The Windmills Are Coming - Still

DON QUIXOTE has nothing on this century's windmill tilters.

He mistook windmills for dragons; we look at windmills and see generators quenching the electricity era's thirst for clean, inexpensive power.

Our quest has long outlived his, but so far modern wind-power devices have failed to deliver to a meaningful degree.

We remain dependent on power dams, the atom, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Optimistic announcements promising breakthroughs for wind-generated electric power have, over the last several decades, resulted in disappointment.

Now we are once again asked to believe that an apparently ever-growing capability to produce dependable, wind-generated power is about to bear fruit.

Having maintained a moderate level of expectation for many years, despite disappointments, we're ready for this scientific, natural, and technological flower to bloom.

A much-publicized array of 7,500 wind turbines in California's Altamont Pass, near Livermore, is said to have surmounted previous obstacles to large-scale production.

Why is it that we feel we may have to wait longer than we are being led to believe before the dam of frustration is broken and the desert, blooming with wind turbines, yields up meaningful amounts of power?

Not to sound peevish, but oil, coal, gas - the "fossil fuels" - have been so much easier to exploit. When you hit pay dirt in an oil field, you know it. With oil, we've been paying a price in pollution and ugliness, but it's been so easy.

Wind is plentious, but harnessing it has not proved as simple as it once seemed.

Dare we hope that wind power is about to really be tamed for modern use? Remember, sail-power had a very big part in establishing human society.

Even though some say all those windmills clutter the landscape, we probably could learn to live with them, especially since wind power promises to rid much of our planet of what some call the tyranny of the atom.

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