Left Coast Diary: ‘Where Are The Windmills?’

by Henry Payne

“Where are the windmills?” asked my son in Santa Cruz, California. They were nowhere to found in the devout Green Bible Belt of Northern California.

California likes to talk the talk, but not to walk the walk. This state has made the Prius an icon — but refuses the pain of Euro-style gas taxes. It demands a 30 percent Renewable Power Standard, but refuses to sully its gorgeous views with wind turbines.

A case in point is the San Francisco and Monterey peninsulas that border the Pacific south of the Bay Area. Home to California’s Silicon Valley rich and spectacular coastal Highway 1, it is also home to staunch NIMBYism.

We saw not one wind farm all week.

It is not that wind farm advocates haven’t tried — but their requests for siting over the years have been delayed by concerns about choking tourist-friendly Pacific views, or shredding vulture populations, or shredding eagle populations. By way of contrast, similar territory along Germany’s North Sea cost is packed with windmills. In fact, California’s Pacific Coast is a model of the utility of centralized coal power. One giant plant lights the Santa Cruz coast down to Monterey — saving thousands of acres from ugly wind farms.

Californians aren’t as European as they think.

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