A plan to develop a wind farm ten miles off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, is facing resistance from power companies and some legislators. The proposed 400-foot high turbines could also be an issue for local residents and businesses in this tourist-heavy beach town. We’ll discuss the proposal, and we’ll also talk to a filmmaker who chronicled a rural community’s sharp divide over wind farms in upstate New York.

Guests

  • Laura Israel Filmmaker, "Windfall" (2010)
  • Aaron Davis Washington Post Staff Reporter

Transcript

  • 12:06:41

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, the payment of so-called blood money for the release of a CIA agent in Pakistan. We'll explore what it means for diplomatic efforts and intelligence going forward. But first, wind power is taking off across the country, growing nearly 40 percent a year. Maryland's first wind turbines went into operation in December in the town of Garrett. Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, is pushing wind development and proposing a wind farm off the Maryland coast. Wind power sounds to a lot of people like the perfect solution to our ever growing energy needs. It's renewable, practically free and burns no fossil fuels.

  • 12:07:36

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut the reality of 400-foot tall industrial turbines can turn even environmentally-conscious communities into naysayers. The debates are just beginning as to what a wind farm would mean to residents in the beach towns and to tourism in Maryland. We explore what it might mean in our area and how the wind development has played out in another community. Joining us now by telephone from Annapolis is Aaron Davis, staff writer with The Washington Post. Aaron, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:10

    MR. AARON DAVISThanks very much for having me.

  • 12:08:12

    NNAMDIAaron, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has a proposal for wind energy in Maryland. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

  • 12:08:19

    DAVISSure. This is one of the governor's signature initiatives this year, and it's a -- there's two definite camps on either side of it. The governor wants to subsidize development of a very large offshore wind farm. There is not yet a single offshore wind turbine, a windmill, anywhere in the -- in U.S. waters on the Atlantic, and this would be a farm of about 100 to 200 turbines, about 10 miles, 11 miles off of Ocean City.

  • 12:08:48

    DAVISThe tips of these massive turbines are -- which are about 400 feet tall. Each blade is about half the length of a football field. There will be just visible to vacationers staying at the - atop of Ocean City's largest hotels and -- but it's a very expensive plan. It's about a billion and a half dollars, some of the estimates we have. And to make that work, the developers say that they need a dedicated revenue stream. They need to -- you have money coming in and to convince banks that they should be able to borrow that much money.

  • 12:09:20

    NNAMDIAnd in order to do that, the measure would require Maryland's electric companies to buy 25-year contracts from wind energy providers?

  • 12:09:28

    DAVISExactly. Yeah. The law is written or the bill is written right now would require the utilities to purchase power, and the expectation is that there would be a set rate for 25 years, somewhere in the order of 60 to 70 percent above what it is the current going market rate. You know, advocates say that, over the time, you know, in the last 10 years, the energy cost in the state has doubled, so this could end up being a very good deal financially for the state. You know, opponents say that that it might never work out with increased natural gas reserves and other new technology. We might be able to find a better way and less expensive way over time.

  • 12:10:07

    NNAMDIBut, obviously, these contracts would ensure a buyer for the wind energy produced. But it is my understanding that the price electric companies would pay is above the current market rate, is this a subsidy for wind developers?

  • 12:10:21

    DAVISWell, you know, there's two ways to look at it, you know, and I think what a lot of rate payers and what a lot of lawmakers are focusing on most right now is the cost to each consumer. Each household that has an electric bill, it could raise $1.41 to $3.61 per month, and that fee would exist in some capacity for the next 25 years. You know, proponents say that this is a kind of the environmental moon shot. You know, you need to have the government come in and help subsidize these things so that competition will increase. And if you have every state up and down in the East Coast building wind farms, there will be competition. There will be more manufacturers, and this will become competitive with natural gas and other fossil-fuel energy sources.

  • 12:11:05

    NNAMDIWe're talking with Aaron Davis -- he's a staff writer at The Washington Post, joining us by telephone from Annapolis -- about proposals for wind turbines in the state of Maryland. Inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Do you think we should have wind turbines off of Maryland's coast? Would you be willing to pay higher electric bills in order to support wind energy? 800-433-8850. Or you can go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or e-mail to kojo@wamu.org. What kind of reaction have we been seeing from average consumers about the likelihood, possibility of higher electric bills, Aaron?

