What if you hiked to the top of Mount LeConte and the outstanding views that you worked hard for included wind turbines on the tops of the mountains and foothills just outside of the park? What if you saw the same thing while atop Gregory Bald, Rocky Top, or Mount Cammerer for that matter?
Without a doubt, wind energy is a much cleaner energy source than most other alternatives. Furthermore, smog and pollution are major problems in the Smoky Mountains.
But is wind energy truly the best solution, especially in light of the fact that the typical size of a wind tower is 200 to 400 feet in height, with blades more than 75 to 100 feet in length?
While driving cross-country on a recent vacation to Colorado, I saw several interesting objects along the horizon as I was passing through Kansas. I checked the odometer on the car to figure out far off they were. After a couple of miles I finally realized that these were turbines from a new wind farm. We continued driving. I measured roughly 20 miles from the first time I noticed the farm on the horizon until we reached the first tower. We then drove for another 10 miles until we passed the last tower of the farm just off the highway.
There are many arguments for and against wind power. I’m not writing this post to defend or oppose the merits of this alternative source of energy. My question for all of you is simply this: would you want to see wind turbines while hiking in the Smoky Mountains, or driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or even from your own backyard? If we assume that wind power is a viable solution, do the benefits of cleaner and clearer air over the Smoky Mountains out-weigh the degradation of the views from the mountain tops?
I simply raise these questions because there is more and more pressure from various sources to develop wind power across the nation, including the region surrounding the Smoky Mountains.