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February 6, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Feb. 6, 2013

Rural electrification and wind farms

Imagine living in Tipton County during the early 1930s. If you lived in a rural area, there is a 90 percent chance you lived without electricity.

Thankfully, many landowners in our area and across rural America formed nonprofit cooperatives to bring electricity to the very dark and cold countryside, even before the Rural Electrification Act (REA) of 1936. In conjunction with the cooperatives, the REA provided much needed government financial assistance for rural electrification.

Shortly after enactment of the REA, areas like our community would have seen the beginnings of “pole settings.” Only 14 years after the REA was implemented, 90 percent of rural American homes had electricity. These poles did drastically change the landscape, but speaking for myself and probably most others, I love electricity. It allows us to live the lives we are accustomed to and quite often take for granted.

Envision your rural landscape free of poles. Now envision living in your home without electricity.

One thing often forgotten is how dangerous electricity can be. Poles are everywhere, creating driving hazards. Misuse or uneducated use of electricity can lead to serious injury or death. What about the existing high-voltage power lines that run through or near Sharpsville and Windfall that have been in place for decades? How many unfortunate health concerns and deaths can we eliminate per year by getting rid of poles and electricity?

Few would buy into this argument. What can be overlooked are the thousands, if not millions of lives saved every day because of electricity. If we eliminate electricity, then what do we do? It is safe to say that every one of us uses electricity extensively. Since we all use electricity, we should be responsible for finding better ways of generating it. The opportunity provided by the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm allows us all to participate in clean energy development and production.

Some would argue wind energy is intermittent — only providing a benefit when the wind is strong. However, it is interesting to learn that all forms of generated electricity are intermittent, whether it’s due to maintenance or an unforeseen failure.

Power plants simply do not produce electricity 24/7, 365 days a year. Yes, the turbines are large. You can make the same argument for cellphone towers, radio towers, high-voltage power lines, and even poles along the sides of our roads carrying electricity, telephone or cable services to our homes.

Yes, the turbines do make some noise. So do vehicles driving up and down the road, farmers running heavy machinery during planting and harvest, and your neighbor mowing his yard at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Everyone should ask themselves a question: Was the change to the Tipton County landscape almost 80 years ago an overall benefit to every resident in the county? The answer to this question is yes.

What about the Prairie Breeze project? All that we ask is for people to look at the facts and do research on your own. Look at the big picture, look at it from both sides and most importantly, look outside of our little box.

The late John F. Kennedy stated, “Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Eighty years ago we looked at the future. Can we do it again?

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)”

Brady and Sam Peters, Sharpsville

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