  • 12:11:46

    DAVISWell, it's interesting. A lot of people are holding fire at the moment, and I think a lot of people in Maryland would -- there's a lot of advocates and natural inclinations of voters to support environmental policies and to protect the Chesapeake Bay. And, you know, the Office of the People's Council, which is the advocate for rate payers with the Public Service Commission, they have not taken a position against this, and they say that they'd like, you know, a say in the process if it goes forward.

  • 12:12:09

    DAVISYou know, there's a general kind of skepticism, I would say, by a lot of lawmakers I've talked to. Will this really produce the 2,000 jobs for the five years that they say? Will this change the market too much? So there is a little bit of hesitancy, I think, by lawmakers, but, at the same time, I think everyone realized that something has to be done about energy.

  • 12:12:34

    NNAMDIWell, institutions like schools and businesses, it's my understanding, would be hit with even bigger increases than homeowners. It's estimated that Baltimore City government, for instance, would pay $1.5 million more for energy. Aaron, wasn't wind energy supposed to make electricity cheaper?

  • 12:12:52

    DAVISWell, in the long run, that's the plan. But in the initial phase here, these 200 turbines or 100 turbines, depending on the size and how they would organize this project, would produce about 400 to 600 megawatts of electricity. That's enough to power two-thirds of the city of Baltimore.

  • 12:13:07

    DAVISBut far from, you know, taking care of the state's entire needs, it would augment the state's power supply. And so therefore you -- with that little bit of extra energy coming in to the state's power grid at a higher price, it would add a little bit to everyone's residential bill. That would translate into quite a bit on industrial and large municipality bills, a 1 percent or 2 percent increase, they say, and that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars a month, yeah.

  • 12:13:35

    NNAMDIA coalition of environmental and labor groups is supporting this bill. Obviously, I understand the environmental groups. Why the labor groups? More jobs?

  • 12:13:44

    DAVISExactly. It's an interesting combination of proponents on this. You have environmentalists who just the other day submerged a giant cardboard cutout of the state house and some other buildings around the state in the bay to show what could happen with sea level rise. There's -- it's done to show that wind farms and offshore wind is one of the best ways to protect the state long term from environmental disaster.

  • 12:14:11

    DAVISLabor, you know, Bethlehem Steel, some of the unions around the state are supporting this thing. This would be new jobs, so you don't usually see unions -- labor unions and environmentalists on the same side on a lot of things, but this is one where they've joined forces. The opponents on the other side, we've got some, you know, some concern by lawmakers and folks who work at the PAX River facility down southern Maryland saying that we're worried that this may impact some of the military facilities and the ability to test radar and things out in the water, but there hasn't been a real good sense of just how much that would be a problem.

  • 12:14:47

    NNAMDISpeaking of environmental groups, this bill includes some things that environmental groups have generally opposed for a long time, including burying the lines to the turbines under beaches.

  • 12:14:59

    DAVISThat's true. Yeah. The second half of this bill is largely rehashing an effort that the governor had last year to streamline environmental approvals for transmission lines that would be required to get wind from -- or power energy from offshore wind back across the state. And one of those includes making it much easier for the producer, the developer to insert a line that would run deeply under, perhaps, Ocean City Beach, somewhere else along the ocean, under the coast and back into the power grid. And there are some preservationists who have opposed that, but largely environmentalists are saying the benefits far outweigh the potential impact here.

  • 12:15:40

    NNAMDIHere is Bryant in Washington D.C. Bryant, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:15:44

    BRYANTHow are you? Thank you, Kojo, for taking my call. I wanted to actually (cough) excuse me, comment on the fact that a lot of residents, they find that the wind turbines would be non-aesthetic, and actually, personally, I love the way they look. I took a trip to Amsterdam. First time, I've seen them. And I think that people really need to understand that it's just as the lampposts or telephone polls are there, and they get used to seeing them so will these wind turbines. I mean, it's just a part of life, and it would be a better part of life for many people. So that's my comment. Thank you for...

  • 12:16:23

    NNAMDIWell, later in the broadcast, we'll be hearing some other aspects of wind turbines that may not be so pleasing to the eye, but, Aaron -- or to the ear. Aaron, I understand that the typical wind turbine is big, about 400 feet high, 10 miles offshore. Will something that tall be visible from the beaches?

