looking at the potential for erecting several large wind turbines in the
county. I am now serving as chair of the Wind Working Group, and my committee
would like to hear your views. You can be assured that we will consider
seriously what you have to say.
Potentially, large wind turbines – perhaps up to four of them – could generate
almost half of the total electricity consumed in Cook County. Many, many legal,
financial and environmental hurdles would need to be overcome if this project
were to go forward. Not least among those are issues involving bird mortality
and the aesthetics of siting large turbines in such a scenic area.
Do you support an effort to explore wind power? What factors do you think are
important for the Wind Working Group to consider as it gathers information? For
example, suppose the old ski hill above Grand Marais emerged as a good
potential spot for turbines: Would looking at turbines on the hill bother you?
If so, would the environmental benefits of generating electricity from wind be
significant enough to overcome your concern? To get a sense of what is at
stake, go to
http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/understanding/tmdl-ls-biotox-08.pdf Each of
those red markers identifies a stream or lake classified as impaired by
mercury pollution. The mercury comes from coal-fired power plants located great
distances from Cook County. Beyond that, of course, is the whole issue of
Similarly, how great is your concern about birds and bats? Clearly, a turbine
or turbines cannot be sited where they would have a significant impact, for
example, on migrating raptors or song birds. But what about lesser impacts? Is
some small potential level of bird mortality acceptable as a trade off for
generating clean electricity? Or should the benchmark be no bird or bat
mortality at all?
If we can, please limit this discussion to large turbines, or what we call “big
wind.” Small turbines, sized to individual homes and business, is a separate
topic. We call that “small wind.” More about that later.