Wind Turbine Collapse in the Bronx; Will Any Lessons Be Learned?

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

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A wind turbine collapse in the Bronx of all places just destroyed a car and endangered many. Politicians complained, of course, but have they learned?

This is a bizarre story. It’s all about a wind turbine collapse in the Bronx. It’s hard to imagine a wind turbine in the Bronx, let alone a wind turbine collapse. This was no ordinary wind turbine. It turned horizontally, rather than vertically, which is how it sometimes has to be done in tight spaces. It was installed in the Baychester section of the Northeast Bronx just two weeks ago and has already torn itself apart, making for some great photos, video and tabloid journalism. But, are any lessons being learned?

Here is the story from the ultimate in tabloid journalism, London’s Daily Mail, and here is the video:

One accident doesn’t suffice to condemn an industry, although fractivists are loathe to accept this. The story, in this case, speaks for itself and provides plenty of entertainment for all of us. There are a few serious lessons to be learned from this wind turbine collapse, though.

Let’s start with New York State Senator Jamaal Bailey’s comment in the aftermath of the wind turbine collapse:

“We are here calling on the Department of Buildings in the City of New York to do their job, come out here and inspect, and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again…”

“A wind turbine should not be able to be taken down by the wind.”

Well, that’s certainly true. Nonetheless, Bailey’s rushing to the microphone now is little disingenuous given what he said a little over a year ago:

“Transforming our energy system into a more green economy will improve the lives of New Yorkers and will make New York a leading green state.”

Well, that isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, is it? That’s first lesson; wind energy has very real safety and environmental issues. It’s no free lunch.

A second lesson is more of a question. Did the owner/developer of this wind turbine receive tax credits or other ratepayer/taxpapayer subsidies? My guess is that they did or were planning to take advantage of those subsidies. Moreover, I’ll bet they were going to feed the electricity generated into the grid at retail value even though it wasn’t needed, thereby weakening the economics of other energy sources such as natural gas still needed to provide the energy when the winds aren’t tearing apart the wind turbine or after the wind turbine collapse. That means the wind turbine was increasing electric rates at the same time it was taking subsidies; double-dipping if you will.

The third lesson is that renewable energy seldom makes sense in urban environments. Solar takes up too much valuable land and rooftops aren’t enough. Wind towers are potentially dangerous as this incident just proved. Solar and wind belong in the country but then you have to transport the energy to the city, which further exacerbates the money-pit problem with “green” energy, not to mention all the new infrastructure involved and if you think a pipeline that is typically unnoticeable when finished is controversial, try building a major power line.

Yes, there are many lessons here. Is anyone paying attention to them? That’s the real questions.

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4 thoughts on “Wind Turbine Collapse in the Bronx; Will Any Lessons Be Learned?

  1. I beg to differ, Solar and Wind do not belong in upstate’s rural, country, scenic, and beautiful areas. Neither do NYC landfills, NYC reservoirs, NYC homeless, NYC Prisons, NYC’s gangs, and NYC’s laws. They belong at the location that is going to use them. Sorry. But upstate shouldn’t be the dumping ground for all of Metropolitan New York City’s problems.

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