  • 12:16:38

    DAVISRight. These are not your, you know, your little wind farms that you'll see or windmill you'll see next to a farm somewhere. These are massive structures, 400 feet tall or so. Each blade is the half the length of a football field, and they do generate some amount of noise. It's unclear if you'll be able -- how far away you'll be able to hear that in the course of the offshore wind farm, but there have been noise issues with on-land wind farms. And, certainly, you'll be -- we don't know exactly know how visible they will be from the beach, but the state says -- the governor's office says by their projections, if you're on top of the 30th floor of some of the hotels in Ocean City, you'll just be able to see the tops of the turbines out along the horizon on the Atlantic.

  • 12:17:24

    NNAMDIOcean City is a beach town that attracts a lot of tourists as are the communities around it. A project like this off of Cape Cod is opposed by a lot of local residents who do not want to see giant wind turbines spoiling their ocean views. Have you heard anything like that yet from Ocean City?

  • 12:17:43

    DAVISWe haven't heard much from Ocean City yet, and, you know, that's one thing I'm sure will come into the final calculation as the bill gets debated in both the House and the Senate over the coming few weeks. But legislative -- that session ends here in Maryland on April 11th, so all of these will be decided within the next three or four weeks.

  • 12:18:00

    NNAMDIHere is Mark in Bethesda, Md. Mark, your turn.

  • 12:18:04

    MARKYes, Kojo. I just had a question about energy diversity that the windmills are part of this, but what percentage do we anticipate they'll be able to provide of our overall energy needs, and what is the future, perhaps, of coal, nuclear, petroleum and natural gas in the balance? And I can take the answer off the air.

  • 12:18:27

    NNAMDIGo ahead, please, Aaron Davis.

  • 12:18:29

    DAVISWell, sure. You know, the federal offshore wind policy that just came out a couple of months ago anticipated that if you really went full bore on developing wind power, that it could generate as much power -- it could double the amount of all power in the United States, that you could build along the ridge tops and the mountains you could build offshore along the Atlantic coast. And they could generate a lot of power, and you could generate a lot of power where it's needed most, close to the centers of the population along the East Coast.

  • 12:18:58

    DAVISBut, you know, it's hard to reconcile that with another federal report that also came out in January that said the explosion of, you know, all the -- our understanding of how deep and vast some of these shale natural gas reserves are also has changed the trajectory of the long-term energy cost in the country. It could be less expensive, and so you’ve got to balance how much more of this wind power would cost to what could be a long-term natural gas reserve that could keep energy prices perhaps more stable.

  • 12:19:31

    NNAMDIThis specific proposal is slated for a vote in Maryland's General Assembly this session, so this is likely to be decided, well, by April, maybe?

  • 12:19:39

    DAVISThat's true. The -- I think the House could vote as early within a couple of weeks, and the Senate could follow thereafter. But the last day of the session is April 11th, so we'll know soon if Maryland is gonna move forward. You know, there's been a project that's been on the books and been caught up in lawsuits in Massachusetts. Delaware is trying a similar project. Rhode Island is doing a very small pilot project.

  • 12:20:02

    DAVISAnd so none of these have been built yet. But the expectation has been Maryland -- if they approve it this session that the construction would begin in 2014 and these windmills will begin generating power in 2016, which should also, therefore, be the year that everyone's electric bills would go up to help pay for it.

  • 12:20:22

    NNAMDIAaron Davis is a staff writer with The Washington Post. Aaron, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:20:26

    DAVISThank you very much.

  • 12:20:27

    NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, the experiences of a rural community in upstate New York with wind power all captured in the film "Windfall," now at the D.C. Environmental Film Festival. If you've called, stay on the line. You're probably -- you're call is probably relevant to the ongoing discussion. You can also get in touch with us by e-mail at kojo@wamu.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:22:55

    NNAMDIWelcome back. Later in the broadcast, the implications of paying what's known as blood money for the release of a CIA operative in Pakistan. But we're joined in studio now by Laura Israel, the director of "Windfall," which is part of the 19th annual D.C. Environmental Film Festival. Laura Israel's film "Windfall" will have its Washington, D.C. premiere on Saturday, March 19 at 5:00 pm at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring. It -- the film festival is running March 15 to 27.

