In the State Journal's Nov. 3 article “Winds of Change,” the town of Forest in St. Croix County declared victory over the stalled Highland Wind project. But the situation can be better described as a loss.
Today’s wind turbine technology is an inexpensive way to produce electricity because the fuel is free. Wisconsin imports roughly $14 billion of coal, oil and gas annually, sending investment and potential jobs out of state. Wind, solar and geothermal energy offer financial opportunities for rural communities at a time when agricultural landowners are suffering.
Wind power also has significant public health benefits. Pollutants from coal-fired electricity have been linked to asthma, respiratory death, cancers, reproductive issues and other human diseases. The health care community is overwhelmingly supportive of clean energy due to these concerns and the health impacts of climate change.
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Organizations such as the American Lung Association and Practice Greenhealth, whose members include many U.S. health systems, all support clean, renewable technologies. For example, Wisconsin’s own Gundersen Health System developed and co-owns the Cashton Greens Wind Farm with Organic Valley.
Wind power development can be a victory for many rural communities in Wisconsin, as it has been in other states, and provide a brighter path toward the future.
Jeff Rich, La Crosse