara student publication.
Terrapass

Evidently, a student group has become emission free by working with a company called Terrapass.

Here's some from the story to explain Terrapass and the link to Dodge Center:

“Now that we are running a trip almost every weekend… sometimes two trips on the same weekend, we have to take greater steps to offset the emissions we are creating,” said Gus Tolley, an Excursion Club director and trip leader.

Companies like TerraPass have become popular recently due to increasing concern for global climate change. Tolley said the club purchases credits from the TerraPass website based on the miles members travel round trip by car on each expedition.

“[The TerraPass website has] an emissions calculator that estimates the amount of CO2 your car generates based on the mileage you drive and recommends different passes for different amounts of CO2 produced,” Tolley said.

Buying a TerraPass, the company suggests, is the indirect equivalent of offsetting carbon emitted and its consequences on the environment. According to the TerraPass website, the funds are used to purchase environmental credits from one of several earth-friendly projects. For example, the site said it has given the Garwin McNeilus wind turbine farm in Minnesota enough money to equal the amount of yearly emissions of about 400 mid-sized cars.

Here's some from the wind power section of the TerraPass Web site:

» Garwin McNeilus 1,792 tons CO2 saved

» Solano High Winds 100 tons CO2 saved

» Ainsworth Wind 2,352 tons CO2 saved

• 4,244 tons CO2 total

One of the largest sources for wind power purchases for TerraPass is the Garwin McNeilus Wind Farm in Dodge Center, Minnesota. This project delivers power to Mid-Continental Area Power Pool (MAPP), which in turn supplies electricity to people in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and parts of Wisconsin, Montana, Iowa and South Dakota. In the last year TerraPass has purchased credits for nearly 1,800 tons of CO2 from the McNeilus Wind Farm alone. That's equivalent to the amount carbon emitted by about 400 mid-size cars in a year. We think that's definitely driving in the right direction.

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I'm all for supporting more wind farms, and I appreciate the idea of effectively paying a "pollution tax" (if I understand the TerraPass system correctly) to fund green programs. However, I hope that this is not the federal model of emissions trading creeping down to the consumer level.

(For those unfamiliar, emissions trading is where power plants which emit fewer pollutants than federal regulations say is acceptable can sell their unused emissions levels to a power plant whose emissions exceed federal maximums. In that way, the *average* pollution levels between the two plants still meet federal requirements. It's kind of like not shooting the burglar you catch in your home and brokering your justifiable homicide to Bugsy the mobster who has no such right.)

While the idea of offsetting emissions via credits might work on paper, it does nothing to reduce the amount of pollution on the local level.

"...the site said it has given the Garwin McNeilus wind turbine farm in Minnesota enough money to equal the amount of yearly emissions of about 400 mid-sized cars."

Great, but those 400 cars are still on the road and pumping out the same amount of exhaust. The air in San Diego is still as polluted as before, regardless of by how much the McNeilus farm reduced emissions from power plants here in the midwest. Additionally, pollution credits remove the local incentive to reduce emissions if their right to pollute can simply be purchased from green projects elsewhere.

Nice concept with warm fuzzies for the participants, but the overall benefit is negligible.

Man, I'm wordy.

How dare Alan expose loopholes to exempt liberal eco-atrocities like Al Gore's mansion energy bill, John Travolta's jet fleet, or Sheryl Crow's luxury bus caravan!

And what a shame that the McNeilus turbines are grinding through migratory birds like a ginsu knife.

Sorry, CF, but the "ginsu wind turbines" thing's a myth.

taxpayer, it's probably a myth to those who limit their reading to treehugger.com, but turbines DO kill birds. How many birds they kill depends on where the turbines are located. Unfortunately, it's often the case it's not realized a bad spot was chosen until AFTER bird corpses appear. Oops.

Personally, I don't think it's that big of a risk, and certainly not a big enough risk to halt exploring wind turbine technology, but to call it a "myth" is pretty dismissive of a very real problem with wind turbines.

Read the story in treehugger.com

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/04/common_misconce.php

I just want to take the time to deeply breathe in the hilarious irony of dotk's comment coming after mine.

Ryan,

Maybe we can put some wind turbines up around Silver Lake. That would certainly help cut back on the number of geese.

The problem with bird deaths and wind turbines is largely dependent on what kind of tower the turbines are erected on. Birds are attracted to the towers if there are roosting spaces on them, such as with open crosshatch support style towers. The solid pole type towers have a dramaticly lower number of bird deaths associated with them according to such groups as the Cornell Ornithological Laboratory.

The myth about the "ginsu of death" deal is (as are many myths) based in reality. The Altamont Pass in California is always cited by the "ginsu" story fans. It is filled with poorly placed, obsolete towers. New towers are placed more carefully and much better designed.

See for example http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/env/birds.htm

The myth about the "ginsu of death" deal is (as are many myths) based in reality. The Altamont Pass in California is always cited by the "ginsu" story fans. It is filled with poorly placed, obsolete towers. New towers are placed more carefully and much better designed.

See for example http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/env/birds.htm

I'm sure that far more birds die smacking into tall, glass-faced buildings than are cut down by wind turbines.

I brought up the bird thing to highlight the absurdity of so-called environmentalists. That's all.

http://www.currykerlinger.com/birds.htm

Yup, windows are the #1 "man-made" killer of birds.

Given that birds aren't really threatened by wind power that much how are the environmentalists absurd? The only absurd thing is that we ('specially here in the midwest) aren't pushing them more. I mean, FREE FUEL!

P.S.:

Minnesota

* Site...200+ turbine site at Buffalo Ridge, a farmland area near Lake Benton.
* Date...Surveys conducted 1997-2002.
* Findings...53 bird fatalities recorded. One raptor. No endangered or threatened species.

Personally, I don't think it's that big of a risk, and certainly not a big enough risk to halt exploring wind turbine technology, but to call it a "myth" is pretty dismissive of a very real problem with wind turbines.

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