  • 12:23:25

    NNAMDIYou can get the entire schedule of the environment film festival at dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org, and there's a link to our website at kojoshow.org. Laura Israel, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:23:36

    MS. LAURA ISRAELThank you.

  • 12:23:37

    NNAMDIYou have made this film, "Windfall," that documents a rural community in upstate New York divided over wind power. Can you tell us about it?

  • 12:23:46

    ISRAELWell, yes. I actually own a little log cabin up in Meredith and...

  • 12:23:50

    NNAMDIFor 20 years now.

  • 12:23:51

    ISRAELFor 20 years now. And what happened is I started reading little articles in the paper, just mentioning when we get wind turbines, or when the wind turbines are put in, and it was kind of surprising to me. And I thought, oh, I would love to have a wind turbine on my property. So I -- that's what motivated me to research a little bit more. And then when I started looking into it, it wasn't what I had first thought. It wasn't these little wind turbines. They weren't gonna be off in the distance. They were gonna be 400 feet tall. And the first proposal was to put them 1,000 feet from people's residences. So I was quite surprised.

  • 12:24:32

    NNAMDIHow did that evolve, if you will?

  • 12:24:35

    ISRAELWell, what happened is, in Meredith, the wind companies started signing people up, sort of, secretly. They -- and also -- anybody who signed a wind contract -- they lease the land from landowners, so whoever signed the lease with the wind company also had to sign an agreement that they wouldn't divulge what was happening. They wouldn't share the information with anyone.

  • 12:25:00

    NNAMDIThey were promised a payment of $5,000?

  • 12:25:02

    ISRAELWell, they were -- that's a sign up fee. And then you also -- it's hard to tell what anybody else got. We only know what one person got because they told us. But the thing is that they -- neighbors can't get together and get a better deal because they can't share the information.

  • 12:25:20

    NNAMDIEvery individual who signed up had to sign a confidentiality agreement?

  • 12:25:24

    ISRAELA confidentiality agreement. And then, the other thing is they have -- they negotiated on their own with the wind company. So it wasn't like a group of residents were able to get together and try and figure out how to get a good deal.

  • 12:25:37

    NNAMDIWell, as you documented in your film, even people who consider themselves environmentally conscious are surprised by what they learn about industrial wind farms.

  • 12:25:48

    ISRAELWell, yes. That's what happened to me. And then, also, when I started to become really surprised and concerned, actually, about this type of development -- it seemed so industrial to me -- I started to talk to some other people in the town, and they had concerns as well. And they seemed like very reasonable people. The thing I love about the area is that it's in New York City's watershed...

  • 12:26:12

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 12:26:12

    ISRAEL…which means it's environmentally protected. So most people up there are very concerned about the water quality and the environment, and that's why I like the area. So I was really surprised when people were as concerned as I was.

  • 12:26:27

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're talking with Laura Israel. She is the director of "Windfall," which is part of the 19th annual D.C. Environmental Film Fall -- Film Festival that debuts at the festival on Saturday, March 19 at 5 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater. Some of the residents who signed these contracts for turbines didn't fully understand what they would be getting into, did they?

  • 12:26:49

    ISRAELNo. They were -- you know, they had the picture of windmills that I did. You know, like, little Dutch windmills or -- and I think they also didn't understand how many. That's the thing as it -- a lot of the development was being proposed without common knowledge about what the details were.

  • 12:27:09

    NNAMDIOne thing that some of the residents apparently were not prepared for is that these giant turbines, 400 feet high, make quite a bit of noise.

  • 12:27:18

    ISRAELYes. And it's noise that is very low frequency. So a lot of people describe it as you feel the noise. You don't hear it. It's like a bass drum, somebody with a car with a bass drum playing outside your house at night. The problem is they make most of the noise at night, too, because the wind starts really whipping at night, and it gets very quiet at night. So people can't sleep.

  • 12:27:42

    NNAMDIWould you like to have a wind turbine on your property? Call us, 800-433-8850. Or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Let us know there. You can send an e-mail to kojo@wamu.org, or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. The energy companies in your film are only referenced but not actually seen.

  • 12:28:04

    ISRAELMm-hmm.

  • 12:28:04

    NNAMDIIs that a choice that you made? And if so, why?

