There's lots of money to be made by harnessing the wind. It's a "free" resource, and our green-hungry society is clamoring to feel good about themselves by financially supporting it.
But all wind isn't good wind. The idea behind "green" is that it's a sustainable resource. A sustainable resource is one that is defined as "conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources."
Onshore wind is not sustainable. It requires the depletion of one of our most valuable resources, the productive farmland that feeds and sustains us. It requires taking something from those less economically advantaged and politically connected and giving it to others with the right economic and political connections. Centralized onshore wind generation is taking over our farming communities with turbines and huge new transmission lines to feed it to far flung coastal cities thousands of miles away. There, arrogant, urban environmentalists can feast hungrily on their expensive "green" energy, believing that they are helping sustain the planet. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Offshore wind doesn't require new transmission rights of way across privately-held land. It doesn't require much new land-based transmission at all. The development will take place miles offshore and be fed to the coastal cities via a few new radial lines. However, offshore wind has been blocked by economically and politically advantaged individuals who don't want distant wind turbines mucking up their sea views. Instead, they would rather the rest of us suck it up and make a sacrifice to provide for their needs.
Onshore wind is much further along in the development process and is therefore less pricey than its offshore cousin. However, onshore wind has reached the saturation point where billions must now be spent developing new transmission to serve it. This brings us to the tipping point where we must decide our own energy future.
Will we finally move forward on offshore transmission located in our own back yards, or will we choose to spend just as much foisting the burden off on others by building new transmission for onshore wind?
Let's examine the economics of both proposals.
Onshore wind claims that its new transmission projects will provide 5000+ temporary construction jobs and 500+ operations jobs. None of these suspiciously rounded claims are backed up by source data, so we can't be sure how they were calculated to determine their veracity. The jobs and economic benefits claimed by onshore wind are intended to be realized by the communities where the line is located. For the example, that would be the states of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Coastal consumers buying this wind product would be sending their energy dollars to other states and into the pockets of foreign transmission project investors.
The U.S. Department of Energy just released comparable economic data for offshore wind. The data for offshore wind development off the mid-Atlantic coast predicts 6000+ temporary construction jobs and more than 2,300 operations jobs. Offshore wind will keep your energy dollars at home in the mid-Atlantic region, providing jobs and economic benefits in the communities who consume the energy produced.
Local economic benefits from imported onshore wind: 0
Local economic benefits from local offshore wind: $$$
The choice is yours.