  • 12:28:06

    ISRAELIt is a choice that I made, and the reason why is because -- I didn't cut them out of the film. There's quite a lot in the film of town meetings, people asking for information, and the wind companies weren't there. The -- even the supervisor of the town in the film at one point, says, where are the developers? Why aren't they here? They -- I think that it was two things. One, they don't show up when they're gonna get a lot of, like, people asking them really hard questions.

  • 12:28:37

    ISRAELBut the other thing is that I think they proposed a lot of facilities in different areas. And then, once they see that one might not happen, they don't really put a lot of time and energy into it. But it -- the whole process had already started in the town and the divisiveness. So even though the wind companies weren't there to see it, it was still going on.

  • 12:28:57

    NNAMDIWas there an awakening moment for you in this? Because I get the impression that you and others who live in that community thought of the developers in terms of people who were primarily interested in wind power as an energy saving device and wind power as a contribution to the quality of life in that area. But apparently, somewhere along the way, you realized that the developers were in this for...

  • 12:29:23

    ISRAELThe money. The money.

  • 12:29:26

    NNAMDIAnd that was a form of disillusionment for you?

  • 12:29:27

    ISRAELOh, definitely. I think that one of the biggest problems, too, is that these companies, they start a facility, they propose the development and then, sometimes, they sell it before it's even done. So a lot of times, one person will come out and get contracts from people, and then they leave. And then the company comes in and builds it, and then that's somebody else. And there's no one really to be held accountable. They're LLCs, quite often they're foreign companies or they're from somewhere completely different.

  • 12:30:00

    NNAMDIOne goal of this film was to give voice to communities like Meredith since there are a lot of states and towns facing decisions about wind power who might not know a lot about what it entails. That's one of the things that motivated you here, right?

  • 12:30:13

    ISRAELYes. And once I started to find how many people of how many towns are going through this individually -- and actually, since the film has gone out and the website's gone out, I get e-mails from all over the world now, from towns that are just saying, how do we do this, how do we deal with this, what are the pitfalls, what are the problems. And some of the e-mails I get are from towns that have already wind installations and are saying thank you for getting the word out, because we were having all these problems and we've been trying to tell people. But when people see it in a film, I think they can actually see the complexities of the issue a little bit more.

  • 12:30:54

    NNAMDIIn the course of making the film, you visited a wind farm. What is it like to see these turbines for the first time altogether?

  • 12:31:03

    ISRAELOh, it was amazing. I mean, you know, I've lived in New York City for 20 years. And now, I live in Jersey City and planes fly overhead from Newark Airport. And I have to say being out in the middle of nowhere with just trees and wind turbines, it's incredible. And then standing right underneath one while it's moving -- I mean, people don't realize it's a 400-foot tall. It's animated though. I mean, it's -- the blade is coming down at you, like, every... (laugh)

  • 12:31:35

    NNAMDISounds kind of scary.

  • 12:31:36

    ISRAELIt's very scary. I actually got, like, a feeling in my chest that, sort of, I've remembered now.

  • 12:31:43

    NNAMDIAnd it has a big impact on the landscape, because the land has to be cleared to bring in the enormous parts of these turbines.

  • 12:31:51

    ISRAELYes, the blades, especially. What they have to do is they have to make the roads very wide so that they can their wide turns. And...

  • 12:31:59

    NNAMDIIt fits blades half the size of a football field.

  • 12:32:02

    ISRAELYes.

  • 12:32:03

    NNAMDIOkay. What else do they have to do?

  • 12:32:05

    ISRAELAlso, they need to clear tops of mountains and then build roads going -- like ridgelines. It's pretty intense what they have to do ridgelines. And I think a lot of people are really concerned about habitat fragmentation on these very fragile ridgelines, which, because of the altitude is so high, it's hard for anything to grow back, trees to grow back.

  • 12:32:26

    NNAMDII'm glad you mentioned the habitat fragmentation because somewhat surprisingly, conservation organizations can be, it would appear, some of the strongest opponents of wind farms on precisely that basis.

  • 12:32:39

    ISRAELYeah. And I just do wanna say something about the bats, because I think a lot of people are really concerned with the amounts of bats that are being killed by wind turbines. And they don't hit the wind turbines. Their lungs actually explode. They get the bends from the air pressure dropped around the blades as they go through the air.

  • 12:33:00

    NNAMDIDespite everything you have just said, despite everything you have just seen, people will say, people will make the argument that, look, we are still better off with wind power than we are with fossil fuels. So after making this film, are there things you feel that can be corrected, that can make wind power more attractive for small communities?

  • 12:33:20

    ISRAELWell, you know, I think that the -- what happened to me is that I switched from saying, oh, great, I can be part of the solution to wow, I'm really concerned about my community. And I think one of the great things that happened is that people got involved. People in Meredith got involved in making these decisions and deciding decisions about wind power. And I think that that's one of the things that people have to do -- that I wanted the film to do is to motivate people to get involved, to learn more, to learn both sides of it, you know, the problems that can arise so that they can write good zoning laws and, you know, be prepared for siding issues of...

  • 12:34:03

    NNAMDIWhat's the situation in Meredith now?

  • 12:34:06

    ISRAELWell, the situation in Meredith now is the natural gas companies are signing people up for gas fracking.

  • 12:34:14

    ISRAELWind power is not taking hold in Meredith?

  • 12:34:17

    ISRAELWell, that's a spoiler a little bit. (laugh)

  • 12:34:20

    NNAMDIOh, well, I thought as much -- that's why -- okay. Don't mention it. Don't mention it.

  • 12:34:23

    ISRAELThat's okay. That's okay.

  • 12:34:24

    NNAMDISay nothing.

  • 12:34:24

    ISRAELBut the thing is that because it is in the New York City watershed, I think that maybe the fracking issue is a very big issue up there.

  • 12:34:35

    NNAMDILet's see what some of our callers have to say about this. We'll start with Sandra in Fairfax City, Va. Sandra, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:43

    SANDRAHi. Thank you for taking my call. Listening to this has been very educational. I was in Holland. And we actually drove out of our way to go over and see some of the turbines. We really thought that they were futuristic, very environmentally sound. And people that were thinking, no, no, no, we need to do this or just the opposite, this would be bad for us, should -- could be shortsighted. Listening to your guest talks, having thought and actually talked to people in Fairfax City on the city council, saying, I might like to have one in my backyard, now I'd like to give that some extra thought.

  • 12:35:19

    SANDRABut thinking of them being offshore and the worried people in the hotel seeing them is rather ignorant, in my view point. I think that this is a good idea to have them offshore. Having them in the towns, in the small villages, might be something else that people should give consideration to. But I'm looking forward to seeing the film and thank you for taking my call. I'll take your answer off the air.

  • 12:35:43

    NNAMDISandra, thank you very much...

  • 12:35:43

    ISRAELThank you.

  • 12:35:44

    NNAMDI...for your call. Laura Israel, care to respond?

  • 12:35:46

    ISRAELWell, the one of the things I'd like to respond with this that I don't think people really consider the transmission when they consider offshore. The fact that these are not -- wind turbines aren't just out there on their own. There is going to be a substation. There is gonna be a transmission for them as well. The other thing that -- I did show the film in Amsterdam, and people there asked me if I would do a sequel about offshore wind, because they are very concerned about the effects on marine life.

  • 12:36:16

    NNAMDIOn to Joanna in Washington, D.C. Joanna, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:36:21

    JOANNAHi. Yes. I was wondering about that myself. I'm a big proponent of wind power, and I already get a half to two-thirds of my energy from wind. But I am concerned about migratory birds flying up and down the coast. And I'm just wondering what effect offshore windmills will have.

  • 12:36:46

    NNAMDIIndeed. We got an e-mail from Carl in Takoma Park who says, "The Mid-Atlantic area is a major flyaway for migrating birds. How many birds would be killed by wind farm off of Ocean City?" Is that something you looked into at all, Laura Israel?

  • 12:37:00

    ISRAELWell, one thing I wanna say is that a lot of these impact studies are only done on one installation. So if you say, oh, this one installation won't have an impact on birds, but then if you just take all of the installations that we were just talking about building off of the Northeast and off of the Atlantic Coast, and you talk about birds, that's a completely different situation. It's the amount of wind turbines we're talking about put together and if it changes the migration patterns. Unfortunately, wind turbines are best in places where birds like to fly, I mean, unfortunately.

  • 12:37:42

    NNAMDIJoanna, thank you very much for your call. We got an e-mail from LCC (sp?) in College Park, Md. who says, "According to The New York Times, some members of Congress support the $4 billion in subsidies for the petroleum industry every year. The mantra of many of those congressional members is the government should not try to pick winners and losers." And we also got an e-mail from Mark who says that "With the current uncertainty about nuclear and issues with fuels that are burn, you have to compare wind to the alternatives." Any thoughts on that at all?

  • 12:38:16

    ISRAELWell, because of -- wind doesn't always blow. There is an intermittent problem with wind. You always have to have a backup. The thing is that coal and nuclear are quite often the base load, so they're always on. When wind goes -- when the wind stops blowing, you always have to have something there to back it up.

  • 12:38:40

    NNAMDIYeah, we got an e-mail from Clay who says, "I found out that they do not generate as much electricity as promised when the wind is not strong. Therefore, they must be supplemented with fossil fuel."

  • 12:38:50

    ISRAELYes. And the other thing is that there's always a nameplate capacity. So when somebody says, oh, they're gonna power so many homes, that is the nameplate capacity. You have to also put in efficiency rating in that, which is usually, for onshore, I know is about 30 percent at best.

  • 12:39:11

    NNAMDIOn to Stephanie in Baltimore, Md. Stephanie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:16

    STEPHANIEHi. Yes. I just want to comment, similar to the comment from a couple of callers ago. I passed windmill farms in West Virginia, and they didn't seem to me to be near houses. So I guess my question goes to -- like, you said that the windmills are gonna be build within a thousand feet of the home. How prevalent is that?

  • 12:39:36

    ISRAELIt's becoming more and more prevalent every day. I'm getting e-mails from towns that are saying that they wanna put just one or two but really big windmills, very close to people's houses. I mean, that seems to be something new that's happening. In Cape Cod, that was a problem. There is a place in Maine called Vinalhaven where a lot of people are having problems with wind turbines to -- very close to their houses.

  • 12:40:03

    NNAMDIThank you for your call, Stephanie. Here, on the other hand, is Evan in Annapolis, Md. Evan, your turn.

  • 12:40:11

    EVANThank you for taking my call. We have a house out in Deep Creek, western Maryland. And the wind turbines have just come online over the past three, four months. And I have to say that they're sculptural and beautiful, and I think they compliment the mountain ridges beautifully, and it's just sort of a reminder of the opposite of a smoke sack. And I think they are great.

  • 12:40:35

    NNAMDIHow close are you to the one near your place, to the windmill near your place?

  • 12:40:43

    EVANI would probably say they're somewhere around -- the closest one, maybe two miles…

  • 12:40:50

    NNAMDIOh, okay. That's not a thousand feet.

  • 12:40:51

    EVAN...but they're up on the mountain ridges. And so you can see them, you know, from 15 miles away. But they're beautiful.

  • 12:41:00

    NNAMDILaura Israel.

  • 12:41:01

    ISRAELWell, I just want to say reducing the conversation to what they look like is a little beside the point because I thought they were beautiful too. I wanted one until I realized what it, you know, what it was like to be up close to one.

  • 12:41:15

    NNAMDIAnd finally, there's this e-mail from Sandy, "The town I grew up in Perry, New York, had a very difficult time with proposals for a wind farm. The proposed wind farm was called Dairy Hills. What Meredith is describing -- what is being described about Meredith sounds so parallel to what this community went through. How can people outside of Washington, D.C., see this film?" Sandy would like to know.

  • 12:41:37

    ISRAELWell, I'm trying to get it as many places as possible. The next festivals are in Florida, Sarasota at Florida Film Festival and then Full Frame in North Carolina.

  • 12:41:48

    NNAMDIIs there a website that people can go to for more information...

  • 12:41:51

    ISRAELYes.

  • 12:41:52

    NNAMDI...then I think we should provide a link at our website, kojoshow.org. What's the website?

  • 12:41:56

    ISRAELWindfallmovie.com.

  • 12:42:00

    NNAMDILaura Israel's film "Windfall" will have its Washington, D.C., premier on Saturday, March 19, 5:00 p.m. at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring. Laura Israel, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:42:11

    ISRAELThank you.

  • 12:42:11

    NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, the paying of so-called blood money for the release of a CIA operative in Pakistan. What are the implications? I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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